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Digital Subscriptions > Newsweek International > 20th April 2018 > Assassin’s Creed

Assassin’s Creed

The secret history of ISRAEL’S MOSSAD, and its covert war against Hitler’s scientists after the Holocaust

Assassin’s Creed

The secret history of ISRAEL’S MOSSAD, and its covert war against Hitler’s scientists after the Holocaust

PREVIOUSE SPREAD: PHOTOS BY: GETTY(7)

Photo illustration by GLUEKIT

MOSSAD

SINCE WORLD WAR II, ISRAEL HAS USED ASSASSINATIONS and targeted killings on more people than any other country in the Western world. In many cases, its leaders have determined that in killing a designated target—and protecting its national security— it is moral and legal to endanger the lives of innocent civilians. Harming such people, they believe, is a necessary evil.

Israel’s reliance on assassination as a military tool did not happen by chance. It stems from the roots of the Zionist movement, from the trauma of the Holocaust and from the sense among Israelis that the country is perpetually in danger of annihilation. And that no one would come to its aid.

Because Israel is such a small country, because the Arab states have long talked of and attempted to destroy it, and because of the menace of terrorism, the nation has developed a highly effective military and, arguably, the best intelligence community in the world. It has also developed the most robust, streamlined assassination machine in history.

The following reveals some of the early successes and failures of that machine.

ON THE MORNING OF JULY 21, 1962, ISRAELIS WOKE UP TO THEIR worst nightmare: Egypt’s newspapers reported the successful test launch of four surface-to-surface missiles. Two days later, the Egyptian military paraded the missiles through Cairo. Some 300 foreign diplomats watched the spectacle, as did President Gamal Abdel Nasser. He proudly declared that the military was now capable of hitting any point “south of Beirut.” The implication was clear: Israel was in Nasser’s crosshairs.

The next day, a broadcast delivered in Hebrew from Egyptbased radio station “The Voice of Thunder from Cairo” was more explicit. “These missiles are intended to open the gates of freedom for the Arabs,” the anchorman boasted, “to retake the homeland that was stolen as part of imperialist and Zionist plots.”

A few weeks later, Israelis learned that a team of German scientists had played an integral role in developing these missiles. World War II had ended 17 years earlier, and suddenly the traumas of the Holocaust, suffused as they were with images of German scientists in Wehrmacht uniforms, gave way to a new and different existential threat: weapons of mass destruction in the hands of Israel’s new great enemy, Nasser, whom Israelis regarded as the Adolf Hitler of the Middle East. “Former German Nazis are now helping Nasser in his anti-Israeli genocide projects” was how the Jewish press described the news. And the Mossad, to say nothing of its political and military leaders, had been caught unaware, learning of Egypt’s missile project mere days before the test launch. It was a devastating reminder of the little country’s vulnerability.

The German scientists developing the Egyptian missiles weren’t obscure technicians. They were some of the Nazi regime’s most senior engineers, men who’d worked during the war at the research base at Peenemünde, a peninsula on the Baltic coast where the Third Reich’s most advanced weaponry was developed.

ROLL SPRESS/POPPERFOTO/GETTY[2]
CORBIS/GETTY

The bullet hit the glass and SHATTERED IT, and then hit Kleinwächter’s scarf, but it missed his body.

PUBLIC ENEMY When Israel learned that Nasser, above and to the left, was working with German scientists on surface-to-surface missiles, the nation was horrified. It harked back to the trauma of the Holocaust. At left, a member of the SS shoots a Polish Jew.
DOCUMENTS COURTESY OF RONEN BERGMAN
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ASSASSIN'S CREED: ISRAEL'S SECRET WAR ON HITLER'S SCIENTISTS Since World War II, Israel has used assassinations and targeted killings on more people than any other country in the Western world. In many cases, it's leaders believed that is was a necessary evil. However, Israel’s reliance on assassination as a military tool did not happen by chance. It stems from the roots of the Zionist movement, from the trauma of the Holocaust and from the sense among Israelis, that the country is perpetually in danger of annihilation. With Israel being such a small country, that Arab states have long talked of and attempted to destroy, the nation has developed a highly effective military and, arguably, the best intelligence community in the world. It has also developed the most robust, streamlined assassination machine in history. The following reveals some of the early successes and failures of that machine.