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Eichmann Hanged; His Plea for Clemency Rejected by Israel’s President

June 1, 1962
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Adolf Eichmann was hanged at Ramleh Prison early this morning, Friday. The trap was sprung a few minutes after midnight, Israel time (6 P. M. New York time).

Late Thursday (Israeli time), President Izhak Ben-Zvi rejected Eichmann’s appeal for clemency filed by Dr. Robert Servatius, the German attorney for the Nazi colonel, as well as Dr. Servatius’ petition for a stay of execution pending his planned appeals to the German Government for extradition.

Thus ended the Israeli phase of the Eichmann story which was first announced to the world by Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion on May 23, 1960. On that morning, the Premier informed an astounded Knesset (Parliament) that Eichmann–long considered the prime Nazi official responsible for directing the mass annihilation of 6,000,000 European Jews during World War II–had been captured and was at the moment in the hands of Israeli authorities in Israel.

Eichmann’s appeal for clemency was rejected by the President of Israel at the recommendation of Israel’s Minister of Justice, Dr. Dov Joseph, who presented the appeal to the President. Clemency appeals to President Ben-Zvi were also sent by Eichmann’s wife from Germany and his brother and sisters.

IS THE FIRST PERSON EVER EXECUTED IN ISRAEL

The execution of Eichmann marks the first hanging of a criminal in the State of Israel, where there is no capital punishment except for crimes committed against the Jewish people. The execution came swiftly after the rejection of the clemency appeal by the President. The rejection was communicated by the President’s Office to the Ministry of Justice, and from there to the administration of the prison where Eichmann was awaiting last word.

Prior to his rejection of Eichmann’s appeal for clemency, President Ben-Zvi received appeals also from a number of Israeli intellectuals, including Professor Martin Buber of the Hebrew University, urging him to spare Eichmann’s life. On the other hand, the President was flooded with letters and other messages requesting him to stand firm by the ruling of the tribunal which sentenced Eichmann to death.

Ready for the eventuality that the clemency appeal might be rejected by the President the Commissioner of Prisons had earlier named two executioners, rather than one, to spring the execution trap, so that no one would ever know which of the two men had actually carried out the death sentence. The Commissioner of Prisons has also been authorized to rule on the disposition of Eichmann’s remains. It was believed that the remains would be cremated and the ashes spread over the Mediterranean waters, so as not to establish any place which may later be used by Nazi followers as a "shrine."

VISITED BY CLERGYMAN IN JAIL; REFUSED TO REPENT

Prior to the announcement that the President had rejected the final clemency plea, Eichmann was visited at Ramleh prison for an hour and a half by the Rev. William Hull, a Canadian clergyman who had been the only religious representative to visit the prisoner. Mr. Hull was accompanied by his wife, who acted as interpreter.

According to Mrs. Hell, the visit was "very discouraging." The condemned man, she said, "showed no sign of confession or repentance." He also told her, she said, "at one time, there was a chance; but now there is hardly any." She added that Eichmann was "in a most uncompromising mood, but physically he seemed fit and well. He had no requests to make nor any final wish."

The whole area surrounding Ramleh prison, on the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem road, was cordoned off and roadblocks were placed on the approaches to the prison which was under huge searchlights. Four journalists–two Israeli and two foreign correspondents–were permitted to enter the prison while all other journalists trying to get into the area were requested to turn back.

Israeli embassies and legations throughout the world, but mainly in Latin America and Europe, were instructed to take precautionary measures after the execution was announced. It was recalled that a number of legations had received threats of violence if Eichmann were hanged.

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