On the 11th of April 1961, the trial of a prominent Nazi and a key figure in the organisation of the Holocaust, Adolf Eichmann, began. This trial was held before a special tribunal of the Jerusalem District Court, and Eichmann was indicted on 15 criminal charges including crimes against humanity, war crimes, crimes against the Jewish people, and membership in a criminal organisation.
Eichmann takes notes during his trial. Photo: Israel Government Press Office via Wikimedia Commons
Last week in the Zeit Online, in memory of this date, Ron Ulrich published an interview with Gabriel Bach, who had been the Deputy Persecutor during this incredibly high-profile case.
During the interview, Ulrich asks the now 92-year-old Bach about his personal experience and loss during the Nazi regime. We learn that while he and his family fled Germany via Holland to Palestine, much of his extended family were not so fortunate.
Bach describes that Eichman was “vollkommen unberührt” (completely unmoved) when speaking about the atrocities of Auschwitz. He remained stoic throughout the process and his lack of remorse was evident.
The conclusion of the trial was that Eichmann would be sentenced to death; this penalty was carried out in spite of his appeal. While Bach does not disagree with the punishment, when asked if he attended the execution, he replies: “Doch nein, nein, dafür hatte ich keinerlei Gefühl. Ich sah meine Arbeit als erledigt an.” (No, no, I had no feeling for it. I saw my job as done.)
Late last year, the Netflix film Operation Finale was released, dramatising Eichmann’s capture in Argentina and the subsequent trial.