By Scott Corrales
Ordinarily one would have suspected that Germany would have had little interest in Latin America, on the other side of the world for practical purposes, yet modern Venezuela had been turned over to the German banking family of the Welsers by Charles V in the 16th century as collateral for his loans and immigration from the German mainland to Latin America had been slow and steady. By 1896, there were at least half a million Latin Americans of German descent and the German Empire’s investments in the region were in excess of four hundred million dollars – a considerable sum a hundred years ago – while international trade reached the amount of one hundred forty-six million.
However, political interest in the Spanish-speaking Americas had been slim until the very late 19th century, when the Kaiser’s navy began to draw up a military strategy that would alarm the United States, a budding hegemonic power at the time. Both countries, lacking any apparent animus, had come to loggerheads in Manila Bay in 1898 and had almost gone to war over Samoa and the Caroline Islands as well in 1889. When the German High Command witnessed the collapse of the Spanish Empire’s last few remaining possessions in the Caribbean and the Pacific, and the sudden windfall earned by a United States bent on expansion, the decision was reached to increase the size and power of the Imperial Navy…and a plan to wrest these possessions from the Americans.
It was Admiral Tirpitz who saw the need for acquiring coaling stations and bases in the Caribbean in order to project imperial power. The islands of Curacao and St. Thomas – modern tourists destinations that hardly evoke strategic value – were eyed as possibilities. Admiral Von Knorr took this interest a step further by stating that trade from the Gulf of Mexico and the Panama Canal, which was under construction at the time, could be readily intercepted from either of these Dutch or Danish possessions, which were ripe for the taking, whether by purchase or by force. The pretext for any intervention (for military action always requires a pretext) would be the need to protect the considerable German investment in the Caribbean coffee-growing regions and the steamship lines that handled the traffic between northern Europe and the Caribbean. In any event, the Imperial Navy had already intervened quite handily in two incidents, once in Haiti (1897) and once in Guatemala (1902).
From any of these dreamed-of Caribbean bases, speculated the war planners, it would be possible to launch an attack on the American mainland. Vice-Admiral Thomsen suggested that one of the islands – Puerto Rico – would be of great value as a staging ground for any such operations.
María Eugenia Estades, author of La presencia militar de Estados Unidos en Puerto Rico, 1898-1918 (The U.S. Military Presence in Puerto Rico, 1898-1918), describes one of these war plans as follows:
Based on this initial work, the German Admiralty formulated the first “advance plan” in
1899 for use in a possible war against the United States. The attack route envisioned a
stop in the Azores to collect coal prior to proceeding the journey toward the Puerto Rico,
if the attack took place in winter, or directly toward the final goal – the United States- if
the invasion occurred during the summer (p.71)
But reality has a way of tampering with the best-laid war plans. Kaiser Wilhelm II was the first to realize that his high command had conjured up a pipe dream: at least fifty thousand men would be required to seize either Cuba or Puerto Rico, and another hundred thousand would be required for the attack on Boston and New York. Even this human steamroller would be unable to penetrate very deep into the American heartland by more than a few miles. In 1903, Vice-Admiral Büchsel, the new commander-in-chief of the Admiralty, came to the Kaiser with a new plan: the main goal of German strategy should consist in drawing the U.S. fleet into a battle far from its home waters, again, by occupying Puerto Rico. German interest would soon shift from the Caribbean islands — stepping-stones toward the Spanish-speaking mainland – to a number of countries including Mexico, Brazil and Argentina: an interest that would continue halfway into the 20th century.
Hitler died in Bariloche, you know…
On Sunday, July 11, 2004, a Chilean newspaper, Las Ultimas Noticias, published a brief interview with an author whose recent book created a stir throughout South America. Abel Basti’s “Bariloche Nazi” openly suggested that the Fuhrer had not only not died in a Berlin bunker, but had managed to follow the escape route to South America in the company of his mistress Eva Braun. Both spent their last days in the Argentinean mountain resort of San Carlos de Bariloche in the Andes. Hitler died in 1960; no date for Braun’s death has been put forth. One of the locations singled out as “hideaways” for Hitler on his sojourn in Argentina is the San Ramón estancia or ranch, owned by the German principality of Schaumburg-Lippe; another is the Inalco Mansion on the shores of Lake Nahuel Huapi. The San Ramón ranch, Hitler’s first home away from home, had a rather illustrious past, haivng been the place where Admiral Canaris, the head of German Intelligence, had been sheltered in 1915 after escaping from Chile and braving the Andes on foot to reach neutral Argentina. Hitler’s days in Argentina were apparently uneventful, as he went for long hikes along the shores of Nahuel Huapi and took in the clean Andean air. His trademark mustache gone and his hair gone gray, the architect of the death of millions had settled down as a householder.
Basti states that in the late summer of 1945, two former crewmen of the battleship “Graf Spee” – scuttled in the city of Montevideo to keep it from being captured by the British Navy – had gone to an undisclosed location in Patagonia, possibly the gulfs of San Matías or San Jorge, to rendezvous with a submarine carrying some very important exiles from the shattered Third Reich. It must be remembered that the British Admiralty had issued a command to all German submarines in the high seas, after the fall of Germany, advising them to hoist a black flag or emblem after surfacing and in order to turn themselves in at the nearest port. This directly countermanded coded message 0953/4, the Nazi fleet’s last official communication, which advised U-boat commanders of the surrender and directed that their vessels be scuttled before falling into enemy hands. As of May 29, 1945, the seas were believed to have been cleared of the dreaded “wolf packs” of Nazi subs, until one of them pulled into the Portuguese port of Leixoes, causing the Allied Command to believe that Hitler had in fact made good his escape aboard one of his subs. A few weeks later, the U.S Navy reported that four or five U-boats remained unaccounted for.
Hunted and running out of fuel, it was a matter of time before the “dead-enders’ turned up. But where? On July 10, the Argentinean submarine base at Mar del Plata was surprised by the arrival of the U-530, commanded by lieutenant commander Otto Vermouth. A month later, the U-977, under the command of Heinz Schaeffer, surfaced off the Argentinean coast and surrendered to two coastal patrol vessels engaged in exercises. Could there be more rogue submarines somewhere in the South Atlantic Ocean?
But back to Basti and his story: “The sailors,” he writes, “say that they slept in a Patagonian ranch and in the early morning hours were on hand to receive the submarines. They brought trucks and loaded baggage and people onto them. One researcher spoke with the sailors — now deceased– and they confirmed the story. On the other hand, we have the proof of the evacuation and on the other, the discovery of the sunken subs.” The convoy of Kriegsmarine U-boats consisted of 10 vessels carrying at least sixty passengers each – Adolf Hitler among them. According to the author, the sailors went public with their story in 1950.
Allied forces managed to reconstruct the trajectory of the U-977 from its departure from Norway on May 2, 1945 to its arrival in Argentinean territorial waters in August of that year thanks to the U-boat’s log. Captain Schaeffer and his crew had sailed underwater from Bergen to the South Atlantic without surfacing. Had the submarine formed part of the 10-ship convoy that the nameless sailors of the “Graf Spee” had received in Patagonia? A book written in 1956 by Jochen Brennecke, another crewman of the “Graf Spee”, described having loaded half a dozen trucks with a series of boxes stamped geheime Reichssache, which had been unloaded from submarines off the Argentine coast, and later taken to an estancia or ranch deep in Patagonia. Other authors have suggested that these boxes contained the nearly ninety kilos of platinum and two thousand kilos of gold and precious jewels that formed part of the Waffen-S.S.’s treasure – enough to finance a war of resistance from a hidden location.
Stories like this one, or their variants, have been told for the past fifty years. The Fuhrer and his closest advisors board a submarine (the Baltic port of Kiel is often mentioned as the point of departure) and take off for parts unknown, usually Antarctica or some South American location – Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina or perhaps even Chile – from which the Reich could reorganize and strike back at the world. Some versions posit that advanced technology in the form of “flying saucers” was brought along during the escape, and that the blond haired, blue-eyed saucernauts were perfect Aryans achieved through advanced genetic engineering.
But what Abel Basti probably doesn’t know – and what many Nazi history buffs have probably overlooked –is that Hitler had cast a predatory eye on Latin America long before the rise of the thousand-year Reich. According to an article by William F. Wertz, Jr. appearing in Executive Intelligence Review and titled “The Nazi-Instigated National Synarchist Union of Mexico”, the Fuhrer’s greater geopolitical strategy for the planet Earth included Latin America as a fertile and very enticing part of the world to be brought to heel. According to Wertz, Hitler believed that the Mexican Republic was “the best and richest country in the world, with the laziest and most dissipated population under the sun…a country that cries for a capable master. With the treasure of Mexican soil, Germany could be rich and great!” The source of this quote is none other than Hermann Rauschning, the governor of Danzig who left the Nazi cause in 1936 and who is better known in conspiracy and paranormal circles as the source of Hitler’s contacts with extrahuman forces that would leave him quaking in terror.
