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May 26, 2012

50th anniversary of the execution of Adolf Eichmann, the “Architect of the Holocaust”

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 12:08 pm

May 31st will mark the 50th anniversary of the hanging of Adolf Eichmann, who was charged with 15 crimes in an Israeli court, and convicted in 1962 of crimes against humanity, war crimes, crimes against the Jewish people, and membership in an outlawed organization (the SS).

Eichmann’s crime was that he was the man in charge of the trains that transported the Jews to the concentration camps.  Who was the man in charge of the trains that took the Japanese-Americans, German-Americans and Italian-Americans to internment camps in America?  I don’t know, but I doubt that there was anyone in charge of scheduling the trains in America.  Americans are not as organized as the Germans are. Up until recently, you could set your watch by the arrival and departure of the trains in Germany. In America, not so much.

The three judges in the trial of Adolf Eichmann were Moshe Landau, Benjamin Halevy and Yitzhak Raveh, all three of whom were German Jews who had left Germany in 1933 and escaped to the British Mandate of Palestine, soon after Hitler came to power.

This raises the question: Why didn’t all the German Jews just go to Palestine in 1933? The Holocaust could have been avoided altogether if the Jews had all emigrated to Palestine.  The answer is that the British would not allow it — they were trying to avoid the conflict that is still going on today.

As an officer in the SS, Eichmann had been assigned in 1938 to help organize SS Security Forces in Vienna after the Anschluss of Austria with Germany. After that, Eichmann was selected by the SS leadership to form the Central Office for Jewish Emigration at the end of 1938.

According to Wikipedia: Eichmann was an “expert on Jewish matters” for the Third Reich, overseeing the concentration camps, the expropriation of Jewish property, and the deportation of Jews to ghettos and death camps. He played a major role in implementing the Final Solution.

In his capacity as the head of the Central Office for Jewish Emigration, Eichmann had tried to work with Zionist organizations to get Jews into Palestine.  In December 1939, Eichmann was assigned to head the RSHA Sub-Department IV-B4, which was the office of the German government that dealt with Jewish affairs and emigration. In 1940, Eichmann was in charge of the Madagascar Project, a plan to deport Jews to the island of Madagascar, but this plan was never put into effect. (Again, the British were against this plan.)

In short, Adolf Eichmann was in charge of getting the Jews out of Germany, but was he eventually put in charge of killing all the Jews in Europe?  Yes! According to Wikipedia: “Reinhard Heydrich disclosed to Eichmann in autumn 1941 that all the Jews in German-controlled Europe were to be murdered. (Source: Browning, Christopher R. (2004), The Origins of the Final Solution, p. 362)”

Several years ago, I was staying in a hotel in Berlin, and I wanted to go to the newly-opened Museum in the house in Wannsee, a suburb of Berlin, where the Final Solution was planned.  I asked the two young people working at the front desk in the hotel how to get to the house in Wannsee where the Final Solution was planned.  I spoke to them in English because all young people in Germany speak English better than most Americans.  But the phrase “Final Solution” drew a complete blank: these young people had no idea what I was talking about.  So I said it in German:  “die Endlösung.”  Again, I drew a complete blank.

Finally, I asked the young woman at the front desk in the hotel to call me a taxi.  Surely, a taxi driver would know how to get there.  As it turned out, the cab driver did know, but he said it was 50 miles, each way.  “Das macht aber nicht,” I said, and away we went.

The point of this long digression from my subject is that a man was hanged for his role as the Architect of the Final Solution 50 years ago, but today’s young people in Germany don’t know what you are talking about when you say “die Endlösung der Judenfrage.”

Adolf Eichmann was a low-level bureaucrat in Nazi Germany. He never personally killed anyone and never ordered the death of anyone. He had no authority in Nazi Germany and was not a decision maker. So unimportant was Eichmann that he did not even leave Germany until 1950. When he finally emigrated to Argentina, he did so with the help of the International Red Cross.  His wife and children did not change their names when they left Germany, and that’s how Eichmann was tracked down by the Israeli Mossad in 1960.

Eichmann’s good friend, Ernst Kaltenbrunner, who was 6 levels above Eichmann in the Reich Security Main Office, was put on trial by the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal and specifically charged with gassing the Jews. Eichmann was not important enough to be hunted down and put on trial at Nuremberg. Eichmann and Kaltenbrunner had been friends from their school days in Linz, Austria, the city that was also the boyhood home of Adolf Hitler.  It was because of this boyhood friendship that Eichmann, who was a High School dropout, had gotten his job with RSHA.

So if Eichmann was such “small potatoes,” why was he kidnapped by the Mossad and put on trial in Israel?  There were hundreds of bureaucrats and technicians who were at the same level in the Nazi hierarchy as Eichmann.

In my humble opinion, the reason that Eichmann was put on trial was because he was the man who had typed up the minutes of the Wannseee Conference, the meeting where the Final Solution was planned on January 20, 1942. In the minutes of this meeting, a copy of which was discovered in 1947, the participants had used euphemisms such as “transportation to the East”  instead of talking about “the extermination of the Jews in gas chambers.” The Jews in Israel, who were survivors of the Holocaust, wanted to hunt down Eichmann, put him on trial, and establish that he had falsified the minutes of the Wannsee conference.

After 11 months in custody in Israel, during which time he was given Thorazine, a drug that is used to treat mental illness, Eichmann was finally put on trial. His facial tics (tartive dyskinesia) showed the effects of long term use of Thorazine.

With a little help from heavy doses of Thorazine, Eichmann confessed the truth, which was that the Wannsee Conference was held for the purpose of planning the genocide of the Jews. Up to that time, there had been no documentation found which showed that Hitler had ordered the killing of all the Jews. The Eichmann trial finally provided the proof of the systematic plan to exterminate the Jews; that is why Eichmann is regarded today as the second most important Nazi, next to Adolf Hitler.

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