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Tuesday, 29 February, 2000, 15:17 GMT
Israel releases Eichmann diary

Eichmann's diaries come under scrutiny for trial
Israel has released the unpublished memoirs of the Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann.

After 40 years under lock and key, Israel's Attorney General, Eliyakim Rubinstein, agreed to open up the 1,300-page document after a request from lawyers in a libel case involving controversial British historian David Irving.

In the memoirs, which historians say offer no significant new information, Eichman describes how he thought the Holocaust was the worst crime in history, but he himself felt free of guilt.

"It's not an apology," Israel's state archivist Professor Evyatar Friesel.

"He thinks that a terrible crime has been committed but the crime is not his responsibility and therefore he has nothing to apologise for, that he was a public servant who had to obey orders," he said.

Public access

Israeli officials said the public would also be allowed access to the 1,300-page, hand-written papers.

Eichmann was one of the principal architects of the 'final solution', the genocide of Jews by the Nazis during World War II. He was in charge of organising and co-ordinating the deportation of millions of Jews to the death camps of eastern Europe.

David Irving
Irving: Challenges the number and manner of Jewish concentration death camps
He fled to South America when Nazi Germany surrendered in 1945 but was tracked down in 1960 in Argentina by agents from Mossad, the Israeli secret service.

He wrote his memoirs whilst on trial in Jerusalem for crimes against humanity.

Eichmann was found guilty and executed in 1962.

Since his death, the Eichmann papers have been held under lock and key in the Israeli national archives.

Holocaust trial

In the libel case, which brought the papers' release, Mr Irving, 62, says he does not deny that Jews were killed by the Nazis.

But he challenges the number and manner of Jewish concentration camp deaths.

The defendants, who deny libel, have accused the controversial historian of being a liar and falsifier of history.

The hearing has been adjourned but is expected to last for several months.

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. 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.

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