Adolf Eichmann

Otto Adolf Eichmann ( Solingen , 19 of March of 1906 – Ramla , 31 May of 1962 ) was a lieutenant colonel in the SS Nazis . He was directly responsible for the final solution , mainly in Poland, and transport of deportees to concentration camps Germans during World War II .

Eichmann used the name of Ricardo Klement 1 during his stay in Argentina from the 15 of July of 1950 to 20 of maypole of 1960 , when he was kidnapped and taken to the State of Israel by the Mossad . 2

Childhood and youth

Eichmann was the eldest son of a family of five brothers who moved from Solingen ( Germany ) to Linz (then in the Austro-Hungarian Empire ). His father had found work in a factory in that city. During his childhood, his mother died and his father remarried. In his adolescence he studied basic and secondary education in the Realschule; There he met a companion by the name of Solomon who invited him to eat at his house, since his family, affection, and family were lacking in his family. In the house of that friend’s family, he learned to speak Yiddish and Hebrew .

Eichmann was considered a foreigner in Austria and could not get a job. However, his younger siblings were considered Austrian, since they were born in that country. Eichmann’s father was among his friends to Ernst Kaltenbrunner , Nazi leader of Austrian origin. Kaltenbrunner income Eichmann sponsored the NSDAP Austrian. With an interest and frenzied fervor by the doctrine of Adolf Hitler , the 1 of April of 1932 he joined the NSDAP Austrian with membership number 899,895, and the same day he enlisted in the SS with the number 45325, being transferred to Berlin the of October 1 of 1934 to the so – called section of Jews II 112 Security Service (SD).

The 21 of March of 1935 , he married Veronika Liebl (1909-1997), with whom he had five sons: Klaus Eichmann, Horst Adolf Eichmann, Dieter Helmut Eichmann, Ricardo Francisco Eichmann and the lowest, the main cause of his subsequent capture, Nicolas Eichmann. These last two have Spanish names because they were born when Eichmann was escaped in Argentina , already after World War II .

Responsibility in the Holocaust

He was in charge of organizing the transport logistics of the Holocaust . A tenacious man in the line of duty, he was a man very much in the position to fulfill the statistics demanded of him, and the Jews were “statistics” to him, although according to his statements in the trial that he was made for his war crimes in 1960 In Israel , he was not an anti-Semitic fanatic, in fact, like many other Germans, he was in some way related to Jews .

At the end of his life he defended himself by arguing that his participation in the Holocaust was limited to being a simple executor of superior orders and not a figure of the stature of Reinhard Heydrich or Heinrich Himmler . However, the fact is that he came into conflict with these on numerous occasions because of the excessive zeal he put into the idea of ​​”solving the Jewish problem”, going even beyond the orders received, since, when at the end of the World War II Himmler decided to end the mass murder of Jews, Eichmann continued to issue the relevant orders to continue producing.

Before 1939 , when the German government was contemplating expelling Jews rather than destroy them , Eichmann was one of the main Nazi partners with the movement Zionist , which studied the possibility of facilitating Jewish emigration to Palestine . In the same vein, she was one of the people who thought about the viability of creating a Jewish state in Eastern Europe .

In 1939 it was decided by the mass deportation of German Jews ghettos enabled in Poland , and in 1942 the celebrated Wannsee Conference organized by Heydrich, in which the “definitively launched Final Solution “. Eichmann, who participated in the Conference, was in charge of the logistics of deportations to the concentration camps . He was the author of the creation of the Judenräte (‘Jewish Councils’), who collaborated in the deportations facilitating the identification of the inhabitants of the ghettos. This was done by preparing the list of people to deport, inventing their assets, etc.

