View Full Version : KLM - Nazis fleeing to Argentina

Ada Quonsett
20th Jan 2008, 13:11
It is well known that many senior Nazis escaped to Argentina after the war.

The mystery has been how they managed to get there given that no German was allowed to leave the country without an Allied approved pass. The investigative history series, Document, returns with a possible answer.

Records from the time reveal that in 1948 a representative of the Dutch airline KLM asked Swiss police to ease travel restrictions for Germans travelling to Argentina without the proper paperwork.

In the years that followed many wealthy Germans each spent the equivalent of an average manís wages on luxury KLM flights to the Argentine capital Buenos Aires.

Itís suggested that this was all part of an elaborate covert plan to help former Nazis flee from justice.

Sixty years on Dutch MPs are calling on KLM to open itís books and allow an independent enquiry. Mike Thomson travels to the Netherlands to investigate.

Radio 4 - Monday 21 January 2008

20th Jan 2008, 16:43
In the years that followed many wealthy Germans each spent the equivalent of an average manís wages on luxury KLM flights to the Argentine capital Buenos Aires.
"Luxury" ???? To South America in 1948 on KLM ???? A DC6 piston aircraft on a 24-hour flight ???? "Luxury" ???? You must be joking.

20th Jan 2008, 17:11
It's all relative. Do you remember the scene in, I think it was "Sophie's Choice" where the character played by Sir John Gielgud was complaining that he had paid extra for a cattle truck upgrade on the train to Belsen? On stagecoaches it was luxury to travel inside as opposed to outside.

20th Jan 2008, 20:23
Cardboard box int' middle of road! Now that's LUXURY! :)

Load Toad
29th Jan 2008, 01:25
"Luxury" ???? To South America in 1948 on KLM ???? A DC6 piston aircraft on a 24-hour flight ???? "Luxury" ???? You must be joking.

A little more luxurious than a cattle truck to a gas chamber in a death camp.

29th Jan 2008, 03:23
What a pity Duetsch Luft Hansa Records aren't equally available. That airline kept flying to Barcelona to the very end of the war.

DLH during the war operated BV222 flights to Japanese controlled Sakhalin Island from Norway and three de-militarised Ju-290 to an airfield 300nm west of Beijing. In his memoirs Albert Speer records that a Ju-390 was also flown to Tokyo "via the polar route"

One BV222 was ordered on standby on 30 April 1945 to fly Nazi Leaders to Greenland (for rendezvous with a U-boat)

When Hanna Reitsch flew out of Berlin she recorded there was a Ju-52 waiting at the unter den Linden for some passengers. (according to her post war letters to her brother)

Several of those who escaped from Berlin with Hitler's last testament including Luftwaffe adjutant Col.Felix von Below were evacuated by flying boats from an island in the River Spee.

One Ju-290 was flown to Barcelona the night of 5/6 April where it crashed on landing. Another flew from Finsterwalde 23 April and another which may have helped Hans Kammler escape from Prague, flew from there to barcelona 27 April 1945.

A Polish diplomat at the end of the war witnessed a Ju-390 being dismantled at an airfield in Uraguay. If true then this was the fate of the second Ju-390 which Allies could not find at the end of the war.

During the war the Skorzeny recruited a company of Brandenburgers (ZBv800) who built a runway at Cordoba in Northern Argentina. Cordoba is a haven for former Nazis in Argentina.

29th Jan 2008, 06:50
Friends -
So for you, the bad guys are Argentines, and many Nazis live there... I thought so too, long ago.
And KLM did get them there... Could you "moderate" your opinions in knowing what has really happened, in that part of the world...?
German immigration to So. America has existed since the late 1800s. Some went to Africa, i.e. today's Namibia, some went to So. America. After 1918, and the Treaty of Versailles, many Germans left again, So. America mostly, since they were no longer welcome in No. America, and the African colonies were lost.
Then Hitler rise to power, 1933-34 era. Many opponents to Nazis created another wave of emigration. Some were able to go to the USA, back then in recovery from the economic crisis of 1929, and with immigration limitations. Back then, Argentina was a rich nation, and Southern Brazil was thriving. Then from 1938, Jews escaped from Germany, many went to settle in Argentina.
With such a large number of Germans in place, it is no surprise that Nazi war criminals went to So. America where they could blend in German communities and settlements. And same with Austrian Nazis...
The dictator in power in Argentina post 1945 was Juan Peron, an adept of Mussolini facism. Remember that Argentina is more "Italian" than "German". Near 45% of Argentina immigration 1880-1950 was from Italy. He probably closed his eyes to many Nazis arriving in Argentina. Germany had large numbers of well qualified immigrants, not necessarily war criminals. And of course there were people like Adolf Eichmann, who eventually got captured.
Most war criminals were able to get travel documents from the Red Cross. Very unlikely that the airlines, such as KLM knew about their passengers being wanted war criminals. And how about Swissair, or Iberia... Back then, the Franco administration was also friendly to ex Nazis...
When I immigrated to Argentina, in 1993, I was also questionning myself about these "blue eyed" retired SS officers who had supposedly settled here. I made friends with sons of German immigrants, their German-born parents had arrived in Argentina before 1940... and were obviously not Nazis. Well to the contrary, they were upset to have parents suspected of being criminals.
Often I asked these friends, or their parents if I met them, where these ex Nazis would have gone to. To their opinion, many went to remote areas, in particular in Paraguay and some areas of Brazil as very likely places to hide in German settlements. I also remember meeting the son of a German army officer who had fought in Russia (Stalingrad...?), but I recall that his father was not socially invited by other German families...
In the South American airline industry, Germans have left their marks of technical expertise. Avianca (Colombia) was originally organized by Germans. I sometimes think of my airline's engineering and maintenance with many people with German last names... but they are doing a good job.
Stop insulting the Argentines of being Nazis... If 20 years old in 1945, at Auschwitz, these bastards must now be 83+ of age... and the majority of them must be under a stone and a cross in a cemetery.
We in Argentina have number of sons and grandsons of immigrants from Europe, many of which are Welsh and Irish in Patagonia, many French, and some from Eastern Europe. And the ususal Italians, Spaniards and Portuguese. Walk in the streets in Buenos Aires, and look at the people. Most would look to you like people from Cardiff, Milan, Barcelona or Hamburg. Population statistics for Argentina shows 95% of people of European parents or ancestors.
I remember taking the phone books, and looking for a buddy named Ricardo Kelly in Buenos Aires, there was a whole page of Kellys... His grand parents probably are from Limerick, or Cork...
Happy contrails

