born March 3, 1906, in Solingen, Germany; hanged on June 1, 1962, in the prison of Ramle, Israel
As the head of the Section of the Reichssicherheitshauptamt (RSHA) or Reich Main Security Office responsible for the dispossession and deportation of Jews, SS Obersturmbannführer (Lt. Col.) Adolf Eichmann was one of the main perpetrators of the Holocaust and the murder of approximately 6 million people of Jewish descent. After having successfully established the Central Office for Jewish Emigration in Vienna which conducted the expulsion of Jews from Germany and the annexed Austria, Eichmann was appointed head of the Central Reich Office for Jewish Emigration that had been established by Reinhard Heydrich in Berlin. In this capacity he was instrumental in planning and implementing the forced relocation of the Jewish population to the General Government for the Occupied Polish Areas. Next Eichmann took over the Gestapo Section IV B4 of the RSHA (Jewish and Evacuation Affairs), thereby becoming the central figure in the management and supervision of the logistics of the mass deportation of more than four million Jews from Germany and all its occupied territories to the extermination camps.
Simon Wiesenthal began looking for this “technocrat of death” immediately after the war. Having escaped from the Oberdachstetten POW camp, Eichmann at first lingered in the remote Ausseerland area of Austria. Wiesenthal collected testimonies from witnesses and attempted to get information about his whereabouts through contacts with former acquaintances of Eichman and through the surveillance of Eichmann’s wife in Altaussee. His most significant contribution to Eichmann’s eventual capture was keeping him on the “wanted lists” by preventing the court issuance of an official declaration of death, which his wife had applied for in 1947.
In 1951, Wiesenthal learned that the former head of the Central Office for Jewish Emigration had moved to South America, presumably with the help of German-Catholic circles in the Vatican surrounding Catholic Bishop Alois Hudal, along the so-called Ratline. During a conversation with a fellow stamp collector a few years later, it came out that Eichmann was living in the vicinity of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Wiesenthal passed on this information, together with a comprehensive report about his investigations, to the Israeli Consul in Vienna and to the president of the World Jewish Congress,
Early in 1960, Eichmann’s father died. Wiesenthal had the mourners at the funeral photographed just in case Adolf Eichmann was among them. When studying the photos, he recognized a remarkable resemblance between Adolf and his brother Otto, and it was with the help of this picture that the SS man Eichmann, who was living under a false name in Argentina, could be identified. On May 11, 1960, Eichmann was captured by the Israeli secret service and brought to Israel to stand trial. The trial held before the Jerusalem court, which Wiesenthal attended, ended on December 15, 1961, with a verdict of guilty and the death sentence. He was executed on June 1, 1962.
Wiesenthal’s role in the search for Eichmann was later often challenged both by the head of the Mossad and by Jewish circles in the United States. In response, Richard A. Stein, the President of theDutch Stichting Bestrijding Antisemitisme (STIBA), compiled documentary material about the role of Wiesenthal in the Eichmann case, which was published in 1992 in a volume titled Documents Against Words.