Adolf Eichmann, Josef Mengele, Klaus Barbie, and Erich Priebke: These names are exemplary of the Nazi criminals who found refuge in South America after 1945. There, they either remained untroubled or were only made accountable for their crimes many years later.
Investigations into their whereabouts in South America – when they were still alive – were conducted painstakingly among others by Simon Wiesenthal as well as the Klarsfelds. Since then, many publications by historians and journalists have dealt with the biographies of individual former Nazis (with the focus always lying on men), their escape routes, their acceptance into their destination countries, and partly also with their political activities in their new homelands.
Aside from the prominent perpetrators and their thoroughly researched biographies, there were numerous other cases of more or less influential (former) Nazis and Nazi sympathisers who ended up in Argentina, Chile, and other South American countries. Their life trajectories and professional as well as private activities in their new homes have hardly been subject to systematic research to date. Their biographies and their new lives in South America will therefore be the focus of this workshop.
Now, more than 75 years after the end of the Second World War, the aim is first to take stock of the state of the field. On this basis, we wish to address new research questions and to identify hitherto unmined source bases and new groups of individuals to be researched. The objective is thus to redefine the research field focussing on German and Austrian Nazis in South America and their (inter-)national connections. Thereby, we aim to identify lacuna and potential for further studies in existing research. The workshop will focus on the following topics:
(1) Research Questions, Sources, and Archives
What research questions can be addressed through new (cooperative) projects? How can the source bases in different global regions (Europe, USA, Latin America, and so on) be connected to each other? Will the opening of collections (such as the Apostolic Archive of the Vatican) or the digitisation of materials from the US intelligence services allow for previously open-ended questions to be answered?
(2) Forms, Paths, and Organisations of Flight
What (established) cliques and networks aided (former) Nazis and Nazi sympathisers to reach South America? What South American countries or actors based in South America played an active role in this context? What motives and interests were decisive for the destination countries?
(3) Arrival, Establishment, and Contact Zones
What conditions did the (former) Nazis and Nazi sympathisers encounter in South America? What opportunities were they presented by state and society for their integration and who were their cooperation partners? In what professional areas could they establish themselves and what impact did they have? What was their relationship to local actors, especially the elites? Are there particular gendered patterns in this context?
(4) Interactions between the German-Speaking Groups
What did immigration after 1945 mean for the various German-speaking groups who were already (long) established in the countries in question? Was there a political insider milieu among the (former) Nazis that afforded them advantages by comparison to the Jews and political refugees forced into exile in these countries from 1933/38 onwards? How did these extremely different groups interact? With regard to local memory cultures – both of the German-speaking communities and of the broader public – the question also arises how the (former) Nazis and Nazi sympathisers engaged with history in their new homes.
(5) Contacts at Home and Return Migration
To what extend and how did the emigrants maintain contacts to their right-wing networks back home? Who voluntarily returned home after a “quarantine phase” from the mid to late-1950s onward? How did this remigration and social reintegration in Austria and Germany take place?
We invite researchers to deal with these questions and related questions in 20-minute presentations. Please send your abstracts (maximum length: 250-300 words) as well as a short CV (maximum length: 50-100 words) in German or English by 30 June 2021 to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject header “CfP – NS in Südamerika nach 1945”.
The participants will be contacted in early September 2021. Following confirmation and in preparation for the workshop, we will circulate detailed presentation abstracts for internal preparation. The event will take place in Vienna from 20 to 22 January 2022. The workshop languages are German and English. We intend to publish a selection of the presentations.
We will cover accommodation costs in Vienna. The participants will at first have to cover their travel costs, which will be reimbursed up to a limit of 300 Euros for the cheapest form of transport (typically a 2nd class train ticket).
This event is hosted by the Institute for Contemporary History at the University of Vienna and the Vienna Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies (VWI), in cooperation with the Department of History at the University of Salzburg (Prof. Margit Reiter), the Ibero-American Institute (Dr. Sandra Carreras), and the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
Concept: Dr. Linda Erker, Institute for Contemporary History, University of Vienna