David Irving  Dresden, before and after


April 23, 2009 (Thursday)
Windsor (England)

From Indianapolis, J. too comments on the Saint Croix episode: "My dad always threatened to 'pull over' . . . we knew what that meant. We wouldn't get left behind. He'd just stop driving so he could give us a spanking!"

How trouble-free Jessica is by comparison! I have her at the school by 7:50 a.m. -- an improvement on yesterday but still not good; the reservation of the almost empty third lane of the M4 for buses and taxis -- and no doubt Government ministers too -- between exits 2 and 3 on the M4 seems ridiculous.

At the Public Record Office from nine-thirty I resume my reading of the SS and police decodes, and make two very unexpected finds.

There is an early April 1945 report on the casualties suffered by police officers from Breslau, trapped in the horrific Dresden firestorm of February 13, 1945 (right). On April 5, their commander reports in code: two Schutzpolizei men killed, 35 missing; civil defence police, twenty-five killed, 151 missing; Ukrainian auxiliary police, forty-three killed, 192 missing. "The majority of those missing," he amplifies, "are most probably totally carbonised, and therefore beyond identification."

The other unusual message that we British decoded reveals Himmler's senior officers preparing to subject all foreign prisoners to Sonderbehandlung as things come to an end, and to ensure that Ernst Kaltenbrunner, chief of the Main Homeland Security Agency (RSHA), has his ducks in a row in time because of communication difficulties likely to occur before then. I was always sceptical about this allegation, but here it seems to be confirmed.

Early in the afternoon I drive on into London and park with some difficulty near St James's Station; but my regular barber's is boarded up and gone, lease ended. -- Over to the Law Courts, my hair therefore untrimmed; at two pm the judge literally "hands down" his adverse Judgment in the L. case, and in five minutes I am back down in the Aldwych; it has set back my adversary over £45,000 in legal costs, and me nothing, but I am enjoined from discussing details here (or ever).

I pick up Jessica from her school and we zoom back to Eton in the Pigmobile for coffee and we are home by five pm.


April 24, 2009 (Friday)
Windsor (England)

I DEPOSIT Jessica at the school gates at 7:55 a.m. She is nodding off during most of the drive; confesses that she sat up until eleven pm last night reading a book. I am so impressed by this No. 5.

A website visitor in North Wales has donated fifty dollars for our website this morning. That's nice. "Keep up the good work," He encourages me: "You will be proved right in the end."

Back at the Public Record Office I continue to turn the pages of the immense volumes of decoded SS and police messages, released from top secret files only a few years ago. I have now read nearly fifty volumes and I have reached the year 1945. This particular volume has over 2,000 pages of flimsy paper, with ten or fifteen much-abbreviated decoded German messages typed on each page: the contents are madly out of sequence, bound into the volume in the order they were decoded weeks or months after the war.

I methodically read each one, and type a copy of those messages I may need for my Heinrich Himmler biography. Hard sledding, but it is worth it. Their value as a source is immense -- nothing here has been written just for post-war window-dressing (as some 1944 and 1945 documents clearly have been): nobody guessed that we would ever be reading these secret code messages.


AS THE day draws on I come across a document which I only half-suspected I might ever find. In 1961, when I was writing my first book "The Destruction of Dresden", I was confidentially approached by a German schoolteacher, Hanns Voigt; he said that after the horrific British air raid, he was put in charge of Dresden's Missing Persons Bureau, Abteilung Tote - the Deceased Section. He built an immense card index, and he kept a diary; and he estimated for me that the final death toll in Dresden would have reached 135,000. This was the figure that I, and after me Kurt Vonnegut and others, always used.

Other city officials gave the same kind of estimates. (Later this year I shall post on my website a full dossier on the Dresden death toll.)

Voigt's estimate was a thorn in the side of both German Governments -- both east and west. They had always played down, even trivialised, the air raid casualty figures caused by the British saturation bombing (even as they hyped the numbers killed in the Jewish tragedy).

Only last year a German Government commission consisting of, not just conformist but kow-towing, line-toeing, bowing-and-scraping historians and Nickeseln, agreed that the death roll in the two hour man-made 1945 holocaust in Dresden was far lower, "only 25,000" (or, if possible, even less).

Without doing any in-depth research -- such scholars are far too important for that -- they relied on the police chief's early March 1945 report (which in fact I was the first to find), because it indicated lower figures than Hanns Voigt's for dead and missing.

In the Deborah Lipstadt Trial, her highly-paid chief expert Professor Richard "Skunky" Evans (left) vilified Voigt; he implied that Voigt was a liar, he questioned whether the Missing Persons bureau had ever existed, and he called him a Nazi with an agenda. (Voigt had, we now know, been given a good post-war position in the Soviet Zone before emigrating legally to the West, so the "Nazi" allegation seems unlikely.) Aping Evans, Mr Justice Gray accused me in his 333-page Judgment of falsifying history.

I was not invited to make any submissions to the Dresden Commission. No surprises there. This afternoon, my quiet patience is rewarded. I have come across this new secret document, signed by the police chief of Dresden, and decoded by the British some weeks after the war.

At 5:55 p.m. on March 24, 1945 -- the day in fact when I turned eight, I remember it vividly -- the Dresden Polizeipräsident reported in code to SS Oberführer Dr. Dietrichs:

Re: Missing Persons Situation in Dresden Air Raid Defence region.

The Lord Mayor of Dresden City has established (a) a Central Bureau for Missing Persons and nine Missing Persons registries; (b) eighty- to one-hundred thousand missing-person notifications are estimated to have been registered so far; (c) 9,720 missing-person notifications have been confirmed as fatalities; (d) to date, information on twenty thousand missing person cases has been given out; (e) accurate statistical data possibly only later.

So Voigt was telling the truth.

Even the "hundred thousand" figure for those reported missing must be an under-estimate. There were over half a million homeless refugees in the streets of Dresden, fleeing the Red Army siege of Breslau to the East. Whole refugee families must have been engulfed by the Dresden holocaust, with nobody surviving to report them as "missing".

Another thing seems brutally clear: those listed as "missing" -- in addition to those bodies formally identified and buried or incinerated by this date -- were never going to return. To use the words of the telegram I found yesterday (see above) they were dead, "carbonised," and unidentifiable.

What do these decoded messages tell us about our own lazy and conformist historians, and about "Skunky" Evans in particular? He, and they, would never have found them. It has taken me these many years. Go the extra mile. Eventually, as this morning's Welshman said, "You will be proved right in the end".