Director: Robert Young.
Starring: Avner W. Less (Himsel, voice, archive footage), Thomas Kretschmann (Adolf Eichmann), Troy Garity (Capt. Avner Less), Franka Potente (Vera Less), Stephen Fry (Minister Tormer), E""laine Yates (Miriam Fröhlich), Tereza Srbova (Baroness Ingrid von Ihama), Judit Viktor (Ann Marie), Stephen Greif (Hans Lipmann), Dénes Bernáth (Benjamin), Bernadett Kis (Sarah), Tilly O'Neil (Hannah), László Bereczki (David), Alexis Latham (Dubois), Scott Alexander Young (Robert Servatius).
based upon the final "confession" of Adolf Eichmann
Spoiler Warning: below is a summary of the entire film.
"Holocaust, the (1933-1945) Extermination of European Jews and others by the Nazi regime in Germany. The Nazi persecution reached its peak in the 'Final Solution', a programme of mass extermination adopted in 1942, and carried out with murderous efficiency by Adolf Eichmann."
"Eichmann, (Karl) Adolf (1906-62) German administrator. He was responsible for carrying out Hitler's final solution and for administering the concentration camps, in which 6 million Jews perished. After the war he went into hiding in Argentina and eluded the Nuremberg Trials."
"The following is based upon official Israeli interrogation manuscripts (1960-1961)."
Capt. Avner Less is attending a wedding of his friends. A man comes to him and whispers something in his ear. He meets with intelligence director Mordecai who tells him that discretion is what is needed the most here. He also tells Avner to tell no one about his assignment.
Avner goes back to the wedding reception. Avner and his wife hear the news of the capture of Eichmann in Argentina and his now being in custody in Israel. This is happy news indeed for Israelis, but also for the world.
Ramleh Police Station, Israel, 1960. Eichmann is held in this prison.
Avner's two children wave Israeli flags as they are driven by their father to school. Mrs. Less reminds Avner not to miss her appointment with the doctor.
Bureau 06 Israeli Intelligence. Mordecai tells Avner that it is he who will decide what questions to ask Eichmann and when. Avner is now introduced to Has Lipmann.
Eichmann is extremely polite to his guards. Overly polite one might say. Once the interaction is over, he says underneath his breath: "Kiss my ass!"
Avner looks through a protective device with many holes in it at Eichmann. Mordecai says he and his family have nothing to fear from Eichmann.
Two guards eat with Eichmann at a small table. They let him choose which plate from which he wants to eat. At dinner with friends, Avner and his wife talk about Eichmann. They wonder who will be Eichmann's interrogator. Vera Less thinks that Eichmann doesn't deserve a trial. While doing the dishes, Vera tells her friend that the doctor told her she was in remission. She tells Sarah that her official problem is called polio of the spine. Vera also says she doesn't want her children to ever see her in a wheelchair.
At night Vera says to Avner that they lost altogether 60 members of their family to the Holocaust. She says they should just pay someone to shoot Eichmann in the head and be done with it.
In the cell a tape recorder is set up. Avner comes to work in the morning and sees and hears two protestors with signs yelling at him. In a small area Avner introduces himself to Eichmann. Almost immediately Eichmann tries to lessen as much as possible his role in the Holocaust. "I think you will find that I can prove I was only a humble cogger in what was admittedly a highly intimidating machine. Now, of course, on the scrapheap of history." Avner is being outwardly emotionless, but inside he is probably being torn up. He tells Eichmann that he heard that Eichmann was willing to discuss his role in the Holocaust. Yes.
Mother picks up the children from school. She asks them what they learned in school and the little girls says they learned about their daddy. The news is out that Avner is Eichmann's interrogator. Vera is very angry with her husband because she was not told anything. Avner, of course, explains that he was told to tell no one about his assignment. She says: "How come every Jew in the country knew before I did?" She thinks he should have told her and he reiterates he was ordered not to tell anyone, including his wife. The wife is taking this too personally and it bugs Avner.
