The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Memory - and the Nazi master plan

By Elli Wohlgelernter

(March 3) -- The release this week of Adolf Eichmann's memoirs raises
questions about their veracity and value to current Holocaust debates --

In a strange twist of irony, the suppressed memoir of Adolf Eichmann, that
was once thought to be a danger in the hands of neo-Nazis and Holocaust
deniers, was released this week - to be used by the defense in a libel trial
against just such a denier.

How exactly the document will be used remains to be seen, but who could have
imagined 40 years ago that Eichmann would one day be used to prove that the
Shoah happened?

Then again, who could have imagined that the Shoah itself would be on trial?

The document in question is a manuscript written by Eichmann in the summer
of 1961, while he awaited the verdict in his Jerusalem trial. In it he
describes his role in the Nazi annihilation of the Jews - what he saw,
where, and how it was carried out.

"I witnessed the gruesome workings of the machinery of death; gear meshed
with gear, like clockwork," he wrote. "It was the biggest and most enormous
dance of death of all times."

The premise throughout the memoirs is similar to that of Eichmann's court
testimony - that he was just a small cog in that machinery of death, that
orders came from above and, well, he was just following orders.

But that very description of the machinations of the "Final Solution" gives
the document its added weight this week, as a source to aid US historian and
author Deborah Lipstadt in her libel defense against Holocaust denier David
Irving in London.

"Eichmann doesn't claim that the Holocaust didn't happen, that Auschwitz was
not there, that they didn't gas over a million Jews in Auschwitz and the
other death camps," says Avner Shalev, chairman of Yad Vashem. "This he
didn't do, didn't dare to do.

"He said, 'I complied with the others, and they made the decisions. So you
cannot blame me as one who conceived it, who led the policy, one who made
the decisions. This is the system, an overall system, and I as an officer
had to obey and comply with it.'

"Irving cannot find [in the memoir] any facts that will be a contradiction
to the basic facts that are known worldwide."

THOUGH HISTORIANS still anticipate Irving may try to twist the document in
his favor, "it will be very difficult, because Eichmann describes the
gassing of Jews in Chelmno in greatest detail, and so on," says Prof. Yehuda
Bauer, adding that evidence Eichmann gave at his trial "is much more
persuasive" than his memoir.

The problem for Bauer and other historians is the veracity of the document.
They argue that the 1,200-page manuscript of memoirs and notes is little
more than a self-serving mea culpa, written by "a war criminal and murderer
who tried to get out of the hangman's noose," according to Bauer.

The document was originally sealed by prime minister David Ben-Gurion, who
was persuaded to do so by Gideon Hausner, the prosecuting attorney.

"Eichmann was given an opportunity to express his opinion when he was on the
witness stand for 30 sessions," Hausner recalled telling Ben-Gurion in his
book on the trial, Justice in Jerusalem. "We are not obligated to publicize
his work and circulate his false version - the law does not obligate this,
and there is no justification for it."

It was a different time then, says historian Yisrael Gutman, a time when
most talk about the Shoah centered on the perpetrators.

"We did not know then enough about the victims, about their destiny, their
suffering, their end," Gutman says. "The memoirs of Eichmann are exactly
this line of the perpetrators, so there was no reason for our side, from our
archives, to help in this exploitation and in the publication of such a thing."

Furthermore, he says, keeping documents in state archives for 30 or 50 years
is standard practice of democracies worldwide.

"It is quite a normal thing," Gutman says. "The Vatican, for instance - is
not ready to deliver the documents of the period of Pius XII. It is quite
normal, but today we have no reason and no interest in holding things in the

THE MEMOIRS lay undisturbed until last summer, when one of Eichmann's sons,
Dieter, petitioned Israel for the manuscript. Attorney-General Elyakim
Rubinstein issued a statement then saying that the "inclination is to bring
the material to the public for its consideration as soon as possible, by
publishing it in its entirety... with comments and appropriate accompanying

But that changed this week, with the request from Lipstadt's defense lawyers
that they be forwarded a copy of the manuscript to help bolster their
defense. With that, Rubinstein decided to release it publicly.

"We think as part of Israel's obligation and commitment as a Jewish state -
all of us being survivors in fact of the Holocaust - we should enable the
public to have access to what was written," Rubinstein said.

Historians applauded the move, saying it was long overdue.

