International Campaign for Real History

In the High Court of Justice

DJC Irving

- v -

Penguin Books Ltd and Deborah Lipstadt

Quick navigation

In 1993 American scholar Deborah Lipstadt published Denying the Holocaust, product of a research contract funded by an Israeli agency.

British writer David Irving claims that it libels him.


Testimony of Vladimar Petrovich Tarasov

I, Vladimar Petrovich Tarasov, working at 12 Il'inka Street, 103132 Moscow, hereby testify as follows.

1. I have been working for the Federal Archive Service of Russia, formerly known as the Committee for Archive Affairs attached to the Government of the Russian Federation (hereinafter referred to as "ROSARKHIV") since 1991. I am now the deputy manager of ROSARKHIV. In 1992, I took on the function of head of the Department of International Contacts of ROSARKHIV. At that time, Viktor Nikolayevich Bondaryev occupied the post of Director of the Central State Special Archive, which was subsequently renamed the Centre for the Preservation of Collections of Historical Documents (hereinafter referred to as "the Centre"). My duties included deciding on questions associated with access by foreign nationals to the documents contained in the Russian State Archives with which the Centre was connected.

The history of the Centre

2. This archive was set up in 1946 to preserve materials captured from the Nazis during the second world war. It was initially a secret archive to which the public did not have access. In 1951 it moved to the building it currently occupies on Vyborgskaya Street not far from the centre of Moscow. In 1992, it became a public archive and was renamed.

The diaries of Josef Goebbels (hereinafter referred to as "the Diaries")

3. Josef Goebbels kept the Diaries from 1924 to 1945. On his instructions, four back-up copies were made of the original Diaries on glass plates. Each plate accommodated up to 45 pages of text. 66 boxes and 9 envelopes containing these materials fell into our hands at the end of the second world war. Some copies of the Diaries are preserved in the Federal Archive of the FRG in Koblenz. By 1992, this part of the Diaries had already been published by the Munich Institute of Modern History (hereinafter referred to as "IMH") together with the Federal German Archive.

Dr Elke Fröhlich

4. On 11 March 1992, ROSARKHIV sent the Centre a letter concerning the IMH employee Dr Elke Fröhlich, requesting that she be permitted to become acquainted with the documents of the Centre relating to Goebbels. This letter was essential if access was to be gained to the documents in accordance with the rules that had been laid down. Dr Fröhlich visited the Centre at the end of the same month and became acquainted with the documents. No copies were made for her. Subsequently, in June 1992, ROSARKHIV concluded an agreement with IMH concerning an academic edition of the Diaries. Starting in July 1992, in accordance with the instructions of ROSARKHIV, copies were made of the Diaries taken from the Centre by Elke Fröhlich and other IMH staff and passed on to the IMH for publication.

The request of Mr Irving

5. At the end of May 1992, I received a letter from Mr Irving, requesting me to send him an invitation, which he needed to obtain a Russian visa. He informed me that he was working on a biography of Goebbels and wanted to come to Moscow to conduct research at the Centre. I did not send him an invitation, however.

Meeting between Mr Millar and Mr Irving

6. At the start of June 1992, Peter Millar, a journalist working for the Sunday Times newspaper, contacted V.N. Bondaryev concerning access to the Diaries. V.N. Bondaryev informed me that he had met Mr Millar and told him that permission would have to be obtained from ROSARKHIV and that he (V.N. Bondaryev) had no powers to grant such permission. Mr Millar therefore contacted me, and we arranged a meeting. Mr Irving arrived in Moscow at that time. He was here at the time of my meeting with Mr Millar on 9 June.

7. Mr Millar introduced Mr Irving as a respected and authoritative historian working ona biography of Goebbels. Neither of them mentioned using the documents for purposes other than historical research. In view of the excellent references of Mr Irving given by Mr Millar, and in the absence of any reason to refuse access to the Diaries, I gave them permission to become acquainted with the plates in the reading room at the Centre.

Visit by Mr Irving to the Centre on 9 - 11 June

8. As far as I am aware, Mr Irving started work on the very day that he received permission to work at the Centre. He visited the Centre over a number of days and studied the Diaries. Before leaving for London, Mr Irving requested that he be permitted to take copies from the glass negatives in order to illustrate a one-off report on the Diaries in the Sunday Times. He intended to copy the plates during his next visit to Moscow. Mr Irving received approval in principle to copy up to 100 pages of the Diaries.

Mr Irving's next visit to Moscow at the end of June/start of July 1992

9. On 19 June, Mr Irving informed me by fax of his intention to arrive in Moscow on 25 June in order to complete his work at the Centre and requested that he be provided with the glass plates for a short period (1 or 2 days) to enable him to take copies within the permitted limits. As there was no appropriate copying equipment at the Centre at that time, contrary to our normal working procedure, I allowed Mr Irving and Mr Millar to take two glass plates out of the Centre to the offices of the Sunday Times newspaper situated in Moscow. in order to take their copies. We allowed this because Mr Millar and Mr Irving convinced us (as it later turned out by means of deception) that Mr Irving was a reputable historian. Our permission did not include the right to take the plates abroad. The agreement between ROSARKHIV and IMH specifying, in particular, that ROSARKHIV "shall not grant any legal or natural person the right to copy or disseminate in full the diaries of Josef Goebbels covering the period 1924 to 1945 preserved in the archives coming under the jurisdiction of ROSARKHIV" was already applicable at that time. Mr Irving returned the glass plates to the Centre on 3 July.

The period between Mr Irving's visits

10. When Mr Irving visited Moscow for the second time, I was unaware that he had removed glass plates and taken them out of the country after his first visit. On 29 June, ROSARKHIV received a fax from IMH providing a proper description of Mr Irving and his activities and also informing us that Mr Irving had visited IMH in Munich, taken copies from the plates removed from Moscow and asked for their genuineness to be verified. It was immediately after this that the scandal concerning the advertisement in the Sunday Times newspaper indicating that access had been gained to the Diaries broke in the mass media.

The results of the scandal

11. As a result of the scandal surrounding the activities of Mr Irving, I was already aware at the beginning of July that he was in infringement of what we had agreed with him, the rules governing work at the Centre and Russian legislation when he took the plates out of the country and took copies of more than the permitted number of 100 pages. The management of ROSARKHIV decided to deprive Mr Irving of the right to work in Russian state archives. To implement this decision, on 24 August 1992, V.N. Bondaryev issued an order to deprive Mr Irving of the right to work in the reading room of the Centre.

12. As there was widespread interest in the mass media about my attitude to the above, I met the independent journalist Peter Pringle, who had taken an interest in these events, and gave him an interview. I saw a copy of the article by Mr Pringle, which was printed on 4 July in the "Independent" newspaper. I can confirm that the quotes attributed to me are accurate as far as I can recall.

13. I did not answer Mr Irving's letter of 11 August, in which he thanked me for my co-operation and informed me about the publication in the "Süddeutsche Zeitung" newspaper of 6 August of his denials concerning the publication in that newspaper on 22 July of the article "Sensation on glass plates". I had no desire at all to enter into a correspondence with a man who had abused my trust for his own improper ends. If I had known what sort of a person Mr Irving was, of course I would not have helped him to gain access to the Diaries, let alone take copies of the glass plates outside the Centre.

14. The contents of the above statement are accurate as far as I can recall and to the best of my belief.


V.P. Tarasov

Date December 1998

For the purposes of this action Mr Irving would welcome informed opinions on Professor Tarasov, and facts about him and the former East Berlin communist Humboldt University where he studied, from his hundreds of German friends.