To mark 60 years since the Mossad and Shin Bet captured Nazi leader and war criminal Adolf Eichmann in Argentina, the Shin Bet released photos of equipment used in the operation and letters sent and received by the Shin Bet after the operation.
“This was the end of a complex operation by the Mossad and the Shin Bet, far from Israeli territory, in a foreign and unfamiliar environment, which was based on rigorous and accurate operational planning,” said Shin Bet Head Nadav Argaman in a statement on Thursday. “The execution [of the mission] demanded boldness, thorough planning, professionalism, determination, adherence to purpose and faith in the righteousness of the way.”
“That evening, I endeavored to clarify to the people in the force the moral and historical uniqueness of the act which they are about to do. They are going to make sure that one of the biggest criminals in all of history, who for years has succeeded in escaping the hands of law and justice, will stand trial in Jerusalem, the capital of the nation that six million of its people were massacred by the murder machine that he headed,” said Isser Harel, the Mossad director who oversaw Eichmann’s capture, during a briefing on the mission.
“We understand the magnitude of the right that has fallen in our part and as is written in the organization’s mission – ‘to progress at all times and in all places, thanks to people with a sense of mission, for the security of the State of Israel,’” read a Shin Bet statement marking 60 years since the operation.
The Shin Bet released photos of a bag used to take undercover pictures of Eichmann, a page from the operational journal in which Eichmann was first photographed by the undercover camera, a letter of thanks received by the Shin Bet from the Bar Kochba school in Tel Aviv and a letter sent by the head of the Shin Bet at the time to the Kiryat Amal government school in response to letters of thanks received from the school.
Eichmann was appointed head of the Gestapo’s Jewish Affairs division at the start of World War II and was later placed in charge of organizing the “Final Solution” throughout Europe.
At the end of the war – and at the conclusion of the Holocaust – Eichmann was arrested by the US Army. He soon escaped his captors, however, and eventually made his way to Argentina, where he lived under the assumed name of Ricardo Klement.
Information regarding his whereabouts began to reach Israel in the late 1950s, spurring both the Mossad and Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) to track Eichmann down. On May 11, 1960, Eichmann was abducted near his home in Buenos Aires by a team of Israeli agents, smuggled out of Argentina and flown to Israel.
Eichmann was placed on trial in Jerusalem in April 1961, convicted in December 1961, and hung on May 31, 1962. His body was cremated, and his ashes were scattered at sea, beyond Israel’s territorial waters.