Sunday, December 15, 2013



Tel Aviv, Israel (JFK+50) Otto Adolf Eichmann*, "architect of the Holocaust," was sentenced to death 52 years ago today, December 15, 1961 by a war crimes tribunal here in Tel Aviv.

According to the United States Holocaust Museum, Eichmann was "one of the most pivotal actors in the deportation of European Jewry during the Holocaust."

Adolf Eichmann at Trial
May 4, 1961
Israel National Photo Collection

Eichmann joined the Austrian Socialist "Nazi" Party on April 1, 1932 and in 1938 set up a Jewish deportment center in Vienna after Germany annexed Austria.  He set up another center in Prague the following year.

In 1939, Eichmann was assigned to the RSHA (Reich Main Security Office), better known as the Gestapo, in Berlin.  

In January 1942 he attended the Wannssee Conference where the "Final Solution" was planned.

It was Eichmann's task to coordinate the identification, assembly and transport of Jews from occupied European countries to concentration camps where most would be executed.

After the war, Eichmann was taken into custody by United States forces but managed to escape to Austria where he remained under an assumed name until 1950.

He managed to escape Europe to Argentina where he lived in Buenos Aires and, after his family joined him, worked as a department head for Mercedes-Benz.

Eichmann Passport
Image by
Fundacion Memoria 
del Holocausto

Having been alerted to his true identity, agents of Mossad, the Israeli Security Service, took Eichmann into custody on May 11, 1960 and brought him to Israel where he remained in a police station cell for 9 months.

Eichmann faced 15 criminal charges including war crimes.

His trial, which began on April 11, 1961, was the first live televised trial in history.  It was held at the Beit Ha'am in downtown Jerusalem.

For his own protection, Adolf Eichmann was put in a bulletproof glass booth where he listened to court proceedings through headphones and spoke into microphones when called upon.

The prosecution's case was presented over 56 days and was followed by a direct examination of Eichmann by the defense.

Eichmann maintained that he was simply "following orders," and although he believed the killing of the Jews to be justified, he felt no personal guilt for his role in the Holocaust.

The trial ended on August 14, 1961.  The verdict was read on December 12.

Adolf Eichmann was hanged just before midnight on December 15, 1961.   He was survived by his wife, Veronika Liebl and 4 children. 

*Otto Adolf Eichmann (1906-1962) was born in Solingen, Germany.  He attended the same secondary school once attended by Adolf Hitler in Linz and briefly studied engineering.

OAE worked at his father's mining company and later became a salesman for Vacuum Oil Company. He rose to the rank of Obersfurmbann Fuhrer in the SS. 


"Holocaust Encyclopedia,"

"Jewish Virtual Library,"