Personal Documents

[Photo by David Gamble, for
The Independent on Sunday]

David Irving

Diary of a Lecture Tour of South Africa November 1987 (excerpts)

[© David Irving 1998]

WEBSITE VISITORS are invited to read this contemporary diary [in which some names have as a courtesy been omitted], and then the "memory" version of the November 12, 1987 meeting rendered on the World Wide Web by a Mr David Katz of Johannesburg, and to decide for themselves who is lying. [Click for Mr Irving's actual diary of this meeting]

David Irving has kept a personal diary since 1961. It often comes in handy, particularly in legal actions to protect his reputation.

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 Diary of a trip to South Africa

November 1o, 1987 (Tuesday)

(London) -- Johannesburg, South Africa

nce the pilot announced we were just crossing over Athens; later, as it grew light, I could see endless desert expanses below, and no clouds, and the pilot announced a fine view of the Kariba Dam, and then of a big city, Bulawayo [ . . .]

Waltzed through Customs with my 100 kilos of cargo, apparently I should have paid heavily, sales tax etc. Met outside by Frank, affable, and Will (who has had the van we travelled around Natal and Transvaal in last year burned out by Blacks who tried unsuccessfully to steal it). Frank showed us the bullet holes where he shot at two Blacks last night who were trying to steal Jackie's car outside their new home. Frank has arranged a full day's interviews and we move at 11 a.m. over to the four-star Hotel Rosebank where I am to stay. A happy hotel with a minuscule pool, but the day clouded over and the water was cool.[ . . . ]

Eyed the pool during the interviews all morning, but during the one with Melanie Gosling the waiters started hurriedly packing away the cushions and umbrellas, etc., in a manner reminiscent of the Blacks on the beach at Saint-Lucia in 1976, and a clap of thunder heralded a spectacular tropical downpour which continued all afternoon. Just my luck. [ . . . ]

Stayed in hotel all evening, apart from a short walk down the street. Worked revising Göring in the foyer. The Conservative newspapers of Jo'burg and Pretoria are full of my coming. Unfortunately I have left all my Blue Sheets of media and personal contacts in London.

Around 8 p.m. my name was paged: Claire B -- had come to see me with her rather quiet fiancé Burridge, a doctor in Swaziland. We gossiped for an hour, she bristling a bit about some of my more blatant chauvinism, he talking most interestingly about the AIDS epidemic in Black Africa; says he thinks that the Black population in all Africa will die out within a very short space of time.

He attributes the incredibly high AIDS incidence among Blacks to their sexual activity, few Blacks apparently engaging in less than five sexual acts per night. He says the astonishing sexual activity among Black men accounts for why a large number of white female intellectuals and students like having Black boyfriends, which now, of course, they will regret. God works in mysterious ways, but here, He appears to be working remorselessly towards a Final Solution, which may cruelly wipe out not only the Blacks and homosexuals but a large part of the drug addicts and sexually promiscuous and indiscriminate heterosexual population as well.

He says the virus is clearly the same as one known for a long time to have affected the monkey population. -- "The only weapon against AIDS," I suggest, "is an aspirin: clenched firmly between the knees at all times."

November 11, 1987 (Wednesday)

Johannesburg, South Africa [ . . . ]

After lunch Frank and Brian came for a brief planning session; in the middle of which, unexpected, arrived Juanita van Rensburg (Ministry of Information). I persuaded her to take me for a drive around Soweto -- the eponymous Black south-western township lying about an hour's drive from Johannesburg. A three-hour drive around the streets of this sprawling, teeming Black area -- the only White faces to be seen throughout -- produced some overwhelming impressions.

First, the huge billboard at the entrance to the region: WELCOME TO SOWETO, followed by a poster advertising motor tyres next. The "necklacing" atrocities of the ANC appear however to have subsided for the time being (in today's newspapers a fifteen-year-old was reported as being acquitted for being an accomplice, after the gang of Blacks necklacing a 71-year-old forced him to go and buy the petrol; Judge de Villiers said he was clearly an unwilling accomplice.)

Second impression, the smoke haze, almost smog, drifting across the whole region from the thousands of chimneys in the cottages, all burning wood (the region has been stripped of trees by these inhabitants).

