When Adolf Eichmann, the notorious Nazi many hold responsible for the Final Solution, went on trial in Jerusalem 50 years ago, the proceedings riveted people around the world. Eichmann, who’d been captured by Israeli agents a year earlier in Argentina, was being prosecuted in a country whose existence was in part due to his crimes. The trial re-focused attention on one of the century’s greatest horrors and drew criticism for the prosecutor’s decision to have survivors testify about their traumas. Such testimony was seen by many as distracting from facts and playing on emotions; it would also force victims to relive the brutality they’d experienced in the Holocaust.
These and other issues form the basis of The Eichmann Trial, a new book by Emory University historian Deborah E. Lipstadt from Nextbook Press. Lipstadt is no stranger to the courtroom or to the perils of anti-Semitism. In 1996, she was sued by David Irving, who’d accused her of libeling him by calling him a Holocaust denier. Lipstadt won her case at trial in 2000. She joined Vox Tablet host Sara Ivry to talk about the importance of survivor testimony, about the controversy surrounding the 1961 trial, and about how her courtroom experience changed the way she thinks of Eichmann’s. [Running time: 21:26.]