Identity Card of Adolf Eichmann

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Identity Card of Adolf Eichmann


By: Anonymous

Date: 1950

Source: Bettmann/Corbis

About the Photographer: The Argentinean government issued identity cards to all citizens and resident for-eigners. Eichmann obtained his identity card under an assumed name. The card was photographed after World War II (1938–1945) by an anonymous photographer.


Born in Solingen, Germany, in 1909, Adolf Eichmann rose quickly through the ranks of the Austrian and then German Schutzstaffel, or SS. Eichmann was one of the main architects of the "Final Solution," the Nazi plan to exterminate Europe's Jews. He supervised the capture and transportation of Jews from newly conquered territories, ghettos, and concentration camps to extermination centers such as Auschwitz. The "Chief Executioner of the Third Reich" supervised genocide in Poland and Hungary, reportedly boasting that his transportation network enabled the efficient slaughter of millions of Jews.

After World War II, the Allies established a series of international courts to bring perpetrators of the Holocaust to justice. The most famous of these International Military Tribunals sat in Nürenburg, Germany. From November 20, 1945, to October 1, 1946, the court tried twenty-four of the most famous Nazi war criminals. Adolf Eichmann, the transportation master of the Holocaust, however, was not among them.



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In the final days of World War II, Eichmann fled Hungary, where he had assumed a regular army commission. He returned to Austria and was captured by Allied forces in 1945. Going by the name Otto Eckmann, however, Eichmann managed to conceal his identity and escape in 1946.

Eichmann spent several years on the run, hiding in Germany, Austria, and Italy. A friend helped him obtain immigration papers to Argentina and a humanitarian passport from the Red Cross. Under the assumed name Ricardo Klement, Eichmann moved his family to Argentina in July 1950.

Although Eichmann remained at large, he was hunted by Allied and Israeli intelligence agents who tracked and captured Nazi war criminals. After receiving tips from Holocaust survivors who had emigrated to Argentina, the Israeli intelligence Mossad service found Eichmann in 1960. After observing him for several months and confirming his idenity, Mossad agents kidnapped him from outside his home on May 11, 1960. He was flown to Israel to stand trial for war crimes.

Indicted on fifteen separate criminal charges, including "crimes against humanity" as established at Nürenburg, Eichmann's trial began in April of 1961. The trial was open to the press and broadcast around the world. Like his fellow Nazi officers, Eichmann asserted that his involvement in the Holocast had not been a conscious decision but that he had merely followed orders from superiors. Eichmann challenged the jurisdiction of the Israeli court and much of the testimony of survivors presented against him. He was convicted on all counts. After exhausting all appeals, he was executed by hanging on June 1, 1962.



Arendt, Hannah. Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil. New edition. New York: Penguin, 1994.

Cesarani, David. Eichmann: His Life and Crimes. New York: Vintage Books, 2005.

Web sites

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. 〈〉 (accessed March 12, 2006).

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Identity Card of Adolf Eichmann

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