BONN (Dec. 17)
Highest West German officials today declared that the conviction and death sentence of Adolf Eichmann, following the lengthy trial in Jerusalem, was exactly what they had expected and was “justified.”
Felix Von Eckardt, State Secretary in charge of information for the office of Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, and Dr. Eugen Gerstenmaier, president of the Bundestag (lower house of Parliament), approved the Jerusalem court’s judgment, the latter declaring that “the immense crimes of which the man was convicted justified the highest penalty.”
Leaders of the two dominant parties in the new German Government coalition, the Christian Democratic Union and the Free Democratic Party, approved the death sentence. They stated that the hanging of Eichmann would be but “inadequate expiation” for the crimes of which he has been convicted.
Matthias Hoegen, chairman of the Bundestag’s legal committee, declared. “No one in Germany, who has retained, throughout the frightful years of injustice, a sound and wholesome feeling for guilt and redemption, will find the death sentence unjust.” Leaders of the FDP stated that “even the most convinced opponents of capital punishment will find the sentence justified.”
Prominent members of Chancellor Adenauer’s party, the CDU, praising the Israel trial as “fair,” expressed the fear, however, that the Eichmann trial and sentence “might have caused new harm to the name of Germany,” They expressed the hope that this would be the last time that “the attention of world public opinion would be brought to the darkest period in German history.”
In general, West German reactions to the Eichmann trial and its outcome showed a blend of respect for Israel’s legal processes and remorse for the terrible wrongs committed by the Nazis against the Jewish people.