The Israeli Pilot Who Flew Eichmann to Justice

Stand for Israel  |  May 27, 2020

Adolf Eichmann at trial 1961
Adolf Eichmann at trial 1961

One of the most daring secret Israeli missions led to the capture of Adolf Eichmann. Hiding in Buenos Aires, the architect of the Holocaust found himself nabbed by a team of Mossad agents. But getting this Nazi murderer from Argentina to Israel took daring, too. Writing at The Jerusalem Post, Aaron David Fruh tells the story of Shmuel Wedeles, the El Al captain who flew the war criminal to Jerusalem to face justice:

Sixty years ago, at dawn on May 22, 1960, El Al captains Zvi Tohar and Shmuel Wedeles guided their four-engine Bristol Britannia passenger airliner out of the heavens toward Lod Airport near Tel Aviv. The plane was painted in brilliant white – dovelike. The royal blue Star of David on the tale rudder glistened in the morning sun.

When the wheels gripped the runway, both Tohar and Wedeles breathed a sigh of relief, after completing their long-distance flight from Buenos Aires, Argentina, a span filled with intrigue and danger.

Probably the most famous landing in world history was the Apollo 11 lunar module Eagle’s touchdown on the moon, July 20, 1969. Just as the Eagle’s lunar landing was a triumph for technology, the landing of the aircraft piloted by Tohar and Wedeles on that May morning in 1960 was a triumph for justice; for seated aboard the plane in the first-class cabin was the notorious architect of the Nazi’s “Final Solution,” Adolf Eichmann.

The irony is that the Jews, systematically hunted down by Eichmann in every fissure and crack and ghetto in Europe, their gaunt bodies crammed and pressed by strong Aryan backs into cattle cars with no ventilation or light, not being afforded so much as a minimal mercy in their transport to the death camps, even offered Eichmann a seat at all, let alone one in first class.