“Hunting Eichmann: How a Band of Survivors and a Young Spy Agency Chased Down the World’s Most Notorious Nazi,” by Neal Bascomb; Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 400 pages; $26

In the confusion following the fall of Nazi Germany to the Allied forces in 1945, SS Lt. Col. Adolf Eichmann vanished, leaving behind millions of dead, including 6 million Jews. By the time Eichmann was identified as the architect of Hitler’s “final solution,” he was gone, some believed never to be seen again.

It wasn’t until 1960 that Mossad agents caught up with Eichmann, living with his family under a false identity in a desolate suburb of Buenos Aires. Under the nose of the Argentine authorities, the Mossad kidnapped Eichmann and brought him to the young nation of Israel to stand trial for his crimes. The story, told in Neal Bascomb’s “Hunting Eichmann,” remains one of the most stunning successes in the history of espionage and established the Mossad’s reputation as one of the world’s most effective intelligence agencies.

Bascomb’s tale starts off slowly as he details the mostly fruitless attempts to locate Eichmann following his disappearance, but the story heats up as the trail does. So difficult was the task of finding and identifying the war criminal that even after weeks of surveillance, they couldn’t be certain they had the right man until he was in their hands.

Any attempt to bring Eichmann to justice would have to be done without Argentine knowledge. Argentina had become a popular refuge for former Nazis in part because they had sympathizers in that nation’s government. Israel’s leadership felt that not only couldn’t the Argentines be relied upon to apprehend Eichmann, but any involvement on their part would result in Eichmann being tipped off in time to vanish for good.

The secrecy of the mission multiplied its challenges. Instead of sending diplomats to help the Argentines capture Eichmann, Israel would send the Mossad to do the job quietly. Perhaps the biggest problem would be smuggling Eichmann out of the country. In the end, the Mossad spirited him away on an Israeli airliner, disguised as a member of the crew.

Other obstacles of the mission were not so easy to predict. Some members of the team had lost their entire families to Eichmann’s machinations. They underestimated the emotional strain of merely living in Eichmann’s presence, tending to the needs of their shackled prisoner until his removal could be effected.

In many ways, an assassination mission would have been easier, permitting the Mossad operatives to melt away when the job was done. But as Bascomb notes, there was more at stake than simple revenge. As Europe rebuilt after World War II, Axis and Allies alike were eager to forget the past and move on. Few in power were interested in reopening old wounds by chasing Nazi war criminals. Putting Eichmann on trial would lay bare the horrors of the Third Reich, and remind world leaders of their responsibility to hold the guilty accountable.

Other more gripping books have been written about Eichmann’s capture, some by members of the team that did it. But Bascomb’s book brings some new information to bear, including the CIA’s knowledge of Eichmann’s whereabouts, information the agency declined to share with Israel because of what it saw as U.S. interests. The CIA says Bascomb’s claim is not true.

Bascomb also details how the mission nearly also netted Josef Mengele, the notorious Auschwitz doctor who performed barbaric medical experiments on prisoners.

Although the story of Eichmann’s capture has been told before, it’s still a fantastic story, and deserves retelling.

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