The houses themselves are all of a uniform size, probably slightly larger than the living room at Duke Street; all neat, solid, brick-built, with private gardens. R. told me that as many as eight Blacks would crowd into them.

There the neatness ends: the streets, often unmetalled tracks of the familiar rusted earth of the Reef, are awash with waste-paper, beercans, litter and garbage. There are new posters on the telegraph-poles inside Soweto, in Zulu, advertising the blessing of Water, Electricity, Gas, and Transport, and reminding the Sowetans that these commodities are bargains but "have to be paid for." The rent strike is coming to an end.

Audience in Pretoria

 University of Pretoria: the tour begins


A huge audience of well wishers applauds David Irving's speech in Pretoria, South Africa

[November 11 continued]

We pick up five (sic) young Blacks who pile into the back seat of the little white car, and drive for another hour around the streets visiting the well-defended former cottage of Winnie Mandela (she is now building herself a palatial home elsewhere in the region), and seeing a modern white and yellow house on a street corner, which is where a local clergyman lives -- surrounded by the same squalor as the rest of the township.

The Blacks conversed with R. in Tswana and Afrikaans, and sometimes in English.

A hugely entertaining three hours, although the car was so laden with not only the gigantic me and the elephantine J., but five Blacks, that it axles groaned and it barely cleared some of the potholes in the road.

Other impressions of Soweto: small S.A.D.F. convoy, [consisting] of large "pig" bristling with armed soldiers, followed by three scout cars, came out of the township down the road as we approached.

There are 100-foot tall lamp standards, à la night football, spaced at 200 yard intervals, evidently to combat night violence. The whole township was teeming with Blacks, particularly beaming, polished-faced piccaninnies of the most appealing kind. No pet animals that I could see. Large number of auto wrecks, wreckers, and spare parts "dealers".

Back to Johannesburg in the thickening gloom. The weather is really depressing.

R. deposited me at the Rosebank at 6.30 p.m. on the dot, as Frank, Brian, and Janet arrived to take me to dinner. Ordered a T-bone steak, which turned out to be somewhat larger than Churchill's War vol. i.[ . . . ]


November 12, 1987 (Thursday)

Johannesburg -- Pretoria -- Johannesburg

Rose at 7 a.m.: Windhoek radio (German) telephoned, would do a phone interview at 7.30 a.m.; did it.

8.45 a.m. set out for Pretoria with Will in Jaguar. Thirty five minute drive up the freeway, reached along Johannesburg's lanes of jacaranda trees -- already fading, but still caped and canopied with millions of lavender-coloured blooms, which have half fallen to the ground, retaining the colour and providing the lushest of carpets for the cars to drive over . . . to the imposing, uplifting Voortrekker monument outside the town : a cathedral-like structure of sandstone slabs, with an inspiring frieze circling the inside wall depicting the exodus of the Boers from Natal, their crossing of the Drakensberg mountains to the Transvaal and their wars with the Zulus and Matabele and treaties with native kings.[ . . . ] The frieze says all that has to be said about why the Afrikaners intend to stay.

A visit to the Parliament building, lunch with Salome at Pretoria, then I took a train back to Johannesburg. Ticket R5.20, entitling me to a very hard, narrow seat in the 1st [class] compartment marked Blanke. Much dusky singing coming from the 3rd class down the train. Train took nearly two hours, stopping at every station, including evocative suburbs like Kempton Park.

Back at hotel 6 p.m. 6.30 p.m. already Will came to collect me for meeting [ . . . ] I did not expect more than three people to turn out to hear me, and Frank too was pessimistic yesterday, saying he could not predict. As we arrived at the hall -- not far from Göring Street! -- we saw cars converging, headlights, crowds of people. The foyer was packed, the hall rapidly filling. By 7.30 p.m. it was half full, by 8 p.m. (half an hour late) over four hundred people had packed in.

Audience in JohannesburgJohannesburg, November 12, 1987

". . . By 8 p.m. (half an hour late) over four hundred people had packed in."

