UN marks 50th anniversary of trial that convicted Holocaust organizer

UN Messenger of Peace Elie Wiesel (right) speaks with Amb. Ron Prosor of Israel at event marking the 50th anniversary of the trial of Adolf Eichmann. Photo: Shahar Azran

24 April 2012 – The United Nations marked on Monday the 50th anniversary of the trial of Adolf Eichmann, a Nazi officer who was one of the main organizers behind the systematic mass deportation and murder of European Jews during the Holocaust, with a series of events and discussions at its Headquarters in New York.

Organized by the UN Department of Public Information’s (DPI) Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme, the observance included a round table discussion, hosted in partnership with the State of Israel, in which panelists explored the psychological, social and legal aspects of the trial, including its influence on justice and accountability in the 21st century.

Among those taking part were Israeli Minister Yossi Peled; Professor Deborah E. Lisptadt of Emory University; the Executive Director of the International Bar Association, Mark S. Ellis; and the son of the Chief Prosecutor of the trial and an attorney himself, Amos Hausner; as well as Holocaust survivors such as UN Messenger of Peace Elie Wiesel.

“The Eichmann trial was a turning point in Holocaust history,” the Deputy Director of DPI’s Partnerships and Public Engagement, Ramu Damodaran, said at the opening of the roundtable discussion. “It gave a voice and a face to the millions of people that had been persecuted under Nazi rule. The world listened closely as victims and eyewitnesses talked about the horrors that had taken place.”

After the Second World War, Mr. Eichmann fled to Argentina and lived there until 1960, when he was captured and taken to Israel to face trial in an Israeli court on 15 criminal charges, including crimes against humanity and war crimes. He was found guilty and executed by hanging in 1962, and is the only person to have been executed in Israel through a conviction by a civilian court.

As part of the observance events, an exhibition entitled “With Me Are 6 Million Accusers: The Eichmann Trial in Jerusalem” opened in the visitors lobby of UN Headquarters last week, showcasing photographs, newspaper clippings, works of art and original film footage of Mr. Eichmann’s trial. It runs until the end of May.

In addition, the Holocaust and the UN Outreach Programme, the UN Academic Impact and the Israeli Government announced a new scholarship programme on Holocaust studies that will be held at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes Remembrance Authority, in Jerusalem in December.


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