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Israel’s Supreme Court Rejects Motion to Hear New Eichmann Witnesses

March 30, 1962
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The panel of five Supreme Court Justices hearing Adolf Eichmann’s appeal from a sentence of death by hanging rejected today his defense attorney’s request to present new witnesses and adjourned the hearing to begin consideration of a ruling.

The Justices acted after hearing the final plea by Dr. Robert Servatius for annulment or mitigation of the death sentence imposed December 15 by a district court which convicted the former Gestapo colonel of having had a key role in the assembly, spoliation and slaughter of 6,000,000 European Jewish men, women and children during World War II.

The tribunal is expected to take about a month to prepare its ruling. If it sustains the conviction and the sentence, Eichmann’s last recourse will be an appeal for clemency to President Ben-Zvi.

The ruling against Dr. Servatius’ request for permission to present new witnesses or new evidence was based on an Israeli law barring that action in appeal hearings unless the lower court was proved to have erred in handling a case. Dr. Servatius, consequently, was restricted to a repetition of the defense arguments he used during the four-month trial in Jerusalem last year.


Dr. Servatius reiterated the defense stand that the crimes for which the Israel district court had convicted Eichmann were not committed in Israel which did not exist when those crimes were committed. He also argued that the trial court procedure was faulty in many respects, one being that while it was convenient for the prosecution that the trial was held in Jerusalem–where witnesses and documents were available–this was prejudicial to the defense.

He contended again that all of the prosecution documents were incomplete and taken out of context to build up a case against the SS officer who headed the Gestapo’s Bureau for Jewish Affairs. The Cologne attorney alluded again to Eichmann’s abduction from Argentina in the spring of 1960 and said that this was contrary to his human rights and to the law of nations because he was not trying to escape or flee the area of jurisdiction when he was abducted.

Again, the attorney argued that the prosecution had presented a “distorted picture” of Eichmann’s role in the Nazi genocide program. From fragments of records and extracts of documents, he asserted again, Eichmann emerged as the central character of the “extermination machine” instead of the “small cog” he “actually was.” He contended that there was “a sort of general conspiracy” at the Allied war crimes trials at Nuremberg to use Eichmann as a scapegoat for all of the Nazi atrocities.


Justice Moshe Silberg broke in at this point to ask who was interested in implicating Eichmann “to the extent of forging documents by inserting his name” in them. The attorney replied. “Everybody at the Nuremberg trial–Hermann Goering, Joachim von Ribbentrop, and all the others. They repeatedly said ‘Eichmann did it.’ This fiction was maintained until finally the Nuremberg judgment stated that Hitler had vested in Eichmann the implementation of the ‘final solution’ of the Jewish problem.” Dr. Servatius immediately added: “This is untrue.”

The West German attorney went on to deny the prosecution’s argument that Eichmann was callous to the tragic events of the Nazi era and adamantly refused to express remorse. On the contrary, said the attorney, Eichmann had accepted “moral and human guilt” for the deportations he supervised at the Gestapo’s transport office which sent millions of Jews to their deaths.

As proof. Dr. Servatius recalled Eichmann’s statement–made to Israeli police during his confinement before trial and later confirmed in his testimony at the trial–that he was prepared to hang himself in public as a warning to the youth of the world against anti-Semitism.

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