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Posted Thursday, July 29, 2004

IrvingDAVID IRVING SAYS: "In about 1970 I persuaded Hitler's film cameraman Walter Frentz in the wee hours of one night to tell me about an episode when he accompanied SS Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler to Minsk in August 1941, and witnessed a massacre of civilians. I have often narrated what Frentz told me on that and subsequent occasions. (For further sources see below). Here is what I told students at Washington State University, Pullman, on April 13, 1998."

Walter Frentz: Eye-witness of the Minsk Massacre

. . . THIS isn't my only claim; I am not the only person who says that -- Professor Gordon Craig, who is the doyen of the American historians says the same; Steven Spender says the same. You'll find this printed in many places, you won't find it in the leaflets that's been handed to you outside this evening.

What has made me the leading authority on the Nazi Party, which I think is one of the guiding forces of evil in the 20th Century, is the fact that I took the trouble to do the ground work. I went to the archives around the world. I spent twenty years tracking down Adolf Hitler's private staff, and interviewing them and winning their confidence, and winning over their private diaries and their letters, and I try to find out.

This is the job of the historian -- Winston Churchill once said this: "The job of the historian is to find out what happened and why." We know what happened; we know what happened in World War II. We haven't really been able to investigate the question why. It's the "why" question that frequently doesn't get asked and answered.

Daniel Goldhagen has written a very good book on the Holocaust. He has written a book telling us who pulled the trigger; who caused the deaths; who did the shooting and the mass exterminations on the eastern front. But he overlooks the basic question, which is far more important to my mind, and this is the question "why"?

Why did the Holocaust happen, for example? Why did the Germans, the Ukrainian, the Latvians and all the other nations which took part in the Holocaust find it so easy to kill the Jews? Why were the Jews so hated? The questions that really matter don't get asked.

Is there a difference in the German mentality? I think there is, and I think Goldhagen in this point, (whom I otherwise share very little in common with), is right.

I can give you one example of this. Outside this lecture theatre, you'll find some very big pictures in colours, which were taken by one of Adolf Hitler's personal cameramen.

He is a personal acquaintance of mine; he's considered a skilled camera man. He is still alive; he's aged ninety. He lives in Lake Constance, and he witnessed a mass shooting. And he told me this one morning, at two in the morning, when we were having a bottle of wine -- in Lake Constance -- he and his wife and I. He said: "You know Mr Irving, I went on a trip to the Eastern Front with the Chief of the SS, Heinrich Himmler. Himmler said to me: 'Herr Frentz, it gets a bit boring here in Hitler's headquarters. You want to come on a little excursion with me?' And Frentz said: "Well, yes, I'd like to go, Herr Reichsführer, it would be very interesting."

He went for three days, in a little column of three six-wheel motor cars, driving around the Eastern Front, visiting the SS police battalions who were doing the shooting. And one evening, Himmler says to this photographer, Walter Frentz: "Herr Frentz, tomorrow morning we are going to be having a mass shooting. Do you want to come along and have a look? A mass extermination, tomorrow morning, first thing. Do you want to come along and have a look?"

And this is where I think an Englishman's mentality is a bit different from the German mentality. Because, if Himmler had said: "Mr Irving, we are going to have a mass shooting tomorrow morning. Do you want to come along and have a look?" I would have said: "Mr Himmler, tomorrow morning is completely inconvenient for me -- any other day of the week I would have been glad to come along and have a look, but not tomorrow."

Frentz said: "I'd love to go," and he described to me what he saw, when he arrived the next morning when he arrived in this village outside Minsk in White Russia, on the Eastern Front. Seven in the morning -- a big field, the SS officers standing at one end in their elegant uniforms, and at the other end they had dug out great big pits, and lorry loads, truck loads of civilians were being driven up, and being stood on the edge of the pit, and machine-gunned into the pit; and eventually one of the gunners comes running across to Frentz -- who is wearing a Luftwaffe uniform, German air-force uniform -- wide-eyed and staring, and saying "I can't do this anymore, can you get me posted to somewhere else?"

At this point incidentally, Mrs Frentz, who is listening to this description to me, interrupts her husband and says: "Walter -- I have never heard this story from you before!" (This is the kind of suppressed history, which exists in the German mentality. You got to dig deep to find this kind of real truth . . . Real History, I call it. "Real History" with capital R and capital H.)

Walter's a bit embarrassed and says to his wife: "I thought I told you this." And his wife, you know the way wives are, she begins to niggle a bit:

She says: "Walter, these people being shot . . . were there women and children being shot, too?"

And he says: "I can't really remember!"

But of course he can remember, he doesn't want to say it.

I give this example, as an example that the fact that, if you spend enough time with these people, you can win their confidence and you can win their trust and you begin to get to the real [bedrock] of what happened and why.

And the other place for findings are in the archives. I am not going to start too much about eye-witnesses, because I am very mistrustful about eye-witnesses, and I leave it to you, particularly the historians amongst you, to decide how far you as individuals should really believe you can trust the evidence of eye-witnesses.

Most of our Holocaust history, which is now available in the library in your university, and in the newspapers and elsewhere, is based on the eye-witness testimony. And sometimes I am a bit tasteless when I say that the eye-witness testimony is really "a matter for psychiatric evaluation."

Not that I am implying that the people are in any way mentally unbalanced, but there is a psychiatric phenomenon, which I myself have been prone to, (I have discovered over the years), that after a time you don't remember what actually happened . . . you are beginning to remember memories . . . and then you remember memories of memories, and after a time the memories becomes confused and polluted with what you have read and what you have been told . . . and here we are fifty years after the event, and you are no longer quite sure what you actually saw with your own eyes and what you've read in the meantime, or seen in the movies.

So [with] eye-witnesses, I plead with you, be very careful, and trust instead what the magistrate's court would believe in: Like forensic evidence or documents.


See also the references by "Holocaust denier" (!) Mr Irving to the same episode in the verbatim transcripts of the Lipstadt Trial, Day 2 and Day 19: (they are large text files), and search for "Frentz" or bulk download the whole trial (1MB, text document, StuffIt expander needed).
Frentz also took the photos of Hitler and Ribbentrop, and of Hitler with his generals 
Frentz's colour photographs of Hitler, Himmler, Puttkamer, Bormann, Below
David Irving's dealings with Walter Frentz


Hitler's War

On page 424 of the 1991 edition of Hitler's War David Irving wrote as follows:

No direct report by Himmler or Heydrich to Hitler on the barbarous massacres of Russian Jews they themselves had witnessed has ever come to light. At supper on October 5, for example, Himmler, who had just returned from his extended tour of the Ukraine on which he had visited Kiev, Nikolaev, and Kherson, related to Hitler his impressions of Kiev. Werner Koeppen, who was a guest at Hitler's table that evening, recorded Himmler's comments:
In Kiev . . . the number of inhabitants is still very great. The people look poor and proletarian, so that we could easily dispense with 80 or 90 percent of them!

Hitler's surviving adjutants, secretaries, and staff stenographers have all testified that never once was any extermination of either the Russian or European Jews mentioned even confidentially at Hitler's Headquarters. Colonel Rudolf Schmundt appears to have suspected what was going on; for when Hitler's movie cameraman Walter Frentz accompanied Himmler to Minsk on an outing with stage designer Benno von Arent, he found himself the horrified witness of a mass open-air execution; Schmundt advised him to destroy the one color photograph he took, and not to poke his nose into matters that did not concern him.

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