by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard
The 8th book in the hugely popular “killing” series, “Killing the SS” is about the post-World War II search for nazi war criminals. Nazi hunters tracked down the worst of the Nazi criminals over several decades. The book focuses on 4 of them.
Josef Mengele, know as the “Angel of Death” for his cruel experiments in the concentration camp, Aushwitz. Martin Bormann, Hitler’s personal secretary, Klaus Barbie, know as the “Butcher of Lyon,” and Adolf Eichmann, who orchestrated the concentration camp logistics.
SS stands for Schutzstaffel, which means “protection squad.” Himmler because it’s head in 1929. It was founded to protect Hitler and had broad powers to incarcerate political prisoners, which included “lawyers, homosexuals, gypsies, the mentally handicapped, Catholic priests, and the entire Jewish population.”
Nuremburg Trials was were Nazi criminals were tried, followed by 12 other trials. As a result of the trials, 11 were given the death penalty, 3 were acquitted, 3 received life imprisonment and 4 got sentences of imprisonment from 10 to 20 years.
“The conspiracy or common plan to exterminate the Jew was so methodically and thoroughly pursued that despite the German defeat and Nazi prostration, the Nazi aim largely has succeeded.” – Opening statement of the Nuremberg Trial by American attorney Robert H. Jackson.
60% of all Jews living in Europe were killed. At the direction of Hitler, Heinrich Himmler carried it out. After the war, he was quickly caught and committed suicide by swallowing a cyanide tablet.
After the war Europe is in chaos, so it’s easy for former soldiers and officers to blend in with the local refugee populations. There’s a network of Nazi sympathizers around the world who help shelter and transport the former leaders.
On August 10, 1944 at the Maison Rough Hotel in Strasbourg, France, top industrialists, bankers and others important to the Germany economy secretly met to discuss how to finance the Nazi party after their defeat so they can continue to operate underground after the war. They would operate abroad and contribute to Germany’s return to military might.
Fleeing to South America
Several South American governments were sympathetic to the Nazi cause, even if they remained neutral throughout the war. Argentina, for example, was hesitant to take sides given their large German immigrant population, although they had relations with the Axis powers. Just before the end of the war, Argentina joined the Allies on March 27, 1945.
Juan and Evita Perón were said to be sympathetic to the Nazi’s, although he was pragmatic and stayed neutral. After the war over 300 former Nazi’s found refuge in the country.
Eichmann Captured and Executed
May 1960, Adolf Eichmann, was captured in Argentina by the Israeli Mossad. He was taken to Israel where he was tried and hanged 6 months later, having appealed long enough to write his memoirs. He denied having done anything wrong, stating that he was only following orders.
I found it interested that one of the thing that lead to his eventual capture is his son dating an Argentinian girl. At the home of her family he disparaged Jews, which got the girl thinking about who he really was since the son still used the Eichmann name. She told her father, who then contacted Israeli authorities, which started the search for him in Argentina.
The rest of the book covers the search and capture of various criminals. I was surprised to learn the most of the Nazi leadership wasn’t ever brought to trial. Just 22 were on trial at Nuremberg and a few dozen in trials following. Over 3,000 fled to Argentina alone.