Nazi-German Emergency Exit


The use of the atomic bombs against Japan in August 1945 marked the end of the Second World War and beginning of a new era of the American military, political and financial domination in the world. The change in the global status quo would not have been possible without the German war effort and the American loans and investments in German military-industrial complex. Thus both the German industrial elites and their American business partners were equally determined to ensure that the top Nazi-German officials, their technological know-how and their looted assets are evacuated from Germany before the end of war. The preparations for such an evacuation have accelerated half way through the Second World War. In 1942, Juan Carlos Goyeneche, a secret agent of Argentine Foreign Minister, Enrique Ruiz Guinazu, travelled on a secret mission to Europe to seek closer alliance with Nazi-Germany. In October, he met in Berlin with German Foreign Minister, Joachim von Ribbentrop, pledging his country's support for Hitler and requesting financial aid for resistance against the United States.

Argentina had a population that was almost entirely European in origin and outlook, and its government had a history which corresponded with Britain's and Germany's racial policies. In the 1870s, General Julio Argentino Roca conducted ethnic cleansing in Patagonia killing the native Indians and extending Argentine power into that region for the benefit of big land owners - estancieros – as well as British companies and bankers who were investing in that region. In the twenty century this conservative landed elite, the church hierarchy and the military class ruled Argentina and they were determined to retain power against the rising forces of socialism and bolshevism. In 1928, when President Hipolito Yrigoyen was re-elected as president and began a series of reforms to increase workers' rights, the oligarchy connected with the interest of international corporations such as Rockefeller's Standard Oil, conspired and in 1930 organised a coup-d'etat bringing to power Jose Felix Uriburu. The coup of 1930, in which certain captain Peron was a messenger between different military sectors, laid foundation of all future massacres and dictatorships in Argentina. The Germans, who had been emigrating into Argentina since the nineteen century, had by the 1930s, developed their own businesses and communities centered especially around Buenos Aires, strengthened through German intermarriages with Argentines and other Europeans of the middle class. By 1939, there were quarter of a million of Germans in Argentina and among them were 1,500 active agents working for German Intelligence, Abwehr, with links to Argentine police and intelligence service.343 I.G. Farben representatives were also present in Brazil, Chile, Peru, Venezuela, Ecuador, Mexico and generally throughout Latin America, being the mainsprings of the local branches of the Nazi Party and furnishing propaganda services.344

In some cases, the transfer of German assets to Latin American began already prior to the war. For example, Fritz Mandl, an Austrian arms trafficker and the pre-war owner of the arms factory in Austria, Hirtenberger Patronen Fabrik, escaped to Argentina already in 1938. He was receiving money from Goering, Himmler and Goebbels and was investing it with the full knowledge of Argentine officials.345 American and German business interest overlapped in Buenos Aires where Nelson A. Rockefeller's organisation, the Office of the Co-ordinator of Inter-American Affairs, had a strong representation from within the local American business community.346 Rockefeller's Chase National Bank (present-day J.P. Morgan Chase & Co) handled transactions for the Nazi Banco Aleman Transatlantico, which, according to a Uruguayan Embassy report of August 18, 1943, was “...treasurer or comptroller of the Nazi Party in south America.”347 Although the civilian government in Argentine appeared to be neutral in face of German aggression in Europe, many politicians and officers of the Argentine armed forces were secretly in favour of German and Italian fascism, which they saw as the most effective way to protect the privileges of the Argentinian establishment. Members of the German community were influential in the government circles and Argentinian businesses, shifting the sympathies towards the Nazi-German regime. Consequently, the former ambassador to the Vatican, Argentinian Foreign Minister, Ruiz Guinaz, developed useful links with pro-German Pope Pius XII and Monsignor Montini, the future Pope Paul VI, as well as Colonel Juan Domingo Perón, a military attaché who was at the time undergoing training in the Fascist army of Benito Mussolini. Perón was in turn well known at the Spanish embassy, which served as transit point for Nazi arms purchased by Argentina. Thus, after series of secret discussions, the plan to bring Argentina into an Axis alliance quickly gained support in the Vatican, Italian fascists, Portuguese emissaries and Spanish falangists, and of course Foreign Intelligence Branch of the SS, the Ausland-Sicherheitsdienst, which intended, in the words of one high-ranking German diplomat, “to transplant the Nazi ideology to South American soil, in order thereby to injure the Allied war efforts.”348

