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Peter Zvi Malkin (Hebrew: פיטר צבי מלחין; May 27, 1927 – March 1, 2005) was an Israeli secret agent, an intelligence legend, and member of the Mossad intelligence agency. In his 27 years in the Mossad and the secret service - first as an agent and later as Chief of Operations - he took a lead role in his country's most celebrated intelligence coup and later covert operations. Malkin was part of the team that captured Adolf Eichmann in Argentina in 1960 and brought him to Israel to stand trial.
Born Zvi Malchin on May 27, 1927 in Pilgramshain, Lower Silesia, a province of Germany prior to 1945, currently Zolkiewka, Poland, to an observant Jewish family. In 1936, his family fled to Palestine to escape the rising tide of German anti-Semitism; his sister, Fruma, and her three children who remained behind with 150 other relatives, died in the Holocaust. At the age of 12, Malkin was recruited into the Haganah. In 1950, he was invited to join the new Jewish state's fledgling security service as an explosives expert. He was also an expert in martial arts and disguises.
Malkin spent 27 years in the Mossad, first as an agent and later as Chief of Operations. As Chief of Operations he played a major role in the capture of Israel Bar, a Soviet spy who had penetrated the highest levels of Israeli government. He also led an operation against Nazi nuclear rocket scientists who assisted an Egyptian weapons development program after World War II.
Malkin's most famous mission was on May 11, 1960, when he and a team of Mossad agents led by Rafi Eitan captured Adolf Eichmann who was living in hiding in Argentina. Eichmann was one of the top Nazi officials who played a principal role in organizing extermination of the Jews during World War II. "Momentito, señor" (One moment, sir) were the words he uttered in Spanish as he approached Eichmann. Then Malkin grabbed him in a neck-lock, wrestled to the ground, and bundled him in the car that took then to a safe house outside Buenos Aires.
In 1989, Israeli newspaper Maariv cited him as "one of the greatest figures ever in the history of the Mossad." Israeli journalist Uri Dan called him "an extraordinary secret warrior."
After retiring in 1976, Peter Malkin devoted his time to the artistic pursuits that served as his cover during his years at the Mossad. His paintings at the time of the capture of Eichmann in Argentina through the present have won international acclaim in London, Paris, Brussels and Israel. He has also authored books, and served as a private international consultant on anti-terrorism methods. The movie, "The Man Who Captured Eichmann" (1996) starring Robert Duvall as Adolf Eichmann, was based on his book Eichmann in my Hands: also in the film was Arliss Howard, who played Malkin. More recently, Evan M. Wiener has written a play, Captors, inspired by the book.
Peter Zvi Malkin spent his last years in New York City. following his passion as an artist.
Info: Peter Z. Malkin
The story of Peter Malkin the artist begins in the most unlikely of circumstances, though fortuitously, he was there to record the events, places, and personalities of that circumstance through art, where words alone could not suffice to explain. It was Malkin, the Mossad agent, who captured the infamous Nazi, Adolph Eichmann, holding him in a Buenos Aires safe house, and later smuggling him to Jerusalem, where he would stand trial. During this period Malkin came face-to-face with the literal embodiment of the 'banality of evil'; his personal art and writings from this period constitute a uniquely informed view of humanity in it's most unthinkable moral crisis.
Born Peter Zvi Malkin in British Palestine, Peter Malkin spent his early childhood in Zolkiewka, Poland. In 1936, his family returned to Palestine to escape the rising tide of anti-Semitism. His sister, Fruma, and her three children who remained behind, along with 150 other relatives, died in the Holocaust.
At the age of 12, Malkin was recruited into the Haganah, the Palestine Jewish underground. Later, he was invited to join the new Jewish state's fledgling security service as an explosives expert. Using his skills as a master of martial arts and disguises, Malkin rose through the ranks. The shadow of the Holocaust never left Malkin's family, but the chance to seek justice for the murder of his relatives came in 1960 when, as a member of an elite commando team from the Mossad, he was sent to Buenos Aires, Argentina to capture the Nazi war criminal, Adolf Eichmann.
