It was back in 1960 that Adolf Eichmann, one of the top Nazi leaders and architects of the Final Solution to exterminate the Jewish people was caught in Argentina. The commander of the secret mission was Rafael (Rafi) Eitan, today 86 years old. Israel National Radio's Walter's World conducted an exclusive interview with Eitan as part of a special broadcast on Israel's Mossad and secret service in which he reviewed the book Israel's Silent Defenders recently released from the Jerusalme based Gefen Publishing.
For the the full audio interview click here.
"When Peter Malkin jumped on Eichmann, I was just 5 meters behind him," he stated. So how did Eitan, while working with the Israeli Mossad track down the elusive Nazi war criminal?
"There was a German family [of Jewish heritage] was living in Argentina with the name of Hermann," related Eitan. The family had escaped the Holocaust. "They had a daughter by the name of Sylvia and she told her family that she has a friend named Nicolas Eichmann." As the story goes, the younger Eichmann had boasted about his father's Nazi exploits. The father meanwhile was living under a false name in Buenos Aires. Eitan credits the unassuming Mossad head Issur Harel for organizing the secret mission to extract the wanted mass murdered and bring him to trial for crimes against humanity.
"We gave him documents of some El Al airline flight crew member. One of the crew stayed in Argentina. You must remember that at the time, there was no internet or computers, so nobody was able to check. We gave Eichmann the same name and dressed him in an El Al cabin crew uniform," Eitan said.
The government of Israel wanted to give Eichmann a fair trial but doubted he would go freely. Eitan continued, "We gave him a injection to make him dizzy. The crew normally, even today, goes to the plane not through the civilian terminal but in a different area. We took him through a different gate with a doctor. The doctor said he was a bit sick and we handed over all the proper documents."
Eitan related that there was also a plan to kidnapped Dr. Josef Mengele, the sadistic Nazi doctor who conducted cruel experiments on death camp inmates. Eitan stated that the decision was made not to risk losing Eichmann to chase down another Nazi war criminal.
Eichmann became the first and so far only person to be tried and sentenced to death in Israel. His trial brought to light details of the Nazis' systematic plan which resulted in the murder of approximately 12 million civilians. Millions of soldiers were killed in World War II as well. Of the 12 million concentration and death camp victims, approximately 6 million were of Jewish heritage, Over 1 million of the victims were children.
For the full interview with Rafael Eitan download the Walter's World special broadcast by clicking here.
The Eichmann capture is just one of Eitan's many stories. Find out about his role in the Jonathan Pollard affair, his time as a Member of Knesset with the Gil Pensioner's Party and his thoughts on current events and the upcoming elections.
Arutz Sheva staff writer Ben Bresky contributed to this report.
Walter Bingham travels all over Israel and the international Jewish world to bring you in-depth reports in his exciting magazine style program. Topics range from cultural and entertainment events and social problems to major political interviews and statements recorded live as they happen. Walter's World broadcasts every Sunday from 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Israel time on Israel National Radio. For mp3 archives click here.