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The Inside Story of the Manhunt by the Israeli Secret Service

by Michael Bar-Zohar and Nissim Mishal

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The Capture of Adolf Eichmann

“And what’s your name?” the girl asked.

“Nicolas,” the smiling suitor said. “But all my friends call me Nick. Nick Eichmann.”

The Blind Jew’s Daughter

In the late fall of 1957, Isser Harel, Mossad’s director, received a strange message from Frankfurt, Germany. It said that Dr. Fritz Bauer, attorney general of Hesse, requests to convey some secret information to the Mossad. Isser knew of Bauer, a much-respected figure in Germany. A tall, charismatic man with a pugnacious jaw, he was known for aggressively pursuing Nazi criminals. His leonine mane of white hair gave him a vague resemblance to David Ben-Gurion. Bauer, too, was Jewish, and a born fighter. In 1933, with Hitler’s ascension to power, he was thrown into a concentration camp. But the horrid experience did not break his spirit. He later escaped to Denmark and then to Sweden. At the end of the war he decided to devote his life to the pursuit and punishment of Nazi criminals. And he was outspoken about his disappointment with West Germany’s authorities, who did little to uproot Nazism.

In November 1957, Isser sent Shaul Darom, an Israeli security officer, to meet with Bauer. He arrived in Frankfurt and had a long conversation with the attorney general. A few days later, Darom walked into Isser’s office in Tel Aviv. “Dr. Bauer told me,” Darom said, “that Eichmann is alive, and he is hiding in Argentina.”

Isser started. Like millions of Jews, he knew SS Colonel Adolf Eichmann as the embodiment of Nazi horror. The Obersturmbannführer Eichmann had personally directed “the final solution”—the systematic annihilation of European Jewry. He had devoted his life to the meticulous massacre of six million Jews. He had disappeared after the war, and nobody knew where he was; he was said to be living in Syria, Egypt, Kuwait, South America . . .

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