How Eli Cohen, Israel’s Man in Damascus, Was Captured

Noam Nachman-Tepper seeks to dispute the accepted narrative surrounding the capture of Eli Cohen.

Eli Cohen, undercover as Kamel Amin Thaabet, in the cockpit of a Syrian aircraft.

For many years, Israel believed that Eli Cohen was captured due to the fact that Syrian intelligence managed to intercept his correspondence with Mossad headquarters in Israel. However, testimony which appears in my book, “Eli Cohen – Open Case” shows that there is actually very little chance that the Syrians succeeded in locating the signal of Cohen’s communication device.

Documents and testimony from the head of Syrian intelligence and the testimony of an intelligence officer who broke into Cohen’s apartment indicate that the Syrians carried out constant physical surveillance of Cohen. How, then, was Israel’s man in Damascus really captured?

Eli Cohen’s last letter to his wife, Nadia, written in Arabic an hour before his execution.


The decision to recruit and train an agent to be stationed in a target country (Egypt, Jordan or Syria) was made in 1958, not long after military intelligence failed to identify the Egyptian army’s infiltration into the Sinai Peninsula. Indeed, the head of Military Intelligence was dismissed as a result. This failure stemmed from a decision made by one of the officers in the IDF listening unit to not pass along information regarding Egyptian armored units crossing the Suez Canal. Military Intelligence decided there was a need to significantly improve its ability to identify states of high alert and the movement of forces in unfriendly Arab countries. To this end, it was decided to plant a number of agents in Arab countries who would report on military movements and preparations. As part of this directive, an operative was recruited to be stationed in Damascus.

The recruitment of Eli Cohen to Unit 188, a military intelligence unit dedicated top operations beyond Israel’s borders, happened by coincidence. In September 1959, Cohen sent a Rosh Hashana greeting to Shlomo Millett, the interviewer who had previously disqualified him from serving as a spy. As a result of this greeting card, the question of Cohen’s candidacy was raised again. This time, as there was an immediate demand, Cohen was allowed to begin the recruitment process with two other candidates.

Finally, Cohen was chosen and he began learning his craft at Israel’s “School of Espionage”, which at the time consisted of only two instructors, Motti Kfir and Nathan Salomon. Salomon began to teach Eli Cohen the most basic skills needed by any spy – how to follow and how to avoid being followed, how to write in secret ink, and other methods of avoiding detection. Among other things, Salomon noticed that his student had an exceptional memory.


Eli and Nadia Cohen under the chuppah. August, 1959.


Cohen underwent nine months of basic training, which also included photography and film development and instruction in the use of encryption and a Morse code transmitter. Finally, Cohen’s instructors decided that the time had come to craft him a cover story. Cohen became Kamel Amin Thaabet, a businessman whose parents were of Syrian origin, but had immigrated to Lebanon. According to the story, his parents had died one after the other and he was summoned to work with his uncle, a businessman in Argentina.

Cohen landed in the Argentine capital in February 1961 and immediately began learning Spanish with a private teacher. The goal was to be able to speak at such a level as to convince Syrians that he had been living in Argentina for the last 16 years.


Behind Enemy Lines

Upon his return from Argentina, Eli Cohen underwent further training in an operational unit. On January 10, 1962, “Kamel Amin Thaabet” boarded a tourist ship that set out from the city of Genoa, Italy, anchored in Alexandria and, eventually, reached the port of Beirut.

On the ship, Eli Cohen met Majeed Sheikh al-Ard – a figure who would accompany him during his three years in Damascus. Al-Ard was a man of the world; he spoke many languages ​​and was fluent in German. The two met on the deck of the ship and struck up a conversation, during which Cohen told him his cover story. As a rich businessman, looking to invest inherited capital, Cohen expressed his desire to examine the possibility of doing business in his native Syria. Majeed Sheikh al-Ard suggested that after landing in Beirut, Cohen should join him on a journey from Beirut to Damascus. Al-Arad invited Cohen to make the journey with him in his new car and, after a day of rest in Beirut, the pair made their way to the border crossing between Lebanon and Syria.

