Trashed Prosecution Papers From Eichmann Trial Up for Auction

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Adolf Eichmann standing in his glass cage, flanked by guards, in the Jerusalem courtroom where he was tried in 1961 for war crimes committed during World War II.Credit: AP

A huge collection of prosecution documents from the 1961 trial of Holocaust mastermind Adolf Eichmann, found earlier this year in a Jerusalem trash bin, will be auctioned off Tuesday by the Kedem auction house in the capital.

The documents include an affidavit signed by then-Foreign Minister Golda Meir, correspondence conducted among the prosecutors about Eichmann’s body language, a marked-up draft of the closing arguments, and more.

One of the items is a paper on which a prosecutor wrote to his colleague in pink ink, “Did you notice that he is standing [underlined twice] for an hour without moving? There is only a single muscle you can see working: His gullet muscle. And there you also see that he isn’t so quiet.”

In another piece of correspondence, a prosecutor expresses his concern that Eichmann might file a request for immunity, noting, “I wanted to say that no concrete request for immunity has been filed.” Elsewhere, during a hearing on whether the statute of limitations applied to the crime, the prosecutor wrote, “They’re asking more slowly.”

The auction house said the material was found a few months ago in a garbage dumpster in Jerusalem. The man who found it searched and found additional materials from the collection in a Jerusalem apartment, “just before they were about to throw those in the garbage, too.”

Some of the collection deals with the legality of Eichmann’s kidnapping by the Mossad in Argentina, in May 1960. Hundreds of other pages deal with the authority of the court to prosecute Eichmann and the legal research that authorized his kidnapping and being brought to Israel for trial.

There are several official Foreign Ministry documents as part of the sale. Four of them are signed by Meir. One of them reads, “I, Golda Meir, minister of foreign affairs, certify herewith: the capture of Adolf Eichmann in Argentina and his transfer to Israel were the subject of discussions between the governments of Argentina and Israel, and a solution was found to the disagreements that was acceptable to both governments.”

The collection also contains pamphlets of legal material written by then-chief prosecutor Gideon Hausner; copies of the indictment from the office of the attorney general; copies of the verdict; and other legal materials from the course of the trial. Many of the documents have handwritten comments and corrections. There is a folder with a draft of the trial’s closing argument that was typed, but with corrections and additions made by hand. There is an empty envelope marked, “Eichmann’s original affidavit on his agreement to stand trial.”

“We are lucky that this fascinating collection, which exposes an unfamiliar side of the prosecution’s work during the trial, was not lost,” said Kedem co-owner Meron Eren. “These are documents that are part of one of the most significant events in the State of Israel, and they constitute part of this amazing enterprise, whose aim was to be a voice to the six million murdered whose blood cried out, but they had no voice.”

Eichmann was sentenced to death in December 1961 and hanged in May 1962.

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