Nazi Begged for Life After Helping Kill Millions
Israel released the handwritten letter by the Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann in which he denies guilt. Continue reading →
A letter written by Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann in which he requests clemency two days before his execution has been released in Israel.
Eichmann, who was executed in 1962 for his role in the Holocaust, wrote the letter to then-Israeli President Yitzhak Ben-Zvi following his war crimes trial.
The letter was placed on display Wednesday during a ceremony at the residence of Israeli President Reuven Rivlin marking International Holocaust Remembrance day. Eichmann's letter forms part of an exhibition commemorating the Eichmann trial.
In the letter Eichmann refused to admit any guilt for his part in the Holocaust, Haaretz reports. "In their evaluation of my personality, the judges have made a significant error, since they cannot put themselves in the time and situation I was in during the war years," he wrote.
"I never served at a rank so high that it could have been involved in such decisive and independent powers. I never gave any order in my own name, but rather always acted ‘on orders,'" he added.
Eichmann, an SS lieutenant colonel and one of the architects of the Holocaust, argues in the letter that he was "not a responsible leader" but was "forced to serve as a mere instrument in the hands of the leaders."
Haaretz reports that, although knowledge of Eichmann's clemency plea was known, the letter, which is written in German and translated into Hebrew, was only recovered recently during a digital archiving process.
Letters from Eichmann's wife and brothers also are on display as part of the exhibit.
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Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann requested clemency in a letter before his execution in 1962.
Waiting For Justice The Holocaust, an intensely organized, systematic genocide, resulted in the brutal massacre of millions during World War II -- and remains a horrific, dark time in world history. There is still enormous public outcry for the prosecution of Nazi war criminals -- at least for those who are still alive. We've tracked down the last remaining Nazi war criminals, some are on trial, some are just suspected, others have died while under investigation.
Johann "Hans" Breyer, an 89-year-old Philadelphia man, was ordered held without bail Wednesday on a German arrest warrant charging him with aiding and abetting the killing of 216,000 Jewish men, women and children while he was a guard at the Auschwitz death camp. The retired toolmaker has admitted he served as a guard at Auschwitz during World War II but said he was posted outside the facility and had nothing to do with the killing of some 1.5 million Jews that happened inside the camp. "I didn't kill anybody, I didn't rape anybody -- and I don't even have a traffic ticket here," he told the Associated Press. "I didn't do anything wrong." Breyer's attorney, Dennis Boyle, argued in federal court Wednesday that his client is too frail to be detained. But prosecutors said the detention center he's being taken to is equipped to take care of him.
John Demjanjuk, a retired Ohio autoworker, was convicted of being a low-ranking guard at the Sobibor death camp, but his 35-year fight on three continents to clear his name had not yet ended when he died March 17, 2012 at age 91. Demjanjuk, one of the best-known faces of Nazi prosecutions, was the lowest-ranking person to go on trial for World War II Nazi war crimes to date. He was charged with being an accessory to the murders of 27,900 people while serving as a guard at the Sobibor death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland. Throughout the 35-year-long legal battle, Demjanjuk claimed he was a captured Soviet soldier and held as a Nazi prisoner of war. German prosecutors argued he volunteered to serve in the German SS and was stationed at Sobibor.
Polish-born Jakiw Palij, who migrated to New York City after World War II, was stripped of his American citizenship in July 2009. Federal prosecutors in the United States accuse him of serving at the Trawniki death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland in 1943, when some 6,000 Jews were killed. He is also charged with serving at nearby secret service training camps. The 92-year-old claims he never went into any concentration camps, nor took part in any killings, but says he was forced to serve as a guard on a troop base under penalty of death. "I am not SS. I have nothing to do with SS," he told the NY Post. There are regular demonstrations in front of Palij's house in Queens, NY. Since being stripped of his U.S. citizenship, Palij has been unable to find a country willing to accept him.
Helmut Oberlander, 89, was stripped of his Canadian citizenship in December 2012. Captured Nazi documents showed that Oberlander served in a German SS mobile killing unit. His unit was responsible for murdering tens of thousands of Jewish and other civilians in Nazi-occupied Ukraine and former Soviet territories. Oberlander maintains he served only as a translator, never participated in any killings and was threatened with death if he attempted to leave.
Former SS sergeant Adolf Storms lived in Germany unnoticed for almost 60 years before an Austrian university student found his name while researching a Holocaust-related massacre. The 90-year-old retiree died July 6, 2010 after being charged with 58 counts of murder for the killings near the Austrian village of Deutsch Schuetzen. Storms was also accused of shooting a Jew who could no longer walk during a forced march in Austria from Deutsch Schuetzen to the village of Hartberg -- a distance of over 35 miles. German courts were still deciding whether there was enough evidence to bring the case to trial when Storms died.
Heinrich Boere was charged with murdering three Dutch civilians in 1944. He died in a prison hospital in December 2013. Boere was on the list of most-wanted Nazi war criminals until his arrest and conviction in 2010 on three counts of murder. He was serving a life sentence. At the end of World War II, the SS officer fled the Netherlands and lived in Germany, where he dodged several convictions. In 1949, a court in Amsterdam convicted and sentenced him to death (it was later commuted to life in prison). An attempt to extradite Boere to the Netherlands failed in 1983, when it was thought he could have German citizenship (Germany didn't extradite its citizens at the time). In 2007, another German court ruled that Boere shouldn't have to serve his Dutch sentence in a German jail. Finally, the Central Office for the Investigation of Nazi Crimes picked up the case in 2009 and succeeded in pushing it to trial. He was convicted a year later.
Josias Kumpf After admitting he took part in two massacres as a Nazi concentration camp guard, 83-year-old Josias Kumpf was deported to Austria from his home in Wisconsin in March 2009. Kumpf admitted that he participated in Aktion Erntefest -- Operation Harvest Festival -- where 42,000 Jews were killed at three Nazi camps in eastern Poland in two days. He also admitted to being an assassin during the mass shootings at the Trawniki Labor Camp, where some 8,000 people were killed in pits. He died in 2011.