Tuesday, August 14, 2007

How Irving tried to create a Soviet forgery

This self-explanatory exchange happened on 9 August. It concerned the alleged doctoring of Soviet documents by Soviet/Russian historian Lev Bezymenskij:
Bezymenski, a Jew, had also written a definitive account of the death of Adolf Hitler. He had been attached at that time as an interpreter to the Red Army unit concerned in Berlin. As an Appendix to his book he published the autopsy report, and it struck me as odd that while it contains such prurient details as that the body had only one testicle, which may well be true, it concealed the fact that Hitler had shot himself; if Bezymenski was to be believed, Hitler had just swallowed poison. There were psychological and propaganda reasons for asserting this.

YEARS later, Bezymenski came clean and admitted that he had been ordered by the Soviet Authorities to doctor the autopsy to conceal the fact that Hitler's skull clearly showed the bullet's entry and exit wounds, and he published a revised edition of his work.

This again just goes to show how careful one has to be before accepting any documents from governments which have political axes to grind. To which I must add that in all the years in which I have worked in Western Archives I have never personally found any forgeries. There are, however, very many such documents floating around private hands, fabricated for one reason or another.
Below you will find the exchange which Irving chose not to publish on his site. The reason for this should be obvious.

Read more!
Mr. Irving, you wrote:

"YEARS later, Bezymenski came clean and admitted that he had been ordered by the Soviet Authorities to doctor the autopsy to conceal the fact that Hitler's skull clearly showed the bullet's entry and exit wounds, and he published a revised edition of his work."

Then you continue about forgeries.

Well, this is incorrect. In his book "Operatsija 'Mif', or how many times Hitler was buried" (http://militera.lib.ru/research/bezymensky2/index.html) Bezymenskij explains what exactly he had lied about on KGB's request (otherwise his book would not come out). He lied when he wrote that the bodies were burnt in 1945 and that on June 3 some SMERSH official reported about this to Moscow. That's all. He did not "doctor" any existing documents, rather, he invented a new one, this SMERSH report. Or, to be more precise, he invented not the document itself, the "text" of which he did not cite, but rather he invented the existence of this document, so to say. He also omitted one forensic report, which stated that no traces of poison were found in the bodies (the Soviet experts explained to him that this doesn't play any role, since the bodies were in bad shape and a week had passed since death). Bezymenskij himself suspects that there was a "double" suicide - both by shooting and poisoning.

In that same book he reprints the (authentic) act which doesn't mention the shooting. The suicide by shooting issue is complex and is explored by Bezymenskij in his book, and doesn't actually involve any forgeries.

Sergey
My dear Sergei

I am reporting what my friend Besymenski TOLD me privately, not what he wrote in his book. We know how much to trust his boks now, don't we. Don't we?

I am very sad that he is dead.

David Irving
(currently in Wiltshire)

By the way: My own bookstore is now open at irvingbooks.com
Mr. Irving, since Bezymenskij confessed about his single lie and a single omission in his book, which are rather serious confessions by themselves, there is no reason to believe that he reprinted the falsified report once again in his new edition, and moreover, there is no reason to think that he wouldn't confess to have had doctored that same report in the first (Soviet) edition.

Yet the report is the same in the new book, because it doesn't mention shooting, and Bezymenskij elaborates on this point at length in his "new" book. This is actually one of his major points - the ideology of the time required for Hitler the "cowardly" death by poisoning rather than "officer's death" by shooting (although, again, probably he used both methods).

I.e.: either you misunderstood Bezymenskij, or you're misremembering what was said by him.

Sergey

PS: an example with Bezymenskij actually demonstrates how _reluctant_ were the Soviets to forge documents. There would be nothing easier for them than to simply write some fantasy reports from scratch, "proving" whatever point they wanted to prove (e.g. that Hitler's corpse was wholly incinerated and ashes were scattered). Rather, Bezymenskij was simply told to omit one report from publication (but they still showed it to him!) and to write that Hitler's corpse was indeed completely incinerated somewhere in beginning of June (they didn't supply him with any fake documents for this either).
Update: Irving linked to this post after the URL had been sent to him.

No comments: