Eichmann: The Man, His Crimes, and His Trial

By Kavon, Eli | Midstream, March-April 2007 | Go to article overview

Eichmann: The Man, His Crimes, and His Trial


Kavon, Eli, Midstream


When the leader of Iran swears to wipe Israel off the map, we can hear in his threat echoes of the voice of Gamal Abdel Nasser before the Six-Day War and, certainly, Adolf Hitler before World War II. An armed attack on the State of Israel, such as we witnessed last summer, is an attempt to strike a mortal blow to the heart of Jews all around the world. When Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, British historian David Irving, and Northwestern University professor Arthur Butz claim that the Holocaust was a hoax engineered by the Zionists to create a Jewish State, these revisionists are also attempting to attack the State of Israel and the Jewish people, albeit on the intellectual and historical plane. Their lies are meant to deny the legitimacy of the Jewish State and Jewish history. While Irving and Butz were not in attendance at the recent Tehran conference organized by Ahmadinejad to deny the Shoah, the professors were certainly there in spirit.

Just as the Israel Defense Force responds to armed attack, we, as Jews, must counter those outrageous lies of Holocaust deniers with the truth we know so well: The Nazi genocide of the Jews is the most documented series of events--horrific events--in human history.

Not only do we have the testimony of Holocaust survivors and Allied liberators who witnessed the Shoah and its tragic aftermath. There is also the meticulous documentation of the perpetrators, implicating thousands of Germans and their collaborators in an almost successful attempt to wipe out European Jewry. Forty-five years ago, this Nazi paper trail and the hard work of individuals both Jewish and German, led to the capture, trial, and execution of one of the most dedicated "desk murderers," Adolf Eichmann.

As the German forces of Hitler's "Thousand-Year Reich" faced defeat in the closing days of the Second World War, Adolf Eichmann gathered his subordinates in the SS for a farewell address. Eichmann, while not the sole mastermind behind the "Final Solution," was a central figure in coordinating the deportations of Europe's Jews to their annihilation in the death camps of Poland.

Although he later argued in a Jerusalem courtroom that he was only a "small cog in a machine," Eichmann's words to his comrades would come back to haunt him, dispelling the notion that he was only obeying the orders of his superiors. Eichmann admitted in a Jerusalem courtroom in 1961 that more than fifteen years earlier he said publicly that he would "gladly and happily jump into the pit with the knowledge that also with me are five million enemies of the Reich." When Eichmann referred to the enemies of the Reich, the SS officers by his side well understood that Germany's--and Eichmann's--primary enemies were the Jews.

More than forty-five years ago, from April 11 to August 15, 1961, the Jerusalem District Court tried Adolf Otto Eichmann for the ghastly crimes he committed during World War II. On December 11 of that year, the court condemned Eichmann to death. Despite an appeal by the former Nazi's attorney to the Israeli Supreme Court, Eichmann was hanged on the night of May 31, 1962. Afterwards, his corpse was cremated. The Israeli authorities spread his ashes over the waters of the Mediterranean.

The controversy concerning Eichmann should have ended then and there, since it was beyond a shadow of a doubt that Eichmann was a war criminal and a loyal Nazi. Eichmannjoined the SS as early as 1933. Later, he played a critical role in throwing Jews out of Austria before the outbreak of the war.

As an architect of the genocide of the Jews, Eichmann was a central player in the infamous Wansee Conference in January 1942--a meeting in which the Germans coordinated the policy of extermination of Europe's Jews. As late as 1944, he took personal responsibility for handling the deportation of Hungarian Jews to Birkenau, where the Germans murdered hundreds of thousands of victims in the short space of a few months. …

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