29th Jan 2008, 09:20
Stop insulting the Argentines of being Nazis...

Where is the insult in talking about facts ?

You're getting very Orwellian.

Stop being hypersensitive. People are just quoting facts. Mengele, Barbie and Eichmann were not figments of the imagination.

The Nazi were very active in Argentina during and after the war. That's a fact. Was every german a Nazi ?

Of course not. Is anybody suggesting Argentines are Nazis ?... of course not

I refuse to live in your world where people are no longer able to tell the truth for fear of offending the politically correct.

29th Jan 2008, 11:13
Kiwiguy -
I did not imply you did...
But why is it always saying "Argentina" and "Nazis"...? -
Sure, many Nazis ended there... as in Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay...
Did I think "Nazis" when I was last in Berlin or Frankfurt, for the World Soccer Cup...?
Germany is a respected nation. Time to forget the past. This generation did not support Hitler.
In Franco's day in Spain, it was the case. He gave protection to Nazis...
One was Lťon Degrelle, Belgian Nazi. I am Belgian by birth, and admit they had some of them.
And Salazar of Portugal, and certainly Chile's Pinochet.
I would suspect Paraguay was the most notorious Nazi heaven.
I know all these countries well - do you...?
When I go to Spain, now a great monarchy and democracy, I dont think Nazis.
Do the Math, 1945 and 2008... Time to close the books, except history.
We dont practice "being politically correct" science in Argentina...
That is a hobby practiced on other continents, not ours.
We say things as they are.
When I think Te Kanawa, I dont think Maori, I think of a great voice and talented lady.
When I listen to Von Karajan, his CDs dont mention "suspect to be former Nazi".
Argentina is now my country, I like to inform people of what that nation and people really are.
Happy contrails, anyway -

29th Jan 2008, 12:56
I do despair a bit of lawyers (or the groups they encourage) having a go at various organisations in the commercial world who were a major part of the environment of their time long ago but who now, although well removed from such things, appear to have some plunderable money.

Like KLM here. Especially when we are reminded above of Parmentier's efforts against their enemy; the rest of the organisation would have been pretty much the same.

The same thing has happened recently in the USA where the Union Pacific railway is being sued by Indian tribes for various things that happened in the 1860s as the West of the USA was opened up.

Much of it seems to be the age-old issue "Give me some money and I will go away, otherwise you'll have your own lawyers costs and adverse press publicity. Lots of it .....".

Not saying it is that in any of the cases I mention, of course.

These things get dug up after an amazing time. Now if anybody was entitled to have a go at the Nazis it was my father's (and particularly my Russian in-laws') generation. But they just seem to accept it was part of life on the planet, they came through but their friends didn't, and they moved on.

29th Jan 2008, 14:42
History is fascinating and we must learn from it, but move on, whilst never totally forgetting.

Quite correct, except that a few folks just simply cannot let go.
For these few, I would say....'tough beans, get over it'.
Times have long passed.

29th Jan 2008, 15:03
Was the Vatican not heavily implicated in aiding the flight of Nazis to America in 1945 and onwards? Not a happy chapter in the history of this most organised of religions.


29th Jan 2008, 17:22
When oi werr a lad down Zum'zett, we had quite a few ex-POWs who'd elected to stay in the UK working for us.

Rudi was a skilled engineer and managed one of the plants; 'Big Fritz' was a gentle giant with bright red hair, 'Little Fritz' I never met - he went back to Germany and ended up in the East. Another was 'Theo' - he'd been in the Luftwaffe so was referred to by Wally, the cockney site foreman, as "One of the bleeders wot bombed 'ar ass".

