Wartime Code-Breaking and an 'Unknown Holocaust'
Irving, Weber Address Upbeat IHR Meeting
News from the Institute for Historical Review
An attentive audience listens to Mark Weber's address at the July 25 meeting
At an upbeat IHR meeting on Saturday evening, July 25, 2009, best-selling British author David Irving and American historian Mark Weber tackled important aspects of twentieth-century history in two informed and well delivered talks.
Among the more than 60 men and women who filled the hotel meeting room in southern California were engineers, businessmen, attorneys, writers, students, community activists and educators, as well as an unusually large number of younger people. Attendees commented on the gathering's buoyant and purposeful spirit, and several remarked that this was the most successful IHR meeting in years. It was also an occasion for fellowship and stimulating conversation. Attendees browsed the many books, booklets and discs available at the sales tables, and Irving autographed copies of his own works.
Speaking with his characteristic verve and mastery of detail, Irving presented "real history" gleaned from a careful study of many hundreds of secret German radio and teletype messages intercepted by the British during World War II. Throughout the war years, specialists at the secretive Bletchley Park center in England deciphered, transcribed, translated and evaluated messages sent through Germany's sophisticated "Enigma" scrambler code machine.
For many years after the end of the war, British authorities continued to treat its wartime decoding of German messages as a state secret, and forbade any public mention of it, not only because they feared criticism that the Allies had not won "fair and square," but also because they were selling refurbished "Enigma" machines to other countries with an assurance that they were undecipherable -- whereas the British themselves were in fact reading the messages transmitted through those machines. It was not until 1974, with the publication of The Ultra Secret by R. W. Winterbotham, that the "Enigma" secret was finally revealed to the world.
In 1964, Irving related, British agents seized the manuscript of his forthcoming book, The Mare's Nest, and his records for the work, because he was about to make public Britain's wartime decoding of the "Enigma" messages. Later, as a kind of compensation for having forbidden him from revealing the secret, British authorities let Irving make use of the original German military personnel file on Erwin Rommel, which they had seized at the end of the war.
The Allies were not alone in intercepting enemy messages, said Irving. Germany also decoded many Allied military communications, which proved of great help, for example, in Rommel's victories against British forces in the north African desert. And in addition to tracking German messages, the British also intercepted and decoded secret American and Japanese communications.
For historians, said Irving, the intercepted "Enigma" messages are a historical source of "bedrock value." But evaluating and making use of them requires patience, attention to detail, and a thorough understanding of the relevant contemporary personalities and context based on a wide-ranging knowledge of World War II history.
David Irving refers to a secret
German wartime message
intercepted by specialists
at the top secret Bletchley
Park center in England
David Irving makes a point
during his address
The British intercepts, Irving said, throw light on the number of victims of the infamous Allied firebombing of Dresden of February 13-15, 1945. He cited an intercepted March 1945 dispatch by the Dresden police chief, who reported a death toll of 135,000, with some 80,000 to 100,000 "missing." This is consistent with figures given by Irving over the years, and discredits the much lower estimates of some historians.
The intercepted German messages, said Irving, confirm mass killings of Jews in Poland and the occupied Soviet territories. These messages, he said, sometimes refer to shootings of Jews as "special actions" ("Sonderaktionen"). He cited, for example, mass shootings of Jews near Riga in late November and early December 1941, which were witnessed by German General Walter Bruns.
Mass killings of Jews, Irving said, were carried out by SS chief Himmler on his own initiative, and without Hitler's authorization or order. This view of "the Holocaust" is essentially the same one he laid out more than 30 years ago in the first edition of his book Hitler's War.
It is important to see these killings in the context of the "rising climate of brutality" of a steadily more savage war, said Irving. From 1943 onwards, German messages report with growing frequency on ever larger numbers of civilians being killed in British-American terror bombings. This context, he added, helps to explain, although not to justify, killings of Jews.
