Adolf Eichmann is labeled as the man who masterminded the actual organisation of the Holocaust. Adolf Eichmann was a SS officer who planned with meticulous detail the sending of Jews and other groups to death camps such as Auschwitz-Birkenau, Treblinka and Sobibor. Such work was to earn Eichmann the title ‘Chief Executioner of the Third Reich’.
After dropping out of college in 1925, Eichmann worked as a travelling salesman for the Vacuum Oil Company. Such work brought him back, once again, to Germany in 1930. While in Germany he joined the ‘Wandervogel’ group – a group that was anti-Semite in its views but seems to have tolerated Jews to be in the movement. In 1932, aged 26, Eichmann moved back to Austria where he joined the Austrian Nazi Party.Adolf Eichmann was born on March 19th, 1906 in Solingen. His father was a reasonably successful businessman who moved the family to Linz in Austria in 1914. After serving in the Austrian army in World War One, Eichmann’s father moved the family back to Germany in 1920.
In April 1932, Eichmann joined the SS Division of the Austrian Nazi Party. In November of the same year he became a full SS member and was appointed as a SS-Mann. For about one year, Eichmann served in Salzburg.
When Hitler came to power in January 1933, Eichmann returned to Germany and applied to join the German SS full time. His application was accepted and in November 1933, Eichmann was appointed to the administrative staff at Dachau Concentration Camp, just outside of Munich.
In 1934, Eichmann applied to join the fear Security Police (Sicherheitspolizei) and his transfer was accepted in November 1934. He worked in the SD’s headquarters in Berlin. His work as an administrator was quickly recognised and in 1937, he was commissioned as an SS-Untersturmführer.
After working in Austria after the Anschluss in 1938, Eichmann was selected by senior SS officers to create the Central Office for Jewish Administration in Austria, which was an organisation that was introduced to expel/deport Jews from Austria after they had left their property and wealth to the Third Reich. Once again, Eichmann demonstrated his organisational skills. It was at this time that Eichmann made a study of Judaism which led to him formulating extreme anti-Semite beliefs.
At the start of the war in 1939, Eichmann worked in the Office for Jewish Emigration. He had made a visit toPalestine in 1937 and developed contacts in the Zionist movement which he used to speed up the deportation of Jews from Nazi controlled Europe. By late 1939, Eichmann’s work covered the whole of Nazi-occupied Europe and in 1940, he was transferred to the Gestapo.
In 1941, Eichmann had been promoted to Obersturmbannführer and he was appointed the commander of the Gestapo’s Jewish Division of the Religions Department. In January 1942, Eichmann attended the infamous Wannsee Conference at the personal invitation of Reinhard Heydrich. Eichmann took the minutes at this meeting. It was at the Wannsee meeting that the ‘Final Solution’ was decided on and Eichmann was appointed “Transportation Administrator”. It was to be Eichmann’s job to ensure that the rail transportation was available to send the Jews and other groups to the expanding death camps in Poland. He performed his task with zeal and it is reported that on occasions Eichmann was heard to boast that he had sent 5 million Jews to their deaths as a result of the efficiency of the rail network he controlled.
In 1944, Eichmann was sent to Hungary after the Nazis had occupied the country. Hungary’s proximity to Auschwitz-Birkenau mean that their fate was effectively sealed once Eichmann arrived to take up his new task. As many as 400,000 Hungarian Jews were sent to Auschwitz.
In 1945, with the war turning against Nazi Germany, Eichmann did what he could to protect himself. In 1944, he had been commissioned in the Waffen-SS as a reserve officer. This meant he could be called to the eastern front at any time. In 1945, Eichmann fled Hungary and went to Austria and went into hiding. Although he was arrested by the Americans, he gave them a false name and was released as a demobilised German soldier. In 1947, Eichmann managed to leave Germany and went to live in South America.
In 1947, Eichmann left Europe as ‘Ricardo Clement’ and flew to Buenos Aires in Argentina. He spent a number of years doing various jobs ranging from water engineer to rabbit farmer.
In 1960, the Israeli Secret Service (Mossad) learned that ‘Ricardo Clement’ was Adolf Eichmann. On May 21st, 1960, Eichmann was brought to Israel as part of a covert kidnapping operation by Mossad. He stood trial in Israel for crimes against humanity, amongst other charges.
Eichmann’s trial started on February 11th, 1961. As well as crimes against humanity, Eichmann was charged with crimes against the Jewish people. The trial was broadcast live throughout the world. Eichmann’s defence was that he had only been following orders from a higher authority. The three judges at the trial did not accept this and he was found guilty on all charges. On December 15th, 1961, Eichmann was sentenced to death and he was hanged a few minutes after midnight on June 1st, 1962. His body was cremated and his ashes were scattered at sea.