Posted Friday, September 21, 2001

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 Washington's enemies come in more flavours than Baskin-Robbins. Perhaps Bush now regrets having purchased Slobodan's incarceration by the "neutral" court at The Hague.

Tuesday, September 18, 2001
(Philadelphia, USA)

I SEND this email to London: "I am in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania ... I am going to see the gentleman who has the Rosenberg papers today."

KempnerPhone Walt M., I start reading his boxes of Robert M W Kempner papers, and dictating notes on them until 5:20 p.m. without a break. They are in shocking disarray, stuffed willy nilly into boxes, crates and folders, but there is some good stuff among them, diluted by 90 percent duplicated Nuremberg files, photoprints from US and Foreign Ministry (Loesch!) microfilms, etc. No trace of the missing Rosenberg diaries.

I send this email at 6:18 pm to the Bundesarchiv:

"Ich bin in Pennsylvanien und war heute bei dem Altpapiersammler, und hier ist mein Fundbericht: Gesamtumfang des von ihm erworbenen Nachlasses des US Neben- bzw.,. Hauptanklägers beim IMT-Prozess Dr Robert M W Kempner etwa 1 cbm, bunt zusammengewürfelt und auch -gewürfeltes. Von den fehlenden Rosenberg-Tagebuchseiten kein Spur. Ich habe ein langes Verzeichnis etwas 7 Stunden lang diktiert. Dabei war manches aus der Vorkriegszeit (u.a. Prozess des Kaisers gegen Eugen Mendel wegen Verunglimpfung); geklautes Originalgut aus dem Nachlaß Rosenberg war ein Leitzordner mit etwa 500 Blatt (Behandlung der Ostvölker 1941-3, Ukraine, Vermerk über Besprechung beim Führer im September 1941, u.a.) und einige Einzeldokumente (Durchschriften). Aus dem OKW waren vorhanden zwei wesentliche Originalstücke -- Kriegstagebuch Sonderstab Oldenburg Jan-Juni 1941, Vorbereitungen für Barbarossa, handschriftlich geführt; und eine Akte des Generalmajors Hansgeorg Thomas vom WiRüStab zum gleichen Thema, beide sehr wichtig ("present location: unknown", heisst es im Special Evidence Analysis sheet über diese Aktenstücke). Der Rest des Papiers ist umfangmässig m.E. zu 90 Prozent Mist (Fotokopien aus dem IMT-Bestand, Vervielfältigungen aus gleicher Quelle) und nicht uninteressanter Privatbriefwechsel (Handschreiben) mit Familie, Freunden, Bekannten."


Wednesday, September 19, 2001
(Philadelphia, USA) - New York (NY) - (Philadelphia, USA)

I set out for New York at midday. Traffic is not unusually heavy, and as I sweep up the Jersey Turnpike's last stretch along the Hudson river to the George Washington bridge I glance across at the famous skyline; there is no visible trace of the dust pall in the haze marking where the towers once stood. I spend an hour at the La Cubana cafe on Upper Broadway, having a coffee and tortilla espanola which alas appears to be an unknown variety of that dish. The Club where I am to talk is a stately building on the Upper East side but the room is on the third floor, reached by small elevator not much larger than the famous platform-hoist at Krema II, holding less than 5 people standing at a time. That makes for better security. The function begins at 7 p.m., and is a disappointment; clearly none of my letters of invitation have been delivered by the US postal service in this region yet. At 10 p.m. I am on the road again heading south down the Turnpike, after changing out of my suit and picking up a coffee at the La Cubana. A dim white glow rises from the southern end of Manhattan where salvage operations continue.


Thursday, September 20, 2001
(Philadelphia, USA) -- Washington (DC) -- Fredericksburg (Virginia)

This email to Bente: "Rather an odd function in Manhattan last night. Got back here at 1:30 a.m., so overslept. Once again my letters to New Yorkers (around 150) had not, or only partially, been delivered in time. Boiling heat, very humid. Extraordinary city, totally different from rest of USA. Real melting pot. Very few Caucasian whites now. Good function in a very nice room at top of club, very elegant. No sign of the damage at the end of the city I was in. Lots of those Xerox posters, saying God Bless America and the like. Radio and television obsession with the bombings has now died down a bit, but not much. Now the Americans will go and bomb a lot of innocent Arabs and Muslims, and their Xerox machines will start churning out the same kind of pathetic little "where is..?" posters. Nobody has the faintest idea who was really responsible for the bombings, and only ordinary Americans are asking the question Why. Their newspapers and media still do not. Saw a rain soaked Grosvenor Square on television last night. Looked hard in the background in case the camera glimpsed you. Just beginning to tire of this journey, I have driven 5,000 miles this month."

This came from one of last night's guests:

"Saw you last night in Manhattan. I was particularly grateful that you took us into the cutting edge of your work instead of focusing on its ugly by-product. The Churchill-Roosevelt phone calls are intriguing. I sat in the audience like a sovereign member of a jury: free to draw my own conclusions from the evidence. So much of it circumstantial at this point. And censored!

Thank you for the utterly thought-provoking talk at a reasonable price. ... Your intellectual prowess is high. With little bragging rights be had from bearing witness to your work and drama people look elsewhere. More artist than intellectual, I had to attend in order to see a living embodiment of the English eccentricity that carries over into American lore. I'm thinking of Livingston in Africa and Edison tinkering in Ohio. Furthermore, I was raised a sucker for the "rugged individualism" myth of the American frontiersman. I see this as a carry-over from the mystique of the adventuring Englishman in the Age of Exploration. If I bring Jung into this? Then both New World and Old World maverick can be said to be the same archetype. My interests are novelistic. I find you wildly entertaining and haunting and undismissable. I don't know why Americans don't celebrate themselves through you. In a way, your tour is an Alamo on wheels. I say this with a smile. But also with the greatest respect."

Benté emails 12:34 pm: "No, we haven't been able to get into Grosvenor Square. still a long line of people waiting to get in, and they only allow one person in at the time. However, we left some flowers on Saturday with a policeman. Worrying time for everybody--yesterday on the news they kept going on about the possibility of chemical warfare on London. Scary. In a newspaper yesterday they described George Bush as being "verbally challenged" -- thought that was a pretty accurate description!"

In heavy rain I drive down to the nation's capital, and take over the second floor room of the restaurant where I am to speak. Guests arrive. Again my letters of invitation have not yet been delivered, and those who finally arrive come thanks to my emails. A wail of sirens draws our attention to the window: A glistening cavalcade of black, armourplated, overlong stretch limousines with police outriders is sweeping up Connecticut Avenue: Tony Blair has arrived, and is enjoying American hospitality on his way up to the embassy. I again draw the comparison with Hitler's cavalcade in Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will: The Führer stands upright in an open car, greeted by cheering crowds. Neither Bush nor Blair can afford such luxuries now -- an ugly product of their policies.

A lively pre-dinner discussion develops on the terrorist attack campaign. We talk about the 767 airliner that was brought down in Pennsylvania. One of the guests hands me clippings from the Nashua Times revealing two interesting things: fragments of the plane were found eight miles away, which confirms what I wrote earlier; and the FBI have seized an answering machine with a recording of the phone call from a passenger who spoke of a sudden white puff of smoke in the 767's cabin.

I suggest that one test of this government's frankness will come when they decide whether to release the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder, both of which have been found.

Incidentally, as I reveal in my book The Rise and Fall of the Luftwaffe (published by Little, Brown), it was in fact Hitler who first hit on the idea of installing a Black Box in planes: After the fatal Heinkel crash of Fritz Todt, Hitler's munitions minister, in February 1942, Field Marshal Erhard Milch (above) told his staff at a meeting recorded by stenographers that the Führer had asked him if all important planes could have voice recorders installed in the cockpit so that the cause of such mystery crashes could be determined.

The Pennsylvania pilot's widow has demanded to hear the cockpit voice recording, so that she can hear the last words of her doomed husband. That is an embarrassment, they may well have been something like "What the Hell's that F16 doing -- aaargh!" -- evoking images of that famous Korean-war fighter painting, "Wha-a-am!" by Andy Warhol.

None of those present is willing to accept Bush's glib assurance that Osama Bin Laden is the culprit. He is just the administration's hate-figure of the month. Others have been Saddam Hussein and Slobodan Milosevic. Washington's enemies come in more flavours than Baskin-Robbins. Perhaps Bush now regrets having purchased Slobodan's incarceration by the "neutral" court at The Hague. Bush, hoist by his own petard: Slobodan now has a cast iron alibi.

Pentagon damageI load the car listening to the empty rhetoric of President Bush, addressing both Houses of Congress just down the road from here, in his flat, toneless voice, stumbling like a child over the more difficult words that have been written for him (though his thoughtful speechwriters have kept them to mercifully few).

The speechwriters are not much more erudite than their president, unfortunately. There comes into my head the phrase once used by Winston Churchill about an opponent -- "His speech contained every known cliché except Gentlemen adjust your fly before leaving the lavatory." It also occurs to me that in his blind flailing at the criminal Taliban regime (which his own regime supported with a gift of $43 million as recently as May this year) and by implication pinning the sole responsibility for last week's foul deeds on Osama Bin Laden, Bush may be making himself a hostage to fortune: Suppose Bin Laden is caught, handed over, put out of the way; and the very next week the world sees yet another brilliantly masterminded operation against Bush and his new allies -- what then? Back to Baskin-Robbins to choose a new enemy.

I depart at 10 p.m. exactly for Virginia, heading south again, just as the first grand chords of Brahm's Deutsches Requiem, broadcast live from New York, come over the radio. Heading down I-395 past the Pentagon, I glance to the right, and see the brilliant white klieg lights illuminating the gap-toothed west front of the building. From this distance the damage looks less imposing than I had expected.

The Lincoln's engine purrs, the Requiem music marches majestically on: always one of my favourite pieces, though slightly unfamiliar in this new New York concert setting. The baritone is magnificent, the soprano even better: Traurigkeit! When it concludes, over an hour later, I drive off the interstate and find a motel to rest my bones.

Tomorrow -- that is, today -- Wilmington. Let's see if the letters have arrived.

Previous diary

Sept 13: CNN first reports Pennsylvania crash debris found 8 miles away

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