Hunting Eichmann

by Abigail Pfeiffer on September 2, 2010

"Hunting Eichmann" by Neil Bascomb

I start graduate school on Monday, so for the last few weeks I have been furiously reading all the books I can for pleasure, since I know that most of my time in grad school will be spent reading books for my seminars.  I just finished a really great book called “Hunting Eichmann” by Neil Bascomb.  This book was about the Mossad, which was the Israeli Institute for Intelligence and Special Operations, and their hunt to find Adolf Eichmann. Eichmann had eluded capture in Europe after WWII ended, and he immigrated to Argentina  where he lived until he was captured in 1960.  It was an outstanding book, and would be a great read for anyone, even if they aren’t obsessed with history (like yours truly!).

I just finished this book about an hour ago, and I have just been mulling over the book and all the information given. The dedication of the team that captured Eichmann was incredible, to say the least.  The attention to detail that they had to adhere to did not provide them with any room for error.  Since Eichmann was found in Argentina, and it was Israeli’s who were hunting them, they couldn’t just arrive in Argentina under their real identities and just casually capture Eichmann and then hop a flight out of Buenos Aires.  There had to be intricate preparations for all phases of the capture, from the trip to Buenos Aires under assumed identities, to the actual capture itself, to the waiting period of holding Eichmann in a safe house, to finally being able to leave Argentina with Eichmann in tow, all without tipping off the Argentinean authorities.  Every team member had a distinct role, whether it was forging documents, or looking for safehouses, or staking out Eichmann’s house to determine his daily schedule.

When Eichmann was finally captured and brought to the safe house and then to Israel, he maintained under interrogations that he was merely following orders.  All the way up to his hanging, he declared his innocence due to his following of direct orders of Hitler.  He stood trial in Israel from April 2, 1961 to August 14, 1961 when he was found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging.  The following website had information about Eichmann along with the complete transcripts from his trial:

Something interesting to note was that many of the members of the Mossad team that captured Eichmann were either Holocaust survivors or had been touched in some way by “The Final Solution.” During the ten days that Eichmann was hidden in a safe house in Argentina before being taken back to Israel, the team members that had to watch over him felt that a certain somberness was cast over the house, due to this man that had orchestrated the deaths of so many Jews being in such close proximity to them.  Eichmann always maintained that his hands were clean since he did not personally kill Jews himself, and it’s a testament to the denial that Eichmann used to justify his actions during the war.

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