German spies meddled in ex-Nazi Eichmann’s trial in Israel, records show
April 18, 2011 3 Comments
By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The West German government instructed its intelligence agency to interfere in the trial of former senior Nazi official Adolf Eichmann in Israel, in order to avert the incrimination of other Germans over the Holocaust. Eichmann, who was Obersturmbahnführer in the German SS from 1940 onwards, was among the chief organizers of the Holocaust and was personally responsible for the extermination of untold numbers of European Jews during World War II. However, in 1946 he managed to escape from American custody and eventually fled to Argentina with the help of a network of Franciscan Catholics in Italy. But in 1960, a ten-member Israeli intelligence team kidnapped Eichmann from his home in Argentina and transported him secretly to Israel, where he would be tried and, eventually, executed by the Israeli government. The public trial attracted the world’s attention, but at least one government was fearful of it, namely that of West Germany. The reason was Bonn’s concern that Eichmann might publicly name as responsible for the Holocaust several other Nazi officials, many of whom were living at the time in West Germany. This, according to previously classified archives accessed by German newsmagazine Der Spiegel, could strengthen the official propaganda line of the East German government, which at the time accused West Germany of sheltering hundreds of thousands of former Nazi officials. The West German government, therefore, instructed its foreign intelligence service, the BND, to gain access to Eichmann and find out whether he intended to incriminate “public figures in the Federal Republic of Germany”. In the meantime, the CIA offered to help the BND “soften the impact of the trial” of Eichmann, while West Germany’s Minister of Defense, Franz Josef Strauss, openly blackmailed the Israelis, insinuating that Germany would cancel lucrative arms deals with Israel if the Eichmann trial got out of hand. According to Der Spiegel, which accessed most of the BND’s 3,000-page file on the Eichmann trial, the Israeli government made sure to keep the former Nazi official’s trial under control, and was thanked personally by German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer. In 1962, he told Israeli officials that the result of the trial was “outstanding” and that he “would never forget it”.