Adolf Eichmann (AP photo)
Adolf Eichmann pleads for mercy July 7, 1961 during his trial in Jerusalem for war crimes against Jews. Photo by AP Photo
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PARIS - Protestant church officials in Austria and Germany lobbied the West German government to help Adolf Eichmann after his 1960 arrest, Der Spiegel reported yesterday.

According to the German paper, church leader Wilhelm Mensing-Braun - the Superintendent of the Protestant Church for Upper Austria - described Eichmann as "fundamentally decent," "kind-hearted," and characterized by "great helpfulness," in a letter to the foreign affairs department of the Evangelical Church in Germany. The letter was sent right before Eichmann was to go on trial in Jerusalem for his part in the the murder of six million Jews during the Holocaust.

According to the Spiegel report, Eichmann's family had enlisted Mensing-Braun - who was based in the Austrian city of Linz where Eichmann was born - because they hoped the church leader might help get Eichmann tried by an international court rather than an Israeli one.

Bishop Hermann Kunst, the representative of the Evangelical Church at the West German government, sent the letter to the West German foreign ministry with the note that the assessment was "at least interesting," Der Spiegel reported. That means that not only an Austrian church official, but a German one as well, effectively lobbied on behalf of Eichmann, the paper said.