Which Nazis Fled To South America?
The dead, the captured and the fugitives
Email Article  Print Article Marcelo Mackinnon (pelarco)    
After June 6, 1944, when the Allied forces launched the biggest military invasion in history at Normandy, the Nazi leaders realized that their military defeat was imminent and formed an organization to evacuate themselves and all the assets they had plundered during World War II.

▲ Where the Nazis hid in S.America.
ⓒ2006 mackinnon
The organization was called ODESSA, whose name was an acronym created from the German phrase "Organization Der Ehemaligen SS-Angehorigen," or "The Organization of Former SS Members." As its name states, it would only help members of the SS or Schutz Staffel (Protection Corps), which was the elite structure of the Nazi party and also Hitler's personal guards.

At the end of the war, the SS was estimated to have 600,000 members, all members of the Nazi Party who were committed to its ideology, in contrast to the members of the German Armed Forces (Wehrmacht) who were citizens conscripted into its ranks.

Why did ODESSA choose South America? Many Germans began to immigrate to the continent since the mid-19th century, mainly to Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Paraguay. This helped the fugitives integrate into the communities without arising suspicion. But the main reason was that Germany had longstanding ties with the political power structures in these countries, for example, Prussian military officers trained the Chilean army in the early 1900s.

During World War II, Argentina declared its neutrality but continued to trade with the fascist regimes in Germany, Spain and Italy. Allegedly, Argentinia President General Juan Peron sold 10,000 blank Argentine passports to ODESSA and the many Nazis who arrived in South America using fake Argentine identities can prove this version.

Such was the case of Adolf Eichmann, who joined the Austrian Nazi party in 1932 and was recruited by the SS to serve as a guard in the Dachau concentration camp. Eichmann rose quickly up the ranks under the protection of Heinrich Himmler, one of the main Nazi leaders.

In 1941, Eichmann was head of the Department for Jewish Affairs in the Gestapo, who was responsible for the death of 3 million Jews in extermination camps. At the end of WWII, Eichmann was captured but strangely enough was able to escape from an American P.O.W. camp and flee to Buenos Aires in 1950. In the Argentine capital, Eichmann assumed the false identity of Ricardo Klement, where he hid until 1960, when he was captured by Israeli "Mossad" agents and secretly taken to Tel Aviv. After a five-month trial, Eichmann was sentenced to death and executed in 1962.

Joseph Mengele joined the SS in 1938, the same year he received his medical degree, and from then on would be known by the alias of "The Doctor." In 1940, Mengele was recruited by the "Waffen" Division of the SS, (the highest honor for a devout Nazi), and sent to the Ukrainian front. Mengele was seriously wounded during combat, and was therefore posted to the Race and Resettlement Office in Berlin, and also promoted to the rank of captain.

In May 1943, Mengele was appointed to "serve" in the infamous Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland. In the camp, Mengele would always be seen showing off his black SS uniform and medals, and his ruthless treatment of the prisoners made him feared even among the other SS officers. Mengele was in charge of selecting those prisoners that would be killed in the gas chambers and those on which he would carry out his cruel "genetic experiments" such as the dissection of live infants, the castration of male prisoners without anesthetics and attempting to change the color of eyes with injections of dyes.

In 1949, along with other members of ODESSA, Mengele was smuggled to Argentina, then ruled by Peron. The Doctor spent the next 30 years on the run from Israeli agents who attempted to capture him as they had done with Adolf Eichmann. The ODESSA sheltered Mengele in Paraguay, then ruled by General Alfredo Stroessner, and later on moved him to Brazil where his body is said to have been identified by local forensic authorities on June 6, 1985.

▲ Walter Rauff , Santiago Jail, 1963
ⓒ2006 Chilean Press
However, Mengele's victims have always doubted this version, since posing dead was a ploy frequently used by fleeing Nazis to escape persecution, as in the case of Walter Rauff, who chose to settle in Chile after WWII.

Rauff was also a high ranking SS officer who invented the "Death Trucks" with which 500,000 prisoners were murdered with lethal gas at Auschwitz. Like Mengele, his colleague at Auschwitz, Rauff arrived in South America in 1950, where Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal detected his presence.

