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The National Post,

Toronto, February 28, 2000


Israel agrees to release Eichmann manuscript

Memoirs to be used in libel case involving Holocaust denier

by Megan Goldin


JERUSALEM - Israel said yesterday it will hand over unpublished memoirs of executed Nazi official Adolf Eichmann for use as evidence in a British libel suit seen by many Jews as putting the Holocaust itself on trial.

Controversial British historian David Irving brought the suit against U.S. author and professor Deborah Lipstadt, who, in a 1995 [sic] book, called him "a dangerous spokesman for Holocaust denial."

Prof. Lipstadt's book is a study of attempts to argue that the Nazi campaign to exterminate Jews never took place.

Israel's Justice Ministry said the defence team in the libel case had asked for the memoirs to be released and a decision to hand them over was taken at a meeting yesterday between Elyakim Rubinstein, the Israeli attorney-general, and Israeli legal experts.

"All the participants agreed on the importance, as part of Israel's historical duty, of allowing the public to examine the memoirs," a Justice Ministry spokesman said.

"They also decided unanimously that it would be right to hand over, as soon as possible, a copy of the manuscript to a representative of Professor Lipstadt so she can defend herself in a lawsuit brought by a Holocaust denier," he said.

Israel has kept the memoirs under lock and key for decades. It recently said it favoured publishing the papers, which Eichmann wrote by hand from a prison cell before he was hanged in 1962, the only execution ever held in the Jewish state.

The Justice Ministry spokesman said the public would soon be able to examine the manuscripts at the state archives.

Eichmann drew up plans that made feasible Adolf Hitler's "Final Solution" -- the wartime annihilation of millions of Jews.

The official said lawyers for Prof. Lipstadt and her publisher, Penguin Books, wanted the memoir as evidence against Mr. Irving's charges that he was slandered and his reputation damaged by her book, Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory.

A London court has been hearing Mr. Irving's suit against the American history professor since January. The case is expected to last three months.

Jewish leaders have voiced fears that a victory for Mr. Irving -- who rejects as vastly exaggerated the commonly accepted figure of six million Jewish dead -- could lend credence to neo-Nazis who contend the Holocaust never took place.

Prof. Lipstadt's book links Mr. Irving with the growing populaity of white supremacists in the United States and neo-Nazis in Europe.

Mr. Irving, author of a number of hotly debated books on the Holocaust [sic], said earlier this month that the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz in southern Poland was a type of "Disneyland," built by Polish Communists after the Second World War to attract tourists.

Mr. Irving was convicted by a German court in 1990 for telling a public meeting in Munich that there were no gas chambers at Auschwitz, which he described as a very brutal slave labour camp" where about 100,000 people died.

The handful of historians who have been allowed to study the Eichmann memoirs say they found nothing new in the scrawled account of his role in the annihilation of the Jews.

But Roni Stauber, an Israeli historian, who has studied Mr. Irving and the phenomenon of Holocaust denial, said that by releasing the Eichmann memoirs, Israel would show that the Nazi annihilation campaign against the Jews was well documented.

"This is always the claim of the Holocaust deniers -- that there is a conspiracy to hide the truth," Mr. Stauber said.

Website note: On Tuesday, February 29, 2000 the British High Court ordered Lipstadt's defence lawyers to turn a copy of the Eichmann Memoirs over to David Irving, which they did at 4 p.m., only hours after they received the document from Israel. He is not however allowed to use it except for the trial at this stage.


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