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Shofar FTP Archive File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit/transcripts/day001.08


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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