[November 12, continued]

My biggest Johannesburg meeting yet. Frank had threatened me with dire penalties if The Soap Bubble emerged again, so delivered a relatively new talk -- prefaced with my words of congratulation about Clive Derby-Lewis, who was there with Gay, and now very much the grand M.P. (he was elected at the May elections as a Conservative) [ . . . ] Cheers from the audience, and I added that it was now our duty clearly to address him as "Your Excellency." [ . . . ]


November 13, 1987 (Friday)

Johannesburg -- Pretoria -- Johannesburg

[ . . . ] I am going on night safari tomorrow in East Transvaal, can't make up my mind whether to wear dark pinstripe or not, "So the tigers can't see me." [ . . . ]

Set out for Nelstruip feeling distinctly "put upon" but mellowed as the five hour car journey developed, leaving the dead flat plains of the Western Transvaal, entering the low veldt, crossing through mountain passes reminiscent of southern Austria or the Sequoia in California, past pulp, paper and board mills, overtaking logging trucks as they crawled up the steep inclines, then through into the East Transvaal. Stumpy aloe trees marching up the steep mountain slopes like wellspaced musketeers storming a summit.

Arrived at the Sabi-Sabi private game reserve, some eighty miles from the Mozambique border, in time for a late lunch. Felt a bit like a new boy at school. The other guests a mixture of Lady Grovers, Ned Dunnetts, and occasional Christian Diors. We settled down for lunch. The ranch type hotel (Bush Lodge) is on a small incline overlooking a watering hole about 150 yards away. A few wildebeest and kudu (antelope-like creatures with spiralling antlers) strolled out during the afternoon. I caught up with two hours of solid sunshine, flat on my back. [ . . . ]

At 4.30 p.m. it was time to go on safari. Five long wheelbase Range Rovers stood by, pretty battered, open to the winds and sun. The fifty guests piled in, we were motored slowly around the huge game reserve. The fauna of the region were given ample chance to spy out the species known as homo sapiens turisticus -- a strange multi-bodied creature, with human upper halves, heads clad in a variety of pith helmets, caps, and floppy hats purchased for the occasion, and with its lower half apparently wrapped in olive-green Range Rover. "Meals on wheels," the lions, leopards and other carnivores must have thought as these strange creatures with squeaky suspensions and wheezing engines clanked past them. The tourists displayed themselves to a menagery of large animals over the next four hours -- wildebeest, brindled gnus, warthogs, Bambi-type sjamboks, even giraffes (which I had not seen before) and black rhinoceros. A lot of fun. Towards the end of the drive the crackling radios announced that "igoña" (or that's what is sounded like) had been sighted near a certain sandy bend, and the five Range Rovers met eventually around them -- a pride of lions: the huge male, two lionesses, and three large cubs, which lay around ("The male lion sleeps for eighteen hours a day," said the game warden: I thought of [my daughter] Paloma).

They yawned, growled, then the females suckled the cubs for a while, lay down and gambolled around with them while the male sat fifty yards away, upright and proud, totally ignoring the tourists (who were instructed not on any account to stand up, as the lion's inbuilt memory bank would then identify the shape of Man = Food. So we stayed for half an hour, half encased in our green tins, softly whispering as we watched the lions from perhaps twenty feet away: I must admit to wondering how long it would take the lion, with its black-and-white vision, to re-programme to make the equation 1/2 Man + 1/2 Olive Green tinfoil wrapping (mfd in Solihull, England) = Food. It grew dark, we drove back to the ranch, spotlamp sweeping the bush for signs of leopards which were around. Occasionally cat's eyes blinked brilliantly back at us from a hundred yards away in the darkness.

