Tuviah Friedman, credited with helping to find Adolf Eichmann, dies at 88

Nazi hunter Tuvia Friedman, director of Historical Documentation in shown in his Haifa, Israel, office in 1960.
Nazi hunter Tuvia Friedman, director of Historical Documentation in shown in his Haifa, Israel, office in 1960. (Associated Press)
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Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 20, 2011; 11:28 PM

Tuviah Friedman survived years in a series of concentration camps during World War II. His parents and two siblings perished, and he had seen Nazis kill dozens of others.

Mr. Friedman, who died Jan. 13 at 88 in Haifa, Israel, made it his life's work to bring his captors to justice. As a Nazi hunter in the decades after the war, he was credited with helping to find Adolf Eichmann, the German officer considered a major architect of the Holocaust.

Born to a Jewish family in Poland, Mr. Friedman "was an indefatigable and sometimes brash or even intemperate voice for justice on behalf of the victims of Nazi inhumanity," said Eli Rosenbaum, a prosecutor with the Justice Department who has investigated Nazi war crimes cases.

After the war ended in Europe, Mr. Friedman worked with Soviet and Polish authorities who were seeking evidence of German atrocities. In the spring of 1945, they sent him to inspect an abandoned Nazi facility on the outskirts of what was then Danzig (now Gdansk), Poland.

"One room was filled with naked corpses," Mr. Friedman wrote in his 1961 memoir, "The Hunter." "Another room was filled with boards on which were stretched human skins. Nearby was a smaller building, with a heavy padlock. We broke in and found an oven in which the Germans had experimented in the manufacture of soap, using human fat as raw material."

Mr. Friedman was often described as working in the shadow of Simon Wiesenthal, a renowned Nazi hunter who died in 2005.

Unlike Wiesenthal, a self-promoter, Mr. Friedman toiled in obscurity for most of his career.

In the postwar period, Mr. Friedman worked in Vienna with the support of the Haganah, a Jewish paramilitary group. He and a small team chased down leads all over Europe.

Mr. Friedman pursued Eichmann with a maniacal passion. He scoured thousands of documents and interviewed hundreds of Holocaust survivors for hints of the Nazi officer's whereabouts.

Eichmann had disappeared from Germany after the war and was the subject of an international manhunt. Eichmann's wife tried to have him declared dead.

To get background on Eichmann's family, Mr. Friedman visited Linz, Austria, where Eichmann's father owned an electrical goods store, and bought a light bulb.

"I felt, after looking at the old man, that I had seen Satan's father," Mr. Friedman wrote in his book. Once Mr. Friedman left the store, he smashed the bulb in the street and spit on the shards.

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