Eichmann identified, 1960

In 1960, justice finally caught up with one of the great criminals of the age. Adolf Eichman, the Bureaucrat of the Holocaust, was put on trial in Israel, after being abducted by the Israeli secret agents in Argentina in a covert operation. After a long televised hearing, he was found guilty on fifteen counts of crimes against humanity and for his role in coordinating the logistics of mass deportations of Jewes to concentration camps and hanged.

That story was well told, but lesser known was the story of how he was positively identified in Argentina to which he fled after the war ended. Lothar Hermann, a half-Jewish survivor of Dachau concentration camp, living as a non-Jewish German, had figured out that his daughter might be dating one of the Eichmann’s sons (The German emigre society in Buenos Aires fraternalized closely). Hermann wrore to the authorities in Germany and Israel, hoping for the $10,000 reward offered by the Haifa Documentation Center.

In January 1958, Mossad, the Israeli Secret Service, sent a man named Yoel Goren to Buenos Aires to scout out the location that Hermann mentioned. Goren saw Germany migrants and swastikas painted on a few buildings, but he doubted Eichmann, a bon vivant with a taste for the high life, was living in this “wretched little house” in an area, populated by blue-collar workers who commuted to and from the city. Using a hidden camera, he took photos of the house (see above) and left. .

After a few internal debates, the Israelis sent a second mission, led by Agent Zvi Aharoni. At first, he failed to get close enough to the man suspected of being Eichmann to take good photos of him. But eventually, with the use of two volunteers posing as homebuilders interested to buy land in the neighborhood, he managed to get closer to Eichmann, his son and daughter-in-law, and a volunteer managed to take some photos using a camera hidden in a briefcase.

The photos above were developed three days later and Aharoni was pleased to find that he now had focused shots of Eichmann. These photographs were used by identification experts to confirm that it was indeed Eichmann (see the photos below).

Photos taken by the briefcase camera; in addition to Eichmann, it captured his daughter-in-law Margarita and his son Dieter.


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