Kidnapping war criminal Adolf Eichmann | Sunday Observer

Kidnapping war criminal Adolf Eichmann

29 November, 2020

Germany, perhaps the most intelligent and cultured nation at that time and the country of birth of Goethe, Beethovan and Kaant could democratically elect a raving psychopath like Adolf Hitler as its leader is beyond comprehension.

The Nazi march to power commenced in 1929, when a terrible worldwide economic crisis hit Germany. A ridiculous far right party became a political force to be reckoned with. From there, it took four years to become the largest party in Germany. The Weimar Republic broke down and step by step, they started hoisting the Swastika and raising their arms and saluting “Heil Hitler”.

German fascism arose from the humiliation of surrender in World War I – the occupation of the Ruhr by France and Belgium from 1923 to 1925 and the terrible economic depression of 1929 - the stage was perfect for Hitler. The ageing President Von Hindenburg was effortlessly eased out.

Hitler’s meteoric rise from obscurity to near Emperor of Germany and perhaps, the Emperor of the world commenced in the 1930s. He had designs to rule, not govern, the world. The word democracy was virtually erased from the vocabulary. Hitler was possessed of a demonic personality, a granite will, uncanny instincts, ruthlessness, remarkable intellect, a soaring imagination and towards the end, when drunk with power and success, overreached himself.

To most Germans, Hitler would shortly assume the aura of a charismatic leader. They were to follow him blindly for the next several tempestuous years, as if he possessed a Divine Judgement. Considering his origins and his early life, it would be difficult to imagine a more unlikely figure to succeed Bismark, Hohenzollen Emperors and Field Marshall President Von Hindenberg than this Austrian of peasant stock, born in 1889 across the borders from Bavaria.

Hitler and his cohorts

The meteoric rise of Hitler and his cohorts, such as Eichmann instilled in the Germans that their word was law. Anyone who dared to challenge them was tortured and put to death, just like Prabhakaran and his LTTE terrorists. Thence continued the Nazification of Germany.

Some 24 Nazi War Criminals were indicted before the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal at the tail end of the 2nd World War. This Tribunal was set up by the Allies in the war ravaged city of Nuremberg. These Trials had a great influence on the development of International Law. The definition of what constitutes a War Crime is described in the Nuremberg Principles, a document which was created as a result of this Trial. Amongst some of those 24 War Criminals, who were tried at Nuremberg were Martin Bormann, Rudolf Hess, Admiral Karl Doenitz, Ernst Karltenbrunner, Baldur Von Shirach, Arthur Seyss Inquart and Hans Frank.

It was not only Adolf Eichmann on Trial, but the whole Nazi system was in the dock.

This case is about determining one man’s guilt or innocence and establishing the significance of his part in the machine which systematically murdered millions of people in the holocaust.

SS Lieutenant Colonel Adolf Eichmann fled Germany at the tail end of the 2nd World war, and for over 15 years, remained in Buenos Aires, Argentina after having had plastic surgery done to change his face. He, who was the architect of the Final Solution to exterminate 6 million Jews, fled from the Third Reich by means of a secret escape line, which took him via Austria to a monastery in Italy. He assumed the name “Ricardo Klement”. Under this name, he obtained an Argentine visa and continued to live in Buenos Aires. His wife and children joined him in 1952. He worked for Mercedes Benz, receiving a handsome salary.

There was one man in Israel, Simon Wiesenthal, who made it his life’s mission to hound these Nazi war criminals. He was lucky to survive having lost several members of his family in the holocaust. He spent years tracking these war criminals and was finally recognised by the new State of Israel as doing yeoman service to the cause.

Prabhakaran and his cohorts

This is what our Government should be doing, to track down the LTTE war criminals and those who gave “material support”, to commit mass murder of Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim people during the 30 years of terror, unleashed by the blood thirsty Prabhakaran and his cohorts. The LTTE rump is still floating around abroad, bribing some western politicians, to restart another killing spree in Sri Lanka. It is most desirable that the Government set up a separate Ministry, to track down these murderers and traitors, to bring them to trial. There are numerous Ministries, but no Ministry or a separate Department to monitor the new threat to the country from them. These criminals yet have the assistance of the partial UNHRC, and some Tamil Nadu politicians.

