One of the greatest spy thrillers of the 20th century, the exhibition details how Israel’s Mossad tracked down and captured the Nazi mastermind, and features recently declassified materials.
[New York] – The Nazi responsible for the murder of millions of innocent people might well have lived out his days in Argentina as “Ricardo Klement,” if fate, a Holocaust survivor, and Israel’s foreign intelligence service had not intervened. Featuring recently declassified artifacts and immersive multimedia presentations, the exhibition reveals the secret history behind the capture, extradition, and trial of one of the world’s most notorious war criminals. Operation Finale: The Capture & Trial of Adolf Eichmann is having its New York premiere at the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust in New York City from July 16 to December 22, 2017.
“This powerful exhibition presents the incredible but true espionage story of finding the Nazi who planned the murder of millions of Jews during the Holocaust, how he was brought to justice, and how the world responded,” said Museum President and CEO Michael S. Glickman. “Visitors will be able to experience the intrigue of Eichmann’s capture and the impact that resulted from the revelation of details of Nazi atrocities and survivor testimony as these came to the world stage.”
Surrounded by archival film footage, visitors become immersed in a courtroom setting, watching Eichmann, projected into the original bullet-proof glass booth where he sat dispassionately throughout the trial listening to eyewitness accounts of the brutality of the Nazi regime and their collaborators.
Operation Finale references the code name given by the Mossad to capture and abduct Eichmann. “The exhibition offers an unprecedented opportunity to view for the first time in New York the impressive pre-digital-era espionage with all of its accompanying maps, case files, hand-forged documents, and a pair of goggles used to obscure Eichmann’s vision during the abduction,” says former agent and espionage expert Avner Avraham, who curated the materials for the Mossad in Israel. With 130 original artifacts and photographs, the 4,000-square-foot exhibition details exactly how agents located a perpetrator of “The Final Solution” hiding in South America and smuggled him to Israel to stand trial for crimes against the Jewish people. “The entire dramatic story is told, including never-before-revealed details of a ‘Plan B’ backup escape strategy devised in case the initial scheme failed,” explains Avraham.
Short films within Operation Finale allow exhibition-goers to hear directly from the international agents that caught the SS lieutenant colonel and the legal team that prosecuted him. An immersive installation housing the iconic bulletproof glass booth from which a dispassionate Eichmann testified drops visitors right into the historic 1961 trial. Although it was more than 15 years after the end of World War II, this was the first time many survivors publicly shared their stories that were broadcast across the globe, providing a deeper, more complete understanding of the Holocaust that became not only a living part of Jewish identity, but of the world’s conscience.
Operation Finale illustrates the enormity of the crimes committed during the Nazi regime and explores issues of justice and accountability. A high school dropout who lost his job as salesmen during the Depression in 1933, Eichmann rose to prominence in the Nazi party by zealously applying his logistical skills to the efficient execution of state-sponsored genocide. He never expressed remorse. “I was not a responsible leader, and as such do not feel myself guilty,” he wrote, asking for clemency.