After many years of extradition demands by the German justice, Rauff was arrested in 1963 and spent three months in a Santiago jail. Surprisingly, the Chilean Supreme Court freed Rauff because "the crimes had taken too long ago, Rauff had shown good behavior in Chile and was a prosperous businessman."

It seems that there was a powerful "Reason of State" that made the Chilean authorities harbor Rauff, since not even President Salvador Allende, a declared anti-fascist, allowed the Nazi to be extradited. Rauff then settled in the southern city of Punta Arenas, but in 1988 was reported to have "died" in Santiago. During the Pinochet regime, it is alleged that Rauff designed the concentration camps where thousands of political prisoners were confined.

▲ Paul Schaeffer
ⓒ2006 Chilean po
Paul Schaeffer began his career in the "Hitler Youth" and during WWII and took part in the Russian front as a medical assistant. At the end of the war, Schaeffer remained in Germany working in orphanages where the police arrested him for "pedophile" activities. In 1957, Schaeffer formed a religious sect called the "Private Social Mission" that apparently would help orphans and neglected children.

After being prosecuted by the German justice, Schaeffer mysteriously managed to end up in Chile in 1960, along with hundreds of German children and their parents, many of whom were former Nazis. With the approval of Chilean authorities, Schaeffer was granted a large terrain in the south of the country near the town of Parral that Schaeffer named the "Dignity Colony."

A small settlement called "Villa Bavaria" was built, where the men, women and children would sleep in separate quarters. To the adults, Schaeffer would be known as "The Fuhrer" and to the children as "The Uncle," and they would have to work seven days a week, from morning to night and without any pay.

Psychological abuse, torture and drugs were used to control the followers. With their slave labor, the "Colony" began to prosper and became a powerful agricultural farm, which the Chilean authorities presented as an "exemplary charity organization." However, several of the followers rebelled and escaped from the Colony, and the truth was known about Schaeffer and his gang.

Many of the residents of the Colony were taken to court to testify, but the Chilean justice system proved inefficient. This situation continued until 1993, when Schaeffer went into hiding, only to be arrested on May 2004 in Argentina and deported to Chile. In May 2006, Schaeffer was sentenced by the Chilean Supreme Court to 20 years in prison accused of sexual abusing hundreds of children.

The "Uncle" is also accused of assisting Pinochet's secret police in the torture and murder of 150 political prisoners after 1973.
Martin Bormann was the highest-ranking SS officer to take refuge in South America, specifically in Chile and Argentina. Bormann joined the Nazi party in 1925, and by the end of WWII was Adolf Hitler's personal assistant.

▲ Martin Bormann
ⓒ2006 www.deathcamps.info/nazis
Bormann became so powerful that he was appointed by Hitler to collect the financial donations made by the richest German businessmen to the Nazi party, and also to look after Hitler's private estate, such as the Berghof (Wolf's Lair) in Bavaria. In 1941, Bormann was appointed Chancellor of the Nazi Party, whereby all official matters and meetings with Hitler had to be previously approved by Bormann.

In 1945, as the Soviet troops advanced on the Berlin Bunker, Bormann witnessed Hitler and Eva Braun's wedding. After the ceremony Hitler ordered Bormann to escape and save his life to carry out a mysterious "final mission."

There are many versions as to how Bormann escaped from Berlin, some claim that he died others that he escaped. Bormann's final fate remained an enigma until 1996 when a passport was found in Chile with Bormann's photo but under the name of Ricardo Bauer.

SS Captain Erich Priebke was discovered to be living in Bariloche, Argentina during the 1990's. Priebke was accused of ordering the massacre of 335 Italians in March 1944. The killings occurred at the Ardeatine Caves in Rome, after which Priebke ordered that the entrance be blown up to bury the bodies. Finally, Priebke was extradited to Italy and in 1997 Priebke was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Priebke is now 93 years old, the oldest Nazi prisoner in custody. After Priebke's detention, further investigations revealed that Bariloche had become a hideout for many other SS officers, many of whom are still living there.

The last case recently exposed is that of Aribert Heim, head doctor at the Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria, whose daughter is a resident of Vina del Mar, Chile. There are many reasons to believe that Heim may still be in that South American country.

2006/06/08 오전 8:28
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