Monday, January 14, 2013

William L. Shirer by Steve Wick

Text:  William L Shirer and The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by Steve Wick
Comment:  Some curious anecdotes regarding reliability of journalist witnesses

page 118 - 119.  Birth of Eileen and Anschluss

After dark, Murrow and Shirer sneaked out of the building and walked to a nearby bar, where Murrow had spent the previous evening.  There, as Murrow had watched,  a man - Shirer quotes Murrow in his diary as sayin the man was 'Jewish looking' - had removed a straight razor from his jacket and dragged it across his throat.

Murrow returned to London the next morning, and Shirer went immediately to the hospital, where he found Tess back in critical condition from the phlebitis.  His previous optimism that she would be okay abandoned him.  Care in the hospital was negligible and chaotic, and Shirer realized that his wife could lose her life if he didn't intercede.  On another scrap of paper written years later that he also saved and filed, Shirer wrote: "Atmosphere in hospital.  Jews panic.  Get in (you left it out of diary) T's doc was a Jew, and disappeared day of Anschluss.  Later I located him, he performed in gr secrecy at convent in Wienerwald outside V.  He's left some surgical instruments inside T."
On another note, he added details:  "New x-rays revealed that metal objects, apparently surgical instruments, had been left inside after her Caesarean operation.  They would have to be removed - if possible by the pediatrician who had performed the operation.  Being a Jew, he had gone into hiding since the Anschluss.  I finally located him.  He did not want to risk reappearing at the hospital, for which I did not blame him.  He agreed however to do it in a safe place.  I found a convent hidden in the Wienerwal a mile or two down the Danube."
On April 8, nearly a  month after the Germans annexed Austria, Tess and her baby left the hospital, her body free of the surgical equipment.  In a note he wrote years later, Shirer said: "Tess and baby home fr hospital.  Since she went in Feb 25, she there 42 days, half of them fighting for life, mostly while I away.  She still must have been weak for you say (in the diary): "I carried her upstairs from the car this morning and it will be some time before she can walk.  But the worst is over.'"
[page 113 "Bad bout of phlebitis infected on of Tess's legs".  March 10.  "he found Tess with a high fever; the staff was deeply worried that she had developed a serious blood clot in her leg."]

Text page 204 - X informant on Euthanasia
Who X was - an influential German journalist, a party official, someone high up in a ministry or the military?- Shirer did not reveal in his diary on the night he made the entry.  Shirer had already begun to think of ways of getting all his personal papers - diaries, letters, official correspondence, and maps - out of the country when he left.  To risk his diary's being read by the Gestapo and a name being revealed from his diary horrified him.  Shirer did not reveal X's identity in his diary at the time, and he did not do so forty-four years later when he published the second installment of his memoirs, The Nightmare Years ....
While it was happening, it was enough of an open secret in the country to be denounced by church leaders.  X knew of it, but he also knew of the arrest several days before of Pastor Friedrich von Bodelschwingh.

page 109  - assumes phone bugged
He was certain his office was bugged, his phone calls listened to by the Gestapo.  "I always assumed my telephone was tapped and that probably a listening device had been hidden in it.  When anyone came with sensitive information I would toss a heavy blanket over the phone and adjourn to the bathroom for our talk."
page 77-78
While he was in Berlin, Shirer fretted daily that one of his sources - he had a number of them - would be arrested by the Gestapo and executed.  Nowhere in the diary he kept in Berlin does he mention a name or position, fearing that the diary might be seized and used to incriminate someone.  He wrote that he had been interrogated by the Gestapo, in his office and in the apartment, but he said little except that he offered them no help at all.
Years later, Shirer wrote that two influential sources of his had been arrested, and the effect was to sink him into despair.  "When sometimes one of my sources did get nabbed and, in two cases, sentenced to death, I would walk the streets of the capital, dazed and despairing, searching my conscience and my memory to try to discover if anything I had done, any slip I might have made, could possibly have implicated him," he wrote.
In his writing a half century after the events recorded in his diary, Shirer identified on of his sources as a "fearless young Protestant pastor."  They met after dark in the Tiergarten near Shirer's flat or on a busy street or at a railway station; other times, throwing all caution aside, the man came to Shirer's flat to talk.  He does not name the pastor but says he was arrrested and sentenced to death.  Another was a journalist he identified as 'X' in a January 1936 diary entry.  The man was an editor of the Boersen Zeitung who secretly gave Shirer copies of the Goebbel's daily instructions to the foreign press.  In the January 1936 entry,  Shirer worte that the instructions for Goebbels "made rich reading, ordering daily suppression of this truth and the substitution of that lie."
Later, Shirer was greatly relieved when he learned that both the editor's and the pastor's death sentences had been commuted.  They would spend the rest of the Thousand Year Reich in prison.  Shirer vowed in another diary entry not to talk to anyone, or encourage anyone to work with him, if it risked the person's arrest and execution.  Shirer knew that other German officials had provided him with information he was sure was wrong, and he suspected that they were working for the Gestapo to try to entrap him.  One, a young man in the Foreign Office, admitted to Shirer one night when they were drinking together that he had been assigned by the Gestapo to follow him.  A very good and reliable source was a woman who held an important post in the radio division of the Propaganda Ministry [Hilda].  Shirer knew she loved a Jewish artist who had fled the country.  She wore a party pin on her lapel as she went about her work, and Shirer came to both like and trust her.  They met in secret, and she supplied him with information about the inner workings and plans of the government, at least as she knew them.

[Donald Day for Chicago Tribune - worked for Germans in 1942.  Robert Best, based in Vienna, tried after war and imprisoned]

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