Monday, December 11 and Friday, December 15, 1961: Adolf Eichmann verdict

Monday, December 11

From The Associated Press:

JERUSALEM -- Israel convicted Adolf Eichmann of "unsurpassed" crimes against the Jews and said his role in the Nazi pogrom would be remembered "until the end of time."
The special three-man tribunal, which for four months tried the 55-year-0ld Gestapo lieutenant colonel, handed down its judgment today, a judgment which may bring him death on the gallows.
In a 300-page judgment which they began reading aloud in turn, the three judges determined that Eichmann was proved to be such an important cog in Hitler's machinery for destroying the Jews that he merited conviction of these major counts:
1. Crimes against the Jews.
2. Crimes against humanity.
3. War crimes.
4. Membership in the criminal Nazi SS (Elite Guard) and SD (security police) organizations.
Reading the verdict, with all its elaboration of the legal reasoning, will require several days. Sentencing is expected by Friday.
In his bullet-proof, glass-enclosed case, Eichmann took the first blow of conviction on the major charges with aplomb. Through his hornrimmed spectacles, he fixed a steady stare on the judges.
The court delivered an exhaustive study of the "iniquities" of the Nazi Reich and said it later would describe in detail the role Eichmann played as chief of the Gestapo's Bureau for Jewish Affairs, the man who shipped millions to their death in the extermination camps.
The tribunal, headed by Justice Moshe Landau, went to considerable length to justify its right to try Eichmann.
Regard Eichmann's complaint that he was kidnapped, the court described at length a case in Vermont in 1935 in which a man complained he was seized in Canada and brought to justice in the United States. The Vermont Supreme Court ruled that the method of bringing the man was unimportant. That, in effect, was what the Israeli tribunal decided in Eichmann's case.
Eichmann had argued that he was only an underling who carried out orders. But the court said: The laws of humanity are binding on individuals. The guilt of Germany as a state does not detract one ita from the personal responsibility of the accused."
Eichmann is expected to be sentenced Friday.
He was tried under Israel's Nazi and Nazi collaborators' law of 1950, which provides death as the maximum penalty. The death penalty never has been invoked.
The packed courtroom was deathly silent as the verdict of guilty was pronounced. Many of the 600 spectators had relatives were victims of the Nazi pogrom or were themselves survivors of the death camps.
There was not a sigh or a ripple at the abrupt one-sentence verdict, which Judge Landau spoke rapidly before beginning to outline the court's reasoning.
The reading of the judgment was continue through today and Tuesday. Atty. Gen. Gideon Hauser -- who prosecuted the case, presented tons of captured documents and 112 witnesses -- will then advise the court on the penalty.
Defense counsel Robert Servatius of West Germany will make his final plea and Eichmann will be allowed to speak in his own behalf.
The court rejected Eichmann's defense plea that Israel had no right to try him for crimes committed elsewhere and under a law passed years after the crimes.
"The court finds the law in the best tradition of international law," the judgment found. The court said international crimes were tried as far back as the Middle Ages in areas where the guilty were caught. Piracy cases were so conducted on the theory that "all mankind must declare war against" such violations. The Israeli judges said this reasoning applies to Eichmann as well.
"A person guilty of piracy has placed himself beyond the protection of any state," the court said.
Eichmann, as chief of the Gestapo's bureau for Jewish affairs, was no better than a pirate, the tribunal concluded.
It was Eichmann's job to round up the Jews, arrange transport to the death camps and see that the human cargo was delivered. Out of that master Nazi plan to wipe out the Jewish race, six million ded, more than half of all of Europe's Jewish population.
If Eichmann is sentenced to death, his counsel can appeal to the state Supreme Court. If the high court rejects the appeal, Eichmann can ask clemency from President Izhak Ben-Zvi.

Friday, December 15:

From The Associated Press:

JERUSALEM -- Adolf Eichmann, Nazi Germany's expediter of Jews to the gas chambers, was sentenced today to be hanged in Israel for "a crime of unparalleled enormity." But no execution date was set pending appeals that may take several months.
Moshe Landau, president of the three-man Israeli court which tried and convicted the former Gestapo colonel, intoned:
"This court sentences Adolf Eichmann to death for crimes against the Jewish people, crimes against humanity and war crimes."
Eichmann, now 55 and balding, stood stiffly erect for 15 minutes while the tribunal first gave its reasons and then condemned him to be hanged. Six hundred persons packing the courtroom were deadly silent throughout the brief session, then filed out with hardly a sound.
Still the "block of ice" Jewish survivors of the Nazi pogram called him, Eichmann never even gulped visibly. He quieted the facial nervous twitch evident during the trial, and his hands hung loose and unclenched by his side.
Eichmann, who had scornfully refused to plead for mercy before the sentence was pronounced, was told he has 10 days to file notice of appeal with the court and an additional five days to draft his reasons.
The chief defense counsel, Dr. Robert L. Servatius from West Germany, was advised if he felt the time given him was too short, he could ask the president of the supreme court or his deputy for an extension.
Dr. Servatius, already at work on Eichmann's appeal, told the court: "Thank you for the guidance and I shall think it over."
Decision on the appeal is not expected before March. If it goes against Eichmann, he can apply to Israeli President Izhak Ven-Zvi for clemency.

* "Eichmann Sentenced" (newsreel): @
* Judgment (from nizkor.org): @
* Eichmann's final statement to the court (from remember.org): @
* Links to Hannah Arendt's articles for The New Yorker: @
* Earlier post on abduction (May 11, 1960): @
* Earlier post on opening of trial, including links to several resources (April 11, 1961): @

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