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Eichmann prosecutor passes away

Retired Israeli Supreme Court Justice Gabriel Bach, who served as state attorney during the 1961 trial of notorious Nazi Adolf Eichmann, died at the age of 94.

By Erin Viner

Bach, whose passing was announced by the Israel Judiciary Authority, was laid to rest at Jerusalem’s Har HaMenuchot cemetery yesterday. No cause of death was specified.

The prominent jurist was born in Germany on 13 March 1927. He and his family fled Nazi persecution of Jews by fleeing the country in 1938 by moving to the Netherlands.

The Bach family remained in Amsterdam just 2 years before leaving for pre-State Israel in 1940 just 1 month before the German invasion of the Netherlands – which suffered the highest number of Jewish victims in Western Europe. About 75% of the 140,000 Jews in the Netherlands were murdered in the Holocaust, and Bach was the only student of his Dutch school to survive World War II.

After joining the Haganah precursor to the Israel Defense Forces and completing his education at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and University College London, Bach served in the IDF Military Advocate General Corps 1951-53, retiring from the military as a Colonel to join the State Attorney’s Office.

Following his 1961 appointment as Deputy Attorney General, Bach and Tel Aviv District Attorney Yaakov Bar-Or served on the Eichmann case under lead prosecutor Gideon Hausner.

Eichmann, one of the Third Reich’s main organizers of the Holocaust, was captured in 1960 by Israeli Mossad agents in Argentina and brought to Jerusalem, where he was tried in the following year for crimes against humanity, crimes against the Jewish people and war crimes. Bach worked on evidence-gathering for the 56-day prosecution case based on hundreds of documents, including depositions by other top Nazi officials; as well as testimony from 112 witnesses, many of whom were Holocaust survivors.

Following conviction of the heinous charges, Eichmann was executed in 1962. “If any person deserved death it was him,’” Bach said during an interview with the International March of the Living Holocaust remembrance organization in 2017.

Bach went on to serve as State Attorney in 1969 and was appointed Justice of Israel’s Supreme Court in 1982. He officially retired in 1997.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog eulogized Justice Bach as a “a titan of the law,” and “a gentle and conscientious man with a Zionist and liberal compass.” The Israeli leader sent condolences to Bach’s family, students and “admirers,” and said he would never forget how the late jurist had personally described how he and his family escaped “from the claws of the Nazi menace.”