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Eichmann Trial -- Session 5 -- Excerpts of Attorney General's reply

Film | Accession Number: 1999.A.0087 | RG Number: RG-60.2100.009 | Film ID: 2008

Session 5. Begins while the courtroom is empty. The attorneys enter, and the camera focuses on Attorney General Hausner and Defense Attorney Servatius as they exchange pleasantries. The judges enter the courtroom and Judge Moshe Landau declares Session 5 open. Hausner discusses the Nuremberg Trials and its influence on the establishment of international laws and principles. He then quotes from the International Military Tribunal. The judge questions the relevancy of the documents being presented by the prosecution. To answer Landau's question, Hausner refers to the "Nazi Punishment Law," and explains that the law transfers responsibility from lower members of government to heads of state. The Judge continues to question Hausner's objective in presenting such laws.

Hausner believes that Eichmann will plead innocent based on "Acts of State," Section 19 of the Criminal Code Ordinance of 1936; "Acts of State" lists that soldiers/government officials are not responsible for their actions as they were following the orders of their superiors. Hausner believes that Eichmann cannot claim innocence based on Section 19 because his role in the Holocaust went beyond following orders. On a less personal level, the prosecutor states that Eichmann cannot plead innocent under Section 19, regardless of his actions during WWII as Section 8 of the "Nazi and Nazi Collaborators Punishment Law," directly invalidates "Acts of State." The Judge disagrees with Hausner, and reminds the prosecution that Eichmann has not yet entered a plea. Hausner relents, and explains he referred to foreign legislation because he wanted to highlight the correlation between Paragraph 8 of Israeli law and International Law.

Hausner continues to present international precedents for war criminals. He quotes a Supreme Court decision in West Germany: "an illegal order does not constitute justification for an illegal act." Judge Landau and Hausner discuss the differences between the Israeli and German courts. This conversation is followed by Hausner's conclusion.

Dr. Servatius is given permission to respond. The defense asserts Eichman's lack of responsibility; it is his superior, Adolf Hitler who should be punished for crimes against humanity, and he is dead. Hence, Adolf Eichmann should not be prosecuted. Furthermore, Servatius claims that Eichmann has the right to protection by his native country-Germany, and denying him that right would trivialize the legality of the court. The Judges pause to consider both arguments, and announce that a decision will be presented on the following Monday. The tape ends as the Court is adjourned.

Film Title
Eichmann Trial
Event:  1961 April 14
Production:  1961 April 14
Jerusalem, Israel
Accessed at United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of The Steven Spielberg Jewish Film Archives of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Record last modified: 2021-06-03 12:44:29
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