Eichmann memoirs describe Nazi death machine

The prison memoirs of Adolf Eichmann, which describe in detail the inner workings of the Nazi death machine, were released by Israel Tuesday.

Eichmann was kidnapped from South America by Israeli agents, tried in an Israeli court and hanged for his role in running Nazi death camps in 1962.

In his memoirs, Eichmann describes the Holocaust as "one of the worst crimes against humanity and the worst crime perpetrated against the Jewish people."

But as he wrote in his prison cell, waiting for an Israeli court to order his execution, Eichmann portrays himself as only a small cog in a giant machine, powerless to resist Hitler's orders. He claimed he was blinded by his ideology.

Eichmann Excerpts

"I witnessed the gruesome workings of the machinery of death; gear meshed with gear, like clockwork. It was the biggest and most enormous dance of death of all times."

"When I arrived at the place of the execution, the gunmen fired into a pit the size of several rooms. They fired from small submachine guns. As I arrived, I saw a Jewish woman and a small child in her arms in the pit. I wanted to pull out the child, but then a bullet smashed the skull of the child. My driver wiped brain particles from my leather coat."

"Because I have seen hell, death and the devil, because I had to watch the madness of destruction, because I was one of the many horses pulling the wagon and couldn't escape left or right because of the will of the driver, I now feel called upon and have the desire, to tell what happened."

Historians paint a different picture. They describe Eichmann as an ambitious bureaucrat who rose through the Nazi ranks by finding more efficient ways to ship Europe's Jews to death camps. The historians say his memoir distorts the facts to minimize his role in the execution of Jews. 

However, those same historians also say the manuscript provides valuable historical information. Eichmann's memoirs describe in great detail the destruction of the Jews in Europe in terms of how it was administered, how it was carried out, who was in charge and who did what.

In the diary Eichmann recounts a trip to the Auschwitz death camp in Poland where he was told Jews were being gassed to death. He also writes about witnessing a mass execution of Jews by machine gun during which he was splattered with the brains of a child.

Eichmann's memoirs were released to be included in a libel suit involving the number of deaths during the Holocaust.

Controversial British historian David Irving is suing American professor Deborah Lipstadt over a book she wrote in which she allegedly maintains that Irving has denied the Holocaust and distorted statistics.

Irving said he does not deny Jews were killed by the Nazis, but challenges the number and manner of Jewish concentration camp deaths. The case is being tried in a British court.

Israel's justice ministry says the manuscript has been forwarded to Lipstadt. Journalists were given a copy in German via e-mail or on computer disk. The original is written by hand in Gothic script.