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Hitler’s Table Talk is a worthless primary source. There, I said it. And I’m not just saying this to evoke a reaction. I’m saying it because I really mean it. The renowned “Hitler expert” Lord Dacre, better known as Hugh Trevor-Roper, knowingly and willingly engaged in a massive cover-up regarding Hitler’s Table Talk (hereafter TT). Had it not been for the outstanding research at the low cost of just $50 taken up by historian Richard Carrier, we might still be in the dark about this, 64 years after TT’s first appearance in the English language. Sorry to bust this bubble, Hitler and Third Reich enthusiasts, but TT is worthless. In this article, I will establish three things: 1) that Hugh Trevor-Roper knowingly and willingly engaged in academic fraud for profit and prestige, 2) that TT is a worthless primary source, and 3) that renowned Hitler “experts”, both revisionist and mainstream, have failed the public regarding reliable Hitler primary sources.
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Before we commence, a brief word about the texts in question is necessary. The so-called “table talks” were written down by Martin Bormann’s aides, Heinrich Heim and Henry Picker, from 1941 to 1944. Aside from Heim and Picker, there are two more “table talk” authors, Bormann himself, “who contributed at least four entries, and a man known only as Müller.”
Mr. Picker was the first to publish his “table talks,” and he did so in German only. They were published as Tischgespräche im Führerhauptquartier 1941–1942, in 1951 and 1963, respectively. His book included some of Heim’s notes that he happened to come across, and which he then altered for his book.
According to Swedish historian Mikael Nilsson, François Genoud, whom we will discuss later, published the first volume of a French version of the “table talks” a year later, following that up with a second volume in 1954. This French version (henceforth LP) “was not based on the same German original as Picker’s… but on a second manuscript that had purportedly been acquired by Genoud, the so-called Bormann-Vermerke” (henceforth B-V). And even though the “form, content and provenance of the [B-V] remain obscure,” historian David Irving attested to this manuscript’s authenticity nonetheless. Adds Nilsson, LP eventually contained both Heim’s and Picker’s notes in subsequent volumes and editions. Genoud then had LP translated into English, by which time it had been “expanded to cover the whole period from 1941 to the end of 1944, and to include all of Heim’s and Picker’s notes said to have been in Genoud’s possession.”
Writes Nilsson in this regard:
“The German text, which the French and English editions are said to be based upon, was, for reasons that are unclear, not published until 1980. It was given the title Monologe im Führerhauptquartier... This edition does not contain Picker’s notes either due to a struggle over intellectual property rights. It does not help that both Heim’s and Picker’s original manuscripts seem to have been lost.” (Emphasis added)
So far, Mr. Carrier is the only historian who has compared these various “table talks” in a systematic way. His conclusions have exposed the English and French “table talks” as “highly questionable,” particularly if they are based on the same manuscript used for Genoud’s Monologe. The English “table talks,” Carrier reveals, are based in whole or part on Genoud’s LP, “and… both the English and French editions contain additions to, and mistranslations of, the German texts that they are supposedly based on.” Nilsson himself “address[es] certain questions related to the authenticity of the B-V, as well as the accuracy of the translations,” all of which is pertinent to most historians’ claim that Hitler is the author/originator of the “table talks.” As we will soon see, he was not.
Indeed, there is a whole lot of mystery and very little certainty surrounding “Hitler’s” supposed “table talks.”
Hugh Trevor-Roper’s Failings
Let’s begin with Hugh Trevor-Roper. Contrary to his respectable and honest public image, Trevor-Roper knowingly and willingly engaged in deception and fraud behind the scenes. The Hitler Diaries, proven to be a fraud, were not a unique fail for Trevor-Roper. In fact, as Nilsson has demonstrated, Trevor-Roper had a long trail of academic fails that he hid from the public eye.
His first fail is The Testament of Adolf Hitler, also known as Hitlers politisches Testament, first published in French in 1959, and in English in 1961. David Irving and other historians such as Ian Kershaw, exposed this document, which was “acquired” and doctored by the notorious NS apologist and document peddler François Genoud, as a fraud. A fake. One look at the doctored text should have dissuaded Trevor-Roper from even considering its authentication and subsequent publication:
Figure 1. “This is a passage of the typescript of Hitlers Politisches Testament, as published by Albrecht Knaus Verlag, Munich, despite warnings from Mr Irving: the typescript, given to David Irving by Genoud, is largely written by Genoud himself (handwriting). David Irving has deposited this typescript with the Institut für Zeitgeschichte, Munich (Sammlung Irving).”
Yet, publish it he did.
Unlike Trevor-Roper, Irving even compared the marginal handwriting to that of Genoud in a letter he had received from him. It is a perfect match:
Figure 2. “This is François Genoud’s handwriting, a 1977 letter transmitting to David Irving exclusively several pages of the original Bormann Vermerke (genuine notes on Hitler’s Table Talk) for the German edition of Hitler’s War.”
Irving noted in this regard:
“In 1979, Genoud phoned Mr Irving at his Paris hotel, and said: ‘I have a gift for you.’ He handed him a package. It contained a copy of the complete typescript of the Testament. The package gift from Genoud raised a new problem. Every page was heavily amended and expanded in somebody’s hand-writing. Mr Irving, astonished, asked Genoud whose was the writing. Genoud admitted it was his own. Later still, he admitted in conversation with Mr Irving that the entire typescript was his own confection, saying: ‘But it is just what Hitler would have said, isn’t it?’”
Et tu, Mr. Irving?
