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August 11, 1999

Nazi's spectre haunts Israel anew

Adolf Eichmann snatches a victory from the grave,
writes Abraham Rabinovich in Jerusalem.

THE release for publication of Adolf Eichmann's version of the Holocaust, written just before he was hanged for directing the mass extermination of European Jewry, has been a subject of controversy in Israel.

Eichmann's sons in Germany, as well as Israeli Holocaust researchers, have demanded release of the 1300-page memoir written by Eichmann while in an Israeli prison in 1961 and 1962 awaiting completion of his trial.

After Eichmann was executed at age 52, then Israeli prime minister David Ben-Gurion ordered the manuscript be kept secret for 15 years, which the petitioners note has long passed.

The Israeli Justice Ministry decided yesterday to release the memoir, but did not set a date.

Leading the fight against release has been Jerusalem attorney Amos Hausner, the son of Gideon Hausner, who led the prosecution at Eichmann's trial.

The younger Hausner cited the memoirs published by his late father, 15 years after the trial, in which he revealed the existence of the Eichmann manuscript.

Gideon Hausner, who was Israel's attorney-general, revealed that he told Ben-Gurion that publication "would challenge the verdict (of guilt against Eichmann) and raise doubts in the world as to its validity".

The official said that Eichmann "had rewritten the history of the Holocaust so as not to include Eichmann". He added: "There is no need for us to publish his lies across the world."

The attorney-general said that Eichmann took true details, removed them from their context, and then added completely imaginary details.

"There is always a grain of truth to each story," Gideon Hausner said. "This is a clever last attempt to portray himself as different than he really is."

The younger Hausner says that publication of the Eichmann memoirs could assist Holocaust deniers, who contest the fact that some 6 million Jews were murdered. It is inconceivable, he says, that Eichmann's family should profit financially from publication of the memoirs.

Israel must legislate, he says, that income from publication of such a book must belong to the State.

However, Israeli author Tom Segev, who has written books on the Holocaust, says refusal to publish the memoirs would itself be a form of denying it. "All material on the Holocaust must be published," he says. "Eichmann's memoirs are an important historical document."

Eichmann is the only man to have ever been executed in Israel by court judgement. He was kidnapped by Mossad agents from Argentina, where he had been living with his family under an assumed name after escaping from Europe after the war.

One of the few historians to have read the memoirs, Evyatar Friesel, of Israel's State archives, says that Eichmann remained unrepentant in his writings. He says the memoirs offer no substantial new historical insights.

The Austrian-born Eichmann contended, as he had at the trial, that he had only been a cog in the Nazi bureaucratic machine and had simply followed orders.square

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