Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A Wonderfully Entertaining Interview by Author Forbes West, with Author David Lawrence-Young at the Benbow Inn July 14th 2014



LIVE AT THE BENBOW (7/14/14)

Recorder abruptly starts with a hiss and a pop.

Forbes:
Ah fantastic!
Was worried there for a moment. How are you this morning David?

(the sounds of one hand slapping the side of a recorder can be heard)

David:
OK, we're in business and have lift off. Start the grilling.


FORBES:
Well, lets start off. Six Million Accusers. What exactly is this story about? Most of us know of Adolf Eichmann and his crimes but most of us don't really know how he was finally brought to justice. 


David:
OK, the story is this: Adolf Eichmann was the chief co-coordinator of the Nazi genocide program. At the end of the war escaped from the Americans and worked for 18 months in Austria as a lumberjack. Then he got a Red Cross refugee passport and fled to Buenos Aires.

FORBES:
Was he helped at this time or was he a complete fugitive on his own?

DAVID:
He was helped by the ex-Nazi organization but they weren't too forthcoming as he was a very hot potato. Then he worked in lowly jobs in Buenos Aires for 12 years until he was caught. So he goes underground, assumes another identity and works as, well, an everyday office worker.

FORBES:
So his profile is extremely low.
In a country that is more or less, "neutral" to his presence?



DAVID:
Right. In the meanwhile his wife Vera and 3 sons come over from Germany and live with him in this slummy house in the poor part of Buenos Aires. Then he has a 4th son born there.


FORBES:
The Americans and other allies have no interest in him? 
It looks that he's in America's backyard at this point.

DAVID:
Yes, but they've also got other fish to fry and besides, there are vague reports that he is still in Europe or in Kuwait. By the way, many ex-Nazis fled to Buenos Aires as the leader, Peron was very welcoming and there was an ex-Nazi network in existence there.

FORBES:
Would this be the so-called Odessa network? Is that the correct term?
The ratlines?

DAVID:
I don't remember hearing it called the Odessa network, but I'll check that one up (I have heard of it for other people and get back to you by email.)

(EDITOR’S NOTE: David later sent an email stating that the Odessa Network did not seem to be a real operation, though it was discussed in various circles.)

All I know is that he didn't get much help in Europe or Buenos Aires because they all knew of what he had done.

FORBES:
So he's basically radioactive. He's the last of the true monsters.

DAVID:
Let's say the last of the big league. Unfortunately a lot of the smaller but equally guilty ones got away and/or are too old to prosecute today or have died in the meanwhile.


FORBES:
Now what would say exactly A.E.'s role was? He's not the instigator per se, as that could be laid at Heydrich, Himmler and then of course Hitler's doorstep. But what would explain his place in the system?
You used the term co-coordinator, so he's the one who's executing the grand plan? He's the one that problem solves?
Keeping the trains on time, who goes where, how many etc.?

DAVID:
He was appointed at the Jan 20 Wansee, Berlin conference (really a one day affair) by the Nazi top brass to be the chief co-coordinator for the deportation and transportation to extermination camps etc. of the Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals etc. and anyone the Nazis didn't want around. As such he had tremendous authority, which he continued to use even when told by Himmler in 1944 to stop.

FORBES:
Now that's something I haven't heard. Himmler is turning off the death machine but A.E. continues it?

DAVID:
Yes, in Hungary for example. AE continued sending c.450,000 Jews to Auschwitz after the Nazi top brass saw that they were losing the war by summer 1944.

FORBES:
So the Nazis (top Nazis) are trying to backtrack and he goes full speed ahead. Now if I remember right, he's not even a General at any point. He's basically middle management.
How does he pull this off? Just keep sending out orders without contradiction?

DAVID:
True, and also he’s in a non-combat role so he’s outside the regular chain of command. So, yes, he ignores Himmler and justifies this by saying that Hitler hasn't told him directly to quit.

FORBES:
So from what you've researched, does this go against the idea floated at the time  that A.E. was just "banal" "office worker" evil?
He was a fanatic then. He wasn’t just a bureaucrat, a cold blooded bureaucrat who wouldn't stand up to his immediate superior.
But he does.


DAVID:
True for all of the above.
By the way, do you know the story of how his past "slipped out?"


FORBES:
No. How did the skeletons in his closet finally come out?

DAVID:
So here goes:
One of his sons dated a girl called Sylvia. Her dad in Buenos Aires was an ex-Jewish blinded lawyer, blinded by being beaten up by the Nazis in Dachau before the war. HE was then released and fled to Buenos Aires where he led a non-Jewish life. OK, so far?

FORBES:
So far so good.
Dacha do you mean Dachau?

DAVID:
Then one day AE junior boasts to Sylvia that his dad was a big shot in the war and Sylvia's dad, Hermann puts two and two together. He then contacts a Jewish state prosecutor in Germany who informs the Israeli secret service – the Mossad, who've been looking for him. They send guys over to Buenos Aires to see if this is all true and then set the wheels in motion to snatch him and fly him to Israel. They had to snatch him as there were no real diplomatic relations then between Argentina & Israel.


FORBES:
So the son blurts out the family secret a little too much...
Sylvia’s Dad has a hunch.
And then the wheels are set in motion.


Now why wouldn't he contact the Americans who are closer or the Germans? Have they washed their hands at this point? Or was it that there was a fear that somehow there'd be a leak and A.E. would get another chance to bolt?
I understand of course the Germans De-Nazification was sort of haphazard in the Western part.

DAVID:

Right. The Israelis were wary of the USA for the reasons you said. Less in the know = fewer leaks. Also this story took over two years because of the Israelis are working in an unfriendly country and they wanted to make sure that the AE they thought they were grabbing was really the man they were looking for. It would have been a huge screw-up if they'd grabbed an innocent man!


FORBES:
And Israel then is not Israel now. Israel then is in a constant state of siege
Little recognition except the US. And constant border wars. I mean I wouldn't say its 100% better. But Israel is in its infancy then. And was in a much lesser position to defend itself.

DAVID:
The situation is much the same today as in 1960. Surrounded by enemies though we do have a "cold peace" with Jordan & Egypt. But this aspect had nothing to do with snatching AE. It just added a few logistical problems when it came to flying him back here.

FORBES:
I see.  
So this operation must have had top level support in the Israeli government- somebody has to give the go order.
Because the fallout of a screwup, or incident, or mistaken identity could really cause huge repercussions back home.
This wasn't just a simple arrest order from a police authority

DAVID:
Right. The order to the Mossad came from Ben Gurion, the famous white-haired Israeli PM and he said spend what you like to grab AE.  He also told theIsraeli airlines El-Al to help in bringing AE to Israel. All in all, full co-operation from everyone necessary. By the way, the number two guy organizing the snatch and who took part, Avraham Shalom just died 5 days ago.

FORBES:
You sometimes forget that Israel is still a nation in its infancy. 1948 is the year of independence, so the nation's founders or founding generation can still be found.Americans forget, I should say.
So the go order is given. What was the thought process behind it? I mean obviously justice for the millions dead. But what was the full reasoning behind the mission? Was it simple justice, or was it to make a message to the world?

DAVID:
True. We're only sixty six years-even younger than me by 2 years!
Sorry, forgot to answer your question. The book is a sort of written docudrama. Very close to the facts, but written from the angle that I'm one of the snatch team. I worked hard to find the truth of all this and got some help from an ex-Mossad person who was involved, whom we'll call A.  Now  to start off Eichmann had help from an Argentinean German Banker. He tried to keep a low profile- relatively few photos as there was a fear that his past would catch up with him.

Forbes:
What was Eichmann exactly? During and before the war? To back up for a moment?

David:
A fanatic but one with a normal, lower middle class background. Not a man of the street and not one of the top brass banker types that helped to get the Nazis in power because they thought they could control Hitler. He’s an intensive bureaucrat who, as he became more powerful, could only be ordered around really by Hitler himself at a certain point. Born in 1906, he’s raised with the stab in the back legend- that the Jews were responsible for Germany’s World War One defeat.  He started life as an average salesman, traveling in Austria. It’s a useful background because he learns first hand the train systems of central Europe. As the years go by he carves himself a niche as a “Jew” expert after joining the Nazi Party- he learned Hebrew and Yiddish. But he embellished his credentials- he spent one day in what was then Palestine and made it seem that he had conducted a massive fact finding operation about the Jews living there when in reality he had to leave due to the Arab-Jewish fighting of the 1930s.  When the holocaust really starts, he becomes a head honcho, a man who could override Generals, a man who can authorize weapons and soldiers to be put to work at the death camps.  Again, even Himmler wanted him to stop by 1944 but he continues the work. But as the Russians and Americans close in, he loses it all. His materialistic high living ends and he runs to Buenos Aires. He lives in a dump on Garbaldi street (no running water or electricity) for the rest of his time there- a bare middle class existence in a poor part of town, though he was slowly improving his life. He lives a meager existence until his son opens his mouth and Herman, the half-blinded lawyer gets wind that it might be Eichmann may be living next door…. And well, through a Mossad squad, a 12 year old organization, filled with veterans who have either survived the holocaust or have had loved ones lost to it, all hardcore veterans, Eichmann is hunted down, identified, stripped, drugged and taken back to Israel for trial. It’s an incredible story, and its done as a fictional narrative through the eyes of one of the Mossad squad members.

Forbes:
Well, I think I knew something about World War Two history and its aftermath and this little interview just shows that, well I don’t know everything and that makes me want to read this book even more. Just a couple of facts you laid make the whole Eichmann saga much more interesting and more fascinating than what a newsreel or a history text book can tell. Thank you for your time., sir.

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