Review: The Real Odessa by Uki Goni. Argentina’s murky history.

This remarkable book reveals how many leading Nazi war criminals escaped justice and settled in Argentina.


DAVE CARR reviews The Real Odessa by UKI GOÑI.

CWI online

Perõn to Menem – Argentina’s murky history

The Argentine author’s investigation into The Real Odessa (Goñi took the title from Frederick Forsyth’s novel, The Odessa File) is a detailed exposé of how the Argentine dictator Juan Perón and his clique of clerical fascists, the Catholic church hierarchy and British and US governments colluded in allowing Nazi mass murderers to flee war-torn Europe.

On 4 June 1943 a military coup aided by Nazi spies brought Colonel Juan Peron to power in Argentina. A month earlier Peron had written a secret manifesto for his clique of colonels stating that “Hitler’s struggle in war and peace (sic) will be our guide”.

How had Argentina with its liberal constitution and sizeable Jewish population spawned such a rabid, pro-Nazi regime?

Goñi answers: “Argentine’s liberal tradition had slowly declined during the 1930s, and the reins of power passed into the hands of an anti-liberal amalgam of ardent nationalists steeped in Nazi mythology, young colonels outraged at government corruption and elderly bishops nostalgic for a reunion of Church and State.”


BY LATE 1944 the Nazi rats started to leave the sinking ship of the Third Reich. “Some sought refuge with the Catholic Church, others offered their anti-Communist skills to Allied intelligence.”

But in late 1945 the Nazi escape route to Argentina looked to be coming to an end as their patron, Perón, was struggling for his own survival. In September 250,000 people marched through Buenos Aries chanting “Death to Perón”. His fellow colonels arrested him but as their unpopular rule continued Peron became viewed as a martyr.

In October the rehabilitated Peron appeared on the balcony of the Casa Rosada (Presidential palace). The Times headline crowed: “All power to Perón”.

Peron went on to win the 1946 Presidential election. He didn’t declare that his campaign was bankrolled by Ludwig Freude who controlled the funds of Himmler’s spy network. The escape route was saved.

Allied collaboration

THE ALLIES made use of the Nazis in their war against Soviet ‘communism’. Ferdinand Durchansky, a leading member of the murderous wartime Slovak regime, became a protected spy. Earlier the UN War Crimes Commission had branded him a mass murderer, terrorist, torturer, anti-Semite and organiser of forced labour.

Even more outrageous was the flight of the Ustashi. The wartime genocidal activities of the Croatian Ustashi Nazi puppet regime even made Hitler’s Nazis balk. Their death camps massacred 700,000 Serbs, Jews and Gypsies through shooting, clubbing and decapitation.

The criminal Ustashi were protected by the Catholic Church in Italy. Holed up in the San Girolamo monastery these Nazis regularly commuted to the Vatican in a chauffeur-driven car bearing a diplomatic number plate. Using a blanket landing permit issued by Perón’s government some 250 Croatians made good their escape in late 1946. An estimated 5,000 Croatians settled in Argentina in the post-war period.

The Croatian Führer Ante Pavelic was also protected by the Vatican. The British and US authorities knew his exact location but never made an arrest. “The likely embarrassment to the Vatican and the adverse effect on the recruitment of former Nazis for the Cold war weighed too heavily in the final balance – certainly heavier than procuring justice for Pavelic’s hundreds of thousands of victims.”

Did the Catholic Church knowingly assist Nazis to escape to Argentina? Goñi says: “The verdict is abundantly clear. Cardinals such as Montini, Tisserat and Caggiano masterminded their escape. Bishops and archbishops such as Hudal, Siri and BarrÈre implemented the necessary procedures. Priests such as Draganovic, Heinemann and Dömöter signed their passport applications.

“In the face of such incontrovertible evidence the question of whether Pope Pius XII was fully informed is not only immaterial, it is alarmingly naive.”

Perónist legacy

THE REAL Odessa punctures the myth of Peron as the ‘workers hero’. It reveals a Catholic Church in cahoots with the Nazis in order to promote its faith; it exposes the reeking hypocrisy of US and British imperialism who staged the War Crimes trials while colluding with other high ranking Nazis in order to pursue their anti-communist Cold War.

In 1955 under Peron and in 1996 under the Perónist president Carlos Menem, the Argentine state’s voluminous paperwork identifying Nazi war criminals – including Eichmann, Mengele and Priebke – were all taken away and destroyed.

In 1992, 30 years after Eichmann was executed in Israel, the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aries was bombed. Two years later the AMIA Jewish community centre was bombed. A total of 116 people were killed. No arrests or prosecutions were made. As Goñi remarks: “The Perónist cover-up had lasted right up to the end of the century.”

Available, price £20 (plus post and packing) from Socialist Books, PO Box 24697, London E11 1YD.

For credit card orders ring 020 8988 8789

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