The Eichmann Trial

Masterful writing and analysis with 50 years of hindsight grabs from the start as author Deborah E. Lipstadt recounts Adolf Eichmann’s capture in Argentina, the trial and, finally, the impact the proceedings generated worldwide.

The prosecution’s case, led by Israeli attorney general Gideon Hausner, set out to prove Eichmann’s claim of “just obeying orders” as a mid-level pencil pusher was a lie, using documentation, the testimony of interrogators, Eichmann’s own undeniable written recollections, and quite effectively, survivors’ testimony (most of whom never saw or even knew who Eichmann was).

Robert Servatius, a defense attorney previously at the Nuremberg Trials, represented Eichmann by objecting to the court’s jurisdiction, claiming no direct link to many atrocities, and oddly, asking the court “not to pardon and to forget” but to “heal wounds” by handing down a judgment that would erase the “blemish” caused by Israel’s abduction of Eichmann in Argentina.

Lipstadt’s strong suit is her analysis of the trial’s influence on concepts we think commonplace today that were not in 1961. The “We Must Never Forget” testimony of the survivors and the term “Holocaust” was cemented into worldwide consciousness, and the acceptance of universal jurisdiction for genocide provided direction to a world wrestling with meting out justice for barbaric acts of inhumanity.