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The History Place - Adolf Eichmann | Summary

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Adolf Eichmann

In the following paper, the thesis on “The History Place - Adolf Eichmann” is “Eichmann, the man who changed his mind in the treatment of Jews.” It examines the different stages of his participation in the holocaust. Adolf Eichmann was influential in the development of social, political, and economic history during Hitler's rule. The paper will end with a conclusion and some personal observations.

Eichmann started out in the bottom-most ranks of the Nazi party as a clerk for the section assigned to investigate prominent Jews. His interest in Jewish culture escalated as he began to study their language, and attend Jewish sections of towns. He became known as the “Jewish specialist,” (p.2) which gave him the ability to rise in the ranks of the Nazi party.

Eichmann, in the beginning, had no intentions to commit genocide of the Jews. Instead, he initially attempted to relocate the Jewish population. Upon being assigned to explore potential “solutions to the Jewish question,” in 1937, he visited Palestine. His goal was to convince the Arab leaders to allow him an exodus of Jews to the Middle East. However, he was unsuccessful and sent out of the country (p.2). Although it would be horrible to relocate a certain ethnic group, it exemplifies that he did not yet intend for murder to occur.

In 1938, during the Nazi occupation of Austria, upon realizing financial gain was possible, he created a “Central Office for Jewish Emigration,” in Vienna (p.2). This had the purpose of extorting the Jewish people's wealth for a safe way out of the country. The concept was very successful as tremendous wealth was gained and he established similar offices in Prague and Berlin. He had not yet considered murdering the Jewish people. Instead, he offered a secure way to save their lives in return for their wealth. Eichmann, despite stealing money from Jews, had no obvious intentions of committing genocide.

In another attempt to relocate the Jews, in July 1940 Eichmann suggested the “Madagascar Plan,” (p.2) which involved deporting the Jewish population to Madagascar. However, it was never carried out. The Madagascar plan was his last attempt at Jewish relocation before resorting to the “Final Solution.” Eichmann did not want to treat Jews in harmful ways. In a way, he was trying protecting them from the Nazi regime. He still thought they had a right to live.

However, Eichmann soon began his ascension into murdering the Jews.  In Poland, Eichmann forced the Jews into labor camps where thousands of Jews were kept in very small areas; such as the Warsaw ghetto in Poland. This resulted in overpopulation and ensuing deaths through disease and starvation (p.2). At this point Eichmann's mindset had changed as he no longer cared about relocating the Jews, instead fixated on liquidating them.

More atrocities to the Jews were committed in the Soviet Union. Daily records were taken to see how many Jews had been slaughtered. Eventually, competitions arose to find out which of the four groups Eichmann controlled had the highest death rates (p.2). Eichmann became more ruthless, making genocide into a contest. He was unremorseful for his actions, turning it into a game.

As the killings proceeded, he began finding more structured and advanced methods for carrying out the executions. This consisted of using mobile gas-vans (p.3). The process in which they killed had become industrialized, like a factory. Eichmann no longer thought that any Jew should belong to the world. He no longer killed them individually, rather in groups for efficiency.

In January 1942, his goal had become final. At the Wannasee Conference, Eichmann, along with 15 Nazi bureaucrats, they arranged the elimination of the 11 million Jews living in Europe and the Soviet Union3 (p.3). Following the Wannasee Conference, Eichmann became the supreme authority in managing the gathering of Jews into labor camps and newly constructed gas chambers. With great enthusiasm and fanatical efficiency, Eichmann coordinated the genocide of millions of Jews (p.2-4). Eichmann considered it a project to kill millions of Jews, and was excited about it. Eichmann killed for his own amusement, thinking about how he can do it faster, and improve his killing methods.

In March, 1944, Eichmann set his eye on Hungary, which, with 725,000, contained the sole remaining big population of Jews. The deportations of Jews began from Hungary to Auschwitz, a labor camp, approximately two months later. Nearly 400,000 Hungarian Jews had been killed by the end of June. Eichmann continued to expand the areas in which he killed as he became more and more determined to exterminate the Jewish populace. Not a single trace of mind in Eichmann thought about saving the Jews in any way.

However, by the end of 1944, Eichmann was ordered to terminate the deportations seeing as Germany's empire was now surrounded and almost sure to be defeated. Eichmann paid no attention to the commands as he was determined to extinguish all Jews. Instead, he ordered 50,000 Hungarian Jews to begin an eight day death march to Austria. Eichmann's personal goal in life to was kill Jews. No command or person could stop his unwavering will to kill all Jews. He could not fathom the concept of saving any Jewish lives.

I will now discuss Adolf Eichmann's influence in the development of social, political, and economic history during Hitler's rule.

Due to Eichmann's looks and dark complexion, his schoolmates teased him by nicknaming him “the little Jew,” (p.1). He was therefore associated with Jews from an early age. This may have sparked his interest in the Jewish culture and caused him to sympathize with them which is why he, at first, was uninterested in killing them.

Hitler ordered the “physical extermination of the Jews.” Eichmann rose in the ranks to be in charge of this order because he had qualifications such as his knowledge on Jews. During his trial, he insisted he was merely “following orders,” saying that he was transmitting information from his superiors. He was basically obeying the law by following orders; and in case he didn't, he would be shot (p.4).

When Eichmann realized the potential fortune he could extort from the Jews by giving them a safe way out of their country, he established offices of that purpose in Vienna, Prague, and Berlin. In July, 1941, Heydrich, a close partner of Eichmann's, was told to organize “a general plan of the administrative and ‘financial' measures necessary for carrying out the desired Final Solution of the Jewish question,” (p.3). Throughout their mass murdering they would have to think about ‘financial measures'. Therefore, at the death camps, all possessions were taken from the Jews and channeled into secret Reichsbank accounts. Eichmann had massive financial gains from his actions, and his greed may have been the cause for his determination to continue.

To conclude, Eichmann essentially was “the man who changed his mind in the treatment of Jews.” At first, his final intentions to commit genocide on the Jews seemed impossible as he aimed to relocate the Jews. However, before long he had changed his mind and began his plans to eliminate the Jewish population. He disregarded his sense of morality more and more as he built up his power and, even when told to cease the massacre, he continued. Socially, Eichmann was teased, being nicknamed “the little Jew.” Politically, he followed orders and rose in the ranks of the Nazi party. Economically, a tremendous amount of money was gained.

I would be lying if I said the biography didn't interest me. The paper gave a good insight into the life of Adolf Eichmann and how the Jews were treated during World War Two. Being Jewish myself, I had never realized how big an impact Eichmann had on the holocaust until I read the paper. I was horrified by the amount of control one person could have on an entire ethnic group. It can definitely be recommended as it clearly shows a person's transition from being normal to one of the person responsible for the murder of six million Jews. However, the biography contains little detail, being only three pages long; and it does not describe his psychological change sufficiently. However, it provides a good introduction to Eichmann's life.

From the paper, I learned how Eichmann's mindset changed over time. He went from trying to relocate the Jews; to killing individual Jews; to trapping and killing a section of Jews; to mass-murder of the European Jewish population. In the end, he became addicted to murdering Jews, and could not be stopped.

In addition, I learned how ruthlessly the Jews were treated during World War II. By Eichmann, they became viewed as insignificant “toys,” for his enjoyment. The methods of killing them were brutal. It was like a factory process, with gas chambers killing thousands at a time. Many Jews would die of starvation or disease in concentration camps. In Russia, all Jews from a selected village would assemble; where after they would be shot kneeling, subsequent to giving up their clothes and valuables.


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