WHEREVER THEY MAY BE
© 1972, The Beate Klarsfeld Foundation
 
 
Previous Page Back  Contents  Contents Page 105 Home Page Home Page  Forward Next Page 
     
We gave that telegram priority because it seemed to magnify Achenbach's personal responsibility for the reprisals. All Achenbach needed to do to strengthen his position with his government and continue his candidacy was to deny that he had ordered them. Now, we knew enough about the workings of the German authorities in Paris during the occupation to realize that Achenbach would not have sent Berlin a telegram containing a decision he himself had made; in fact, the telegram merely reported the murder and the envisaged reprisals, but not who had ordered them. If Achenbach were now to say that he had not ordered them, he would appear to have been the victim of a cabal.

Fortunately, Achenbach chose to defend himself through sources that had already been made public. The telegram itself had been published in 1953 in the German Jewish weekly Allgemeine Wochenschrift der Juden in Deutschland, along with a bitter denunciation of Achenbach. At that time Achenbach, in a ticklish spot owing to his involvement in the Naumann case, explained his conduct in an open letter. Instead of saying: "I was merely making a report," he went so far as to say: "General Heinrich von Stuelpnagel, the military governor of France, wired Berlin about the deportation of Jews just to avoid the execution of hostages in reprisal. I sent the telegram to cover Stuelpnagel." Now Achen. bach repeated this explanation to Der Spiegel and added: "There had to be a lot of fuss made. As a result, everything turned out fine" – in other words, everything turned out fine for the Jews.

Achenbach chose not to mention me or attribute any moral motive to the campaign. The prominent lawyer who had so glibly explained away the crimes of I. G. Farben and of the German officials in Occupied Belgium had kept quiet until that April 12. But why? After my open letter of April 4, he could have sued me for libel, appealed to an arbitration board of historians, or asked me to produce my documentation. The real reason Achenbach refused to plead his own cause was that he kept running up against the most deadly of accusers: himself.

Achenbach's counterattack was to make the telegram appear to be an act of resistance on his part. But La Libre Belgigue pointed out:
Achenbach's insistence on this point does not prove very much. To justify himself Achenbach, rather than repeating his 1953 explanation, might have furnished proof that the 2,000 Jews in question had never been arrested or deported.
     
   
 
WHEREVER THEY MAY BE
© 1972, The Beate Klarsfeld Foundation
Previous Page  Back Page 105 Forward  Next Page