Irving spoke at some length about a top secret January 1943 dispatch by SS officer Hermann Hoefle that reports that, by the end of December 1942, a total of 1,274,166 Jews had been sent to the four "Reinhardt" (or "Reinhart") camps of Lublin (Majdanek), Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka near the Bug river in Poland. As Irving noted, this is precisely the same figure given in the well-known March 1943 "Korherr report," commissioned by Himmler, of the number of Jews who had been subjected to "special treatment," or, as the SS chief preferred that it be reported, who were "channeled through" camps of the "Generalgouvernement" of Poland.
The familiar narrative of "the Holocaust" has improperly focused on Auschwitz, Irving said. This same point was made recently by Yale University historian Timothy Snyder in The New York Review of Books. "An adequate vision of the Holocaust," wrote Snyder, "would place Operation Reinhardt, the murder of the Polish Jews in 1942, at the center of its history ... All in all, as many if not more Jews were killed by bullets as by gas ..."
During the question and answer period that followed his address, Irving responded to a query about the death of US Army General George Patton by saying that, in his view, he was not murdered, but rather was the victim of a motoring mishap. Hitler's "final solution" policy regarding Europe's Jews, Irving said in response to another question, envisioned relocating Jews to Madagascar, a large island off Africa's south-east coast.
In his introduction of Irving, Mark Weber spoke about the efforts to hamper and silence the British historian during his lecture tour this month in the western United States. In concert with a campaign by the Zionist "Coordination Forum for Countering Antisemitism," activists in Portland, San Francisco and some other cities tried, without success, to disrupt and shut down Irving's meetings. On its website, the "Forum" (inaccurately) describes Irving's lectures as a "Holocaust-denial speaking tour," and as "The show that must be stopped." Members of this Israel-based "Coordination Forum" include Israeli government ministries and two of the world's most influential Jewish-Zionist groups, the "Anti-Defamation League" and the World Jewish Congress.
Weber, who was the first of the two featured speakers to address the meeting, began his talk with an update on the Institute for Historical Review and its work. He reported on measures taken during the past half year to improve the IHR's productivity, increase its cost-effectiveness and better secure its future.
Weber reviews an
inflicted on defeated
Germans after the formal
end of the Second
World War in Europe
The latest and most important of these measures has been a laborious move to less expensive and more professional offices a few miles away from the property the IHR had occupied for 15 years -- an undertaking that proved to be much more arduous, time-consuming and costly than expected. This move, said Weber, "re-affirms our dedication to the IHR's long-term effectiveness and survival."
The IHR director said that he has been touched by the generosity of nine local friends of the Institute who thoughtfully donated time and labor to help with the move, and he took a few minutes to express gratitude to each of them. He also expressed appreciation for the good work of the two other staff members who maintain the IHR's operations.
"Our real effectiveness," said Weber, "is measured not by the stridency of our message, or by how much applause we get from a small circle of 'true believers.' It's measured rather by the solidity and focus of our work, and by our ability to reach and influence men and women who care about our world and our future, and especially educators, writers and other opinion makers, and above all perceptive and caring younger men and women."
The major part of Weber's well-received address was about an 'unknown holocaust' -- a "horrible era of destruction, looting, starvation, rape, 'ethnic cleansing,' and mass killing" in which some three million Germans died unnecessarily after the official end of the war in 1945 -- about two million civilians, mostly women, children and elderly, and about one million prisoners of war.
This "'unknown holocaust' of non-Jews," he said, "is essentially ignored not because the facts are disputed or unknown, but rather because this reality does not fit well with the Judeo-centric view of history that is all but obligatory in our society, a view of the past that reflects the Jewish-Zionist hold on our cultural and educational life."
Weber cited a 1972 White House conversation between President Richard Nixon and the Rev. Billy Graham, who spoke about a Jewish 'stranglehold' on the media, and agreed that this grip "has got to be broken or the country's going down the drain." He highlighted the fearful unwillingness of even these very influential men to refer publicly to this important matter.
"An awareness of 'real history' is not enough," said Weber as he concluded his address. "It is important to understand the how and why of the systematic distortion of history in our society, and the power behind that distortion. Understanding and countering that power is a critically important task, not merely for the sake of historical truth in the abstract, but for the sake of our nation and humankind."