“Why Didn’t Our Boys Just Shoot Him and Leave a Little Note?”: The Trial of Adolf Eichmann in Israel

Katie Anne Cranford


Historically speaking, the trial of former Nazi Adolf Eichmann was an unavoidable spectacle of the 1960s. For some, it could have been seen as a farce due to its inherent impartiality as the accused was illegally kidnapped out of Argentina and the proceedings were held in the fledgling state of Israel. For others, it reopened unpleasant wounds and brought back the horrors of Nazi Germany. For the world, it was an educational opportunity that allowed a new generation to learn about the atrocities of the Holocaust. My paper examines Eichmann’s role in the Holocaust, his trial and subsequent sentence, the question of the legitimacy of the proceedings, and the trial’s significant impact on how society viewed the Holocaust. From public opinion on Israel to new philosophical ideas, the Eichmann trial challenged people to reevaluate everything that they had known about Nazi barbarities, specifically those committed against the Jews. The reason why the Israelis did not simply “shoot him and leave a little note” was because his trial would, in fact, serve a political purpose. Was Eichmann really that important? Was he as central to the Holocaust as Israel would like the world to believe? There is a substantial amount of evidence that indicates Eichmann was not quite so important and that, instead, his highly- publicized trial was used to further the belief that the Holocaust was a uniquely Jewish experience thus validating the existence of the newly-created state of Israel in the Middle East. 


Eichmann; Holocaust; Nazi; Israel

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