Audio recordings of the architect of the Holocaust boasting about his actions have been made public for the first time, 60 years after his execution for crimes against humanity.
Adolf Eichmann recorded 70 hours of interviews in Argentina, having fled to Buenos Aires after the war. The audio has remained under lock and key and is only being broadcast now thanks to the dogged efforts of a team of Israeli documentary makers.
They were given 15 hours of surviving recordings – the interviewer taped over much of the rest – in which Eichmann, who went to the gallows denying his crimes, admits to his role in what he infamously dubbed his ‘Final Solution.’
‘If we had killed 10.3 million Jews, I would say with satisfaction, ‘Good, we destroyed an enemy,” Eichmann says.
‘Then we would have fulfilled our mission.’
Adolf Eichmann is described as the mastermind behind the Holocaust. He fled to Argentina after the war, and in 1957 recorded a series of interviews about his role in Nazi Germany. The tapes are only being made public now, thanks to two Israeli documentary makers
In another clip, the Nazi officer states: ‘Jews who are fit to work should be sent to work. Jews who are not fit to work must be sent to the Final Solution, period.’
He said that he ‘did not care’ whether those sent to Auschwitz lived or died.
The audio recordings form part of the $3 million documentary The Devil’s Confession, which has gripped Israeli TV viewers.
Many of those watching are relatives of the six million Jews estimated to have been exterminated during the Eichmann-created Holocaust, which killed 11 million in total.
The sheer depth of Eichman’s anti-Semitism was further revealed by a throwaway remark about an insect in the room while he was recording the tapes.
At one point, Eichmann can be heard swatting a fly that was buzzing around the room and describing it as having ‘a Jewish nature.’
After World War Two, Eichmann managed to flee to Argentina, where he was captured by agents from Israel’s Mossad secret service agency in May 1960.
He was subsequently flown back to Israel and put on trial in Jerusalem the following year, before being convicted and hanged in 1962.
During those hearings, Eichmann was filmed claiming he was only a low-ranking functionary, but in the interviews he is open about his scheme.
‘It’s a difficult thing that I am telling you and I know I will be judged for it,’ he admits.
‘But I cannot tell you otherwise. It’s the truth. Why should I deny it?
‘Nothing annoys me more than a person who later denies the things he has done.’
Eichmann is seen in December 1961, during his trial in Jerusalem. He was found guilty of crimes against humanity, war crimes and murder and hanged the following year
Eichmann is pictured during his trial in Israel in 1961
Eichmann was convicted on all 15 counts, and hanged months later
The interviews were carried out in 1957 by a Dutch Nazi sympathizer and propagandist, Willem Sassen – who in later life did PR for Augusto Pinochet, the Chilean dictator, and Paraguay’s Alfredo Stroessner.
Sassen, after Eichmann’s capture, sold part of the transcript to Life magazine, but critics said it was highly sanitized.
The court in Jerusalem had access to 700 pages of transcript, with corrections made by Eichmann’s own hand, but Eichmann claimed that the transcripts distorted his words and the Supreme Court of Israel did not accept them as evidence
During the trial, Eichmann taunted the chief prosecutor, Gideon Hausner, to produce the original tapes, knowing they were protected by Nazi sympathizers.
Hausner was offered the tapes for $20,000 – a huge sum at the time – and considered purchasing them, but the seller insisted they not be brought to Israel until after the trial had concluded.
The original tapes had been sold to a publishing house in Europe, and eventually bought by an anonymous firm which handed them over to the German federal archives in Koblenz, with instructions that they should be used only for academic research.
Kobi Sitt, a grandson of Holocaust survivors and the producer of the new documentary, made a movie for Israeli television about Hausner 20 years ago, and has wanted to access the Eichmann tapes ever since.
Kobi Sitt (left) spent 20 years trying to access the Eichmann tapes. He brought on director Yariv Mozer to work on the resulting documentary
Finally the German archives agreed, believing, he said, that they would be treated respectfully.
‘I’m not afraid of the memory, I’m afraid of the forgetfulness,’ said Sitt.
He said he wanted ‘to provide a tool to breathe life into the memory’ as the generation of survivors dies out.
Yariv Mozer, who Sitt brought on to direct, said their 108-minute film documentary, and their three-episode, 180 minute television series, were vital historic records
‘This is proof against Holocaust deniers and a way to see the true face of Eichmann,’ Mozer told The New York Times.
‘With all modesty, through the series, the young generations will get to know the trial and the ideology behind the Final Solution.’
Adolf Eichmann – The Nazi Architect of the Holocaust
Karl Adolf Eichmann was born in Solingen, Germany in 1906 and lived a ‘rather ordinary’ life as a traveling salesman in Austria for an oil company before World War II, as described by the Encyclopedia Britannica.
Eichmann was the oldest of five children born to a Calvinist Protestant family and attended the same secondary school in Linz, Austria that Adolf Hitler attended 17 years before him, according to The Eichmann Trial by Deborah E. Lipstadt.
Eichmann lost his job with the Vacuum Oil Company AG during the worldwide Great Depression and joined the Nazi Party in April 1932, quickly becoming a member of the Schutzstaffel led by Heinrich Himmler – known as the SS.
By October 1934, Eichmann was stationed at the central office for the Sicherheitsdienst – the intelligence agency of the SS – in Berlin, where he dealt with Jewish affairs. He married his wife Veronika Liebl in 1935, with whom he had four sons.
After becoming regarded as an expert on Jewish affairs, Eichmann and his boss Herbert Hagen travelled to Palestine in 1937 to determine if the Jews in Germany could voluntarily emigrate there, according to Nazi Hunter: The Wiesenthal File by Alan Levy.
Hagen believed that having many Jewish people in Palestine might lead them to creating an independent Jewish country – which the Reich was vehemently against.
After Austria was annexed by Germany, Eichmann was sent to Vienna to organize the emigration of Jews from the city. Nearly 100,000 Jews had left Austria or were smuggled to Palestine and other countries by the time he left Vienna in May 1939, according to Eichmann: His Life and Crimes by David Cesarani.
Eichmann was then ordered to conduct a similar mission in Prague before he was transferred back to Berlin to serve as a member of Himmler’s Reich Security Central Office in 1939.
That year, the Nazi policy changed from voluntary emigration to forced deportation of Jewish people.
Reinhard Heydrich, the founding head of the Sicherheitsdienst, ordered his staff to start collecting Jews in cities in Poland and deport them to reservations in German territories to await deportation.
Heydrich then tapped Eichmann to head the arrangement of all deportations into occupied Poland and the confiscation of Jewish property, according to Holocaust: The Nazi Persecution and Murder of the Jews by Peter Longerich.
Nazi war criminal Adolph Eichmann stands in a protective glass booth flanked by Israeli police during his trial April 21, 1961 in Jerusalem
Heydrich told Eichmann in mid-September 1941 that Hitler ordered all Jews to be killed, and attended the Wannsee Conference of top German leaders in 1942 to plan the extermination of the Jewish people.
Eichmann, now a colonel in the SS, drafted for Heydrich a list of the numbers of Jews in various European countries and prepared statistics on emigration. He later supervised the deportation of Jewish to the death camps at Bełżec, Sobibor, Treblinka, Auschwitz and others.
Though Eichmann did not make policy, he was described as the ‘chief executioner’ of the Holocaust by Encyclopedia Britannica.
He was responsible for collecting information on the Jews in each area, organizing the seizure of their property, and arranging for and scheduling the horrific packed trains that took the Jews to their deaths.
Eichmann was captured by U.S. troops after the war but escaped from a prison camp in 1946 and lived in Germany under a fake name for many years until he made his way to Argentina – where he was ultimately captured by the Mossad.