Unsung Heroes

1 04 2012

The world was stunned in 1960 when it learned that a team of Israel Mossad operatives went into Argentina surreptitiously and apprehended infamous Nazi war criminal, Adolph Eichmann.

Eichmann was the architect of the mass deportation of European Jewry to the ghettos and eventually the concentration camps of the Third Reich.  He was unrepentant to the end, deliriously happy that he helped facilitate the extermination of over five million of the six million Jews who perished during World War II.

He’s not laughing now.

The story of Eichmann’s capture is chronicled in the remarkable book, The House On Garibaldi Street  written by then Mossad chief Isser Harel.

When I read the book, I was singularly impressed—and grateful—by the effort that went into his removal from South America to face his crimes against Jewish humanity in Israel.  He was executed, like Haman of old, by hanging in 1962.

One member of the team made a huge impression on me.  Shalom Weiss Dani (probably a pseudonym) was an artist and a master forger.  His presence and work in the effort made it possible to get Eichmann, now living under the alias Ricardo Klement, out of Argentina with little notice.  This involved forging passports, Visas, other public documents, etc. to facilitate his removal.

Shalom Dani was a small and sensitive man.  Quiet.  A man who shook in the presence of Eichmann because his sensitive Israeli heart could not endure the presence of such monstrous and banal evil.  He could use the simple tools of a graphic artist to make flawless documents.  He had the ability to do his work in the most inhospitable working conditions, under enormous pressure.  He was indefatigable.  He was discreet.

Dani impresses me with this simple thing: The smuggling of Eichmann from Buenos Aires to Israel could not have taken place without these important documents.  No fanfare.  No desire for applause, plaudits and such.  What motivated the work of Shalom Dani was simply a commitment to his people for justice to be meted out to a war criminal .

Here’s my challenge: Do you have to be the center of attention to do something of substantial weight?  Or is prudence, discretion, an eschewing of attention and a state of being at ease with not getting noticed or credit the key to making your finest contribution to life, this world, or the kingdom of heaven.

I’m rattled by this because I like attention…applause…name in lights, the whole distracting bit.

President Ronald Reagan once made the point that there is no end to the good we can do if no one cares who gets the credit.

So here’s to Shalom Dani.  And people like him.  The unsung heroes.

Be one of them.

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2 responses

1 04 2012
David Kanigan

“be one of them.”

Powerful and inspiring post Christian

1 04 2012
Christian Fahey

Thank you David. Shalom Dani has always been a model for me, especially in a culture that celebrates–rather worships–celebrity. What a contribution. Thanks for stopping by!

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