"In His OwnWords"
"Iam not the monster that
I am made out to be.I am the victim of an error ofjudgment. I was assaulted in Buenos Aires, tied to a bed for a week and thendrugged by injections in my arms and brought to the airport in Buenos Aires;from there I was flown out of Argentina. This can quite obviously only beexplained by the fact that I was considered to be the person who was responsiblefor everything."
Eichmann's Final Plea:
Presiding Judge: Adolf Eichmann, you have heard yourCounsel's statement on the penalty. Do you wish to add anything concerning thepenalty which the Court should impose on you for the crimes of which you havebeen found guilty?
Accused: I have heard the Court's severe verdict ofguilty. I see myself disappointed in my hopes for justice. I cannot recognizethe verdict of guilty. I understand the demand for atonement for the crimeswhich were perpetrated against the Jews. The witnesses' statements here in theCourt made my limbs go numb once again, just as they went numb when once, actingon orders, I had to look at the atrocities. It was my misfortune to becomeentangled in these atrocities. But these misdeeds did not happen according tomy wishes. It was not my wish to slay people. The guilt for the mass murder issolely that of the political leaders.
I did try to leave my position, toleave for the front, for honest battle. But I was held fast in those darkduties. Once again I would stress that I am guilty of having been obedient,having subordinated myself to my official duties and the obligations of warservice and my oath of allegiance and my oath of office, and in addition, oncethe war started, there was also martial law.
This obedience was not easy. And again, anyone who has to give orders and has to obey orders knows what onecan demand of people. I did not persecute Jews with avidity and passion. Thatis what the government did. Nor could the persecution be carried out other thanby a government. But I never... I accuse the leaders of abusing my obedience. At that time obedience was demanded, just as in the future it will also bedemanded of the subordinate. Obedience is commended as a virtue.
May Itherefore ask that consideration be given to the fact that I obeyed, and notwhom I obeyed.
I have already said that the top echelons, to which I didnot belong, gave the orders, and they rightly, in my opinion, deservedpunishment for the atrocities which were perpetrated on the victims on theirorders. But the subordinates are now also victims. I am one of such victims. This cannot be ignored. It is said that I could and should have refused to beobedient. That is a consideration with hindsight. Under the circumstances thenprevailing such an attitude was not possible. Nor did anyone behave in thisfashion. From my experience I know that the possibility, which was alleged onlyafter the War, of opposing orders is a self-protective fairy tale. Anindividual could secretly slip away. But I was not one of those who thoughtthat permissible.
It is a major error to believe that I belonged to thefanatics of the persecution of the Jews. In the entire post-War period I havebeen tormented and incensed that all the guilt has been shifted from mysuperiors and others onto me. I did not in fact make any statements which couldhave shown my fanaticism, and no blood guilt lies on me. In this connection thewitnesses have told a great falsehood. The Court's putting together ofstatements and documents initially makes a very convincing impression, but it isa deceptive one. I shall try to clarify these errors before the next legalinstance.
Nobody came to me and remonstrated with me because of myofficial activities. Even the witness Pastor Grüber does not claim this. He came to me and only wanted relaxations to be granted, without criticizing myofficial activities themselves. He confirmed here in Court that I did notreject him, but simply stated to him that I had to obtain my superiors'decision, that I myself could not take a decision.
Dr. Lösener, theministerial director who was referred to in the proceedings, was the expert incharge of Jewish affairs in the Reich Ministry of the Interior. He has died. In his written statement of justification, which has appeared only recently, headmitted that he knew of the atrocities and that he also informed his superiorsaccordingly. It must be assumed that everyone in the Ministry of the Interiorwas thus made aware of what was going on. But no one opposed my superiors. Ministerial Director Lösener continued silently in tacit opposition andserved his Führer as a well-paid judge in the Reich Administrative Court. That is the form that the courage of one's convictions takes in the case of aprominent person. In the report he wrote in 1950, Lösener expresses viewsabout me, according to which I am supposed to have been a primary figure in thepersecution of the Jews. But these are simply emotional outbursts, without anyindication of facts in which these speculations are rooted. The same applies toother witnesses. I was asked by the judges whether I wished to make anadmission of guilt, like the Commandant of Auschwitz, Höss, and theGovernor General of Poland, Frank. These two had every reason to make such anadmission of guilt: Frank, as the person who gave the orders, admitted his guiltfor the orders which he gave, and balked at delegating to inferiors. Hösswas the one who actually carried out the mass killings.
My position isdifferent. I never had the power and the responsibility of a giver of orders. I never carried out killings, as Höss did. If I had received the order tocarry out these killings, I would not have escaped by using a trumped uppretext; during my interrogation I already stated: Since because of thecompulsion exerted by an order there was no way out, I would have put a bulletthrough my brain in order to solve the conflict between conscience andduty.
The Court believes that my current attitude is a result of being ontrial and is a fabrication. A whole list of items was given which appear toconfirm this. But the contradictions which exist were caused by the fact that,at the beginning of my interrogation by the police, naturally I could notremember details with precision. It was too much, what I had experienced inrecent years. Nor did I resist; this is shown by the police record which isover 3,500 pages long. What I said was the first unrestrained attempt toprovide assistance in shedding light on things. Mistakes did occur in this, butI had to be allowed to correct them. After sixteen or twenty years have lapsed,I cannot be reproached with such mistakes, nor should my willingness to provideassistance be considered as a subterfuge and a lie.
My life's principle,which I was taught very early on, was to desire and to strive to achieve ethicalvalues. From a particular moment on, however, I was prevented by the State fromliving according to this principle. I had to switch from the unity of ethics toone of multiple morals. I had to yield to the inversion of values which wasprescribed by the State. I had to engage in introspective examination in areaswhich concern my inner self alone. In this introspective examination I have toignore my sense of guiltlessness in the legal sense. And I would now ask theJewish People on a personal level for forgiveness, and I would admit that I amoverwhelmed by shame when I think about the evil committed against the Jews andthe acts that were perpetrated against them. But in the light of the reasoningof the Judgment this would probably only be interpreted as hypocrisy.
Iam not the monster that I am made out to be. I am the victim of an error ofjudgment. I was assaulted in Buenos Aires, tied to a bed for a week and thendrugged by injections in my arms and brought to the airport in Buenos Aires;from there I was flown out of Argentina. This can quite obviously only beexplained by the fact that I was considered to be the person who was responsiblefor everything. The reason for this lies in the fact that the NationalSocialists of the time and others have spread untruths about me. They wanted toexonerate themselves at my expense, or to create confusion for reasons unknownto me. Oddly enough, some of the press coverage also reproduced the same untruedescriptions in an extremely exaggerated fashion over fifteen years in a mostsuggestive manner. This is the cause of the false inference. This is thereason why l am here. I thank my Counsel, who has insisted on my rights. I amutterly convinced that I must suffer here for others. I must bear what fateimposes on me.
Presiding Judge: We shall announce the sentence on Friday,the day after tomorrow, at 9 o'clock.