Promotions in the SS

The following are the dates that Eichmann was promoted in the SS (according to the memoirs of Eichmann himself):

  • SS Mann (Private): October 1, 1932
  • SS Scharführer (First Sergeant): December 24, 1933
  • SS Hauptscharführer (Chief Non-commissioned Officer): October 23, 1937
  • SS Untersturmführer (Second Lieutenant): August 26, 1938
  • SS Obersturmführer (lieutenant): February 2, 1939
  • SS Hauptsturmführer (captain): August 1, 1940
  • SS Sturmbannführer (Major): July 1, 1941
  • SS Obersturmbannführer (Lieutenant Colonel): November 9, 1941
  • SS Standartenführer (colonel): April 20, 1945

Adolf Eichmann collaborators in the Holocaust

The delegates of Adolf Eichmann in Section IVB4 of the Gestapo had as main responsibility the deportation in trains of all the enemy people of the Nazi Germany and the Jews. For each country or region occupied there was a delegate responsible for sending people to the concentration camps. Among these Eichmann collaborators were:

  • Alois Brunner , assistant to Eichmann. From November of 1939 until September of 1944 , Brunner directed the deportations of Jews from Vienna , Moravia , Thessaloniki , Nice and Slovakia . He disappeared after the war and was sentenced to death in absentia at a trial in Paris in 1954 . He was granted asylum in Syria .
  • Theodor Dannecker , who directed the preparation of lists of French and Spanish Jews for deportation in 1941 , and who was appointed commissioner in Italy in 1944 . After the war he was captured by the Americans and committed suicide in a prison camp.
  • Rolf Günther . Assistant to Eichmann and supervisor of the delegates. Responsible for the deportation of Jews from Greece and clandestinely from Turkey .
  • Hans Günther . Delegate in Bohemia-Moravia .
  • Dieter Wisliceny , the introducer of the Star of David as a badge of the Jews. He was responsible for the deportation and mass murder of Jews from Slovakia , Greece and Hungary . After the war was extradited to Czechoslovakia , where he was executed in February of 1948 by the communist authorities.
  • Alois Hermann Krumey , a member of the Security Police in Lodz . In 1944 he was sent to Hungary to organize the deportation of the Jewish community of that country. He was arrested in Italy in 1945 , and after several trials he was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1969 .
  • Franz Novak , whose role was to coordinate the trains where they were Jews and Gypsies from each country to the concentration camps. Until 1961 it was hidden in Austria . Judged by his crimes in 1964 , he was sentenced to 8 years in prison, although the trial was annulled in 1966 , being acquitted of the charges and released.
  • Gustav Richter , who in April of 1941 was sent to Romania as Advisor of Jewish Affairs. He conducted the census of Romanian Jews and Gypsies, planning the deportation to ghettos and extermination of about 300,000 Jews in the Belzec camp . His plans failed when Romania broke off relations with Germany . He was sentenced to 4 years in prison in 1982.
  • Wilhelm Zopf , delegate of Eichmann in The Hague , responsible for Jews from the Netherlands .
  • Heinz Röthke , stationed in France .
  • Franz Abromeit , stationed in Croatia and Hungary.
  • Otto Hunsche , stationed in Hungary .
  • Siegfried Seidl , stationed in Hungary .

Escape, stay in Argentina, abduction and transfer to Israel

Eichmann passport with false data of Ricardo Klement.

At the end of World War II, Eichmann, who called himself Otto Eckmann, was captured by the United States Army , who did not know his true identity. At the dawn of 1946 escaped from the custody of the US Army and hid in several places of Germany for some years. In 1948 he obtained a safe-conduct to escape to Argentina , but he did not use it immediately.

In the early 1950s , Eichmann was in Geneva , where he posed as a refugee named Ricardo Klement . With the help of a Franciscan friar of fascist ideas, who had connections with Bishop Alois Hudal , Eichmann obtained a passport issued by the International Committee of the Red Cross ( ICRC ) and an Argentine visa, both documents in the name of “Ricardo Klement, technical”.

On June 17, 1950, he left by boat from Genoa and arrived in Buenos Aires on July 14.

He stayed in a hotel for immigrants in the Argentine neighborhood of Palermo Viejo and began working in a mechanical workshop. Then he traveled by train to Tucumán to work for a German company. His whole family came to Argentina and transferred them to the province of Tucumán . In 1952 he broke the company in which he worked and began to work in a fruit juice factory. He worked in the port of Olivos selling fruit juices, until he realized that they were giving him losses. He tried to install a dry cleaner, but failed, then began working at the Orbis waterworks factory.

