Because I haven’t been blown away by any new books lately, I am – for the first time in my life! – rereading my oldies but goodies. Just last night, I was telling friends about one of my favorites, Eichmann in My Hands, a memoir by Peter Z. Malkin & Harry Stein.
Now, I’ll be honest when I say that this ain’t exactly your everyday run-of-the-mill chick lit beach read. Ha! Far from it. Eichmann in My Hands IS, however, a gripping, page-turning tale that is reminiscent of a Nelson DeMille thriller. Seriously. The Silver Lining is that it is brain candy that will give you great insight on the post-Holocaust reckoning.
The gist of the story is this: On a frigid winter evening in 1960, Israeli secret agent Peter Z. Malkin tackled Adolf Eichmann outside the Nazi war criminal’s home in Buenos Aires, Argentina, then helped colleagues hustle Eichmann into a waiting car. Two weeks later, Eichmann, Adolf Hitler’s chief architect of the Holocaust, sat in an Israeli prison cell, awaiting his trial for war crimes and his eventual hanging in 1962.
After the capture, for most of the next three decades, Malkin, a high-ranking operative in Israel’s famed intelligence service, the Mossad, was forced to hold his tongue about his role in Eichmann’s capture. Can you even imagine? I mean, really. I keep thinking about Malkin coming home from “work” and his wife asking, “How was your day, honey?” and his response being, “Oh it was fine. I caught Eichmann.”
But that’s not how it could go. The reason was that such broad public acclaim would jeopardize Malkin’s intelligence work, so not even relatives knew. I could never be an agent. I’m way too much of a blabber mouth.
When Malkin retired and finally broke his silence in the 1990 memoir Eichmann in My Hands, I was amazed to learn that he was adamant with his editor that he would not use the word “monster” to describe the man he captured.
Malkin’s explanation was simple, really: “The problem here is with human beings, not with monsters, not with animals,” Malkin, who had long, private conversations with Eichmann in an Argentina safe house after his capture, said in a recent telephone interview. “The human being does things that even the monster does not do, because the human being is more sophisticated. The problem is not how the monster did it, but how a human being did it.”