Eichmann, Adolf   (1906-1962)

SS Obersturmbannfuehrer - Lt. Colonel

Born to middle-class Germans and raised in Linz, Austria, where Ernst Kaltenbrunner, a family friend of the Eichmann’s, advised the young Adolf to join the Nazi party and the SS. Dealing with the ‘Jewish Question’ Eichmann gained a reputation as an expert, studying both Judaism and Hebrew. In 1937, he and his superior went to visit Palestine meeting and discussing the feasibility of immigration with Haganah officials although the idea was discarded after further meetings with Arab representatives in Cairo. Eichmann advanced through administrative jobs in the Dachau concentration camp to head Amt IV b4 of the RSHA under Reinhard Heydrich, the ‘Jewish Department’ charged with cleansing Germany and later Europe of Jews. He assisted in organizing the Wannsee Konferenz which laid the final groundwork for the Holocaust. He arrived in Hungary in 1944 after implementing the extermination of Jews throughout Nazi occupied Europe and proceeded to deport over half a million Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz with the enthusiastic support of Hungarian government officials.

Escaping after the war, he went to Linz to Kaltenbrunner to find refuge. Kaltenbrunner distanced himself from Eichmann. He found him too prominent a target for Holocaust crime hunters and did not want to be found near him. Eichmann was apprehended in Italy by Allied forces but slipped through the net under his assumed name of Otto Eckmann. With the aid of the Catholic Church and Archbishop Alois Hudal, one of the founders of the ‘ratline’ expediting the escape of war criminals, he obtained an International Red Cross Refugee passport under the then name of Ricardo Klement and landed permits for himself and his family in Argentina. In 1950, he sailed from Genoa to Buenos Aires where he worked as a mechanic, factory foreman and rabbit breeding farm manager. The Eichmann’s had four sons, the youngest born in Argentina.

Tracing Eichmann led all the way to Konrad Adenauer’s close aide and national Security adviser Hans Josef Globke. A jurist, whose application for Nazi party membership was turned down by Martin Bormann, a fact that gave him a clean bill of health in the de-Nazification process and led him to a top Bonn government post.  Globke however was the formulator of the anti-Jewish Nazi Nuremberg laws designed to deprive German Jews of their citizenship and rights and the ensuing anti-Jewish laws, the precursors to the Holocaust. Globke worked with Eichmann’s department during the war, a fact known to the CIA but under government pressure hushed up so as not to offend Adenauer.

Lothar Hermann, a former Dachau prisoner living in Buenos Aires realized one day, when his daughter Sylvia was dating Klaus Klement, Eichmann’s son was boasting of the importance of his father during the war. When his daughter reported about her visit to Eichmann’s home where Eichmann opened the door in person for her, Lothar Hermann’s suspicion that Klement may be a ‘big fish’ took hold. He contacted the German prosecutors who notified the Mossad.

In 1960, in a swift, clandestine operation Ricardo Klement - Adolf Eichmann was abducted near his home in Argentina by Mossad agents, brought to a waiting El Al Bristol Britannia plane at the Buenos Aires airport and whisked to Israel for trial.

The trial, starting in 1962,  was presided over by three judges – Moshe Landau, Benjamin Halevy of the recent Gruenwald-Kastner case fame and Yitzchak Rave. It lasted fourteen weeks and found him guilty on all counts. On 1 June, 1962, aged fifty-six, Eichmann was hanged, cremated, and his ashes scattered over the Mediterranean. 

 

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