World Report

WARSAW (JTA) — A history professor who published a book suggesting that the Holocaust never took place insisted he was innocent at a trial that opened Tuesday in Poland.

Dariusz Ratajczak, 37, said he had merely summarized the opinions of historians who deny the Holocaust and that his own views are not in line with all the opinions in his book, "Dangerous Themes."

In his opening statement to the court in the southwestern city of Opole, he was quoted as saying, "Historical revisionism is a historical and social fact. A historian must not close his eyes to it."

Austrian extremist apologizes to Jews

VIENNA (JTA) — Austrian far-right leader Jorg Haider apologized for sympathetic statements he has made about Hitler and the SS.

During a speech in Vienna last week, Haider said his remarks "were certainly insensitive or open to misunderstanding." He also told Austrian Jews that they should not be afraid of his party, which came in second in elections last month.

Spanish clergy sorry about the Inquisition

NEW YORK (JTA) — Spanish priests, monks and nuns have apologized for the role their forebears played in the Inquisition.

Last week's move by the president of the Conference of Spanish Religious Workers came after the Roman Catholic Church has made similar apologies for past sins as the year 2000 approaches.

Lithuanian judge challenges the U.S.

MOSCOW (JTA) — A Lithuanian judge is asking the U.S. Justice Department to prove its contention that an alleged Nazi war criminal is faking illness to avoid trial.

Former U.S. citizen Aleksandras Lileikis, 92, is accused of handing over scores of Jews to Nazi death squads during World War II. In September, a Lithuanian court suspended Lileikis' trial indefinitely, citing his poor health.

Meanwhile, a U.S. federal appeals court has ruled that a former SS guard at two Nazi concentration camps should be deported. In its decision, the court upheld a 1997 ruling that ordered Ferdinand Hammer deported to his native Croatia.

Citing Nazi-era documents that showed Hammer also guarded prisoners as they were being taken to the camps, the court said that Hammer, 78, was properly ordered deported because he participated in the "persecution of persons because of their race, religion, national origin or political opinion."