JERUSALEM, Israel. July 7th: Adolf Eichmann told the Israeli Court today that the he felt?
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Background: JERUSALEM, Israel. July 7th: Adolf Eichmann told the Israeli Court today that the he felt "humanly guilty" of the wartime murder of millions of Jews but he insisted that legal guilt rested with his superiors who gave the orders for their extermination. He said this when the cross-examination opened today.
Earlier, in reply to the final questions put to him by his defending counsel, Dr. Robert Servatius, Eichmann explained why he felt free from legal guilt for the crimes.
He admitted that he had known some of the Jews he arranged to have deported to camps would be killed there. How then, he was asked, did he see his guilt?
Eichmann, remaining seated, read from a sheet of paper on his desk. "In my case, sixteen to twenty four years have passed since these events. Many things that were in force then have long lost their validity. There is a difference between guilt from a legal viewpoint and from the human one.
"The facts in relation to which I am asked to answer are my participation in deportations", he said, "but these were at the time a political order of the regime and the guilt is that of those who held - or are holding the responsibility for political decisions. Where there is no responsibility there can be nor guilt."
The state finds a means of binding an individual, Eichmann went on, and this instrument is the oath. But responsibility and the consciences for those actions rest at the summit of the State. The leaders were responsible. "Those who have good leadership are fortunate; those with bad leadership are unlucky. I was unlucky," he said.
He admitted that he could, of course, have killed himself rather than obey the orders. But he could not object. Ethically, it was another matter. "There is a matter of inner guilt, but this is outside the legal code. I have judged myself, and continue to do so."
"I condemn and deplore the extermination of the Jews which the leadership of the German nation conducted, but I could not have done anything about it," he told the Court. "I was a tool in the hands of superior powers and authorities and of a fate which was merciless."