By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife reporting from Budapest
BUDAPEST, HUNGARY (BosNewsLife)– A Budapest court has rejected a libel lawsuit of a Nazi-concentration camp survivor who claims Nobel Peace Prize winning author and human rights activist Elie Wiesel “lies” about his Holocaust past.
Hungarian-born Nikolaus (Miklós) Grüner, now living in Sweden, sued Wiesel supporter and rabbi Slomó Köves for accusing him of “falsifying history” with a decades-long investigation. Köves, who helped arrange Wiesel’s “homecoming tour” to Hungary in 2009, also compared Grüner to American academic and author Norman Finkelstein.
In his book ‘The Holocaust Industry’ Finkelstein says Jewish leaders are fueling Europe’s antisemitism by trying to force German and Swiss banks to pay new compensation to those suffering under the Nazis during World War Two.
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The Hungarian rabbi also called the 83-year-old Grüner “an elderly man with some kind of complex.” Köves said however that he sympatized with the “horrible suffering” of Grüner as he lost his parents and a brother in the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp complex in the 1940s.
Grüner told BosNewsLife that the Metropolitan Court Budapest ruled Monday, Febryary 6, that Köves was not guilty of libel as he only “hinted” he may have falsified history. Additionally, the rabbi did not describe Grüner as a liar in his published statements, the court added.
Grüner said he would “appeal the ruling and court procedure and demand a new trial” later this month. “The rabbi basically called me a liar in his statement, but I have worked 26 years on this case,” Grüner added.
He explained that he had been angered by the court’s statement Monday, February 6, that it wasn’t able to rule on whether Wiesel had lied about his Holocaust past because he lives in America.
“I never wanted the Hungarian court to rule on that issue. However I wanted the court to give an opinion about the unjustified statements made by the rabbi.” He said Köves remarks could undermine his plans to directly sue Wiesel in the United States.
Grüner claims that Wiesel stole the identity of his friend and fellow concentration camp inmate Lázár Wiesel, who helped him survive the horrors of the Auschwitz-Birkenau and satellite camps in Nazi-occupied Poland and in Buchenwald camp, in Germany.
The first names “Elie” and “Lázár” are similar to the Hebrew name, Eleazar.
Despite the legal setback in Hungary, Grüner plans to travel to the United States this month to demand that American authorities extradite Wiesel to Hungary and to meet a lawyer representing Holocaust survivors.
Grüner began his research after a Swedish paper arranged a meeting between him and Elie Wiesel in 1986. “I thought I would meet my friend, but I didn’t recognize this man.”
Photo’s and film footage have emerged on the Internet showing a man resembling Elie Wiesel in short sleeves without a visible tattoo. But Wiesel claims he still carries the number on his arm. “I don’t need that to remember, I think about my past every day,” he told American students last year when discussing the tattoo.
“I still have it on my arm – A-7713. At that time, we were numbers. No names, no identity.”