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The Churchill-Roosevelt Forgeries
The campaign to revise Hitler’s reputation has gone on for 50 years, but there’s another strategy now. Some of it is built on the work of the head of the Gestapo—who may have enjoyed a comfortable retirement in America.
November/December 2002 | Volume 53, Issue 6
For about three years I made desultory attempts to find the original transcript in various German archives, without success. Then, early this year, I struck gold. I was able to contact one of the British censors of the transatlantic radiotelephone link who remembered the July 1943 conversation. This excellent lady, now in her eighties, confirmed that the style of the speech is far too lurid, too coarse of language, and grammatically incorrect, and subjects are discussed that would never have been authorized or allowed on the transatlantic radiotelephone link. Also, the Prime Minister and the President would never have referred to each other by name. In sum, the entire transcript is completely false.
What was Müller’s purpose, and what is the purpose of these publications 50 years after Hitler’s demise and the end of the Third Reich? It is “revisionism” of a kind, and shrewd: to cast doubts upon the generally accepted views of World War II by denigrating Hitler’s chief adversaries. It is almost certain that whatever other papers he had, Müller did not carry the Churchill-Roosevelt transcripts with him when he fled Germany with a minimum of baggage. He had not been a recipient of the transcripts in 1941 or 1943. It is likely that they were fed to him, perhaps through others, by National Socialist sympathizers (yes, there was and is such a network across Europe), with expectations that would be eventually fulfilled. And so they might. There is, for example, the transcript of a November 26, 1941, telephone conversation that may not even have taken place at all. In this conversation Churchill calls American anti-Communists “Fascists,” which is not only nonsensical but (unlike his famous pronunciation of “Naaazies") not a customary Churchillian usage. And then Churchill says to “Franklin” (again!): “You must trust me, Franklin, and I cannot be more specific.” (“I accept this,” Franklin replies.) According to British intelligence, the Japanese fleet has put to sea, going not southward but eastward. “I can assure you that their goal is … Pearl Harbor.” “You see by my notifying you where my loyalty lies. Certainly to one who is heart and soul with us against Hitler.” “I do appreciate your loyalty, Winston.”
A retired American naval officer, Lt. Comdr. Kenneth Landis, has recently written a book, Deceit at Pearl Harbor, that depends entirely on the Müller transcript. An advertisement for it, in respectable military and naval historical journals, begins: “From the last survivor of Admiral Kimmel’s staff, this new book reveals the astonishing transcript of a telephone warning between Winston Churchill and President Roosevelt eleven days before Pearl Harbor, showing that the British and even Hitler knew.… It is time the public learned the true story.”
“The true story. …” Truth is a very precious thing, perhaps the most precious thing in the world. And difficult. The greatest Christian thinkers knew that. Pascal said, “The truth is so subtle a point that our instruments are too blunt to touch it exactly.” Kierkegaard: “The pure truth is for God alone. What is given to us is the pursuit of truth.” Just as the purpose of medicine is not perfect health but the struggle against illness, just as the purpose of law is not perfect justice but the pursuit of injustice, so the purpose of the historian is not the establishment of perfect truth but the pursuit of truth through a reduction of ignorance, a struggle against the circulation of untruths. To the plagiarist he must say, “That may be so, but you are not the one who said it.” To obsessive revisionists he must say, “This may be true, but it is not true enough.” And to falsifiers and forgers he must say, “You are peddling lies.”