Thursday, May 26, 2011

The "New" Germany Knew about Eichmann's Whereabouts in 1952

Eichmann. NOT a Sexy Nazi

"Bieganski" addresses the question: Why are Poles and Poland often tainted with guilt for the Holocaust in a way that Germans and Germany often not? Some of my informants, when asked about possible travel to Poland, insisted they would never travel to such a guilty, dangerous, anti-Semitic country. Then, without irony, they would quickly mention how much they'd enjoyed trips to Austria or Germany, and how they'd love to return.

The answer to this question is complex. One answer was hinted at by Tom Segev in his excellent book, "The Seventh Million: Israelis and the Holocaust."

In 1960, Israeli Mossad agents captured SS-Obersturmbannf├╝hrer Adolf Eichmann in Argentina. Eichmann had organized mass deportations of Jews to ghettoes and extermination centers. The trial was televised.

The Eichmann trial, according to Segev, its drama and unambiguous climax, helped to clear Germany's name, and to usher in the concept of a "new" Germany that was cleansed of taint. One obviously bad man could be put on trial, convicted, and hanged, as Eichmann was. After his execution, the rest of Germany could move on.

A recent article in the New York Times suggests that Germany might not have been as "new" after World War II as one might have liked.

When Israelis captured Eichmann, West Germans swore that they had had no idea that he had been hiding in Argentina. In fact, this article states, they knew as early as 1952, and did nothing about it.

Neither West Germans nor Americans were keen to arrest Eichmann. Germans today don't want to think about their government's knowledge of his whereabouts. Both Germany and the US employed Nazis in government jobs. Both want to retain the positive image of post-war Germany.


50 Years After Trial, Eichmann Secrets Live On

By Michael Kimmelman

Published: May 8, 2011

Germany is famous for confronting its Nazi past. But confronting the years after the war is another matter. The latest proof comes as the country’s foreign intelligence agency, the BND, refuses to declassify several thousand secret files detailing what Adolf Eichmann, the high-ranking Nazi who helped orchestrate the Holocaust, was doing between 1945 and his capture by Mossad agents in Buenos Aires in 1960. More than a few Germans have been speculating that the refusal has as much to do with tarnishing a cherished era as with betraying potential sources.

The 50th anniversary of Eichmann’s trial this spring has cast the early days of the postwar Federal Republic in a fresh historical light. Those were the years when the new West Germany held itself up as the cure for what ailed a humiliated and broken nation, and as an alternative to the Communist East.

Link to full text of article.


  1. The interesting article about how West Germany tried to influence the Eichmann's trial,1518,756915,00.html

  2. Every normal person watching Adolf Hitler can see he is not normal.Then way he rants and raves like a mad dog, blaming the Jews for everything.
    When I watch footage of him, I'm stark raving terrified. How is it then, that he could fill ordinary men and women with admiration?
    Can somebody please explain this to me, as I will never be able to understand what this lunatic had in him, to enthrall people so.


Bieganski the Blog exists to further explore the themes of the book Bieganski the Brute Polak Stereotype, Its Role in Polish-Jewish Relations and American Popular Culture.
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