:"For the 1974 film adaption, see The ODESSA File (film)

"The ODESSA File" is a "thriller" novel by Frederick Forsyth, first published during 1972, about the adventures of a young German reporter attempting to discover the location of a former SS concentration-camp commander.

The name ODESSA is an abbreviation of the German phrase "Organisation der ehemaligen SS-Angehörigen", which translates as “Organization of Former Members of the SS”. The name represents a fictional or semi-fictional international Nazi organization alleged to have been established near the end of World War II to protectSS soldiers after the war.


During 1963, Peter Miller, a German freelance crime reporter, follows an ambulance to the apartment of Salomon Tauber, a Jewish Holocaust-survivor who has committed suicide. Miller is given the dead man's diary by a friend in the police. He reads Tauber's life story and learns that Tauber was in Riga concentration camp commanded by Eduard Roschmann, "The Butcher of Riga". He also learns that Tauber witnessed Roschmann shooting a German Army captain. Miller resolves to search for Roschmann.

He pursues the story and visits the State Attorney General's office and other offices where he learns that no-one is prepared to search for or prosecute former Nazis. But his investigations take him to the famed war-criminal investigator Simon Wiesenthal, who tells him about the society "ODESSA".

Miller is approached by a group of concentration-camp survivors who have vowed to search for German war criminals and kill them. He is asked to infiltrate ODESSA. Miller agrees and is trained to pass for a former SS sergeant. Miller visits the "Werwolf", a lawyer working for ODESSA and after passing a severe scrutiny, is sent to meet a passport forger who supplies those members who wish to escape.

But Miller's guise has been compromised. He barely survives a bomb installed in his car by an ODESSA killer. Eventually, he confronts Roschmann at gunpoint and forces him to read from Tauber's diary. Roschmann admits to killing the German Army captain, now revealed to have been Miller's father, and attempts to justify his actions. Miller, momentarily off guard, is disarmed and knocked unconscious; Roschmann manages to escape, eventually flying to Argentina (in the cinematic version, he is shot dead). His assailant is then shot to death before he can kill Miller.

While Miller is recovering in hospital, he is told what happened while he was unconscious. Josef, his contact, warns him not to tell anyone the story. He does disclose that with Roschmann (code-named "Vulkan") in Argentina, West German authorities (at the urging of the Israelis) will close the radio factory where a rocket guidance system is being secretly developed for the Egyptian army. ODESSA's plan to obliterate the State of Israel by combining their technological know-how with Egyptian biological weapons has been thwarted.

Josef, in reality Uri ben Shaul, an Israeli army officer, returns to Israel to be debriefed. But there is one last job to do. He has taken Tauber's diary with him and as per the last request in the diary, Uri visits Yad Vashem and says Kaddish for the soul of Salomon Tauber.

Film adaptation

A movie adaptation of the same name was released in 1974 starring Jon Voight versus Maximillian Schell and directed by Ronald Neame with a score by Andrew Lloyd Webber. The story was simplified and somewhat changed.

Captain Eduard Roschmann

Although the movie was based rather loosely on the book, ironically, it was the movie which brought about an exposure of the real-life "Butcher of Riga", Eduard Roschmann. After the movie (which had Roschmann killed) was released to the public, he was arrested by the Argentinian police, skipped bail, and fled to Asunción, Paraguay where he died on 10 August 1977. See List of SS personnel.

External links

* [ The Odessa File] at the Internet Movie Database

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