Letter: The Nazi truths that must not be lost in translation

Click to follow
ONE OF the dangers of leaving the translation of Goebbels's diaries to David Irving is illustrated in Brian Cathcart's article on the investigation of files of the SS Central Building Administration in Auschwitz. ('The files Irving did not see . . .', 12 July.)

Of the two German words used in the article, one was translated inaccurately. In his search for an equivalent term for Leichenkeller the author chooses 'morgue' (a place which dead bodies are exposed for identification). The term 'mortuary' (a place specially prepared for the temporary reception of corpses) would actually be a closer description of the function of the building, were it not for the fact that both terms have a functional equivalent in German (ie Leichenschauhaus and Leichenhalle). A Leichenkeller is a 'corpse cellar'. The fact that there is no such term in the English language merely serves to illustrate that we do not store the dead for industrial disposal.

While I have no doubt that Brian Cathcart has no intention of misleading anyone as to the precise nature of Auschwitz or Nazi ideology, Mr Irving's obvious and well-documented political bias allows no such confidence. Both his transcription and his translation must be reviewed without delay.

Gerhard Lohmann

London SW9