Israel let Eichmann’s wife visit him before his execution

Secret, chaperoned visit was designed to preempt international criticism, newly released archive materials show

Adolf Eichmann on trial in Jerusalem, 1961 (AP, File)
Adolf Eichmann on trial in Jerusalem, 1961 (AP, File)

Vera Eichmann, the wife of the Nazi mastermind Adolf Eichmann, the only person to ever be executed following a trial in Israel, visited her husband in his prison cell days before he was put to death, documents declassified on Monday showed.

The archive also declassified notes from a government discussion on whether to ask the president to pardon the Nazi officer after an appeal of his death sentence was rejected by a court.

The visit by Eichmann’s wife was a closely guarded secret.

Eichmann was kidnapped by Mossad agents in Argentina in 1960 and brought to Israel.

He was hanged on the night between May 31 and June 1, 1962, exactly 53 years ago.

Two months before Eichmann was executed, his wife made a request, through his lawyer, to then-justice minister Dov Yosef to be allowed to see her husband before the execution.

Yosef raised the issue with the government and said it would be hard for Israel to withstand international criticism if it denied the request.

Then-foreign minister Golda Meir said at the time, “This can be done under one explicit condition: She will come, she’ll be allowed to see him, and she will leave the country. This might be up to 24 hours, but not more.”

MK Yaacov Hazan insisted at the time that the government ensure the visit was brief, with no opportunity for any intimacy — Vera was accompanied by Israel Prison Service officers throughout — in order to “prevent him from passing more humanely to the next world.”

Meir answered dryly: “Also, nobody is interested in her passing to the next world while she’s in the country.”

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