On This Day — Adolf Eichmann Sentenced to Death by Hanging (December 15 1961) [2020]

“I will leap into my grave laughing because the feeling that I have five million human beings on my conscience is for me a source of extraordinary satisfaction.”

SS officer Adolf Eichmann

 

Adolf Eichmann in his cell in Galami Prison in Israel as he awaits his trial.

On December 15 1961, Adolf Eichmann — one of the primary organizers of the Holocaust — was sentenced to death. Follow us on Twitter: @INTEL_TODAY

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UPDATE (December 15 2020) — On the evening of May 23, 1960, the Israeli prime minister David Ben-Gurion made a brief but dramatic announcement to a hastily-summoned session of the Knesset in Jerusalem:

“A short time ago, Israeli security services found one of the greatest of the Nazi war criminals, Adolf Eichmann, who was responsible, together with the Nazi leaders, for what they called ‘the final solution’ of the Jewish question, that is, the extermination of six million of the Jews of Europe. Eichmann is already under arrest in Israel and will shortly be placed on trial in Israel under the terms of the law for the trial of Nazis and their collaborators.”

In the cabinet meeting immediately preceding this announcement, Ben-Gurion’s ministers had expressed their astonishment and curiosity. “How, in what way, where?” urged the transport minister, lapsing into Yiddish: “vi makht men dos?” (“How does one do that?”) Ben-Gurion deflected the query: “That is why we have a security service.” [1]

Adolf Eichmann’s Argentinian ID, under the alias Ricardo Klement, found on him the night of his abduction.

Today Eichmann is mostly remembered as he is portrayed in popular books and movies, and no longer defined by his trial.  According to Martin Kramer,

“These dramatic productions have created an effect even more distorting than Arendt’s idea of the “banality of evil.” During his captivity, we learn, Eichmann revealed human traits he didn’t display in the courtroom.

This Eichmann is philosophical, combative, humorous, even seductive. Not only is he thinking; he’s outthinking his captors and interrogators. And far from drab and banal, he is vivid, magnetic, and wholly affable: the very personification of the affability of evil.

It’s tempting to attribute so outlandish a notion to the creative fantasy of one or another director. But no director, dealing with such a sensitive topic, would dare to spin his Eichmann out of wholly imaginary thread.

Rather, the cinematic Eichmann can be traced precisely to a single and seemingly authoritative source: the testimony of one of Eichmann’s Israeli captors, a colorful self-promoter named Peter “Zvika” Malkin.”

UPDATE (December 15 2019) — Rafi Eitan, the Mossad agent who led the Israeli team that captured Nazi Adolf Eichmann, died on March 23 2019. He was 92.

Yossi Cohen — the current MOSSAD Director  — said the majority of Eitan’s exploits  still remain unknown to the public.

“His work and his actions will be etched in gold letters in the annals of the state. The foundations that Rafi laid in the first years of the state are a significant layer in the activities of the Mossad even today.”

General Eitan earned the nickname “Rafi stinker” after crawling through sewers to deliver a bomb that blew up a British radar station.

In a 2011 interview, General Eitan  laughed off his own hero status, describing himself as only “half of James Bond”.

In the 1980s, he was revealed as the handler of Jonathan Pollard, a US analyst who gave thousands of top secret documents to Israel.

Eitan always insisted that his actions were fully sanctioned by his superiors. Nevertheless, he took responsibility for the fiasco and resigned.

According to rumours, Eitan acted as consultant to MI6 and the British government in dealing with counter-terrorism in Northern Ireland.

END of UPDATE

Tasked by Reinhard Heydrich with managing the logistics of the Final Solution, Eichmann was a participant in the infamous Wannsee Conference where the decision exterminate the Jews was made.

Eichmann and his staff were responsible for organizing the deportations to death camps.

After Germany’s defeat Eichmann fled to Argentina. One of the most wanted Nazis, the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad located him in 1960.

On May 11 1960, after extensive surveillance, a team of Mossad agents launched a successful and audacious operation to abduct him and fly him to Israel to stand trial.

During his trial, reporter Hannah Arendt coined the phrase “the banality of evil” to describe Eichmann, who appeared stiff and lackluster in comparison to the enormity of his crimes.

The hanging, scheduled for midnight at the end of 31 May, was slightly delayed and thus took place a few minutes past 12:00 a.m. on June 1st 1962.

Within hours Eichmann’s body had been cremated, and his ashes scattered in the Mediterranean Sea, outside Israeli territorial waters, by an Israeli Navy patrol boat.

The capture and trial of Adolf Eichmann

“Operation Finale” is a travelling exhibition that tells the story of the pursuit of the Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann, who made his way to Argentina after World War II.

At his trial, Eichmann insisted that he was “just following orders” when he arranged for millions of European Jews to be transported to death camps.

REFERENCES

Adolf Eichmann — Wikipedia

1_ THE TRUTH OF THE CAPTURE OF ADOLF EICHMANN by Martin Kramer

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On This Day — Adolf Eichmann Sentenced to Death by Hanging (December 15 1961)

On This Day — Adolf Eichmann Sentenced to Death by Hanging (December 15 1961) [2019]

On This Day — Adolf Eichmann Sentenced to Death by Hanging (December 15 1961) [2020]

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