Eichmann diaries are window to
his inner world
By Tom Segev
Adolph Eichmann's journals, made public
yesterday by the Israel State Archives, contain a detailed description of the
annihilation of European Jewry, and Eichmann writes that the genocide program
was carried out under explicit orders given by Adolph Hitler.
After being kept under wraps for 28 years, the Eichmann journals were released
yesterday under dramatic circumstances, their public presentation being recorded
by half a dozen television film crews from leading world networks.
Earlier, a copy of the journals was delivered to the defense in the defamation
suit brought in a London court by British historian David Irving against
American historian Deborah Lipstadt, who has accused Irving of being a Holocaust
denier. Among other controversial claims, Irving insists that Hitler was not
cognizant of the systematic murder of the Jews.
Eichmann describes the Holocaust in his prison memoir as the "worst crime
in the history of humanity." The thrust of his journals is to minimize his
own role in the atrocities.
Describing his response to the use of the first gas chambers, at Lublin,
Eichmann claims that he needed large quantities of cigarettes and red wine to
steady his nerves. He adds that during this period he "didn't take
seriously" the idea of using gas for genocide, believing that the plan
would be canceled.
Eichmann's prison memoir does not reveal new information about the Holocaust,
nor does it contain any data that could be construed as compromising the Zionist
movement. Eichmann consciously omits the name of a Jewish resident of mandatory
Palestine who met with him in Berlin, and briefed him about the progress of
Despite its self-serving intents and deliberate deletions, the newly released
journals provide an unprecedented window into Eichmann's inner world, and thus
provide clues important to fathoming the magnitude of his crimes. Awaiting the
trial's verdict in his prison cell, Eichmann professes that he is not an
anti-Semite, and adds that his step-mother had Jewish relations and that he even
once kissed a half-Jewish cousin.
His best friend from his schoolboy days, he recalls, was Jewish - Eichmann says
that he subsequently had a drink with this old friend while he wore a Nazi
uniform, and that "he didn't care that I was a Nazi, and I didn't care that
he was a Jew."
Eichmann left meticulous instructions as to the fate of these prison journals,
covering details such as the color of their jacket cover and the delivery of
copies to his wife, in the event of publication. In the event of their
non-publication, he asked his attorney to supervise their destruction.
Instructions he delivered concerning the fate of the manuscript suggest that at
the time he composed it, Eichmann did not expect to receive a death.