Another strategy that Eichmann uses to refute various denouncements is to say that anyone testifying against him was or is lying just to save his or her own neck. He also says he didn't say ethnic slurs in referring to the Jewish captives. He does admit, however, that he never displayed any lack of control in doing his duties. When asked how do non-Jewish Germans and Jews differ, he says the issue of the Jews' inherited race. He also admits that the aim of the Holocaust was to remove from the German race certain impurities of the blood. Avner asks why then did the Germans kill the Hungarian Jews and the Greek Jews who were no threat to the German blood? Eichmann admits it didn't make much sense, but those were the orders from Hitler.
A guard gives Eichmann paper and pencil to write a letter to his son Klaus, one of the four brothers.
Flashback. Buenos Aires, Argentina. Eichmann remembers when his wife and children arrived to be with him in Buenos Aires. That night he and his wife had sex and conceived another son. (brief nudity)
Back to the present. A guard takes the pencil and paper from Eichmann. At home Avner reads the letter. Their son comes into the room in his pajamas and his mother picks him up to take him back to bed. Before she leaves, she tells her husband: "I hope you're thinking about our safety."
Flashback. May 11, 1960. Walking home at night Eichmann is grabbed by three men who throw him into a car.
Back to the present. Avner tells Eichmann that he had a reputation of being a tyrant over his section IVB4. He responds: "It wasn't my job to be loved."
Archival film of the transport of the Jews is shown.
Avner notes that although Eichmann was married in 1935, he carried on a number of liaisons with other women: two maids, three secretaries, a businesswoman and a mistress. His mistress was Jewish. (brief nudity) Eichmann denies he ran some sort of love nest in order to be with a Jewess from Austria.
Flashback. Doppl, Austria, winter 1942. Eichmann's mistress is giving him a foot rub. A German soldier shines Eichmann's boots. When he's finished he peeks into Eichmann's room and is spotted. The commander yells at him: "Out!" He then kisses his mistress. The next morning he tells his mistress that he has been transferred to Hungary. He says that she can stay at the farm. She asks what shall she do with all the animals on the farm? He says: "Shoot them!" Before Eichmann leaves he has the concentration camp workers on the farm put up against a wall and mowed down with a machinegun. He doesn't even say goodbye to his pretty mistress.
Back to the present. A locksmith puts on a heavy duty locking device on the front door of Avner's home. Outside the house is a guard smoking a cigarette.
Avner asks Eichmann about his association with Baroness Ingrid von Ihama? He wants to know where did the money for the expensive gifts for the Baroness come from?
Flashback. The Baroness drops her garment to the floor leaving her naked. (brief nudity) Then she goes and sits on Eichmann's lap facing the war criminal. She tells him that he doesn't go far enough. Out of 900,000 Hungarian Jews he only killed half a million. "You're careless." She is sexually turned on when she urges him to tell her more and more about how many Jews he has killed in each area of occupation. When he uses the word process instead of killed, she scolds him for this saying that he should use the right words or the Germans will never become a master race. Later the Baroness has a German soldier take away a baby from its Jewish mother and give it to the Baroness, who walks away with it. She brings the baby to see Eichmann. The woman wants Eichmann to shoot the baby in front of her.
Eichmann hesitates. Then he takes out his pistol and readies it for firing. He hesitates. A secretary opens the door and now Eichmann shoots the baby in front of the secretary, who is absolutely shocked at the sight..
Back to the present. Now there is a huge crowd of protestors at the prison. Guards have to hold them back. Avner tells Eichmann he knows the German was named Reichsfuehrer Deputy because of his language skills. The interview is cut short because there is a danger that the hostile crowd may break through the outer prison gate.
The director comes in to tell Avner that they originally thought that his father died of natural causes. He now hands Avner a piece of paper that is a transport list. It lists Abraham Less as one of the transportees taken to Auschwitz. The minute that the media finds this out, Avner will be gone, finished. Therefore the captain needs to get a confession quickly.
