How the Eichmann trial changed Israel

As generation of survivors grows smaller, we should use the 50th anniversary of the trial to appreciate the power of survivors’ testimony and take steps to ensure this testimony is never forgotten.

By
April 14, 2011 22:56
4 minute read.
Adolf Eichmann

Eichmann 311 (Yad Vashem). (photo credit: Yad Vashem)

 
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Fifty years ago on April 11, 1961, shortly after the conclusion of Pessah, over 700 people packed into Beit Ha’am, Jerusalem’s new cultural center, for the trial of a man accused of being the chief operational officer of the Final Solution. By mid-December when Adolf Eichmann’s guilty sentence was handed down by High Court Judges Moshe Landau, Yitzhak Raveh and Benjamin Halevi, all German Jews, the trial had transformed Israeli society.

As Deborah Lipstadt notes in her new book The Eichmann Trial, even though the Holocaust had been remembered and commemorated, never before had it received such consistent attention. Novelist Moshe Shamir, for instance, described in 1963 how the trial had transformed the Holocaust from something he saw from outside “the burning house” into a “personal, moral, problem.”

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