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Eichmann Penned Details of Death Machine Workings

_____ On the Web _____

Irving v. Lipstadt Libel Lawsuit
Profile of Deborah E. Lipstadt
David Irving Defense Site

Adolph Eichmann and the Holocaust
Eichmann's trial in Jerusalem
The U.S. Holocaust Museum
Simon Wiesenthal Center
The Cybrary of the Holocaust

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By Lee Hockstader
Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, February 29, 2000; 1:00 PM

JERUSALEM, Feb. 29 -- The memoirs of Adolph Eichmann, Hitler's "technician of death" and a critical cog in the Nazi killing machine, were made public today nearly four decades after he was abducted, tried and hanged by Israel for his role in the extermination of 6 million European Jews.

The manuscript 1,200 pages of flow charts, revisions, ruminations and self-justifications written in antiquated, nearly illegible longhand shines little new light on the ample historical record of the Holocaust, although it does add some grotesque personal touches. At one point, the man who arranged for the transportation of hundreds of thousands of Jews to their deaths describes himself as so shocked at witnessing a group of them being gassed that he was forced to drink himself into a stupor as a sedative.

However, the memoirs, which until today had been read by no more than a handful of specialists, do illuminate the workings of Eichmann's astonishingly detail-oriented, at times petty, mind.

Written in an Israel jail cell in 1961 as he awaited the outcome of his trial, Eichmann included intricate instructions for what he evidently imagined would be the prompt publication of his work.

He asked that the book's cover be pearl-colored and that his editor bear in mind the Bavarian lilt of his German. He even left instructions that his wife be furnished with 10 copies, which she was to distribute to specified friends and relatives "in the name of my husband, with friendly regards."

He entitled the manuscript "Goedzen," German for "Idols," a reference to his supposed disillusionment with the Nazis.

In the event, the memoirs were ordered sealed in the Israeli state archives at the time of his death by then-Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, who feared their publication might blur the international focus on the former Nazi colonel's conviction and execution. For decades after that, the document was all but forgotten.

The government released it today in response to a request by an American professor, Deborah Lipstadt, who is fighting a libel action in London by a British historian she has accused of denying the Holocaust.

The Jewish state is duty-bound "to help those who are fighting the denial of the Holocaust," Attorney General Elyakim Robinstein said Monday, explaining his decision. "If the diaries of this despicable person [are] one of the links in this chain, there is no reason that it shouldn't be available to the public."

© 2000 The Washington Post Company

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