Man Who Captured Eichmann (1996) TV




Director:     William A. Graham

Starring:     Robert Duvall (Adolf Eichmann), Arliss Howard (Peter Malkin), Jeffrey Tambor (Isser Harel), Jack Laufer (Uzi), Nicolas Surovy (Hans), Joel Brooks (Meir), Michael Laskin (Dr. Klein), Sam Robards (David), Michael Tucci (Danny), Rusty Schwimmer (Rosa), Rita Zohar (Peter's mother), Jean Pierre Reguerraz (Laszlo Ungari), Celina Font (Angela Ungari), Erika Wallner (Catalina Klement), Kevin Schiele (Nicolas Klement)

capture of Nazi war criminal



Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire movie.

Buenos Aires, Argentina.  Israeli agent Hans watches the Eichmann house from the other side of the railway tracks. 

Six years earlier.  Eichmann and his son are having coffee at an outdoor cafe.  A blind man and his daughter start to sit down at the table next to them.  The son and daughter recognize each other.  Introductions are made.  Eichmann gives a false name and quickly makes an excuse to leave the area.  This makes the blind man suspicious.  He mentions to his daughter that he recognizes the cologne.  The fellow is Jewish and was a concentration camp inmate.  He feels sure that the man is none other than infamous Nazi war criminal Eichmann. 

Tel Aviv, Israel, Mossad Headquarters.  Peter Malkin is appointed as the man in charge of getting Eichmann based on the report by the blind man in Buenos Aires.  Peter is very doubtful about the report, but agrees to go.  He is assigned a team of agents including a medical doctor.  The plan is designated Operation Attila.  They get a report that the Eichmann family is buying airplane tickets, but it is only for a trip to a resort in Chile.  They also learn that the family is relatively poor. 

May 4, 1960.  The Israeli agents fly to Buenos Aires.  Peter and some of the other agents watch as Eichmann gets off the bus and walks to his home.  He is so regular in his habits that they decide to snatch him shortly after he gets off the bus.  They get into position but the bus arrives and no Eichmann.  The agents are very upset, but cheer up when another bus arrives.  Eichmann gets off the bus.  Peter jumps him and with help from two other agents they throw him into their car.  They tape his mouth and blindfold him.  In their hurry, Eichmann's hat is left behind on the ground.  (Peter has to go back to retrieve the hat.)

When they get Eichmann back to their hideout, they are absolutely shocked when after a few simple questions Eichmann admits his true identity:  "Ich bin Adolf Eichmann."  Hans then asks him about the where Dr. Mengele and Hitler's assistant Martin Boorman are hiding.  Eichmann says he has no idea.  They tell him that he is going to Israel. 

Peter is one of the agents who has to take turns guarding Eichmann.  He is shocked to realize that the beast is just "so ordinary".  They bring in a female agent to cook and raise the men's morale.  Rosa is a big woman who already knows Peter.  She shares a room with Peter.  Her family members were almost all killed by Eichmann.  One of the first things she asks for is to get a look at the murderer.

Eichmann's family calls in support from other members of the German community in Argentina.  Meanwhile, Eichmann takes a liking to Peter and starts talking to him.  He tells Peter that he does not hate the Jews, that he never hated the Jews.  He says that he started his career rise when he joined a rifle club.  He got a lot of attention because he was a good marksman.  Then Kaltenbrunner told him "You must join us" and so he joined the German S.S.  He enjoyed the S.S. life.  He loved the discipline and the fellowship.  Then when Himmler approached him, he went with him since he knew that would be the place where the action is.  With time he became an expert on the Jews. 

At another time he tells Peter that he took a personal  S.S. oath to Hitler.  Hitler was like his father.  But he denies that he was ever part of the concentration camps:  "I was in charge of transport."  Peter is fascinated and repulsed by the fact the Eichmann is still proud of his job performance with the trains that brought people to the concentration camps.  Eichmann adds with pride that the German army was always trying to commandeer some of his trains, but they never got any of them. He philosophizes that a job is a job and one has to perform it well; it's a matter of pride. 

Peter has to leave as he is starting to have a difficult time with Eichmann's complete lack of guilt.  Rosa helps to comfort him, but she wants to know what the monster is like.  Peter answers:  "Totally without pity.  He has no moral sense of what he did."  Eichmann wants to explain himself so people will see that what he did was completely understandable.