It is a mystery, then, why Irving failed to subject TT to the same degree of scrutiny that he aptly applied to The Testament, and later on to the Hitler Diaries. Nilsson writes of Irving, Trevor-Roper, and the fraudulent Testament:
“[… W]hen answering a question regarding this point coming from David Irving in late 1967 (Irving thought it was a forgery) [Trevor-Roper] stated that the style and context, Bormann’s signature, and Genoud’s story about how the document came to him, and the fact that Trevor-Roper could not see the motives for Genoud to produce a forgery, all pointed towards authenticity. Trevor-Roper did admit, though, that it was difficult to penetrate the mind of the perfect forger, and that highly qualified scholars had devoted enormous amounts of time to producing forgeries for nothing more than the private satisfaction of having fooled the experts. Because of this, Trevor-Roper wrote, one could not ‘reason confidently in such a matter’. As the evidence stood, however, he was inclined to believe it was genuine. Nevertheless, in public Trevor-Roper did in fact ‘reason confidently’ with regard to Genoud’s documents; in fact he never even hinted at any doubts or problems relating to them. By May 1969, after thinking about Irving’s objections a good deal, he had become even surer about its authenticity.” (Emphasis added)
We now know that Genoud, who lied to Trevor-Roper and to Mr. Irving’s faces about the authenticity of The Testament, also lied about the authenticity of his TT. Genoud (and partner Hans Rechenberg) told historian and sociologist Eduard Baumgarten, whom Genoud was also trying to hoodwink into accepting The Testament as authentic,
“that Trevor-Roper had brought with him a colleague from Oxford who had examined the photocopy and concluded it was genuine. The photocopy had been returned the same day, according to Genoud and Rechenberg… However, this was a lie (and it was not the only lie about this meeting they had fed to Baumgarten). Trevor-Roper had not brought anyone with him and he had only been allowed to see the document in the hotel in Paris.”
What, then, could possibly have compelled Mr. Irving to write the following unequivocal endorsement of TT, when in fact he had doubted The Testament’s authenticity contrary to the opinion of Trevor-Roper (who had likely deceived Mr. Irving, as suggested by Nilsson’s assessment of their exchanges concerning The Testament).
About TT’s authenticity, Irving writes on his website:
“HITLER’S Table Talk comes from the original Bormann Vermerke which the late François Genoud purchased from Bormann’s widow Gerda Bormann. They were actually typed from notes taken by the stenographer Heinrich Heim, whom I interviewed and who confirmed the procedure in detail. Each day’s entry was initialled by Bormann at the end. They are genuine, in the first person, and highly reliable.
2. Henry Picker took over as Bormann’s secretary/adjutant from Heim. He found a lot of Heim’s notes in his desk and rewrote them in reported speech and published them and his own notes as Hitlers Tischgespräche. Good, but less reliable.”
This is untrue. Heim’s notes have never been authenticated, so Irving cannot possibly claim they “are genuine.” The notes are not in the “first person.” If Heim told Irving they were, then Heim lied. Indeed, Heim testified in court that he rarely took any notes while in Hitler’s presence, and most were written the next day or even days later based on his memory. As such, they are not “highly reliable.” We have Mr. Nilsson to thank for exposing all this. Without the following testimony from Heim, we might still be in the dark and dependent on Irving’s faulty assessment.
Richard Carrier writes pertaining to the reliability of Heim’s notes:
“[… N]one of the material in the Table Talk consists of the words of Hitler. No one was stenographically recording what he said as he said it. Rather, Heim and Picker, separately, simply hung out with Hitler during these rants, and then the next day wrote down their own thoughts about what he had said (as if in Hitler’s voice). So these are actually the words of Picker and Heim—not Hitler. (And in some cases of Martin Bormann, as the Monologe explicitly shows some entries and alterations were made by him.) Worse, after Heim wrote down his thoughts a day later based on his loose memory of what he thought Hitler said (which means in Heim’s own words, not actually Hitler’s), and had them typed out, he then went back and hand-wrote lengthy and elaborate changes and additions. Those revisions appear in the Monologe, but not in Picker’s edition.”
At least we can thank Mr. Heim, post facto, for embellishing his original “first person in Hitler’s own words” notes. Had he not done this we might never have caught this fraud. As well, we might still be wading through dark waters had Mr. Henry Picker not appropriated Heim’s notes and claimed them as his own. At any rate, this whole scandalous fiasco has been blown wide open with all the courtroom testimony surrounding intellectual-property rights and TT, which only Nilsson has examined to date.
Carrier reports on this courtroom bombshell:
“[… T]hose changes and additions were not the words of Hitler. They were just more things in afterthought, sometimes days or weeks later, Heim wanted to add. But even the original drafts were not literally the words of Hitler. Picker thought Heim had been transcribing live dictation because Picker found (and used for his edition) Heim’s stenographic notes. But Heim testified in court that he only wrote his notes down in steno the next day, from memory (and sometimes some scribbled notes to himself on the occasion of a rant). Picker never knew that Heim had then typed them out (producing a slightly different German text even where Picker and Monologe agree, thus explaining those deviations) and then revised them further from his own handwritten notes—producing a more final edition under the also-meddling hand of Martin Bormann. It is that latter that came into Genoud’s possession, and was eventually published as the Monologe. Thus, more or less, all the discrepancies are now explained.”
May I ask again how Mr. Irving can possibly proclaim that TT is “genuine, in the first person, and highly reliable”? He was right about the Hitler Diaries being fraudulent, contrary to the “expert opinion” of Lord Dacre who had stunningly based its authentication on its own internal validity. In other words, because it sounded like Hitler, well, it must be Hitler! When the paper was later tested and the fraud exposed, Lord Dacre’s prestige took a massive blow. Imagine if Irving or some other notable historian, whether revisionist or mainstream, had exposed Lord Dacre’s other frauds? The fact that Trevor-Roper had two strikes against him – The Testament fraud and the Hitler Diaries fraud – ought to have raised many more eyebrows than have been raised vis-à-vis TT. Yet, where are the critics other than Mr. Carrier and Mr. Nilsson? We still have someone touting the TT in its own dedicated podcast series, Episodes 1 through 56. One revisionist writes on her website:
“∙ How trustworthy is this text, since Martin Bormann assigned two of his aides to take the notes during meals, then turn them over to him for ‘checking’ and safekeeping;
∙ Why it is valuable to study this book;
∙ Questions about the translation and translators – for example, did François Genoud tamper with the parts about Christianity;
∙ Of those offended by this book, Christians are #1 on the list, complaining that it does not agree with Hitler’s ‘public record’ of positive remarks about Christianity in earlier years;
∙ David Irving and Albert Speer both confirmed that these recorded talks are authentically Hitler; Richard Carrier disagrees;
∙ Next week we’ll begin reading the text.”