According to documents from US intelligence, Majeed Sheikh al-Ard was no innocent bystander. Al-Ard was a paid informant for the Americans from 1951 to 1959. Majeed Sheikh al-Ard explained to Cohen that he had a number of friends who could arrange a smooth crossing of the border for a few hundred Syrian pounds. Majeed Sheikh al-Ard called his friend, a Syrian security man waiting for them at the border crossing, while loaning a sum of 400 Syrian pounds from Cohen, a loan that would never be returned.  Another friend of al-Ard’s was in charge of customs at the border crossing. Kamel Amin Thaabet (Eli Cohen) sat, drinking coffee at the border crossing as Majeed Sheikh al-Ard’s friends took care of the paperwork and transferred the bags containing the spy equipment that Cohen had brought with him from Israel. When the junior customs officers tried to open the suitcases, their boss scolded them loudly, “They’ve already been checked!” lied the supervisor. This was how Eli Cohen arrived in Damascus without so much as a search of his personal effects.

Damascus: Point A marks Eli Cohen's apartment, point B marks Air Force Headquarters. (Google Maps).
Damascus: Point A marks Eli Cohen’s apartment, point B marks Air Force Headquarters (Google Maps). Click to enlarge.

Five days after arriving in Damascus, and having already managed to rent an apartment, Eli Cohen transmitted his first message back to headquarters in Israel – I have arrived safely.


The Arrest

Eli Cohen served in Syria from January, 1962 until his arrest on January 18, 1965.

According to the head of Syrian intelligence, the Syrians began suspecting Cohen when they learned of his interactions with “a man of suspicious ties.” The officer went on to explain that following Cohen’s arrest, a Syrian citizen who had helped him cross the Lebanese border and enter Damascus was also arrested. The source was referring to Majeed Sheikh al-Ard – the very same person who accompanied Cohen throughout his three years in Syria.

Eli Cohen left and re-entered Syria multiple times. The fifth instance was on November 26, 1964. Not long before this, the Syrians had captured two American spies operating out the CIA branch in Damascus. One of the spies, Farhan Atassi, knew Eli Cohen. The Syrians, now acutely aware that they were the target of active clandestine operations, monitored the comings and goings of anyone connected to the U.S. Embassy in Damascus.

On December 1st, Cohen met with his friend Majeed Sheikh al-Ard for lunch. During the meal al-Ard told him that a few days earlier he had met with a man named “Rosolio.” He let slip to Cohen that Rosolio was actually the Nazi war criminal, Franz Rademacher, hiding in Damascus.


Franz Rademacher at the time of his trial, 1968. Photograph: Karl Schnoerrer, EPA.


Eli Cohen’s ears perked up. He feigned disbelief and told his friend that it was not possible that he knew where Rademacher was hiding. In response, Majeed Sheikh al-Ard telephoned Rademacher. Just forty minutes later, Eli Cohen and Majeed Sheikh al-Ard sat in the Nazi war criminal’s safe house. The apartment was only a ten minute walk from where Eli Cohen lived.

The day after the chance meeting, Eli Cohen happily reported to Mossad headquarters in Tel Aviv that he had located a Nazi war criminal. Cohen provided descriptions of Rademacher’s appearance, his exact address and details of surroundings of the safe house. He awaited further orders, but did not receive positive reinforcement from Mossad headquarters. Instead, he was directed to “stop pursuing the Rademacher lead and focus on the mission.”

Mossad headquarters were obviously not aware of the clear and present danger caused by the tripartite meeting. Otherwise, they would have directed Eli Cohen to drop everything and take the first train to Beirut.

US intelligence documents indicate that Majeed Sheikh al-Ard, who once served as an informant for the Americans, tried to continue to be of use to them. He continued to transmit reports to them, enthusiastically reporting the intelligence he gathered from his meetings with the Nazi, Franz Rademacher.

The theory that I have formulated, and which is supported by the documents and testimonials which appear in my book, is that Syrian intelligence was aware of the tripartite meeting that involved Eli Cohen and Rademacher – either in real time or via information they received shortly after the meeting took place.

At this point, it is worth examining how the Syrians would have perceived this meeting.

They noticed Majeed Sheikh al-Ard, who was an informer for the Americans, coming and going through the gates of the U.S. Embassy. The Syrians also knew full and well that “Rosolio” was a Nazi war criminal, up to his neck in espionage.


From right to left: Majeed Sheikh el-Ard, George Saif and Eli Cohen.
From right to left: Majeed Sheikh al-Ard, George Saif and Eli Cohen.