At home Vera tells her husband that he must resign immediately. He asks why is she so upset? She says the Nazis killed her mother. But the real reasons for her being upset is the effect of all this on Avner. Vera says her husband is merely a pawn in the hands of the government. And the public is bound to find out all of this.
Avner starts to go speak with Eichmann, but in the cell doorway in front of Eichmann, he says: "Not today."
A reporter from the Jerusalem Post calls up Avner and asks if she can get an interview with him about his interrogation of Eichmann? Avner hangs up on her without a word.
Vera is at school to pick up both her children and Sarah's children. She notices that the father has come to school to pick up his children. Vera asks she thought she was supposed to pick up the children? He says that Sarah doesn't think it's safe. After all, now Avner and Vera are both possible targets.
When Avner tries to get into the prison parking area, he is blocked by the protestors. They block the whole area. Avner keeps slowly going forward. One man is really screaming at Avner, who gets so angry, he rolls down his car window and slugs the guy in the face. The man goes down.
Eichmann says he could hang himself and that would be a warning to the anti-Semites. Avner says: "We are obliged to make every effort to keep you alive for now." And now Eichmann starts using more the excuse that he can't remember many things from his past. He says he remembers little of his encounters with a Muslim cleric who called for the extermination of all the Jews. Did he receive gifts from the Muslim? No.
The next day Avner has photos of Eichmann receiving some fancy gifts from the cleric. He shows the photos to Eichmann, who only says: "I gave them [the gifts] back."
Someone painted a swastika on the home of the Lesses.
Avner tries to get Eichmann to admit some culpability for his actions during the Holocaust. Eichmann says he doesn't remember being part of the supplying of skulls to a university professor.
At home Avner paints over the swastika. Vera tells her husband that she was never afraid before about persecution of her and her family. But now it's obvious that she is afraid.
In a testimonial Eichmann is identified as one of the men directly responsible for the transport of Jews to Auschwitz. "I was obeying orders" says Eichmann. He was obeying Hitler's orders. Avner now tries to find out if Eichmann was actually acting under orders or was he acting on his own by this time? Under orders, says the war criminal.
Avner speaks to the director about getting more protection for himself and his family. The director says the guard on duty was reprimanded for not preventing the painting of a swastika on Avner's door.
Avner practices shooting a pistol at a target. He missed the target figure every time.
The pretty reporter picks up Hans Lipmann. She acts as if she were his girlfriend.
When Avner goes to work he meets the counsel for the defense and two of his associates. Avner speaks with director Mordecai. He says there's not enough hard evidence in the transcripts of the interviews. What the director says is needed is an actual confession from Eichmann. Avner says: "He'll never confess. He won't admit he's guilty of anything."
Flashback. Eichmann is out in the forest where Jews are being shot while on their knees and they fall right into a big ditch grave. He says at first he didn't know what was going on. He told himself that this has nothing to do with him. When he fully realized what was really going on, he says he threw up. "I could hardly speak of the inhumanity."
Avner says he was there when Jewish prisoners were hanged. And there when Jewish prisoners were placed inside the back of a truck and gassed with carbon monoxide, which proved inefficient. So then he turned to a search for a better gas to use. Zyklon B proved to be much more efficient.
Back to the present. Eichmann tells Avner: "I refuse to take responsibility for things I had no orders for and which were not by department." Avner slowly claps for the brilliant performance given by Herr Eichmann. Avner asks how many Jewish Hungarians were rounded up at first? Some 450,000. Eichmann denies that he ever took money to release Jews. Avner says according to the head of the Jewish Council, Dr. Kastner, Eichmann said: "Kastner, I have to clean this Jewish shit out of the provinces." He wanted Kastner to bring him lots of trucks for ferrying the Jews.
