Capturing Eichmann

This week is the 55th anniversary of the capture of Adolf Eichmann. It’s a story worthy of a Hollywood thriller.

Many people know its outlines. But did you know that after the war but before the Mossad decided to capture Eichmann alive and put him up for trial, there was an armed Jewish group called The Avengers that handled Nazis more directily?

At first they handed over the SS men to the Allied authorities, but many of the SS men “escaped in the chaos that followed the war or were released.” At one point the Russians released two Nazi Germans who had been turned over to them by the Jews. The Germans walked out into the street, laughing at their release. But not for long. The Avengers “cut the men down with a burst of sub-machine gunfire.”

From then on the Avengers simply tracked down and killed former Nazis. Perhaps 1000 Nazis were tracked down in this way after the war.

It seems that, following the war, allies had a habit of letting Nazis escape — not surprising when you consider how much some high-ups among the allies despised Jews.

It was also revealed a few years back that the West German government knew where Eichmann was hiding nearly a decade before the Israelis dragged him from Argentina.

Did the Israelis violate international law in conducting their unauthorized arrest of Eichmann? No doubt they violated many laws. But the keepers of the laws were busy either protecting or ignoring Eichmann — who (after the Nuremburg trials) was the only still-living senior official responsible for the Holocaust.

Eichmann was hardly the bland, colorless bureaucrat some have portrayed him as being. He was the chief administrator of genocide and a dedicated Nazi who continued to dream of setting up a new Third Reich in South America. His bureaucratic apparatus made mass murder possible. His lies persuaded hopeful Jews to believe they were merely being “relocated to the east” instead of being relocated to misery and death. His methods made mass murder go smoothly, with least resistance from the victims.

Before his trial, a lot of politicians and thinkers believed the best course was just to forget the Holocaust. Stop talking about it. Let it fade into history as quickly as possible. The trial of Adolf Eichmann ended all that and started an examination of the process of state-perpetrated evil that continues to this day — more than half a century after his capture.


8 thoughts on “Capturing Eichmann”

  1. Operation Nemisis (book by Eric Bogosian, recommended) was the retribution effort of the Armenian genocide, but they didn’t get anywhere near 1000 bastards. Impressive! And well worth the effort, if nothing else to provide a little deterrent next time around. Is there a book of this operation?

  2. I believe I understand the mindset of Abba Kovner’s Avengers. In more recent times old, thinly-veiled Nazis still pop up. An example is the recently extinguished Gunter Grass. A couple of years ago he metaphorically kicked at some headstones via the artifice of Anti-Zionism: A Poet Laureate in Eretz Israel snapped back with some vigor: This is the response:

    Quote from the press by Gunther Grass: “Israel’s nuclear power endangers fragile world peace.”

