1. Why did Eichmann agree to be extradited to Israel to stand trial?
2. Did Eichmann believe he had a reasonable chance of being found innocent by the Court?
3. Once in Israel, why did Eichmann cooperate in the judicial process?
4. Once the trial was underway and Eichmann realized that the Court was not likely to be sympathetic to his plight, why did he continue to cooperate?
5. Why did the United Nations vote to accept Israel’s right to keep Eichmann and put him on trial?
6. How might people with various backgrounds likely have viewed this trial?
- –A Holocaust survivor who immigrated to Israel in 1946.
- –A 16-year-old Israel high school student who was born in Israel.
- –An Israeli high government official who was born in Israel.
- –A Jew from the United States.
- –A non-Jew from the United States.
- –A U.S. Army liberator of the death camps.
- –a French collaborator of the Nazis.
- –A German S.S. officer still in hiding.
7. Was this a “show trial” — that is an activity designed more for public relations than to obtain justice? Were the results of the trial successful from either a criminal justice standpoint or a public relations standpoint?
8. Is there any value in continuing to search for Nazi war criminals and bringing them to trial, when most are feeble old men who are unlikely to cause any more harm to anyone?
9. If you had been a teacher in pre-war Germany and Adolf Eichmann had been in your class, what types of lessons/courses would you feel might have been effective in order to have affected how he participated in mass murder?
10. Was Eichmann convincing in his argument that he was dispassionately just”following orders”? Had this argument been accepted, would Eichmann have been found not guilty? What was the defense strategy, and what were alternative strategies? Was there any possibility of Eichmann being found “not guilty”?
11. Were these three judges capable of presiding over a fair trial? Why did the Israeli government seek to try Eichmann themselves rather than turn him over toan international court?
12. How would the trial have turned out had Eichmann been trieda t Nuremberg?
13. Discuss the sentence Eichmann received. Would there have been any value in having him sentenced to life imprisonment?
14. Compare and contrast the differences between the values which we feel are important to those who live in a democracy and those values which were important to Eichmann and his fellow Nazis.
15. What were some of the pros and cons relating to the Israel Court agreeing to have the entire trial televised?
16. What were the pros and cons of all three of the judges being Jews who were natives of Germany?
17. Where in the world is genocide occurring today? What is thew orld community doing to stop it and bring the perpetrators to justice?
18. Why, after all of this public education concerning the Holocaust, does genocide recur? What strategies can you devise to minimize outbreaks of genocide?
19. Could the United States ever become a left-wing or right-wing dictatorship? Why or why not? If it did, what would be the principal sources of resistance?
20. Why did the Nazis keep such detailed records of their genocide?
21. After the end of the war, the U.S. government encouraged the immigration of hundreds of German scientists, many with Nazi backgrounds and questionable activities during the war, to the United States. Discuss whether this was appropriate.
22. Was the kidnapping of Adolf Eichmann by the Israel government legal? Was it justified? What would have happened if the Israel government had provided information to the Argentina government about Eichmann and requested his extradition to Israel? What risks did Israel take in capturing Eichmann?
23. Today’s newspapers are filled with a controversy concerning the assets of Holocaust victims which found their way into Swiss banks, and the efforts of the Jewish community to return those assets to their rightful owners. Does Switzerland bear responsibility for relinquishing these assets after more than 50 years? Does the U.S. government have the responsibility for returning land to Native Americans which may have been illegally confiscated three hundred years ago?
24. Had Eichmann not had such an obsession with killing Jews,how effective could he have been in saving Jews from extermination?
by Gary Grobman
copyright © 1997 Gary M. Grobman
Note: Material in all capital letters is copyrighted by other individuals/organizations.
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Documentary Info | The Trial ]
Eichmann's Trial in Jerusalem
Shaping an Awareness of the Holocaust in Israeli and World Public Opinion
In the annals of public awareness of the Holocaust period, nothing rivals the Eichmann trial as a milestone and turning point, whose impact is evident to this day. The trial introduced the Holocaust into the historical, educational, legal and cultural discourse, not merely in Israel and the Jewish world, but on the consciousness of all peoples of the world. Sixteen years after the end of the Holocaust, it focused attention upon the account of the suffering and torment of the Jewish people, as recounted to the judges. Its powerful, and one could claim, revolutionary, consequences continue right up to the present day.
The trial set the first milestone of a years' long process, an ongoing turnabout in shaping an awareness of the Holocaust in Israeli and world public opinion. The trial broke down the reluctance of many Israelis and Jews to approach the Holocaust, due to the powerful impression left by the personal testimonies of over a hundred witnesses who were called upon to recount their experiences during the Holocaust. Echoes of the trial finally attracted attention and awareness to the Holocaust survivors living among us, who had hesitated prior to the trial, to tell their personal stories, owing to a reluctance and an absence of openness among many native-born Israelis.
The trial brought about a significant change among Israeli youth in their attitude to the Holocaust. For them and other young Jews, the Holocaust was a remote and abstract issue. The trial was a significant step in conveying the Holocaust to Israeli and Jewish students, a process that reached fruition in the eighties and nineties, in the form of school delegations to Poland; to the sites of the former ghettoes and camps; and with youngsters writing essays about their own roots. As a result of the trial, the Holocaust is now perceived as an integral part of their identity as Israelis and as Jews.
The Eichmann trial also served as a catalyst for promoting other important trials of German Nazis. The most significant of these was the trial of the Auschwitz criminals, launched in 1963 in Frankfurt am Main. The consequence was a growing nervousness among other fugitive criminals, principally in South America, obliging them to adopt heightened precautions. In Paraguay in 1965, following the capture of Eichmann, Mossad assassinated Herbert Cukors who had overseen the annihilation of the Jews of Latvia. Another outcome of the trial was the spotlight directed upon former Nazi criminals who were playing an active role in administration and culture in post-war Germany. The storm surrounding Hans Globke and Kanzler Konrad Adenauer, which raged in Israel and the Western world, can be attributed to this moral and legal aspect, and likewise, the campaign Israel waged against German scientists operating in the military field in Egypt.
The trial gave rise to a rich literature. To date, some 600 works of various categories have been published in numerous languages. In addition, 89 documentary films and 4 feature films have been produced, and more are in the works. Renowned poets and writers have written about the trial, including: Eli Wiesel, Primo Levi, Nathan Alterman, and Haim Gouri. The trial sparked intellectual controversy among scholars in Israel and worldwide, the best known being the debate on the journalistic reports of political philosopher Hannah Arendt.The trial revolutionized the status and importance of Yad Vashem as the institution that provided the groundwork of research for the team preparing the trial. Ever since the trial, Yad Vashem has progressively achieved a pivotal position as the prime national and international location for Holocaust research and commemoration. The bringing together of documents and photographs, alongside the witnesses and testimonies the institution supplied to the prosecution, has secured its place as the most comprehensive resource on the Holocaust.
The online exhibition was made possible through the generous support of:
The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany works to secure compensation and restitution for survivors of the Holocaust.
Since 1951, the Claims Conference - working in partnership with the State of Israel - has negotiated for and distributed payments from Germany, Austria, other governments, and certain industry; recovered unclaimed German Jewish property; and funded programs to assist the neediest Jewish victims of Nazism.