By: Ellie Gettinger, Education Director
In researching and developing Southern Exposure: The Jews of Argentina, one of the stories that really stuck with me was that of Adolph Eichmann and his presence in Argentina. Following World War II, Juan Peron, who had been sympathetic to the fascist governments in Europe, re-opened immigration to Argentina. This meant that Jewish survivors of the Holocaust were able to find a haven at a time when there were limited options for them and it also meant that their tormentors, Nazi war criminals, were able to immigrate to Argentina as well. For Peron, he saw this as a way of building the Argentine economy, as German industry was relocated to Argentina wholesale.
One of the people who entered was Adolf Eichmann, notable as the architect of the Final Solution.
Eichmann lived a quiet life in Argentina, under an assumed name. He had covered his tracks fully, going so far as removing an incriminating identifying markers to maintain anonymity in his adopted country. Despite his care in protecting his identity, one of his son’s boasted to a girl that he was dating about his father’s “accomplishments” during World War II. This girl happened to be Jewish and by reporting this to her family, she set into place an enormous Israeli sting operation to ensure that A) this was indeed Adolf Eichmann and B) they could remove him from the country to stand trial in Israel.
As part of our partnership with the Nathan & Esther Pelz Holocaust Education Resource Center and with funding from the Wisconsin Humanities Council, we are delighted to explore this complex story on Sunday, January 3 at 4:00 PM with Dr. Shay Pilnik, director of the Holocaust Resource Center, and Dr. Yannay Spitzer. Dr. Spitzer is the grandson of one of the judges who tried Eichmann in Israel. This will be a unique and powerful program that develops our understanding of the climate in Argentina and the impact in Israel of this watershed event.