Abba Eban and a staff are flying on El Al to Argentina.  The plan is to take Eichmann to Israel on Eban's flight back.  Eichmann's sons and their main German agent are also convinced that Eichmann will be leaving on El All and are determined to stop the flight.  They race to the airport to save Eichmann.  Meanwhile, the Israeli agents put Eichmann in an El Al pilot's uniform after injecting him with a lot of calming drugs.  They are able to get Eichmann on the plane and to Israel.

May 1, 1962.  Eichmann was hanged at 56 years of age. 

Pretty good movie.  The best part was listening to the "excuses" that Eichmann offered to "explain" his side of the story.  The man was amoral.  He acts as if it was perfectly natural for him to join the Fascist Party.  (Hell, if you join the Fascists that's proof enough that there is something seriously wrong with you.)  But being a fascist was not enough for him, he had to join the worst of the fascists, the S.S.  And then he climbs to the top of the Nazi hierarchy of evildom by throwing in with Himmler, the head of the German Gestapo.  (Eichmann also does not acknowledge that he was one of the planners of the execution of the Final Solution at the Wannsee Conference.)   No, Eichmann was not a "so ordinary" man.  He was an extremely bad man who threw in his lot with the fascists and helped murder six million Jews as well as millions of non-Jews. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.

Historical Background:

1906  --  Otto Adolf Eichmann born in Solingen, Germany.  His father was a successful businessman and industrialist. 

1914  --  his family moved to Linz, Austria.

1914  -- during WWI, his father served in the Austro-Hungarian army. 

1920  --  at age 14, his family moved back to Germany.

1932  --  Eichmann enlisted in the Austrian SS. 

1933  --  when Hitler took power, Eichmann returned to Germany and enlisted in the German SS.  He was assigned to the administrative staff of the Dachau concentration camp.

1934  -- he transfers into the security police.  He was assigned to the headquarters of the SD (Sicherheitsdienst) in Berlin.  He was a model administrator and was promoted in 1935 and 1937. 

1938  --  after the Anschluss, Eichmann went to Austria to help organize their SS Security Forces. 

1938 (end)  --  Eichmann selected to form Austria's Central Office of Jewish Emigration, which would forcibly remove the Jews from Austria.

1939  -  in World War II, he returned to Berlin.  He was made the head of the Reich Central Security Office (RSHA) department that dealt with Jewish evacuation. 

late 1941 & 1942  --  he was promoted twice more. 

1942  --  Eichmann attended the Wannsee Conference that developed the official policy of genocide against the Jewish people.  He was put in control of the transportation of all the Jews headed for the concentration camps in Poland.  He would brag that he personally sent over 5 million Jews to their deaths via his trains.

1944  --  after Germany took Hungary, Eichmann sent 400,000 Jews from that nation to their deaths in the concentration camps.

1945  -- despite the fact that Himmler, head of the German SS, had told Eichmann and others to stop the Final Solution and destroy any evidence of the policy of genocide, Eichmann kept transporting Hungarian Jews to their deaths.

1945  --  Eichmann fled Hungary as the Soviets invaded that country. 

Eichmann was captured by the US Army. 

1946 (early)  -- he escaped from US captivity and spent years hiding in Germany. 

1950  --  Eichmann went to Italy under an assumed name, Ricardo Klement.

1950 (July 14)  --    her arrived by ship in Argentina. 

1950-1960  -- he worked at several different jobs around Buenos Aires. 

At the time, given its Peronist-fascist background, Argentina was a haven for Nazis.  Eichmann was able to bring his family to Argentina. 

1954  --  Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal received notice from an associate that Eichmann was in Buenos Aires. 

1957  --  the daughter of Lothar Hermann, a Jew who had fled to Argentina, was going out with Eichmann's eldest son, who would brag about his father's role in the Holocaust.  Hermann contacted both German and Israeli authorities. 

1960  (May 11)  --  the Israeli Secret Service kidnapped Eichman. 

1960 (May 21)  -- Eichmann was flown on an El Al airline to Israel.

1960 (May 23)  --  Prime Minister David Ben Gurion of Israel announced to the Knesset the fact of Eichmann's capture.

1961 (April 11)  --  Eichmann goes on trial. 

1961 (August 14)  --  end of the trial.  Later Eichmann was sentenced to death.

1962 (June 1)  --  Eichmann was hanged. 


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