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Posted Tuesday, February 29, 2000

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Monday, February 28, 2000

Israel to release Eichmann memoirs to aid in Holocaust denial trial

Associated Press Writer

JERUSALEM (AP) - Israel announced Sunday that it will release the memoirs of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann and offer them in defense of an Emory University professor facing a libel suit for accusing a British writer of denying the Holocaust.

Israel will give the public access to the 1,300-page, handwritten papers, penned in an Israeli prison and kept under wraps for nearly 40 years, the Justice Ministry said in a statement. In the memoirs, the overseer of the Nazi death machine reportedly says the mass killing of Jews during the Holocaust was the worst crime in human history.

Israel had agreed in August to publish the diary after one of Eichmann's sons, Dieter, threatened legal action to claim the book as family property. Only a few scholars have seen it.

Israeli officials had originally planned to compile the papers and let a German research institution prepare them for scholarly publication. The publication of the uncensored, untranslated memoirs has been a key demand of Holocaust historians.

According to the decision Sunday by Israeli Attorney General Elyakim Rubinstein, the public will be allowed to obtain typed versions of the memoirs and view the original, handwritten notes in the state archive, subject to conditions set by archive officials.

"It has been decided that there is importance, as part of the historical commitment of the state of Israel, to let the memoirs be viewed by the public," read the release. The diary was expected to be released in the coming days.

A copy will also be given to Emory professor Deborah Lipstadt "in her defense of a suit by a Holocaust denier," read the statement, released after a meeting of top judges, legal officials and historians at Rubinstein's office.

British writer David Irving is suing Lipstadt for libel in Britain for writing in a 1994 book that he denied the Holocaust and distorted the truth of what happened in World War II.

Irving says he does not deny that Jews were killed by the Nazis, but challenges the number and manner of Jewish concentration camp deaths.

Under British law, a libel claimant only needs to prove that his reputation has been damaged. Truth is not necessarily a defense.

Lipstadt and her codefendant, Penguin Books, deny libel.

Israel hopes that publication of the memoirs will reveal proof of the Nazi machine to disprove Irving's case. Irving has in the trial disputed historically accepted witness accounts that hundreds of thousands were gassed to death at Auschwitz.

Eichmann wrote the diary while in jail from 1961 to 1962, after Israeli agents captured him in Argentina and brought him to trial in Israel.

In what appeared to be a first draft of the diary, 127 pages sent to Germany after Eichmann's execution and released last year include complaints about an unfairly strict upbringing, descriptions of his inability to disobey an order and thoughts on the meaning of life.

Eichmann wrote in the final copy that the killing of the Jews was the worst crime in the history of mankind, Israel radio reported. Scholars who have seen the memoir say that it repeats arguments Eichmann made at his trial, insisting that he was only a midlevel official following orders.

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