    THE RIGHT TO EXIST ~ Open letter-poem to the writer Gunther Grass

    I want to be a danger to the world.
    And if the world is planning to destroy me – let not a stem of grass remain on the face of the earth after my destruction! Let not one speck of a blade of “Grass” for the pipe of Mr. Gunther Grass be left on the face of the earth, the world to which I pose a danger
    That is my right!
    It is my right to live or to die while all who rise up to eradicate me are being destroyed. It is my right to never again be carted off in a freight train destined for the great vacuum of the earth – a sobbing-child with head nestled in the bosom of my mother. She disappears into the ashen air rising from the land of Wotan.
    And in that very hour, was soldier G.G on duty with the armed train-guard troops?
    My heart persists and asks: where did the soldier Gunther Grass travel then, when I was a ten year old child trapped in a death-train?
    Actually, it’s all the same to me, and you are a very honorable author, daily breathing in the clean, fresh air, imbued with the odor of Jewish ashes, in your old-new Germany.
    That air which I breathed only once, seized and taken to your elusive land of beautiful rivers. So I have forbidden the two soles of my feet to touch again the land of your fathers
    And perhaps I still awaken from time to time in my house, even in this seventh decade of my years. I reach out my hand to the bed next to mine, to my wife’s bed, reassured that life continues as it should
    In the mornings, the powerful daylight of Eretz Israel fills my home. I turn on my TV and I turn on the radio, I watch and listen, as if possessed by the devil, to the sermons of Iran’s Ayatollahs and to the arrogance of an Iranian Minister, displaying in his two hands a map of Land of Israel and its dimensions. He says “It is so small that in six to seven days it is possible to wipe it off the map,” or as you would say, “Ausradieren – To banish and to wipe out!” And I hear the sermons of the Mosque preachers in Israel and in the Arab lands calling out, “Ausradieren! – To banish and to wipe out!”
    But why is their intention always directed towards myself, the Jew, and never towards you – Mr. Gunther Grass!
    Nevertheless, there is a right belonging only to the Jews. This is the right to take with us as we are being annihilated this satiated world, grand libraries and spiritually uplifting music and all – into the nothingness, to share our ruin and our descent into the grave. Then radioactive rays will poison the four directions of the sky for all the inhabitants of earth.
    Yes, we have the right!/ and this is also my right!/ the right of the people of Israel to close shut the creaking gates of the world/ upon its final descent from the stage of history/with the power of the final weapon/ and we have the right to declare/ at the price of the great fear born of three thousand years/ “If you force us again to descend from the face of the earth to its depths/,the entire globe will be turned back into nothingness.”
    For is not the right to live a two way street? For you and for me/or/not for you if not for me!
    Mr. Gunther Grass, esteemed author! The tin drums of the universe are thundering!
    Oh, how I played with tin drums when I was an innocent child in my mother and father’s house.
    But the drum stayed with those who took over the houses of our childhood. Still, its sound resounds in our ears night and day.
    And this is the reason that we returned to Eretz Israel, tens of years ago, or hundreds of years ago, out of longing for the Land of our fathers devotion, the Land where our fathers and mothers also suffered persecution and fear. And the Land was waiting for us in the bosom of time.
    For the truth is that it was not the promise of quiet and peace that called to us, that pulsated under our skin, but the desire to live to the maximum as our true selves, just as you are permitted to live your true self, honorable writer and poet.
    Yes, I envy you: why is your right to live unchallenged and absolute! Why is my right to live defined as an echo and a silence!
    And it is I who is a danger to the world?
    And it is I – the eternal dangerous man – who also asks you this:
    If it has been decreed that I must be wiped off the face of the earth to serve only as fertilizer for the rebirth of new grass, what is the reason and measure of justice that you and your sons and the sons of your sons will continue to play with certainty among the fragrant grass, gazing up at the healing sun in the center of the horizon, while it is we the Jewish People whose existence will eternally suffer uncertainty and doubt?

    Translated by: Shira Twersky-Cassel

    1. “Nevertheless, there is a right belonging only to the Jews. This is the right to take with us as we are being annihilated this satiated world, grand libraries and spiritually uplifting music and all – into the nothingness, to share our ruin and our descent into the grave. Then radioactive rays will poison the four directions of the sky for all the inhabitants of earth.”

      No, neither Jews nor anybody else have that right.

      I can understand, emotionally, why Abba Kovner wanted to kill six million Germans after what he’d witnessed and experienced. I can understand Itamar Yaoz-Kest’s claim as a cry of unquenchable thirst and unhealable pain. But I’m glad Kovner failed in his Plan A. And Yaoz-Kest is morally wrong. No right to kill innocents exists, not ever.

      Still, Gunter Grass, pawn of Nazi Germany (who hid his SS “service” until a few years before his death), was an arrogant idiot for seeing Israel as such a danger to the world, ignoring so many other, worse, dangers. He spent his life posing as a great moral authority when he was really a hypocrite who got away with it because he was also a darling of intellectuals worldwide.

      1. I personally differ from both Kovner and Yaoz-Kest in this assertion of right. But, as I said, I “understand” it.

  3. Well the point is the Avengers (if I’m not mistaken) and Nemesis attacked the guilty. There is no excuse for attacking the innocent, which is exactly what the Nazis did.

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