Archive/File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit/transcripts/day001.08 Last-Modified: 2000/07/20 In fact, the only items which I consider to be of greater source value than diaries, which are always susceptible to faking or tampering, are private letters. In my experience, once a private letter has been posted by its writer, it is virtually impossible for him to retrieve it and to alter its content. If I may take the liberty of enlightening the court at this point by way of an example, I would say that I had earlier also found the diaries of Field Marshal Rommel; some I retrieved in shorthand from the American archives and I had them transcribed. Those in typescript turned out to have been altered some months after one crucial battle ("Crusader") to eradicate a tactical error which the Field Marshal considered he had made in the Western desert. But the hundreds of letters he wrote to his wife were clearly above any kind of suspicion. On a somewhat earthier plane, while the diaries of the Chief of the SS, Heinrich Himmler, which have in part been recently retrieved from the same archives in . P-61 Moscow, yield little information by themselves, I have managed to locate in private hands in Chicago the 200 letters which this murderous Nazi wrote to his mistress, and these contain material of much larger historical importance. Until my career was sabotaged, therefore, I had earned the reputation of being a person who was always digging up new historical evidence; that was until the countries and the archives of the world were prevailed upon, as we shall see, to close their doors to me! After I procured these 600 pages of manuscripts written by Adolf Eichmann when I visited Argentina in October 1991, the German Federal Archives grudgingly referred to me in a press release as a Truffle- Schwein, which I hope is more flattering than it sounds. We are concerned here, however, primarily with the diaries of Dr Joseph Goebbels of which the Defendants made mention in their book. This is the inside story on those. I begun the search for these diaries, in fact, 30 years earlier. In my discovery are papers relating to the first search that I conducted for the very last diaries which Dr Goebbels dictated, in April 1945 -- right at the end of his life. Since there was no time for them to be typed up, Dr Goebbels had the spiral-bound shorthand pads buried in a glass conserving jar in a forest . P-62 somewhere along the road between Hamburg and Berlin. Chance provided me in about 1969 with the "treasure map" revealing the precise burial place of this glass jar, and with the permission of the Communist East German Government, I and a team of Oxford University experts, equipped with a kind of ground penetrating radar (in fact, a proton magnetometer) mounted a determined attempt to unearth it in the forest. We never found that particular truffle. Unfortunate, the topography of such a forest changes considerably in 20 years or more and, despite our best efforts, aided by the East German Ministry of the Interior, Communist Ministry of the Interior, and a biologist whose task would be to assess the age of the fungi and other biological materials found in and around the jar, we came away empty-handed. This is nothing new. Field work often brings disappointments like that. Twenty-five years later, however, now back in 1992, I had the conversation which was to lead to the retrieval of the Goebbels' diaries in Moscow, and indirectly to our presence here in these courts today. In May 1992, I invited long time friend, a leading historian at the Institut fur Zeitgeschichte, to have lunch with me at a restaurant in Munich. We had been good friends since 1964, nearly 30 years, and she is still in the Institute's employ today. As my diaries show, this . P-63 friend and colleague, Dr Elke Frohlich, had dropped several hints during the previous 12 months that she had traced the whereabouts of the missing Goebbels' diaries. We all knew, my Lord, those of us who had engaged in research into Hitler, Goebbels and the Third Reich, that Dr Goebbels had placed these diaries on microfiches -- that is photographic glass plates -- in the closing months of the War to ensure that they were preserved for posterity. But they had vanished since then. His Private Secretary, Dr Richard Otte, whom I had questioned over 20 years previously in connection with our search in the forest in East Germany, had told us about these glass plates. So we knew they existed. I should mention that he was actually one of the small burial party who had hidden the glass jar, but he was unable to accompany us as at that time he was still in West German government employment. We could only presume that the glass plate microfiches were either destroyed in Berlin in the last weeks of the war or that they had been seized by the Red Army. During this lunch-time conversation in Munich in May 1992, Dr Elke Frohlich revealed to me that the latter supposition was correct. She had seen them herself a few weeks previously -- she had held them in her hands -- on a visit to the archives in Moscow. My Lord, you can imagine . P-64 the thrill that kind of thing gives an historian to have something like that. My recollection of the conversation at this point is that she continued by saying that the Institute's Directors were unwilling to fund a further expedition to procure these diaries. Now that I have seen some of the documents provided to the Defendants in this action by the Russians and by the Institute, it is possible that my recollection on this point is wrong, namely, that the Institute were not willing to pay for it. My recollection of the following is, however, secure. Dr Frohlich informed me that the Director of the Russian archives, the "trophy" archives, as they were known, Dr Bondarev, was in a serious predicament, as he was faced with the economic consequences of the collapse of the Soviet Empire; he had no longer the financial means necessary for the upkeep of the archives and the payment of his staff. The plates, in my view, were seriously at risk. Dr. Frohlich indicated that if I were to take a sufficient sum of foreign currency to Moscow, I could purchase the glass plates from Dr Bondarev. It was clear from her remarks that Dr Bondarev had already discussed this prospect with her. Dr Frohlich added that the glass plates were in . P-65 fragile condition and needed to be rescued before they came to serious harm. I recall that she said: "If you are going to do this deal with the Russians, you will have to take a lot of silk paper with you from England to place between the glass plates. The plates are just packed into boxes with nothing between them". My Lord, when I provide you with bundles of photographs later on, there were photographs of the actual plates in the cardboard boxes. I asked how much money we were talking about, and either she or I suggested a figure of US$20,000. I immediately contacted my American publishers in New York who seemed the most immediate source of money. I informed them of this likely windfall and asked if we could increase the cash advance on my Goebbels' manuscript accordingly. My manuscript of the Goebbels' biography was at that time complete and undergoing editing by myself. It was already ready for delivery to the publishers. The American publisher responded enthusiastically at first, and upon my return from Munich to London I began negotiations through intermediaries with the Russian archivist, Dr Bondarev. (Dr Bondarev will not, unfortunately, be called by either party in this action as a witness. He seems to have vanished. He is certainly no longer employed by the "trophy" archives). The first intermediary I used was a . P-66 Russian-language specialist employed by Warburg's Bank in Moscow. He undertook the preliminary negotiations with Dr Bondarev. I instructed him to tell Bondarev as openly as was prudent of my intention to come and look at the glass plates, and also to make it quite plain that we were coming with a substantial sum of hard currency. Many American institutions were currently engaged in the same practice -- it is important I should say this -- as I knew from the newspapers. At about this time, it became plain that the German Government was also keen to get its hands on these glass plates. Naturally, I desired to beat them to it, first, because of professional pride and the desire to have an historical scoop and, secondly, years of working with the German Government Archives had proven both to me and many scholars that as soon as high-grade documents like these dropped into their hands they vanished for many years while they were assessed, catalogued and indexed. Sometimes they were even squirreled away for later exploitation by the Chief Archivists themselves (the "Hossbach Papers" were a case in point). These vital Nazi diaries would, therefore, vanish from the public gaze possibly for five or 10 years. My fears in this respect had been amply confirmed by events, I would submit, because many of those glass plates which I saw in Moscow in 1992 have since vanished . P-67 into the maw of the German Government and the Munich Institut fur Zeitgeschichte, and they are still not available even now. I considered, therefore, that I should be rendering to the historical community the best service by doing the utmost that I could to extract those glass plates or, failing that, copies of them or, failing that, copies of the maximum number of pages possible, by hook or by crook, from the KGB archives before a wind of change might suddenly result in the resealing of all these Soviet former archives (and once again this apprehension has been largely confirmed by the attitude of the Russian Archive Authorities, who have resealed numbers of these files and made them once again inaccessible to Western historians). The second intermediary upon whom I relied was the former KGB Officer, Mr Lev Bezymenski. I have known mr Bezymenski for many years, about 35 years, and over these years we have engaged in a fruitful exercise of exchanging of documents. I would hasten to add that the documents which I furnished to Mr Bezymenski were entirely of a public-domain nature. Mr Bezymenski, however, in return extracted from secret Soviet archives for me vital collections of documents, for example, their diplomatic files on Sir Winston Churchill and the private papers of the Commander in Chief of the German Army, Colonel-General Werner von . P-68 Fritsch. From the Russian archives I obtained, via Mr Bezymenski, Fritsch's personal writings during and about the "Bloomberg-Fritsch scandal" of 1938, which had historic consequences for Germany, for Hitler and, ultimately, for the whole world. I immediately donated a complete set of those Fritsch papers to the German Government archives where they can still be seen. Dr Bezymenski, unfortunately, turned out to be something of a "double agent".
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