Adolf Eichman

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Eichmann's "Final Solution"
        "I will leap laughing to my grave, because the feeling that I have five million people on my conscience is for me a source of extraordinary satisfaction," spoken by Adolf Eichmann on May 29, 1962 when he was convicted and sentenced to death for crimes against humanity, the Jewish people, and crimes during a time of war. Shortly after midnight on May 31, 1962, Adolf Eichmann was taken to the gallows at Ramle. All efforts made to resolve him with religion failed. "The closer Eichmann came to execution, the more defiant he became in rejecting Christianity"(Hausner 446). He began his last words with a statement that he was a Gottglaubiger, a man who believed in God but was no Christian and did not believe in the afterlife. He then continued on saying, "Long live Germany, long live Argentina, and long live Austria! I shall not forget them" (Papadatos 232). Then as the trapdoor was sprung and Eichmann's lifeless body swung from the gallows, a time in world history that few will soon forget, had finally come to an end. Yet, one will realize that although the holocaust was ultimately Hitler's vision, it was in fact, the creation of Adolf Eichmann. As an SS-Lieutenant-Colonel, Eichmann was chief of the Jewish office of the Gestapo, started the Final Solution that led to an international and controversial trial in Jerusalem after being captured in Argentina.
        

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Adolf Eichmann was born on March 19, 1906 near Cologne, Germany, into a middle class Protestant family. His family moved to Austria early in Eichmann's life, following the death of his mother. He spent his childhood in Linz, Austria, which is also
the same hometown of Adolf Hitler ("Eichmann Timeline" 1). As a child, Eichmann was made fun of about his looks and dark complexion, and was given a nickname by his classmates. He was called "the little Jew." After failing to complete his engineering studies, Eichmann had various jobs including working for an American Oil Company as a traveling Salesman until 1933 ("Adolf" 1). Eichmann believed a Jew who was head of the office fired him. Thus starting his hatred toward the Jewish population.
        At the age of 26, he joined the growing Austrian Nazi Party, and was sworn in as a member of the SS. He began his military training in the school of "Austrian Legion." Eichmann left Austria and traveled to Berlin, once there, he was attached to the Security Service of the SS under the direction of Reinhard Heydrich ("Holocaust Timeline 1"). In his first assigned task, he was asked to collect information on the Freemasons. After studying for a bit, Eichmann was convinced that the Freemasons were collaborating with the Jews to dominate the world. For this belief, Heinrich Himmler appointed Eichmann to lead his new project, which was his Scientific Museum for Jewish Affairs. Eichmann was assigned the task of investigating possible "solutions to the Jewish question." This was only the beginning of the "˜final solution' Eichmann had envisioned.
        In 1937, he visited Palestine to discuss the possibility of a large-scale immigration of Jews to the Middle East. He went to Cairo to meet with Amin el Husseini, the Mufti of Jerusalem, who was known as a Jew hater and a Nazi admirer. Yet, when he tried to
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return to Palestine, the Palestine Mandate authorities refused to allow him access to Jerusalem. Eichmann then returned to Berlin disappointed in what he classified as an unsuccessful mission. After the Nazi takeover of Austria in March of 1938, Eichmann
was sent to Vienna where he created the Central Office for Jewish Emigration. This office had the sole authority to issue permits to Jews desperately wanting to leave Austria. Eventually, the Central Office for Jewish Emigration became involved in extorting wealth from the Jews in exchange of safe passage. Nearly a hundred thousand Austrian Jews managed to leave with most turning over their worldly possessions to Eichmann's office. On November 7, 1938, Eichmann was in Vienna when a polish Jew assassinated Legation Third Secretary, Erwin vom Rath. A nationwide program called the Night of Broken Glass took place on November 9-10, 1938. Eichmann was ordered by Reinhard Heydrich to lead the raids in Vienna. Eyewitnesses reported that Eichmann was seen moving from one synagogue to another to supervise the destruction. Within a few days of the Night of Broken Glass, Eichmann sent his first shipment of Jews to the concentration camps. In the summer of 1941, Eichmann had been promoted to Chief of Subsection IV-B-4 of the Reich Central Security Office (RSHA) (Safra 646). This is the subsection that was to become the most notorious agency of the Nazi killing apparatus. This is when he was told that the Fuehrer had ordered the physical extermination of the Jews. Eichmann was informed that he was the one chosen to annihilate the rest of European Jewish population. That same winter, Eichmann traveled to Auschwitz to discuss the details for the construction of the largest and most important death camps in Poland. Being such an expert on Jewish affairs, Eichmann had now become the man