Indeed, the only aspect of TT with which most National Socialists disagree is a few select entries about Christianity. Everything else is “legit” in their collective opinion. TT remains the most highly valued text next to Mein Kampf, also the result of extensive editing and external influence (such as that of Rudolf Hess and Max Amann), in the White-Nationalist, Hitler-worshiping community. We therefore owe it to these groups, and to the public at large, to tell them the truth about this text. It is not the words of Adolf Hitler.
Again, I hope that Mr. Irving was simply (and naively) duped into accepting TT as reliable by Heinrich Heim and Hugh Trevor-Roper. I hope that Irving went along with Heim’s claims and Trevor-Roper’s opinion because he really believed these two men. Otherwise, if Irving was ever privy to either man’s lies or doubts, then he is equally guilty of fraud for the sake of profit and prestige.
At any rate, now that the “cat’s out of the bag,” Mr. Irving needs to announce the truth about TT. He needs to admit that Heim lied to him about his “authentic” notes. Irving owes it to the revisionist community, which places much faith in his scholarship and opinion. Irving will not be hurt by this. Irving initially correctly suspected two frauds before anyone else did: the Hitler Diaries (forged by Konrad Kujau) and The Testament (forged by François Genoud). He can afford to have been incorrect about TT, because nearly every historian was (and still is). The only person who stands to be ruined by these revelations is Trevor-Roper. Trevor-Roper lied about no fewer than three Hitler primary sources: The Testament, the Hitler Diaries, and Table Talk.
The most likely explanation for Irving’s endorsement of TT above is that he was effectively deceived and influenced by the ‘expert opinion’ of Hugh Trevor-Roper and other mainstream historians who likewise accepted it, with or without question. Much to his credit, Irving doubted The Testament’s authenticity from the get-go, and he had informed Trevor-Roper of his doubts; but he appears to have been persuaded otherwise by Trevor-Roper regarding TT. How else could Mr. Irving endorse a Genoud document which had no original manuscript to back it? Nilsson’s research uncovered that there is no original German manuscript for TT as it currently exists. The English edition of TT is in fact a mish-mash of Genoud’s French version (which was back-translated into German!), 40 pages of Heim’s notes (which have not yet been authenticated), and Henry Picker’s notes and embellishments of some of Heim’s notes (also for which there is no original manuscript). The only original transcripts we have are a stack of 40 pages of stenographer Heinrich Heim’s notes, which were seized by the Allies and placed in the Library of Congress.
It is possible that Mr. Irving has an alternative motive for accepting TT as totally reliable, but unless he states his motive publicly, the above is my best guess. He was convinced by Trevor-Roper’s endorsement of it based on Trevor-Roper’s claim to have seen and authenticated the German original. In fact, Trevor-Roper lied about ever seeing and authenticating an original of TT.
Mr. Carrier, perhaps a shrewder and bolder critic of Lord Dacre, unabashedly writes on his website:
“[W…]hen Trevor-Roper lists problems with the text [in his introductory TT essay “The Mind of Adolf Hitler”], he does not mention that the French was used anywhere in it or that there was anything problematic about the translation process at all. Indeed, in the original preface from 1953, no mention was made even of there being a French edition, much less that one was used at any point instead of the original German—which is a remarkable thing to omit.”
“Well, Thank You, Dr. Carrier”
We will now address how we have been let down, “bigly”, by revisionists and mainstream historians alike. Had it not been for a simple request to expose a few suspect Hitler quotes about Christianity back in 2003, we might still be “in the dark” about TT. Mr. Carrier writes pertaining to this:
“When I discovered that in fact the English was coming from the French, for all entries that at the time existed in French, all the leading experts I consulted were surprised by my findings: all the peer reviewers and editors at GSR [German Studies Review]; Gerhard Weinberg, author of the famous 1952 Guide to Captured German Documents (the expert I spoke to on German documents in preparing the GSR article at the advice of GSR’s editor); Richard Steigmann-Gall, historian and expert on Hitler’s religious beliefs, and author of the book that now cites me; and of course Dr. Mikael Nilsson; but even, sort of, Hugh Trevor-Roper himself.”
I myself noticed, after consulting Pastor V. S. Herrell’s The Real Hitler, that Hitler was literally contradicting himself from day to day. This was especially noticeable relating to the subject of women and Christianity in TT. Hitler did tailor his remarks to his audience, true. And he contradicted himself on occasion like we all do. But the anti-woman and anti-Christian statements he allegedly made during his table talks were too much even for Hitler admirers! Even they suspected that something was amiss. I did too. In fact, I wrote a few essays on the subject of TT and Hitler’s Christianity back in 2006 when I still had my “Adolf Hitler Research Society” website.
As well, I wondered how it was that Louis Kilzer could claim that Bormann had insisted upon the utmost secrecy when recording Hitler’s words. Hitler could not know under any circumstances, writes Kilzer in Hitler’s Traitor. If Heim and Picker (and for a brief time Werner Koeppen, according to Toland and Kilzer) had been taking their notes in Hitler’s presence and in the first person, then how could they possibly conceal what they were doing? It didn’t make sense to me. But now we know from Heim’s court testimony, and from the research of Nilsson, that neither Heim nor Picker ever took but a few select notes in Hitler’s presence. Heim testified that he wrote his notes the next day or days later, and that Bormann signed off on them as though they were Hitler’s own words. Aside from an occasional scribble on a piece of note paper made in Hitler’s presence, they were never Hitler’s words, but the words of Heim and Picker simply recalling what Hitler had said (or what they thought he said). Since Picker’s notes are based in part on Heim’s stolen notes, which were then embellished and altered, neither man’s notes can be said to be the words of Adolf Hitler. The truth is that Picker’s and Heim’s notes are no more reliable or true to Hitler himself than the recollections of any of Hitler’s adjutants, such as Heinz Linge, Traudl Junge, Christa Schroeder, Otto Wagener, Kurt Luedecke, Ernst Hanfstaengl, etc. All of these recollections are based on human memory and notes that were occasionally written down for later reference. Albert Speer testified to Bormann occasionally jotting such notes; Otto Wagener claimed to have jotted down such notes; and Heinrich Heim admitted that he had only sometimes taken notes as Hitler spoke.
