Introduction – (Unless specified otherwise, the page numbers refer to the novel “The Odessa File”)
As can be seen from the picture of above, this article is based on my reading the 4 books shown. The photo on the extreme right is Eduard Roschmann’s. He is the subject of the novel “The Odessa File” by Mr. Frederick Forsyth (henceforth referred to as FF), his second novel. In his book “The Outsider” (PP271-277), FF describes the research done by him. I will dwell more on this later. The story starts on the day Mr. Kennedy was assassinated. Peter Miller, a freelance reporter follows an ambulance and discovers that an old man has committed suicide. Later he gets a diary of that old man from his police friend. The old man’s name is Solomon Tauber, an inmate of concentration camp at Riga. The commandant – Eduard Roschmann. As Miller reads the diary (pp 34-70). Miller stops at a point and reads and rereads an event described by Tauber (p65). This is the beginning of the manhunt. The story gains speed as Miller embarks on a mission to find out more about Riga and Roschmann. FF takes the readers through a roller coaster ride to a surprising end – read on.
Anatomy of the plot –
Like “The Day of the Jackal” and “Dogs of War” this story is, also, about a manhunt and two projects (opposing each other). “Odessa”, also, is a story about a manhunt. However, with a slight difference. This is a story about revenge, personal revenge. The reader realises this towards the end of the novel. While there are, still, two main projects – (1) July 21, 1962, Egypt’s showcases two rockets, a project to erase Israel from the face of the earth and (2) Israel’s efforts to foil the effort (Odessa File, pp118-119 and Mossad p118). This is very well described in the book “Mossad”, chapter 9 (Mossad, pp 112-130). Roschmann was heading a company that was to develop the guidance system for the missiles. Living under a different name (Federico/Frederico Wegener/Wagner, source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eduard_Roschmann). The company’s front was developing and selling radios. Behind this smoke screen scientists working to develop the guidance systems. This was 1963. Miller’s mission to find Roschmann and bring him to justice is noticed by Mossad’s agents in Germany (p223-235). A plan is hatched to infiltrate Miller in Ex-Nazi’s organization, The ODESSA. Odessa (See foreword to “The Odessa File”) stands for “Organisation Der Ehealigen SS Angehörigen”. I will not let out more. Readers should read the novel.
At this stage, I want the readers to understand the maze of projects that are described in “The Odessa File”. Kindly consider the contents of the figure shown below to understand the “Amazing Maze of projects”
Notes to this figure
- Otto Skorzini – Former SS Major who was responsible for freeing imprisoned Mussolini and bring him to Hitler (PP 1003-4, Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, William L. Shirer). Recruited by Mossad to provide information about German scientists engaged in developing missiles for Egypt Mossad, Chapter 9). Does not appear in “The Odessa File”
- Wolfgang Lutz (Ze’ev Gur-Arie) – An Israeli spy masquerading in Egypt as an ex-Nazi in Cairo (Mossad, page 118, The Odessa File, p20)
In the figure we see 5 projects and 3 project charters. Two are clearly opposing each other and third one is the personal revenge that I referred to earlier. Capturing the “Odessa File” would expose all ex-Nazis living under false names in Germany or anywhere else. It would, also, kill the projects 1A, 1B and 2.
Facts and Fiction
Sources – (1) Mossad by Michael Bar-Zohar and Nissim Mishal, chapter 9, (2) The Odessa File, FF, (3) The Outsider, FF and (4) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eduard_Roschmann
- Eduard Roschmann4, The Odessa File, P250
- Simon Wiesenthal2, the Nazi Hunter. He helped Mossad to capture Eichmann (Mossad, chapter 4). Wiesenthal also appears in other novels by FF. He helped FF to zero in on Roschmann. (The role of Wiesenthal in the genesis of the novel is more interesting. Later, the Nazi hunter confessed that he wanted to influence the writer. In fact, Wiesenthal was using the thriller to force Roschmann out into the open, which is what actually happened. Wiesenthal himself, in his 1990 book Justice Not Vengeance, admitted that he had suggested, in response to Forsyth’s inquiry, that Forsyth’s book, and the later film, include fictional statements about Roschmann, and that he, Wiesenthal, had done so for the purpose of casting the light on Roschmann and forcing his arrest4.)
- Wolfgang Lutz1,2, An Israeli spy masquerading in Egypt as an ex-Nazi in Cairo (Mossad, page 118, The Odessa File, p20).
- Unnamed inmate at RIGA2, FF’s interview with this man inspired Solomon Tauber’s diary. Page, The Outsider, p273. The Odessa File, pp 34-72.
- Mossad in Israel, The Odessa File, p128, 253. Isser Harel Head of Mossad, p117, The Odessa File. Harel was succeeded by General Meir Amit (p121, The Odessa File and Mossad, p129.
- Lord Russel, The Odessa File, p174 and The Outsider, p271. He directed FF to Wiesenthal.
- Otto Skorzini, SS Major, Mossad, chapter 9, p113. Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William L. Shirer, pp 1003-4.
- Solomon Tauber – The Odessa File, pp 34-72
- Peter Miller – The protagonist in The Odessa File
- Sigi – Miller’s girl friend
- The Mossad team (Leon, Motti and 2 more) in Hamburg, Germany. The Odessa File, p228
- Werewolf, former Nazi SS officer now living under a false name. The Odessa File, p153, 226 and many more
- Dr. Schmidt, the man who tried to dissuade Miller from pursuing Roschmann, p176, The Odessa File
- Anthony Cadbury, Freelance British reporter settled in Bonn, The Odessa File, pp163-171.
- Herr Marx who confirms to Miller that Roschmann is alive, P101, The Odessa File.
- More will be found as one reads The Odessa File.
Information extracted from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eduard_Roschmann, quoted verbatim
- Roschmann never murdered a Wehrmacht captain at the Latvian port of Liepāja to force his way onto an evacuation ship.. But it appears in Solomon Tauber’s Diary hence fiction, The Odessa File, pp34-72.
- No mention is made of Rudolf Lange, whom Schneider describes as the real Butcher of Riga. But Mossad (p173) states the Butcher of Riga has a different name: Herberts Cukurs. He was killed in Rio de Janiro, Brazil. February 23, 1965 (Mossad, P183). So, who was the real Butcher of Riga? An unanswered question.
- The head of ODESSA is identified as former SS General Richard Glücks (p74 in The Odessa File), who in fact had committed suicide in 1945.
- Was Miller able to ensure Roschmann’s arrest? Was he able to get the Odessa File? One will have to read the novel.
- In the novel Roschmann escapes Germany. So, what happened to him?
- Roschmann died. The Outsider, pp276-77. This is supported by https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eduard_Roschmann, 8 August 1977 (aged 68), Asunción, Paraguay. Also supported by a news item in “International news” in Indian Express dated 31-08-1977. I had pasted the cutting at the end of the book I had. Unfortunately, someone borrowed it and forgot to return!
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