Back at the Bush Lodge at 8.30 p.m. for supper. Fat, bearded game warden at our table, limping badly. A young lion had crossed the lodge grounds two nights before, he said, one of four that had come quite close two nights before. The lion had mauled his leg before he could get away. I asked where. "Next to No. 14," he said. That was our hut, I reflected unhappily, and looked round all the more warily as I retired alone for the night. [ . . . ]

The only redeeming feature of an agonising camp-style supper, seated in near total blackness while woodsmoke blew around, eating barbecued food garnished with live insects and creepy crawlies that it was too dark to see, was the arrival of a Spanish group, including a statuesque dark-haired girl who turned out to be Carmina Villanueva, 26, and her husband of two weeks, Javier Raimundo Fernandez, slightly older than she; she of Barcelona, he of Madrid, now living, she tells me invitingly, at [address], Madrid. Pleasant gossip, they laughed at the P-A-L-O-M-A) story. [Please, a lot of money at once] My own table laughed uproariously at the Boo Hoo story.[ . . . ]

November 15, 1987 (Sunday)

Sabi-Sabi game reserve -- Pretoria -- Johannesburg

Rose at 8 a.m., having slept very soundly indeed. Wonderful weather, warm and sunny. Spent the whole morning at the Bush Lodge. Sat in the sun, swam, wrote diary up. [ . . . ]

As the drive back to Pretoria is over 300 miles, we left around 12.30 p.m. -- - after I had time for only a brief swim in their minuscule pool.

Only two slices of toast for breakfast, and at the last moment we decided to break for lunch only after the first two hours' driving.

This hope proved illusory, as the journey was slower than calculated and we had to go straight through to Pretoria, arriving at 6.30 p.m. in time for my lecture to the Deutscher Verein (largely on Hess) at 7.00 p.m.. [ . . . ]

November 16, 1987 (Monday)

Johannesburg -- Windhoek (SWA) [ . . . ]

We drove the 30 km into Windhoek, the telegraph polls and walls placarded with DAVID IRVING IS BACK posters -- far better than the timid posters Ray W. had printed in Australia (one centimetre high lettering!) [ . . . ]

On the flight from Jo'burg we were served with Kellogg's: first time that has ever happened. --

Rather unnerving, in fact hugely embarrassing: being driven into and around the city of Windhoek with loudspeakers on top of the VW blaring in three languages that I am back, that I am to speak at 8 p.m., etc. I died several thousand deaths, and slid as far under the instrument panel as my knees would allow. [ . . . ]

11.30 a.m., press conference at Alt Windhuk restaurant, attended by local press and German radio.

One hour, good questions, some quite critical. Lunch there, and back to host's.

The audience rapidly arrived, and by 7.30 p.m. the theatre was nearly full (around 400 people again, although only 280 appeared to buy the R.5 tickets).

I delivered two speeches, the first one, on Churchill in English (because a lot of the audience put up their hands when Roland rather arrogantly asked, "Who cannot understand German here?"); and the second, on Hess, in German. Both were well received, and I sold out of my final books. [ . . . ]

A section of the large audience at Windhoek


A section of the large audience at Windhoek, South-West Africa

Young members of the audience at Windhoek


Young members of the audience at Windhoek, South-West Africa

A Black member of the audience asked some very astute questions, and had to be firmly put down by me at the end. It turned out that he had studied at the university of West Berlin on an S.P.D [German Social-Democrat Party] scholarship. [ . . . ]

Dinner at Alt Windhuk, where Roland prevailed on me to entertain eight of his high school lads who had helped with the posters.

Did so, but felt put upon, as I was hoarse. They also made a donation to me, of a pair of cufflinks: they did not seem much in the half-light, but later inspection shows them to be of solid silver, set with two semi-precious local stones. I must write and thank them all. [ . . . ].


November 17, 1987 (Tuesday)

Windhoek (SWA) -- Cape Town (South Africa)

Rose at 7.50 a.m., after good sleep. Beautiful dry sunshine, 34 deg. C. Around 11 a.m. Frank phoned from Jo'burg: bookshop chains have started ordering Churchill's War, in consequence of local newspaper coverage (Sunday Times there ran a front page story on me in its first edition, cut from later editions). [ . . . ] Monika came at 11 a.m., looking toothsome in a light summer dress and picture-window spectacles; she stayed talking for two hours about archives for her project, a study of British concentration camps in the Boer War (!).

