KILLING A MURDERER: The Capture of Adolf Eichmann

by Sarah Masih

“I will leap into my grave laughing because the feeling that I have five million human beings on my conscience is for me a source of extraordinary satisfaction”

- Adolf Eichmann


Adolf Eichmann was a man who willingly played a role in the deaths of six million Jewish people.


He took part in several murderous activities. Captured by the Mossad on May 11, 1960, Eichmann was declared guilty in a trial that took place in Jerusalem.


In 1962, he was rightly hanged to his death.


The Mossad Institute for Intelligence and Special Operations (Mossad) - an Israeli intelligence organization working to collect civilian and military information - successfully captured Eichmann in 1960.


About Adolf Eichmann


During World War I, Eichmann moved to Germany along with his family. He worked as a traveling salesman in Austria, but he lost his job during the Great Depression.


Adolf Eichman


He joined the Nazi party in April 1932 and quickly rose through the ranks.


In November 1932, he joined Heinrich Himmler’s SS (Schutzstaffel’ or 'Protective Echelon').


In 1933, he joined the terrorist school of the Austrian Legion at Lechfeld, Germany. He steadily progressed in the group and was sent from city to city and eventually made in-charge of Jewish affairs.


In January 1942, a conference was held to organize the plans for the “final solution”. Eichmann was asked to coordinate the details of this plan.


Eichmann was named Chief Executioner. He organized the identification, assembly, and transportation of Jews all over Europe to concentration camps.


Post World War 2


After the war was over, many of the Nazis were captured and tried. The ones who escaped were found by the members of the Jewish Brigade.


The Jewish Brigade helped Jews immigrate to Palestine and hunted down Nazis. They nicknamed themselves ‘Nokmim’ meaning ‘The Avengers.’


Adolf Eichmann was issued a passport by the International Committee of the Red Cross.


He changed his identity to a man named Ricardo Klement, a technician born in Bolzano Italy. This fake identity was later discovered by a graduate student at the University of San Martin in 2007.


Eichmann arrived in Argentina in 1950. He lived in a small town near Buenos-Aires called San Fernando. Later, he moved to the Province of Tucuman, where he worked at an engineering company called the Capri firm.


Argentina’s President Juan Peronalso, sometimes called the ‘Nazi sympathizer’, gave their company a project to renovate the water administration.


Eichmann’s wife and children joined him in Argentina. His children were enrolled in a nearby school that supported the Nazis.


Eichman remained hidden for several years.


In 1957, Walter Eytan at the Israeli Foreign Ministry got a call from Fritz Bauer, the public prosecutor of the province of Hesse, Germany. Bauer revealed Eichmann’s location and Eytan immediately contacted the Mossad.


The head of the Mossad, Isser Harel, started reading about Eichmann. Harel learned about the crimes that Eichmann had committed, he also figured out that they wouldn’t be able to catch someone as skilled as Eichmann.


No other government, agency or police force had even tried to locate Eichmann.


Capturing Adolf Eichmann proved to be a difficult task, especially considering Argentine complicity in the sheltering of Nazis. Eichmann had even gotten rid of all the clues that would’ve led the Mossad to his trail.


Nicholas Eichmann, Adolf Eichmann’s son, frequently bragged about his father’s involvement in the war and used his last name proudly.


This led the Mossad to Argentina, but the address they found was incorrect. The wound up at a dead end. The only thing they figured out was that Eichmann’s family was with him in Argentina.


It was imperative that Eichmann did not know about the Mossad’s operation.


It was until late 1959 that the Mossad discovered that Eichmann had changed his identity to Ricardo Klement.


They followed the trail of Nicholas Klement onto Garibaldi Street in Buenos Aires. They broke into the house and took pictures.


Garibaldi Street


They were almost certain that it was Eichmann who lived there, but they did not have any proof.


Then, finally, on March 21st ‘Richardo Klement’ walked to the same house holding a bouquet of flowers. He handed them to a woman who was later identified as his wife. March 21st was Adolf Eichmann's wedding anniversary.


Isser Harel wanted to overlook the capture of Eichmann himself. This mission was named ‘Operation Finale’.


Every detail was planned down to the last minute and every possible problem was accounted for. A team of agents were flown into Argentina and were following every move Eichmann made.


In May 1960, Argentina celebrated its 150th anniversary of independence. An extra team of Israeli operatives was sent to Argentina to keep up with the number of people that would be around for the festivities.


Each agent was hand-picked by Harel. Many of these agents had watched their family members die in concentration camps and they were hungry for revenge.


The man who was chosen to grab Eichmann had watched his sister and her children killed by the Nazis.


The Mossad planned to smuggle Eichmann out of the country. They made fake documents such as visas and passports to make sure no one questioned their operation.


Out of fear of being exposed, the Mossad kept their operation details from the Argentine government.


Israel agents flew in from all over the country. No two arrived from the same city. They stayed in different warehouses, they constantly changed cars to make sure that no one became suspicious of them.


On May 11th, the final leg of the operation began.


Eichmann’s routine had been thoroughly studied, it was known that he came home from work at around 7:40 pm.


Two Mossad operatives arrived at the location at around 7:35 pm. They pretended to be fixing their engine.


Two buses came to the bus stop and left, but Eichmann wasn’t on any of them. A third bus came and left, but the agents hadn’t spotted the target.


The clock struck 8 pm, but Eichmann was still not in sight. The leader, Gabi, decided that they would wait another half an hour before aborting the mission.


At approximately 8:05 pm, Eichmann got off the bus and started walking towards Garibaldi street.


As Eichmann walked past the car that the operatives were sitting in, they pounced on him. The other agents quickly pulled Eichmann into the car and they drove away.


Eichmann was tied up and his mouth was covered. He was told that if he moved he would be shot.


Eichmann was taken into a house and was cuffed to a bedpost. The agents checked his mouth for poison to make sure he wouldn’t kill himself.


Many of the previous Nazis had poisoned themselves to avoid going on a trial. The next day he was interrogated and Eichmann confirmed who he was. Eichmann displayed a peculiar eagerness to reveal information regarding his work.


On May 20th, Eichmann was flown out of Argentina. It was obvious that Eichmann’s family would not make a public announcement of his absence. Neither would his colleagues. This would risk both their and Eichmann’s true identity to be revealed.


When the public found out about the kidnapping of Eichmann there were many acts of revenge. Nazi supporters bombed and attacked locations in Israel. In the process of their revenge, they hurt several innocent school children.


Adolf Eichman was taken into trial in 1961.


Adolf Eichmann at trial


Eichmann pleaded for mercy, claiming that he simply did what he was ordered to do. However, Eichmann would not be let off the hook for the atrocities he committed. He was hung to his death.


Eichmann’s death caused an uproar in Argentina. They started torturing Jews living in their country.


Argentina even complained to the UN, this caused the Israeli ambassador to be expelled for a few months. Eventually, the tension between Argentina and Israel simmered down.




Sources:

1) https://www.britannica.com/biography/Adolf-Eichmann

2) https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/the-capture-of-nazi-criminal-adolf-eichmann

3) https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/eichmann-captured


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Created by Yashvardhan Sharma and Amogh Narain Agarwal.