At this point you must put yourself in the position of the Syrians and ask yourself – what you would do if you witnessed this meeting between a Syrian businessman and two spies? Would you suspect the businessman as well, and put a tail on him? Well, this is exactly what the Syrians did.

The testimonies of Ahmed Sweidani, Head of Syrian Intelligence, and of the officer who broke into Cohen’s apartment indicate that the Syrians had begun to monitor Eli Cohen. Not long after, they decided to break into his apartment and discovered his spy equipment, including his transmitters and receivers.

The story of the break-in and the analysis of the testimonies indicate that Syrian intelligence had no idea that Eli Cohen was a Zionist spy.

Ma’ariv reports the execution of Eli Cohen, May 18, 1965. Click on the picture to see the full article.

The analysis and the various testimonies and documents can be further examined in the book “Eli Cohen – Open File“.


Maria Sibylla Merian: The Scientist and Painter Who Refuted Aristotle’s Theory

Merian was a scientist, researcher and naturalist who documented the world of insects, followed their lifespans, and revealed the truth of how insects come to be in the world.

Picture of Maria Syblla Merian from the Edelstein Collection at the National Library of Israel.

Maria Sibylla Merian (1647-1717), is best known today for her paintings of nature. In truth, she was an important German scientist and researcher of nature. Her works dealt with zoology and botany, and her beautiful paintings, which brought her observations to life, actually served as a method of documenting her research.

Maria was born to a well-known family of map printers and publishers in Frankfurt, Germany, then a center of art and the silk trade. Her father died when she was very young and Maria was raised by her mother and her mother’s second husband, a Flemish painter named Yakov Marl. Marl, who specialized in still life paintings of tulips, recognized Maria’s talent and nurtured it from an early age. He was the one who initially endowed in her the love of painting flowers. Maria studied drawing, engraving, painting in color, and the art of print from an early age – she made her first copper print at the age of eleven.

Maria collected, observed, and captured the birth and life cycle of insects through her painting. She discovered and recorded how they transformed from egg to larva, from larva to cocoon and, finally, to adult insects. Until her research came to light, her contemporaries and those who had taught them believed that insects were spontaneously created from garbage,  since they were usually found near it. Maria’s discovery was part of a worldwide revolution in the disciplines of biology and zoology and laid the foundations for an expansive catalog of insect species. What had begun as Maria Sibylla Merian’s childhood hobby became her life’s work.

When she was eighteen, Maria married her stepfather’s pupil and moved with him to Nuremberg. Her husband, a gifted painter himself, was fascinated by Maria’s work – he supported it and published her collective works. They had two daughters together: Dorothea-Maria and Johanna-Helena. Maria taught both of them to draw and write from an early age. Following the death of her stepfather, she went to visit her mother and decided not to return to Nuremberg. At the age of 34, raising two daughters alone, she moved to Holland to live among the Labadist Protestant community. Her mother joined her and they lived there for several years among artists and scientists who all devoted themselves to a rigorous lifestyle of hard work. Maria worked there as a printer but she had little time to paint.

From Maria Sibylla Merian’s book, Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium

In 1695, she decided to leave the religious community and move with her daughters to Amsterdam, a city full of life, art and commerce. She was the sole breadwinner of the family, working as a painter, merchant, and publisher. She continued to be renowned for her paintings. Later, her daughters worked with her as well. The stories, people and souvenirs that reached Amsterdam from the overseas Dutch colonies began to arouse Maria’s curiosity and nourish her imagination. Her heart ached to travel far from Amsterdam – to explore not only the world of insects and plants near her but to wander far away and discover the world.

The fruit of the pomegranate tree and the butterflies that feed on it. From Maria Sibylla Merian’s book, Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium.


So, in 1699, she embarked upon the journey of a lifetime- an excursion to Suriname in northeastern South America. She was 52 years old at the time and was joined by her youngest daughter, Dorothea, now 21 years old.

African slaves had been brought to the Dutch colony of Suriname and were forced to grow cocoa, coffee, sugar cane, and cotton. Maria arrived there with crates filled with paints and canvas. Her intention was to explore the natural life of the place and record it with paint.

Maria’s attitude toward the locals was different from that of the other Dutch and foreigners arriving in the colony. She was horrified by the cruelty imposed upon the slaves and interested in the local indigenous people, wanting to learn as much as possible about the untamed nature they called home. She followed the slaves and natives to the hiding places they had found in the forests. There, she grew to intimately know the animals, plants, and insects of the place. The women showed her the local plants and told her about their uses. One plant, for example, could be used in certain doses to expedite labor, but in high doses, it caused miscarriage and even death.

