Sunday, February 27, 2000
London lawyers request Eichmann journals for Holocaust denial suit; A-G wants to cooperate
By Dalia Shehori
Attorney General Elyakim Rubinstein will hold an urgent meeting today to discuss a request from defense lawyers in a Holocaust denial defamation suit in London. The lawyers have asked the State of Israel to supply copies of writings by Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann months before his 1962 execution in Israel.
The defamation trial has been brought by controversial British historian David Irving against Deborah Lipstadt, a scholar in modern Jewish and Holocaust Studies at Emory University who branded Irving a "dangerous spokesman in the service of Holocaust deniers." Irving is suing Lipstadt, and Penguin Books publishers who released her volume "Denying the Holocaust: the Growing Assault on Truth and Memory." Irving alleges that Lipstadt's book caused irreparable harm to his reputation as a historian, causing him considerable financial damage.
Irving denies that millions of Jews were systematically murdered by the Nazis. He claims that Hitler didn't know about the genocide until the final stages of the Second World War.
Lipstadt's defense attorney, Richard Rempton, asked Rubinstein last week for a copy of Eichmann's journal entries. These are documents written by Eichmann while imprisoned in Israel, waiting for the verdict in his trial. The documents have been kept at Israel's state archives.
Transcript copies of the Eichmann diaries are near completion; and should a decision be reached today during the attorney general's consultations to assent to the requests forwarded by Lipstadt's defense, a transcript will be dispatched urgently to London.
Legal sources estimated last night that Rubinstein is inclined to agree to Lipstadt's request, as the attorney general attributes cardinal importance to the struggle against Holocaust denial. While serving in the past as Cabinet Secretary, Rubinstein chaired a public forum which kept track of anti-Semitism around the globe.
According to the sources, Rubinstein regards the Eichmann document request as an opportunity to play a constructive part in effort to combat Holocaust denial. In recent weeks world Jewish organizations have been critical of Israel's silence during the Irving defamation trial.
The discussion today will apparently involve authorities with whom Rubinstein has consulted in the past in connection with the Eichmann documents. These include Prof. Avatar Friesal (from the state archives), Holocaust scholar Prof. Yehuda Bauer, former Supreme Court President Moshe Landau, retired Supreme Court judge Gabriel Bach (who worked with the prosecution during the Eichmann trial), and others.
The Eichmann journals divide into three parts. Eichmann devotes the first section to self-defense, distancing himself from the final solution. In the second section, entitled the "false idols," Eichmann perorates about responsibility for the murder of Jews, concluding that the Nazi regime is to blame, writing that "ultra-nationalism is the largest catastrophe known to all peoples." The third, short section involves "philosophical reflections."
Former Supreme Court Justice Bach, who read the Eichmann documents in their entirety, says that they include no special, or new, material. He says that the journals do not deny the Holocaust. They are, according to Bach, an attempt on Eichmann's part to mitigate the onus of the charges made against him. Bach adds that Eichmann made a similar effort while on the stand in the trial, so the written journals do not convey any new evidence.
Fragments from the documents were published in the past in a book by Gideon Hausner.
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Sunday, February 27, 2000