04 Apr Adolf Eichmann – the Personification of Evil
Otto Adolf Eichmann (b,1906) was a German Nazi SS lieutenant colonel in World War II. He was a key figure early in the war in the deportation of Jews from Germany, Austria and other German-allied areas, and later was the mastermind behind the transport of Jews to Nazi death camps. Because of his senior role in the Holocaust, Eichmann became one of the most sought-after Nazi war criminals following the conclusion of World War II.
Born in Germany, Eichmann moved with his family to Austria as a youth. After finishing his basic education he worled in various jobs before joining both the Nazi Party and the Nazi SS in 1932. He returned to Germany in 1933, where he joined the SD (Nazi Security Service); There he was appointed head of the department responsible for Jewish affairs — especially emigration, which the Nazis encouraged through violence and economic pressure. After the outbreak of World War II in September 1939, Eichmann and his staff arranged for Jews to be concentrated in ghettos in major cities, with the expectation that they would be transported either farther east or overseas.
Eventually, the Nazi Jewish policy changed from emigration to extermination. Eichmann had achieved such skill and experience in his field that he was tasked by SS General Reinhard Heydrich in 1942 with facilitating and managing the logistics involved in the mass deportation of Jews to ghettos and extermination camps in Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe.
Eichmann’s most notorious role came after Germany invaded Hungary in March 1944, when he oversaw the deportation of much of the Jewish population there. Most of the victims were sent to Auschwitz concentration camp, where 75 to 90 per cent were murdered upon arrival. By the time that the transports were stopped in July 1944, 437,000 of Hungary’s 725,000 Jews had been killed. They were part of the six million Jews in all who were killed by the Nazis.
At war’s end, Eichmann found himself in US custody but escaped in 1946. In the end, he succeeded, with the help of Catholic Church officials, in fleeing to Argentina. There he lived under a number of aliases, most famously Ricardo Klement. In 1960, agents of the Israeli Security Service (Mossad) abducted Eichmann and brought him to Israel to stand trial. He was tried on 15 criminal charges, including war crimes, crimes against humanity and crimes against the Jewish people. During the trial, he did not deny the truth of the Holocaust or his role in organizing it, but claimed that he was simply “following orders.” He was found guilty on many of the charges and was sentenced to death by hanging. He was executed on June 1, 1962, the only criminal to have been executed by an Israeli court.
The proceedings before the court in Jerusalem drew international attention, and historians roundly credit coverage of the trial (famously in Hannah Arendt’s book, “Eichmann in Jerusalem,”) with awakening public interest in the Holocaust.