In response to:
Bormann's Last Gasp from the November 14, 1974 issue
To the Editors:
The review of Ladislas Farago’s “Aftermath” by H. R. Trevor-Roper, published in your issue dated November 14, 1974, has just come to my attention. I am responding to the part of Prof. Trevor-Roper’s criticism in which he questioned the authenticity of Mr. Farago’s documentation.
I am a New York attorney familiar with the rules of evidence. When in September 1972, Mr. Farago succeeded in obtaining certain documents from the files of the Argentine Secret Services, presenting apparently conclusive proof that former Reichsleiter Martin Bormann had managed to escape to and settle in Argentina, he immediately called upon me to join him in Buenos Aires to aid him in the authentication of the documents, and in his efforts to establish “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the documents were authoritative and authentic.
I arrived in Buenos Aires on September 14, 1972, and proceeded with the execution of my commission as an attorney, conducting a professional investigation into the origins and authenticity of the Bormann documents. In this endeavor I was aided in Buenos Aires by Mr. Stewart Steven, then Foreign Editor of the Daily Express, who had flown from London also at Mr. Farago’s invitation to assist him in the authentication of the documents; by three distinguished Argentinian attorneys, Dr. Jaime Joaquin Rodriguez, Dr. Guillermo Macia Ray and the last Dr. Silvio Frondizi of Buenos Aires; and by Dr. Horacio A. Perillo, a practicing attorney in Buenos Aires, formerly legal aid to President Arturo Frondizi.
I personally interrogated several of the special agents whose names were mentioned in or whose signatures appeared on the documents, including Inspector Hector Rodriguez Morguado of Coordination Federal and Commissioner Alejandro Rafaelo of Policia Federal, and ascertained that the documents in Mr. Farago’s possession bearing on the Bormann case were, indeed, genuine, and originated as claimed at the Seguridad Federal, formerly known as Coordination Federal, the central archives of the Argentine Secret Service Establishment.
Based upon my investigation and my questioning of the parties concerned in the acquisition of the documents, I have no hesitation to state that the classifed documents on which the Bormann part of “Aftermath” is based are genuine and authentic, true copies of the originals on file at the agency until recently called Seguridad Federal in Buenos Aires. Prof. Trevor-Roper’s opinion in this matter, I submit, is based on sheer assumptions in the ignorance of the facts, stemming from his regrettable failure to properly investigate the case before expressing his doubts.
Joel H. Weinberg
New York City
H. R Trevor-Roper replies:
Mr. Weinberg states that my views on Mr. Farago’s documentation are based on “sheer assumptions in the ignorance of the facts” and on “regrettable failure properly to investigate the case.” Both these statements are unwarranted and false. Mr. Weinberg has not read my review with care, or he would have seen that I have made no “assumptions”: I have given good reasons for doubt; and he should anyway be aware that it is the duty of the author, not of the reader, to establish the authenticity of his documentation. Where an author (or his attorney) merely asserts, a reader is entitled to suspend judgment.
Among Mr. Farago’s documents, Mr. Weinberg warrants the authenticity of one group only, viz: the official Argentine documents. I have never denied that these particular documents may be genuine. But I have pointed out that since Señor Velasco is admitted to have palmed off on Mr. Farago a fraudulent photograph of Bormann, taken in circumstances which convict him either of complicity in the fraud, or at least of the grossest gullibility, we cannot assume the authenticity of any other documents supplied by him; and since Mr. Farago apparently continues, even after this episode, to trust Señor Velasco, we may legitimately mistrust Mr. Farago’s own judgment.
In any case, even if all Mr. Farago’s Argentine documents are genuine, they prove nothing about Bormann. So far from giving “conclusive proof” that Bormann had escaped to South America and was living there, they merely show that the Argentine Intelligence Service has a file into which miscellaneous reports on Bormann are put. No doubt there are similar files in other Intelligence Services. What Mr. Farago calls the “key document” which “clinches the matter” merely shows that an Argentine priest listened to a tall story by an anonymous informant. Such a document proves nothing at all. Authenticity and veracity are clean different things.
Mr. Farago does cite certain documents which, if genuine, would prove that Bormann lived for some years in South America. But these are not official Argentine documents and are not covered by Mr. Weinberg’s warrant. I believe these documents to be forgeries. I shall not trouble you with my reasons; but Mr. Weinberg would be well advised not to suppose that my belief is a mere assumption based on ignorance or regrettable failure to investigate the matter. I have taken a great deal of trouble in the matter, and the consistent evasions which I have met can only increase my skepticism.
Moreover, Mr. Weinberg needs to be told that credibility is indivisible. If Mr. Farago was deceived by Señor Velasco, he may well have been deceived by others; and if documents relating to Bormann are forged in Peru, there are conclusions which can be drawn from this is Argentina. Mr. Farago’s experience proves at least one thing: that there is a profitable Bormann industry in South America; and that the truth will not be discovered by anyone who is naïve enough to believe whatever he finds in the documents, even if those documents are pronounced authentic by a visiting attorney.