He lived in the northern part of Greater Buenos Aires, in the parties of Vicente Lopez and San Fernando . First, he lived on Chacabuco Street in the town of Olivos ( Vicente López party ), where he rented a property. Later, as a manager at the car factory Mercedes Benz, had built a house in Via Garibaldi 14 (now Garibaldi 6061), on the edge of the neighborhood Bancalari 3 (north of Buenos Aires), where it was found by the men of Mossad . 4

Adolf Eichmann was found by a German Jew blind, his neighbor, Lothar Hermann (who had migrated to Argentina in 1938 5 ), whose teenage daughter had friendship with one of the four sons of Eichmann. The daughter told her father “from the home of Mr. Klement” things that made him realize his true identity. Asking her more things, she was finally completely satisfied. The problem that arose was that the heads of Mossad did not want to give credit to a blind man. According to the Israeli agency, it was impossible for a blind man to recognize the war criminal. Much later, by the intervention of an important friend of the said blind person, the Mossad took action. This was in the late 1950s in the town of Bancalari ( party of San Fernando ), in the northern area of Greater Buenos Aires . He lived on Garibaldi Street, unpaved, positive identification was made by a series of comparative photographs taken in a stealthy way, in which he was recognized for his particular left ear morphology (Eichmann photos in his Nazi period were almost all the left side) and a plan to capture him and take him prepared Israel , commissioned by Prime Minister David Ben Gurion the head of Mossad Isser Harel , with information given by the famous Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal .

The 1 of March of 1960 Harel sent to Buenos Aires to the interrogator head of Shabak Zvi Aharoni , in June that over the course of weeks of research was able to confirm the identity of the fugitive. 7 As the Argentine State had a history of rejecting requests for extradition of Nazi criminals, Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion made the decision that Eichmann was to be illegally captured. 8 9 Harel himself arrived in person in May 1960 to monitor the catch. 10 Rafi Eitan was appointed leader of the group of eight agents, most of whom were Shin Bet agents. eleven

Violating treaties consular assistance and the Argentina national sovereignty, 1 of maypole of 1960 a group of nokmin ( ‘Avengers’ in Hebrew ) the Mossad entered surreptitious by air in Buenos Aires and began the ” Operation Garibaldi ” (named Of the street where Eichmann resided). This team, led by Rafi Eitan and coordinated by Peter Malkin , “a specialist in kidnapping and makeup”, began surveillance for almost two weeks. They discovered that Eichmann was a man of daily habits, which facilitated the choice of the place of kidnapping. Mossad agents were in two cars, one to fake a flaw and the other for emergency evasion in case something went wrong.

The November of maypole of 1960 , they waited on a street and pretended that the car had broken down when the bus line 203 (Independence) arrived, Eichmann was not among the passengers. It was night and the agents despaired, but they decided to wait for the next bus.

The waiting bore fruit. Eichmann arrived from work on the next bus and got off the bus.

Eichmann did not suspect when he saw the broken vehicle and one of the agents approached him and said in the only sentence in Spanish that he knew: “One moment, sir, may I ask you something?”

Adolf Eichmann walks in the courtyard of his cell in Ramallah prison (Israel).

Eichmann, who came with a hand-held flashlight, stopped in surprise, put his hand in his pocket, and the agent fell on him. Eichmann shouted, but the engine of the vehicle started up and cushioned his screams. Kidnapped in the middle of the street, he got into the car.

The four Israeli agents moved him to a free floor. He was tied to a bed and interrogated until Eichmann, who called himself Ricardo Klement and later Otto Henniger, finally gave his correct SS number and admitted his true identity.

Peter Malkin later confessed:

Eichmann was a small, gentle, pathetic, normal man, he did not look like he had killed millions of us … but he organized the slaughter.

The plane of the Israeli airline El Al was delayed to enter Argentina for bureaucratic reasons until a week, and this was not contemplated in its plans. The agents knew that Eichmann could be sought by his relatives or his Nazi comrades. Therefore, they had to wait with anguish in the security house, while they forced to Eichmann to sign a letter that said:

I, Adolf Eichmann, by this letter declare that I go to Israel of my own free will to clear my conscience.

Eight days later, on May 20, 1960, the plane landed. Eichmann was conducted semiinsconciente to Ezeiza International Airport , on a plane El Al , with another identity, dressed as a mechanic of the aircraft, simulating drunkenness. Sitting in a first-class seat with a fake passport, he was taken out of the country immediately to the city of Haifa , Israel .

