The Sunday Post (Inverness)
Stepping back in time:
APRIL 11, 1961
Adolf Eichmann was one of the key Nazi officials in the implementation of the murder of millions of European Jews - the so-called “final solution”. Charged with managing and facilitating the mass deportation of Jews to ghettos and concentration camps in German-occupied countries, he was among the major organisers of the Holocaust.
Despite being arrested immediately after the war by the US authorities, Eichmann managed to escape using false identity papers and fled to Argentina.
He was later joined by his family, and lived quietly in Beunos Aires, calling himself Ricardo Klement and working at a Mercedes-benz factory there.
Tipped off about Eichmann’s whereabouts, Israel decided to capture him and bring him back to Jerusalem for trial.
But because Argentina had a history of denying extradition requests, it was decided to kidnap him. Agents from the Mossad – Israel’s secret service – seized Eichmann outside his home in May 1960 and he was smuggled back to Israel, where the law allowed the prosecution of those responsible for crimes against Jews during the Second World War.
The kidnapping provoked an international incident, with Argentina complaining to the United Nations Security Council.
The Eichmann trial, held before a special tribunal of the Jerusalem District Court, began on April 11, 1961 and increased international awareness of the Holocaust. The proceedings were one of the first trials widely televised, and brought Nazi atrocities to a worldwide audience. Prosecutor Gideon Hausner later said that available archival documents “would have sufficed to get Eichmann sentenced 10 times over”. Nevertheless, he summoned more than 100 witnesses to put survivors’ stories at the centre of the prosecution case. In his opening statement, Hausner told the court: “When I stand before you here, Judges of Israel, to lead the prosecution of Adolf Eichmann, I am not standing alone. With me are six million accusers. But they can not rise to their feet and point an accusing finger towards him who sits in the dock and cry: ‘I accuse.’
“For their ashes are piled up on the hills of Auschwitz and the fields of Treblinka, and are strewn in the forests of Poland.
“Their graves are scattered throughout the length and breadth of Europe. Their blood cries out, but their voice is not heard. Therefore I will be their spokesman and in their name I will unfold the terrible indictment.”
Eichmann, 56, testifying from behind a glass booth in order to protect him from possible assassination, asserted that he had not dictated policy, but only carried it out, that he was “merely a little cog in the machinery”. He admitted that while he was guilty of arranging the transport of millions of Jews to their deaths, he did not feel guilty of the consequences. Eichmann followed the common Nazi plea that he was only following the orders of others, but his judges concluded that he had been a key perpetrator in the genocide of European Jewry. In December 1961, he was found guilty and sentenced to death.
On June 1, 1962, Eichmann was executed by hanging. His execution remains the only time that Israel has enacted a death sentence.