Buenos Aires, Argentina
Trial of a monster: How justice caught up with evil Nazi mastermind behind
THE past finally caught up with the man calling himself Ricardo Klement as
he stepped off a bus in a nondescript suburb of Buenos Aires.
Published: 00:01, Fri, January 16, 2015By ADRIAN LEE
His protests that he was a foreman at a nearby Mercedes-Benz factory were
ignored by the Mossad agents who had spent 15 years following a trail from
the ruins of Nazi Germany. Eventually Klement admitted his real name was
The hunt for one of the masterminds of the Final Solution - Hitler's attempt
to exterminate the Jewish people - was over.
Eichmann had slipped away in the chaos at the end of the Second World War,
hiding in Austria under a series of aliases before escaping with his family
Here Eichmann assumed he was safe but did not count on the determination of
Israel's intelligence service and Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal to bring the
perpetrators of the Holocaust to justice.
Sedated and disguised as a flight attendant, Eichmann was smuggled to
Israel. On May 23, 1960, prime minister David Ben-Gurion announced his
arrest to the world.
The prosecution of Eichmann for genocide and other crimes the following year
in Jerusalem was described as "the trial of the century".
It was broadcast worldwide, including to the UK and Germany, becoming the
first global TV event.
The gripping trial gave Holocaust survivors a voice and opened the eyes of
the world to the horrors of concentration camps such as Auschwitz.
At the time many people still did not believe the extent of Nazi crimes or
thought first-hand accounts exaggerated.
The remarkable story is told next week in a BBC drama documentary that uses
original footage from the period, including Eichmann behind a bullet-proof
The trial began on April 11, 1961, with the haunting words of chief
prosecutor Gideon Hausner.
He said: "Here with me at this moment stand six million prosecutors but alas
they cannot rise to level the finger of accusation in the direction of the
glass dock and cry out 'j'accuse' against the man who sits there, because
their ashes have been piled up in the mounds of Auschwitz. Their blood cries
to heaven but their voices cannot be heard."
The trial was seen all over the world It was the first time people en masse
had heard first-hand testimony Martin Freeman, actor
Balding and bespectacled, Eichmann revealed no emotion as his crimes were
outlined. "Not guilty," he replied to every indictment.
Behind the broadcasts were US producer Milton Fruchtman and veteran director
Leo Hurwitz, played by Martin Freeman and Anthony LaPaglia.
Each day reels of highlights were rushed to Jerusalem airport and dispatched
to 37 countries for transmission.
The pair wanted to shed light on how an ordinary man such as Eichmann, who
left school with no qualifications and sold petrol before the war, could
order such monstrous acts.
In 1944 after Germany invaded Hungary he travelled to Budapest with a
special task force and personally directed the deportation of more than
425,000 Jewish people in the space of eight weeks, most of whom were
murdered on arrival in Auschwitz.
However with its three-day opening address the trial got off to a slow start
and the filming team worried it would be overshadowed on TV by the unfolding
story of the US's botched Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba and Yuri Gagarin
becoming the first man in space.
Audiences had dwindled after the novelty wore off of seeing Eichmann, who
had gradually risen through the ranks of the Nazi party after joining in
1932, in the dock.
All that changed when the 112 witnesses began to give evidence. One
described how he was forced to dig graves for the victims of gas chambers.
He heard the screams of the dying, followed by silence.
Later the dead were laid out beside trenches. One day he recognised people
from his own town, including the bodies of his family.
"I lay near my wife and two children and I wanted to be shot," he said.
A female witness told how she watched her father beaten and shot dead. Then
her child was taken from her arms and killed.
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