The Nazi Adolf Eichmann can be heard in newly-unearthed audio admitting having helped to devise the Final Solution.
Eichmann, a leading SS officer in the Third Reich, made the admissions in a secret interview in his adopted home of Buenos Aires, to which he fled after the war.
The interview was conducted by the Dutch Nazi sympathiser and journalist Willem Sassen in 1957, a few years before Eichmann was captured by Israeli intelligence agents in 1960 and flown to Israel, where he stood trial and, after being found guilty, was executed.
In the audio, Eichmann is heard saying: “If we had killed 10.3 million Jews, I would say with satisfaction, ‘Good, we destroyed an enemy.’ Then we would have fulfilled our mission.” In another clip, he says: “Jews who are fit to work should be sent to work. Jews who are not fit to work must be sent to the Final Solution, period.” He added that he “did not care” whether those sent to Auschwitz lived or died.
The audio recordings, which are part of a $3 million new documentary called The Devil’s Confession, also capture Eichmann swatting a fly during the interview and describing it as having “a Jewish nature”.
Although in his trial, Eichmann claimed that he was merely a low-ranking functionary and proclaimed his innocence of the charges, in the interview audio he is open about his role, saying: “It’s a difficult thing that I am telling you and I know I will be judged for it. But I cannot tell you otherwise. It’s the truth. Why should I deny it? Nothing annoys me more than a person who later denies the things he has done.”
Part of the transcript of the interview was sold to Life magazine following Eichmann’s capture, but the quoted material was believed to be highly selective and sanitised.
Although the Israeli court had 700 pages of transcript, including corrections made by Eichmann’s own hand, he claimed that the record distorted his words and Israel’s Supreme Court did not permit the documents to be submitted in evidence. Nevertheless, during the trial Eichmann taunted the prosecutor, Gideon Hausner, to produce the original tapes, safe in the knowledge that they were protected by Nazi sympathisers. Although Hausner was offered the tapes for an exorbitant sum, the seller reportedly insisted that they not be brought to Israel until after the trial had concluded. Eventually, the tapes came into the hands of the German federal archives Koblenz, with instructions that they should be used only for academic research.
The audio was unearthed by the documentary makers after access was finally granted to the material by the German authorities.