A Nazi hideout recently discovered in Argentina has reopened speculation and debate about how much the country essentially was a welcoming destination for war criminals. There have long been rumors of the extent to which Germans guilty of war crimes fled Europe as Germany’s empire crumbled at the end of World War II, and where these individuals may have gone. A popular novel, The Odessa Files, which was also made into a movie, suggested what many had long suspected, that a secret society of Nazis had set up an escape route to South America, and particularly to Argentina, in the event of defeat in the war. One of the most persistent rumors was that some South American countries were particularly accommodating and embraced these Nazis into their countries, although such claims have often lacked definitive proof.
Argentina was suspected to have been particularly accommodating to Nazis seeking refuge at the end of the war. The New York Times blasted Argentina on this score, suggesting that Germans who went there did not have to worry about being discovered or even bothered; Argentina readily welcomed them into the country, and was practically a haven for escaped Germans. It is known that Juan Domingo Perón, the President of Argentina when Germany lost the war and the Nazis fled Europe, was known to be a Nazi sympathizer, and that some prominent Nazis, most famously Adolf Eichmann, specifically escaped to Argentina.
It was believed that Nazis had begun a project to develop an escape route in the event of defeat in World War II. Specifically, they made a point of seeking out faraway, difficult to reach places, such as deserts and remote mountain passes or, in this case, a location by a cliff in the middle of a jungle. The fact that the Nazis took such pains to find places so well-hidden may help to explain why rumors persisted, even though there often was little proof to verify these.
Archaeologists, however, have recently discovered what appears to be another definitive link to a more accurate history of these events. A team of researchers from the University of Buenos Aires, led by Daniel Schavelzon, has found some buildings and artifacts located within ten minutes of Argentina’s border with Paraguay which strongly hint that it served as a safe house of sorts for escaped Nazis. Three buildings were discovered, and the team found that swastikas had been etched into one of the buildings. Also, some coins and pieces of porcelain from Germany were also discovered at the site.
One of the three buildings was used for housing, another for storage purposes, and the third was believed to have been used to maintain a lookout. The proximity to the Paraguayan border is believed to possibly have served as another safety net, allowing for yet another potential escape route in the event that one was needed. However, these buildings did not seem to get much use, possibly because the escaped Germans were more welcome in their new country than they expected to be.
There are still many questions left that have not been answered about the Nazi hideout recently discovered in Argentina. It remains unknown who built this place, or what their specific motivations for it were. The evidence suggests that this was a costly endeavor, as the site was completely isolated, hidden from other local communities and not consistent with the local architecture.
By Charles Bordeau
Photo courtesy of KamrenB Photography Flickr page – License