The Eichmann Trial’s Youngest Witness

Stand for Israel  |  May 7, 2021

Yosef Kleinman testifies at Eichmann trial, 1961
Yosef Kleinman testifies at Eichmann trial, 1961

In 1960, a team of Mossad operatives traveled from Israel to Argentina, where they nabbed Adolf Eichmann, one of the main architects of the Holocaust. After spiriting Eichmann back to the Jewish state, Israel put the Nazi on trial in 1961. Our friends at JTA report that Yosef Kleinman, the youngest Holocaust survivor to testify at Eichman’s trial, has passed away in Jerusalem at the age of 91:

Kleinman was one of 110 witnesses at the 1961 trial of Eichmann, the most senior German official in charge of the extermination of the Jews, and at 31 was the youngest. His testimony, delivered just after another witness fainted, was about the fate of Jewish youths at Auschwitz.

Deported to Auschwitz in 1944 from Budapest when he was 14, Kleinman saw his mother and younger sister sent to their deaths.

In vivid terms that riveted the trial judges, Steinman described Josef Mengele, the physician at Auschwitz whom Steinman referred to in his testimony by his sobriquet, “The Angel of Death,” arriving at a soccer field on a bicycle with a measuring device. It became immediately clear to the youths gathered on the field that those who were shorter than the device’s measurements would die.

“Every one of us stood straight, each one of us sought an extra centimeter of height,” Kleinman said at the trial. He immediately discerned that he was not tall enough. His brother gave him pebbles to put in his shoes to get to the requisite height. Through some maneuvering, Kleinman remained with his brother in the line of those destined to slave labor.

Watch Yosef Kleinman’s testimony above. May his memory be a blessing.