Nazi War Criminal's Execution Plea Made Public

Nazi War Criminal's Execution Plea Made Public

A decades-old handwritten plea for mercy from Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann has been made public by the Israeli government.

The letter, dated two days before his execution for his role in the Holocaust, was made public on Holocaust Memorial Day, the day marking the liberation of the Auschwitz camp in 1945, nearly eight months before World War Two ended.

Eichmann's letter says the Israeli court overstated his involvement in the logistics of Hitler's "Final Solution" which led to the murder of six million Jews.

The letter, written to then President Yitzhak Ben-Zvi and read out at a ceremony by President Reuven Rivlin, said: "There is a need to draw a line between the leaders responsible and the people like me forced to serve as mere instruments in the hands of the leaders."

"I was not a responsible leader, and as such do not feel myself guilty.

"I am not able to recognise the court's ruling as just, and I ask, Your Honour Mr President, to exercise your right to grant pardons, and order that the death penalty not be carried out."

The letter was signed and dated: "Adolf Eichmann Jerusalem, May 29, 1962."

He was hanged at around midnight on 31 May.

Eichmann, one of the main organisers of the Holocaust, escaped from a prisoner-of-war camp after the war ended and fled to Argentina in 1950.

He assumed a different identity and lived there until he was snatched by Mossad agents in Buenos Aires in May 1960 and smuggled to Israel.

Mossad's ability to bring Eichmann to justice was a great source of pride for the new Jewish state.

"In the first years after the Holocaust, the people in Israel were busy rebuilding and founding an independent state," President Rivlin said.

"The renewed Israeli society was not in the mindset to or able to remember.

"The Eichmann trial broke the dam of silence. The ability of the young Jewish state to capture the Nazi murderer afforded a basic sense of security to the survivors of the Holocaust."

In a statement issued on Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, warned that anti-Semitism was once again increasing in Europe.

"Even respected Western opinion leaders have become afflicted with hatred for the Jewish people and the Jewish state," Mr Netanyahu said, without giving names.

"The obsession with the Jews - the fixation on the Jewish state - defies any other rational explanation."

Meanwhile, British Prime Minister David Cameron has announced that a competition to build a national memorial to the Holocaust in Victoria Tower Gardens, next to the Houses of Parliament, is to be launched within weeks.