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Shofar FTP Archive File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit/transcripts/day013.12

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Last-Modified: 2000/07/20

   MR RAMPTON:  In the middle of the page under, "They shall reap
        the whirlwind" - "Now if a trifle belatedly in the weeks
        after the American and British destruction of Dresden,
        Dr Goebbels was also discovering the use to which bombing
        propaganda could be put.  At the beginning of fourth week
        in March he set in motion a cleverly designed campaign of
        whispers calculated to galvanize the German people into a
        last horrified stand against their invaders.  For this
        purpose he appears deliberately to have started a rumour
        about the death roll in Dresden wildly exceeding any
        figure within the realms of possibility.  On 23rd March a
        Top Secret order of the day, Tagesbefehl, was leaked to
        certain Berlin officials would could be relied on not to
        keep their tongues still."  And it read: "In order to
        counter the wild rumours circulating at present, this
        short extract from the final report of the Dresden Police
        President on the Allied raids on Dresden of 13th to 15th
        February 1945 is reproduced: 'Up to the evening of 20th
        March 1945 altogether 202,040 bodies, primarily women and
        children, were recovered.  It is expected that the final
        death roll will exceed 250,000.  Of the dead only some 30
        per cent could be identified.  As the removal of the

.          P-102

        corpses could not be undertaken quickly enough, 68,650 of
        the bodies were incinerated.  As the rumours far exceed
        reality, these figures can be used publicly."
   A.   That is what I wrote in 1962.  Yes, I wrote that.
   Q.   I am going to finish it: "It was characteristic of the
        highly advanced national and socialist propaganda experts
        that they did not try to spread this figure through public
        press announcements, but by means of this apparently
        indignant denial of an exaggerated rumour.  All
        responsible authorities placed the Dresden death roll
        considerably below this figure.  Neither the Dresden
        Police President nor his report on the air raids survived
        the end of the war, the President dying by his own hand
        and the order never having been referred to outside this
        spurious order of the day."
                  Now that was the position in 1963, Mr Irving?
   A.   1962, yes.
   Q.   1962.  You received a copy of a copy, not even a
        photographic copy, but a typewritten copy of a
        pre-existing document in Dresden in November 1964.
   A.   Yes.  So this was not ----
   Q.   By which time ----
   A.   But this passage is not based on the document of course.
        It is based on ----
   Q.   By which time you had on a number of occasions, quite
        properly, asked yourself whether the document was

.          P-103

        authentic and, more particularly, which is what matters,
        whether the figures were reliable.  You had yourself
        raised the possibility in your introduction to your
        memorandum of November 1964 that there might Nazi
        propaganda, had you not?  What was it, I ask you, that had
        happened to eliminate that proper doubt about the
        reliability of the figures by the time you wrote to the
        provost of Coventry at the beginning of December 1964?
   A.   Right.  Taking it in sequence, this passage which is in
        the book which I wrote in 1962 and was published on April
        1st 1963, was based, to the best of my recollection, on
        the version of that document given in the book by Max
        Seydewitz, the Mayor of Dresden, who was, as I mentioned
        earlier, he was a leading Communist party official.  So
        I accepted what he said in that book about the probable
        origins and motivation of the circulation of that document
        by the Nazis at the end of World War II.
                  In November 1964, as we see from Professor
        Evans' report, he has found among my papers a memorandum
        I wrote on my visit to Dresden where I obtained a copy, a
        carbon copy, a fourth or fifth carbon copy of the actual
        document, coming from a provenance where you would expect
        such a document to emerge, namely the Chief Medical
        Officer of Dresden from whom Dr Walter Hahn, the
        photographer Walter Hahn, had obtained it.  This clearly
        gave me food for thought that this document which had been

.          P-104

        mentioned dismissively by the Communist Mayor of Dresden
        apparently did exist and it is in the hands of the Deputy
        Chief Medical Officer of Dresden who considered it to be
        genuine.  Does this sufficiently answer your question?
   Q.   No.  I want to know how between your receipt of that
        document you are writing to on various occasions, though
        of course one could not be certain that the figures were
        right ----
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   --- thought the document was probably authentic, but you
        still thought that the figures might be unreliable.
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   You said as much in the memorandum you wrote about this
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   How it was that that doubt about the reliability of the
        figures had evaporated apparently by the time you wrote to
        Provost of Coventry on 6th November 1964?
   A.   I have not actually in that letter to the Provost of
        Coventry said there is no doubt that the figure is
        correct.  I said take the document with its shattering
        figures and use it to raise money for the cathedral.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Your answer is that the document appeared to
        you to be authentic because of its provenance?
   A.   Precisely, my Lord, and I was carrying out the proper
        enquiries at that time to try narrow, to focus in on the

.          P-105

        specific authenticity of its contents.
   MR RAMPTON:  But the answer to my original question is nothing
        had happened to bring any greater certainty about the
        reliability of the figures, had it?
   A.   No.  The figure was as dubious as ever, but I had an
        improved perception of the authenticity of the document
        itself, and we now know that everything else about the
        document was accurate, the contents, because it was based ----
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Did it not cross your mind that it was a bit
        suspicious that the figure of 200,040 in the Tagesbefehl
        was identical with the leaked phoney figure, leaked
        propaganda phoney figure?
   A.   You mean plus or minus a 0?
   Q.   No.  I do not know mean that.  I may have misunderstood
        the figures?
   MR RAMPTON:  No, your Lordship does not misunderstand.  If you
        go back to the Kimber book, there was a propaganda
        document which mentions precisely the same figures.
   A.   Well, this is the same document.  This is the Max
        Seydewitz obviously also had a copy of the document.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  But it might be said that an historian ought
        or his ears ought to prick up when he sees, well, it is
        the very same figure which Goebbels was putting into
        circulation for propaganda purposes?
   A.   I do not think your Lordship has understood me, with

.          P-106

        respect.  The Max Seydewitz had the same document as
        I obtained.  The Mayor of Dresden had the same document.
        He printed it in his own history of the raids.  That is
        where I first found it in 1962 and I used it.  Two years
        later somebody gives me the document.  It is the same document.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  I follow that.
   A.   But it is now not coming from a communist party official.
        It is now coming from somebody who during the war was the
        Chief Medical Officer of Dresden, and for better or worse
        he himself considered it to be accurate.  So obviously
        I have to take that into account.  It is also not greater
        than the largest figure which had previously been said for
        the Dresden air raids.  It only becomes suspect two years
        later with emergence from the archives then finally of the
        Police Chief's report which gives very similar figures but
        of one magnitude smaller.
   MR RAMPTON:  My Lord, I am going to go to 1965 in a moment, but
        perhaps I could preface that with this.  My Lord, this is
        page 40 of tab 2.  You had explained to the Provost of
        Coventry that one of the reasons why you had no doubt as
        to the authenticity of the document, I am not talking
        about the figures ----
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   This is the bit that is underlined.  "I am myself in no
        doubt as to the authenticity of the document, in view of

.          P-107

        having obtained it indirectly from the Dresden Deputy
        Chief Medical Officer responsible for disposing of the
        victims who still lives in Dresden."  That gentleman was a
        Dr Funfack, was he not?
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   He was never Deputy Chief Medical Officer of Dresden, was he?
   A.   If I wrote here that he was then certainly that is what
        I was informed at the time.
   Q.   He never had anything whatever to do with estimating the
        numbers of the dead, did he?
   A.   Well, if I wrote here any differently, certainly I did not
        know any differently.
   Q.   You knew, however, on 19th January 1965?
   A.   I knew what?
   Q.   That he was neither Deputy Chief Medical Officer nor had
        any responsibility for estimating the numbers of dead?
   A.   You are referring to the letter that he wrote me
        subsequently on the following page?
   Q.   Yes, 19th January 1965.
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   You have pinned your hopes on Dr Funfack, have you not?
   A.   Pinned my hopes on him for what?
   Q.   He was one of the routes to authentication, is that right,
        yes, authentication of this document in your mind, was he
        not, this Deputy Chief Medical Officer?

.          P-108

   A.   Without you having read the document since he wrote it 35
        years ago, I can tell you straightaway what the problem
        with this is.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  I suspect that is not quite so simple as it
        sounds.  Shall we do that at 2 o'clock?
   A.   Very well.

                        (Luncheon Adjournment)

   (2.00 p.m.)

   MR RAMPTON:  Mr Irving, we are in January 1965.  My Lord, this
        is page 5 of the table and it is page 520 of Professor
        Evans' report.  The person that you believe to be the
        Deputy Chief Medical Officer of Dresden at the relevant
        time, 1945, and whom you thought was likely to have
        corroborative information about the number of deaths and
        casualties, was a Dr Funfack, was it not?
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   Did he write to you on 19th January 1965?
   A.   He did, yes.
   Q.   You will find the original German of that letter at page
        41 at tab 2 of this file.
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   A translation of, at any rate, part of that letter is set
        out on page 520 of Professor Evans' report.  May I read it
        in English?  If you have a quarrel with the English,
        please tell me or would you like to read the German
        original first to yourself?

.          P-109

   A.   This is paragraph 3, is it, of ----
   Q.   No, it is actually paragraph 4 at the top of page 520.
        Professor Evans says:  "On 19th January 1965 Irving
        received a letter from Funfack".
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   And, as I say, no good asking me ----
   A.   I am just puzzled by where it says, "... after six weeks
        of frantic marketing".  I do not quite understand the
   MR RAMPTON:  Never mind that.  You can ask him about that.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Yes, that is gratuitous.
   MR RAMPTON:  Let us try to keep to the dry facts, shall we,
        Mr Irving?
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   I would like you just to glance at the German first.  It
        is no good asking me to do it.
   A.   I have read it during the lunch break.
   Q.   You did, good.  Now I would like to read the English
        translation, if may.  Funfack is said by Professor Evans
        to have told you this:  "'Why should I now, after 20
        years, be put on the spotlight with the mention of my name
        in the West German papers and be named as a witness to the
        number of dead is a complete mystery to me'".  How did his
        name get in the West German papers, Mr Irving?
   A.   Presumably, the German edition of the book had been
        published by Bertlesman.

.          P-110

   Q.   The German edition of what?
   A.   "The Destruction of Dresden".
   Q.   Your book?
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   In which you name Dr Funfack as a source for these
        figures, is that right?
   A.   If you say so, yes.
   Q.   "'Exactly like everyone else'", goes on Dr Funfack,
         "'affected, I have only ever heard the numbers third-hand
        from city commandants with whom I was friends, from the
        civilian air raid protection, etc.  But the numbers always
        differed greatly, I myself was only once present at a
        cremation on the Altmarkt, but otherwise completely
        uninvolved.  Likewise, I was never Dresden's Chief Medical
        Officer or even Deputy Chief Medical Officer, rather I was
        always working, or worked, I always worked as a specialist
        urologist in a hospital.  How one comes to such
        suppositions is incomprehensible to me.  I did not have
        the slightest to do with rendering any such services.  The
        photos of the cremations on the Altmarkt as well as the
         "Order of the Day 47" were also given to me by
        acquaintances.   Therefore, I can give no firm
        [verbindliche] Information about the figure of the dead
        but only repeat what was reported to me'."
                  Mr Irving, from that date you knew, did you not,
        that Dr Funfack was not your man?

.          P-111

   A.   Can I comment first on the person of Dr Funfack?

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