BONN — The son of Adolf Eichmann has gone public, saying he harbors no resentment toward Israel for executing his father and would like to visit the Jewish state.
Ricardo Eichmann, 40, said he is glad he does not have to confront his father. But 33 years after the execution, he still carries the burden of his father's actions.
"I tend to compare our family history to that of a multi-stage rocket. My father was the part that was dropped to the sea shortly after takeoff, while we continue flying," Eichmann said. "I am glad I do not have to live with him.
"There is no way that I can explain what happened [during the Holocaust]. I just cannot understand it."
As Hitler's chief aide, Adolf Eichmann oversaw the deportation and murder of millions of Jews during World War II.
After the war, Eichmann fled to South America. In 1960, he was kidnapped by Israeli agents in Buenos Aires and was flown secretly to Israel, where he was brought to trial.
On the night of May 31, 1962, he was hanged, becoming the only person ever to receive capital punishment in the Jewish state. After his execution, Eichmann's ashes were dispersed in the Mediterranean Sea.
Ricardo Eichmann, the youngest of four brothers, was seven years old at the time of his father's execution.
The family returned to Germany shortly after the trial began, and Eichmann said his mother, Veronika, never told him what his father did or how his father died.
For years, he thought his father had merely disappeared. It was not until he reached his early teens and began reading about the war that he learned what his father had done.
The junior Eichmann led a quiet life in Berlin until he accepted an appointment in April as professor of Middle Eastern archaeology at Tubingen University in southern Germany.
The local media ran a story about the new professor, and that in turn led to further stories in the German and Israeli press.
Had it not been for the appointment, Eichmann said he would probably have kept his silence. Until recently, he had never spoken in public about his father.
But he had dismissed the idea of changing his name to hide his identity.
"This would have been only an exterior change. I would have been left with the burden," he said.
In an interview published in the Israeli daily Ha'aretz, Eichmann said he was glad that he would never have to confront his father.
"I am glad that the trial and sentence took place then, and that as a grown up, thinking man I don't have any contact with him," Eichmann said.
Asked how he felt about talking to an Israeli, Eichmann said he comes from a different school of thought from that of his father and that he did not judge people by their nationality or religion.
He admitted that as a child he may have felt anger at the Israelis for abducting his father, but in subsequent years he harbored no such feelings.
Asked whether he thought Nazism could return to Germany, Eichmann said: "I don't believe so. I promise you one thing, though: If the Nazis came to power in Germany, I would pack a small suitcase for each of my children, and get out of here."