Maria had not come to tame nature like the colonists, nor did she want to portray tamed nature in her paintings. Her paintings of Suriname captures nature in all its savagery – birds eating insects, giant spiders eating birds. Maria had become far estranged from the still life paintings of beautiful flowers on which she was raised. After two years of uninterrupted work in Suriname, Merian fell ill with malaria and was forced to return to Holland. She returned with drawings and illustrations, samples of insects and a maid. Yes, although Marian was in many ways a revolutionary woman, she was also part of a culture of exploitation and human-trafficking.

Ants and tarantulas on the branch of a guava tree, from Maria Sibylla Merian’s book, Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium. Painter: Maria Sibylla Merian. The image is from the website of the Getty Institute

Her works from Suriname were compiled into a book entitled, Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium. Published in 1705, it is considered to be her most important work. It contained 60 pages of illustrations, the result of her research and painting. The illustrations were painted by hand and were full of life and beauty.


Maria Sibylla Merian and her angel-messengers helping her sort insects. Pictured on the cover of her book, Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium, from the Edelstein Collection at the National Library of Israel.

Upon her return to Amsterdam, Maria earned a living painting and selling the insects she had brought with her from Suriname. In 1715 Marianne suffered a stroke and had to be nursed by her daughter, Dorothea. She died in 1717.

Maria Sibylla Merian was exceptional among the women of the 17th century. She is one of the few women that succeeded in breaking the glass ceiling of her time and, in the process, earned a place of honor in the pages of science, art and human history.

Thanks to Chaya Meir Har of the Edelstein Collection for her help in composing this article.


In Disguise and Under a Watchful Eye: The Heroic Story of Libyan Immigration

Illegal border crossings, forged documents and sham marriages: The struggle of Libyan Jews to immigrate to Israel prior to the establishment of the State

Illegal Jewish immigrants from Libya in Grottaferrata, Italy

Written by: Ya’akov Hajaj Liluf

Libyan Jews began immigrating to Eretz Israel as early as the 1920s. Notably, in 1923, Eliyahu Falah led a group of eleven youths to Mandatory Palestine. The Libyan immigration rate continued to rise throughout the 1930s. Due to the policies outlined in the British White Paper (1939), Jews had to be smuggled into the Land of Israel through Egypt. With the assistance of members of the armed Jewish organizations, the immigrants crossed borders illegally, forged documents and permits and set up sham weddings, all in a desperate effort to reach the Promised Land.


Illegal immigration routes from Libya to the Land of Israel
Illegal Jewish immigration routes from Libya to the Mandatory Palestine.


A forged document given to David Peled (Fadlon) on his departure from Tunisia to France
A forged document given to David Peled (Fadlon) on his departure from Tunisia to France


Following the Libyan anti-Jewish riots of 1945, illegal immigration sharply increased. This happened despite a rigid British policy, which disallowed the issuing of exit permits from Libya as well as entry permits into Palestine. Illegal immigration was a desperate answer to the uncompromising policy, and it was carried out through scorching deserts and on turbulent seas. Prospective illegal immigrants traversed Tunisia disguised as Arabs. With the assistance of Tunisian Jews, they passed into France or Italy, before continuing to Palestine. They navigated the Mediterranean to reach these countries using any means necessary, including forged medical, business, student or tourist visas. They often boarded commercial cargo vessels as stowaways or disguised themselves as crew members.


Illegal immigrants from Libya in Tunisia, disguised as Arabs
Illegal Jewish immigrants from Libya in Tunisia, disguised as Arabs


Illegal Jewish immigrants from Libya in Florence, Italy.
Illegal Jewish immigrants from Libya in Florence, Italy.


Illegal immigrants who were caught by the British on their way to to the Land of Israel were exiled to internment camps in Cyprus. Those who were able to reach the shores of the country immediately joined the armed organizations.

Members of the Zionist movements were sought out in Libya by Yisrael Gur (known as “The Uncle”), a representative of the “Mossad Le’Aliya Bet”, a branch of the Haganah dedicated to immigration.

While Gur handled much of the Libyan side of the operation, Haim Fadlon (Ciccio) and Klimo Adadi operated out of Italy and began organizing ships of immigrants to smuggle groups of youths (organized by Joseph Gueta) into the country. These Hebrew-speaking, military-trained Zionists, served as guides for the immigrants on their way to Mandatory Palestine.

Some 3,500 Libyan Jews reached the Land of Israel through illegal immigration, a number which constituted about 10 percent of the total Jewish population in Libya at the time. This phenomenon was unmatched in other Jewish communities.

Internees in a detention camp in Cyprus.
Internees in a detention camp in Cyprus.


Illegal Jewish immigrants from Libya after arrival in their homeland.
Illegal Jewish immigrants from Libya after arrival in their homeland.


When Buchenwald Was Liberated: A First Glimpse of the Holocaust

What was revealed when Western forces finally captured one of the major Nazi concentration camps? A rare document discovered at the National Library of Israel holds the answers.

The watchtower at the Buchenwald memorial site. Photo: The German Federal Archives.

Content warning – contains graphic descriptions of the realities of the Holocaust

The cars drove down a beautiful country road, lined with blossoming fruit trees, as the warm spring weather heralded a new beginning. The war was nearing its end. Little more than 130 miles away, the Nazis were making their futile last stand in Berlin as the Allies slowly closed in. In a few days, Hitler would be dead.

The vehicles soon made their way up into a wooded, hilly area. Within a few minutes, the short drive from the local airfield came to an end as the trees cleared, and the cars pulled up at the gates of Buchenwald.

Tom Driberg emerged from one of the vehicles along with nine other members of the British Parliament – an official delegation, sent by Prime Minister Winston Churchill to examine the worst of the newly liberated concentration camps which had been captured by Western forces.

Driberg was many things, but he was hardly a senior member of this group. Quite the contrary, in fact. The official head of the delegation, which was made up of representatives from all political parties, was Earl James Richard Stanhope of the House of Lords. Thomas Edward Neil Driberg was a communist member of the Labour Party, a devout Catholic, and in April 1945,  a 39-year-old backbencher in the House of Commons.

He was also an openly gay man during a time when his lifestyle made him a criminal in the United Kingdom. He would befriend the likes of Aleister Crowley, Mick Jagger and Allen Ginsberg and later in life would be suspected as a possible Soviet spy. Driberg’s larger-than-life persona and tendency to go against the grain would make him famous, but it is often forgotten that he played a small but important role in this particular moment in history.

Tom Driberg
Tom Driberg, the author of the British parliamentary report on Buchenwald. A devout Catholic, a communist and an openly gay man during a time when homosexuality was outlawed. His larger-than-life persona would make him famous but it is often forgotten he played a role in this moment in history.

It was Driberg’s skill as a journalist, his former profession, which gained him his place in the delegation to Buchenwald. General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander, had specifically requested that Churchill include a journalist or two in the group, and so it fell to Tom Driberg to write up the delegation’s official report.

A rare copy of that same report has now been discovered in the archives of the National Library of Israel.

The cover of the British parliamentary report, on Buchenwald discovered in the archives of the National Library of Israel
The cover of the British parliamentary report on Buchenwald, discovered in the archives of the National Library of Israel


General Dwight D. Eisenhower
General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander, asked Winston Churchill to send a delegation of British parliamentarians to Buchenwald.

The delegation strode through the gates, above which hung a sign in German: “Recht oder unrecht-mein Vaterland” (My country right or wrong) was the ominous welcoming message. It was April 21st, 1945. Buchenwald had been liberated by the U.S. Army ten days earlier. This was the first time the West was able to directly access the Nazi camps. “Our objective was to ‘find out the truth,’ while the evidence was still fresh,” Driberg wrote in the report.

The barracks and huts of Buchenwald were now visible. “It is badly laid out, on sloping uneven ground.” Driberg wrote of the camp, “The walls and paths are ill kept; at the time of our visit they were covered with dust, which blew about in the wind, and in wet weather the camp must be deep in mud.”

Buchenwald barracks
The barracks at Buchenwald concentration camp.

Colorful slogans were being painted on the sides of the buildings, greeting the liberating soldiers in different languages. A life-size effigy of Hitler hung from a gibbet, adorned with the words “Hitler must die that Germany may live” in German. Many of the former prisoners were still here. The report notes that a “certain number” had already left, but thousands were still too weak to travel.

