Severity of Holocaust to overwrite human right to live?

Daniel Prinz (Hungary, AC 2007-2009)

2nd of April marks the anniversary of the beginning of the trial of Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem; 11th of May is the anniversary of his capture in Buenos Aires.

SS-Obersturmbannführer Karl Adolf Eichmann (1906-1962) was one of the most well-known Nazi leaders. Joining the Nazi Party in Austria in 1932, he made his way up to the leadership of the department dedicated to Jewish affairs in the Gestapo. He was one of the main propagators of the Endlösung, which was supposed to be the final solution for the “Jewish problem”. The initial plan was to get the European Jewish population out of the continent by organized emmigration. Eichmann himself was sent to Palestine before the war to negotiate with Arab leaders. Later on, the actual Endlösung of the Wannsee Conference put forward the system of deatch camps to exterminate Jews (and other groups which were regarded as subordinate by the Nazis, for example gypsies). After the Reich lost the war, Eichmann was arrested but managed to slip out from the American camp where he was kept. He lived under the name Ricardo Klement in Argentina (a place where both rich Jews and Nazis went into exile) for some 15 years. In 1960 Eichmann was finally captured In Buenos Aires after the Israeli security agency, the Mossad got information from different sources, including the famous Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal. He was taken to Israel and tried. Attorney General Gideon Hausner who later published a book on the court case found him guilty in 15 points including crimes against Jewish people and crimes against humanity. He was hung the 1st of June 1962.

The Eichmann-case is related to a number of controversial issues which have been discussed ever since. One of them is that Eichmann was charged of having relations with the Sturmabteilung (SA), the Schutzstaffel (SS) and the Gestapo. These organizations were declared to be criminal organizations in the Nuremberg Trial in 1946. However, Eichmann had been working for Gestapo before 1946. Also, charges like “crime against humanity” have to be established on some kind of law, which now one would link to the UN, which however did not exist when the Holocaust happened. And neither did the state of Israel, which was to condemn Eichmann, so there arises a question of legitimity. Moreover, the law of Israel does not apply death sentence, the only person ever executed in Israel is Adolf Eichmann. The debate is whether the uniqueness of the Holocaust and the obvious horrible nature of the crime committed by the Nazi Germany and its allies (including my country, Hungary) could overwrite those norms we conform to on a day-to-day basis: human rights and respect of the other person’s right to life.

-United World College Student Magazine –

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