The German Protestant Church put in a good word for Adolf Eichmann, the chief logistics organizer of the Holocaust, after his arrest in Argentina by Israeli agents in 1960, SPIEGEL has learned.
The superintendent of the Protestant Church for Upper Austria, Wilhelm Mensing-Braun, based in the Austrian city of Linz where Eichmann spent part of his childhood, wrote a letter to the foreign affairs department of the Evangelical Church in Germany in Frankfurt claiming that the mass murderer "had a fundamentally decent disposition," was "kind-hearted," and was characterized by "great helpfulness."
At that time, Eichmann was about to be put on trial in Jerusalem for crimes against humanity.
Braun went on that he could not imagine that the former SS officer "would ever have been capable of cruelty or criminal acts."
Eichmann's family had enlisted Mensing-Braun's help because they wanted Eichmann to be tried by an international court rather than an Israeli one.
Lobbying for Eichmann
Bishop Hermann Kunst, the representative of the Evangelical Church at the West German government, passed the letter on to the German Foreign Ministry with the note that the assessment was "at least interesting."
That means that not only an Austrian church official, but a German one as well, effectively lobbied the German government on behalf of Eichmann.
The intervention didn't work. Eichmann was sentenced to death in 1962 and hanged.
Before his arrest, Eichmann had been the most notorious of the Nazi war criminals still at large after World War II. He had been in charge of coordinating the deportation of Jews from Germany and Nazi-occupied Europe to the concentration camps, which made him directly responsible for the murder of six million Jews.