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May 31, 1962: Adolf Eichmann is executed. After escaping U.S....

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Eichmann in his cell, Getty.


Eichmann in 1942.



May 31, 1962: Adolf Eichmann is executed.

After escaping U.S. custody at the end of World War II, this SS-Obersturmbannführer (Lieutenant Colonel) fled to the “Nazi haven” of Argentina, where he lived in relative obscurity for ten years. His passport gave his name as “Riccardo Klement”. Although it had been suspected that Eichmann had been hiding out in South America prior to 1960, it was only that year that Mossad agents abducted and smuggled the notorious ex-Nazi to Israel for trial.

David Ben-Gurion described Adolf Eichmann (who was in charge of the deportation and transportation of Jews in occupied Poland) as “one of the greatest of Nazi war criminals”. Eichmann’s case was hopeless; over a decade earlier at the Nuremberg Trials, his own former associates had more or less cemented his guilt as a principal organizer of the Holocaust. And his own quotes - for example:

I will leap into my grave laughing because the feeling that I have five million human beings on my conscience is for me a source of extraordinary satisfaction.

were equally damning. Over a hundred people testified against Eichmann, including former SS officers. He was convicted in 1962 on fifteen counts, including murder, sterilization, enslavement, starvation, deportation, persecution, and war crimes in general (plus the three additional charges of belonging to criminal organizations, those being the SA, SD, and Gestapo). For these, Adolf Eichmann was hanged shortly before midnight on May 31, 1962, fifty years ago today. 


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