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September 24, 1982 - Image 69

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1982-09-24

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THE DETROIT! WISH NEWS -4 Friday, SeVeiiiiiri4, 1982 69

Adolph Eichmann 20 Years After His Execution


World Zionist Press Service

JERUSALEM — It is 20
years since Adolf Eichmann
was executed and about
double that period since the
"Final Solution" that he or-
ganized got into its lethal
full swing.
Few trials have ever at-
tracted as much attention
as Eichmann's. The
Nuremburg trials, im-
mediately after the Nazi de-
feat in 1945, were compel-
ling but then the guilt was
not concentrated on one
man, and a rather ordinary
man at that. Moreover the
Nazis at Nuremburg were
tried more generally for war
crimes, unlike Eichmann
who in the Jewish state was
accused by the Jewish
people of genocide.
Perhaps the only other
man in the dock to ever pro-
voke as much political con-
troversy was Albert
Dreyfus. But while it was
Dreyfus' obvious innocence
in the face of the anti-
Semitic French establish-
ment that stood out, it was
Eichmann's glaring guilt,
obsessive anti-Semitism
and the extent of his crime
that captured and chilled
the imagination.
If Dreyfus, the assimi-
lated Jew who was made
a scapegoat after the
military defeat by Prus-
sia in 1870, represented
the inability of the Euro-
pean establishment to
accept their Jewish citi-
zens, then Eichmann
symbolized the ruthless
means by which Europe
was to root out its unde-
sired Semites.
Ironically, while Dreyfus,
the loyal Frenchman, was
ignorant of Jewish culture,
Eichmann learned Yiddish
and Hebrew so he could
more efficiently set about
the extermination process.
Indeed Miron Sima, an
artist who observed
Eichmann's trial, was one of
many who commented on
the Nazi's Jewish looks.
"Put a little hat on his head
and he could be a member of
a kibutz," he noted at the
When Eichmann was
dramatically kidnapped
from his Argentine home
and brought to Israel in
May 1960, there was wide-
spread condemnation of the
act. An editorial in the New

York Times characterized
reactions: "No immoral or
illegal act justifies another.
The rule of law must protect
the most depraved crimi-
As the man who made
the final decision to seize
Eichmann, Israeli Prime
Minister David Ben-
Gurion took the brunt of
criticism. Ben Gurion's
argument was that the
major purpose of the trial
would be educational, to
remind a world that had
already forgotten the
scope and gravity of the
crime committed by the
Nazis. Editorials like that
carried by the New York
Times soon disappeared
when the extent of
Eichmann's acts was re-
The gruesome stories told
by witness after witness of
Eichmann's cruelty cannot
be reconstructed here. Even
evidence from imprisoned
fellow Nazis spoke of his
vindictiveness. But the
most macabre aspect of the
trial was Eichmann's initial
entry to the Jerusalem
court in Beit Haam in April
1961: "There was a gasp. A
gasp not in horror but be-
cause this was such a com-
mon, ordinary man."
Eichmann's defense
exploited this image of un-
exceptionality by claiming

that he was a cog in a
bureaucratic wheel, who
merely accepted orders.
There was little substantial
corroboration of this and
much to suggest the oppo-
Many, like Robert Bird
who covered the trial for
the New York Herald
Tribune, suspected there
was more to Eichmann
than met the eye.
"Eichmann seemed
petty, certainly not of the
stature of a Goerring, but
there Was that look of
fox-like slyness."
Hannah Arendt, writing
for the New Yorker, coined
the famous phrase the
"banality of evil." But Gi-
deon Hausner, Israel's
Attorney-General at the
time, who conducted the
prosecution, fiercely at-
tacks Arendt's interpreta
Hausner agrees that
Eichmann looked like a
bank teller but feels Arendt
was being a trendy intellec-
tual who distorted the truth
for the sake of finding an
outlook that deviated from
the accepted one and thus
offered food for thought
through its originality.
The truth according to
Hausner, was that
Eichmann was an organiza-
tional genius in his im-
plementation of the "Final

ADL Provides
Radio Shows
on Lebanon

The three Jerusalem
judges agreed with
Hausner. The world, by
and large, also agreed.
The Soviet bloc were
happy at the verdict (but
condemned much of the
"ludicrous" evidence
which had suggested that
their own citizens had
helped in exterminating
Jews). The Arab world
filled their magazines
with articles claiming
that six million did not
really die and that the
Holocaust was a "big lie."
The West followed the
trial closely and learned not
only of the horrors of the
concentration camps but
how its leaders knew and
yet did nothing. However,
20 years of surveys in
American and Europe show
that today's youngsters
have inadequate knowledge
about the Holocaust.
Events like last year's
gathering of Holocaust sur-
vivors have helped in pub-
licizing an historical episide
that people prefer to avoid.
A major embarrassment
to the government that
seized Eichmann was that
there were hundreds of
newspaper articles in Israel
assuming the German's
guilt while thelnatter was
still in court. The press dis-
cussed how Eichmann
should be disposed of long
before the inevitable verdict
was reached.
Many, including Mar-
tin Buber, opposed the
execution of Eichmann.
Some pointed out that the
Jewish state had never
executed anybody before
(and has not since).
Others were not so much
liberal as vengeful, citing

NEW YORK — Eight
on-the-scene, 15-minute
programs giving the human
side of the Lebanon-Israel
political and military situa-
tion are available to radio
stations as part of the
Anti-Defamation League of
Bnai Brith "Dateline Is-
rael" series.
The programs, taped in
Lebanon and Israel by Ar-
nold Forster, ADL's general
counsel, are aimed at help-
ing audiences understand
what lies behind the day-
to-day news coming out of
the Middle East.
The programs are avail-
able free from ADL's Tele-
vision, Radio and Film De-
partment, 823 United Na-
tions Plaza, New York, N.Y.
10017, or from the Michigan
Regional Office, WO

PLO Uses Civilian Shields

40 *104-



A 20mm mobile anti-aircraft gun of the Palestine
Liberation Organization is shown during the recent
fighting in Lebanon parked in a Christian residential

the obvious, that one
death paled in compari-
son to the pain suffered
by six million.
Reference was made to
the legendary example of
Zeus who punished Prom-
etheus for stealing fire by
tying him naked to a moun-
tainside to be eaten alive by
the vultures during the day
and have his organs grow
back at night so he could
suffer the agony anew the
following day. This might
not be possible, but at least,
some suggested, Eichmann
could be made to stand trial
in country after country
where he had set up death
Eichmann was hanged at
Ramle Prison at midnight
May 30, 1962, following the
decision of President Yit-
zhak Ben-Zvi not to grant

ashes were taken aboard an
Israeli naval vessel and
strewn out at sea.
Like the people he killed
he would have no grave to

mark his burial, and appro-
priately it was the Israeli
military, defenders of the
people he tried to liquidate,
that bore his remains on
their final journey.

* * *


Adolf Eichmann and one of his crematoria at


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