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Morning Edition, February 13, 1997
1997 by National Public Radio

DEAN OLSHER: ...The story John Sack tells is admittedly incredible.

JOHN SACK: I mean, if I told you that there was a war criminal right now, a man who had run a concentration camp in World War II and who had beaten people to death, and that both Germans and Jews testified that he had beaten people to death, and that I found, and anyone can find, 1,580 death certificates for people who died in the camp; if I told you that that man was still alive, and was wanted in Poland, and wanted in Germany for crimes against humanity but had fled to the Middle East, do you think that would be a story? I think that would be all over NPR. I think it would be on the front page of the Washington Post and The New York Times.

OLSHER: But the story is not all over, and Sack says it's not because it isn't true.

SACK: The story is true. But the man was not a German; he was a Jew. And he's fled to the Middle East, to Israel. He's living in Tel Aviv. His name is Solomon Morel.

OLSHER: Sack told Morel's story in a book called An Eye for an Eye, which came about as the result of a magazine article he wrote in the late 1980s about a woman named Lola Potok, who, after World War II, was a commandant at a Polish-run camp that held Germans.

SACK: It was a rather sweet story about a woman who had started taking revenge, slapped some Germans around, kicked some Germans around in the prison she ran, and then realized that it was wrong and started helping the Germans, and started being good to them...

But [the story] turned out to be much, much bigger. The Germans in Lola's prison--Lola remembered that they were soldiers, yeah, twenty of them were soldiers. The other thousand were civilians. There were woman. There were children.

There was one boy there, he had been arrested just because he had black pants on. They thought he was a fascist. That happened to be his boy scout pants. The boy was fourteen years old. And when he came into the prison the guards tortured him. There were all sorts of tortures. The woman were raped. And many people died. 

They tried to do the same thing the Germans did. And to some degree, to a small degree, they did. Sixty thousand to eighty thousand Germans died in these camps that were run by the Office of State Security, which, in turn, was run by Jews.

OLSHER: Sack had been invited to share his research with scholars at a seminar put on by the Research Institute of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. But earlier this month, Sack received a letter uninviting him... 

SACK: It [the Museum] doesn't just talk about what the Germans did to the Jews. They've had presentations on what the Turks did to the Armenians, what the Iranians did to the Kurds, what the Cambodians did to the Cambodians. I mean, they're in the forefront in America of teaching people what racial hatred can do.

And for them to make a rule, if that's what they've done, that we'll talk about any kind of genocide except when it's committed by Jews, if that's what they've done--maybe it shouldn't be surprising, but it is very saddening...

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in An Eye for an Eye

Read about the controversy
in New York Magazine

Read about the controversy
in Dictionary of Literary Biography

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in The New Republic

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in The Harvard Crimson

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