Yet unlike “Kaiser Bill”, Hitler did not envision hundreds of thousands of infantrymen and mechanized divisions crossing the Atlantic to win this prize. His plan was to make use of the German nationals living in Latin American countries as forces already on the ground, subverting the local political process with the assistance of the German industrial and economic presence in Latin America. It isn’t clear, though, if he ever saw himself having to take refuge in the lands he once saw as ripe for the taking.
In the Shadow of the Swastika
Politically, Argentina had remained neutral throughout World War II, although it was no secret that there was a strong pro-Axis sentiment in the country. The Secretary of War at the time was Juan Domingo Perón – the legendary strongman immortalized by a Broadway musical – countermanded an initial order given to the Argentinean Navy to intercept the Kriegsmarine elements attempting to round Cape Horn and escape into the Pacific Ocean, presumably toward Axis Japan. The Argentinean fleet was instructed to return to its base at Port Belgrano; that very spring, Peron’s wife, the glamorous María Eva (“Evita”) Duarte, had received considerable deposits in her name from the Transatlantic German Bank, the Banco Germánico and the Tornquist Bank. A year later, Evita Perón visited Genoa to play an instrumental role in getting Martin Bormann into Argentina.
The long, hot summer of 1945 had been a busy one indeed: Gestapo chief Heinrich Miller had emerged from a submarine at Orense Beach in southern Buenos Aires province while other U-boats were reportedly seen at Claromecó and Reta. Writing in his book ODESSA al Sur (The Southern Odessa), Jorge Camarasa states: “Someone had told me that Heinrich Miller had come ashore at Orense in 1945, and that the trawler Ottolenghi had transferred him to Necochea, from where he headed to [the town of] Coronel Pringles to organize the escape of sailors from the Graf Spee who were interned in the old Sierra de la Ventana hotel.” Could some of these sailors formed part of Hitler’s welcoming committee, as described in Bariloche Nazi?
Camarasa has worked closely with the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Buenos Aires on the extradition of Nazi war criminals and his research has turned up some fascinating information, such as obtaining over fifty documents from Argentina’s naval authorities regarding a dozen reports of Kriegsmarine U-boats on the Patagonian littoral in a forty-day period, such as landing in Quequén, and multiple sightings off the coastal tows of Comodoro Rivadavia, Ingeniero White and San Antonio Oeste. Camarasa believes that another landing occurred near the current location of Villa Gessell, where small numbers of personnel debarked bringing along boxes of unknown content. It is believed that they remained at this location for a certain time before leaving to other destinations, perhaps elsewhere in South America. In the 1990’s the World Jewish Congress pressured then-president Carlos Menem to declassify all information regarding the presence of Nazi war criminals in Argentina, but it would not be until May 2003 that President Néstor Kirchner ordered this Ministry of the Interior to look into the “dark migration” of war criminals to his country, a task which started with the opening of that department’s files. Entry cards for one Helmut Gregor (an alias employed by “Doctor Death”, Josef Mengele), for example, report his arrival in Buenos Aires in 1949 aboard a Panamanian freighter, describing him as a 38 year-old Catholic lathe operator from Germany. No further remarks are evident.
Another investigative journalist, Uki Goñi, unearthed more leads on the Nazi migration southward and the complicity of government functionaries in allowing the entry not only of former Gestapo, SS and military personnel, but also members of the Croatian Ustasche (at least fifteen war criminals among a total of seven thousand immigrants). Two to four years after the U-boat landings, “superstars” like Adolf Eichmann and Erich Priebke began to arrive in Argentina, allegedly aided by members of the Catholic clergy, particularly an Italian bishop who facilitated their escape through the port city of Genoa.
