When the Nazi criminal, Adolf Eichmann, was put on trial in Jerusalem in 1961 I was nearing the end of my time at a high school for girls in London. There was a fairly strong Jewish contingent, but the overwhelming majority of pupils were Christian. In fact, several of the girls in my class stated that it was their ambition to go to Africa as missionaries, though whether they actually did so or not I never found out.
So, as well as trying to keep up with schoolwork and the impending A-level exams, I found myself suddenly confronted with a subject with which I had only a passing acquaintance. My parents had arrived in England as refugees from Germany just before the war, and they – and we, their children – devoted considerable energy to becoming as English as possible, learning to ‘fit in’ and be ‘just like everyone else.’ The subject of the Holocaust was never discussed in our household, although we children were aware of the losses our family had suffered (we had no grandparents).
I know now that for me becoming just like everyone else was mission impossible in England at that time, though I believe that the country as a whole is far more tolerant and accepting of others than it was then. And so the impact on me of the widespread publicity and coverage given to the Eichmann trial was little short of traumatic. Suddenly the Holocaust and all its horrors were brought to light and laid out in front of me in the newspapers as well as on the TV screen.
All these thoughts were brought back to the surface of my mind by the recent TV broadcast of the first of three programmes presenting the tape recordings made in 1960 by a Nazi sympathizer, a Dutch journalist called Sasser, who was living in Buenos Aires and was friendly with Eichmann there. He interviewed Eichmann over the course of several sessions, and so we hear Eichmann declaring how proud he was of his contribution to achieving the ‘final solution’ of the Jewish problem by sending six million of them to their deaths in concentration camps. Eichmann had been responsible for organizing the trains that criss-crossed Europe, collecting and transporting the masses of individuals in inhuman conditions to work as slave labourers and gassed in the concentration camps.
At his trial in Jerusalem Eichmann claimed to have been ignorant of the fate of the Jews, that he had been a lowly clerk, someone who had simply done his job. After hearing the tape recordings of his voice it is clear that he was no mere cypher. He was imbued with the Nazi ideology of the purity of the Aryan race and the threat of its contamination by alien blood, i.e., Jews. This incorporated a burning hatred of anything and everything Jewish – men, women and children, literature, music, art, society, religion and the very air they breathed.
I have a faint recollection of one of our teachers at school bringing the subject of the trial up in class and asking for our views about it. Some girls were incensed at the idea of the ‘poor chap’ being kidnapped from his home and family and made to stand trial in a foreign country. Most of us Jewish girls thought it only fitting that someone who had played such a pivotal role in so many murders should pay the price for it. When Eichmann was finally executed and his ashes scattered over the sea some of us recoiled at this ‘barbaric’ treatment, but no one on any side seemed to be very distressed, and of course, those were times when our attention was focused more on Elvis Presley, Tommy Steele and similar teenage idols.
But hearing Eichmann extolling his achievements in his own voice must inevitably shut the mouths of those who claim that the Holocaust never happened.
David Kelman said:
In 1961 I was in my first year of Medical School in Birmingham University. A female classmate argued that Jews started the war to make money. That’s a measure of the true nature of so-called Christian tolerance of Jews in their midst.
When we later discussed a sad skin and bone wreck of a patient, the attending instructor mentioned that this is like a person from Auschwitz. But no one understood except mr what that meant. One Polish girl offered that she heard that was something from a movie, but no one could tell what Auschwitz was about, (the instructor having put his finger across my lips not to talk).
Antisemitism was so bad that a decade prior to college, I routinely marched to school under police escort because of antisemetic attacks. My younger brother was attacked in the local park and returned home with his white jaw bone exposed from the assault!
All this embedded on generations of Britain as a colonial power with superior “Christian Values”, produced a population that venerated Christ and had arrogant dismissive attitudes to anyone coming from South of thr White Cliffs of Dover.
But like France, their delusional Colonial Empires merged into massive migration of these lesser subjects to a Europe that had no education in humanity to receive them as equal persons of worth. In all this, Jews have become just an extra burden and antisemitism, the core sine qua non lesson of the Last Supper, (with a fictitious Jewish Judas selling out the supposed “savior” Jesus, (also BTW totally fictitious), has been transmuted to anti-Israel rhetoric. Jews were never welcome in any place in Europe and now it’s worse than ever.
The revelations of thr Eichman interviews are entirely new to me and I wish I knew about this earlier!
Thanks for this, David. Very few people knew about the recordings till now. That’s why this is so important.
John White said:
@David and @Dorothea
I’m orignally from the UK, and now in New Zealand. Your comment David leaves me stunned that there were (are??) such attitudes. All of my junior and high school was in schools that were 100% “white” in the mid 60s to 70s, so my exposure to other cultures was non existent. At my high school we had a few Jewish children, and the only way we knew that was that luckily (so it seemed to me) they were excused the religous part of the morning assembly. I remember us being taught about the Holocaust and I can remember nothing but the thought of horror at what had happened.
I must search for those Sasser interviews.
Thanks for commenting. As far as I know, the Sasser interviews exist only in German.