Prelude to the Eichmann Trial in Yad Vashem Studies, Volume 40:2

Yechiam Weitz

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Prelude to the Eichmann Trial: From the Enactment of the Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day Law to the War Criminal Trial

The article discusses the major question about the historical place of the Eichmann Trial in relation to Holocaust commemoration in Israel. The trial was the event that changed the attitude of Israeli society toward the Holocaust; this dramatic occurrence connected the historical and political process that began in the early 1950s, and ended in 1959, two years before the proceedings against Eichmann began in 1961. The bulk of this study deals with the long deliberations leading to the enactment of the Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day Law, which mainly determines the day of its commemoration and its object — “communion with the memory of the Holocaust … [and] with the acts of heroism and uprising in those days.” Two trends are detected. The first was the expansion of the idea of heroism in the Holocaust. The second determined that a change of attitude toward the Holocaust in Israel — from a political vision to a national vision — had taken place. Both appeared in the Eichmann Trial and show that the trial was part of a process and not a one-time event.