The Life of Adolf Eichmann: Nazi War Criminal, Murderer of millions

By Gary Tuohy

Adolf Eichmann (1906-1962) son of Adolf Karl Eichmann and Maria Nee Scheffering, was born on March 19, 1906 in the city of Splingen in Germany but later moved to Linz (Hitler’s home town) in Austria following the death of his mother Adolf was just eight and his Father soon remarried. Adolf had not many friends as a child and he told an interviewer during his trial in the 1950’s that his best friend in fact. however, some Historians see this as a ploy by Eichman to gain sympathy before his trial. He stayed in school as far as secondary level but dropped out to become a travelling sales man with the Socony vacuum company. The job did not work out and Adolf moved on, getting a job with an American oil company.
After a Nazi Party meeting in 1932, Adolf was entranced by the nationalistic fervour of those who attended and he immediately signed up as a member. He was 26 years of age. At the same time he was dropped from the Oil Company (due to cutbacks) and he sought help from Dr. Ernst Kaltenbrunner, the same person who had invited him to the Nazi meeting. Kaltenbrunner arranged for Adolf to be accepted into the S.S Brigade. Soon he was invited to join the S.D, the S.S’s secret service and given the rank of sergeant. In 1934 he served as an SS corporal at Dachau concentration camp. In September 1934 Eichmann Found relief from the monotony of that assignment by getting a job in Heydrich’s SD, the powerful SS security service. Eichmann started out as a filing clerk cataloging information about Freemasons. In 1935, he was assigned to the Jewish Department of the S.D where he worked his way up to a position of authority. During this time, Eichmann gained intelligence on the Jews, learning about their leaders, Synagogues business and culture.
He studied all aspects of Jewish culture, attended Jewish meetings and often visited Jewish sections of cities while taking volumes of notes. He became familiar with the issue of Zionism, studied Hebrew and could even speak a bit of Yiddish. He gradually became the acknowledged ‘Jewish specialist,’ realizing this could have positive implications for his career in the SS. He soon attracted the attention of Heydrich and SS Reichsfuhrer Heinrich Himmler who appointed Eichmann to head a newly created SD Scientific Museum of Jewish Affairs. Eichmann was then assigned to investigate possible ‘’solutions to the Jewish question.’ He visited Palestine in 1937 to discuss the possibility of large-scale immigration of Jews to the Middle East with Arab leaders. British authorities, however, ordered him out of the country. In 1937, Eichmann was given his military commission starting with the rank of second lieutenant.
With the Nazi takeover of Austria in March of 1938, Eichmann was sent to Vienna where he established a Central Office for Jewish Emigration. This office had the sole authority to issue permits to Jews desperately wanting to leave Austria and became engaged in extorting wealth in return for safe passage. Nearly a hundred thousand Austrian Jews managed to leave with most turning over all their worldly possessions to Eichmann ’s office, a concept so successful that similar offices were established in Prague and Berlin.
At the beginning of World War 2, Eichmann’s reign of terror began. In October 1939, Eichmann was appointed the head organise the deportation of Jews so that ethnic Germans could return from Poland to a’’Greater Germany’’. In July 1940, Eichmann presented his Madagascar Plan proposing to deport European Jews to the island of Madagascar, off the coast of east Africa. The plan was ever implemented. Instead Heydrich and Eichmann ordered the Jews to be rounded up and forced into ghettos and labour camps. Eichmann hoped the conditions of these ghettos would deplete the Jewish population. These places would serve as a holding area for eventual deportation to the death camps.
Einsatzgruppen were Special German units who followed behind the advancing troops in the invasion of the Soviet Union in 1939. Under orders from Eichmann, these units hunted down and killed Jews. Eichmann was the supervisor of these units and it was estimated that the Einsatzgruppen murdered an estimated 1.4 million Jews.
