Posted Thursday, November 15, 2001

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 But you cannot jump over your own shadow, as the German proverb has it. If you are one of them, you are stuck with it, and you are doomed for ever to behave like one.





Thursday, November 15, 2001
(Key West, Florida, USA)

A CORRESPONDENT tells me he was most amused by Richard Gott's review of Churchill's War in the New Statesman and particularly by Mr Gott's view that while the book "should not be left around for the servants to read" he nevertheless would not want to prevent anyone from publishing it. How very English of him, writes my friend, who reminds me that the same Mr Gott was obliged to resign as Literary Editor of The Guardian on Dec 8, 1994 after The Spectator exposed him as an agent of the KGB. Gott, it seems, was outed by Oleg Gordievsky.

Gott put a more favourable spin on these events at the time -- he admitted innocently taking money from the KGB and accepting their hospitality. The trouble was, he had kept all that a secret. His Guardian colleagues called him "Pol Pot" Gott, and published their own version.

The Spectator invites literary luminaries in its latest issue to comment on their books of the year 2001. Noteworthy is this contribution by David Pryce-Jones, and his choice is not an English book at all:

"This year saw an extraordinary libel case. Deborah Lipstadt called David Irving a falsifier of history, and he sued her for it. It fell to Richard J. Evans, professor of modern history at Cambridge, to be the expert witness providing the evidence to justify Lipstadt's judgment. Evans's findings in Lying for Hitler (Basic Books, US$27) scupper Irving once and for all with an elegance and finality rare in scholarly books. Strange to say, no English publisher has yet brought it out."

Well, that is because any English publisher who publishes Evans's lies within range of the selfsame English law courts knows very well what will hit him.

What do we know about David P-J.? I forget. Oh yes, he's Jewish. Who would'uv guessed it from his name? But then the same could be said of Robert Maxwell, born Jan Hoch, and more than a handful of others. Wheatcroft: now what name sounds more English than that? It proclaims its very Englishness in a soft Somerset burr, without a soupçon of venom in its veins.


I MENTION this otherwise totally irrelevant factor, because so far the literary community appears to me to be polarized around that divide. "They" are the ones who call the shots in New York at the Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, and the Library Journal. They were the gang who ambushed my book GOEBBELS. MASTERMIND OF THE THIRD REICH in April 1996, and wielded their famous bludgeon against St Martin's Press of New York. They were the ones who secretly pressured Macmillan UK Ltd. And now they are the ones who, across the board, are publicly vilifying me; those of them who are my friends are, in private, contemptuous of these literary loudmouths, but it is the latter who have always succeeded in dragging the former into misfortune -- e.g. the tank ditches of Riga -- with them.

Yes, David Pryce-Jones. Double-barreled, and with a "y". I particularly like the "y" -- a nice touch, that: like the "y" that occasionally whines its way into a Smith to produce a somewhat better Smyth or even an infinitely superior Smythe. Ye Olde Pryce-Jones. Ye Olde Tudor-fronted, oak-veneered Pryce-Jones. But you cannot jump over your own shadow, as the German proverb has it. If you are one of them, you are stuck with it, and you are doomed for ever to behave like one.

Take Stewart Stephen, who was editor of the London Evening Standard for a dozen years before the admirable Max Hastings, who more than once darkened my doors to come visit me in Mayfair, or attend a cocktail party, took over the editorial chair.

Mr S.S. -- how unfortunate to bear those initials, in the circumstances -- decreed that my name was never again to appear in his influential paper's pages. I know so, because many years ago the young Standard journalist Mark Inglefield made the mistake of writing up a story on me, and when he learned of his blunder he was good enough to phone me privately and tell me.

It reminds me that somewhere in my dossier is a note on one Miriam Gross: Ms. Gross (somehow I feel sure she is a "Ms.") was once a producer of Channel Four TV's "Bookchoice" programme, then slithered into her present post at The Sunday Telegraph where she is literary editor. She mentioned to a member of my staff that she had instructed that their paper was never again to review a book by me.


TIMES have changed. When that paper was launched in 1962, their gallant first editor Donald McLachlan, a personal friend and former naval Intelligence officer, commissioned a three-part serial based on my book THE DESTRUCTION OF DRESDEN.

By 1967 that worthy newspaper's stable-mate The Daily Telegraph had inserted a page in its secret House Style book, as Private Eye revealed, ordering that I was never to be described as "the historian", only as "the writer." I told the then managing editor Maurice Green that I cared not at all what they chose to call me; but that, it seems, is the way that these powerful newspapers order things.

In the circumstances, one is quite pleased not to be called a historian, if that is the price that has to be paid. Or should that be Pryce? We know that his hero Evans (right) was paid. Donald McLachlan must be turning in his grave when he sees what these nasty upstarts are doing. In country after country this self-appointed elite has always acted the same way; and then they bleat "Why us," when the angry wind suddenly comes blowing the other way across the prairies.


Irving exposes diaries forgery

The AP Wirephoto caption reads:
"hgb-8) HAMBURG, April 25 [1983] (a) English historian David Irving, joining the press conference of STERN magazine as reporter for West German newspaper BILD, interrupts the conference and shows faked Hitler documents and claims that STERN Hitler diaries were also false. (AP WIREPHOTO) 1983 (Loh.string/Thomas Grimm 21625)  334

JUST as I am going to bed, a friend somewhere in cyberspace sends me an article from today's The Guardian in London. I have jovially dubbed this newspaper "Deathwish News" as they continue to smear me, although they'll soon be defending an action I have brought against them in the High Court in London. Today's squirt ("Top 10 literary hoaxes") is poisonous enough to have been penned by The Skunk himself. It seems that bestselling author Tom Carew has published a colourful account of his adventures in Afghanistan, but according to the Ministry of Defence, he never served in the S.A.S. "Carew's stunt," The Guardian tells us, "is just the latest in a long line of literary hoaxes," and it lists the ten biggest. The tenth item is this:

The Hitler diaries. In 1983 a German magazine bought 62 volumes of the 'lost diaries' of Adolf Hitler. They contained such fascinating snippets of Hitler's domestic life as "on my feet all day long" and "must not forget to get tickets for the Olympic Games for Eva Braun." Historians Hugh Trevor-Roper and David Irving were fooled, and the Times published extracts, but the forgeries were eventually exposed as fakes, given away by their historical inaccuracies and anachronistic inks.

Of course exactly the opposite is true. I do hope that nobody tells them about their blunder, so that they can find out all about it in court.

Related items on this website:

Previous Radical's Diary
Index on the origins of anti-semitism
David Irving: Torpedo Running (the exposure of the Hitler Diaries forgery)
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