50 years on, Eichmann on display at the UN

Prominently displayed in the UN’s visitor’s lobby, photographs, news clippings and works of art document the story of the Nazi leader

Eichmann 311 (Yad Vashem) (photo credit: Yad Vashem)
Eichmann 311 (Yad Vashem)
(photo credit: Yad Vashem)
UNITED NATIONS – The UN marked the Holocaust on Thursday evening with the opening of an exhibition on the 50th anniversary of the trial of Adolf Eichmann, one of the key architects of the Final Solution.
Prominently displayed in the UN’s visitor’s lobby, the exhibition documents the historic trial through photographs, news clippings and works of art – from Eichmann’s capture by the Mossad in Argentina in May 1960 to his execution in 1962.
“In telling Eichmann’s story, this exhibit sends a clear message to the international community and to each visitor that passes through these halls,” said Ambassador Ron Prosor, Israel’s representative to the United Nations. “As we learn what he stood for, we understand what we must stand against... Eichmann’s trial did more than expose the past, it taught the world a critical lesson for the future.”
But perhaps that lesson has not yet been fully learned or understood, warned Minister without Portfolio Yossi Peled, a Holocaust survivor and retired general, with a not-so-veiled reference to Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
“Every year, just a few meters from where we are sitting, there is a president of a UN member state that stands on the podium of the General Assembly and denies the Holocaust while his government threatens to carry out another one.”
A 2005 UN resolution rejects any denial of the Holocaust as an historical event and commends those states which have actively engaged in the preservation of sites which served as Nazi death camps, concentration camps, forced labor camps and prisons during the Holocaust. Two years later, another resolution was passed urging all UN member states to reject any denial of the Holocaust.
The UN has also designated 27 January – the day Auschwitz was liberated in 1945 – as Holocaust Remembrance Day.
IT HAS been 50 years since the Eichmann trial in Jerusalem, but memories have not faded. Tamar Hausner-Raveh, lawyer and daughter of Gideon Hausner, the trial’s chief prosecutor, remembered when she was 14 years old, the day her father was appointed to the case and Eichmann entered her life.
“My father shared with us his doubts about whether he could represent the victims without being a survivor himself,” she said. But he found the inner strength to do so, as reflected in his opening remarks of the trial: “As I stand here before you, judges of Israel, to lead the prosecution of Adolf Eichmann, I do not stand alone.
With me, in this place and at this hour, stand six million accusers.”
The trial was broadcast live, receiving extensive international media attention, and was open to the public. Eileen Azif, a New York exchange student studying at Hebrew University at the time, attended the proceedings for several days.
“I clearly remember the image of this man with headphones [for translation from Hebrew to German] sitting very still behind a glass booth. He never moved a muscle,” she recalled.
Mickey Goldman was a member of Israeli Police Bureau 6, which was set up to prepare witnesses for testimony.
“Eichmann never accepted blame or showed any remorse for his acts, not during the investigation, not during the trial and not before his death,” he said. “On the day of his execution, at which I was present, he refused to confess.”
Adolf Eichmann was convicted on 15 criminal charges, including crimes against the Jewish people and humanity. He was sentenced to death on June 1, 1962. His body was cremated and the ashes were scattered at sea, beyond Israel’s territorial waters – very much like the disposal of the remains of Osama bin Laden by the US in 2011 – in order to prevent his burial place from becoming a memorial site. The execution of Adolf Eichmann is the only time that Israel has enacted a death sentence.
The Eichmann exhibition is one of several events being organized this week by the Israeli Mission to the United Nations and the UN Holocaust program. On April 23, there will be a roundtable discussion on the Eichmann trail with Minister Yossi Peled, Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel and Amos Hausner, an attorney and son of the trial’s chief prosecutor Gideon Hausner.
The exhibition, With me are six million accusers: The Eichmann Trial in Jerusalem, is curated by Yad Vashem. It will be on view at the United Nations in New York through May 28, 2012.