The great silence lasted until April 11, 1961, when the trial against Adolf Eichmann began in Jerusalem. Before, people didn’t tell anything. Everyone kept their memories and their pain to themselves. Only after the trial were people willing to listen to us.
He says so, in the documentary by Francesca Molteni The Eichmann trial, one of the survivors, Joseph Kleinmann, who entered the Auschwitz extermination camp at the age of fourteen, the age of Sami Modiano and Piero Terracina.
The Nuremberg trial had placed the Shoah within a judgment on the overall crimes of Nazism. The one of sixty years ago to Adolf Eichmann instead turned the spotlight of the world on the persecution of the Jews and on the plan of their annihilation. A tragedy that, never to be forgotten, has no comparison in the history of humanity.
The Reich official was kidnapped in May 1960 by the Mossad in Argentina, where he had taken refuge. He was one of the many Nazi leaders who escaped all forms of justice, hidden under false identities in various countries of South America.
The Israeli premier announces the Israeli parliament that Eichmann had been found by the Israeli security services. That arrest sparked controversy, singularly also in the US, as well told by the volume by Deborah Lipstadt The Eichmann trial (Einaudi).
The name that the lieutenant colonel had chosen for his second life was Ricardo, Ricardo Klement. The same one he gave to one of his sons, the only one who will then mature a critical judgment against Nazism, if the dictatorship returned, I would pack my children’s small suitcases and flee.
Ricardo Eichmann, in June 1995, decided to meet the service man Israelis who had taken the Nazi, his father, in Argentina. In the columns of the Corriere della Sera Lorenzo Cremonesi described this dialogue between a forty-year-old professor of Archeology at the University of Tübingen and Zvi Aharoni, who had spent days and days guarding Eichmann’s house in via Garibaldi, Buenos Aires. Cremonesi makes old Aharoni speak: This moment is very difficult for me. I am responsible for your father’s death. it was my fault that you became an orphan at six.
But who was Eichmann? Was he just an extermination accountant? Was he a soldier forced to obey because he was unable to react and lacking the moral courage to say no? Here is valid what, after his arrest, Indro Montanelli wrote in these columns: He did not kill because he wore a uniform. He wore a uniform to kill. And he had voluntarily chosen that of the most infamous militia, used by the regime for the dirtiest services, precisely to satisfy a vocation of torture and death. And Montanelli invoked that, whatever the penalty, Eichmann was led to see Israel, from Tiberias to Eliat. He must not close his eyes until he has kept them open to what the Jews, this race he considers inferior and cursed, have done in that corner of sandy desert.
One hundred and eleven deportees who escaped extermination, as a result of that trial they sat on the witness stand. Some wept, others remained standing in agitation.
The surviving deportees that many did not believe, forced to feel guilty for having made it, exposed to the harassment of the deniers or the ungenerous criticism of young Israelis who wondered why they had not rebelled in the camps, finally took the word and the world had to stop and listen to them.
Many testimonies are collected in the beautiful volume Eichmannby Giulia Baj and Tullio Scovazzi, in bookstores from 8 April for Solferino. was, for Israel and for the newly free world, a shocking collective experience.
Some of them, in those days, told of suicides in the fields, who were much criticized by those who remained, because each fallen ended up leaving a place that would be occupied by another Jew. Others described the ruthlessness of an SS woman who, seeing a newborn crying in her mother’s arms, made him pass him with a reassuring smile and then threw him to the ground, killing him. There are those who added every time we suffered, they rejoiced and who, looking at Eichmann, said that it was a piece of marble, a block of ice. Prosecutor Hausner, who will lead the prosecution, will say at the beginning of the hearings: When I stand before you, judges of Israel, to direct the prosecution of Adolf Eichmann, I am not alone. There are six million accusers with me. But they cannot stand up and point the finger at the man in the dock with the cry “J’accuse” on their lips. Because they are now only ash, ash piled up on the hills of Auschwitz and the fields of Treblinka and scattered in the forests of Europe.
And then he will argue that Eichmann was a new kind of killer, which stands behind the desk. A white collar who conceives an extermination order as a task to be carried out. It was he who organized and planned the transport and execution.
Eichmann really looked like an accountant in his depositions. He is passionate about accounting, as he did then. He explains that he had decided to increase the capacity of the trains that deported Jews from 700 to 1,000 people due to the fact that the suitcases of those destined for extermination were placed on freight cars. He has no measure or sense of expediency when he says, about the 1942 Wannsee Conference which decided the planning of the extermination: In the end I felt Pilate’s satisfaction because I felt completely relieved of all guilt … Now it was up to me only to obey . O says that at the end of the works in which he had participated, in which there was talk of executions, eliminations, extermination he felt honored – it was the first time in my life that I attended a co-important meeting – that the Nazi hierarchs invited him to drink one, two, three cognacs to celebrate the adoption of the decision that was thus described in the Protocol drawn up by Eichmann: In the framework of the final solution and under adequate guidance, the Jews must be sent to work in the East. In large columns divided by sex. There is no doubt that the vast majority will be eliminated by natural causes.
The man who frantically wipes his glasses, who has a tic in his right eye, who proudly boasts of the meticulousness of his work and its valuable results, who speaks coldly of the fountains of blood, does not even skimp on grotesque statements: It was my desire to create a place of their own, a land where Jews could live.
He had succeeded, it was called Birkenau.
And it was the place where the Jews they could only die.
That process, celebrated between Gagarin’s mission and the Bay of Pigs, was in truth the historical revelation of the Shoah. It shows that in a dictatorship even a man without qualities, wrapped in the banality of evil, can feel, as a Berlin Jew said about Eichmann: The lord of life and death.
March 31, 2021 (change March 31, 2021 | 21:26)