Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Hunt for Adolf Eichmann

"I Regret Nothing!"

On the morning of May 31, 1962, Eichmann languished in his cell waiting for a decision on his appeal to Israel President Ben-Zvi. All during that day, the president had received hundreds of telegrams and requests for mercy for the Nazi killer. Some people believed that to execute Eichmann would be solely an act of revenge for Israel. President Ben-Zvi disagreed. He issued a brief statement to the press, in which he decided "not to exercise his prerogative to pardon or reduce sentence in the case of Adolf Eichmann." The Israeli Supreme Court, which Eichmann relied on to commute his sentence, was more blunt: "We know only too well how utterly inadequate this death sentence is as compared to the millions of deaths in the most diverse ways inflicted on his victims."

Evidence of remains in ovens at Dachau
Evidence of remains in ovens at Dachau

At approximately 7 p.m., Eichmann was served his last meal, which consisted of peas, olives, bread and tea. A bottle of Israeli wine was brought to him of which he drank half. He told a Protestant minister who waited with him, "Tell my wife to take it calmly, I have peace in my heart." Fifty yards away, workers made the final preparations on the gallows, the first ever built in the nation of Israel. Eichmann chatted with the minister until the guards finally arrived.

The prisoner was removed from his cell and escorted the short distance to the hangman's rope. His ankles and knees were tied together. His hands were bound behind his back. When guards attempted to place a black hood over his head, he said, "I don't need that." He stood erect and never flinched. "After a short while, we shall all meet again," he said, "Such is the fate of all men. Long live Germany, long live Argentina, long live Austria! I shall not forget them!" The noose was slipped around his neck and tightened. "Ready!" one of the guards said loudly. Seconds later, the trap door was sprung and Eichmann fell to his death.

Israel issued a short statement afterwards. "Adolf Eichmann was executed by hanging today in accordance with the sentence of death passed by the Jerusalem District Court on December 15, 1961...the body was examined by a government physician and pronounced life to be extinct at 23:58 hours." One hour later, Eichmann's remains were cremated. That same morning, at 3:45 a.m., his ashes were taken on a police boat out to the Mediterranean Sea and scattered into its dark waters.

"But to sum it all up," wrote Eichmann in his memoirs, "I must say that I regret nothing...Hitler was somehow so supremely capable that the people recognized him. And so with that...I recognize him joyfully and I still defend him. I will not humble myself or repent in any way...No, I must say truthfully that if we had killed all the 10 million Jews that statisticians originally listed in 1933, I would say, 'Good, we have destroyed an enemy.'"

The majority of the Nazi killers who escaped from Germany after the war have never been found. It is believed that most lived out their remaining years in various countries in South America.

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