By Mara Sonnenschein, Senior Manager for Communications

Last night I attended the Museum’s advance screening of the first episode of Hunters, the new Amazon series about Nazi hunters living in Manhattan in 1977.

The show, which takes place in 1977 New York City, is based on stories that series creator David Weil was told by his grandmother, who was a Holocaust survivor. And while the Nazi hunters in the show are fictional characters, there was at least one real Nazi hunter who spent some of his life on the Lower East Side: Peter Malkin.

Peter Zvi Malkin was the Mossad agent who literally nabbed Adolf Eichmann on a street in Buenos Aires in 1960. Malkin was also a talented artist. During the long hours guarding Eichmann in a safe house before transporting him to Israel, Malkin drew his impressions of Eichmann and the significance of this clandestine mission.

This sketch of Eichmann as an assassin covered one wall of the Operation Finale exhibition. Below Eichmann is a train with six cars, to denote the six million Jews murdered by Nazis. Hitler is shown in the lower left, and in the upper right is a small boy in a crematorium.

Using what he had on hand – pencil, pen, crayons, paint, and even makeup, Malkin made sketches in a guidebook about South America – one of the props used by the Mossad agents so that they appeared to be tourists.

This 1960 South American Handbook belonged to Peter Zvi Malkin. Inside is where he sketched, drew, and painted his impressions while guarding Adolf Eichmann in Argentina.
Most of Malkin’s artworks were inside the Argentina portion of the guidebook, and they sometimes incorporated words, maps, or images from the guidebook that gave additional power to the artwork, like the portrait of Eichmann over a map of Argentina.
Malkin used the materials available to him – pencil, pen, crayons, paint, even makeup – to create his art.

Shortly after I started working at the Museum, I had the privilege of meeting Omer Malkin, Peter’s son, when he loaned his father’s sketchbook for display in the exhibition Operation Finale: The Capture and Trial of Adolf Eichmann, then on view at the Museum.

Omer Malkin in front of his father’s sketchbook on display at the Museum.

Seeing Peter Malkin’s artwork firsthand – Eichmann as an assassin on top of a train with six cars, symbolizing the six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust; the sketch of Eichmann over a map of Argentina, the country that gave him refuge after WWII; color portraits of some of the victims of the Holocaust – was something I will never forget. Witnessing a real-life Nazi hunter’s inner feelings was profound. Malkin captured Eichmann in person; he also captured him, and some of the turmoil of the Holocaust, on paper.