50 years ago today, a trial commenced in Jerusalem before an Israeli tribunal with one of the chief architects of the Holocaust seated at the defendant’s stand (via an ingenious kidnapping engineered by Mossad) behind a bullet-proof encasement accompanied by two Israeli guards.
The Trial of Adolf Eichmann lasted 14 weeks – Eichmann was later put to death by hanging in 1962, the only execution in Israel’s history – and included testimony from at least 90 Nazi concentration camp survivors, making it one of the first times Holocaust survivors so publicly spoke about their experiences. As Franklin Foer at the New York Times notes, the trial also forced the “genocide onto the front pages of the world’s newspapers. Nearly 20 years after the fact, the Holocaust finally began to find a place in the public consciousness that reflected the size of the atrocity.”
In order to serve as a reminder of the events of five decades ago (and to ensure similar atrocities happen never again), Israel’s Yad Vashem museum – the country’s official memorial to the victims of the Holocaust – uploaded footage of the entire Adolf Eichmann trial to YouTube. That footage includes over 400 hours of film, both in Hebrew and dubbed in English, including survivors’ testimony.
If you watch any of the segments (like the above accounts from Holocaust survivors Arie Breslauer and Aviva Fleischman) you’ll find the trial footage both enraging and enlightening. The former because the man largely responsible and for the death of some six million people is sitting feet away from a handful of the individuals who were able to escape his purges and he’s not at all remorseful, and the latter for the fact this is a first-hand account of a defining moment of history, which dramatically impacted the world and shapes our current world view.
Here’s Yad Vashem chairman Avner Shalev on the Eichmann Trial online:
Uploading this footage on the 50th anniversary of this landmark trial, gives a new generation the opportunity to view one of the most significant turning points in humanity’s attempt to grapple with the Holocaust.
Making the Eichmann Trial available for the masses on YouTube is just one part of a larger initiative between Yad Vashem and Google to post all of the museum’s Holocaust documents online.