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Bauer during his studies at the university of Heidelberg, 1920's

Review of German Film The People v Fritz Bauer- The German Jewish Prosecutor who tipped off the Mossad As to the Whearabouts of Adolf Eichmann-Now on Netflix

by Rhonda Spivak,


This worthwhile German film with English subtitles tells the true relatively unknown story of   Fritz Bauer, a German Jewish lawyer who survived the Holocaust and returned to West Germany in the late 1940's after the war, and persistently pursued former Nazis in his role as a prosecutor. He hasn't had any luck in prosecuting  a number of high profile Nazis he is searching for , until one day  in 1957 Bauer receives a letter from a German in Argentina who writes that he knows the whereabouts of  Adolf Eichmann, an architect of the Final Solution, because his daughter has begun dating the Nazi’s son. The information is credible but Bauer's options are problematic in that  if Bauer takes the information to Interpol or the German intelligence service, it’s very likely Eichmann will be alerted and flee.German intelligence services, as the film explains, is full of former Nazis who would not want  to see Eichmann stand trial.  


Instead, Bauer takes the dramatic step of going  to Israel to tell the  Mossad, Israel’s intelligence service. The Mossad had had reports of Eichmann’s whereabouts from all over the world, and to  to pursue Bauer's tip they want a  confirmation from a second source. Involving the Mossad is a risky step since if  Bauer can be charged with treason under Germsan laws if  this is  discovered. 

To add to it there are police reports in Denmark which  exist showing that Bauer visited male prostitutes when he lived there before returning to Germany, and in Germany, homosexual behavior is criminal.


Throughout the film, Bauer intends to bring Eichmann to trial in Germany, although at points in the film he appears to  understand this is naive. He wants the trial to be in Germany in order to shine a light on the whole Nazi criminal hierarchy and make Germany confront its past to educate a future generation (albeit his detractors believe he is just a vengeful Jew).  Bauer understands that  Konrad Adenauer's government  doesn’t want the dark past of some of its own members unlocked , such that they would not want an Eichmann trial , and additionally, the U.S. also would not want a trial of Eichmann if it would upset West Germany , which is now  an important U.S. ally.


Bauer finds a second source in Germany confirming that Eichmann is in Argentina under the alias Ricardo Klement and travels to Israel to tell the Mossad. As a result , the Mossad 

 successfully captures Eichmann in Argentina but Israel does not support his extradition to Germany as Bauerhopes it will. The German government does not want the trial in Ger

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.