WASHINGTON (AP)--The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum has canceled a speaking invitation to a writer who says Jewish concentration camp survivors avenged the Nazis by torturing and killing Germans in post-war prisons.
John Sack, a 66-year-old literary journalist, was supposed to speak Dec. 5. That lecture was postponed to Feb. 13. Then earlier this week he learned his speech had been canceled.
Mary Morrison, a spokesperson for the museum, said an employee at the museum's research institute initially invited Sack, but never cleared the program with museum director Walter Reich.
"This is something that is not an appropriate program for our museum," Ms. Morrison said. "After the lecture was rescheduled and the calendar went out again, the director did get a few calls from historians about it. "
But she said the cancellation was not prompted by outside pressure.
"Had there been no calls, the outcome would have been the same," she said.
Sack, a Jew from New York City who now lives in the Rockies, said his 45-minute lecture was going to be about Jews who ran concentration camps at the end of World War II and beat, mistreated and killed German inmates.
"Yes, the Holocaust happened, the Germans killed Jews, but a second atrocity happened that the Jews who committed it covered up: one where the Jews killed Germans," Sack wrote in his book "An Eye for an Eye."
"God knows the Jews were provoked, but in 1945 they killed a great number of Germans--not Nazis, not Hitler's trigger men, but German civilians, German men, women, children, babies."
Unable to speak at the museum, Sack has decided to rent a room at the National Press Club in Washington. That speech is scheduled Feb. 13.
"I feel strongly that Jews must speak out against genocide even when it's committed by Jews," Sack said in a statement.
In a telephone interview, Sack said he is getting used to cancellation notices. His book, published in 1993 by Basic Books in New York, had been turned down by three other publishers in New York, Germany and Poland. An American magazine also bought a chapter, but decided against printing it, he said.
Elan Steinberg at the World Jewish Congress, an umbrella group of Jewish organizations in 80 countries, said he didn't even know Sack's speech at the museum had been canceled.
"It should never have been scheduled in the first place," Steinberg said. "His book? It's simply grist for anti-semites. It is not properly footnoted. I don't consider it, in any way, scholarly."
Sack contends 60,000 to 80,000 ethnic Germans died from 1945 to 1948 at internment camps Soviet dictator Josef Stalin set up through the Polish Communist government's Office of State Security, whose operators included many Jews.
Leon Wieseltier, literary editor of the political magazine The New Republic, which has harshly criticized Sack's book, said the publication did not pressure the museum to scrap Sack's speech.
Wieseltier said he did not necessarily think Sack's presentation should have been canceled. "I want people to see how wrong and misguided he is," Wieseltier said.