On May 28th, 1960, the name of Adolf Eichmann, unknown until then except to a few specialists in the history of National Socialism and German concentration camps, suddenly became notorious in the world press. On that date Ben Gurion, President of the Council of State, ascended the plinth of the Knesset (Israeli Parliament) and announced to the deputies that “the person responsible for the death of six million Jews, and their executioner” had been captured by commandos of the Israeli secret service, and taken the preceding May 11th from Argentina; that he was in prison in Tel Aviv; and that he would be judged by an Israeli tribunal.
And from that date on, the “six million Jews” – zealous journalists even spoke of 9 million – “men, women, old folk and children, exterminated in the gas chambers at Auschwitz” and other places, were once again served up every morning for breakfast the world over.
On the 11th of April, 1961, after a preliminary investigation that lasted no less than eleven months, the trial in question began at Jerusalem before an audience of journalists from every corner of the earth.
And on the 11th of December, the Tribunal rendered its judgement – the death penalty.
On Eichmann’s personality, the conditions under which his trial developed, the arguments brought forward, the political context into which the facts invoked against him must be placed and the interpretations given them, the jurists, it seems, had much more to say than the historians.