By Adolf Eichmann

The order for annihilation

At the Nürnberg trial the world was given a new interpretation of justice. Not one Russian, no Israeli, no Englishman or North American was punished in even a single instance because he carried out commands given to him while he was in an official position or under military oath. Why should the gallows or the penitentiary be reserved for Germans only?

But I am getting ahead of my story. It is time to outline my rank and duties in the events which I shall discuss, and to introduce myself:

Name: Adolf Otto Eichmann

Nationality: German

Occupation: Lieutenant Colonel SS (retired)

The area of my section's authority was those Jewish matters within the competence of the Gestapo. Originally this centered on the problems of finding out whether a person was a Gentile or a Jew. If he turned out to be a Jew, we were the administrative authority which deprived him of his German citizenship and confiscated his property. Ultimately we declared him an enemy of the state. After the one-time German Führer gave the order for the physical annihilation of the Jews, our duties shifted. We supervised Gestapo seizures of German Jews and the trains that took them to their final destination. And throughout German-occupied Europe my advisers from my office saw to it that the local governments turned their Jewish citizens over to the German Reich. For all this, of course, I will answer. I was not asleep during the war years.

I began my work with the Jewish question in 1935 in Berlin where I had been transferred after service with one of the early SS training companies. My first assignment there had been extremely dull, sorting what ultimately became a huge card index of Jews, Freemasons, members of various secret societies and other subversive elements in the Reich. In time, however, my superiors allowed me to start work on the solution of the Jewish problem.

I must confess that I did not greet this assignment with the apathy of an ox being led to his stall. On the contrary, I was fascinated with it. My chief, General Reinhard Heydrich, encouraged me to study and acquaint myself even with its theological aspects. In the end I learned to speak Hebrew, although badly.

Some of my early work was with the Nürnberg laws, in force since 1935. Under the formula adopted at that time for "Final Solution of the Jewish Question," the laws were intended to drive Jews out of all phases of German life. My experience in this field was often of a confidential and rather embarrassing nature, as when I established that the Führer's diet cook, who was at one time his mistress, was 1/32 Jewish. My immediate superior, Lieutenant General Heinrich Müller, quickly classified my report as Top Secret.

In 1935 after I had been struggling with Hebrew for two and a half years, I had a chance to take a trip to Palestine. We were most interested in the Palestine emigration and I wanted to find out at what point a Jewish state in Palestine might be set up. Unfortunately Palestine was then in turmoil and the British turned down my application for an extended stay. I did see enough to be very impressed by the what the Jewish colonists were building up their land. I admired their desperate will to live, the more so since I was myself an idealist.

In the years that followed I often said to Jews with whom I had dealings that, had I been a Jew, I would have been a fanatical Zionist. I could not imagine being anything else. In fact, I would have been the most ardent Zionist imaginable.

LIFE,Vol. 49, No. 22, November 28, 1960, pp. 21 - 22

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Electric Zen
Ken Lewis
May 29, 1998
Rev. 1.0