All were very friendly and had a great sense of humour. Our Italians were also great fun - although Toni (from Salerno) nearly died of shock when my father asked whether there was any Mafia presence where he lived. Poor bugger went white. Funniest of the lot was the lazy so-and-so Reni'. He'd found life as a Vatican guard standing around with a pike in the Vatican all day far too demanding, so had come to England with his young wife. When asked why he'd given up such an easy job, he merely commented "Very heavy pike!". Vince(nzo) had an eye for the girls; when we took him to Cornwall for the St. Merryn haymaking season, his eyes lit up - "Plenty jig-a-jig here, Mr (BEagle)" he grinned!

The reason for this rambling diatribe? It was good to have known such an easy going bunch and the war which had been over for about 10-15 years was never a problem. Although when baby sitting one night for my brother and I, we were watching 'The Valiant Years' on TV with Rudi and the topic was the Hitlerjugend. He was very uneasy - all he said was "It wasn't like the Boy Scouts - we had to join!"

People and politics are not the same. And people do indeed need to let go of the past in the way 411A suggests.

henry crun
29th Jan 2008, 17:26
skua: It was.

There were some, obviously in a position of power within the Vatican, who were sympathetic to the nazi cause, and helped to organise passports, red cross travel documents, etc, for travel to South American countries.

IIRC it was known as the "ratline".

Dan Winterland
30th Jan 2008, 02:53
One of my Grandfather's farm POW labourers stayed on after the war as he had literally nothing to go back to. He retired from his job as my Grandfather's farm foreman in the 80's and still lives rent free in a cottage owned by my mother.

5th Feb 2008, 02:37
A friend lives on the same street, Rua da Alvarenga, where Mengele - who was used as the evil mastermind in "The Boys from Brazil" - lived until he drowned at the beach.

He was known to the local kids as "Uncle Pedro", and they were shocked when the news of his identity came out.

5th Feb 2008, 17:03

"Diamonds in the mud"

I think you are getting your Prestwick disasters somewhat mixed up. I believe that Parmentier's Constellation (PH-TEN) crashed on the hill near Law Farm on 23/05/47 whilst trying to make a visual circling approach to the old runway 26. I can remember my father taking me round the wreckage that had been recovered to the airport. It was lying behind the old black hangars on the north side of the airport. I don't remember anything about diamonds.

However, BOAC Boeing Stratocruiser (G-ALSA) crashed on very short finals to runway 31 on 25/12/54. I can well remember getting out of bed that day (Christmas Day) and seeing the great plume of black smoke from the kitchen window. The aircraft was carrying a lot of industrial diamonds and thousands and thousands of tons of soil were sifted from the site of the wreckage (near Shaw Farm). I believe that some 85% of the diamonds were recovered.

5th Feb 2008, 19:17
I do not believe that weather had any part to play in the demise of the BOAC Stratocruiser. I am sure that you could find the details with a bit of a search but I seem to recall that finger trouble had a large part to play in the disaster.

The only survivors were either in the cockpit or immediately behind it. The forward part of the fuselage broke off and slid down the runway. The rest of the aircraft burned out. From memory, five crew and two passengers in the front were the only survivors.

I was born in Monkton and left in 1960 when I joined the RAF for pilot training.

5th Feb 2008, 19:38
Going back to the original post, such episodes are something of a sore point here in Holland. Just about a year or so ago, NS (Nederland Spoorwegen - the Dutch railways) issued a formal apology as the company had assisted the Nazi's in transporting thousands of Jews from Holland to the concentration camps in Germany.

As a slight side issue, many SS escaped to the Republic of Ireland via Belgium and the UK. Interestingly, one ended up as the biggest publisher of educational books in Ireland! The Irish government to this day apparently still refuses to release any records of such movements of people...

5th Feb 2008, 21:46
While KLM, or NS, or the Argentinians are being picked off so long after the event ....

What about the US Government who took Werner von Braun, leader of the entire V2 rocket project which killed thousands in Britain (plus many more at the forced POW labour site where it was manufactured, and even in the Netherlands at the launch site near Den Haag) - oh and a Sturmbannfuhrer in the SS in his off hours.

Taken to the USA, with all his mates, given a nice house, job and salary at NASA, introduced to The President, etc. And thus spared the Nuremberg trials, which he should surely have been a key player in, as the enthusiastic architect of a key Weapon of Mass Destruction.

6th Feb 2008, 10:32
I do apologise, 23/5/47 was in fact the delivery date. The Air-Britain Constellation book gives us:

"Flew into high-tension cables on approach to Prestwick, Scotland on 21 Oct 48, caught fire and crashed at 00.31 hours (local) at Tarbolton, 5 miles east-north-east of the airport, killing all on board, including KLM's Cheif Pilot, Captain K.D. Parmentier. Aircraft made a GCA and overshoot on runway 31, but did not land owing to a high cross wind. On making visual circuit for Runway 26 at approx 700 feet, aircraft ran into low cloud and failed to clear the high tension cables at 450 feet. Cause; deteriorating weather, disorientation on visual circuit and mistake on spot height on navigational chart (read 45 ft instead of 450 ft). Was en route Amsterdam - Prestwick - New York".

Sorry for the confusion.