Sunday, December 1, 2013

Review: Six Million Accusers - The Capture of Adolf Eichmann

"their blood cries out but their voice is not heard"
Again, another fascinating book by author David Lawrence-Young.  This time we are taken through the events that led up to the capture and trial of Adolf Eichmann, one of the leading SS Officers behind The Holocaust.

I had in the past watched a wonderful documentary, narrated by Gregory Peck, called The Hunt For Adolf Eichmann, detailing the planning that went into this most famous kidnapping.  
In the years after World War II, Eichmann, whose name had come up numerous times during the Nuremberg Trials, had become one of the most wanted Nazi war criminals. Unfortunately, for many years, no one knew where in the world Eichmann was hiding. Then, in 1957, the Mossad (the Israeli secret service) received a tip: Eichmann may be living in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
After several years of unsuccessful searches, Mossad received another tip: Eichmann was most likely living under the name of Ricardo Klement. This time, a team of secret Mossad agents was sent to Argentina to find Eichmann. On March 21, 1960, the agents had not only found Klement, they were certain he was the Eichmann they had been hunting for years.
On May 11, 1960, the Mossad agents captured Eichmann while he was walking from a bus stop to his home. They then took Eichmann to a secret location until they were able to smuggle him out of Argentina nine days later.

In "Six Million Accusers" (working title), rather than provide a clinical play by play of the events as they happened, David instead takes us on a personal journey with the main characters - and the faceless men of the Mossad become more human as their story develops inconjuction with that of the capture of one of World War II's most notorious men. We learn about their own history and why they were chosen above all others for this risky venture.

The journey was 15 years in the planning, culminating in the capture of Eichmann in Argentina in May 1960 - he is then spirited away to Israel (though not without a few heart-stopping moments for our intrepid crew - and readers alike!), before facing trial and being executed for his crimes.

As LIFE reported to its readers in its April 14, 1961 issue:
Once in a while some great man becomes the symbol of the era in which he lived. Less often one man becomes the symbol of a quality of his era — of its good or evil, its reason or madness. Such a man is Adolf Eichmann, the Nazi, a symbol of the hatred and unspeakable hideousness of Hitler’s Germany.

David's skill as both narrator and story-telling is beyond par - and this is yet another fascinating story in his growing collection of eclectic tales from the annals of history.   That the reader is sucked into the story and becomes one of the characters is just another of David's quirks as an author. "Six Million Accusers" is another must read - once you begin the journey, it only ends when you look up from your page and wonder where the time went.

Interesting Links:

  • From History Today: Richard Cavendish describes how Adolf Eichmann was captured in Argentina on May 11th, 1960.
  • From CNN: Mossad's hunt for the other Adolf: Spy agency's search for Eichmann revealed
  • From Spiegel Online: The Long Road to Eichmann's Arrest: A Nazi War Criminal's Life in Argentina
  • From The Guardian: Adolf Eichmann's capture, as told by the Mossad, in Israel exhibition
  • From the Jewish Virtual Library: The Capture of Nazi Criminal Adolf Eichmann

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