By this kidnapping, the Argentine chancellery, through the ambassador Mario Amadeo – the president of Argentina was Arturo Frondizi -, demanded a serious violation of the sovereignty; This claim brought him to the United Nations Security Council . He received support from the international body, but Israel never intended to return the Nazi criminal. 12 13 This generated problems between Argentina and Israel, as it was clearly a case of illegal abduction, without authorization from the Argentine Government.

Judgment and execution in Israel

“Guilty! Eichmann to Hang”
US news story on the Eichmann trial, from National Archives

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The capture was announced with great media coverage, giving all credit to Simon Wiesenthal (who had collaborated in locating) and the Zionist cause to cover up the unorthodox Mossad involvement in the operation.

In Jerusalem , Eichmann was tried by a court presided over by Judges Moshe Landau , Benjamin Halevy and Yitzhak Raveh . His defense lawyer was Robert Servatius .

Eichmann claimed in its defense that the actions were committed under the due obedience to their superiors and that they took advantage of this feature. The jury finds him guilty of genocide .

The trial, which ended on 15 as December as 1961 , sentenced to death by hanging for crimes against humanity . This judgment is also considered as the great judicial cause of the State of Israel . The sentence was fulfilled the dawn of 31 of May of 1962 in the prison of Ramla .

His last words were:

Long live Germany. Long live Austria. Long live Argentina. These are the countries that I identify with the most and I will never forget them. I had to obey the rules of war and the rules of my flag. I’m ready.

Their remains were incinerated and the ashes were dispersed in the Mediterranean Sea by a ship of the Israeli Naval Force in the presence of some survivors of the Holocausto , and outside the jurisdictional waters of Israel . In this way, it was intended to prevent his tomb from becoming a place of pilgrimage.

In this trial, Eichmann left some testimony of why his participation in the Holocaust. Some paragraphs are cited:

I did not persecute the Jews with greed or pleasure. It was the government who did it. The persecution, on the other hand, could only be decided by a government, but in no case I. I accuse the rulers of having abused my obedience. At that time obedience was demanded, just as it was later on by subordinates.

The philosopher Hannah Arendt made a classic study of the character and his works following the trial, entitled Eichmann in Jerusalem. A study on the banality of evil . In it he argues that the man who happened to be the greatest murderer in Europe was no “genius of evil”, drawing in that text the thesis of the banality of evil . He argues that what is worrying about the existence of evil among us is that any man, in certain circumstances, can react like Eichmann and perform acts of wickedness and inhumanity because he believes that it is “his obligation” or “his work.” He further noted that the actions of Eichmann may well have been the result of which is subject victim an individual within a totalitarian regime .

However, although some saw in their words a justification for Eichmann’s actions, Arendt does not defend the innocence of the accused, nor does he question the final death sentence; Rather, he believed that the approach by which Eichmann was presented by the prosecution as a supervillain did not obey the truth, but rather to the personal interests of the accusers (to create a “star case”), politicians (to show the world that state of Israel, excluded from the Nuremberg Trials , could also judge their executioners) and especially social (an Israel that had won on the battlefield some military security, was going through a certain existential crisis and needed a point around To which the new post-Holocaust generations could unite).

Hanna Arendt believes, however, that Eichmann deserved the death sentence, but not for having organized any master plan, or for having personally participated (eg gun in hand) in the death of Jews, but for not having opposed the Crimes, for having collaborated efficiently in extermination, even surpassing the orders of their direct superiors.

If the judges had freely acquitted Eichmann of these accusations, closely related to the eerie accounts of the countless witnesses who appeared before them, they would not have reached a different ruling with regard to the guilt of the accused, who, Would have escaped capital punishment.

Hanna Arendt 14

For example, when the regent Horthy and Himmler approached the end of the war took steps to suspend the deportations of Hungarian Jews, Eichmann authorized some shipments of Jews motu proprio to death, with the professional zeal that The Nazis called “working in the direction of the Führer and the Reich”.

There is no doubt that even in April 1945, when practically everyone became “moderate”, Eichmann took advantage of a visit by Paul Dunand of the Swiss Red Cross to Theresienstadt, stating that he was not According to the new policy followed by Himmler with respect to the Jews.