On May 23, 1960, the first PM of Israel, David Ben Gurion, electrified the world by declaring that the architect of the Final Solution was captured at last, and was smuggled out of Argentina and brought to Israel, to stand trial for the murder of millions of Jews.

Eichmann was tracked down by the Israeli Secret Service and kept for a while under clandestine observation, till he was positively identified. He was captured at a bus stop in Argentina on his way home from work, and bundled into a car by a 4-men snatch team. Fearing that the alternative was instant death, Eichmann opted to confess to his identity, on the basis that he would be made to stand trial. Since Israel did not have an Extradition Act with Argentina, the only option was to smuggle him out and be taken to Israel. It was argued that the smuggling out of Eichmann, was a breach of International Law. The question arose as to whether he could be guaranteed a fair trial from a nation born from the ashes of the holocaust.

The trial itself was on trial! For these reasons, the whole affair had to be conducted with meticulous correctitude. Eichmann was afforded every facility, including his own defence lawyers from West Germnay. Some 700 foreign correspondents were accommodated, together with many internationally known lawyers and historians. Eichmann in the dock, looked appallingly self confident, like the war criminals at the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal. They were such brutal killers, not to be shaken by a mere trial.

Prosecution of Eichmann

He was charged on 15 counts. The Attorney General of Israel, Gideon Hausner opened for the prosecution with the words, “as I stand here before you, Judges of Israel, to lead the prosecution of Adolf Eichmann, I do not stand alone. With me in this place at this hour stand 6 million accusers. But they cannot rise to their feet and point an accusing finger towards the man who sits in the glass dock and cry, “I accuse”. For their ashes are piled up in the hills of Aushwitz, and in the fields of Treblinka, or washed away by the rivers of Poland”.

One of the witnesses, Rivka Yoselenska from Eastern Poland, described how one of the dreaded “einsatzgruppen” (the extermination squads) had descended on the Jewish Quarter of her town in 1941. They were surrounded by SS men who with whips, herded them like animals into the town square, where they were kept overnight without food and water.

The next morning, exhausted by terror and fatigue, they were marched out and commanded to undress by a huge pit. They were lined up, shot in the back of the head and kicked into the pit. She saw her mother, grandmother, sister and six year old daughter murdered before her eyes. She with minor injuries fell into the pit and pretended that she was dead. Her evidence was corroborated when they dug up this pit and unearthed hundreds of rotting remains.

Eichmann joined the Nazi party in 1932 at 26, as an SS officer. He quickly made a name for himself as a specialist in Jewish affairs. He taught himself Hebrew and Yiddish. Attached to the Viennese Gestapo, Eichmann initiated a scheme for the mass emigration of Jews from Austria. Throughout the war he headed the Jewish Department. He was not a man who could plead like others before him, that he did not know about the Final Solution. Instead he adopted the alternative line that he was only obeying orders.

He has said, “Why waste bullets for the Jews when there is a cheaper thing called gas.” His intention of extermination was proved beyond all reasonable doubt.

Eichmann was no mere cog in the machinery of annihilation. He was the dynamo. Tirelessly he scoured Europe for Jews for deportation, appearing in France, Czechoslovakia and Belgium to accelerate and encourage the Purge. He was a cold blooded and calculating murderer and showed himself to be completely obsessed with the idea of destroying every single Jew he could lay hands on. Even the loathsome Ernst Kaltenbrunner hanged for War Crimes at Nuremberg, relented. But not Adolf Eichmann.

Truck loads of Jews packed like sardines were dispatched to Auschwitz. Eichmann defied Hitler’s orders, protesting that Jews are important biological material, many of them veteran Zionists whose emigration to Palestine is most undesirable.

Adolf Eichmann was found guilty by an Israeli Court and sentenced to death. His Appeal too, failed. On the night of May 31, 1962, he was taken from his cell and hanged. His last words were, “I had to obey the rules of war and my flag”. He was cremated and his ashes were thrown to the sea, well beyond the Israeli three mile limit.