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“For the first time in history the Jews will judge their assassins and for the first time the world will hear the full story of the edict of annihilation against an entire people,” Isser Harel. –The Nazi Hunters
The Nazi Hunters: How a Team of Spies and Survivors Captured the World’s Most Notorious Nazi
by Neal Bascomb
Everyone had forgotten about it. The Americans are fighting the Russians. The British and French are starting to rebuild their countries. The Japanese are experiencing an economic boom. Germany is being split into two. The world had moved on and forgotten the world’s worst genocide—the Holocaust.
At the end of World War II, Adolf Eichmann, the head of operations of the Nazi’s Final Solution, disappeared without a trace. After sending millions of innocent people to their deaths, Eichmann said goodbye to his wife and sons, walked into the German countryside, and vanished. Sixteen years later, an elite team of Israeli spies is sent to Argentina with one goal in mind—capture and secure Eichmann and bring him to trial in Israel.
Faced with an impossible task, a lawyer, a forger, a doctor, a pilot, and a team of Israeli agents risk everything to capture the architect of the Holocaust. If they are caught, the team could face decades of imprisonment or even death by Argentinian Neo-Nazi groups. However, they have to take the risk–they must take Eichmann to Israel to remind the world of the Holocaust’s victims.
The Nazi Hunters will leave readers on the edge of their seats as it tells the thrilling, harrowing, and true tale of how a team of Israeli spies was able to secretly capture one of the top Nazis decades after his disappearance. Complete with photographs, maps, and top-secret documents, Neal Bascomb tells the story in a cinematic light that will engage readers and get them interested in reading nonfiction.
With his nonfiction novel, Bascomb not only shows readers how traumatic and terrible the Holocaust was but also the far-reaching effects of the genocide–affecting not only its Jewish victims but also the Jewish generations to come. After 16 years of silence, Eichmann’s trial highlighted the true nature of the Holocaust and allowed survivors to openly share their experiences in Nazi concentration and work camps.
Even though The Nazi Hunters contains historical information, the story is fast-paced and reads much like a spy novel. The story is exciting, and the pictures that are scattered throughout the story will remind readers that the events and people are real. Descriptions can sometimes be gory, such as with Eichmann’s hanging, but Bascomb uses the violence to show readers how brutal the Holocaust was and to ground the story in reality. With the countless number of names and historical events, young readers may have a difficult time following the story’s main characters. But, The Nazi Hunters is a fantastic book for middle school readers, rounding out their knowledge about the Holocaust by showing its everlasting effect on world politics.
- In December of 1959, Nazi sympathizers attacked Jewish synagogues and citizens in West Germany. “In the following days, anti-Semitic attacks and demonstrations broke out across West Germany, and police were stationed outside synagogues and Jewish cemeteries to prevent further desecrations. In total, 685 Jewish locations throughout the country were vandalized. These were more than the isolated actions of a few hooligans, and Jewish leaders in West Germany made it clear that the scene ‘evoked pictures that bring to mind the November days of 1938,’ referring to Kristallnacht.”
- When initially capturing Eichmann, “Malkin burst forward, one hand reaching out to keep Eichmann’s right arm down in case he had a gun. His momentum, mixed with his target’s retreat, sent them both pitching to the ground. The agent seized Eichmann as they rolled into the shallow, muddy ditch that ran alongside the road.” Malkin and another agent eventually restrain Eichmann, placing a hand over his mouth so he can’t scream. Then, they throw Eichmann into the backseat of their car.
- After the car is one hundred feet from Eichmann’s Argentinian house, Aharoni warns him, “Sit still and nothing will happen to you. If you resist, we will shoot you. Do you understand?”
- After finding their father missing, Nick and Dieter bought three guns and “broke into a Jewish synagogue in the city, guns at their sides.” However, their father is not there and they continue searching.
- While Eichmann was imprisoned and awaiting trial in Israel, “the prison commandant feared not only that Eichmann might commit suicide, but also that there might be an attempt on his life. His food was always tasted before serving, and his guards were carefully selected so that none of them had lost a family member in the Holocaust.”
- After the news was released of the Israeli spies’ capture of Eichmann, some Argentinian neo-Nazi groups were eager to seek revenge on local Jewish Argentinians. “Some in Argentina were eager. Unable to strike against them directly, right-wing groups took their revenge on the local Jewish. Tacuara carried out the worst of these attacks, beating up several Jewish students at the University of Buenos Aires and chanting, ‘Long live Eichmann. Death to Jews.’ One student was shot, and later in a vicious assault, Tacuara radicals branded a swastika onto the chest of a teenage girl whose father was suspected of having helped the Israelis.”
- The book describes Eichmann’s 1962 hanging. “The two guards hit their buttons, and the platform opened with a clang. Eichmann fell ten feet into a room below without a sound. The rope went straight, snapped, and then swayed back and forth. A doctor moved into the chamber, took Eichmann’s pulse, and declared the Nazi dead.” After he is hanged, Eichmann is cremated, and his ashes are thrown into the sea so that no shrine or tribute can be made to him.
Drugs and Alcohol
- When leaving Argentina on an airplane, Eichmann has to be sedated in order to not cause trouble. “The doctor slid the needle into a vein and attached a tube. Then he delivered the sedative. Eichmann soon faded, mumbling, ‘No, no. I don’t need it.’”
- While imprisoned in Argentina and awaiting transport to Israel, “Eichmann had spoken of his love for red wine, and Malkin thought that it wouldn’t do any harm to give him a glass. . . Malkin poured a glass of wine and placed it in Eichmann’s hands. The prisoner drained his glass. Malkin sipped at his wine. He put a record on the turntable and then lit a cigarette for Eichmann. Flamenco music filled the small, stuffy room. Eichmann drew deeply on the cigarette until it was almost at its butt.”
- Upon capture, Eichmann reveals that he knows a bit of Hebrew. Aharoni stops him from speaking, saying that, “The words were the beginning of the Sh’ma, the holiest prayer in the Jewish religion, recited in the morning and at night by the faithful. It was a prayer spoken at the hour of death, and millions, millions, of Jews had come to utter it because of Adolf Eichmann.”
- After saying a quick prayer, Eichmann’s last words were, “Gentlemen, we shall meet again soon, so is the fate of all men. I have believed in God all my life, and I die believing in God.”
by Matthew Perkey