Malkin was the man selected to physically capture Eichmann, guard him during his captivity, and disguise him for the clandestine journey from Argentina to Jerusalem.
During this four-month mission, Malkin used his gift for painting as a cover. On his way to Buenos Aires for the operation, he bought a copy of a tourist guide, 'The South American Handbook', and carried it with him everywhere, filling it's pages not only with his painted and written observations but with his thoughts and memories. Haunting images of his family, cathartic drawings of Eichmann, Hitler, and Mussolini, and powerful sketches of anonymous figures and scenes, all inhabit this small, intense, visual diary.
This Argentina Journal was to become the essential expression of his art, from which further works developed. Through art and poetry, he recorded his unique experiences and impressions, fought with his demons, and found the sincere intimacy with humanity that was impossible in the lonely life of a covert agent. The most highly decorated Mossad agent ever, Malkin retired from his position as Chief of Operations after some 2600 successful missions. It was only then that his most personal works and writings could be exhibited.
Malkin's art is grounded in a genuine empathy with the human condition, and an unabashed optimism despite the odds. His love of people, especially children, gave him the strength to travel and lecture tirelessly. Equally comfortable with a head of state or taxi driver, he preferred a low-key, simple lifestyle, savoring long walks through the neighborhoods of his beloved adopted hometown, New York City.
His works are exhibited in the Israel Museum (Jerusalem) and many other important collections around the world and he are featured in numerous documentaries. Peter Malkin's art is represented by Katherina Perry Gallery, New York.
Peter Z. Malkin Retrospective Book
As the Mossad agent who hunted and captured the infamous Nazi war criminal Adolph Eichmann, Peter Z. Malkin (1927-2005) came to be a well-known figure when his part was made public many years later.
During his long career as an agent, he drew on personal experience to produce a riveting body of paintings centered on the events and people of these years, as well as his private impressions and memories. Giving voice to one who was by necessity voiceless during much of his life, these images go far in expressing this artist's unique talent and humanistic vision.
The book, "Memories Through Time", is a retrospective compilation of paintings produced in the period 1961-2004, both during his years as a covert operative and afterward. The paintings are grouped by country, with additional text including the artist's poems and notes. 144 pages, with 97 images. Katherina Perry Gallery will be privileged to release this book and exhibit original works by Peter Z. Malkin at the Katherina Perry Gallery New York
In addition to our large catalog of artworks, we offer an interesting selection of books, about the artists and topics displayed on this site, and about art in general.
He died on March 1, 2005.
- Malkin, Peter Z.; Stein, Harry (1990). Eichmann in My Hands: A Compelling First-Person Account by the Israela Agent Who Captured Hitler's Chief Executioner. Warner Books. ISBN 0-446-51418-7.
- Fox, Margalit (2005-03-03). "Peter Zvi Malkin, Israeli Agent Who Captured Adolf Eichmann, Dies". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-04-27.
- Samuel Schafler, Hadassah Magazine October 1990, p. 37, review of Eichmann in My Hands, Peter Malkin and Harry Stein
- "Israeli Agent Peter Malkin Dies; Captured Nazi Fugitive (washingtonpost.com)". www.washingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2017-04-27.
- "Peter Z. Malkin". The Independent. 2005-03-04. Retrieved 2017-04-27.
- "Exclusive Interview: How Adolf Eichmann Was Caught". Israel National News. Retrieved 2017-04-27.
- "Peter Z. Malkin". The Independent. 2005-03-04. Retrieved 2017-04-27.
- Black, Ian; Morris, Benny (1991). Israel's Secret Wars: A History of Israel's Intelligence Services. Grove Press. p. 193. ISBN 0-8021-3286-3.
- Captors at the Contemporary American Theatre Festival in Shepherdstown, West Virginia