Adolf Eichmann fled to Argentina, where he lived until he was caught and sentenced to death for his involvement in WW2.

Sara B
Photo byHulton-Deutsch Collection/CORB

Adolf Eichmann was known as the Architect of the Holocaust, organizing the ¨Final Solution¨ for the Jews and one of those who escaped to Argentina and lived free until captured by the Mossad. After the war, Adolf Eichmann was sent to a detention camp where he pretended to be a low-level German soldier; Otto Eckman until he fled in 1946 to an isolated farm and hid.

While Eichmann was in Germany, a man in Prague filed a report that he saw him dead, and the German police a judge almost signed the death notice but didn't when he discovered that the one reporting the death was Karl Liebe, the brother-in-law of Eichmann's wife.

Simon Wiesenthal, a Holocaust survivor, signed up to help allied forces gather Nazi war crime evidence for trials. He knew it was a common theme for war criminals to pretend to be killed when they fled to another country with a new identity.

Wiesenthal then investigated Eichmann's whereabouts, discovering Eichmann was still in Germany. Wiesenthal worked with the Hungarian government and requested the US government obtain Eichmann and extradite him to Hungary so he could be put on trial for his crimes. Unfortunately, the US did not process the request for four years, and then in 1951, denied the request.

Eichmann fled to Argentina.

Before Eichmann bought a one-way ticket to Argentina, he used a fake ID to travel around Europe. He was involved in helping other war criminals develop an escape route; this included members of the loyalists that are now guards, part of non-profit organizations, religious leaders, and government officials.

In 1950 under the name Ricardo Klement, Eichmann went from Genoa, Italy, to Buenos Aires, Argentina. The Red Cross and Vatican officials aided Eichmann, and Horst Carlos Fuldner, high ranking SS officer turned human smuggler.

1952 Eichmann's wife and three sons joined him in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The Nazis fled to Argentina due to the president. Juan Perón, a Nazi sympathizer, saw an opportunity for money, and if there was another war, he thought it would help Argentina.

Eichmann in Argentina.

He was a laborer, juice farmer, laundry worker, and mechanic, and he owned a rabbit farm. Eichmann was not shy about who he was and was surrounded by other fugitives, who thought as he did, and no one would tell anyone who was where.

Eichmann was in Argentina, for over ten years before he was caught; the German government knew he was in Argentina, mainly because his wife was not smuggled to Argentina and went legally. The Germans did nothing, but in 1958 the US CIA was made aware that they were in South America but wanted to avoid getting involved. At this time, another war was going on with the Soviet Union, and they did not have time or resources.

Lothar Hermann, a Holocaust survivor, relocated to Argentina in 1938 as a war refugee, disguised as a non-Jewish German. He was living with his wife and daughter in Buenos Aires when he discovered that Eichmann was his neighbor.

In late 1950, his daughter Silvia started dating Klaus Eichmann, who lived near them. Klaus was antisemitic, expressing his views, stating he regretted the Nazis couldn't exterminate all the Jews, and bragged about his father serving in the war. Hermann didn't think anything of it, and they eventually moved to Coronel Suarez, a town 300 miles away.

One day in 1957, while Hermann was reading the newspapers about the Nazi trial in Frankfurt, he noticed the name, Adolf Eichmann. He surmised that Adolf Eichmann was probably Klaus Eichmann's father. So Hermann wrote a letter to Fritz Bauer, who was working the trial in Frankfort and believed Adolf Eichmann was his neighbor.

Fritz Bauer responded to Hermann, and the Israeli government responded by giving Hermann a description of Eichmann and requesting an address. Before they send agents, they need to make sure it is the man they are looking for.

Hermann and his daughter Silvia go to Buenos Aires, visit Eichmann's home, and ask him if he is Herr Eichmann. Of course, he did not admit to it, but he did state that he was Klaus's father, and this was enough for the Bauer, so he sent a message to Mossad in Israel.

