Israel: The Man in the Cage

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A few hundred newsmen in the small Jerusalem courtroom, and millions of televiewers outside, last week stared at a man in a glass cage. What they had expected was the embodiment of evil, a monster accused of having participated in the murder of 6,000,000 innocent men, women and children.

What they saw was a thin, balding man of 55 who looked more like a bank clerk than a butcher: a thin mouth between protruding ears, a long, narrow nose, deep set blue eyes, a high, often wrinkled brow. He looked puny beside two burly,, blue clad Israeli policemen. When he stood, he resembled a stork more than a soldier.

When he made a gesture, it was not one of heroic defiance: he was merely getting out a handkerchief to blow his nose. The monster had a cold.

Eichmann insists he is not a mass mur derer as charged by Prosecutor Gideon Hausner. He describes himself as "a man of average character, with good qualities and many faults." He plays the violin. He adds: "At heart, I am a very sensitive man. I simply cannot look at any suffering without trembling."

Though German-born, Adolf Eichmann was raised in Austria, in Linz, the postcard prettiness of which was darkened during the '20s by the breakup of the Austro-Hungarian Empire after World War I. Adolf's father lost his job as a factory manager; young Adolf had to quit college to get a job as a salesman. Like other middle-class youths with a grievance, Adolf Eichmann turned fascist. In Germany on business trips, he thrilled to the sight of brown-shirted Storm Troopers marching beneath swastika banners, and listened avidly to the Munich ravings of another product of Linz, Adolf Hitler. In 1932, when he was 26, Eichmann made the final step: he joined the Nazi Party, which was then illegal in Austria. It cost him his job, and one day the police knocked at his door. Adolf went out the back window and kept going until he was across the German border, where he enrolled in the SS Austrian Legion being readied for the coming invasion of Austria.

He did everything by the book—and the book was Mein Kampf. Before marrying Veronika Liebl and producing sons for Hitler's future armies, he first asked permission to marry of his superiors, and had the SS run a check on Veronika's "racial background."

Secret Knowledge. Like any smart organization man. Eichmann realized he must develop a specialty to compensate for his lack of leadership qualities. His rather routine work of compiling dossiers on "subversive elements" suggested a convenient subject—the Jews, who were the pet phobia of der Fŭhrer himself. Eichmann began reading Jewish history and religion, made an effort to learn Yiddish and Hebrew. He dazzled his colleagues—whose hatred of Jews was only equaled by their ignorance about them—with speeches on such abstruse subjects as the factional differences between two small Zionist groups—Poale-Zion and Zeire-Zion.

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