The Men Who Enjoy Killing Jews
The Men Who Enjoy Killing Jews

There is no greater temptation than explaining a mass murderer through his childhood’s ghosts. 

Palestinian terrorists slit the throats of the Fogels till the last baby they find? It is because of the checkpoints around Nablus.

Mohammed Deif built the tunnels of death in southern Israel? It is because of the “occupation”.

Of Adolf Eichmann it has been said that he was an unhappy child, an unfriendly and lonely student, a sexually inhibited boy frustrated by the financial crisis of his father.

For fifty years, since Colonel Eichmann was hanged by the Israelis and his ashes  scattered in the Mediterranean, the architect of the Holocaust has been portrayed as a gray bureaucrat, an ordinary human being, a faceless wheel of a larger project, driven by cowardice, desire for social advancement and bourgeois moral myopia.

Now a book by the German scholar Bettina Stangneth, “Eichmann Before Jerusalem”, tells us the truth.

“If 10.3 million of these enemies had been killed – Eichmann said of the Jews – then we would have fulfilled our duty. We could have said: ‘We destroyed an enemy’”.

“We could have done more”, Eichmann went on to say after the war. “I was an idealist, I was part of the thinking process”.
This is not the same Eichmann who is “incapable of thinking” in Hannah Arendt’s words.

“We could have done more”, Eichmann went on to say after the war. “I was an idealist, I was part of the thinking process”.

Bettina Stangneth discovered a letter of 1956 where Eichmann asked then Chancellor of West Germany, Konrad Adenauer, to return to his fatherland claiming do deserve it because of what he did to the Jews.

We have two images of Adolf Eichmann. The first, dating back to 1942, has been reproduced millions of times. The Chief of the Jewish Affairs office at the Gestapo has the cap and the dead head of the SS, he looks arrogant, haughty, his smile looks more like a sneer. Twenty years later, Eichmann is a man without a face, accommodating and condescending, sitting behind the crystal slabs. Eichmann here resembled those Indian fakirs covered with ashes, sitting along the banks of the Ganges at Benares.

During the war, while the extermination factories accumulated his Jewish victims, Eichmann collected media clippings on his “performance”. He directed the deportations of all Jewish children from France. One of his directives was a sentence of death to the French Jews: “If you want to solve once and for all the Jewish problem for no reason we must withdraw from the line previously established in areas occupied by the Italians”.

After Reinhard Heydrich’s assassination, the town of Lidice, in Czechoslovakia, was razed and its inhabitants exterminated. The children of Lidice were assigned to one of Eichmann’s lieutenants, Hermann Krumey. Seven of these children were deemed suitable for “Germanization”. Eichmann then ordered the “special treatment” for the others.

“If at that time I could have predicted the horrors to which the German people would be subjected, then I would have obeyed orders not only with discipline, but with enthusiasm”, Eichmann said. “When I came to the conclusion that to do to the Jews what we did was necessary, I worked with all the fanaticism [I could]”.

He was always there, where there were Jews to be deported: Skopje, Macedonia 1943; Ioannina, Greece 1944; Westerbork, Netherlands 1943, and Budapest, Hungary 1944.

In many cases Eichmann ignored orders and transgressed the general instructions given towards the end of 1944 by Heinrich Himmler. Eichmann wanted all the Jews. For him, Jews had no right to exist.

Bettina Stangneth explains that, unlike other Nazis, Eichmann was not interested in luxury. His greed was for the numbers of the dead. Eichmann controlled the accounts of his victims and could have taken advantage of it, as did many other Nazi leaders. He never did.

“To be honest, I regret nothing”, Eichmann confessed in the Argentinian audio recordings made before his capture. “I will leap into my grave laughing because the feeling that I have five million human beings on my conscience is for me a source of extraordinary satisfaction”.

Eichmann’ story shows that anti-Semitism charms and seduces; that it can be a form of “idealism”; that good can be banal, but evil never; that there are men who enjoy killing Jews. 

That they still are among us.  

They don't wear glasses, they don't read Goethe, they have a swarthier complexion. But they are just like Adolf Eichmann.