Conversations with the Crow Part 33(i)

Date: Saturday, January 11. 1997
Commenced: 2:23 PM CST
Concluded: 3:11 PM CST

RTC: Gregory, would you believe your nice present arrived here today? You mailed it on the fifteenth and it took almost a month to get here. Unbelievable. Symptomatic of the growing inefficiency in the entire bureaucratic structure. Nice book by the way. Who was Malaparte”

GD: Curzio Malaparte was the pen name of an Austrian journalist named Stuckert. A friend and adherent of Mussolini. The book is a classic study of the coup as you will note. Dutton put this out in ’32, just while the Depression was getting a full head of steam, and it was decided by those in power that it ought not to be circulated so it was pulled. I got your copy from a Denver dealer and I got mine from my grandfather’s library. Very interesting, especially the business with Trotsky in Petrograd. Have you read any of it?

RTC: Yes, actually I have read the Trotsky section. Very perceptive.

GD: And be sure to read the chapter on Trotsky versus Stalin. The differences between the two are well-covered. Trotsky was brilliant but mercurial and Stalin was equally brilliant but through, methodical and far more deadly than Trotsky. In Josef’s case, patience was a real virtue.

RTC: At any rate, thank you for your gift. I can assure you I will read it.

GD: You are the only person I know that might appreciate it. I can just see Tom Kimmel with it. Never read it.

RTC: Corson might.

GD: Yes, that’s true.

RTC: I’m sure they have a copy at Langley.

GD: I don’t doubt that at all. But they remind me of a dog I had once. He loved to chase cars. I wonder what would have happened if he caught one?

RTC: Now, they’re not all that bad.

GD: Perhaps not when you were in harness but some of the idiots they have working for them now certainly aren’t worth a pinch of sour owl shit.

RTC: I haven’t heard that one for years, Gregory.

GD: I’m not young either, Robert.

RTC: Are you working on anything interesting these days?

GD: Still trying to create a structure for the Kennedy business. I translated some wartime German documents last week dealing with their flying saucer program. Habermohl?

RTC: I know that the Krauts had one or two but the name means nothing.

GD: They made and flew at least one prototype but the project was just one of many at the time.

RTC: Well, the U.S. built them after the war. Some place in Canada.

GD:AVRO. The Roe Company.

RTC: Doesn’t ring a bell.

GD: But that means we did have some examples.

RTC: Oh yes, that we did. I told you that the Russians thought these were ours and we thought they were theirs. I did some sit-downs on this one. Russian Intelligence was one of my fields as you know. And we did have some of these but we used them for high-altitude reconnaissance and photographing. The U-2 replaced them so we retired them. The Russians had at one working model, that I know.

GD: So all the sightings were of these planes, or whatever they called them?

RTC: No, not all. Most of the public sightings were basically wishful thinking or mass hysteria. But there certainly were other incidents that were not of our, or the Russian, construction.

GD: Where did they come from?

RTC: No one had any idea. Of course Truman had all of that shut up to prevent another Orson Wells panic. The idea was to make the whole thing look like a hoax so that people spotting something would ignore it at the risk of being branded a fool.

GD: Know anything about the Roswell business?

RTC: Oh indeed. Now that was the real thing, Gregory. And there were space cadets on board that one. They had to clamp down on the story and said it was a weather balloon. As I remember, they retrieved a lot of electronic gadgetry that was highly advanced. They reconstructed the thing, or did you know that?

GD: No, I did not. Did they fly it?

RTC: Too complex. Do you know about Groom Lake in Nevada?

GD: No.

RTC: We used it as a U-2 base. Out in the remote desert. They have several of these things there. One is a reconstruction and another one was fished out of a lake in Montana, intact, crew and all. That one they did fly around as I understand.

GD: Why keep it quiet?