Repercussions of this Scandal
The collapse of TT and its exposure as a fraud makes the actual stenographic record of Hitler’s military conferences and utterings more valuable, along with his speeches behind closed doors. Two documents which come to mind include Hitler’s 1944 speech to officers and generals at Platterhof and the published text Hitler and His Generals.
In any case, Nilsson nailed it when he wrote, “it is not clear who the real author” of TT is. “We simply do not know how much of it is Hitler’s words as they were spoken, and how much is a product of the later recollection and editing process.”
And that’s the final word on TT as a primary source. It is worthless until every single original manuscript upon which it is based has been located and authenticated insofar as that is even possible, systematically assessed by a team of Hitler experts, freshly collated to include also the notes taken by Werner Koeppen, and then retranslated (into English, etc.)
As Richard Carrier astutely concludes:
“Here we have, within literally just days, the actual words of Hitler being distorted and filtered through the faulty memories, wishes and interpretations, and deliberate alterations, of several parties. And this was not even oral transmission, but in writing! Picker relayed slightly different memories than Heim’s, and even relayed the incomplete memories of Heim, who was continuing to ‘alter the text’ after transmitting an earlier version of it to Picker. And then, within mere years, less than a decade in fact, these distorted texts were altered even further, when they were translated into other languages.”
Picker & Heim’s “Table Talks” Must Be Checked against Koeppen’s Notes
Neither Carrier’s nor Nilsson’s assessments include the steno notes purportedly taken by Werner Koeppen, Alfred Rosenberg’s FHQ liaison. Author Louis Kilzer writes that Koeppen jotted notes while Hitler spoke, including top-secret military information. If true, any future editions of TT must be checked against Koeppen’s notes for the sake of validity. Depending on which person was taking notes while Koeppen was also present before Hitler, his – i.e., Picker’s or Heim’s notes – notes should match closely with those of Koeppen if they are to be accepted as reliable. Otherwise, future editions must admit, readily and openly in the introduction, that TT is uncorroborated and therefore unreliable as an account of Hitler’s own words. All entries based on Genoud’s French manuscript must be eliminated from any future editions.
Since I have not yet been able to examine the book that appears to contain Koeppen’s notes, I am not sure who authenticated them—if anyone has. Historian John Toland appears to have taken Koeppen seriously, as he references him extensively in his Hitler biography.
Toland writes of Koeppen:
“Since early July , at Rosenberg’s behest, he had been circumspectly recording the Führer’s table conversations. Koeppen assumed Hitler knew what he was doing and would furtively jot down notes on his paper napkin, then immediately after the meal write out only those parts of the conversation he could distinctly remember. An original and one copy of his records were forwarded to Berlin by courier.”
Kilzer believes that Koeppen was a spy with possibly nefarious intent. While I am unsure about this, I do find it odd that an unnamed “courier” was passing on secret notes to Berlin which included “military matters.” Heim’s notes contained no military information “for security,” as he would later assert. However, there are more relevant problems with Koeppen’s and Heim’s claims as documented by Toland. For instance, Koeppen “assumed Hitler knew what he [Koeppen] was doing,” but according to historian Ian Kershaw, who also attests to the validity of TT, Hitler’s secretaries never noticed any direct notetaking going on in Hitler’s presence.
Nilsson writes in footnote 60 of his article:
“Ian Kershaw states that the ‘tone of the monologues is unmistakingly Hitler’[!] But he also notes that Hitler’s many secretaries seem to have been unaware of these being taken down by anyone. At least one of them questioned their authenticity although she thought it might be a compilation of Hitler’s thoughts. She even ruled out the possibility of Bormann having recorded Hitler’s words precisely because of the fact that Hitler hated ad verbatim records of his off the cuff statements.”
Wow. Now we have to question Mr. Kershaw’s expertise as well as Koeppen’s reliability. And, of course, Koeppen’s one and only book must be carefully scrutinized to determine how useful it is as a record of what Hitler allegedly said. I cannot say whether there is an original, authenticated Koeppen manuscript. If there is one, it needs to be checked against his book. In addition, Koeppen’s original manuscript and subsequent book must be established as reliable or not. If it is reliable, it would serve as an excellent comparison text in relation to Heim’s and Picker’s notes. There is still much work to be done.
In Biography, Toland avows that Koeppen’s notes corroborate Heim’s. Perhaps they do, but this avowal by Toland brings up a second problem with his (Toland’s) reliance on Heim. Toland claims that Heim took down “copious notes on index cards which he hid in his lap” because he “wanted more accurate results” than Martin Bormann had requested. Bormann explicitly requested that Heim “rely on his memory” so that “Hitler wouldn’t know” he was being clandestinely recorded. Why, then, did Heim attest in court under oath that he recorded his notes the next day and even significantly embellished them post facto? “[Heim’s extensive] revisions appear in the Monologe, but not in Picker’s edition,” writes Carrier. He then adds that
“[…] Heim testified in court that he only wrote his notes down in steno the next day, from memory (and sometimes some scribbled notes to himself on the occasion of a rant). Picker never knew that Heim had then typed them out (producing a slightly different German text even where Picker and Monologe agree, thus explaining those deviations) and then revised them further from his own handwritten notes—producing a more final edition under the also-meddling hand of Martin Bormann.”
We can only conclude from this that Heim lied and that Toland believed his lies. Again, it is a scholarly blessing that Picker decided to steal some of Heim’s original notes and include them in his book as his own recordings, otherwise we might never have exposed Heim as the serial fabricator he was.
We have now come full circle in this article. We have established that Hugh Trevor-Roper (Lord Dacre) knowingly and willingly lied to the public for the sake of profit and personal prestige as the world’s foremost “Hitler expert.”
We learn this from Genoud himelf (in a letter to Lord Dacre):
“The only thing that should count is, in my opinion, the historical value of these documents that we are talking about. Accordingly, it seems to me to be essential that your testimony can be put forth. You are unanimously recognized as the most qualified specialist in this matter, and I am sure that your objective opinion would have immense weight.”
