Claude Lanzmann’s new documentary film, featuring Benjamin Murmelstein and the Theresienstadt ghetto, has been getting a lot of ink in the press lately.
This quote is from an article which you can read in full here:
For three and a half hours, the viewer [of Lanzmann's documentary] is taken through an exploration of Benjamin Murmelstein, the last president of the Jewish Council in the “model ghetto” of Theresienstadt in Nazi-annexed Czechoslovakia.
Set up by SS colonel Adolf Eichmann as a bogus town run by Jews themselves – a Potemkin village designed to dupe the world – Theresienstadt was one of the grimmest chapters in the long record of Nazi atrocities.
According to Wikipedia, Adolf Eichmann “was a German Nazi SS-Obersturmbannführer (lieutenant colonel) and one of the major organizers of the Holocaust. Because of his organizational talents and ideological reliability, Eichmann was charged by SS-Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich with the task of facilitating and managing the logistics of mass deportation of Jews to ghettos and extermination camps in German-occupied Eastern Europe.”
Nowhere on the Wikipedia page does it say that Eichmann SET UP the Theresienstadt ghetto. He might have been in charge of the transports to and from Theresienstadt, but he did not have the authority to set up a ghetto or anything else. Eichmann was “small potatoes,” not important enough to being setting up camps or ghettos.
This quote from the news article also resonated with me:
Murmelstein’s recollections, said Lanzmann, are doubly precious, as they prompt a new interpretation of Eichmann, who was kidnapped by Mossad agents in Argentina and hauled to Israel for trial, culminating in his execution in 1962. [...]
If Eichmann was “small potatoes,” why did the Mossad go to the trouble of kidnapping him and taking him to Israel? I think it was because Eichmann was the one who wrote the minutes of the Wannsee Conference where the genocide of the Jews was allegedly planned.
The Israelis wanted Eichmann to admit that he left out the part of the Conference where the men talked about killing the Jews, not “transporting them to the East,” as Eichmann wrote in the minutes.
During his trial in Jerusalem, Eichmann testified as follows during session 107 on July 24, 1961:
What I know is that the gentlemen convened their session, and then in very plain terms – not in the language that I had to use in the minutes, but in absolutely blunt terms – they addressed the issue, with no mincing of words. And my memory of all this would be doubtful, were it not for the fact that I distinctly recall saying to myself at the time, Look, just look at Stuckart, the perpetual law-abiding bureaucrat, always punctilious and fussy, and now what a different tone! The language was anything but in conformity with the legal protocol of clause and paragraph. I should add that this is the only thing from the conference that still has stayed clearly in my mind.
When the Presiding Judge asked Eichmann what Stuckart had said “in general” “on this topic,” Eichmann answered, “The discussion covered killing, elimination, and annihilation.”
On the basis of Eichmann’s testimony, it is now accepted that the minutes of the Wannsee conference were written with euphemisms, instead of the actual words used at the conference.