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Zvi Aharoni

Zvi Aharoni ©Sammlung Peter Staffa

Zvi Aharoni zu Besuch in Frankfurt/ Oder 1999 vor dem ehemaligen Haus der Familie, Ferdinandsberg 34 Frankfurt/ Oder ©Sammlung Peter Staffa

Zvi Aharoni, 14jährig am Friedrichsgyymnasium ©Sammlung Peter Staffa

Zvi Aharoni was born on 6 February 1921 as Hermann Aronheim at the Privat-Frauenklinik und Entbindungsanstalt Dr. W. Sanders (maternity ward) located at Bahnhof Strasse 14. His parents were Eugenie (born Simon) from Frankfurt (Oder) and Heinrich Aronheim who came from Konitz in what was then Western Prussia. Heinrich Aronheim worked as a lawyer until the National Socialists revoked his license. The family lived at Fürstenwalder Strasse 67 until 1925 and then moved into a large single-family home with a garden located at Ferdinand Strasse 15 on the Kiliansberg near the train station. Zvi Aharoni attended the Friedrich-Gymnasium in the Gubener Vorstadt until 1935. Later that year the family fled to Berlin and they finally left Germany for Palestine just weeks before the November Pogrom.

A New Life in Palestine/Israel

Zvi Aharoni primarily lived between 1938 and 1943 in the Kibbutz of Alonim, where for two years he worked for the Jewish Settlement Police. He described the five years at the Kibbutz as the most important years of his life. In order join the fight against Nazi Germany, Aharoni joined the British military and left Palestine. The British military used Jewish soldiers for covert operations and sabotage along with fighting on the front against the Germans in the Libyan desert. Thousands of young Jews joined the British army, and due to their language skills, many were assigned to the Special Operations Executive for espionage activities.

Time with the Mossad and Operation Eichmann

After the founding of the state of Israel in 1948, Zvi Aharoni did not return to the University to finish his Architectural degree that he had begun in 1946. Rather, he began his career at the Israeli secret service Shin Bet in the department of “Domestic Security and Counter Espionage”.

His position as chief of the interrogation department along with his connections and years of experience at Shin Bet made him well-qualified for other duties in the foreign intelligence service and “Operation Eichmann”. As a member of this operation he was to continue the stalled investigation into the whereabouts of the former SS-Obersturmbannführer Eichmann in Argentina. Unofficially, he transferred to the Israeli national intelligence agency, the Mossad.

Zvi Aharoni was sent to Argentina on 26 February 1960 to finally identify Eichmann. He traveled on a 38-day mission to Buenos Aires and his chief responsibility was to locate Eichmann’s residence, photograph it using a camera hidden in a briefcase, and deliver it to the Mossad. On 11 May 1960 Adolf Eichmann was arrested in Buenos Aires. He was taken to Israel

On 22 May. The Eichmann trial began on 11 April 1961 and ended on 15 December that year. He was sentenced to death by hanging, and was executed in June 1962.

The Frankfurt Exchange Project “Building Bridges”

The exchange project “Building Bridges” celebrates Aharoni’s Frankfurt origins. On the occasion of the 300th anniversary celebration of the Friedrich-Gymnasium in 1993, Peter Staffa a teacher at the school, contacted Zvi Aharoni. Soon thereafter, the former pupil of the Friedrich Gymnasium met with the teacher. The meeting between Zvi Aharoni and Peter Staffa turned into regular correspondence and by 1999 they started the youth exchange project “Building Bridges”, that brings students from Frankfurt and Słubice together with students from Israel and Palestine. This project represents a unique manifestation of commemorative culture in Frankfurt (Oder). After the death of Zvi Aharoni in 2012, the project continues on thanks on behalf of the efforts of Mr. Staffa.

Georg Hartmann