Adolf Eichmann

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"Little" Adolf Eichmann.
A lunatic Chaplin imitator
and his greatest fans

Nazism
Icon nazi.svg
First as tragedy
Then as farce

Adolf Eichmann (1906–1962) (his rank in the SS being Obersturmbahnfuehrer) was the head of the "Jewish Department" in the Gestapo and was responsible for the deportation of up to three million Jews to concentration camps during the Holocaust. After the War Eichmann was held inside an American POW Camp but was able to escape unrecognized, after which he fled to Argentina and lived under the assumed name of "Ricardo Klement" for a decade or so until Mossad agents captured him and shipped him back to Israel so he could face justice. He was declared guilty of war crimes and was thereafter executed in 1962.[1]

Holocaust

Eichmann joined the SS during the early 1930s, wherein he was assigned to be the head of the aforementioned "Jewish Department". In 1935 Eichmann underwent negotiations and tours with Zionist leaders in Palestine, the intent of this of course being the ethnic cleansing of all ethnic Jews from the Third Reich through forced deportation to Palestine. He would draw on this experience in the years to come as the overseer of the Holocaust.[2] Hundreds of thousands of Jews would be deported from Germany in the following years. To help speed things up, Eichmann installed rail systems to make the deportation of Jews a more efficient process; he also designed plans for a so-called "General Reservation" in Austria to temporarily hold Jews and other "undesirables" before ultimately deporting them.[3] Jews would be crowded into ghettos before awaiting deportation, and the conditions inside these ghettos were deplorable, with poor sanitation, overcrowding, and disease all being problems.[4]

The 1941 Nazi invasion of the USSR changed things, as the general focus of Nazi policy regarding the Jews and other "undesirables" shifted from deportation to outright genocide. This was still in the very early stages of the Holocaust, so the methods weren't as "refined" (ugh) as they would be towards the later stages. Inside the occupied territories, tens of thousands of Jews and other undesirables were rounded up and systematically executed by firing squad.[5][notes 1] Eichmann then oversaw the Wannsee Conference,Wikipedia's W.svg which was called in order to better coordinate the then nascent Holocaust efforts. There Eichmann was appointed as supervisor of the Holocaust, and under his supervision large scale deportations to extermination camps like SobiborWikipedia's W.svg and TreblinkaWikipedia's W.svg began almost immediately.[4] In 1944 the government of Hungary was deposed and replaced by a government more amenable to Nazi interests, this served Eichmann and Hitler well, for previously Hungary's Jews had mostly gone unharmed, but were now liable to be shipped to AuschwitzWikipedia's W.svg en-masse, wherein they would either be put to work as slaves, or be gassed. As usual, Eichmann was the overseer of all of this.[6] It would only be due to international pressure that Hungary stopped deporting Jews to Auschwitz on July 9, 1944, by which point some half of Hungary's roughly 700,000 strong Jewish population had been killed.[4]

Escape and capture

Eichmann on trial in 1961

US forces captured Eichmann at the end of the war, but he managed to escape from prison using forged documents and spent some time hiding on a plot of land in Lower Saxony.[7] During this time, Eichmann's former comrades Rudolf Hess and others during the Nuremberg trials gave damning evidence and testimony proving Eichmann's involvement and oversight of the mass murders of the Holocaust.[8] Alarmed by these developments, Eichmann obtained more false papers declaring himself to be "Ricardo Klement" and used a series of safe houses to flee the continent for Argentina.[9]

Eichmann wasn't home free yet, though, as many Holocaust survivors in Israel had dedicated themselves to hunting down those Nazi war criminals who had escaped justice during the chaotic aftermath of the war. Isser Harel, head of Mossad, was resolved to find Eichmann after reading the dossier produced by the Nuremberg trials which revealed that Eichmann was one of the men most responsible for the Holocaust.[10] Unfortunately, Argentina's regime under Juan Perón was rabidly anti-Semitic, and the Argentine government had infamously made itself a safe haven for escaped Nazis.[11] After learning of Eichmann's location, Mossad launched a covert mission in 1960 which captured and successfully extracted him from Argentina.[12]

Fallout was swift and came from many corners. Eichmann's capture prompted far-right elements in Argentina to perpetrate a years-long period of anti-Semitic violence against the country's Jewish population in retaliation.[13] Meanwhile, Argentina's government complained to the UN that Israel had violated their sovereignty by covertly extracting the Nazi war criminal; the UN concurred but Israel ignored them.[14] In America, news of the capture was not celebrated by everyone. The CIA had actually been aware of Eichmann's location for years but had chosen not to act on it or inform Israel.[15] The US government had recruited numerous ex-Nazis in the name of anticommunism (e.g., Operation PaperclipWikipedia's W.svg), and they were afraid that Eichmann's testimony during any potential trial could draw attention to this embarrassing fact and potentially imperil those ex-Nazis working for the CIA inside the Eastern Bloc.[15]

See also

Notes

  1. Eichmann was ultimately responsible for this shift in policy as he was the overseer of the Holocaust after all; although it was Heinrich Himmler and Hermann Göring who came up with it in the first place, Eichmann would get detailed reports weekly on the "Jewish Question," and so he ultimately bears as much culpability for this as Himmler, Göring, and Hitler do, if not more so do to being the head of the operations.

References

  1. "Adolf Eichmann" - The Nizkor Project
  2. "Adolf Eichmann" — The Holocaust Encyclopedia available from the United States Holocaust Memorial
  3. Longerich, Peter (2000). "The Wannsee Conference in the Development of the 'Final Solution'" (PDF). Holocaust Educational Trust Research Papers (London: The Holocaust Educational Trust) 1 (2). ISBN 0-9516166-5-X. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. https://web.archive.org/web/20150402115820/http://www.ghwk.de/ghwk/engl/texts/wannsee-conference.pdf. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Longerich, Peter (2010). Holocaust: The Nazi Persecution and Murder of the Jews. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-280436-5. 
  5. Longerich, Peter (2012). Heinrich Himmler: A Life. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-959232-6. 
  6. Evans, Richard J. (2008). The Third Reich at War. New York: Penguin. ISBN 978-0-14-311671-4. 
  7. Levy, Alan (2006) [1993]. Nazi Hunter: The Wiesenthal File (Revised 2002 ed.). London: Constable & Robinson. ISBN 978-1-84119-607-7. pp. 129–130
  8. Cesarani, David (2005) [2004]. Eichmann: His Life and Crimes. London: Vintage. ISBN 978-0-09-944844-0. p. 205
  9. Bascomb, Neal (2009). Hunting Eichmann: How a Band of Survivors and a Young Spy Agency Chased Down the World's Most Notorious Nazi. Boston; New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ISBN 978-0-618-85867-5. pp. 70–71
  10. Israel Military Intelligence: The Capture of Nazi Criminal Adolf Eichmann – Operation Finale Doron Geller, Jewish Virtual Library.
  11. Juan Domingo Peron and Argentina's Nazis ThoughtCo
  12. The True Story of “Operation Finale” Smithsonian Magazine.
  13. Tacuara went out to the street (In Spanish)
  14. United Nations Security Council Resolution 138
  15. 15.0 15.1 Why Israel's capture of Eichmann caused panic at the CIA The Guardian.