The “official story” says that Adolf Hitler died by a self-inflicted gunshot to the head. For decades, rumors swirled throughout Argentina that Hitler had in fact survived the bunker and escaped to South America’s second largest country where he lived until 1962. Documents recently released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Washington DC are giving some credence to the rumors. While no concrete evidence exists to support either the death-by-suicide or life-in-Argentina theories, the weight of the evidence is shifting.
One day history may need to be rewritten.
One of the up-and-coming military officers who was in a good position to help in Hitler’s move to Argentina was Juan Peron, husband of Eva, of “Evita” fame.
From 1939 until 1941, Peron was assigned by the War Ministry to go to the Italian Alps to study mountain warfare. While in Europe, he also served as a military observer in Italy, France, Germany, Hungary and Yugoslavia. Traveling throughout Europe and working with the various military, Peron had the opportunity to meet many men who would become leaders among the Axis Powers with the outbreak of World War II.
Peron had a long military history before becoming Argentina’s president in 1946. As a colonel in the Argentine Army, Peron participated in a coup against conservative President Ramon Castillo. Peron played a large part in the coup which was led by the GOU, United Officers Group, a secret society. Peron moved more into politics with his assignment as assistant to Secretary of War, General Edelmiro Farrell, and then as the head of the fledgling Department of Labor.
When he was elected President, Peron had the opportunity to repay many friends he had met while in Europe as a military observer. He also had the chance to enrich himself. Accepting bribes of gold, jewels and paintings from Nazi’s escaping the advancing allies, Peron swapped passports and travel documents for treasure stolen from the Jews. In her turn, Eva “Evita” Peron made several trips to Switzerland and during these trips she deposited much of the wealth the Perons made by selling access to Argentina living. Some of the treasure, not transported to Switzerland, is still on display in “Casa Rosada,” the Argentine version of The White House, today.
Born in 1919, Eva “Evita” Peron climbed the Argentine social ladder lover by lover. During her ascending trip through Argentine society, she developed a strong resentment towards the country’s elite. A mistress to army officers, Eva caught the eye of handsome, and already legendary, Juan Peron. Following a very public love affair, they married in 1945.
Eva positioned herself as the “queen of the poor.” She created a foundation to help the poor buy items from houses to toys. Her charity extended to her husband’s Nazi allies. On June 6, 1947, Eva left for Europe. The publicly stated purpose of the trip was to help strengthen business and cultural ties between Argentina and Europe’s leaders. The real reason was a bit more sinister.
According to records now being revealed from Swiss archives, Evita’s trip was meant to lay the groundwork for Nazi’s seeking to move to Argentina. During her trip to Europe, Evita visited a small Italian town called Rapallo. While in Rapallo, she was the guest of Alberto Dodero, owner of an Argentine shipping fleet and known for many years as being the “go-to-guy” for anyone with something that needed smuggling. Before Evita could even leave Europe, one of Dodero’s ships, the Santa Fe, docked in Buenos Aires. Aboard were hundreds of Nazis stepping foot in their new country.
A few years later, in June 1951, the ship, Giovanna C, arrived in Buenos Aires. Onboard was the Holocaust designer, Adolf Eichmann. Eichmann posed as a skilled engineer and got a job at the city’s Mercedes-Benz plant. Eichmann was subsequently captured by Israeli agents in May 1960. Taken Israel to stand trial for mass murder, Eichmann was convicted and later hung in 1962.
Rodolfo Freude was Juan Peron’s private secretary and Evita’s main benefactor. Freude also served Peron as the latter’s chief of Argentine internal security. Freude’s father, Ludwig, filled a key role in Argentine history as director of the Banco Aleman Transatlantico in Buenos Aires. When Ludwig wasn’t busy being a banker, he led the pro-Nazi Germany community in Argentina and acted as trustee for millions of German Reichmarks that Hitler’s top aides started funneling as World War II came to an end.
By 1946, the first group of Nazi’s was settling into new Argentine homes made available to them by Peron. In return for his help, the Nazi’s bankrolled Peron’s campaign for the presidency. In 1947, Peron had taken up residence in Casa Rosada and continued to hear cries for assistance from thousands of other Nazis eager to get out of Europe.
Nazis were coming to Argentina in droves following the end of the Second World War. Adolph Eichmann was one of the more infamous to live in Argentina and was captured by Israeli troops in Buenos Aires in 1960. Taken by to Israel for trial, Eichmann was convicted and later hung for his part in the Nazi machine.
By Jerry Nelson