October 22, 2017

Israeli Judge in Eichmann Nazi trial dies at 99

Judge Moshe Landau 1912-2011

Moshe Landau, the chief judge in the 1961 trial of Nazi war criminal, Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem, died on Sunday at the age of 99, the Israeli government has announced.

He died on the eve of the annual memorial day for the Jewish victims of the Holocaust.

Landau was already an Israeli Supreme Court justice when he was chosen to head the three-judge panel for the Adolf Eichmann trial.

Eichmann, was in charge of the “final solution,” the Nazi plan to kill all the Jews of Europe. Eichmann went to ground in Germany at the end of the war and eventually fled to Argentina.

He was tracked down by Israel’s Mossad spy agency and a small team of agents kidnapped him and brought him back to Israel for trial in 1960. He was convicted and hanged in 1961.

The trial was broadcast live on Israeli radio and was followed closely by the nation.

The trial brought out the horrors and deprivations the Jews faced in Europe, which lead to a new appreciation of what the Holocaust survivors experienced among ordinary Israelis.

Landau was an accomplished jurist by the time of the Eichmann trial. Born in Danzig, Germany, in 1912, he studied law at the University of London and moved to Palestine in 1933, 15 years before the state of Israel was created.

He climbed quickly through the judicial system and was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1953. In 1980, he was named chief justice, retiring in 1982. In 1991, he was given the Israel Prize, the nation’s highest civilian honor.

In a speech Sunday at the ceremony for the beginning of the Holocaust memorial day, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu paid tribute to Landau, recalling that the Eichmann trial made a deep impression on him as a child.

“The people bow their heads in expressing honor and deep appreciation for his life works and character,” Netanyahu said.