In 1943, when the Nazi-Germans suffered defeats on the Eastern Front, Colonel Juan Perón, together with other members of a secret organisation, United Officer's Group (GOU), including Minister of War, General Pedro Pablo Ramirez, and Commanding officer of Cavalry, Arturo Rawson, organised a coup d'etat bringing down President Ramón Castillo. After brief presidency of Arturo Rawson, General Pedro Pablo Ramirez took over control and Colonel Perón was appointed minister of labour. In a secret GOU manifesto, Perón outlined his vision for South America: “In South America it is our mission to make the leadership of Argentina not only possible but indisputable. Hitler's fight in peace and war will guide us. Alliances will be the next step. We will get Bolivia and Chile. Then it will be easy to exert pressure on Uruguay. These five nations will attract Brazil and its important group of Germans (Brazilian-German immigrant communities). Once Brazil has fallen the South American continent will be ours. Following the German examples, we will instill the masses with the necessary military spirit.”349

Once the ground was prepared in Argentine, Hitler's deputy, Martin Bormann, launched a scheme code-named Aktion Feuerland - PROJECT LAND OF FIRE - which objective was to organise, with support of the German community in Argentina and Argentinian government, a secret refuge for Hitler and high-ranking Nazi officers, at a chosen site near town of San Carlos de Bariloche, 1,500km from Buenos Aires, in remote region of Patagonia. The area laid in the foothills of the Andes, in the lake region and had the distinct feel of Hitler's Obersalzberg retreat above the town of Berchtesgaden in the Bavarian Alps. It was an area of outstanding natural beauty. There were various means of evacuation of German personnel and looted treasure from Europe. Bormann acquired his own shipping lines, including the Spanish company Compañia Naviera Levantina and the Italian Airline Linee Aeree Transcontinentali Italiane (LATI), which gave his people independent pipeline, without having to use German Luftwaffe airplanes. LATI had run a pre-war service to South America from Rome, via Seville in Spain to Villa Cisneros in the Spanish Sahara, then on the Sal in the Portuguese Cape Verde islands, and across the Atlantic to Natal or Recife in Brazil, with stopped at Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires.350 The other safe means of evacuation were the Nazi-German U-boats. From 1943, the Nazi-German began to transfer looted gold, money, diamonds and artwork to Argentina via U-boats. Reichsbank records show that more than 3500 ounces of platinium, 550,000 ounces of gold, and 4638 carats of diamonds, as well as hundreds of works of art, millions of gold marks, pound sterling, dollars and Swiss franks were shipped by German U-boats to Argentina, were they were handled by four German “trustees”: Ludwig Freude, a well known German Argentine banker and Bormann's chief agent in Buenos Aires; Ricardo Staudt, a lieutenant in the Argentine naval reserve; Dr Heinrich Dorge, a former aide to Hjalmar Schacht and consultant to Argentine central bank; and Ricardo von Leute, an officer of the Banco Aleman Transatlantico.351 The treasures were subsequently deposited in the account of Juan Peron's mistress and aspiring actress Eva Duarte.352 To cover their secret alliance with Nazi-Germany, in 1944 President Ramírez suspended diplomatic relations with Germany and Japan, and in March 1945, when the war was nearly over in Europe, declared war on the Axis powers.

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343 Posner, Mengele, p. 98 »

344 Report on I.G. Farben activities prepared for Nuremberg Trial, p. 125 »

345 Gabriel Escobar, “Documents show evidence Argentina aided escaped Nazi”, Washington Post, 8 December 1996 »

346 Guido Di Tella, D.Cameron Watt, Argentina Between the Great Powers (The Mackmillian Press, 1989), p. 129 »

347 Ibid »

348 Uki Goni, The Real Odessa: How Peron Brought The Nazi War Criminals To Argentina (London, New York: Granta Books, 2003), pp.2-3 »

349 Simon Dunstan and Gerrard Williams, Grey Wolf. The Escape of Adolf Hitler – the Case Presented (New York: Sterling, 2011), p. 207 »

350 Ibid., p. 55 »

351 Posner & Ware, Mengele. The Complete Story, p. 100 »

352 Ibid. »