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Forty-six years after Adolf Eichmann was brought to justice for his part in the murder of six million Jews, several witnesses from the Nazi leader's trial and others who were involved reunited Sunday evening to remember their efforts.
The event took place at the Massuah Institute for the Study of the Holocaust at Kibbutz Tel Yitzhak near Netanya, which houses the only museum of the Eichmann trial, including an interactive recreation of the courtroom.
Of the 110 people who testified at Eichmann's trial, only 10 are alive; five participated in the ceremony.
Participated included Eichmann prosecutor and former Supreme Court justice Gavriel Bach. He spoke with The Jerusalem Post before the ceremony about Israel's obligation to prevent genocide around the world.
"I think one of the results of the Eichmann trial is that a deterrent effect was achieved. After the trial was broadcast into homes throughout the world, no one was willing to stand in the way of prosecuting the Nazis who had committed these crimes against humanity during the Holocaust," Bach told the Post from his home in Jerusalem. "People saw that Israel and the world would not allow these crimes to go unpunished. Most important, people understood that if they commit acts of genocide, even after many years have passed, they will still be held accountable and punished for what they have done."
When asked if Israel has an obligation to actively stop genocides, instead of merely punishing the guilty years later, Bach said, "I do not believe that militarily, Israel is prepared to take action to stop genocide occurring around the world, but I do think that international pressure should be brought upon these people to stop and Israel should be the largest supporter of those efforts."
Hella Rufeizen-Shifer was born in Poland in 1921. An active member of the Akiba youth movement, she helped to produce false documents for resistance fighters and to pass information between the Krakow and Warsaw ghettos.
She escaped with friends during the Warsaw Ghetto revolt, hiding in several locations until she was recaptured and sent to Bergen-Belsen.
After the war, she made her way to Israel, moving to Moshav Bustan Hagalil and starting a family. At the Eichmann trial, she testified on the underground activities in the ghettos, as well as on the Warsaw Ghetto uprising.
Mordechai Ansbacher was born in Germany. He was a prisoner in the Theresienstadt Ghetto and spent 1942-1945 in Auschwitz and Dachau. Upon his liberation, he made aliya, attended university, and fought to protect Jerusalem in the War of Independence. He was among the founders of Yad Vashem and a scientific editor for The Encyclopedia Judaica. At the Eichmann trial, he testified about the treatment of the Jews in Nazi Germany and the harsh conditions in the ghetto.
Eliyahu Rosenberg was sent from Warsaw to the Treblinka death camp in 1942, where he was forced to work burning bodies. His testimony described the destruction process at the camp, visits by the SS and the collaboration of the Ukrainians guards.
Dov Freiberg is among the small number of survivors of the Sobibor death camp. One of the few who was not killed upon arrival, he was forced to shave the heads of women before they were sent to the gas chambers. In October 1943, Freiberg took part in the revolt that broke out at the camp, escaping with 300 others, most of who did not survive. He was also a passenger on the Exodus after the war.
Shalom Cholavski escaped to the woods after his hometown in Belarus was conquered by the Germans in 1941 and 4,000 of its Jews were killed.
He was among the founders and commanders of a Jewish partisan group called Jocob that freed Jews from work camps. After the war, he worked with the illegal immigration to the Land of Israel and was among the founders of the Pachoch movement.
At Eichmann's trial, he testified to the activities of the partisans and that many survivors returned to their hometowns to find that not a single Jew was left.
Yosef (Jo) Klein and his family were sent to Auschwitz after the German conquest of Hungary in 1944. His mother, brother and sister were killed, and he and his father were put at hard labor until the liberation of the camp by US forces. When the War of Independence broke out, he went to Israel and joined the army. He started working for El Al in the late 1950s and in 1960 he was sent to Argentina to help plan Eichmann's capture.
Menachem (Micki) Resh and his family were exiled from their home in Romania in 1941 and eventually sent to the Mogilev Ghetto in Belarus. Via a Cyprus detention camp, he came to Israel in 1948 and became a member of Kibbutz Deganya Alef. Thanks to his knowledge of German, he helped prepare the case evidence against Eichmann.
Gavriel Bach's family narrowly escaped Germany in 1938 and then the Netherlands in 1940, moving to Israel just a month before the German invasion. He joined the Hagana in 1943 and went on to serve in the IDF's legal department.
Bach was actively involved in the Eichmann investigation and trial, serving as prosecutor in two proceedings. He went on to serve as attorney-general from 1969 until his appointment to the Supreme Court in 1982. He retired from the court in 1997.
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