And it did.
Here is my own assessment of TT while I was studying for my bachelor’s degree. I naively trusted the ‘establishment expertise’ of Lord Dacre like millions of other students worldwide—all duped by this fraud.
I had written on my former website back in 2006:
“The table talks may portray a Hitler who had qualms with church and clergy, but they do not at all portray an agnostic, atheistic, or non-Christian Hitler. The table talks are most likely absolutely genuine. The only table talks that have been disputed, as to their credibility, are the final 1945 table talks. They are sold as a book entitled, The Testament of Adolf Hitler: The Hitler-Bormann Documents. These are the only table talks that might qualify as embellished or fraudulent… Moreover, it is my belief that historian Hugh Trevor-Roper would have been privy to fraudulent documents. He was certainly a credible and high quality historian. His discretion can be trusted over most others. I must say, though, that he did not notice that the so-called ‘Hitler diaries’ were written on new age paper; also, he overlooked the fact that Hitler never wrote anything down. So, he is not totally reliable, but mostly reliable. Historian David Irving exposed the fraudulent diaries, and he claims that the final 1945 table talks are fraudulent.” (Emphasis added)
As we can all see, I too trusted the expertise and word of Hugh Trevor-Roper.
Next, we have exposed the TT as a worthless primary source. Nilsson judiciously concludes that “it is not clear who the real author of the words printed in these books is. We simply do not know how much of it is Hitler’s words as they were spoken, and how much is a product of the later recollection and editing process.” Unless and until this is resolved, the TT must be discarded as a genuine primary source. It has never been genuine.
Fortunately, I came across the excellent work of the “two Richards”, Richard Steigmann-Gall (author of The Holy Reich) and Richard Carrier (author of “Hitler’s Table Talk: Troubling Finds”). I owe it to these two researchers that I myself began to seriously question the authenticity of TT.
After reading the work of these two, I wrote on my website the following analysis of TT and its obvious problems:
“Issues with Bormann’s Table-Talk
Even though there is a marked duality in Hitler’s thoughts regarding the Christian religion within the various table talks, one cannot help but affirm that he maintained a consistent, positive, enthusiastic, and conciliatory attitude toward Christianity—at least up until the point of the table talks, as recorded by Martin Bormann.
[…] As a final point on this matter, the anticlerical, anti-paganist, anti-Christian, Martin Bormann ‘was indeed motivated not by a committed ideological opposition to Christianity, but by an attempt to outdo other Nazis, to shame them and thereby bring them under his control. His extremism transgressed the views of radicals like Rosenberg and even Hitler himself and seemed at times to flirt with atheism. In his attempted forays into ideology, he never mentioned Jesus, Luther, or positive Christianity [he was careful to avoid certain topics, obviously]. He seems to have outdone the party’s anti-Christians at their own game. Given the many attempts within the party to curb him, it is safe to conclude that, without Bormann, Nazism would not have received quite the same anti-Christian reputation. He remained a party functionary first and foremost. His obsession with the churches, although very real, was as much about asserting his position in the party as it was about a true ideological commitment to Nazism. The singularity of this obsession, most likely based on a febrile need for Hitler’s affection and a mounting hatred for his in-laws, arguably constituted a departure from Nazism as much as its most radical expression.’”
And we have this similar analysis from my website back in 2006:
“Hitler according to Martin Bormann’s Hitler’s Table-Talk: 1941-1944, Orig. pub. date 1953, this edition 2000, intro. by Hugh Trevor-Roper
Martin Bormann’s stenographically recorded memoirs are not completely reliable for a few notable reasons. Firstly, Bormann was a staunch and rabid anti-Christian. He was personally responsible for attacks against the Churches during Hitler’s presidency, along with Alfred Rosenberg. But even Rosenberg was not as opposed to the Churches as Bormann had been. Bormann is also known to have withheld numerous Jewish clemency applications from Hitler because he did not want them to get through to the Führer [see Bryan Rigg’s Hitler’s Jewish Soldiers].
Secondly, Bormann oftentimes interjected his own commentary here and there throughout these ‘table-talks.’ Thus, we have to assume that he may have altered some of the arguments allegedly put forth by Hitler. These conversations were subject to Bormann’s personal alteration, deletion, and manipulation after they were recorded. They should be read with caution, just as Robert McNamara’s In Retrospect should be read with caution. Indeed, Mr. McNamara cleverly indicts everyone in the Johnson administration—including the Joint Chiefs, whose job it was to win the Vietnam War—except himself.
Additionally, Hitler never attacks so many people or subjects—namely Jews and Christianity—with such virulent vehemence as he does in this particular set of memoirs. Bormann’s memoirs remain in stark opposition and contradiction to dozens of other sets of memoirs, many of which were written by individuals who had no reason to portray a decent portrait of Hitler.
Furthermore, Hitler is not portrayed as [as] eloquent a speaker as he had been in other memoirs. He comes off as somewhat crude and roughshod in this tract; thus, one may confidently assume that the stenographer left out a good portion of what Hitler had actually said. Numerous accounts of Hitler’s incredible speaking ability and eloquent conversational standards can affirm this.
Lastly, we have to be careful with regards to translation. Translators are also subject to their own personal biases and, oftentimes, they will choose the wrong word or phrase, or an inaccurate word or phrase for the English translation. One example that comes to mind is the difference between the translation of the German term that Hitler had used in Mein Kampf, versus, the term used in his personal notes, to describe the situation in the Rhineland while it was under French occupation. Ralph Mannheim translated Hitler’s term as N*ggerization (in Mein Kampf), whereas Werner Maser translated Hitler’s term as Negrification (in Hitler’s Letters and Notes). Any intelligent person can see that there is a stark difference between these two terms. So, bear in mind, the translator of Table-Talk may have also allowed his own personal bias, against Hitler’s person, to affect his English translation.”
