Had a very interesting meeting with Amos Hausner (and his wife) on Friday. He is in New Zealand to give a series of public lectures.
His father, Gideon Hausner, was Attorney-General of Israel from 1960 to 1963, and was the chief prosecutor in the trial of Adolf Eichmann for crimes against humanity.
The trial received televised global coverage – and this was in the early 1960s.
Eichmann had said in 1945 “I will leap into my grave laughing because the feeling that I have five million human beings on my conscience is for me a source of extraordinary satisfaction” which gives you some sense of the character of the man.
The judges concluded that Eichmann was not just following orders, but was a key perpetrator of the genocide who believed in the Nazi cause. He was sentenced to death on the 15th of December 1961. After his appeal to the Supreme Court was dismissed on 29 May 1961, and a plea to the President of Israel for clemency was rejected, he was executed just after midnight 31 May 1962.
Amos told me that his father was in fact an opponent of the death penalty. He was one of the more liberal members of the Knesset, and there was a degree of irony that a death penalty opponent would prosecute the only case in Israel’s history which saw the death penalty sought and sentenced.