Adolf Eichmann Trial Discussion Questions | Classroom Activities

ABC News and PBS Present The Trial of Adolf Eichmann

Return to

Background & History

WWII, the Holocaust, and Eichmann

From Capture to Trial

Trial Info


Discussion Questions


Discussion Questions

1. Why did Eichmann agree to be extradited to Israel to stand trial?


2. Did Eichmann believe he had a reasonable chance of being found innocent by the Court?


3. Once in Israel, why did Eichmann cooperate in the judicial process?


4. Once the trial was underway and Eichmann realized that the Court was not likely to be sympathetic to his plight, why did he continue to cooperate?


5. Why did the United Nations vote to accept Israel’s right to keep Eichmann and put him on trial?


6. How might people with various backgrounds likely have viewed this trial?


      –A Holocaust survivor who immigrated to Israel in 1946.
      –A 16-year-old Israel high school student who was born in Israel.
      –An Israeli high government official who was born in Israel.
      –A Jew from the United States.
      –A non-Jew from the United States.
      –A U.S. Army liberator of the death camps.
      –a French collaborator of the Nazis.
      –A German S.S. officer still in hiding.


7. Was this a “show trial” — that is an activity designed more for public relations than to obtain justice? Were the results of the trial successful from either a criminal justice standpoint or a public relations standpoint?


8. Is there any value in continuing to search for Nazi war criminals and bringing them to trial, when most are feeble old men who are unlikely to cause any more harm to anyone?


9. If you had been a teacher in pre-war Germany and Adolf Eichmann had been in your class, what types of lessons/courses would you feel might have been effective in order to have affected how he participated in mass murder?


10. Was Eichmann convincing in his argument that he was dispassionately just”following orders”? Had this argument been accepted, would Eichmann have been found not guilty? What was the defense strategy, and what were alternative strategies? Was there any possibility of Eichmann being found “not guilty”?


11. Were these three judges capable of presiding over a fair trial? Why did the Israeli government seek to try Eichmann themselves rather than turn him over toan international court?


12. How would the trial have turned out had Eichmann been trieda t Nuremberg?


13. Discuss the sentence Eichmann received. Would there have been any value in having him sentenced to life imprisonment?


14. Compare and contrast the differences between the values which we feel are important to those who live in a democracy and those values which were important to Eichmann and his fellow Nazis.


15. What were some of the pros and cons relating to the Israel Court agreeing to have the entire trial televised?


16. What were the pros and cons of all three of the judges being Jews who were natives of Germany?


17. Where in the world is genocide occurring today? What is thew orld community doing to stop it and bring the perpetrators to justice?


18. Why, after all of this public education concerning the Holocaust, does genocide recur? What strategies can you devise to minimize outbreaks of genocide?


19. Could the United States ever become a left-wing or right-wing dictatorship? Why or why not? If it did, what would be the principal sources of resistance?


20. Why did the Nazis keep such detailed records of their genocide?


21. After the end of the war, the U.S. government encouraged the immigration of hundreds of German scientists, many with Nazi backgrounds and questionable activities during the war, to the United States. Discuss whether this was appropriate.


22. Was the kidnapping of Adolf Eichmann by the Israel government legal? Was it justified? What would have happened if the Israel government had provided information to the Argentina government about Eichmann and requested his extradition to Israel? What risks did Israel take in capturing Eichmann?


23. Today’s newspapers are filled with a controversy concerning the assets of Holocaust victims which found their way into Swiss banks, and the efforts of the Jewish community to return those assets to their rightful owners. Does Switzerland bear responsibility for relinquishing these assets after more than 50 years? Does the U.S. government have the responsibility for returning land to Native Americans which may have been illegally confiscated three hundred years ago?


24. Had Eichmann not had such an obsession with killing Jews,how effective could he have been in saving Jews from extermination?

by Gary Grobman
copyright © 1997 Gary M. Grobman

Note: Material in all capital letters is copyrighted by other individuals/organizations.


Go to the top of the page

[ Home | Classroom | “In His Own Words” | Resources

Documentary Info | The Trial ]

PBS Online