Not bad for a bachelor’s-level writer. My egoism aside, I was not far off in my assessment. In fact, not even Nilsson lets Lord Dacre’s translator off the hook. With reference to this he writes:
“Apparently […] Stevens was not as good a translator as they thought. Weidenfeld [the publisher of TT] used him also for the translation of the Bormann letters only a little over half a year later but then felt obliged to correct his translations by using another translator. ‘Mr. Weidenfeld considers the translation now to be reliable as Col. Stevens’s version has been entirely revised by, I believe, Ilsa Barea’, said a letter then from the publisher to Trevor-Roper. However, Trevor-Roper still thought there were mistranslations, something that worried the publisher quite a bit.” (Emphasis added)
But this isn’t the only alarming aspect of TT’s byzantine translation process. Stevens was likely a fine German-to-English translator, but when Lord Dacre compared his translation with Heim’s and Picker’s
German notes, he must have balked at the numerous incongruities. Indeed, Stevens never referred to an “original manuscript,” but only to “the original German.” Apparently that “original German” was Genoud’s own back-translated version based on his French edition. This is the only logical explanation as to why one of the German editions, the one that Stevens must have worked from, perfectly matched Genoud’s French edition. Lord Dacre was allegedly “hoodwinked” by this back-translated edition. Now it makes sense why Genoud demanded that Lord Dacre and his team agree to the following stipulation:
“III. The translation into English will be made on the basis of the French version by François Genoud and it is agreed that the licensor will permit the translator appointed by the licensee to examine at any time in Switzerland the original German version insofar as this is required by the work of translation.” (Emphasis added)
Since Genoud authorized consulting “the original German” in the proviso above, it is probable that Stevens used it. And this would have been Genoud’s back-translated German edition, which, like the English edition Stevens was working on, was also “made on the basis of the French version by François Genoud.” If this conclusion is correct, then Genoud effectively made fools of them all.
Nilsson similarly concludes:
“[It] appears to be that the translation was not checked against Genoud’s original manuscript but against a different German text, one that Genoud most likely had re-translated into German from his French version […Publisher] Weidenfeld never said that the text had been checked against the Bormann-Vermerke, but only that it had been checked against ‘the original German’.” (Emphasis original)
In conclusion, this article has revealed that both revisionist and mainstream historians have failed the public. Not a single one of them ever looked into the convoluted history of TT and exposed it until 2003. We have Richard Carrier to thank for that. And now we have Mikael Nilsson to thank for taking Carrier’s research much further. While David Irving was the public’s best hope for exposing TT for the fraud it was and remains, he either naively fell prey to Lord Dacre’s lies about TT or he deliberately protected Lord Dacre so as to prevent the decimation of his reputation. Either way it’s bad. And what makes it worse is that Irving still attests to TT’s validity and reliability despite the excellent and well-known work of Richard Carrier. That is unacceptable.
The public must be able to rely on expert historians who authenticate primary sources. Hugh Trevor-Roper’s scandalous behavior behind the scenes has shattered the image of this Hitler expert, revealing instead a man who lied, omitted and pretended for the sake of fame and money.
Pertaining to this, Nilsson concludes:
“Trevor-Roper gained financially as an expert validator of Hitler documents – thanks in part to Genoud’s material. And Genoud’s documents increased considerably in value after Trevor-Roper had gone on record attesting to their authenticity. Trevor-Roper’s career as a Hitler expert had in fact started already when he published his famous book The Last Days of Hitler in 1947, a book that had propelled him to fame. This financial interest, too, may be part of the explanation for Trevor-Roper’s tendency to leave out critical information when it came to these documents.”
Nilsson’s upcoming publication on Trevor-Roper and TT is going to send a shockwave of distrust through the World War II/Third Reich historical community. Further compounding the problem of this scandal surrounding TT is that only one historian prior to Mr. Carrier ever even bothered to investigate the authenticity or translation process of TT. One. And he met an untimely death before he could publish his research. Richard Carrier is the only historian besides this man to have done so—50 years later! And yet, we are expected to unquestioningly accept the authenticity of Hitler’s Second Book, The Goebbels Diaries, etc.?
Yes. The “experts” still expect us to trust them even after reading the following on Mr. Carrier’s website:
“When I discovered that in fact the English [TT…] all the leading experts I consulted were surprised by my findings: all the peer reviewers and editors at GSR; Gerhard Weinberg, author of the famous 1952 Guide to Captured German Documents (the expert I spoke to on German documents in preparing the GSR article at the advice of GSR’s editor); Richard Steigmann-Gall, historian and expert on Hitler’s religious beliefs…” (Emphasis added)
These “experts” could stand to learn a thing or two from “Grub Street.” Anyone who has ever relied on TT and the “expertise” and “honesty” of Hugh Trevor-Roper will now have to revise or discard their research as a direct result of his clandestine chicanery. Those historians who are deceased will have to have their research amended or pulled from print to accommodate Mikael Nilsson’s trailblazing revelations. And those of us who conduct scholarly or amateur research on Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich today will have to slowly rebuild our trust in the (other) “experts” insofar as that is still possible. The profession and its so-called “experts” have a long road ahead of them. In fact, they may never recover from this. Public trust is not easily regained once it is lost.
I, for one, am putting more of my faith and hope in “Grub Street.”
Weronika Kuzniar (also known as Veronica K. Clark) earned her bachelor’s degree with High Honors in Liberal Studies w/Global Political Science in 2005 from California State University San Marcos in North San Diego; her master’s degree with Honors in Military History in 2009 from Norwich University; and she completed a year of doctoral (PsyD) courses with a 4.00 GPA in 2010 at the University of the Rockies. She has translated, edited, written and/or published more than 35 scholarly works and books to date. Visit her on the Web at https://wilkmocy.com.
