Photo Credit: WikiCommons
Adolf Eichmann during his trial in Israel. Eichmann is the only person to have been executed under Israel’s death penalty.

Two days prior to his execution by hanging, Nazi mass murderer Adolf Eichman sent a request for clemency to Israeli president Yitzhak Ben Tzvi, after having been found guilty on 15 counts including crimes against the Jewish nation and against humanity, and war crimes. Eichman, the manager of the entire Nazi extermination industrial complex, begged the Jews for mercy, reveal documents that are being released by the president’s office on Wednesday, January 27, in honor of International Holocaust Day. The documents include Eichman’s plea for clemency, the notes used by prosecutor Gideon Hausner for his famous summation, “With me stand here six million prosecutors,” and President Ben Tzvi’s letter denying the clemency request. They were discovered during a project to digitize the clemency request files in the archive of the legal department of the presidential palace.

Eichman’s appeal for clemency

“Under the impression of the unheard of atrocities I witnessed, I immediately requested to be transferred to a different post,” Eichman wrote the president of the Jewish State. Not immediately, and not for the reasons the arch-murderer suggested. In July 1944, resentful that Kurt Becher and others were becoming involved in the Jewish final solution project and robbing him of the limelight, and angered by Himmler’s suspension of deportations to the death camps because of the war effort, protested by requesting reassignment.


“Also, I willingly revealed during my police interrogation atrocities which had not been known until then, to help set the unqualified record straight. I declare once again, as I’ve done in court: I loath as the greatest crimes the atrocities committed against the Jews,” Eichman wrote the Jewish president.

In short, in his plea Eichman invented the notion of his role as a small cog in a big machine, practically forced by his superiors to carry out those atrocities he so loathed.

In reality, SS-Obersturmbannführer (lieutenant colonel) Adolf Eichmann was one of the major organizers of the Holocaust. He was charged by SS-Obergruppenführer (lieutenant-general) Reinhard Heydrich with facilitating and managing the logistics of the mass deportation of Jews to ghettos and to extermination camps in German-occupied Eastern Europe during World War II.

On July 31, 1941, Hermann Göring gave Heydrich written authorization to prepare and submit a plan for a “total solution of the Jewish question” in all territories under German control and to co-ordinate the participation of all involved government organizations.

Eichmann stated at his interrogations that Heydrich told him in mid-September that Hitler had ordered that all Jews in German-controlled Europe were to be killed. Hitler decided that the Jews of Europe were to be exterminated immediately rather than after the war, which could last several more years.

To coordinate the proposed genocide, Heydrich hosted the Wannsee Conference, which brought together administrative leaders of the Nazi regime on January 20, 1942. In preparation for the conference, Eichmann drafted for Heydrich a list of the numbers of Jews in various European countries and prepared statistics on emigration. Eichmann attended the conference and prepared the official distributed record of the meeting. Heydrich specified that Eichmann would act as his liaison with the departments involved. Under Eichmann’s supervision, large-scale deportations began almost immediately to extermination camps at Bełżec, Sobibor, and Treblinka.

President Ben Tzvi’s letter rejecting Eichman’s appeal

The mass murderer’s wife, Vera Eichman, appealed in a telegram to Ben Tzvi, begging him to spare her husband’s life as a wife and mother of four children. Eichman’s five brothers told the president that “a gesture of charity would emphasize the spiritual greatness of the Jewish people and be beneficial in promoting friendship among nations and races.”

Ben Tzvi then wrote Justice Minister Dr. Dov Yosef that “after weighing the clemency request in the case of Adolf Eichman and after considering all the material before me, I reached the conclusion that there would be no justification to award Adolf Eichman clemency nor to commute the sentence imposed on him by the Jerusalem District Court on 12/15/61, which was confirmed by the Supreme Court on 5/29/62. I therefore inform you that I decided to reject the appeals and not use in this case my authority to issue a clemency or to commute the sentence.”


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