RTC: As I said, panic. The Cold War was in full swing, Korea had happened and everyone was afraid of the Russians so it was decided to play it all down. We got certified idiots on board and got them to set up Flying Saucer clubs to attract the brainless moths and kept the pot boiling. You understand that once the government decides on a program, they never change it. They never do. Poor Tom keeps thinking they will rehabilitate his grandfather over Pearl Harbor but they never will. I told him that once and I thought he’d weep. First off, no one cares these days about Pearl Harbor and secondly, once a policy has been set, no one will change it later. Same with the saucers.

GD: They have no idea where they came from?

RTC: Absolutely none. But there were no attacks from any of them and the best thinking was that they were doing what we were doing and that is photo recon. They weren’t from us because no human could survive the speeds they could move at. Flatten them out. I hope to God you’re not going to get into that mess, Gregory.

GD: Intellectual curiosity only. What did ours photograph?

RTC: The same things the U-2 did. Military bases like airfields, missile launching areas, naval bases. They took some wonderfully clear pictures. They had a building down on Fifth and K streets where they processed and printed these. It was the Steuart or Seward Building. I was in there a couple of times. And some very interesting buildings out on Wilson Boulevard. Remind me to tell you about them some time. Anyway, I recommend you keep away from the saucer side. As much as they hate you around here, that would all that would be needed to label you a certified lunatic.

GD: Oh, I know about the official stories about me. Once the Mueller book came out, they got Gitta Sereny to go after me. Do you know who she is?

RTC: She’s a friend of Wolfe. I looked her up once because he made it a point of shoving some piece of trash on me at the Archives about you she got published. A Communist dyke as I remember. She does not like you.

GD: (Laughing) Oh I know that and note that I do not like her. When I uncovered the fact that an SS concentration camp head had been declared dead and then put to work by the Brits and later by us, she came to see me in California, with the assistance of Wolfe, and with the sole intention of getting me to say something she could use to discredit me.

RTC: Well, they didn’t like it made public that this fellow worked for us. The same as your friend Mueller. What did she write?

GD: Long story.

RTC: I have plenty of time and you have the happy knack of making long boring stories interesting. Go on.

GD: She published a book in 1974 entitled Into That Darkness. This work purported to be based on an interview with Franz Stangl, an alleged SS officer who ran a camp in occupied Poland during the war where many prisoners were later stated to have been gassed. Srangl was not an SS man but Sereny never bothered to mention that unimporatnt vact The book contains a lengthy section quoting Stangl, who according to Sereny’s version, fully admitted his part in the purported killings and asks for forgiveness from God and his victims. The balance of the work consists of various supplementary testimonies from former associates and family members, all attesting to the evil nature of Stangl’s activities and all clearly acknowledging his willing cooperation in a state-sponsored program of genocide.

Of course Sereny has carved out her niche as a holocaust writer, trashing all the Germans and she has made a nice living out of it. But this particular book shows with great clarity the pitfalls that occur when a journalist, as opposed to a legitimate academic historian, produces a work which is not only entirely anecdotal in content, but ideological in thrust. There is no documentation, whatsoever, in this work which relies almost entirely on the author’s purported interviews with various people. Stangl died on the day following Sereny’s visit to him in prison where he was appealing his life sentence.

RTC: I agree. That makes no sense. This man was not an SS camp man?

GD: No. He is in none of the official SS personnel lists anywhere at any time.

RTC: Did he exist?

GD: Yes. He was an Austrian policeman. And she must have known it because she is tied up with Wolfe who has ready access to all the official lists. And herein lies the key to the questionability of the entire book. Stangl had been sentenced to a life term in prison. He, through his attorneys, was appealing this sentence. It is highly doubtful if either Stangl or his attorneys would permit such a damaging interview to take place and to permit Sereny, whose extremist views were well known, free and unfettered access to the prisoner. There would appear to be no question that Sereny and her photographer husband, Don Honeyman, did indeed visit the prison and did see Stangl. Sereny’s husband took several photographs of him, photographs which are extensively reproduced in the book. The published pictures, however, do not support statements alleged to have been made by the former Austrian police officer, but merely prove that he permitted himself to be photographed by his visitors. By making such incriminating statements as Sereny placed, post mortem, in his mouth, Stangl would have irrevocably destroyed any chance he might have had in his pending appeal before the German courts.