Hitler’s Most Significant Speech: Collector’s Edition: https://amazon.com/dp/1507618654/
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|||Historian Mikael Nilsson writes: “In his introduction to Table Talk in 1953 Trevor-Roper stated that it had been translated from the original German manuscript.” This was a lie. From Mikael Nilsson, “Hugh Trevor-Roper and the English Editions of Hitler’s Table Talk and Testament,” Journal of Contemporary History 51, no. 4 (2016): 789, http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0022009415619689 (accessed June 14, 2017).|
|||Richard Carrier, “Hitler’s Table Talk: Troubling Finds,” German Studies Review 26, no. 3 (October 2003).|
|||Nilsson, 790. Was “Müller” possibly a pseudonym for Werner Koeppen, Alfred Rosenberg’s aide? He too allegedly took steno notes beginning in 1942. (More on him later.)|
|||Libres propos sur la guerre et la paix (LP for short)|
|||Nilsson’s research (see p. 806) suggests that Genoud’s B-V consisted exclusively of Heim’s notes, which are unauthenticated, lacking any original versions (minus approximately 40 typed pages seized by the Allies and ultimately returned to Germany), and had been altered and embellished by Heim after they had originally been recorded by him.|
|||Hugh Trevor-Roper may be the impetus behind Irving’s subsequent acceptance of the B-V as authentic. Nilsson cautiously notes about this document: “It is still highly uncertain if, or at what point, Trevor-Roper got to see the Bormann-Vermerke and, if he did, how much of it he was allowed to look at. He certainly had no opportunity to undertake a proper investigation of the manuscript or to compare it with the various versions already in print.” (793)|
|||Not surprisingly, I was attacked on Facebook for declaring that “Hitler’s Table Talk” is a “fraud,” which it is. The first attack reads: “Hitler’s table talk a fraud? based on what? what a BS. Have you ever red in in [sic] the original version? It is totally impossible to fake such prestigious thoughts that jump in all directions, but always in depth and related… you can not [sic] fake that, especially as their [sic] is no goal in faking it, they make hitler look better and there is not even a prooof [sic] of gas chambers or whatsoever in it. BASIC LOGIC APPLIED Bitte.” The second attack reads: “Did you read it? No you didn’t. Nor has [C] here. No single argument in the content that proves it is a fraud either just a statement. Not even a ball pen argument like Anne Franck hoaxers. The table talks are ingenious remarks from a well thought person on a host of topics impossible to fake. Are there transcrition [sic] error or some augmented passages, possibly. But even then, for what agenda. There is NONE.”|
|||Published with an introduction attesting to its authentication and validity by Hugh Trevor-Roper: The Testament of Adolf Hitler: The Hitler-Bormann Documents, February-April 1945, trans. Colonel R. H. Stevens (London, GB: Cassell & Company, Ltd, 1961).|
|||David Irving, “The Faking of Hitler’s ‘Last Testament’,” Focal Point Publications, http://www.fpp.co.uk/Hitler/docs/Testament/byGenoud.html (accessed June 17, 2017).|
|||I.e., the Bormann Vermerke (“genuine notes on Hitler’s Table Talk”) also transmitted to Irving by Genoud.|
|||Like the typed Bormann Vermerke photocopies transmitted to Irving, The Testament photocopies also contained Bormann’s signature as a sign of authentication. The Testament was “a typed copy of a typed copy of a photocopy,” nevertheless, Trevor-Roper told Baumgarten that “he did remember seeing Bormann’s signature on each page.” Both men used this signature as validation of The Testament’s authenticity even though it was a triple copy of a non-existent original. (807) Irving used the same validation method to assess the Bormann Vermerke given to him by Genoud. How does Bormann’s signature authenticate TT but not The Testament? The truth is that Irving was never shown the original TT manuscript, only copies. Recall that Irving writes on his website, “They were actually typed from notes taken by the stenographer Heinrich Heim, whom I interviewed and who confirmed the procedure in detail. Each day’s entry was initialled by Bormann at the end.” Irving admits here that he was shown copies, not originals of TT. He then says that Heim only confirmed the procedure, not the copies Irving received from Genoud. It is not even certain if Heim ever saw these copies of Irving’s. And how can Irving be sure of the authenticity of copies of typed notes if Bormann’s signature was only a copy of his signature as it also appeared in the copies of The Testament?|
|||See Nilsson, 802.|
|||David Irving, “Letters to David Irving on this Website,” Focal Point Publications, http://www.fpp.co.uk/Letters/Hitler/Law200603.html (accessed June 16, 2017). The applicable fan letter asks, “Is the book commonly know [sic] in the English-speaking world as the Hitler’s Table Talk an English translation of François Genoud’s French text? And how reliable is it?” David Irving should have answered this question 100% in the affirmative, that the English edition of TT is indeed based on Genoud’s French edition. As it stands, Irving did not. Furthermore, in this same exchange Irving attests to Heim’s notes as “highly reliable,” which they are not.|
|||Contrast Irving’s assessment with that of Nilsson: “Much the same could naturally be said today about Genoud’s other manuscript, the Bormann-Vermerke, and thus about both Table Talk and Monologe. That too is lost in its original form, except for the few notes now deposited in the Bundesarchiv; the translation process was highly doubtful; the history of the manuscript from conception to publication is mysterious at best, and it is impossible to be sure that the majority of the entries are in fact authentic (that is, actual statements by Hitler as opposed to things he could have said).” (801)|
|||Richard Carrier, “Hitler’s Table Talk: An Update,” richardcarrier.info, http://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/10978 (accessed June 17, 2017).|
|||Carolyn Yeager, “‘Hitler's Table Talk’ Study Hour,” carolynyeager.net, http://carolynyeager.net/tabletalk.|
|||MK was edited by Max Amann (publisher), Hess and others (reputedly including Father Bernhard Stempfle). See Karl Dietrich Bracher, The German Dictatorship: The Origins, Structure and Effects of National Socialism (Austin, TX: Holt Rinehart & Winston, 1972), 111; Roy Conyers Nesbit and Georges van Acker, The Flight of Rudolf Hess: Myths and Reality (Stroud, UK: The History Press, 2011), 19.|
|||A man who hid his doubts from nearly everyone, including Irving, which Nilsson has proven.|
|||Lord Dacre “never let his readers (be it the lay public or professional historians, apart from a few friends) know about [his doubts].” (Nilsson, 809)|