November 18, 1987 (Wednesday)

Cape Town -- (Port Elizabeth) -- Durban (Natal)

[ . . . ] A frantic panic began, to get to the airport for the 7.45 a.m. S.A.A. flight to Durban. [ . . . ] A rather odd programme of media interviews began with Kevin Mayhew, who (belatedly) picked us up at Durban airport. I found myself asking why his Zululand Business Review could possibly have an interest in me. At 12.30 Stuart Flitton of the Natal Mercury came, with photographer. Mervin Orchid of the Zululand Observer failed to show at 2 p.m.. [ . . . ]

7 p.m. downstairs to the Yellowwood Room, where 200 people filled two-thirds of the room to hear me talk on Churchill. A lively, amused audience. I adopted the custom on this tour of pinning on the heavy Idi Amin medal at the beginning of question time, "to give me courage." Ladies afterwards had a habit of coming to the book-table and asking to "see and feel" it. I wonder if this is a new innovation, or did I just miss these innuendoes in earlier years? [ . . . ]

Frank drove us to the city. Checked back into the Rosebank, only a room to-day, they will give me a suite tomorrow.

Audience at Durban Audience in the Yellowwood Room at Durban, Natal

November 20, 1987 (Friday)


11.30 a.m., phoned Southern Books, Michelle McDay, expressed disappointment that for the third time the local Macmillan representatives have completely failed; I mentioned I am lunching with Macmillan directors in London on Monday.

In the evening J. arrived to collect American "lobby specialist" Donald E. who is staying in Room 311 (I am in Suite 309 from today), to spend the evening viewing two SAP [South African Police] videos at home of [ . . . ] about 10 km from here. Three or four yappy dogs bothered all evening.

Good supper, although appetite had suffered from the actual content of the videos: watched one, rubber stamped VIDEO EINHEID SOWETO, and numbered #18 (other was #5). The video lasted 90 minutes, was a rough compilation of South African Police videos, confiscated commercial TV reporters' video footage, etc., and included the most gruesome scenes I have ever witnessed: the very unedited nature of the footage added authenticity.

There were police shots of mass UDF [United Democratic Front, the party led by the later discredited embezzler "Rev." Alan Boesak] demonstrations, the marshals being visible in their [UDF] yellow T-shirts; the mobs jogging, dancing, ululating, whirling all the time, swirling past impassive police troops and soldiers standing, arms akimbo, motionless although outnumbered perhaps 100 to 1; then a small group chases a Black, catches him, in close up -- perhaps 10 feet from the camera -- beats him to the ground, hacks him apart and stabs him with a dagger until he is dead.

A Black woman is necklaced, her back to us, kneeling on the ground; she sways, the Blacks kick her, her arms are pinioned behind her with barbed wire; as she reels under the kicks she tries to pull her skirt down at the back with one pinioned hand.

Viewed from the police Casspir (armoured truck), we see firebombs thrown from houses at us, the troops race in amongst the shanties, we follow with the camera in time to find an eight year old Black boy dying, shot, on the floor of his hut (the Afrikaans voices repeated that he was the one who threw the petrol bombs.)

The video is terrifying to watch, particularly the blood lust of the frenzied Black mobs, chanting Zulu war-songs, calling the name of Oliver Tambo; there is video footage of Winnie Mandela, eyes glazed (she is an alcoholic), then speaking to a mass audience, proclaiming, "With our necklaces we shall liberate!" or words to that effect.


This and the other SAP video are from the classified video library of the authorities here.

They have the feeling that it would not be conducive to S.A.'s good to show them in public (South African television has never shown scenes of anything like such violence or intimidation.)

It is very worrying, and I am convinced that Pretoria is wrong: the footage must be shown, if I can persuade J. to make it available. A long argument develops, she is very reluctant indeed, having been loaned the material in her official capacity to show to Military Intelligence, not to Don and myself.

November 22, 1987 (Sunday)

Johannesburg -- (London)

Rose at 7 a.m., spent the whole day at the hotel apart from a stroll down the hill to get a batch of S.A. newspapers to give the boys at Brentwood [School] tomorrow. [ . . . ]

6 p.m. to Jan Smuts airport. Flight of SAA.234 has been delayed until ten p.m. Rotten facilities, no tables, no restaurant, just inedible ham sandwich. Resumed work on Von Braun. All of them seem fascinated by this typewriter. I switched on overhead light. Blonde stewardess said, "The light illuminates the wrong instrument," with a smile.

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