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Former Mossad and Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) members who took part in the historic capture of Nazi Adolf Eichmann in Buenos Aires nearly a half century ago got together Monday at the Massuah Institute for the Study of the Holocaust to mark the inauguration of a new Eichmann exhibition.
The unique reunion, which was also attended by Shin Bet director Yuval Diskin, El Al Director General Eli Romano and members of the fateful 1960 El Al flight to and from Buenos Aires, included the disclosure of the Buenos Aires city map used by Israeli agents in the capture, the pen Eichmann used in which he signed a document agreeing to be tried in Israel, and a walking cane that an Israeli agent following Eichmann used as a cover.
The items will be on display at the Eichmann exhibit at the educational institute, which was founded at Kibbutz Tel Yitzhak in 1972.
Former Shin Bet official Avraham Shalom, who served as deputy head of the operation, recounted how Eichmann's initial interrogation during his 10-days of captivity in the safe house was both dry and pedantic.
In the beginning of his interrogation, Eichmann was asked the size of his shoes and of his hat, Shalom recalled, questions which gave him confidence that his captors did not really know his true identity.
Only after the interrogators were sure of his identity, Shalom said, did they ask him, towards the end of his interrogation, what was his Nazi Party member number, an answer which "sealed his doom."
When Eichmann's identity was revealed, the elated interrogators shook hands with each other, satisfied that their long work was finished.
Former Mossad official Yaacov Medad, who like the other secret agents spent 10-days with Eichmann in the safe house, recalled that the mass murderer - whose face was blindfolded throughout the interrogation - sitting before his very eyes was a weakened man, depressed and broken.
"For us Holocaust survivors, Eichmann's trial in Jerusalem was a symbol that we could bring out memories of the inferno that were heretofore locked deep within our souls," Massuah vice-chairman Shraga Milstein said.
After a year-long trial, Eichmann was hanged in Israel in 1962, the last time capital punishment was carried out in the country.