I thoroughly enjoyed all the research I carried out prior to writing The Last Nazi. This task, which lasted many months, unsurprisingly never felt complete because there is so much information and so many sources out there on the Nazi era.
But I thought I would give you just a flavor of some of the many informative and valuable books, articles, documents and videos that I found. This might be of particular interest for those of you who enjoy digging into history and like finding out more about the worlds of organizations such as the CIA and the Office of Special Investigations.
I have been particularly inspired by the work of the OSI, part of the U.S. Department of Justice, to track down and prosecute war criminals many decades after the original atrocities were committed. This organization, which since 2010 has been rebadged as the Human Rights and Special Prosecutions section of the DoJ, has been tenacious and incisive in its research, led by its team of historians who have delved into files hidden in the darkest corners of archives across Europe to unearth the evidence they require.
A 617-page internal history of the OSI, entitled The Office of Special Investigations: Striving for Accountability in the Aftermath of the Holocaust was written for the Department of Justice by Judy Feigin. A copy is available HERE.
This document provides great insight into the OSI’s operations and into some of the high-profile Nazi cases it pursued during the period after it was established in 1979. Since then, the OSI has won cases against 107 individuals living in the U.S. who took part in Nazi crimes of persecution. The document also illustrates how the United States provided a safe haven for hundreds, possibly thousands, of Nazis who fled after World War II, some of them assisted by the CIA in exchange for intelligence about the Soviet Union as the Cold War escalated.
Journalist and author Eric Lichtblau wrote an article for The New York Times in 2010 that summarizes Judy Feigin’s report. It’s available HERE.
Lichtblau’s book, The Nazis Next Door, about the war criminals who took refuge in the United States after World War II and the efforts of the OSI and others to track them down, is a fascinating read. In particular, the chapter detailing OSI historian Mike MacQueen’s hunt in the Vilnius archives for evidence of crimes committed by Aleksandras Lileikis, a Lithuanian security police chief who collaborated with the Nazis and subsequently lived in Massachusetts for thirty-five years is compelling reading.
An article on the CIA’s website explores this theme further, and is found HERE.
An in-depth profile of Eli Rosenbaum, director of the OSI until 2010, can be found in Harvard Law Bulletin, HERE.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Annual Report on the Investigation and Prosecution of Nazi War Criminals, which was first published in 2001, has made consistently interesting background reading. The report for 2016 and previous reports can be found HERE and also at the Operation Last Chance website HERE.
The author of this report, Dr. Efraim Zuroff, wrote in the 2015 edition, “Despite the somewhat prevalent assumption that it is too late to bring Nazi murderers to justice, the figures clearly prove otherwise, and we are trying to ensure that at least several of these criminals will be brought to trial during the coming years. While it is generally assumed that it is the age of the suspects that is the biggest obstacle to prosecution, in many cases it is the lack of political will, more than anything else, that has hindered the efforts to bring Holocaust perpetrators to justice, along with the mistaken notion that it was impossible at this point to locate, identify, and convict these criminals. The success achieved by dedicated prosecutors, especially in Italy, Germany, and the United States, should encourage governments all over the world to make a serious effort to maximize justice while it can still be obtained.”
For details of life in the Gross-Rosen concentration camp system from 1940 to ’45, I would recommend the book A Narrow Bridge to Life by Bella Gutterman, which is a harrowing read but provides a real insight into the daily struggles that prisoners faced simply to remain alive in the face of ceaseless brutality by their SS guards.
Another graphic account of life in the camps, If This Is a Man by Italian Jewish writer and chemist Primo Levi, describes the year he spent incarcerated in Auschwitz. (The U.S. edition is called Survival in Auschwitz.)
More detail on Project Riese and the Gross-Rosen concentration camp complex that provided the labor to build it is available on a number of websites, including the Gross-Rosen website HERE and also the Project Riese website HERE.
From 2015 to 2016 there were extensive efforts to locate and excavate a train rumored to contain gold and jewelry that was supposedly abandoned and buried by the Nazis in a secret railway tunnel just outside Walbrzych at the end of the war. Attempts to locate this train have so far proved unsuccessful. There was a fascinating BBC documentary about this in October 2016, Hunting the Nazi Gold Train, by historian and broadcaster Dan Snow, which provided much rich detail on Project Riese. It is still available on YouTube HERE.
The flight by hundreds, or more likely, thousands of Nazis to South America after World War II is well documented, although there is disagreement among some historians about the numbers and methods used to engineer their escape routes. In particular, Uki Goñi’s book, The Real Odessa: How Perón Brought the Nazi War Criminals to Argentina, gives well-researched insight into how the relationship between Hitler’s Germany and Juan Perón’s Argentina facilitated this.
Another similarly well-researched book is Guy Walters’s Hunting Evil.
There are a number of novels that have also provided me with inspiration and useful background material. Of these, one of the best-known is Frederick Forsyth’s The Odessa File, which detailed the Odessa escape network established by some SS officers at the end of World War II. Some historians, such as Walters, have downplayed or even denied the existence of a network by that name.
Human trafficking and forced labor remains a significant problem in Argentina, including in the Misiones province, where the border city of Puerto Iguazú is located. The U.S. State Department’s 2016 Trafficking in Persons report, available HERE, makes clear that Argentina still has a long way to go to tackle this issue.
The human rights organization The Protection Project published a country report on Argentina that also details the extent of human trafficking and can be found HERE. A report in The Guardian, albeit a few years old, focusing on these issues in Puerto Iguazú specifically can be found HERE.
I hope all that is of use and of interest. Please e-mail me if you have any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org
Published by Andrew Turpin