Andrew Nagorski's new book is The Nazi Hunters.
From his Q & A with Deborah Kalb:
Q: Why did you decide to focus on the Nazi hunters, and how did you research the book?Learn more about the writer and his work at Andrew Nagorski's website.
A: As a foreign correspondent, I often found myself examining the legacy of the war and the Holocaust. After the Nuremberg and Dachau trials, the victors in World War II were quick to turn their attention to the Cold War and largely lost interest in bringing Nazi criminals to justice.
Defying that trend, a relatively small group of men and women known as Nazi hunters dedicated their lives to making sure that there was some measure of justice—and fought against forgetting.
The hunted, those who participated in mass murder, are always a subject of morbid fascination. But I feel strongly that the hunters also deserve our attention. They are the ones who made Germans and so many others acknowledge and deal with their recent past, which is the first step towards learning the lessons of history.
Of course the era of Nazi hunting is coming to a natural end soon because there will no more Nazi war criminals still living. As a result, the story of the hunters and the hunted can now be told almost in its entirety. As a writer, I saw this as an opportunity to weave a narrative spanning the whole postwar era.
To do so, I needed to meet the surviving Nazi hunters in Europe, Israel and the United States and get their first-hand stories—or, in the case of those who had already died, reconstruct their stories from new research and, at times, interviews with people who knew them. The connections between these individuals and their often daring actions were far more extensive than most people realize.
For instance, Fritz Bauer, a German judge and prosecutor from a secular Jewish family, provided the key tip to the Israelis that led to their capture of Adolf Eichmann in Buenos Aires in 1960. I was also able to interview Rafi Eitan, the Mossad agent who was in charge of the commando unit that seized Eichmann.
Jan Sehn, a Polish investigative judge whose family was of German descent, interrogated Auschwitz commandant Rudolf Höss before he was hanged. He then...[read on]