A new letter released from Israeli archives has revealed that Adolf Eichmann, the notorious Nazi war criminal, begged to be pardoned just days before he was due to be executed.
The letter is more than 40 years old and was written in May of 1962. He had prepared the letter and addressed it to Israel’s President at the time, Yitzhak Ben-Zvi. He stated that he denied any responsibility for what happened to the Jewish prisoners at the concentration camps.
Adolf Eichmann was a leading member of the Nazi SS group and was one of the main orchestrators of concentration camps. In his letter, he said that there was a difference between the leaders who were responsible for what happened during the war and other people, like him, who had been forced to do the job on behalf of their leaders.
Eichmann never believed that he was one of the leaders responsible for implementing the Nazi regime’s plans, and went on to say that he did not feel any guilt.
Eichmann’s letter made no difference to his sentence, and he was hung on 1st June 1962.
A researcher who has studied Eichmann extensively, Hannah Arendt, wrote that he questioned the idea that everyone in the Nazi regime was responsible for their actions, not just the leaders. Arendt calls this ‘banality of evil’, which Eichmann rejected to his death.
The letter was released this week by Israeli authorities in commemoration of International Holocaust Remembrance Day since it had only just been discovered in the archives.
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said that Eichmann’s plea for a pardon shows that he knew he would be brought to justice and that no kindness or compassion was ever shown to the victims of the Holocaust.