Criminal trial of Nazi, Adolf Eichmann, recreated for modern TV drama

The Nazi criminal trial of Adolf Eichmann in 1961 was the first of its kind to be televised, and exposed the brutality and devastation of the Holocaust.

Now the story of how the trial came to be filmed, and the trial itself is being told in a new TV drama by the BBC called, The Eichmann Show. It stars actor Martin Freeman as Milton Fruchtman.

Milton Fruchtman was the producer who convinced Israel’s legal chiefs and the Prime Minister to allow him to film the proceedings. Along with his team, Fruchtman had to be creative with their filming methods using hidden cameras much of the time. They also received death threats for their part in broadcasting the trial.

Adolf Eichmann was a senior Nazi official and key designer of Hitler’s ‘Final Solution’ policy to rid Germany and its occupied territories of the Jewish population.

While by the 1960s the Holocaust was well-known to have occurred it was little understood. It was Fruchtman’s portrayal of Eichmann’s trial that ensured the true reality of what happened during World War Two was unveiled and broadcast around the world.

Eichmann had ensured the murder of more than six million Jews during World War Two. He was central to the Nazi policies of rounding up the Jewish population and eventually having them interned at concentration camps, and their mass murder.

Eichmann had fled Europe for South America after the end of the war, but intelligence officers from Israel tracked him down and smuggled him back to Israel to stand trial.

The trial lasted 57 days and portrayed the awful reality of the Nazi concentration camps, the Mirror reports.

Eichmann stood trial behind bullet proof glass, with his testimonies and evidence broadcast out to more than 35 countries around the world. But it was the evidence given by Holocaust survivors that told the true reality of what happened.

One woman who gave evidence had been piled on the top of a mass grave and shot at numerous times, while another man told how a Nazi soldier chased a woman and her baby, when he caught up with them he shot the woman and tore the baby into pieces with his bare hands. Some of the evidence even caused the cameramen filming the proceedings to faint.

One man was 14 when he was imprisoned at Auschwitz, he had been made to work at the camp’s crematorium. He told how they were made to put the ashes of human remains and spread them on the frozen footpaths to stop them from being slippery.

The filming of the trial ensured that all of this evidence became a reality for the entire world.

Eichmann was charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity. He was hanged a year after the trial.

The Eichmann Show will air on British television on BBC2.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE