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Adolf Eichmann

Adolf Eichmann (March 19, 1906 - May 31, 1962) was a high-ranking official in Nazi Germany, and a member of the SS (Schutzstaffel). He was largely responsible for the logistics of the extermination of millions of people during the Holocaust, in particular, Jews, which was called the "final solution" (Endlösung). He organised the identification and transportation of people to the various concentration camps. Therefore, he is often referred to as the 'Chief Executioner' of the Third Reich.

Adolf Eichmann was born and raised in Solingen, Germany. As a child, Eichmann was rather dark-complexioned, and other children taunted him for looking like "a Jew."

In 1934 he served as an SS corporal at Dachau concentration camp where he attracted the attention of Reinhard Heydrich. In 1935 he visited Palestine to assess the possibility of exiling the Jews en masse to Palestine, however the occupying British authorities came to learn of his negotiations with local Arab leaders and forced him to depart.

Eichmann attended the Wannsee conference in 1942, which was responsible for the determination of issues relating to 'the final solution of the Jewish question'. Receiving the rank of SS-Obersturmbannführer (Lieutenant Colonel), Eichmann was made head of Gestapo Department IV B 4, which was responsible for all the logistics relating to the extermination underway.

After World War II, Eichmann was captured by US troops. However, in 1946 he managed to escape from a prison camp. After many travels (mainly in Italy and the Middle East) he settled in Argentina in 1950, under the name of Ricardo Klement, and brought his family to the country soon afterwards. Kidnapped by Peter Malkin of the Mossad (Israeli secret service) on May 11, 1960 and flown to Israel as part of a covert operation, he faced trial in front of an Israeli court in Jerusalem starting on February 11, 1961. He was indicted on 15 criminal charges, including charges of crimes against humanity, crimes against the Jewish people, and membership in an outlaw organization.

The trial caused huge international controversy as well as an international sensation. The Israeli government deliberately fueled the sensation by allowing news programs all over the world to broadcast the trial live without any restrictions. TV viewers saw a nondescript man sitting in a bulletproof glass booth while witnesses, including many Holocaust survivors, were testifying against him and his role in transporting victims to the extermination camps. The horrible descriptions of Nazi atrocities that often accompanied the testimony forced the entire world to face the reality of the Holocaust and the evils of Nazi rule. During the whole trial, Eichmann insisted that he was only "following orders".

Convicted on all counts, Eichmann was sentenced to death (the only civil death penalty ever carried out in Israel) on December 2, 1961 and was hanged on May 31, 1962 at Ramleh prison.