A letter written by Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann in which he requests clemency two days before his execution has been released in Israel.
Eichmann, who was executed in 1962 for his role in the Holocaust, wrote the letter to then-Israeli President Yitzhak Ben-Zvi following his war crimes trial.
The letter was placed on display Wednesday during a ceremony at the residence of Israeli President Reuven Rivlin marking International Holocaust Remembrance day. Eichmann’s letter forms part of an exhibition commemorating the Eichmann trial.
In the letter Eichmann refused to admit any guilt for his part in the Holocaust, Haaretz reports. “In their evaluation of my personality, the judges have made a significant error, since they cannot put themselves in the time and situation I was in during the war years,” he wrote.
“I never served at a rank so high that it could have been involved in such decisive and independent powers. I never gave any order in my own name, but rather always acted ‘on orders’,” he added.
Eichmann, an SS lieutenant colonel and one of the architects of the Holocaust, argues in the letter that he was “not a responsible leader” but was “forced to serve as a mere instrument in the hands of the leaders.”
Haaretz reports that, although knowledge of Eichmann’s clemency plea was known, the letter, which is written in German and translated into Hebrew, was only recovered recently during a digital archiving process.
Letters from Eichmann’s wife and brothers also are on display as part of the exhibit.