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Nazis on the Run: How Hitler's Henchmen Fled Justiceby Gerald Steinacher
Synopses & Reviews
After World War II, rumors circulated that a secret organization named "Odessa" had smuggled Nazi war criminals out of Europe, a rumor further fueled by the wildly popular novel The Odessa File. But "Odessa" was nothing more than a myth. Now, in Nazis on the Run, historian Gerald Steinacher provides the true story of how the Nazis escaped their fate.
Steinacher not only reveals how Nazi war criminals escaped from justice at the end of the Second World War, fleeing through the Tyrolean Alps to Italian seaports, but he also highlights the key roles played by the Red Cross, the Vatican, and the Secret Services of the major powers. The book takes a hard look at the International Committee of the Red Cross, proving that identification papers issued by the Red Cross made it possible for thousands of Nazis, war criminals, and collaborators--including Adolf Eichmann and Josef Mengale--to slip through the hands of justice and to find refuge in North and South America, Spain, and the Near East. Steinacher underscores the importance of the South Tyrol as a "ratline" from Germany to Italy and also reveals that many figures in the Catholic Church--sometimes knowingly, other times unwittingly--were involved in large-scale Nazi smuggling, often driven by the fear of an imminent communist takeover of Italy. Finally, the book documents how the Counter Intelligence Corps and later the CIA recruited former SS men to advise U.S. intelligence agencies and smuggled them out of Soviet-occupied areas of Austria and Eastern Europe into Italy and on to South America.
Based on extensive research in newly opened archives, Nazis on the Run is the first book to provide a complete picture of this little-known story of justice denied.
"After the defeat of the Third Reich, hundreds of Nazi war criminals — most famously Adolf Eichmann and Josef Mengele — escaped capture, in many cases by going to Latin America. Based on extensive research on newly opened archives, historian Steinacher documents four surprising institutions that aided them in this process: the International Committee of the Red Cross, which freely issued travel documents based on the testimony of two witnesses identifying the Nazi escapees; the Catholic Church, particularly the Vatican Relief Committee and individual priests more interested in fighting communism and gaining new adherents; the U.S., who employed former SS men as anticommunist agents; and finally, Argentina, led by dictator Juan PerÃ³n, which admitted ex-Nazis, particularly those with military ties, in an effort to quickly modernize the country. PerÃ³n even declared an amnesty for those who had entered the country illegally. Steinacher, a research fellow at Harvard and lecturer on contemporary history at the University of Innsbruck (Austria), generally tells this story clearly and the depth of his research is impressive. Too many individual stories are related too briefly, though, and he gives too much bureaucratic detail. But this is still a fine contribution to the post-history of Nazism, particularly as it was influenced by the early cold war. 16 pages of b&w photos. (June)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Gerald Steinacher is currently a Joseph A. Schumpeter Research Fellow at the Center for European Studies at Harvard University and Lecturer on Contemporary History at the University of Innsbruck, Austria.
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History and Social Science » Europe » Germany » Nazi Germany