Arnon Grunberg



An intriguing story in the Süddeutsche Zeitung - unfortunately just in German - about the man who found Eichmann in Argentina. Spoiler: it was a German named Gerhard Klammer. Klammer had studied geology in Göttingen, somewhere in the fifties he felt a longing to leave dreadful postwar Germany and he made it to Argentina where he started working for Capri, Compañía Argentina para Proyectos y Realizaciones Industriales – Fuldner y Cía. According to Klammer everybody knew that a man named Ricardo Klement working for the same company was in in reality Adolf Eichmann.

Indeed, the Adenauer government knew very well that Eichmann was in Argentina but felt no desire to bring him to trial.

('Das Interesse an einer Ergreifung Eichmanns war schon deshalb gering, weil niemand abschätzen konnte, was er aussagen und an wen er sich erinnern würde, wenn man ihn vor einem Gericht reden ließ. Eichmann war seit der Wannsee-Konferenz im Januar 1942 der interministerielle Ansprechpartner von Heydrich und Himmler in Sachen Judenmord gewesen. Die gesamte bundesrepublikanische Justiz war wie das Bundeskriminalamt und der Bundesnachrichtendienst von ehemaligen SS-Männern durchsetzt, Kameraden des SS-Obersturmbannführers Eichmann.')

In other words, Eichmann's testimony could embarrass West Germany - there were still two Germany's at that time - and Adenauer's government. The whole judicial apparatus in postwar Germany at that time was filled with former Nazis.

It was already known that Frits Bauer, the district attorney in Hessen, played a fundamental role in bringing Eichmann to justice. Basically Bauer used the Mossad as an extension of his own office because he was unable to get any help of the German authorities. He did manage to bring some of the guards and officers working in Auschwitz to trial in Frankfurt in 1963. Hannah Arendt wrote also about the Auschwitz trials in Frankfurt, an essay that is not is widely known but that is excellent.

Klammer found an intermediary to inform Bauer. He wanted to bring Eichmann to justice, but he didn't want any spotlight on him. Understandably for a German in that period.

Bauer had already informed the Mossad about Eichmann in Argentina, but his informer in Argentina, a German Jew, got some information wrong (Eichmann's new name for example) and the informer turned out to be blind, which is something the Mossad found out after it sent agents to Argentina.
When Bauer informed the Mossad for the second time that he had a reliable witness who could prove that Eichmann was actually in Argentina, where he lived, for whom he worked, the Mossad was highly skeptical.

When Eichmann arrived in Israel the Germany authorities panicked. The German secret service who knew a lot about about former Nazis and their whereabouts - it was part of their job to keep this information as secret as possible - didn't see the kidnapping of Eichmann coming.

Secret services do their best, but they are ill-prepared for the future.

Read the article by Bettina Stangneth und Willi Winkler in the Süddeutsche here.

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