Ron Rosenbaum, Writer

February 11, 2009

Explosive New Book Unearths Argentina's Forgotten Holocaust

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 6:04 am

It may be no accident that the Holocaust-denying Catholic bishop, recently re-instated from excommunication to justified cries of outrage, made his home in a seminary in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

It was a fortuitous coincidence that the controversy broke out just as I was finishing the galleys of what I believe should be an explosive new book by the British writer Philip Kerr called The Quiet Flame. Kerr’s novel, out in March from Putnam/Marian Wood books, takes the form of the fifth in his series of novels about a Hitler era Berlin homicide detective Bernie Gunther whose Berlin Noir trilogy and its follow up The One From the Other I’ve praised before.

But this one is different. it’s an investigative detective story, based on forgotten facts which brings to light a terrible buried episode in the history of Nazi criminality:

The long covered-up Holocaust which escaped Nazis are alleged to have perpetrated with the complicity of Juan Peron’s government in Argentina in the years immediately after the war when, according to Kerr’s research, up to 200,000 refugee Jews may have been murdered by escaped Nazi war criminals.

It’s long been forgotten amidst facetious jokes about Nazis, even Hitler, having escaped to South America, that hundreds of thousands of Jews escaped there during and after the war as well. And it’s almost been obliterated from the historical record that the Nazis in South America may well have continued doing what the Nazi in Europe did with such horrific proficiency.

In an afterword to his novel Kerr credits his revelations in this novel of the collaboration of the Peronist government–and the Perons–in this crime, revelations almost entirely new to me, to the study of The Real ODESSAby Uki Goni, (ODESSA was the post war Nazi escape network) who points to the existence of a secret Argentinian “Directive 11” which, Kerr says was “signed into existence by the Argentine Foreign Minister Jose Maria Cantilo on July 12, 1938 [and] condemned as many as two hundred thousand European Jews to death. It’s existence is denied by some to this day.”

I hope Kerr’s novel, executed with his usual trans-generic brilliance will open up a debate among historians over the truth and denial of this charge, about the fate of these forgotten victims of the Holocaust, aparently murdered by one of our “allies” and why this crime has been allowed to have been erased from history and memory. We will all owe Kerr a debt for not allowing it to have been, as they say in Argentina “disappeared”.

*I couldn’t have made it more clear that Kerr based his novel on the investigation into “Directive 11” and its consequences by historian Uki Goni. Yet I notice more than one commenter seems to have ignored this. It is, unfortunately as this link demonstrates all too real.

***Further clarification: on re reading Kerr’s “Author’s Note” it’s clear that the 200,000 figure refers only to those condemned to death by Directive 11. Condemned to death in Europe by real Nazis because they were denied the refuge they sought in Argentina by Directive 11. To some, apparently this kind of death in some way doesn’t “count”, although it clearly counted as a guilty secret for the Peronists and their successors who denied the existence of Directive 11 until, as the link above demonstrates, an irrefutable long lost copy was found. As for deaths at the hands of Argentina’s Nazis, local and imported, Kerr’s “Author’s Note” states that speculation about the “existence of a concentration camp for Jews in Argentina’s remote forests” persists but he doesn’t give a number. I’ve written him to ask for more details.

UPDATE; See the next post for Kerr’s response and correction.

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12 Comments »

  1. Oh my goodness, how will Madonna react to this “slander” of the Peron government? It cynically amazes me to observe supposedly left-wing individuals hero-worshiping Evita and Juan Peron. They do so, of course, because they are historically illiterate. These folks have been seduced into believing that anyone pushing socialist economic policies must be a good liberal. They conveniently overlook the fact, for instance, that the Nazis were also avowed socialists. This idiocy is the result of Stalinist propaganda. Anyone to the so-called right of the Soviet dictator inherently had to be like Leon Trotsky, “a right wing tool of the reactionary forces.”

    What is the real distinction between the Nazis and the Communists? That is a ridiculously easy question to answer. The Communists claim to represent all races and ethnic groups while the Nazis limit their membership to those of pure Aryan heritage. It is, for the most part, that simple.

    Comment by David Thomson — February 11, 2009 @ 8:39 am | Reply

  2. What are you talking about? Are you saying that 200,000 Jews were murdered in Argentina following WWII and nobody knows about it? According to what I’ve been reading there are approximately 250,000 Jews in Argentina today. So you’re saying, or quoting Kerr as saying, the Jewish population was nearly double that following the war. 200,000 murdered and not a peep? Frankly Ron, this is one of your most ridiculous postings.

    Comment by Chris H. — February 12, 2009 @ 8:12 am | Reply

  3. I agree with Chris. Is there any evidence that this happened other than what’s written in this novel? It’s pretty obvious not, since not only do you not mention a single detail, you also have to support your argument with the use of such wishy-washy words as “may have” and “aparently” [sic]. The systematic murder of 200,000 people is not something obscure or uncertain: it either happened or it didn’t.

