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‘I Was Never an Anti-Semite’

Here are Associated Press translations of excerpts from Adolf Eichmann’s 1,300-page prison memoir, released Tuesday by Israel’s state archives in the original German.

About the Holocaust:

“I said [in court] that what happened with the Jews, which the government of the German Reich brought about during the last great war, was the most enormous crime in the history of mankind.”

“And I witnessed the gruesome workings of the machinery of death; gear meshed with gear, like clockwork.”

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“It was the biggest and most enormous dance of death of all time.”

About his involvement:

“Because I have seen hell, death and the devil, because I had to watch the madness of destruction, because I was one of the many horses pulling the wagon and couldn’t escape left or right because of the will of the driver, I now feel called upon and have the desire, to tell what happened.”

About his relationship with Jews:

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“I was never an anti-Semite.”

About the first phase of the deportation of Jews:

“The result was terrible chaos . . . the timetables of trains were being upset.”

Quoting one of his superiors, deputy SS leader Reinhard Heydrich, who he says informed him in the fall of 1941 about the planned genocide:

“The Fuehrer has ordered the physical extermination of the Jews. [A Nazi official in Poland] has received from the Fuehrer the necessary instructions. He was told to use the trenches dug as tank traps. I want to know what he does and how far he has come. Go see him and report back to me on what you have seen and heard.”

About his role in the killings:

“I personally had nothing to do with this. My job was to observe and report on it.”

“My sensitive nature revolted at the sight of corpses and blood.”

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About mass executions he witnessed in January 1942 in the town of Minsk in Nazi-occupied Belarus:

“When I arrived at the place of the execution, the gunmen fired into a pit the size of several rooms. They fired from small submachine guns. As I arrived, I saw a Jewish woman and a small child in her arms in the pit. I wanted to pull out the child, but then a bullet smashed the skull of the child. My driver wiped brain particles from my leather coat. I got into the car. Berlin, I told the driver. I drank schnapps like it was water. I had to numb myself. I thought about my own children. At the time, I had two.”

About one of his assignments:

“I still remember the work I had concerning a very secret investigation, the background of the dietitian of the Fuehrer. . . . It turned out that the dietitian, based on the Nuremberg [race] laws, was one in 32 parts Jewish. At the time there was such a fuss about it that my boss asked for all the files in the matter. I never heard about this again. Only one thing, that Hitler married his dietitian shortly before his death. Her name was Eva Braun.”

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Source: Associated Press


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