|||“The closest we get to the original Heim notes are approximately 40 pages, dated January 1942, that were initially stored at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. (since returned to the Bundesarchiv in Koblenz, Germany). However, nobody knows if these are authentic or not, even if the evidence so far indicates that they are.” (Ibid., 791)|
|||Nilsson: “… Trevor-Roper was not shown the original manuscript.” (792) Confirmed by the following footnote by Nilsson: “Trevor-Roper to Baumgarten, 24 January 1975; CCLO; HTRP; VSD 6/6/1. It is not at all clear what text Trevor-Roper saw since he had no possibility of examining it properly or comparing it to the version that was later published.” (807)|
|||Carrier, “Hitler’s Table Talk,” http://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/10978.|
|||Currently unavailable and no longer in print.|
|||Published by Wilk Mocy Publishers as Hitler’s Most Significant Speech and available in a “Collector’s Edition” from Amazon.com: https://www.amazon.com/Hitlers-Most-Significant-Speech-Collectors/dp/1507618654.|
|||Helmut Heiber and David M. Glantz, eds., Hitler and His Generals: Military Conferences 1942-1945, trans. Roland Winter, Krista Smith and Mary Beth Friedrich, First English language ed. (New York: Enigma Books, 2004): https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/192963109X/|
|||Carrier, “Hitler’s Table Talk,” http://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/10978.|
|||The Führer Headquarters, abbreviated FHQ, is a common name for the official headquarters used by Adolf Hitler and the German commanders and officials throughout Europe in World War II.|
|||Based on John Toland’s research as presented in Adolf Hitler: The Definitive Biography, First Anchor Books edition (New York, NY: Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc., 1992).|
|||See Louis Kilzer, Hitler’s Traitor: Martin Bormann and the Defeat of the Reich (Novato, CA: Presidio Press, 2000). Kilzer’s suspicions are valid. Why did Bormann suddenly decide that Hitler’s casual jabber would be so important for posterity? Why not in 1939 when the war actually started? Why 1941? Furthermore, is it just coincidence that Soviet spy “Werther” started leaking classified, top-secret military and related information to the Lucy apparat of the Red Orchestra right around the time that Koeppen appeared as a “circumspect” notetaker? These are valid questions we need to be asking and trying to answer. The fact that Heim claimed to openly defy Bormann’s order to maintain absolute secrecy is similarly suspect. “Bormann was taken aback,” claimed Heim, “but he gave [me] tacit approval to continue taking notes” nevertheless. (Toland, 682).|
|||I. Kershaw, Hitler… , 1024.|
|||I.e., Herbst 1941 im "Führerhauptquartier": Berichte Werner Koeppens an seinen Minister Alfred Rosenberg / hrsg. und kommentiert von Martin Vogt.|
|||I intend to get Koeppen’s book as soon as I can to conduct my own investigation into its contents.|
|||Bormann’s request is strange in itself. Toland writes about this: “Shortly after their arrival at Wolfsschanze, Bormann had suggested almost offhandedly to Heinrich Heim, his adjutant, that he surreptitiously note down what the Chief [Hitler] said. So Hitler wouldn’t know he was being put on record, Bormann instructed his adjutant to rely on his memory. But Heim wanted more accurate results[!] and on his own initiative[!] he began making copious notes on index cards which he hid on his lap.” (Toland, 682) Let’s recap: Bormann carelessly made the request to start secretly recording top-secret information against Hitler’s wishes, which his subordinate Heim then took up with such alacrity that he wrote meticulous notecards in defiance of his superior’s request? Very unusual.|
|||Carrier, “Hitler’s Table Talk,” http://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/10978.|
|||AHRS, 2006. This website has been defunct since 2009, so no URL is available. Though, I still have the “html” files on my PC.|
|||As TT currently stands in its many formats, it is worthless.|
|||Richard Steigmann-Gall, The Holy Reich: Nazi Conceptions of Christianity, 1919-1945, First paper back edition (New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2005).|
|||Richard Carrier, “Hitler’s Table Talk: Troubling Finds,” German Studies Review 26, no. 3 (October 2003).|
|||Ibid., 794. According to Nilsson, “Stevens did in fact translate a German text.” (793)|
|||Stevens passed away before anyone, including Lord Dacre, could ask him to clarify this matter. Though Stevens himself wrote “that he would ‘have preferred to translate direct from the original German’,” in relation to The Testament, ‘(as [he] did in [his] share of Hitler’s Table Talks)’.” (798) Why Lord Dacre would use a sub-standard translator for the single most-important Hitler source in the world at the time is beyond comprehension. The more likely explanation for Stevens’s poor translation is that he had only worked from Genoud’s French and German editions, not ever from Picker’s or Heim’s notes. Indeed, Lord Dacre thought there were still mistranslations even after Stevens’s translation was completely reworked. Why would Lord Dacre think this unless he had compared Stevens’s translation to the notes of Picker and/or Heim?|
|||Nilsson explains how Genoud back-translated The Testament as well. (796)|
|||Trevor-Roper “did not mention any of this to his readers,” writes Nilsson. “[He] did not utter a single syllable about any of these facts in his preface to Table Talk dated 16 March 1953. Instead he unequivocally stated that: ‘The text used for this edition of Hitler’s Table-Talk is the text of the original Bormann-Vermerke’… ” (794)|
|||Unlike Irving, Nilsson rightly questions the B-V. “… [T]he authenticity of Genoud’s Bormann-Vermerke could by no means be taken for granted since it had never been critically examined [emphasis added].” (805)|
|||A German in the 1950s|
|||Carrier, “Hitler’s Table Talk,” http://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/10978.|
|||“Until the early 19th century, Grub Street was a street close to London's impoverished Moorfields district that ran from Fore Street east of St Giles-without-Cripplegate north to Chiswell Street. Famous for its concentration of impoverished “hack writers”, aspiring poets, and low-end publishers and booksellers, Grub Street existed on the margins of London’s journalistic and literary scene.” From “Grub Street,” Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grub_Street.|
Additional information about this document
|Title:||Genoud, Heim & Picker’s “Table Talk”: A Study in Academic Fraud & Scandal|
|Sources:||Inconvenient History, Vol. 9, No. 3 (2017)|
|First posted on CODOH:||Aug. 30, 2017, 8:22 a.m.|