At night the woman reporter from the Jerusalem Post asks Avner if she can talk to him. He says he is not permitted to speak to her. So she tells him that she knows about his father. He asks her what does she want from him" She says: "Your story." She says her paper will run the story of the main interrogator's father being killed by the Nazis in a concentration camp. Avner asks her how did she find out, but she won't reveal her sources. He bargains with her for one week before they print the story.
Avner knows her source was Hans Lipmann. He tells the man: "You can stop getting your schlong sucked by journalists for a start." Hans says nothing.
Avner has to go on a extended stay at the prison. His wife complains that her children are wondering where their daddy is. Avner says he has five more days to go. He leaves for the prison.
Avner asks the prisoner if his section handled the extermination of the Gypsies? Eichmann says only the ones from Germany. He also says that there were no guidelines for dealing with the Gypsies. Avner asks: "Then why exterminate all the Gypsies?" Eichmann just says an order came in and they just send all of them to be exterminated. Avner asks how could Eichmann's section just suddenly round up half a million Gypsies in a short while and ship them out?
Avner observes that Eichmann was always covering his tracks for fear that one day he might be brought to account for his activities.
Eichmann says he has never been an anti-Semite.
Avner has to pay a visit to his wife in the hospital. And now he has to watch his two children and do the household chores. One morning his daughter Hannah comes to him to tell him that he forgot to wake them up this morning for school. On her own, she says she got ready and then she got her brother David ready. Dad tells her "well done".
He visits his wife again in the hospital and says he's sorry that he neglected her. She blames director Mordecai. Vera also encourages Avner to finish up with the last two days with Eichmann.
Avner and Eichmann are together again. Eichmann says he had nothing, nothing, nothing to do with the gassing. (The intelligence people know that if Eichmann says a word three times in a row, he is lying.) He also notices that Eichmann is always denying any and all connections with Himmler of the SS.
Avner asks the intelligence staff to please find any and all written communications between Himmler and Eichmann. Lipmann has the needed information by the next morning.
On October 17, 1944 Eichmann returned to organize the first forced march deportation. 3,000 Jewish people died on the march itself. Eichmann then gave a list of his demands for thousands of Jews to Dr. Kastner. Avner has found evidence that Eichmann, in defiance of the orders from Himmler to cease the killing of Jews, ordered that all Jewish people over ten years old would be deported to Auschwitz and Dachau and the gas chambers. Eichmann says that's impossible for he would never disobey orders.
And now Avner lays on the table Himmler's orders to cease killing Jews signed by Himmler and the marching orders signed by Eichmann. Eichmann knows he has been caught on this one and lowers his head.
Avner sits down with the female reporter again She says this will be their last interview because she is being posted to Berlin. He thanks her for not writing about his family. She says that Eichmann has been now found guilty by the courts. She asks Avner if all this fuss and expense over Eichmann was worth it? He says: "We showed him more justice than he ever showed us."
June 1, 1962. Eichmann was hanged last night just after midnight. Avner mails Eichmann's letter to his family as per the wishes of the war criminal.
Eichmann did everything he could not to be executed. He was lying virtually through all of his testimony. It makes one wonder what good really came from the interviews with Eichmann? He never confessed guilt to any part of the war crimes done by him. He was a smart fellow but also a very devious one. And boy did he use a lot of excuses and rationalizations and denial to try to avoid the death penalty. I suppose he even used some of these rationales to justify his actions while he was committing the war crimes.
We learn some things about Eichmann through flashbacks. Apparently, he was quite active sexually outside his marriage. And we learn that he knew what he was doing were war crimes and tried to cover his tracks to keep from having evidence against him at all the many places he had gone to. The problem is, that because Eichmann was lying all the time, there was no report on his thinking throughout that terrible period of genocide. Serial killers are much more cooperative than Eichmann was during questioning in prison.
Thomas Kretschmann (Adolf Eichmann) did a good acting job.
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.
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