In Germany's attempt to destroy "its enemies" to achieve "pure" German state, who was Adolf Eichmann and why was he important?

Expert Answers
booboosmoosh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

We know that Eli Wiesel (the author of Night) was held prisoner (with his father) in five different concentration camps when he and his family were taken for their home in Sighet (in Transylvania). Eli ultimately lost his entire family, his father dying some months before the liberation of the inmates at Buchenwald by members of the Resistance and the arrival of American tanks.

The importance of Eichmann is that he was the man primarily in charge of the Gestapo's Jewish Affairs, and also the man that organized with the "disposal" of so many innocent lives during the Holocaust. In other words, where other men were placed in positions of importance within the Third Reich for other reasons, even the management of other races of prisoners, Eichmann was solely in charge of "the Nazi security police's Jewish Department."

Eichmann was appointed head of the Gestapo’s Jewish Affairs division at the start of World War II and was later placed in charge of organizing the “final solution” throughout Europe.

It is easy to understand that Eichmann was then responsible for the torture, experiments and mass executions of the Jewish population in Germany, surrounding countries (such as Poland, Hungary, etc.) and in the "death camps."

At the trial of Adolf Eichmann, when all was over, Eli Wiesel spoke to one of the three judges at the trial, asking him a single, straightforward question:

"Given your role in this trial, you ought to know more about the scope of the Holocaust than any living person, more even than those who lived through it in the flesh and in their memory. You have studied all the documents, read all the secret reports, interrogated all the witnesses. Now tell me: do you understand this fragment of the past, those few pages of history?"

The judge did not avoid the question but answered in a seemingly honest way as to how impossible it is for the rational mind to make any sense of what happened during the Holocaust:

In a soft humble voice the judge confessed: "No, not at all. I know the facts and the events that served as their framework; I know how the tragedy unfolded minute by minute, but this knowledge, as if coming from outside, has nothing to do with understanding. There is in all this a kind of forbidden zone, inaccessible to reason... who knows, perhaps that's the gift which God, in a moment of grace gave to man: it prevents him from understanding everything, thus saving him from madness"

The recent opening of an exhibit, described in an article from February 23 of this year (days ago), information was put on display containing many formerly secret documents from Mossad and "Sahabak" (Shin Bet), which chronicled the capture of Eichmann as he was hiding under an alias in Buenos Aires, Argentina. This released many details of Eichmann's escape from his first capture by the U.S. Army, and how he was hunted, discovered and brought to justice for his crimes against the Jewish people.


Additional source: