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July 22, 1983 - Image 64

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Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1983-07-22

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64 Friday, July 22, 1983

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

South America's Connections With the Nazis

By MORTON ROSENTHAL
and ELLIOT WELLES

ment has been.charged with
helping Barbie get out of
postwar Europe, the way he
lived in Bolivia indicates he
enjoyed more than protec-
tion from that country: The
government of Bolivia was
Barbie's partner in the
Transmaritima Boliviana
Steamship Co. According to
press accounts, he also
supplied weapons to the
previous military govern-
ment, was alleged to be in-
volved in drug dealing and
led a paramilitary squad
called "The Bridegrooms of
Death" that was used by the
authorities to silence the
political opposition.

(Editor's note: Rabbi
Rosenthal is director of
the Latin American Af-
fairs Department of the
Anti-Defamation League.
Welles directs ADL's task
force on Nazi war crimi-
nals. This article first ap-
peared in the ADL Bulle-
tin.)
The arrest of. Klaus Bar-
bie, "the Butcher of Lyon,"
in February became the
most celebrated case of a
Nazi war criminal located
in Latin America since
Adolf Eichmann was
seized there in 1960.
As a result, there is again
At a 1980 press confer-
growing attention drawn to
ence
in New York City,
the tranquil life which
many of Hitler's henchmen Hernan Siles Zuazo, now
have found in Latin president of Bolivia but
America. According to some then in exile, denounced
recently published esti- the fact that Barbie had
mates, as many as 40,000 access to the highest
Nazis found refuge in Latin levels of the Bolivian
America after the war. They government. Undoub-
found asylum in Argentina, tedly, President Zuazo,
Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay who took office in Oc-
and other South American tober 1982, played a cru-
cial role in the series of
countries.
The most notorious events that brought Bar-
among them is Dr. Josef bie to justice in France.
The Barbie case in
Mengele who, as medical di-
rector at Auschwitz, carried Bolivia has sparked re-
out diabolical medical ex-
periments on concentration
camp inmates. Many of
these now aged Nazis have
been living in this safe
haven for nearly four de-
cades; it is a world far re-
moved from the sordid past
they had left in Europe.
In many instances,
there had been active
cooperation from host
governments which
wooed German military
and civilian technocrats
without regard to their
role in atrocities.
Eichmann had gone un-
detected for years, living
under the assumed name of
Rikardo Klement, when Is-
raeli agents captured him.
SIMON WIESENTHAL
In contrast, it was widely
known for at least 10 years newed interest in other ac-
that Barbie had assumed cused Nazi war criminals in
the name Klaus Altmann South America. One of
and it took that long — in- these, Walter Kutschmann,
cluding a change in the has lived in relative comfort
Bolivian government — to in Argentina since 1948.
bring him to justice. This
Newsmen have been
was the first instance of camping outside
cooperation by a Latin Kutschmann's apartment
American government in in the resort town of
such an arrest.
Miramar, seeking inter-
Barbie/Altmann was views with the onetime Ges-
pursued doggedly by Nazi tapo official. Incredulous
hunters Beate and Serge neighbors said they were
Klarsfeld. Still, he lived ap- shocked by reports that the
parently without fear; keep- retiree they know as Pedro
ing to a regular schedule Ricardo Olmo is in fact the
each day. One member of beastly Kutschmann.
the Bolivian Jewish com-
Kutschmann's dossier
munity confessed several indicates that he was born
years ago how he had the in Dresden on May 25, 1914,
almost irresistible urge to but lived most of his early
run Barbie down with his life in Berlin. He was
car when Barbie crossed the trained by the Luftwaffe
street in front of him.
prior to joining the Nazi
While the U.S. govern- Party in February 1940,

and the SS in December of
the same year.
As a 27-year-old SS
lieutenant, number
404,651, Kutschmann was
involved in his first atroc-
ity in Poland — the ex-
termination of 20 Jewish
Polish university profes-
sors and 18 members of
their families, including
wives and children. It is
alleged that at his direc-
tion, they were taken to a.
hillside where they were
shot and buried in a mass
grave dug by Ukrainians.
:16
The Ukrainians were
BEATE and SERGE KLARSFELD
then shot to preclude_their
bearing witness to the at-
his employer that he was
One cannot predict with
rocity.
really Kutschmann and certainty that the Germans
The Argentine weekly that he had told that to the will seek Kutschmann's ex-
magazine Gente reported on authorities "many years tradition. But neither is it
March 10, 1983, that these ago."
certain that the Argentine
executions were part of the
This admission, said the military government will
Nazi plan to kill some 5,000 paper, implies that gov- comply with such a request.
Jewish academicians in ernment authorities have Its track record in such mat-
order "to diminish the intel- "a tolerant attitude" toward ters is a poor one. This is
lectual potential of the Nazis like Kutschmann most evident in the case of
country."
whose "change of name the now deceased Eduardo
Kutschmann was sub- coincided with (his) acquisi- Roschmann, who used the
sequently promoted to an tion of Argentine citizen- alias Fritz Wegner when he
SS post in the Galician town ship."
came to Argentina in 1948.
of Tarnopol, later becoming
At the time of his deten-
Roschmann, as a captain
chief of the Gestapo in tion, sources close to the of the SS, was the comman-
Brzeziny, Poland, where he Argentine police said dant of the Riga Ghetto. The
alledgedly was responsible that "the matter is being West German prosecutor
for the murder of more than handled at a very high who issued an arrest war-
1,500 Jews.
level." The high level de- rant against him July 1977
cision was to let
According to SS docu- Kutschmann go, and he alleged not only that he or-
dered many executions, but
ments, Kutschmann was then disappeared.
personally
pulled the trig-
transferred to France dur-
When the Barbie incident
ing the closing days of the was in the headlines, Wie- ger in two known cases. As a
war but was listed as a des- senthal again alerted the result of these incidents, he
erter in January 1945: He press to Olmo's presence in became known as the
reportedly fled to Spain and Argentina — this time in "Butcher of Riga."
In July 1977, the gov-
finally to Argentina where Miramar, a coastal commu-
ernment announced it had
he took on his new identity.
nity where the former SS
Like other Nazis, man follows a daily routine "decided to accept the re-
quest" for Roschmann's ex-
Kutschmann found em- of bicycle riding.
tradition to Germany, and a
ployment with the Latin
Kutschmann's ability to
American branch of a remain free these many federal judge ordered his ar-
German factory — as a years cannot, however, be rest. But when Roschmann
disappeared soon after he
purchasing manager for blamed on Argentina alone.
Osram Argentina, a sub- Although a warrant for was reported in custody by
sidiary of one of the Kutschmann's arrest had the police, the government
largest German man- been issued by West Ger- claimed it had not agreed to
extradite Roschmann, only
ufacturers of light bulbs many in 1967, West Ger-
and electrical man authorities did not to "give due process" to the
extradition request. Police
appliances.
press the Argentinians for later denied he had been ar-
Neighbors say that he his extradition. Their posi-
lives very quietly, having tion was to do nothing un- rested.
few visitors. They describe less Argentina moved to
Roschmann was found
him as aloof and proud and strip him of his citizenship dead the following month in
some speak favorably.of the on grounds that he had ob-
a hospital in Asuncion,
Kutschmanns. "He and his tained it fraudulently.
Paraguay. His identity was
wife are very good people,"
confirmed through finger-
Two months after
one neighbor said. Another
prints.
Kutschmann
was
arrested
told a reporter that "he
Many people wonder
loves animals very much. in Argentina, West German why Nazis like Mengele,
moreover, his wife is a authorities announced that Kutschmann and others
member of the local Animal they had revoked their then
eight-year-old warrant be-
Protection Society."
The Kutschmann/Olmo cause it had become void
connection has been pub- under the West German
licly known since 1975. In statute of limitations. This,
July of that year, he was de- despite the fact that the
NEW YORK — An anti-_
tained for six hours after his West German statute of
identity was exposed by limitations does not apply to Semitic book has been re-
Nazi hunter Simon Wie- crimes against humanity — moved from bookstore
senthal. In reporting the in- the charge Kutschmann shelves in Mexico as a result
of a protest to the publisher
cident, the Buenos Aires would likely face if tried.
The Argentine Jewish by the Anti-Defamation
daily newspaper, La Opin-
ion, said that although community, through League of Bnai Brith.
According to Abraham H.
Olmo had denied complicity DAIA, its representative
in atrocities, he did admit to organization, recently Foxman, ADL's associate
asked the government to national director, the book,
strip Kutschmann of his "Palestina: Del Judio Er-
illegally acquired citi- rante Al Judio Errado"
zenship. It has also urged (Palestine: From the Wan-
the government of West dering Jew to the Wronging
Germany to seek his ex- Jew), a 94-page paperback ,
tradition. The Anti- in Spanish whose author is
Defamation League has listed as "Rius," is a distor-
made the same requests. tion of Jewish history. He
What are the chances characterized it as "the
that these requests will be most virulent, hate-ridden,
violence-prone piece of lit-
honored?

were granted a haven
and continue to enjoy the
protection of many South
American regimes. The
major factor was Nazi
Germany's effort to es-
tablish a German base in
the Western hemisphere.
Hitler aspired to join
Patagonia, a vast and
sparsely populated
region in southern
Argentina, with the
southern portion of Chile
into a political entity that
would accommodate
great numbers of col-
onists and generate
wealth for the German
empire.
(Ironically, during the
1970s Argentine anti-
Semites circulated a spuri-
ous document called "The
Andinia Plan," a purported
plot to establish a second
Jewish state in Patagonia
— a flip-flop of the original
Third Reich strategy.)
The Germans also had
great ambitions in Uruguay
and other parts of the
southern cone of Latin
America. To achieve their
goals they stimulated sig-
nificant immigration to the
region, invested in real es-
tate and businesses and
created a vast network of
espionage and progaganda.
According to U.S. gov-
ernment documents, an
American diplomat re-
ported in 1940 that Nazi
Germany almost succeeded
in turning Uruguay "into a
colony of German agricul-
turalists under the protec-
tion of the Third Reich."
This infrastructure
was in place when the
Nazis — and the major
war criminals among
them — arrived after the
Third Reich was de-
stroyed. Here they found
communities which pro-
vided them with anonym-
ity, protection and em-
ployment, and govern-
ments that were, in the
Nazis' eyes, at worst in-
different, or at best hos-
pitable to them.
Nazi war criminals will
continue to remain safe in
their South American ha-
vens unless other national
leaders break from the past
and emulate President
Siles' courageous action in
ousting Klaus Barbie.

Biased Volume in Mexico
Pulled from Store Shelves

erature that has been pro-
duced so far in Mexico."
In removing the book
from sale, the publisher,
Grijalbo, an interna-
tional firm headquar-
tered in Barcelona,
Spain, told Foxman that
the book had been
printed by its Mexican
branch "without having
informed us."

The telex sent by Juan
Grijalbo noted that the firm
had published "several
pro-Jewish books" and went
on to say that it ordered its
Mexican branch to impound
all copies and not fill orders
for it.

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