The Einsatzgruppen methods of mass murder were considered inefficient and it was Eichmann’s duty to develop and implement methods to hasten the annihilation of the Jews under Nazi Occupation. The Einsatzgruppen had only killed a million Jews in only 6 months and Nazi Leaders felt that so much up close cold blood murders would be too much for the solders to handle. Eichmann travelled to Minsk and witnessed Jews being killed in this manner. He then a drove Lvov where a mass execution had just occurred. During His trial after the war, Eichmann described the scene ‘’the execution ditch had been covered over with dirt, but blood was gushing out of the ground ‘like a geyser’ due to pressure from the bodily gasses of the deceased.
A meeting was held at Wansee in 1941 to find a better method. Heydrich and Eichmann along with 15 Nazi bureaucrats planned the extermination of the entire Jewish population of Europe and the Soviet Union, estimated at 11 million persons. At this conference, Eichmann presented estimates of the numbers of the Jews that would be deported and killed and the use of gas was decided as a suitable means of annihilation. This was the Final Solution or the annihilation of the Jewish people and was to continue right up until the war ended. By the end of the war, over 6 million Jews would be killed. Eichmann took an interest in Auschwitz from its founding and visited there a numerous occasions. He helped Hoss select the site for the gas chambers, approved the use of Zyklon-B, and witnessed the extermination process. At the death camps, all the belongings were taking from the Jews and processed. Wedding rings, eye glasses, shoes, gold fillings, clothing and even hair shaven from women served to enrich the SS, with the proceeds funneled into secret Reichsbank accounts.
By 1944 despite the fact Germans war efforts were on the wane, Eichmann ordered 50,000 Hungarian Jews to be rounded up. Unable to deport them due to the fact that all railways had received massive damage from Allied Bombing, Eichmann marched them to their death camps in Poland.
With The War lost to the Allies, Eichamann decided to retreat to the mountains knowing he would be high on the list of war criminals. He also wanted to destroy all documents, which implicated him with the most heinous mass murder in History. His attempts to hide away failed. He was captured by the Americans and taken to a prisoner of war camp. After one successful escape he was recaptured but escaped again. He adopted the name Otto Eichmann and became a chicken farmer in the mountains of central Germany.
He later found refuge in a monastery in Italy where he was given a refugee passport with the name Ricardo Klement. Eichmann soon left for Argentina at, which was a safe place to go at this time for Nazi’s. He stayed for two years and felt comfortable enough to send for his family. In 1956 a Dutch Ex-nazi Wilhelm Sassen invited Eichmann to co-write a book about his experiences.
Nazi Hunters looked for Eichmann and in 1959, they got information that Eichmann was living in a poor suburb of Buenos Aires under the name Ricardo Klement. Special agents were sent out to Argentina and Eichmann was kept under surveillance. The agents took pictures of him and even sometimes made contact with him, posing as tourists (they asked Eichmann for directions). Finally on May 11 1960 Eichmann was captured. Knowing he would never be able he evade or escape again Eichmann went on trial in Jerusalem his crimes, in a trial that lasted 2 months. The trial was broadcast on American television as a media event. Adolf Eichmann sat watching and listening as the prosecution rest. It was impossible for Eichmann to deny his role in killing Europe’s Jews. Emotions were high when the judge read out the verdict Eichmann was found guilty of all 15 crimes against him. Eichmann was hanged at Ramleh Prison in Tel Aviv Israel, on May 31, 1962 for his crimes against Humanity and his war crimes. No grave marks his remains.
Bibliography
Books
Farrington, K F,· Witness to WWII.Alfred A. Knopf inc. United States 1997
Sachs. R.· Adolf Eichmann: Engineer of Death (Holocaust Biographies) Purnell Inc. United States 1992
Gilbert. M.· The holocaust, history of Jews of Europe during the Second World War. Henry Holt and Company, Inc. United States, 1985.
Internet/electronic
http://www.pbs.org/eichmann/study1.htm
http://www.pbs.org/eichmann/study2.htm
http://www.historyplace.com/worldwar2/biographies/eichmann.htm
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