"I think we need every scrap of information about this because the records
of the Reich Security Main Office did not survive," says the dean of US
Shoah historians, Raul Hilberg.

"There is some correspondence that is filed in various offices, but there
was something like 40,000 documents that were destroyed.

"I believe that we cannot dispense with anything, irrespective of who wrote
it, and irrespective if that person was trying to protect himself with lies
and all of that. We can't overlook the material. That's a given. Every scrap
of paper that man wrote is of tremendous historical importance."

HILBERG NOTES that there is a more personal, psychological value to the
document's historicity. "I believe that Eichmann is revealed - a person's
style is like his handwriting. It describes the man," he says. "And this is
irrespective of what he says. So there is that importance that we have to
attach to it.

"But I also believe that whatever he might conceivably have left out - and
keep in mind the longer the manuscript the less likely it is that he left
anything out - but even if he left out one thing or another, or even if he
tried to protect himself, which is the most natural thing in the world - any
autobiography whatsoever is of that nature - you could say that 98 to 99
percent of what he writes is true."

Bauer says there is no historical significance to Eichmann's memoirs, and
that the danger is that just reading them alone will give a distorted view
of the Shoah.

"Anyone who comes completely new to the whole thing and takes these memoirs
seriously will make a mistake, because what he has to do is to read the
transcript of the trial," Bauer says.

"It's difficult because it's many more pages than the memoirs. And that's
what Eichmann really hoped for, I'm sure - that they will turn to his
memoirs rather than the trial. And I think it would be a mistake to do that."



Irving admits speaking at BNP meeting
By Ian Burrell, Home Affairs Correspondent

3 March 2000

The Revisionist historian David Irving admitted yesterday he had been a
speaker at a meeting by the far-right British National Party, despite
earlier claiming he had no connection with the organisation.

Under cross-examination by Richard Rampton QC, Mr Irving accepted he had
attended what he described as a "semi-BNP function" in Leeds in 1990.

Mr Rampton referred to the letter sent to Mr Irving on BNP notepaper,
inviting him to speak at the party's "northern regional meeting". Evidence
of Mr Irving's involvement with the BNP was found among the 20 million words
of his personal diaries obtained by lawyers acting for Penguin Books in a
High Court libel action.

Mr Irving is suing Penguin and the American author Deborah Lipstadt for
calling him a "Holocaust denier"and saying he manipulated the record.

He was accused of deliberately exaggerating the number of Berlin Jews
involved in criminal activity before the war, as part of an attempt to
explain animosity towards them by the Nazis. Mr Irving said he used
documents in good faith.

Mr Rampton accused Mr Irving of "mocking the [Holocaust] survivors and dead"
in a 1991 speech in Canada. Mr Irving had said: "There are so many Auschwitz
survivors, the number increases as the years go past, which is biologically
very odd, to say the least. Because I'm going to form an Association of
Auschwitz survivors, survivors of the Holocaust and other liars, or the

Mr Irving said what he was doing was "mocking the liars" who "told untrue
stories about what had happened to them". The case continues.


No more denials

The Ottawa Citizen

'The Fuehrer has ordered the physical extermination of the Jews." There you
have it: ten words that put the lie permanently to those who deny the
reality of the Holocaust. 

They come from Adolf Eichmann, the Nazi bureaucrat who, as the Gestapo's
chief of the Jewish Office, was the logistical mind behind the Third
Reich's killing of six million Jews during the Second World War. 

The words come from the prison journal he wrote 40 years ago while awaiting
trial, and eventual execution, in Israel as a war criminal. 

The Israeli government released the 1,300-page memoir this week. In doing

so, it has given the world a much-needed reminder of one of the seminal
horrors of the 20th century, an event that too many are now denying

The Palestinian and Syrian media, for example, regularly run articles
denying the Holocaust. Closer to home, Ernst Zundel has attracted followers
by casting doubt on the extent of the death camps. 

And then there is English historian David Irving, who has made a career out
of questioning the extent of the Holocaust. 

"What happened with the Jews," Eichmann wrote, "was the most enormous crime
in the history of mankind." Exactly. And those who deny this truth are,
inadvertently or not, helping create the conditions in which such a crime
can be repeated. 

Of course, all the evidence in the world won't stop those who, for whatever
sad and sick motive, insist on denying the Holocaust. 

But for reasonable people, Eichmann's journal provides an inoculation
against the forces of irrationalism. 


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