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Yad Vashem Marking the 50th Anniversary of the Eichmann Trial

Adolf Eichmann - SS Obersturmbannführer

Eichmann, RSHA (Reich Central Security Office), 1942 Chart detailing Eichmann’s duties in the Wehrmacht during 1934-8, Jalame detention facility, 1961 Chart detailing Eichmann’s duties in the Wehrmacht during 1934-8, Jalame detention facility, 1961 Chart of the various Wehrmacht units involved in the "Final Solution", Jalame detention facility, 1961 Chart of the various Wehrmacht units involved in the "Final Solution", Jalame detention facility, 1961 Expelled Thracian Jews boarding trains to extermination camps, March 1943 Expelled Thracian Jews boarding trains to extermination camps, March 1943 Eichmann and members of the Gestapo, before a raid on the Jewish Community Center, Vienna 1938 Eichmann and members of the Gestapo, before a raid on the Jewish Community Center, Vienna 1938 Hungarian Jews upon disembarking from the train in Auschwitz-Birkenau, 1944

Adolf Eichmann was born in Solingen, Germany in 1906. In 1932 Eichmann joined the Nazi party and the SS. His first five years of service in the ranks of the Nazi party and the SS contained nothing that could point to his future overwhelmingly crucial role in the practical execution of a plan which aimed to murder Jews wherever they could be found - the crime that went down in history as "the Final Solution of the Jewish Question."  Eichmann's role in determining the fate of European Jews became apparent in 1938. Following the annexation of Austria (the "Anschluss"), he became the commander of the "Centre for Jewish Emigration" ("Zentralstelle für juedische Auswanderung"), initially in Vienna, and subsequently in Prague and Berlin.  At no stage in his career in the Nazi administration did he occupy a place in the ranks of prime decision makers.  Right up to the end of the war he retained his subordinate rank and status, although, from 1941 and onwards, he masterminded the apparatus for concentrating, expropriating, and deporting millions of Jews to the ghettoes of Eastern Europe and the extermination camps. He adapted to fluctuating anti-Jewish policies, and endeavored to act with dedication, being motivated by unbridled careerism, concern for his status and rank, and feelings of frustration over his failure to achieve promotion, and over the disdain exhibited towards him and his inferior education.

For as long as Nazi Germany pursued a policy of getting rid of the Jews and forcing them to emigrate, Eichmann was involved in large scale emigration programs, such as the "Nisko  Plan" (1939-1940), or the "Madagascar Plan" (1940-1942). When that trend changed in favor of a policy of de facto murder, Eichmann likewise changed the direction of his actions - becoming prime administrator and organizer of the large scale logistics called for by the "Final Solution." Eichmann’s de facto involvement in the murder process initiated with an order out of his office to execute Serbian Jewish males. In a later stage, he participated in the Wannsee Conference (January 1942), the protocol of which, written in his own handwriting, was couched in camouflaged and misleading Nazi terms.  His role in the implementation was dominant and tangible, characterized by a quest for perfection, steely determination and above all, a total refusal to compromise.

Even when high-ranking colleagues appealed to him in person to release a single Jew or several from deportation to the camps, or even when SS commander Himmler ordered him outright to halt the shipments to Auschwitz, Eichmann vehemently refused. Not content with remaining seated at his desk in the Berlin IV B4 (a department of the Central Office for Security of the Reich (RSHA)) Eichmann conducted frequent personal inspections of the various murder sites, including Auschwitz, where he was in close contact with camp commander Rudolf Höss, and became involved in all the details of the industrialized murder process.

The spring and early summer of 1944 found Eichmann determined, come what may and whatever the cost, to ship the Jews of Hungary, including those of the capital Budapest, to the Auschwitz crematorium, even as the Reich tottered on the verge of collapse.

The online exhibition was made possible through the generous support of:

Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany

The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany works to secure compensation and restitution for survivors of the Holocaust.

Since 1951, the Claims Conference - working in partnership with the State of Israel - has negotiated for and distributed payments from Germany, Austria, other governments, and certain industry; recovered unclaimed German Jewish property; and funded programs to assist the neediest Jewish victims of Nazism.