Review: Eichmann In My Hands: A First-Person Account by the Israeli Agent Who Captured Hitler’s Chief Executioner – Peter Z. Malkin

Eichmann In My Hands Peter Z. Malkin

My version: Audiobook
Genre: Non Fiction, Nazis, Israel, Eichmann
Open Road Media
First published: 1990

StoryTel subscription

From the cover:
1n 1960 Argentina, a covert team of Israeli agents hunted down the most elusive war criminal alive: Adolf Eichmann, chief architect of the Holocaust. The young spy who tackled Eichmann on a Buenos Aires street—and fought every compulsion to strangle the Obersturmführer then and there—was Peter Z. Malkin. For decades Malkin’s identity as Eichmann’s captor was kept secret. Here he reveals the entire breathtaking story—from the genesis of the top-secret surveillance operation to the dramatic public capture and smuggling of Eichmann to Israel to stand trial.

Eichmann In My Hands is the story of Peter Malkin, his background, why – and how – he was where he was at the time the Eichmann operation was given the green light. As I see it, he waited until his career with the Mossad was over and done, and (presumably) a reasonable amount of time had passed, before telling his story. I don’t think The Nazi Hunters mentions him, or the book, in the sections about the rivalry there seems to have been (can you believe that there was rivalry, when hunting Nazis?), but it may have been. In The Nazi Hunters, it is suggested – well, more than suggested really – that people involved in the hunt, the tracking down and the capture, inflated, shall we say, their part in the whole. That the Mossad agents, those with the hands-on evidence, were prevented from contradicting these versions of the hunt, because of their need for secrecy, and in many cases, their decency.

Peter Z. Malkin
Peter Z. Malkin

Peter Malkin’s story is an exceptional one to hear all these years later, though at the time, for the people and the places he came from, unfortunately, not untypical. The background for his being on the mission, both him wanting to be on it and others wanting him on it, is at least as interesting as the mission itself. Where, I guess, this book separates itself from the pack is, with the reference to the title, and my above comment of ‘hands-on,’ that Malkin was the one who had to put his ‘hands on’ Eichmann during the capture on Garibaldi Street. He wore gloves, but the dread he must have felt, is why his background and up-bringing is so important for understanding his, and many others, motives. Peter Malkin also, against express instructions from his superiors in Israel, and to the horror of his comrades in Argentina, talked at length to Eichmann. Not only talked, but drank wine and allowed Eichmann to smoke cigarettes and listen to classical music. It was of course the classical music that finally awoke the attention of his comrades. The plan was to have someone with Eichmann at all times of day and night – in order to prevent any kind of suicide attempt, even though Eichmann was bound to the bed and had black out goggles on, you never know…And, of course such periods can drag. Malkin doesn’t say he wanted to get to know Eichmann, he could never have described his relationship with Eichmann as friends or friendly, though of course there was obviously a curiosity to know why Eichmann acted as he did. A very interesting picture emerges from Malkin, which I have read, I’m pretty sure, in Hunting Eichmann, of Eichmann wanting to impress Malkin, to elicit praise from him – for Malkin to acknowledge that he, Eichmann, did his job very well, he did a very good job, under trying circumstances. Get your head round that, while you’re reading this.

Recommended reading.

I have put together a Pinterest board for Eichmann In My Hands, The Nazi Hunters and Hunting Eichmann. Packed with pictures and information

You can buy Eichmann In My Hands : A First-Person Account by the Israeli Agent Who Captured Hitler’s Chief Executioner from Amazon (your best bet, is the Kindle version, as the paperback and hardback look very expensive. Or do as I did, listen to it).

The cover image, is of Eichmann’s house at 14 Garibaldi Street

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