In the first edition, Irving's estimated that the two RAF raids and the first USAAF raid combined were "estimated authoritatively to have killed more than 135,000 of the population [of Dresden]..." and the "documentation suggests very strongly that the figure was certainly between a minimum of 100,000 and a maximum of 250,000". - in 1965, General Ira C. Eaker identified the number as 135,000.
Irving's first edition figures became widely accepted and were used in many standard reference works. In later editions of the book over the next three decades, he gradually adjusted the figure to:
In the 1971 edition, the three raids "estimated authoritatively to have killed more than 100,000 of the population...".
In the 1995 edition, the three raids "cost the lives of between fifty and one hundred thousand inhabitants....". Richard J. Evans states that "Elsewhere he dropped the lower figure and said the attack cost 'up to a hundred thousand people their lives'.".
According to expert witness Richard J. Evans at the 2000 libel trial of Deborah Lipstadt, Irving based his estimates of the dead of Dresden on the word of one individual, Hans Voigt, who provided no supporting documentation, used forged documents, and described one witness Max Funfack as Dresden's Deputy Chief Medical Officer. Funfack had made it clear to by letter to Irving on 19 January 1965 that he had not been Chief, or the Deputy Chief, Medical Officer, he had no knowledge of any documentation on the numbers killed, and during the war he had only heard rumours, which varied greatly, over the number of the killed in the raids.
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