Last month, the world marked the 80th anniversary of Hitler’s invasion of Poland and the start of WWII. In Israel, too, this was a big milestone: Kids discussed it at school, academics held conferences at the various universities, newspapers ran articles and editorials. But this wasn’t, of course, always the case in Israel. For years, the war—and the Holocaust—were taboo topics. European Jews, many Israelis felt, had gone to the camps like sheep to the slaughter, without resisting, without putting up much of a fight.
Then that perception changed, almost overnight, as a result of one major event: the capture and trial of Adolf Eichmann. Every other Israeli, it seems, claims to have been connected to that heroic operation. But for years, one man who actually was at the heart of the covert kidnapping did all he could to erase himself from the history books. Gregory Warner and Daniel Estrin bring us the complicated story of Dr. Yonah Elian, the anesthesiologist who sedated one of the world’s most notorious Nazis. Today’s episode comes from Rough Translation, an NPR podcast that tells stories from around the world that offer new perspectives on familiar conversations.
Marianne McCune edited the piece, and scored it together with Mike Cruz. Joel Shupack arranged the rest of the episode with music from Blue Dot Sessions. It was produced by Jess Jiang, Neal Carruth, Will Dobson, Anya Grundman, Sarah Knight, Andy Huether, John Ellis, Matt Orton, Autumn Barnes, Zev Levi, Yoshi Fields, Niva Ashkenazi, James Feder, and Yochai Maital. Sela Waisblum mixed the episode. Thanks to Larry Kaplow, Karen Duffin, Quil Lawrence, Ann Hepperman, Alex Goldmark, and Sana Krasikov. The end song, “Perurim Shel Or,” (“Sparks of Light”) is the first single from the new album by Israel Story’s band leader, Dotan Moshonov.