Hanna Arendt 15

The statements of the philosopher, however, were controversial, and more given the aggravating circumstance of her own status as a Jew. It is also interesting to see the vision that brings Michel Onfray on Eichmann in his dream of Eichmann . Onfray in another work A Kantian among the Nazis , demonstrates the conformity of the Kantian political thought, with Eichmann expressed in judgment: “There is no right to rebel and there is absolute obligation to obey”.

Rafi Eitan , who led the group that captured Eichmann, was for 25 years Intelligence official in the Mossad and directed the Shin Bet . In November of 1985 he was dismissed when being discovered like director of a network of espionage against the United States .

“The most disturbing thing about Eichmann is that he was not a monster, but a human being,” Peter Malkin , the agent who arrested Eichmann, who, after 27 years in the Mossad , had retired in 1977 as counterterrorism specialist in New York city where he lived until his death on 4 as March as 2005 . 16

Eichmann’s arrest alerted other Nazis in Argentina and Brazil, such as Josef Mengele and Franz Stangl , who took resguardos and hid themselves.


The trial and its coverage by the media renewed interest in the events that took place during the war which, along with the publication of memoirs and investigations, helped to make the public aware of the Holocaust. The trial was widely covered by the press in West Germany, and many educational institutions added subjects to study what had happened. In Israel, testimony from trial witnesses led to a deep understanding of the impact of the Holocaust on survivors, especially on young people who never suffered from oppression by a nation.

In 2015, British television premiered a film based on the recording of the trial by the producer Milton Fruchtman and the repudiated television program director Leo Hurwitz. The Eichmann Show has actors like Martin Freeman and Anthony LaPlaglia . In it are intercalan historical footage from the trial that was recorded in 1962.

Bibliography consulted

  • Arendt, Hannah (1967): Eichmann in Jerusalem. A study on the banality of evil . Translation by Carlos Ribalta. Barcelona: Lumen, 2003. ISBN 978-84-264-1345-1 ( “Eichmann in Jerusalem: a Report on the Banality of Evil” article in New Yorker ).
  • Eichmann, Adolf: I, Adolf Eichmann. A historical memory . Buenos Aires: Planet (collection Document), 1980. ISBN 84-320-3620-X .
  • Several authors: “Eichmann interrogated”, transcriptions to English of the archives of the Israeli police. New York: Da Capo Press, 1999. ISBN 0-306-80916-8 .


  1. Back to top↑ 60 years Selections ISSN 1405-5716
  2. Back to top↑ Abos, Alvaro. Eichmann In Argentina. Publisher: EDHASA ARGENTINA ISBN 978-950-9009-91-2
  3. Back to top↑ The Bancalari neighborhood is almost entirely in Don Torcuato (party of Tigre), while the house of Eichmann was in the small part of Bancalari that is in the party of San Fernando .
  4. Back to top↑ Harel, Isser: The house on Garibaldi Street . Barcelona: Grijalbo. ISBN 84-253-0604-3 .
  5. Back to top↑ Lipstadt, 2011 , p. eleven.
  6. Back to top↑ Bascomb, 2009 , pp. 123.
  7. Back to top↑ Cesarani, 2005 , pp. 225-228.
  8. Back to top↑ Cesarani, 2005 , p. 225.
  9. Back to top↑ Arendt, 1994 , p. 264.
  10. Back to top↑ Cesarani, 2005 , p. 228.
  11. Back to top↑ Bascomb, 2009 , p. 153, 163.
  12. Back to top↑ Antoni Roda Jorge. “The Abduction of Adolf Eichmann by the Mossad” . Community. Archived from the original on December 1, 2015 . Retrieved on January 15, 2010 .
  13. Back to top↑ Mercé Balada and Mónica Ramoneda. “Eichmann, the administrator of the extermination .” The Vanguard . Retrieved on January 15, 2010 .
  14. Back to top↑ Arendt, Hanna: “Eichmann in Jerusalem A study of the banality of evil.”. Page 245.
  15. Back to top↑ Arendt, Hanna: “Eichmann in Jerusalem A study of the banality of evil.”. Page 167.
  16. Back to top↑ Peter Malkin: Eichmann was not a monster