    Take note of the recent spate of fraudulent Holocaust memoirs, Ron. You only serve the interests of holocaust deniers when you pass along wrong information what really happened.

    Comment by Avi K. — February 12, 2009 @ 9:54 am | Reply

  4. Ron, your link doesn’t support your claims at all. It says what is not in dispute: that the Argentine government refused entry to many European Jews, thus resulting in their death. Directive 11 was the order implementing this policy.

    But what you claim is, Kerr’s research shows that 200,000 Jewish refugees were murdered in Argentina by “escaped Nazi war criminals” — that “Nazis in South America may well have continued doing what the Nazi in Europe did with such horrific proficiency.” That is an entirely different thing, and you still have provided no evidence in support of it.

    You would get us somewhere if you would direct us to an additional source, perhaps one of the non-fiction variety.

    Comment by Avi K. — February 12, 2009 @ 1:22 pm | Reply

  5. Okay, it seems to me there’s a difference between denying visas to Jews and murdering 200,000 Jews. Moreover, you say, loosely quoting Kerr, “up to 200,000 refugee Jews may have been murdered by escaped Nazi war criminals.” Where were these Jews murdered? And when? I’ve read three reviews of Goni’s book. Two were fairly positive (Foreign Policy and The Independent) and one trashed it (The Guradian, where Goni work-s/ed). However, none of the reviews mention the murder of 200,000 Jews by escaped Nazis. And to return to the issue of denying visas to Jews (it goes without saying this demonstrated depolorable cowardice), who didn’t deny visas to Jews? As undoubtedly you are aware, at the Evian Conference and elsewhere the US did next to nothing to assist Jews attempting to leave Germany.

    Comment by Chris H. — February 12, 2009 @ 1:35 pm | Reply

  6. Wait a minute!?!? The Perons killed 200,000 Jews after World War II and no one noticed? I’ll need to look into that one first. The links you provide don’t seem to relate to that, only discussing this order that the government signed *before the war* which prohibited Jewish refugees from entering the country. Not quite the same thing as murdering them once they arrived. Interesting to know there’s a new Bernie Gunther novel, though. I’ll be looking forward to it.

    Comment by DavidN — February 12, 2009 @ 3:03 pm | Reply

  7. I just googled “Argentina 200,000 Jews Holocaust” and all I got were links to stories about this Catholic idiot who insists there never were gas chambers. In *his* statements to the press he asserted that “only” 200,000 Jews were killed, and he’s referring to the actual Holocaust, the one in Germany. He’s not referring to something that occurred in Argentina, after the war. Obviously the guy’s an idiot, but now I’m pretty confused also.

    Comment by DavidN — February 12, 2009 @ 3:07 pm | Reply

  8. Ron, did you bother to call Goni before publishing this? Or did you think a second-hand account by a novelist was good enough to run with? I’ve emailed Goni myself, and I look forward to sharing his views with your readers. (If, that is, you deign to publish my comments, an honor I have mysteriously not yet received.)

    Comment by Avi K. — February 12, 2009 @ 3:18 pm | Reply

  9. Considering all those who have “disappeared” under the Peronists in three incarnations (including Isabel Peron), the assertion is not farfetched. Perhaps as out lefty friends are fetishizing the ridiculous concept of “soft power” (gee, the Syrians surwe respond to that!), our righty types believe in “soft fascism” with a Latin dance beat

    Comment by charlie finch — February 12, 2009 @ 3:20 pm | Reply

  10. Charlie, when people were “disappeared” in Argentina, their friends and relatives knew they were missing. Rosenbaum is saying that 200,000 Jews were killed and nobody even noticed. Not their wives, their bosses, not the Mossad nor the Jewish Agency. That doesn’t sound plausible does it?

    Comment by Avi K. — February 12, 2009 @ 3:26 pm | Reply

  11. Condemned to death in Europe by real Nazis because they were denied the refuge they sought in Argentina by Directive 11. To some, apparently this kind of death in some way doesn’t “count”…

    Ron Rosenbaum — You originally said, “…in Argentina in the years immediately after the war when, according to Kerr’s research, up to 200,000 refugee Jews may have been murdered by escaped Nazi war criminals.”

    Those are just not the same thing. You are an untrustworthy source.

    Comment by huxley — February 12, 2009 @ 5:29 pm | Reply

  12. I hope you aren’t referring to your critics here when you point to those who think that “apparently this kind of death in some way doesn’t ‘count.'” Nobody here is saying anything like that. The only deaths that don’t count are those that didn’t actually happen, like the supposed slaughter of 200,000 Jews in Argentina by escaped Nazi war criminals.

    Comment by Avi K. — February 12, 2009 @ 6:18 pm | Reply


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