Saturday, June 14, 2014

Hunting Eichmann - a review

Hunting Eichmann  : Chasing down the World's Most Notorious Nazi - Neal Bascomb
My husband is quite often sent off on airplanes for work. I like to have a stock of manly books handy for such events.  When I see a good men's booklist like this, or find a recommended reading list from a conference my husband has gone to, I buy a couple to have on hand.  This week, he was sent off to Thailand (while I stayed home and wrote reports and nursed a cold.....not that I'm bitter - cough, cough) and I had two books for him to choose from.  Hunting Eichmann was the one he left behind and, in a moment of cold-induced tiredness, I decided to sit down and read it instead of cleaning the house.

It's basically the story of the notorious Nazi, Adolf Eichmann, his years on the run after the end of WWII, and his final capture and trial.  Half the story focuses on Eichmann and the other half on the searchers and their quest. I found the background into the development and operational procedures of Mossad, Israel's international intelligence agency, very interesting indeed. It's not a book for everyone - you have to like history and you have to like spy stories.  I happen to like both and found the lead up to the actual capture almost overwhelmingly suspenseful and started to skim read just to get over the painful waiting.

As I found with Killing Hitler, just reading the book pressed me into thinking about the moral and ethical dilemmas that permeate the way the world dealt with the Nazi movement. I don't know precisely where I stand on capital punishment, but I think I agree with the hanging of Eichmann.  For such a man, with such crimes, there could be no other sentence.  Almost all of the participants in Eichmann's capture had first-hand knowledge of the Nazi regime and had lost precious family members through his actions.  How people, as individuals and as a collective, go on after such monumental tragedies.... I can't even begin to fathom.

One of the other questions that skirts at the edges of the story is West Germany's desire for the past to be kept in the past. How does a nation that deeply involved in such horror find a way to go forward after it is all over?  Who should bear the blame and for how long?  SBS had a documentary on the other night entitled Hitler's Children.  It investigates the legacy that is left behind to the children and grandchildren of Hitler's top echelon.  This was an interesting book to read after seeing that film. It would seem with Adolf Eichmann's children, the eldest three are Nazi sympathizers and the youngest has denounced all that his father did. Yet he lives with his father's identity as a black stain on his own name.

Couldn't say it was a gentle read. But it was full of suspense and very engrossing.  And thought-provoking.  Well worth adding to your emergency plane-book stack.  If you have one.  Which you really should. Just in case.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

I think I'd enjoy that one. I'm not sure where I sit with capital punishment or attempts to assassinate dictators (as cruel as those dictators are).