Is Sylvia Hermann Based on an Actual Person? What Happened to Her?

Operation Finale’ follows the true story of the capture of Adolf Eichmann, one of the men who was instrumental in the planning and execution of the Holocaust, which claimed more than six million lives. The movie focuses on a team of Mossad agents who arrive in Argentina to covertly get Eichmann out of the country to Israel, where he will be tried for his crimes.

While for the most part, we follow the perspective of these agents, a father and daughter also play a significant role in bringing Eichmann to justice. The daughter, named Sylvia, especially, takes a risk in the mission, prompting many to question whether she is a real individual.

Sylvia Hermann Was a Real Person

Yes, Sylvia Hermann’s character in ‘Operation Finale’ is based on her real-life counterpart. Sylvia’s family came to Argentina in 1938. She was half-Jewish but was completely unaware of it. Her father, Lothar Hermann, had survived imprisonment in the Dachau concentration camp, where he was kept for being a socialist. As per reports, he was once so brutally beaten by the Gestapo that later, his injuries resulted in him losing sight in one eye.

Image Credit: James Bramel/Yad Vashem

It was in 1956 that things changed for the Hermann family when Sylvia met Nicolas aka Klaus Eichmann. They dated briefly, and one evening she brought him home to meet her parents. Believing that the Hermanns were Catholics, Klaus started talking about his anti-Semitic beliefs and how his father had been an SS officer during the Second World War. The fact that his father was a Nazi and his name was Eichmann made Lothar suspicious that Klaus’ father might be the infamous Adolf Eichmann after all.

Even though the Hermanns passed on this information, Mossad reportedly didn’t act on it as quickly as shown in the film. At first, the Hermanns moved out of Buenos Aires, but their attention was brought back to the matter when Sylvia came across an article about Adolf Eichmann. When they alerted the authorities, they were asked to prove that the man they had found was indeed Eichmann. As shown in the film, Mossad hadn’t yet sent anyone to help the Hermanns. Lothar and Sylvia had to drive back to Buenos Aires, where they located the Eichmann family, who had moved to a different place since.

Once they found the house, Sylvia walked up to the door and met Klaus’ mother, followed by a man who was confirmed to be his father. She asked if he was “Herr Eichmann,” but he didn’t attest to it. Following a brief conversation, Sylvia left the house and once again, sent proof of identity to the authorities, though the Mossad reportedly still took its time to come around and send a team for extraction.

Sylvia Hermann Leads a Quiet Life Today

Image Credit: James Bramel/Yad Vashem

Born in 1942, Sylvia Hermann is now in her 80s. Despite playing an integral role in the identification of Adolf Eichmann, she and her father didn’t quite receive recognition for it for a very long time. A $10,000 reward was offered by the Haifa Documentation Center to whoever would bring in information helping in finding Eichmann. After the mission was completed, Lothar tried to claim the reward, but the government reportedly refused to pay it. It wasn’t until 1971 that Hermanns received official recognition, and the reward was paid to Lothar.

Lothar Hermann died in 1974, following which Sylvia continued to live a quiet life. Reportedly, she was sent to America by her father when he felt the danger escalating in the days following Eichmann’s capture. It is not known whether she came back to Argentina. Over the years, Sylvia has not come out publicly to talk about her and her father’s role in Operation Finale.

Read More: Is Operation Finale’s Hanna Elian Based on a Real Person? Where is She Now?