Acton’s Alejandro Chafuen weighed-in at Forbes on the new Hollywood movie about the arrest and eventual trial of Nazi Adolph Eichman, Operation Finale. The movie is more than a historical reenactment for Chafuen, who recounts in his essay that a notorious Nazi once inhabited the Argentine neighborhood where Chafuen lived for 30 years.
The Nazi who lived close to my family, Joseph Mengele, has been credited for being extremely astute in evading capture and changing addresses just in time. But many mistakes in official reports, perhaps some made on purpose, allowed him to avoid being properly tracked. From Argentina he moved to Paraguay and then to Brazil. He died after a stroke while swimming at a Brazilian beach not far from São Paulo.
It was only in the late 1970s that I started focusing on Mengele, “the Angel of Death.” Before that, my only reading about the Nazis in Argentina were the few references about the affinity between the National Socialists and Juan Perón that was recounted in Libro Negro de la Segunda Tiranía (Black Book of the Second Tyranny) published by a commission established by the military government who deposed him in 1955 and called for elections in 1958.
I became more interested after an encounter in 1978 while taking a short break from college and visiting friends near Toronto. In jest, the wife of my host accused all Argentines of protecting or harboring Nazis. “Why do you say this, there were some, but they were not all over,” I responded. She led me to a book published a few years before, Aftermath: Martin Bormann and the Fourth Reich, by Ladislao Farago. It was in this big book where for the first time I saw copies of official documents about Mengele, including his address in Argentina. I immediately recognized the neighborhood as well as a glaring mistake. It appeared in the cover of the seven-page, 10-count, Mengele indictment that came from Germany, dated June 5, 1959, but not received by the Argentines until 1960. It stated that Mengele’s address was Virrey Ortíz 970, in Vicente López, a suburb in Buenos Aires. I was born and spent 30 years of my life in Virrey Vértiz 930, in the same neighborhood, but Argentina never had a Virrey (Viceroy) Ortíz, or a street with such a name. As soon as I returned to Argentina from my studies, I was able to corroborate that indeed, Mengele had been our neighbor.
Photo of Adolph Eichman: By Government Press Office (Israel), CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22811500