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Buenos Aires, Argentina


This extract comes from "In Pursuit: The Men and Women Who Hunted the Nazis" by Andrew Nagorski, published by Simon & Schuster Australia, $35, and available in stores now. Supplied

The two men were also thrown off by the slovenly-looking European woman they spotted in the yard of the house. Eichmann was known as a womaniser, and they couldn't believe she could be his wife.

To the source

Harel insisted on getting the name of Bauer's source so Mossad could check further. His name was Lothar Hermann, his address was in Coronel Suarez, a city more than 300 miles from Buenos Aires, and he turned out to be blind. His parents had died at the hands of the Nazis, he said, and he had spent time in the concentration camps. But, he added, "I have Jewish blood in my veins, but my wife is German and our daughter has been brought up according to her mother's traditions."

The Hermanns had lived in the Olivos suburb of Buenos Aires, until 18 months earlier, where they were "accepted as German in every way". Sylvia, the daughter, had begun dating a young man named Nicolas Eichmann, who had no idea she was partly Jewish. He visited their house on several occasions, and once he remarked that it would have been better if the Germans had completed the extermination of the Jews. He also explained that he did not have a distinct regional accent because his father had served in many different places during the war.

Mossad agent Peter Malkin wore these gloves to avoid touching Eichmann with his bare hands when he dragged him into a waiting car during his capture.

In those days, many Nazis felt so much at home in Argentina that they took only minimal precautions – and, while Adolf had been living under an assumed last name, his sons never bothered to change theirs. But Nicolas did take one precaution when he started seeing Sylvia: he made a point of never revealing his home address. When Nicolas and Sylvia wrote to each other after she moved, he instructed her to mail her letters to a friend's address.

Hermann took his daughter to Buenos Aires to investigate further. With the help of a friend, she had located Nicolas' house and simply knocked on the door. When a woman opened the door, Sylvia asked if this was the home of the Eichmann family.

"Her reply did not come immediately, and during the pause a middle-aged man wearing glasses came and stood beside her," she recalled. "I asked him if Nick was at home." Speaking in an "unpleasant and strident" voice, he told her that Nick was working overtime. Sylvia continued: "I asked if he was Mr Eichmann. No reply. So I asked if he was Nick's father. He said he was, but only after long hesitation."

Lothar and Sylvia Hermann learnt from a property registry that the owner of the house in Chacabuco Street was an Austrian named Francisco Schmidt, and that it had two apartments with separate electric meters, one for someone named Dagoto and the other for someone named Klement. Hermann concluded that Schmidt must be Eichmann, and that he had undergone plastic surgery to change his appearance.

But Bauer learnt from a new source, he told the Israelis, that Eichmann had travelled to Argentina under the name of Ricardo Klement. Harel assigned a new man, Zvi Aharoni, to follow up. He also informed Ben-Gurion of the possible breakthrough. Ben-Gurion replied that, if the lead panned out, he wanted Eichmann brought back for trial in Israel. He believed such a trial "would be an achievement of tremendous moral and historical consequence".

Harel considered Aharoni to be "one of the best investigators" in Israel; born in Germany, he had served in the British Army, interrogating German POWs. On March 1, 1960, Aharoni finally landed in Buenos Aires, armed with an Israeli diplomatic passport under a false name.

Accompanied by a local student who had agreed to help out, Aharoni drove in a rented car to Chacabuco Street in Olivos on March 1, but when the student walked up to the house, pretending to be looking for someone else, it turned out that there were no tenants in the two apartments and painters were at work. The family – "the Germans" – had moved just 15 to 20 days earlier.

The game plan

This could have been devastating news, but one of the painters said the Klements had moved to San Fernando, another suburb of Buenos Aires, and suggested talking to one of Klement's sons, who worked in an auto repair shop nearby. The young German confirmed that he was one of Klement's sons; others were calling him something that sounded like Tito or Dito. As Aharoni put it later, this was clearly Dieter, the third of the Eichmann sons. Dieter was more suspicious than the

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