I think it is beyond reasonable belief that such statements were made under the circumstances indicated. A dead Stangl, however, could comfortably be alleged to have made any statement that the author chose to put into his mouth, and without the possible embarrassment to her or her publisher of an instant denial or possible legal proceedings.

RTC: These fabricators never use logic, do they. Lie like rugs, throw in a few fuzzy pictures of Hitler and Bingo, a new Holocaust book. Well, they have made quite a business out of it.

GD: Oh yes, and you dast not dare question them with inconvenient facts. If you have the time and the stomach to read the book, you can clearly see the author’s prejudice towards Stangl and the system he served, but also is entirely devoid of any facts to support her thesis. She notes that a number of witnesses died before the book was published, of course including her main source, Stangl. Much of the anecdotal material Sereny had put together to support her case is of such a nature as to preclude its ever being introduced in a court of law. Several examples are set forth as illustration.

In one, Sereny claims that Stangl’s wife wrote her a letter following an interview Sereny had with the wife in Brazil. In this letter, which is not reproduced, Frau Stangl allegedly states that in 1945 she was interviewed by two members of the U.S. Army’s Counter Intelligence agency, and that they knew of her husband’s whereabouts in an American jail. “I examined their papers,” she is quoted as writing, “I have no doubt whatever that they were genuine.” The flaw in this scenario is obvious. It is simply not believable that the wife of an obscure police officer would have the slightest idea what “genuine” U.S. CIC identification papers looked like. But Sereny states that the woman would have no reason to invent the incident. Perhaps the invention did not originate with Stangl’s wife, but with the author herself.

Robert, generations must pass before the fictive is eventually weeded out from the factual, and in the meantime an appellation which has been applied to the Sereny book, Dialogs with the Dead, could well be applied to other mendacious creative writing essays that people like Wolfe, who certainly will never be any kind of a successful writer or Sereny the ideological hack.

RTC: Maybe Sereny…what is that name, by the way?

GD: She’s a Hungarian Jewess but the name was changed somewhere years ago to become more Aryan. Anyway, she published some libels about me in two major British papers. I got a solicitor in the UK to represent me and not only were the stories pulled but dear old Gitta was sacked. It was either sack her for free or I would sue the papers for malicious defamation. There wasn’t any contest. One of the paper’s editors told me on the phone that she was a nasty old bitch and he was glad to be rid of her. Actually, she mumbled away about me for a little while more until I had to take certain actions that dissuaded her from future essays into more libels.

RTC: I don’t suppose…

GD: Not on the phone. Did I bore you?

RTC: No and none of that surprised me. You ought to have heard old Wolfe screeching about how evil you are. He sounds like you have a picture of him humping the neighbor’s cocker spaniel.

GD: (Laughter) I think it was a sheep named Minnie he keeps in his garage. By God, sir, with mesh stockings and lipstick, she drives men mad with passion.

RTC: Why don’t you turn him into the Humane Society?

GD: I’d much rather turn him into a pumpkin. Speaking of that, do you know what happened to Cinderella?

RTC: No, I don’t. She married her prince?

GD: Maybe but did you know what happened when the clock struck midnight?

RTC: Not offhanded.

GD: Her tampon turned into a pumpkin.

RTC: (Laughter) Such an image!

GD: You see the connection, in my imagination at least, between Wolfe and a pumpkin?

RTC: It’ll give me something to think about over dinner, Gregory. Or are you equating Wolfe with a tampon?

GD: Pay your money, Robert, and take your choice.

(Concluded at 3:11 PM CST)