If you find yourself in Bariloche, a picturesque and secluded hamlet in Argentina, you might forget on which continent you’re roaming.
After all, the street signs are all in German. Schnitzel and goulash are the most popular menu items at local restaurants, and most delis have an abundance of Bavarian-style beer and jars of homemade sauerkraut. The locals live in wooden cabins and speak German.
When Germany was defeated in 1945, nearly 10,000 Third Reich cronies and collaborators fled international justice by escaping to South Africa. Before long, Bariloche became known as “The Third Reich Capital in Exile.”
Some of Bariloche’s most notorious guests were Joesef Mengele, Aushwitz’s Angel of Death, and Adolf Eichmann, the architect of the Holocaust. Some believe Hitler himself faked his suicide and lived out his life in Argentina.
None of these moves were done in secret. Rather, the first SS and Nazi officials who arrived in Argentina were warmly received by President Juan Perón at the Casa Rosada, Argentina’s equivalent of the US White House. Throughout the 40s, Perón’s regime went through incredible lengths to help the escaping Nazis, going as far as sending agents to Europe to assist in the passage, providing travel documents, and in many cases covering expenses.
The often revered Eva Perón was rumored to have priceless jewelry in her collection that was stolen from Jewish Europeans during the Holocaust.
For a fascinating look into this strange town, take a look at Bariloche Here Be Nazis.