JERUSALEM (Dec. 12)
Attorney General Gideon Hausner, chief prosecutor of Adolf Eichmann, will address the court tomorrow in a statement in which he is expected to ask that the death penalty be imposed on the former Gestapo colonel.
With the reading of the 100,000-word judgment completed today, the court announced that Dr. Robert Servatius, Eichmann’s West German defense counsel, also will address the court tomorrow. He is expected to challenge the jurisdiction of the three-justice court in the unprecedented trial.
After the reading of the verdict was completed, Eichmann was instructed to rise to his feet to hear the announcement of his conviction on all counts of the indictment. He listened for 25 minutes without any perceptible change in expression. Dr. Servatius then asked for an adjournment until tomorrow afternoon to enable him to consult his client regarding his planned statement to the court on the matter of Eichmann’s sentence.
Reading of the judgment required 16 hours and at the conclusion, the court intimated today that it would not consider arguments advanced in mitigation of the crimes for which it convicted the 56-year-old defendant; Dealing with the defense plea that Eichmann had to obey orders of his superiors in his part in the deportation and slaughter of 6,000,000 European Jewish men, women and children, the court declared this argument would not be considered even as a plea for mitigation of the verdict.
The court, in its completion of the judgment reading, flatly rejected Eichmann’s contention that he was a mere cog in the vast Nazi wartime murder machinery that sent one-third of the Jewish people to their deaths during the war.
Spelling out in detail the rejection of a defense that Eichmann’s acts were carried out on orders of superiors, the judges declared that “such arguments are not to be voiced in any state in the world which bases itself on the rule of law. This attempt to turn an order for the extermination of millions of innocent people into a political act with the aim of thus seeking to avoid personal criminal responsibility by those who gave and those who carried out such orders is of no avail,” the court said.
EICHMANN WAS NOT A PUPPET, COURT SAYS; CITES U.N. STAND
Pointing out that this position had also been acknowledged by the General Assembly of the United Nations, the court went into the question of the defendant’s moral responsibility for his crimes and held that his motives showed an unquestioned mercilessness. At every stage, the judges declared, Eichmann carried out his tasks from an inner conviction, heartlessly and willingly.
“It is clear,” the court ruled, “that blind obedience could never have brought him to commit such crimes with such efficiency and devotion as he showed were it not for his zealous belief that he was thereby fulfilling an important national mission.”
“Eichmann was not a puppet in the hands of others,” Judge Binyamin Halevi declared in his reading today of the final portion of the judgment. “His place was among those who pulled the strings. It should be added that we have already given details in the proper place that the activities of the accused were the most vigorous in the German Reich, itself and so in other countries from which Jews were dispatched to eastern Europe. His activities also ranged widely in various fields in Middle Eastern Europe.”
“We absolutely reject the accused’s version that he never initiated proposals” in the huge Nazi genocide apparatus, the court declared. “We find in the RHSA, the central Nazi authority for dealing with the ‘final solution’ of the Jewish problem, that the accused was the head of those engaged in carrying out the ‘final solution.’ In fulfilling this task, the accused acted according to the general directives of his superiors but there still remained to him wide powers of discretion which extended also to the planning of operations on his own initiative.”
With completion of the reading of the judgment, Eichmann stood convicted of 15 charges in a bill of indictment which was the most grave ever faced by a single defendant. The defendant was convicted of causing the killing of millions of Jews from 1939 to 1945 in Germany and in Axis and occupied countries in his capacity as the person responsible for the execution of the Nazi plan for the physical destruction of the Jews in Europe.
The court held that as such, Eichmann subjected millions of victims to subhuman living conditions, including enslavement, starvation, deportation, spoliation. He was also convicted of devising measures to prevent child-bearing among the Jews of Germany and in countries occupied by the Nazi war machine.
JUDGMENT TRACES EICHMANN’S DIRECT ACTION IN DECIMATING JEWS
Justice Landau maintained an even voice as he read the judgment with its references to “the heavy hand of fate which erased most members of Hungary’s Jewish community from the book of life within a few weeks” or “the valley of death in which millions of Jews were slaughtered.” As the presiding justice moved from country to country in reviewing the defendant’s role in the implementation of the “final solution,” the public listened in stunned silence as if the frightful facts were being disclosed for the first time.
When Justice Landau ended the portions of the verdict dealing with Auschwitz, Chelmo, Lublin, Bergen Belsen and other Nazi infernos with the comment “And Eichmann was there,” the listeners gave vent to stifled feelings by emitting as in a chorus, a deep sigh.
When, in summation of one of the 15 counts, the judge established the direct guilt of the defendant, the auditors, like a chorus of an outraged society acknowledging that justice was being done, would take in a breath and an “s-s-s-s” sound clearly could be heard through the earphones from the man in the bulletproof dock.
Previously, the judgment had traced Eichmann’s direct complicity in the crimes against the Jews, against humanity and in war crimes in France, Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Norway, Slovakia, Croatia, Greece, Rhodes, Italy and Rumania. Staggering figures of the decimated Jewish populations were cited. At the mention of each figure, Eichmann grimaced openly. He took notes, presumably for submission to his counsel for an expected appeal, but the note-taking was infrequent.
The judgment branded as an “outright lie,” Eichmann’s defense assertion that he was the initiator of the infamous “blood for trucks” plan under which 1,000,000 Hungarian Jews were to be exchanged for 10,000 trucks from the Allies. The court held that the proposal emanated from Heinrich Himmler, chief of the Gestapo, either as a maneuver, a wish to obtain items needed by the collapsing Reich war effort, or as preparation for an alibi for use when the advancing allied troops smashed the Nazi regime.
COURT HOLDS EICHMANN RESPONSIBLE FOR GASSING JEWS
The court asserted that Eichmann’s “fury and anger” at the collapse of the negotiations was “sheer hypocrisy, “and that when Eichmann pretended to be busy in preparations for the freeing of the first 100,000 of the million Jews, he actually was busy speeding up the deportations to the gas chambers at the Auschwitz camps.
To convey Eichmann’s share in the crimes, the verdict sketched the background of events, beginning with the use of mass butchery in which the Nazi murders used shooting, asphyxiation and fire against hundreds of thousands, perhaps one million Jewish victims, until a “more tidy” method was arrived at for more effectively achieving the “final solution.”
The court held that as early as the summer of 1941, Eichmann knew that the deportations he was arranging meant death for the deportees. The court also held that the matter of introducing gas as a means of quick killing and the supply of gas to the murder camps occupied Eichmann as far back as 1941 when he and Auschwitz commandant Rudolf Hoess decided to use this method and, the court declared, it was Eichmann’s department in the Gestapo bureau which supplied Cyclon B gas to Auschwitz.