By Simon Sheppard
These memoirs derive from transcripts that were provided to Rudolf Aschenauer by Eichmann’s widow, Veronika Eichmann (1909-1997), and appeared in Ich, Adolf Eichmann: Ein Historischer Zeugenbericht (Druffel, 1980). The numbers in square brackets refer to pages of that book.
We at the Heretical Press and Historical Review Press believe that these memoirs are as close as it is possible to get to Eichmann’s true voice. They are Eichmann’s own words, considered and uncoerced. Even so, an important point should be made. Like all of us, he was fallible, and Aschenauer points to a number of errors. Early on Eichmann mentions Himmler’s death by suicide pill, which should caution the reader that he was influenced by post-war press reports (i.e. Allied propaganda). David Irving, who is familiar with this matter, says that Himmler was beaten to death, and even names his killer: Sergeant-Major Edwin Austin. Chester Wilmot buried the body at 3am that same night on Nuremberg Heath. All involved were required to sign the Official Secrets Act. So, this document, important as it is, is not the definitive source on World War Two. Though it is a significant contribution to a historical era which is fraught with difficulty.
There are two sets of memoirs from Argentina, the other one based on interviews Eichmann had with Willem Sassen. Alexander Jacob wrote:
When the Israeli prosecutor Gideon Hausner wished to have the full Sassen transcripts admitted into evidence during Eichmann’s trial in 1961, Eichmann opposed this claiming that this record was mere “pub talk” since he had been drinking red wine during the interview and Sassen had constantly encouraged him to embellish his accounts for journalistic sensation and had even falsely transcribed the interview.
Parts of the Sassen interviews were sold to Life magazine, which published them in 1960. Eichmann wrote more memoirs while in Israeli captivity. Hence our claim that the memoirs presented here are the most accurate and authentic of all. They have nothing to do with Sassen and were not written in Israeli captivity. Aschenauer had served as a defence lawyer during the Nuremberg Trials and, while he clearly struggled with the publication of Ich, Adolf Eichmann, it is most unlikely that he would have corrupted the material which had been entrusted to him by Eichmann’s widow.
How it came to us
Ich, Adolf Eichmann contains a great deal of commentary by Aschenauer, much of it redundant. Jacob translated the book in its entirety and approached HRP. Subsequently a publishing contract was struck for an English edition of the book, and Jacob’s translation was purchased. Thus this English translation, imperfect as it is, is the copyright property of HRP.
The contract with Druffel stipulated that the book must be published within two years. Realising the difficulties with the translation, that time expired. There are numerous problems with the book; all could have been overcome eventually, but the difficulties of a 166,000-word faulty translation have proved to be insurmountable. The translation is not awful, tending as it does to literal, but wrong words have obviously been chosen and it is not good enough to set in print or quote with confidence.
Capping off the saga we learned that Jacob sold his translation a second time, to another publisher, whom we were told had also given up on the project, for the same reason.
It seems that everyone who gets their hands on this material feels compelled to add their tuppence-worth. (This is mine.) By the end it had acquired nearly five hundred footnotes, added by Aschenauer and even Jacob. There were biographies of virtually everyone mentioned in the book, including Hitler and Eva Braun. Here practically worthless ancillary sources like Reitlinger and the Nuremberg Trial documents have all been discarded, unless Eichmann himself refers to them.
It may seem surprising, but I have not actually read this text. It has been processed, so I have noticed parts, but the object was that it remain fresh for the final edit. It is still a work in progress: yet to be done is a review of the footnotes to incorporate any which are directly pertinent. Underline denotes any kind of suspicion or query. Should a reader be kind enough to resolve any of these, that would be helpful. Ellipsis does not denote an omission, since the book assures the reader that hardly anything has been left out, rather these seem to be an affectation by Druffel, Aschenauer, or perhaps Eichmann himself. Similarly with the liberal use of dashes between sentences. The German version is as close to the book as has been possible to achieve, save for typographical corrections (e.g. wrongly oriented quotation marks). The few additions to Eichmann’s words which remain are in square brackets.
My husband Adolf Eichmann composed his memoirs in the years beginning in 1951 up to 1959. He dictated the memoirs continually on a tape-recorder, this was then transcribed by typists from the tape to paper. My husband later corrected the work himself in writing and made the corrections in black or partly in violet pencil.
My husband composed a part of the memoirs himself by hand, and from the writing then a typed clean copy was prepared.
The work was completed in 1959. Therewith a conclusion should have been reached. My husband explained: This work should be published after my death and indeed for the benefit of the German post-war generation.
At the beginning of 1980, I made this manuscript available to the Druffel Publishers in 8131 Leoni for publication and gave the work the title “I, Adolf Eichmann.”
Everything else that was published up to now as my husband’s memoirs does not correspond to the manuscript that I have presented to the publishers under the mentioned title. These present declarations I attest herewith under oath. They are authentic.
[signed] Veronika Eichmann, born Liebl
All chapters in both German and English at the link below.