Permanent exhibition on the trial of Adolf Eichmann

January 31, 2018 by Lydia Weitzman
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A new permanent exhibition at the Ghetto Fighters’ House Museum has opened in a kibbutz in Western Galilee entitled Facing the Glass Booth: The Trial of Adolf Eichmann.

The glass booth
Photo: Jacob Madar

The hall is empty of blood, empty of fear, empty of pleading, the hall is full of words” – thus wrote Israeli poet Haim Gouri, on assignment with the Israeli daily newspaper Lamerhav, to describe the courtroom during the trial of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann in 1961 in Jerusalem. The exhibition seeks to create a similar feeling.

At the centre of the exhibition Facing the Glass Booth is the original cell where Eichmann sat and listened to the testimonies. Words and sentences from texts echo in the exhibition space, making an impression on the visitor, who is invited to read the full texts. The textual material includes quotations by Adolf Eichmann from the “Sassen Documents,” a wide-ranging interview conducted by Dutch journalist Willem Sassen in the late 1950s. This interview was published in several parts in 1960 in Life magazine, after Eichmann’s capture that year in Buenos Aires by the Mossad. Alongside them are quotations by the chief prosecutor in the Gideon Hausner trial, six video testimonies of survivors who testified at trial, and a four-voice audio installation, in which the actors read from the texts written by four observers who reported the trial daily to the public: Uri Avnery, then editor-in-chief of Haolam Hazeh (This World), philosopher Hannah Arendt who witnessed the trial for the New Yorker, poet Haim Gouri, who covered for Lamerhav and  writer Harry Mulisch who covered for the Dutch weekly Elseviers Weekblad.

Nazi war criminal Otto Adolf Eichmann, who was born in Züllingen in Germany in 1906, was one of the leaders of the Nazi extermination machine and the chief executor of the plan for the final solution for the annihilation of European Jewry during the Holocaust. After his capture by the Mossad in 1960 in Argentina, he was brought to a public trial in Israel in 1961 on criminal charges that included war crimes, crimes against humanity and crimes against the Jewish people. He did not deny the truth of the Holocaust during his trial, nor his role in its organization, but adopted a main line of defense that he was simply following orders as a clerk within a larger organisation.  All his claims were rejected in a trial involving 121 witnesses and 1,600 documents, and, after it was proved beyond any doubt that he played a central role in the organization, he was convicted and sentenced to death. After his appeal was rejected by the Supreme Court, and the President of the State refused to pardon him, Adolf Eichmann was executed by hanging in Ramle Prison on 31 May 1962.

Curator: Yaara Galor

Facing the Glass Booth is one of three new exhibitions to open this month at the Ghetto Fighters’ House Museum. The new permanent exhibition is entitled Jewish Warsaw: A Story of the Human Spirit, which presents a lesser-known chapter in the story of the Jewish community in Warsaw before and during World War II: the richness of pre-war Jewish life and the complexity of life in the ghetto. The third exhibition, entitled In Memoriam: Deported and Murdered Jewish, Roma and Sinti Children, 1942−1945 , literally gives a face to some 3,000 of the 19,000 child Holocaust victims from Holland.

Ghetto Fighters’ House Museum, Kibbutz Lohamei HaGhetaot, Western Galilee

Opening Hours: Sunday through Thursday, 09:00 – 16:00

Friday, 09:00-13:00

http://www.gfh.org.il/Eng/

Kibbutz Lohamei HaGhetaot (“The Ghetto Fighters’ Kibbutz”) was founded in April 1949 on a hill overlooking the Acre valley, in two buildings left by the British army. The founders all had endured and survived the Holocaust, as the remaining rebels of the Warsaw ghetto uprising, fighters from partisan units in Eastern Europe’s forests, inmates of concentration camps, hidden or circulating with a false identity, or deported and dispersed throughout Soviet territory after having fled eastward. They were united in a single goal: to build their lives anew in Eretz Israel, the Land of Israel.

Upon their immigration to Eretz Israel they chose to build a new kibbutz to commemorate the ghetto fighters and to honor the memory of family members murdered in the exterminations. The ceremony for laying the cornerstone was held on April 19, 1949, the sixth anniversary of the Warsaw ghetto uprising. One of founders’ first actions was the establishment of a museum whose purpose was to commemorate the life of European Jewry and its destruction, the ideological Jewish youth movements, the resistance, and the return to life after the Holocaust. And on that day they held the first memorial assembly, the date later added to the Israeli calendar for the nation’s annual Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day.

 

“The House,” so-called to this day by its staff and the kibbutz members, was the world’s first Holocaust museum created by survivors on the grounds of their home, within their new lives and society. The House tells the story of the Holocaust of European Jewry in the Second World War, celebrating the courage, the triumph of the human spirit, and the inspiring ability of these survivors to rebuild their lives as they had dreamed: in a Jewish national home in Eretz Israel.

 

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