“To understand the Holocaust we must comprehend Adolf Eichmann.”
– Michael Berenbaum, the President of Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation and a respected Holocaust scholar.
Adolf Otto Eichmann (March 19, 1906 – May 31, 1962) was a German Nazi and SS-Obersturmbannführer (Lieutenant Colonel). Because of his organizational talents and ideological reliability, Eichmann, the Head of Jewish Affairs at Reich Security Headquarters, was assigned to facilitate and manage the logistics of mass deportations to the extermination camps in German-occupied Eastern Europe. He avoided prosecution at the Nuremberg International Military Tribunals when he escaped and fled to Buenos Aires where he lived for 15 years under the assumed name, Ricardo Klement.
Although the essential facts of Adolf Eichmann’s capture, his interrogation and subsequent trial in Israel are known, the significance of these events is much more complex than it might seem on first impression. In the simplest sense, the Israeli Secret Service, the Mossad, captured Eichmann in Argentina and brought him to Israel where he was detained in a secret prison. Police Captain Avner Less interrogated him in preparation for his trial. Captain Less spent a total of 275 hours with Eichmann, each session was taped and then transcribed. He was prosecuted in an Israeli court for “Crimes against the Jewish People” and found guilty. Adolf Eichmann is the only person ever sentenced to death and executed in Israel.
Eichmann’s capture was highly controversial. Israel had violated Agentina’s
sovereignty, literally kidnapping him and taking him to Israel against his will. He was forced to stand trial in Israel, a nation that did not exist at the time the crimes he was accused of perpetrating were committed. Critics asserted that it was not possible for Eichmann to receive a fair trial before a Jewish judge.
Eichmann’s trial also raised the issue of a soldier’s accountability. Was it possible for an individual to be absolved of responsibility for criminal deeds by resorting to a defense that he was only following orders? Is an ordinary soldier capable of responding differently when instant death is the punishment for disobeying an order? While these questions offer no simple answers, comprehending the disturbing implications of Adolf Eichmann’s involvement in the deportation of millions to the Nazi death camps is simply inconceivable for many.
Inspired by transcripts from the Israeli Police archives, The Extermination Machine is a provocative new play about the interrogation of Adolf Eichmann. This drama compels us to witness the brutal machinations of the Third Reich’s Final Solution through the eyes of characters who struggle to understand it. Hopefully this experience will expand our own comprehension of the Holocaust.
Produced by SeeNoSun OnStage, the World Premiere of The Extermination Machine is presented as part of the 2012 Capital Fringe Festival.
There will be 12 performances at the DC Arts Center – 2438 18th Street NW, in Washington DC, July 12th through July 29th (Thursdays – Sundays) at 7:30PM.
- Jul 12th 7:30 PM
- Jul 13th 7:30 PM
- Jul 14th 7:30 PM
- Jul 15th 7:30 PM
- Jul 19th 7:30 PM
- Jul 20th 7:30 PM
- Jul 21st 7:30 PM
- Jul 22nd 7:30 PM
- Jul 26th 7:30 PM
- Jul 27th 7:30 PM
- Jul 28th 7:30 PM
- Jul 29th 7:30 PM
Purchase tickets here or here, or call (866) 811-4111.
Written and Directed by Michael Wright.
Cast: James Radack as Captain Avner Less and Kim Curtis as Adolf Eichmann.