German Nazi leader responsible for carrying out Hitler's final solution to the Jewish problem.
Born in Solingen in the Rhineland, Eichmann grew up in Linz. He attended school in Thuringia and began studies in engineering before becoming a travelling salesman. Eichmann joined the Austrian Nazi Party in 1932. When the party was banned in 1933, he moved to Berlin to work for the Anschluss (union of Germany and Austria). In 1934 he joined the SD (Sicherheitsdienst), the security service of the SS (Schutzstaffel, or Black Shirts). He was then appointed head of the Scientific Museum for Jewish Affairs, with responsibility for gathering information about Jews.
From 1937 Eichmann rose rapidly through the SS hierarchy to the rank of lieutenant-colonel and was given the task of expelling Jews from Austria and Bohemia, following German annexation of those countries (1938–39). He was then made chief of subsection IV-B-4 of the Reich Central Security (RHSA) and, as an authority on Jewish affairs at the Wannsee Conference in 1942, was told to effect the ‘final solution’ – a euphemism for the mass extermination of European Jewry. With demonic thoroughness he introduced the death camps to which six million Jews were shipped from all over Europe; nearly all of them perished. Eichmann was captured by the US army at the end of World War II, but managed to escape to South America, where he lived incognito until 1960. In that year he was traced by Israeli agents in Argentina and kidnapped. In 1962 he was tried before an Israeli court, found guilty of crimes against humanity, and hanged.
Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).