NEW ORLEANS (October 17, 2019) – The National WWII Museum today announced the opening of its newest special exhibit, Operation Finale: The Capture & Trial of Adolf Eichmann. Revealing the secret history behind the capture, extradition and trial of one of the world’s most notorious escaped war criminals, the multimedia exhibition features recently declassified artifacts never before seen outside of Israel. Operation Finale – the inaugural exhibit in the Museum’s newly-opened Senator John Alario, Jr. Special Exhibition Hall – is presented by Perry and Marty Granoff, and produced by the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage in collaboration with Israel’s national intelligence agency Mossad, The Museum of the Jewish People and Tel Aviv. The exhibit will be on display from October 17 to January 5, 2020.
“Operation Finale offers an unprecedented opportunity to see impressive pre-digital-era espionage with all of its accompanying maps, printed case files, hand-forged documents and even 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 Mossad in Israel. With 60 original artifacts and 70 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.
Adolf Eichmann – the Nazi responsible for the transport of millions of innocent people to death camps – might well have lived out his days in Argentina as “Ricardo Klement” if fate, a Holocaust survivor and Israel’s foreign intelligence service hadn’t intervened. Operation Finale references the code name given to the Mossad’s effort to capture and abduct Eichmann and illustrates the enormity of the crimes committed during the Nazi regime. A high school dropout who lost his job as a salesman 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.
“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,” says Dr. Orit Shaham Gover, Beit Hatfutsot Chief Curator. “These moving accounts of pain, suffering, courage and survival 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.”
Short films within Operation Finale allow exhibition-goers to hear directly from the abduction team that caught the SS lieutenant colonel and the legal team that prosecuted him. An immersive video installation housing a replica of the bulletproof glass booth from which a dispassionate Eichmann testified drops visitors right into the historic 1961 trial.
“The National WWII Museum is proud to host Operation Finale because it educates visitors on the trial that changed the world’s view of the Holocaust and how it would be discussed in the future,” said Kim Guise, the Museum’s Assistant Director for Curatorial Services. “The exhibit combines a classic spy story with an exploration of themes of personal responsibility and the search for justice for the crimes and horrors of the Holocaust. It is a riveting story and has the power to bring viewers, including this one, to tears.”
The Museum’s Senator John Alario, Jr. Special Exhibition Hall is located in the newly-opened Hall of Democracy – a pavilion that represents the center of the Museum’s expanding educational outreach initiatives. This hub of research and technology will allow Museum staff to expand their reach and bring the story of the American experience in World War II to visitors, educators, students, descendants of WWII veterans and scholars in new and engaging ways. Featuring the Institute for the Study of War and Democracy, the WWII Media and Education Center, a research library, an education classroom, a special exhibits gallery, a fully-equipped auditorium and even a Museum Store outlet, the building serves as an educational gateway offering WWII content expertise, iconic materials and unique programming.
The National WWII Museum tells the story of the American experience in the war that changed the world—why it was fought, how it was won, and what it means today—so that future generations will know the price of freedom and be inspired by what they learn. Dedicated in 2000 as The National D-Day Museum and now designated by Congress as America’s National WWII Museum, it celebrates the American spirit, the teamwork, optimism, courage and sacrifices of the men and women who fought on the battlefront and served on the Home Front. The 2018 TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Awards ranks the Museum No. 3 in the nation and No. 8 in the world. For more information, call 877-813-3329 or 504-528-1944 or visit nationalww2museum.org.
OPERATION FINALE: THE CAPTURE & TRIAL OF ADOLF EICHMANN The head of the Nazis’ homicidal “Jewish Department” who zealously managed the transport of millions of innocent people to death camps disappeared after World War II. Photographs, film and recently declassified espionage artifacts never before seen outside of Israel reveal the dramatic secret history behind the pursuit, capture, extradition and 1961 trial of a principal perpetrator of The Final Solution. This world premiere exhibition is a co-production of The Mossad – Israeli Secret Intelligence Service; Beit Hatfutsot – The Museum of the Jewish People, Tel Aviv, Israel; and the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage.