Fifty years after Nazi criminal was arrested basic details about Adolf Eichmann’s 15 years as a fugitive remains as government secret. Documents kept by German foreign intelligence agency, the BND, remain classified today allegedly for reasons of national and international security. The Federal Administrative Court of City of Leipzig ruled last week that BND’s refusal to declassify the file was unlawful. “The reasons given for keeping them classified were only partly justified by the contents of the files and did not permit withholding them completely”, the court ruled in statement issued on Friday.
German freelance journalist based in Argentina, Gabriele Weber, has been seeking access to the BND’s 3,440 documents on Eichmann, who escaped to Argentina after the WWII. Mrs. Weber took legal action against BND after their refusal to open Eichmann files on the grounds that disclosure would damage Germany’s national interests.
According to paperwork filed with the court, the BND maintains that secrecy is necessary because much of the information contained in Eichmann files was provided by an unnamed “foreign intelligence service”. They argued that release of Eichmann files will affect future cooperation with foreign intelligence agencies.
Several historians and journalists including Uki Goni, prominent Argentinean journalist; and Wilhelm Dietl, a former BND agent and author on Eichmann case, are convinced that “foreign intelligence service” is just smokescreen and that information’s contained in files could be embarrassing for German’s government. “Why do you think the Auschwitz prosecutor, and Frankfurt public prosecutor, Fritz Bauer, traveled to the Israel to tell them about Eichmann’s whereabouts instead of telling his own government?” asks Mr. Dietl in his statement to the Spiegel International. Mr. Dietl is convinced that Mr. Bauer didn’t believe that German government was ready to find Eichmann. Eichmann’s son, Ricardo Eichmann, who is disgust for his father, said to the Spiegel International: “Whatever it says in those files the time has come to open them up for academic evaluation.”
On the other side Mrs. Weber attorney, Reiner Geulen, thinks that the most explosive information disclosed in the files pertains to Eichmann’s flight from Germany. “He was very chatty in Jerusalem – he knew he was going to die anyway”, Guelen said to Spiegel International adding that Eichmann explained in great detail who helped him flee Germany and then Europe. “There is good reason to believe that he receive help from German, Italian and Vatican officials”, said Guelen.
In court’s decision is clearly stated that information’s contained in the files are not hitherto unknown and that they were merely of historical interests. “The files largely deal with the National Socialist tyranny, the prosecution and systematic murder of Europe’s Jews, the role of various members of Nazi regime, namely Adolf Eichmann, as well as events relating to that person in the post-war period” the court said. “Disclosing the files in question would only add facets to the events already known” it added. Court in the decision also dismissed BND’s arguments related to Middle East policy and cooperation with foreign intelligence services.
Mrs. Weber and other interested individuals and institutions are now waiting on BND’s decision either to release documents or to file appeal on this Administrative Court of City of Leipzig ruling.
“The court even says there is nothing new in the file. If it is so, Germany will have lots of explaining to do. Why did it kept it hidden for so long if there was nothing there? It would only increase already prevalent suspicion that the file was cleansed before it was given to the court to review”, said Goni.