Israeli authorities have approved the prompt release of classified memories
written in prison by Nazi war criminal Adolph Eichmann before his execution
in 1962, for use as possible evidence by defendant Prof. Deborah Lipstadt
in the libel suit brought against her by Holocaust-denier David Irving.
While in prison awaiting trial in Israel in the early 1960s, Eichmann
received permission to write a journal of his role in overseeing the "Final
Solution," the Nazi plan to exterminate European Jewry during World War II.
The memories have been kept secret, but are now being made public in
response to an urgent request from the defense team for Lipstadt. The
defense is expected to conclude its case by the weekend, and Lipstadt's
attorney believes the journal should help their case by refuting Irving's
central claim that Hitler did not know about the "Final Solution" until
near the end of the war.
Hitler apologist Irving, a self-taught British historian, sued Lipstadt, a
professor at Emory University, and her publisher Penguin Books, charging
her with destroying his reputation by labeling him a Holocaust denier and
asserting he promotes fraudulent accounts on the Holocaust in his books and
The high-profile trial is nearing completion, and many observers have been
worrying that - since the burden of proof is on the defendant Lipstadt
under British libel laws - the verdict could be a major setback to efforts
at countering an upsurge in Holocaust denial and neo-Nazism. Under British
law, a libel claimant only needs to prove that his reputation has been
damaged, and truth is not necessarily a defense.
Irving challenges the statistics and manner in which Jews died in
concentration camps, conceding that while one million Eastern European Jews
were shot by roving SS squads, there were no gas chambers which
exterminated millions of others at Auschwitz and elsewhere. With extensive
knowledge on the Third Reich, Irving also claims there is no evidence
Hitler ordered the annihilation of Jews or that he even knew about it until
1943. Irving even suggests European Jewry was responsible for bringing the
tragedy upon itself and accuses Jews today of cashing in on the Shoah.
Lipstadt describes Irving as a "Hitler partisan" and says he twists history
and relies on discredited findings to support his racist ideology. In
recent weeks, one leading history professor testified in court that Irving
does not deserve to be called an "historian" due to his "distortions and
manipulations," while a noted British military historian subpoenaed by
Irving himself described his views as "perverse." But apparently, the
defense felt it desperately needed access to the Israeli archives of
Attorney General Elyakim Rubinstein decided to hand over the material last
night after urgent discussions with top judges, legal officials and
historians in response to the request. The Israeli state archives will
transfer copies of the journals, printed and on diskette, to the
representative for Lipstadt in London, Richard Rampton.
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 the
handwritten 1,300-pages, the overseer of the Nazi death machine reportedly
says the mass killing of Jews during the Holocaust was the worst crime in
human history. Scholars who have seen the memoir say that it repeats
arguments Eichmann made at his trial, insisting that he was only a
mid-level official following orders.