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responsible for the Nazi's new program of genocide. This program was put into effect at the Wannsee Conference held on January 20, 1942. It was decided that the following would happen: deportation to the East, forced labor, and mass executions. This task
would be handed to Adolf Eichmann, who was delighted by the news. With this new power, he set up a network of stations all over Europe. He issued orders to round up Jews, deliver them to transports, and then dispatch them to the East. Once in the camps, the Jews would be worked to death and the survivors executed. Eichmann once said, "The people who were loaded on those trains meant nothing to me. It is really none of my business" (Hausner 307). His business was to set up the destruction of the Jewish people. In the summer of 1944 Himmler ordered Eichmann to write a report showing how many Jews had either died or been given "special treatment" in extermination camps. Eichmann did not know for certain, he set the figure at approximately six million, in which four million died of natural causes and the rest shot by mobile units (Safra 646). Shortly after the Third Reich had fallen.
        With the extermination of the Third Reich, Eichmann's career in the military ended. He was arrested and captured by the Americans near Ulm. Eichmann hears through a source that the American troops started checking SS tattoos. In response to this news, he fled, escaping the camp. Eichmann however was captured by the Americans a 2nd time on August 1945. On January 5, 1946, Eichmann escapes the POW camps. He heads north, away from the American Zone and towards the Celle District, with forged papers he received at the camp. The papers identify him as a forest ranger named Otto Heninger. He arrives in Germany and stays there for four years. With the help of former
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SS members, Eichmann along with three others, heads first for Austria and finally to Italy. In a monastery in Genoa, a Franciscan monk provides Eichmann with a refugee passport bearing the name Ricardo Klement ("Eichmann Timeline" 10).
        On July 14, 1950, Eichmann landed in Buenos Aires as Ricardo Klement. Not much is known what happened to Eichmann for the next 10 years. However some information is available on April 1952 when he obtained his identity documents. He is still known as Ricardo Klement, a German national born in Bolzano Italy. He is a mechanic by profession, and currently employed as a labor organizer by the Capri Construction, Measurements and Waterworks Company, which sheltered many ex-Nazis after the war. By the end of the year, he was reunited with his family in Argentina ("Eichmann Timeline" 11). Nothing else was ever known about his life until his capture.
        On May 11, 1960, a team of Israeli secret service in Argentina captured Eichmann. He was brought to Israel, where he stood trial for crimes against the Jewish people, humanity, and crimes during a time of war (Papadatos 287). His defense was that: he never acted from base motives, he had never had an inclination to kill anyone, he had never hated Jews, he had only done his duty, and his role in the Final Solution was an accident and almost anybody could have taken his place so that potentially all Germans were equally guilty ("Holocaust Timeline" 4). The courts found him guilty of producing, "Suffering on so gigantic a scale that it is beyond human understanding" (Reynolds 276). The trial lasted from April 2, 1960 to August 14, 1961. He was sentenced to death on December 2, 1961.
        
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Shortly after midnight on May 31, 1962, Adolf Eichmann was hung outside Ramle. With his death, a time in world history that few will soon forget had finally come to an end. Adolf Eichmann who was chief of the Jewish Office of the Gestapo, started
the Final Solution that most people realize was Hitler's vision; it was in fact, the creation of Adolf Eichmann.
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