JERUSALEM (May. 23)
Adolf Eichmann, Nazi war criminal, Gestapo “expert” on the Jewish problem and murderer of hundreds of thousands of European Jews during World War II, is now in Israel under arrest, Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion announced in Parliament here today. In making his announcement, Mr. Ben-Gurion did not state where or when Eichmann had been arrested. The Israeli Premier confined his announcement to the following brief statement:
“A short time ago, one of the greatest of Nazi war criminals, Adolf Eichmann, who was responsible, together with the Nazi leaders, for what they called the ‘final solution of the Jewish question’–that is, the extermination of 6,000,000 Jews of Europe–was found by the Israel security services. Adolf Eichmann is already under arrest in Israel, and will shortly be placed on trial in Israel under terms of the law for the trial of Nazis and their collaborators.”
A hushed, almost incredulous Knesset (Parliament) heard the announcement. For a moment, there was silence in the chamber. Then there was a burst of wild applause. Mr. Ben-Gurion’s promise that Eichmann will be tried under the law providing for trials of Nazis and Nazi collaborators was not lost on the House. Capital punishment has been outlawed in Israel–except for “crimes against the Jewish people” and for crimes “against humanity.” Thus Eichmann faces the possibility of a death sentence if convicted.
The capture of Eichmann and the promised trial hit all of Israel as one of the most sensational events in many years. A special meeting of the Cabinet was held this afternoon. Mr. Ben-Gurion is understood to have revealed to the members of the Cabinet some details in connection with the capture of Eichmann which he had not mentioned in his Knesset announcement. All that has been revealed publicly thus far is that Eichmann was not under arrest anywhere else outside Israel, and that he was not brought here through extradition proceedings.
ADMITS HIS IDENTITY AT HEARING; WILL BE ALLOWED TO DEFEND HIMSELF
Minister of Justice Pinhas Rosen revealed that Eichmann has already been brought for a hearing before a magistrate at Jaffa. At the hearing, he admitted his identity and asked whether he will be permitted to obtain his own defense counsel. He was assured, according to Mr. Rosen, that he would be allowed to defend himself properly. It is believed that he may try to obtain an attorney from some country outside Israel. Mr. Rosen said Eichmann will be permitted to retain foreign counsel if he wants to do so.
“He is being kept under closest guard, ” Mr. Rosen stated, but he declined to reveal the place of Eichmann’s confinement or any details about how, when and where he was apprehended and arrested. “He looks quite healthy. ” the Minister added. “He has not yet indicated the type of defense he intends to enter. His charge sheet is being drafted so as to speed his trial. The detention order was issued at Jaffa this morning. He will be indicted for ‘crimes against the Jewish people. “
Asked what form of execution Eichmann would face, if convicted, Mr. Rosen replied: “Presumably, he would be hanged. ” However, the Minister said he would prefer not to discuss, as yet, the possible sentence for Eichmann. “I want to avoid prejudicing the case, ” he stated, “in spite of whatever feelings prevail in regard to the man.”
$20,000 REWARD WAS OFFERED FOR INFORMATION LEADING TO HIS CAPTURE
Eichmann had been the object of a worldwide search ever since he escaped from an American camp at Regensburg, Germany, after the collapse of the Nazi regime in 1945. A reward of $20,000 for information leading to the arrest of Eichmann has been a standing offer here for a number of years. The reward offer was posted by the Jewish Documentation Center, which collects the records of Jews exterminated during the Nazi holocaust and of Nazis responsible for the mass murder of Jews.
As the chief “expert” on Jewish affairs in the Gestapo, the Nazi secret police, and as head of the special department set up in the Gestapo to supervise the “final solution” of the Jewish question–the mass extermination of European Jewry–Eichmann had direct and personal responsibility for the extermination of hundreds of thousands of men, women and children.
Eichmann was born in 1907 in the German Templar colony of Sarona, in then Turkish-held Palestine, and learned to speak Hebrew, Yidish and Arabic fluently. His family moved to Austria when he was a young man, and he became active in the Nazi movement there. When the Austrian Government outlawed the Nazi Party, Eichmann joined the Gestapo as an espionage agent and became a specialist in Jewish affairs, serving as special aide on Jewish matters to Reinhardt Heydrich, commander of the Gestapo.
As a Gestapo agent, Eichmann was largely responsible for bringing together the fugitive Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin el Husseini, and Nazi leaders. This resulted in the formation of a Moslem Division recruited by the Mufti, to fight with the Nazis against the Allies. After his escape from Germany, Eichmann was reported in Egypt, where he was active in recruiting former Nazis for service against Israel. He was subsequently reported at various other points in the Middle East, and also in Argentina. His wife and three children were reported living in Prague, Czechoslovakia,
When the Nazi regime set up a “Central Bureau for Jewish Emigration” in Vienna, to organize the rounding up and deportation of Austrian Jews, Eichmann was put in charge. He later performed similar services in Prague and in Berlin. When the Nazi powers agreed on the “final solution”–the examination of the Jews–Eichmann was given command of the Division IV B 4 of the Gestapo, the agency entrusted with the task.