Archive/File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit/transcripts/day002.09 Last-Modified: 2000/07/20 A. I will say generally, of course, and it is important for the case to know, and I am saying this on oath, I have never knowingly or wilfully misrepresented a document or . P-174 misquoted it, or suppressed parts of the document which would run counter to my case, I think it is important to state that. Any of the other allegations in that line, misquoting, misconstruing, mistranslating, distorting or manipulating a document I have not done. I shall be very surprised indeed if the defence manage to make out a watertight case on even one document in that line. I think I would hang up my hat if that could be established against me. It would be a despicable thing for a historian to do, but it would be also very difficult, because in my case I have always instantaneously made my documents available to my opponents. Sometimes in advance of publication of my own book I would turn over documents like the Bruns Report to Professor Fleming. When I found the article Aumeier Report in the British archives I actually contacted Professor Richard van Pelt, whose book on Auschwitz I greatly admired and I said you will certainly find this document of great interest and I told him exactly where the file was to be found. I have always been like that. It would be very difficult simultaneously do that, my Lord, and at the same time distort the document because you are going to get found out and shot. So I did not do it. But that is the only general remark I would make and possibly of importance because it is a statement on oath. Q. I think that is right. The next topic that is addressed . P-175 by the Defendants is the bombing of Dresden in 1945? A. Again, I will make a general statement on it, my Lord. This was the -- it was not actually the first book I wrote. The first book I wrote was a history of the bombing war, but it was only published in German -- in Switzerland. It was written at the same time as I wrote the book "The Destruction of Dresden", which was a three year task, between 1961 and 1963. I emphasise the years, because in 1961 and 1963, of course, we were not in the happy position that we are in now where we can go to the public archives and see the documents. I understand that I can go down the road to the public archives and actually see correspondence that I had with Harold Wilson, this kind of thing. I personally frown on it. I liked the old 50 year rule because there were ways round it. But in those years there was a 50 year rule in operation. In you wanted to write a history of something that happened in World War II you could not get the original documents if you were not an official historian. Q. That is from the British -- A. From the British point of view. Q. -- what about the German records, were they available? A. The German records were in a more difficult position because Dresden lay in the Soviet zone of Germany, the German Democratic Republic as it had by that time become . P-176 and although I had established cordial relations with City Archives Director in Dresden, Dr Walter Lange, they were under no kind of obligation or compulsion to make their records available to me and they did so on a very piecemeal basis, what the Germans would call in salami slices, piece by piece they would give me a document, according to how they thought they could fit it into the Cold War propaganda. I had to weigh it from that point of view. I emphasise this because three years later after the book was published those same officials in East Germany decided they had now just found a report on the statistics on the air raid on Dresden which produced figures which were different from mine. Q. You are making this point really to explain why your estimate of the number of deaths, which is really what the Dresden issue is about? A. Yes. Q. Has fallen fairly dramatically from a quarter of a million -- A. I would not say "fallen", that implies only way, I would say "fluctuate". Q. -- in a downwards direction, would you accept that? A. If you were a scientist you would not say "the figure is this", you would say it is probably that, with a upper margin of this and a lower margin of that. You would give . P-177 a range of probabilities, and the range of probabilities I have given has remained roughly the same, but I have brought down the target figure. The original figure I gave, I hasten to add, was not my figure, it was the figure given to me by a man who met the Trevor Roper criteria. If you remember, my Lord, somebody who is in a position to know. This was a man who was school teacher in Hanover who had nothing to gain from it, who had asked no money for it, but after the air raid on Dresden, which took place on February 13th 1945, this school teacher had the unfortunate task of running the missing persons bureau in Dresden, the Dead Person Section, he had been given the job of setting a card index in this appalling task of trying to identify the dead. They did it, for example, they collected buckets of wedding rings from the corpses. I am sure the defence will appreciate when I talk about buckets of wedding rings, gold wedding rings, were collected from the corpses of the air raid victims because inside a German wedding ring there is the initials and the date of the wedding, so they could identify the corpse from that. Or they could have an index card just saying "KD" and a date on the inside of wedding ring. They built up this card index. Of course, this was incomplete because they had not got all the corpses and not all the corpses were . P-178 adults, not all the adults were married. But he was able to