Introduction by Simon Sheppard
Many complications can arise from copyright restrictions, and sometimes the rights to a work can be secured solely to bury it. This is not what has happened here, but the situation is still unfortunate. Once more it seems, the truth is being shielded by a bodyguard of lies.
Certainly the “memoirs” Eichmann wrote after these, while in Israeli captivity, are unworthy of serious attention. The memoirs excerpted here are from transcripts that were provided to Rudolf Aschenauer by Eichmann’s widow, Veronika Eichmann (1909-1997), and appeared in Ich, Adolf Eichmann: Ein Historischer Zeugenbericht (Druffel, 1980). Throughout, the numbers in square brackets refer to pages of that book.
We believe that these memoirs are as close as it is possible to get to Eichmann’s true voice. They are Eichmann’s own words, considered and uncoerced. Even so, an important point should be made. Like all of us, he was fallible, and Aschenauer points to a number of errors. Early on Eichmann mentions Himmler’s apparent death by suicide pill, which should caution the reader that he was influenced by post-war press reports (i.e. Allied propaganda). David Irving, who is familiar with the matter, says that Himmler was beaten to death, and names his killer: Sergeant-Major Edwin Austin. His body was buried on Lüneberg Heath by Chester Wilmot at 3am the same night. All involved were required to sign the Official Secrets Act. So this document, important as it is, is not the definitive source on World War Two. Though it is a significant contribution to a historical era which is fraught with difficulty.
Ich, Adolf Eichmann contains a great deal of commentary by Aschenauer, much of it redundant. Alexander Jacob translated the book in its entirety and approached Historical Review Press (HRP). Subsequently a publishing contract was struck with Druffel for an English edition, and Jacob’s translation was purchased by us without conditions. Thus I suppose that this English translation is the copyright property of HRP.
The contract with Druffel stipulated that the book must be published within two years. Realising that the translation was sub-standard, that time expired. The difficulties of a 160,000-word faulty translation proved to be insurmountable. One attempt to correct it seemed to introduce as many new errors as were fixed. The translation is not awful, tending as it does to literal, but obviously wrong words have sometimes been chosen and hence in my view it is not good enough to set in print.
A translation of this standard could conceivably be adequate for an unexceptional novel, but not for a memoir of significance which historians will wish to quote. Accordingly, these pages are posted so that people are aware of Eichmann’s testimony.
Apparently everyone who gets their hands on this material feels compelled to add their tuppence-worth (this is mine though, note, it is confined to an introductory page). Beside extensive commentary, the Druffel edition has nearly five hundred footnotes. For example, there are biographies of everyone mentioned by Eichmann, including Hitler and Eva Braun. Later even Jacob added further comments.
There are actually two sets of memoirs from Argentina, the other one based on interviews Eichmann had with Willem Sassen. Jacob did add this significant point:
When the Israeli prosecutor Gideon Hausner wished to have the full Sassen transcripts admitted into evidence during Eichmann’s trial in 1961, Eichmann opposed this claiming that this record was mere ‘pub talk’ since he had been drinking red wine during the interview and Sassen had constantly encouraged him to embellish his accounts for journalistic sensation and had even falsely transcribed the interview.
Parts of the Sassen interviews were sold to Life magazine, which published them in 1960. Eichmann wrote more memoirs while a prisoner in Israel. Hence our claim that the memoirs presented here are the most accurate and authentic of all. They have nothing to do with Sassen and were not coerced. Aschenauer had served as a defence lawyer during the Nuremberg Trials and, while he clearly struggled with the publication of Ich, Adolf Eichmann, it is unlikely that he would have corrupted the material which had been entrusted to him by Eichmann’s widow.
In the excerpts, ellipsis does not denote an omission, since the book assures the reader that hardly anything has been left out, rather these seem to be an affectation by Eichmann himself. Similarly with the frequent use of dashes between sentences. The German version here is as close to the book as has been possible to achieve, save for typographical corrections (e.g. wrongly oriented quotation marks). The few annotations to Eichmann’s words are in square brackets. Occasionally underlining has been addded to the text to indicate that a word or phrase may need correcting.
Later we learned that Jacob sold his translation a second time, to Black House Publishing, run by Carl Wynn, who has apparently published it as The Eichmann Tapes. This publication is available at www.blackhousepublishing.com/bookshop/the-eichmann-tapes/
To the story of our failed attempt to publish this book I shall add an observation, part personal and part psychological, which I expect the named individuals will not like. It is however relevant and significant. I have observed something I call ‘Essex Ego’ where a man dominates some niche market not for the purpose of normal business, selling or distributing something useful, but really as a means to exercise his outsized, unhealthy ego. The original was Richard Russell with Bbcbasic, and while Essex Ego is not confined to Essex, the impression I have is that it is more prevalent in the south of England.
Wynn is probably another Essex Ego. Attempts to reach a compromise with him were very frustrating. The proposal I made on behalf of HRP was that we collaborate to obtain a good translation and HRP would publish the hardback (which carries the prestige) while Black House would publish the paperback (which earns the profits). However Wynn was apparently unconcerned that Jacob’s translation was unreliable and shortly threatened legal action if we were to use it. Hence the Eichmann section at revisionist.net had to be taken down. This happened in May or June 2017. The collection of excerpts here, chosen by my colleague at HRP, is of no greater extent than has been made of other books and plainly constitutes “fair use.”
The defining characteristic of Essex Ego is that everything is secondary to flexing the ego. The behaviour is not beneficial. In the case of Bbcbasic, there could have been a thriving software company employing many people. For Eichmann's memoirs, there could have been a proper English edition, which historians and others could refer to and quote with confidence.
Another aspect is whether Wynn, or indeed Druffel, has exclusive rights to this work. It appears indubitable that we have rights to the translation; Wynn’s threat was based on a claim of exclusive rights (via Druffel) to the German source. However Irving gave this comment:
In 1991 the typescript Eichmann memoirs were given to me for my use under certain conditions by Hugo Byttebier, an Argentine friend of Jan Willems, who was an Eichmann friend. I gave the originals, ca. 500pp. to the German Federal Archives under the same conditions. I have prepared an edition for publication, and have released parts on my website.
The portion Irving has released is essentially identical to the Druffel text, giving provenance to these excerpts. It also throws Wynn’s claim to exclusive rights to the German source into doubt.
It is hoped that posting these pages will bring Eichmann’s account to notice and prevent it being lost behind the clouds of obfuscating ink which surround it.
Irving’s commentary on this text is at www.ihr.org/jhr/v13/v13n2p14_Irving.html
Pages on Irving’s website:
Eichmann Index: www.fpp.co.uk/Auschwitz/Eichmann/
The Eichmann Papers (in German): www.fpp.co.uk/bookchapters/Eichmann/Intro.html
Host page of the German PDF: www.fpp.co.uk/Auschwitz/Eichmann/Buenos_Aires_MS.html
Minor differences have been seen between the Druffel text and the German manuscript Irving was given, part of which he has posted in facsimile as a PDF. Most notably the section beginning “Kurs nachdem Heydrich mire den...” and ending with “Aber Müller war auch diesmal wie eine Sphinx.......” (pp. 16-18 of the PDF) has I think been separated or elaborated on elsewhere in the Druffel version.
Additionally, ten pages of the Eichmann section which originally appeared on the revisionist.net site were stored for posterity by archive.org. Those pages are in bold green below.
To retrieve these pages, go to www.archive.org and paste the address into the search box. Ten pages were archived between February and May 2017 inclusive. The numbers in the filenames refer to page numbers in the Druffel edition.
www.revisionist.net/eichmann/eich170.html – In Irving’s PDF
www.revisionist.net/eichmann/eich174.html – In Irving’s PDF
www.revisionist.net/eichmann/eich175.html – In Irving’s PDF
www.revisionist.net/eichmann/eich176a.html – In Irving’s PDF
www.revisionist.net/eichmann/eich176b.html – In Irving’s PDF
www.revisionist.net/eichmann/eich180.html – In Irving’s PDF
www.revisionist.net/eichmann/eich182.html – In Irving’s PDF
www.revisionist.net/eichmann/eich229.html – In Irving’s PDF
www.revisionist.net/eichmann/eich232a.html – In Irving’s PDF
www.revisionist.net/eichmann/eich232b.html – In Irving’s PDF
Ich, Adolf Eichmann: Ein historischer Zeugenbericht, Herausgegeben von Dr. Rudolf Aschenauer, Druffel-Verlag, Leoni am Starnberger See, 1980, ISBN 3-8061-1005-0 (p/b), 3-8061-1004-2 (h/b)