Driberg described the attempts of the delegation members to communicate with the former prisoners. While two of the members spoke German, there  were plenty of English speakers among the inmates – “Many were unable to speak: they lay in a semi-coma, or following us with their eyes. Others spoke freely, displaying sores and severe scars and bruises which could have been caused by kicks and blows. They lay on the floor on and under quilts… in a state of extreme emaciation.”

Buchenwald was not an official death camp, but death was no stranger here – “a policy of steady starvation and inhuman brutality” had been carried out at the facility. The basic daily ration consisted of “a bowl of watery soup and a chunk of dry bread.” The report cites figures that state that, by April 1945, 51,572 people had died or were killed at Buchenwald, or were removed and immediately killed at one of the subsidiary extermination camps.

Slave laboreres in the Buchenwald concentration camp
Slave laborers in the Buchenwald concentration camp. Eli Wiesel can be seen in the second row, seventh from left. Photo by Private H. Miller, US Army.

The grim scenes and somber mood stood in contrast to a sense of relief and even happiness that was also present among some of the survivors following their liberation: “One half-naked skeleton, tottering painfully along the passage as though on stilts, drew himself up when he saw our party, smiled, and saluted.” Though treatment was now being given to the victims of the horrors, for many it came too late; 35 people died at Buchenwald on the day before the delegation’s visit.

The worst cases of maltreatment were being treated in one of the few huts that did not have a dirt floor. When the Nazis still ran the camp, this building housed the only women living on the compound. They were brought to Buchenwald from other camps and “induced by threats and promises of better treatment, to become prostitutes, but were subsequently killed.” This had once been the camp brothel, “to which the higher-grade prisoners – those employed in various supervisory jobs, with extra rations and other privileges – were allowed to resort for twenty minutes at a time.”

Driberg described seeing a laboratory “with a large number of glass jars containing preserved specimens of human organs.” He mentioned “experiments in sterilization” performed on Jews, noting that two members of the delegation had seen the unmistakable scars on one of the victims. He and his colleagues were told of “articles made of human skin,” collected by Frau Koch, the wife of the German camp commander. One such item which Driberg saw with his own eyes “clearly formed part of a lampshade.”

The report mentions several of the inmates by name, including 19-year-old Joseph Berman, who had been through several Nazi camps. In one he lost a forefinger when an annoyed Nazi guard pushed his hand into a machine. Driberg would later help the Latvian-born Berman immigrate to Britain and find work. In the coming years he would provide testimony of Nazi crimes in the Baltic States. The delegation also met 14-year-old Abraham Kirchenblatt of Radom, Poland who “impressed members of our party as an intelligent and reliable witness; he stated that he had seen his 18-year-old brother shot and his parents taken away, he believed for cremation: he never saw them again.”

A liberated Russian survivor identifies a Nazi guard, who had participated in the beating of prisoners at Buchenwald.
A liberated Russian survivor identifies a Nazi guard, who had participated in the beating of prisoners at Buchenwald.

Indeed, death was the fate which awaited those of the prisoners who were deemed “useless” or who proved too stubborn to manage. “Hanging appears to have been the regular method of killing,” wrote Driberg. There was one gibbet in the yard, “near a pile of white ashes,” while another was found in the mortuary basement, where the delegation members were also shown a heavy blood-stained club used for knocking out “any who died too slowly.” From the basement, the bodies were transferred to a crematorium on the ground floor using an electric lift.

Buchenwald crematorium
The Buchenwald crematorium. Photo by Pfc. W. Chichersky, US Army

Outside the crematorium, the delegation members were shown carts filled with bodies of prisoners who had died of hunger or disease. These corpses were still waiting for burial. General Eisenhower had personally ordered that the German inhabitants of the nearby areas provide for the individual burial of each body “with their own hands.” Indeed, groups of German civilians were being brought in daily “to see what had been done in their name and in their midst.”

Several different inmates told the delegation that conditions were far worse in other camps, particularly those in Eastern Europe, with Auschwitz (liberated by the Soviets less than three months earlier) being described as the worst of all.

“Such camps as this mark the lowest point of degradation to which humanity has yet descended.” Driberg wrote in the report’s closing remarks, “The memory of what we saw at Buchenwald will haunt us ineffaceably for many years.”



Amy Simon, a cataloguer in the National Library’s Foreign Languages Department, contributed to this article.