extrapolate and he kept a diary, which he also made available to me. When I asked him the 60,000 dollar question, I said, Dr Voigt or Mr Voigt, how many people in your estimate died in that air raid on Dresden? He gave me an upper estimate and a lower estimate, and he then said that in his own belief the figure was probably 135,000. Which was the figure I then used, and I quoted the source as being this man. In other words it was not a figure on my authority, it was a figure on the authority of the source. I see no reason really to depart from that figure because, it may sound self-defeating, I say that there is not much difference between 135,000 dead and 35,000 dead. Both of them are a monstrous tragedy or crime, depending on which end of scale you are viewing it from. If you are one of those dead it hurts just as much if you are one of the 35,000 or one of 135,000. So I confess that I did not dedicate as much work to try to pin down the actual death roll as no doubt the defence would have liked me to have done, the Defendants in this case, my Lord. But I would also submit this cannot be categorized as being wilful misrepresentation, or distortion. My Lord, you will remember that I said that the German police chief's document giving a different death figure had been found three years after I wrote the . P-179 book. It was supplied to me by the East German authorities, very kindly, voluntarily, and by an extraordinary coincidence in exactly the same post I received from the West German Government a summary of the German Finance Ministry files for that week which contained precisely the same figures that that East German document contained, because otherwise one which might have suspected this was an East German cold war propaganda trick. So it was a very authentic kind of document. But even then you had to say the document was dated, I believe, March 10th 1945, less than four weeks after the air raid on Dresden. My Lord, I do not know if you have seen the photographs of Dresden after the air raid. There was not very much left standing. The building -- the city was pancaked. Nobody had excavated the city centre. The people who were living in the old town were still buried in the basements where they had been suffocated or crushed alive. So the figure that the Police Chief gave in his report of March 4th 1945 could still only be regarded as provisional. Q. What is the figure in the current edition of "Destruction of Dresden"? A. Can I just complete what I was about to say, I was just pausing for dramatic effect. The step which I then took, having received this document, was as follows: . P-180 I discussed it with my publisher, and I said that it was an important enough document that I had to draw it to the attention of the reading public immediately, and he -- Mr Kimber -- and Mr Kimber, God rest his soul, he said: David do not do that. If you do, it will come down on your head. It will reflect on you in a bad way, and I said this is an important document, and I have a duty to bring it to the attention of reading public, and I sent it as a letter to The Times, which is in the discovery, and The Times newspaper published it, I believe, on July 6th 1966, within a very true days of my actually receiving the document from the East Germans, the new figures, the fact that there was a considerably lower death roll estimated by the local Police Chief. I added my reservations, the fact that the city was still largely unexcavated, even then, in 1966 and the fact that local Police Chief was in charge of air raid civil defence measures. So he had no reason to give a bigger figure. He would prefer to give a lower figure. Q. This is Mr Grosse? A. I cannot remember exactly which name it was, the man who wrote the final report. Grosse wrote the incorrect report, the propaganda report, my Lord. I emphasise the fact that I made this immediately known to the reading public and not only that but at my own expense I had a reprint made of that letter by The Times newspaper. I had . P-181 500 copies printed and for the next few years I enclosed that letter with all my correspondence to other historians. Now I do not know any other historian who would have taken action like that, my Lord. He would hoped nobody found out, possibly. He certainly would not have gone out of the way to draw the attention of other people to an error or possible error that he had made in one of his own books. To find myself now, 30 years later, defending myself against the allegation of manipulation and distortion beggers description, it is repugnant, my Lord. Q. What is the figure in the current edition of "Destruction of Dresden" for the number of deaths? A. I have reduced my best estimate to the region of 60,000. This is the edition which is called "Apocalypse 1945" the destruction of Dresden because it was not until three years ago that I sat down and analysed that Police Chief's report and compared it with the Grosse Report and saw the obvious similarities and the obvious discrepancies and decided that the Grosse Report had been deliberately issued by the Propaganda Ministry for propaganda purposes. But 60,000, my Lord, 35,000, 135,000, you may disagree with me, but I see no difference between these figures, any more than somebody whose says it was not 6 million who died in the Holocaust, it was only one million . P-182 which is the kind of sentence I would never utter because each one of those people being killed is a crime and I consider people being killed in saturation bombing air raids, although I am British, I think it is wrong.
Site Map ·
What's New? ·
© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012
Home · Site Map · What's New? · Search Nizkor