Adolf Eichmann

Adolf Eichmann

SS-Obersturmbannführer

Otto Adolf Eichmann

(19 March 1906 – 01 June 1962)

Adolf Eichmann was a huge figurehead when it came to deportations of Jews from the greater Reich. He was born in Germany, but he moved to Austria as a child when his father got a job there.  In 1932, a friend of Eichmann’s recommended he join the Nazi party and the SS paramilitary group.  He quickly ascended the ranks of the party and, after the German annexation of Austria, Eichmann organized a Central Office for Jewish Emigration in Vienna.  This office is responsible for the forced emigration of 110,000 Viennese Jews from its inception until 1939 when the war started and immigration became very difficult.  The success of the Viennese office was noted by Nazi higher-ups, who later used it as an example for the entire forced emigration program in the Greater Reich. In September of 1939 Eichmann jumped from his department and landed at the Gestapo where he continued to be used for his expertise in coordinating forced emigration.  This time, however, the places that his victims were emigrating to were concentration camps. It is estimated that Eichmann used his position to facilitate the deportations of over 1.5 million Jews.

Eichmann was present at the Wannsee conference in 1942. He and his staff organized the destruction and deportation of over 500,000 Jews from Slovakia, the Netherlands, France, and Belgium. In 1943 and 1944, they planned the deportation of the Jews of Greece, northern Italy, and Hungary.  The only instance of Eichmann’s direct involvement in deportations was in Hungary, where he directly negotiated and oversaw the expulsion of their 450,000+ person Jewish community. 

At war’s end, Eichmann found himself in U.S. custody, but escaped in 1946. Catholic church officials assisted with his relocation to Argentina, where he lived comfortably until he was abducted by Israeli intelligence agents in 1960.  He would then stand trial in Israel in what would become an infamous chapter in post-Holocaust studies that reignited interest in the Holocaust.  He was hung in Ramla, Israel in 1962 – the only time Israel has ever invoked capital punishment.