In his book “Historias de la Aeronàutica que Nos Hicieron Creer en OVNIS (Aeronautical Stories that Made Us Believe in UFOs) (Spain: Tetragrammaton, 2000), Spanish author Francisco Mañez reports that a number former Luftwaffe pilots, such as Adolf Galland and Hans Ulrich Rudel, had formed part of the military migration from the fallen Third Reich to Argentina. Nor were engineers in short supply: Reimar Horten, designer of the flying wing, and Kurt Tank, a well-known aviator and director of Focke-Wolfe Aviation, soon found a dictator willing to employ their services: the charismatic and ambitious Juan Domingo Perón, the former Minister of War who had ordered his Navy not to intercept the German submarines.
But something more interesting than advanced technology aircraft was taking place at Isla Huemul. In 1952, one of Argentina’s foremost physicists, Jose Antonio Balseiro, teamed up with Ronald Richter, a scientist who had offered his skills to the Reich and had later sought refuge in the Southern Cone, to carry out the “Huemul Project”, an effort at obtaining nuclear reactions through fusion rather than fission. The German scientist had convinced President Perón that his country could beat both the Americans and the Soviets to unlocking the wonders of fusion. Peron’s ego was gratified no end by this offer, and money began to flow from the government’s coffers. The project was installed in the island of Huemul on Lake Nahuel Huapi, famous for its lake monster. It was José Balseiro’s hard-nosed report on the futility of achieving nuclear fusion that ultimately brought the project to an end, and he went on to head a nuclear physics institute that has played a vital role in training his country’s nuclear engineers
“The winds of silence,” writes Máñez, “still blow over Huemul. One can play the tourist and visit the facilities which sheltered the Axis scientists and their mysterious work, but we cannot even cast a glance at the classified papers of Richter or his collaborators–Beck, Haffke, Ehrenberg, Seelman-Eggebert, Greinel, Abele and Pinardi…”
Children of the Reich
In 1956, a land purchase took place in the Chilean locality of La Parra, some 400 km south of Santiago de Chile. The buyer was a man named Paul Shafer, who quickly established the “Sociedad Benefactora y Educacional Dignidad” as a settlement for a small knot of European emigrés. Before long, the tiny settlement had evolved into a major center of activity complete with an airstrip, several factories, filling stations, trucks, schools and its own power station. It would soon become known as “Colonia Dignidad” and become the focus of Nazi activity in Chile, playing a major role in aiding the Pinochet dictatorship. While this may come as a surprise to may, it was simply one of the many moves in a process that had been taking place for decades. According to Chilean historian Victor Farías, the first National Socialist organization in Chile was established in the town of Osorno in April 1931, becoming instrumental in promoting the spread of Nazism throughout the country thanks to a military man, General Faupel. In eight years, the Chilean Nazi Party had over a thousand card-carrying members, most of them influential figures from the spheres of business and politics.
In his book Los nazis en Chile (Spain: Seix Barral, 2000) Farías delves into the contempt in which the Nazis and their supporters held the local Chilean population. The locals were considered a “bastard race” of European and native ancestry and intermarriage with them was strictly forbidden. The historian makes a more daring charge: that Nazi militants had made use of 468 children and young men between the ages of six and eighteen for purposes of “racial study”.
Chile is also the home of one of the most notorious proponent of what has been described as esoteric Hitlerism, former diplomat and author Miguel Serrano, whose career brought him into contact with Indian traditions while he served as his country’s ambassador to India in the 1950’s, also soaking in the same Tibetan lore and wisdom that had so fascinated European nazis. He later went on to hold a number of prestigious positions with the United Nations.
Serrano’s works on occult fascism have appeared as a trilogy whose first book bears the title Adolfo Hitler, el último avatara (1984)(Hitler, the last avatar) and tries to establish a link between Nazism and the Germanic mystical tradition, the Knights Templar, the ancient Aryans and the belief in underground civilizations of supermen like Aghartha. In Serrano’s viewpoint, his ideology seeks to perform the holy task of keeping the world safe from a Zionist-Masonic plot for world domination and enshrine the sacred teachings handed down from the hidden realm presided by the “King of the World”.
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©2004 Scott Corrales. Scott is a writer and translator of UFO and paranormal subjects in Latin America and Spain. His work has appeared in magazines in the U.S., U.K., Japan, Spain and Italy. He is also the author of Chupacabras and Other Mysteries (Greenleaf, 1997), Flashpoint: High Strangeness in Puerto Rico (Amarna, 1998) and Forbidden Mexico (1999). He lives in Pennsylvania, where he edits Inexplicata: The Journal of Hispanic UFOlogy. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.