Renewed Fight Over Release of Eichmann Files

David Rising, “Fight over Eichmann Files Back to German Court,” Associated Press Story, September 7, 2010:

Germany’s intelligence service has turned over thousands of files on top Nazi Adolf Eichmann’s whereabouts after World War II to a journalist who sued for them. But with so many passages blacked out and pages missing, she’s taking the matter back to court.

An attorney for freelance reporter Gabriele Weber said Tuesday he was confident that she would win greater access eventually, even though Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office has argued that some Eichmann files should stay secret.

Last week, Weber went to see the government files on the man known as the “architect of the Holocaust” for coordinating the Nazi’s genocide policy. She was surprised to find some 1,000 pages missing, despite a federal court’s order in April that the intelligence agency, the BND, could not keep all of the documents secret.

Merkel’s office, which oversees the BND, argued in a filing last month with the Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig that the 3,400 files had been examined and that it had been determined that some should remain withheld for a variety of reasons. It expressed concern that because the information had been received in confidence from other intelligence agencies, to make it public would discredit the BND.

Merkel’s office did not return calls seeking comment on the decision to keep some files secret, and the BND refused to elaborate while the matter is still pending in court.

The arguments, however, were similar to those the court rejected when it made its initial ruling.

“I am certain that we will get all of the files, but it will take some time,” Weber’s Berlin attorney Reiner Geulen said.

He has filed a new request with the Leipzig court arguing that the government is violating the court’s original order by withholding so much.

Even though the basics of Eichmann’s story after the war are well known — he fled Germany, was captured in Argentina by Israel’s Mossad in 1960, then hanged after trial in Jerusalem in 1962 — Weber hopes the files will shed more light on missing pieces of the puzzle. Who helped him escape? How much did Germany know about where he was? Is there more to the story of his capture?

While she received some 2,400 pages, another 1,000 — crucially about the years before Eichmann was captured by Israel — were held back, she said. Of the pages she did receive, much of the information was blacked out, she told The Associated Press.

“Of the 2,400 pages, maybe 100 are interesting,” she said.

It was not clear when the case would be heard by the Leipzig court.

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