The Mossad: works in gathering foreign intelligence gathering, intelligence analysis, and covert operations. They did not notify the German government and wanted to catch Eichmann off guard.

In 1958 Yoel Goren was sent to Buenos Aires, and he was sure that Eichmann would not be living in a middle-class neighborhood. Yet Bauer believed that it was Eichmann and wanted to convince the Mossad; he revealed Hermann´s identity to the Mossad. Then, Mossad leader Isser Harel sent another agent, Efraim Hofstetter, to Argentina to meet Hermann and Suarez.

When he arrived, he gave Hermann $130 and a job to obtain a copy of Eichmanns Argentina ID, and he may be using an alias. However, the alias they believed was incorrect, and again Mossad did not think it was Eichmann.

Bauer became frustrated and intervened, he flew to Israel, and another source confirmed that Eichmann was living in the house stated by Hermann; however, under the alias Ricardo Klement.

On March 1, 1960, a Mossad agent Zvi Aharoni went to Buenos Aires, and on March 3, to the Eichmann's house; this time, it was empty; the Eichmanns had moved. They discovered one of Eichamanns sons worked down the street and monitored his movements, and they lived in a new home on the outskirts of town.

The boy they were following was named Dieter, which was a good sign, as Eichmann's other son was also Dieter. Their discoveries only improved when the house was registered to Veronica Catarina Liebl de Eichmann, Vera Eichmann. Aharoni knew they had their man. So he followed Eichmann, took photos, and sent it back to Israel, and they confirmed it was Eichmann.

The operation to capture Eichmann

Rafi Eitan, an agent that served Mossad and Shin Bet, Israel's internal security system, gathered a team to capture Eichmann. The group went to Argentina in 1960 and watched Eichmann for days to devise a plan, gathering information. However, they did not plan to inform the Argentinian government about the project, as the government allowed him to stay.

The plan was to kidnap Eichmann and secretly bring him to Israel. The Mossad used Argentina´s 150-year independence as a pretext to send a plane from Israel to Argentina, and the Argentine government approved, without a clue of what was going on, believing Israel wanted to send representatives to participate in the festival.

In 1960 Eichmann was a mechanic and used public buses to get to and from work. The agents knew his routine, and the plan was to capture him when he got off the bus from work; his usual arrival time when he got off the bus was 740pm.

On May 11, 1960, when the bus passed, the agent, Eichmann, did not get off the bus, worried he had been tipped off; the agents had an agreement if he did not show by a specific time, the mission was off. At 8 pm, he still had not shown up, and just as the agents were planning on leaving someone spotted Eichmann walking.

The plan had to be changed, and agent Peter Malkin walked up to him from the front, and not as planned. However, it was then that Zhi Aharoni drove up, placed him in the car, and drove him to the safe house as planned. Once Eichmann realized what was going on, he admitted his identity,

To ensure Eichmann would not try to spoil the operation, the Mossad hired an anesthesiologist to sedate Eichmann before the flight, just enough to make him loopy and disguised as a sick crew member, uniform and all. He boarded the plane, which took off without any issues or the Argentinian government's knowledge.

Eichmann tried in Israel.

It was a controversial decision, and the Argentinian government claimed its sovereignty was infringed and abduction laws were broken. However, it did not last long due to Eichmann's charges; he even bragged about what he did while living in Argentina.

Eichmann's trial was in 1961 in Israel; hundreds were present and broadcast on TV. Over 100 holocaust survivors testified. Eichmann stated he only completed the tasks assigned to him out of a sense of duty, and he tried to say he did not order any murders or cause the direct death of anyone.

He said his job was to catch our Jewish enemies like fish in a net and transport them to their final destination. He was found guilty and condemned to death. Finally, on May 31, 1962, Eichmann's execution was carried out by hanging.

Eichmann´s last words:

"Long live Germany, long live Argentina, long live Austria. I shall not forget them."

Operation Finale is available on Netflix. The story of Eichmann´s capture.

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