Three documents, originating in as many countries, reveal the role played by Argentina in the investments of the hierarchs of Nazi Germany and the role played by a Reich minister of Argentine origin in the triangulation of that money through a financial route that began in Berlin, passed through Buenos Aires and ended in at least one Swiss bank.
These are three lists of investors, with their corresponding investments in dollars, prepared at different times in Argentina, the United States and the Wiesenthal Center, which show how our country was the temporary destination of about 15 percent of the money looted by the Nazis from German Jews and residents of the occupied countries by Germany during World War II.
The calculation that arises from the comparison of the three lists is 341 million dollars leaked in the first half of the 1940s, which is equivalent to about 6,000 million dollars today, if the purchasing power of then and now of the North American currency is compared.
The history of the listings also recovers the name of an Argentine: Richard Walther Darré, Minister of Food and Agriculture, and also director of the sinister Reich Office for Race and Resettlement, whose name is listed in the 51st place in one of the lists of Nazi leaders who sent money to Argentina. Little and nothing was known about Darré, beyond his participation in the Reich bureaucracy, until the Argentine historian Charles Of Napoli – deceased in 2011 – recounted his life in the book Darré – Hitler’s Argentine minister.
the argentinian list
The discovery of the Argentine skipjack was the product of a stroke of luck researcher Pedro Fillipuzzi when, in the early 1980s, democracy had just been restored, he was reviewing old papers in the basement of the old building of the National Development Bank (BANADE), very close to the Plaza de Mayo. I was at it when he came across a document with a header that read “Congress of the Argentine Nation.”
Reading it, Fillipuzzi he knew that he had found, almost literally, gold… Nazi gold. The document was part of the report prepared by the Special Commission for the Investigation of Anti-Argentine Activities at the end of the 1930s and It detailed the official survey on the transfers that businessmen and sympathizers of the Third Reich based in Argentina had made to Swiss banks.
Not that the official investigation was unknown, but the documents related to it were believed to have been destroyed in 1943, shortly after the GOU (Group of United Officers) led coup that ousted the president. Ramon Castillo. Fillipuzzi, unintentionally, had found the only –and forgotten– copy that had escaped the fire. He immediately realized its importance.
In the files found, printed by the Chamber of Deputies a few years before the Special Commission was dissolved, The names of some 12,000 German businessmen based in Argentina were detailed and who would have triangulated money from Germany to Geneva.
In addition to transfers, there were also the lists of the members of the foreign section of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party, of the German Union of Guilds and of other Nazi organizations.
In those years, the sympathies in Argentina for the Third Reich of Adolf Hitler they were not a secret thing, to the point that their militants carried out public acts, such as the massive crowd that filled the Luna Park facilities in 1938.
What was not known –or had been “forgotten”– was the magnitude of the flow of money from Germany that circulated in Argentina at the beginning of the 1940s.
the american report
Another “forgotten” document is an old report from the US government’s Economics Administration. Dated April 3, 1945 –that is, almost coincidentally with the surrender of Germany– It pointed out that the Nazis had assets and investments in Argentina worth between 200 and 341 million dollars.
The figures contained in the document not only show that Argentina had received about 15 percent of all Nazi assets abroad, but also that the amount of those “investments” was approximately the same amount of dollars that the Nazi monies added up to. in the rest of Latin America.
The very detailed report also broke down how Nazi assets were distributed in the rest of the region: Brazil, 40 million; Chile, 20; Uruguay, 12; Colombia, 11.5; Bolivia, 8; Venezuela, 6.9; and Peru, 3.5.
The data from the report – which includes names of people and companies – came to light again in March 2020, when it was published by the Spanish news agency EFE after the Simon Wiesenthal Center made a formal claim to the Credit Suisse bank for have access to a series of accounts in which it is suspected that part of that money went.
The Wiesenthal Center List
In April 1997, 23 years before Credit Suisse was asked to reveal the accounts receiving the Nazi money, the Center had tried to get the Argentine authorities to investigate a list – which it delivered to the Central Bank – of 334 Nazi leaders and companies related to them since mid-1930s until near the end of World War II.
The Wiesenthal Center hypothesis was that the money, plundered from the Jews persecuted by Adolf Hitler’s regime, arrived in Argentina to finance businesses of pro-Nazi businessmen who in turn returned part of these “investments” to Europe, more precisely to Switzerland, where it was deposited in anonymous accounts of the Schweizerische Kreditanstalt bank, predecessor of Credit Suisse.
At that time, the government of Carlos Menem promised to investigate the case, but never responded.
The Credit Suisse claim
The one who did provide information to the Center was Fillipuzzi, who at the beginning of 2020 gave him a copy of the list he had found in the National Development Bank. The Center, in turn, demanded that the Credit Suisse bank open the files on these accounts, which are supposed to be “dormant.”
It is estimated that in these accounts there would be, at today’s values, about 33,000 million euros that could be the product – with their interests and investments – of the Nazi regime looting persecuted minorities, laundered in Argentina and then sent to Switzerland.
“We believe it is very likely that these inactive accounts contain money looted from Jewish victims, under the Nuremberg Aryanization Laws of the 1930s. We are aware that you already have plaintiffs as heir presumptives to the Nazis on the list,” the Center said on March 2, 2020 in a statement announcing the request. to Credit Suisse.
The authorities of the Wiesenthal Center do not believe that those 12,000 people on the list have participated in their entirety in the laundering maneuvers of the stolen money, but they do believe that all those who participated in them are there.
Almost immediately, the bank authorities promised their collaboration but so far – they say unofficially that due to the difficulties posed by the Covid-19 pandemic – they have not provided the information.
Hitler’s Argentine Minister
The list that the Wiesenthal Center handed over to the Argentine government in 1997 for investigation includes, in 51st place, Richard Walther Darré, Hitler’s Argentine minister.
Darré was born in Buenos Aires on July 14, 1895, the son of German Richard Darré and Argentine Emilie Lagergrende, a well-off married couple who, shortly after Richard Walther’s birth, moved to Patagonia, where the child spent part of his childhood.
Upon reaching adolescence, the parents decided that he should have a European education, in England and in Germany. He studied at Heidelberg and Wimbledon. In 1914, when the First World War began, he joined the German Army as a volunteer and was wounded in battle.
At the end of that war he studied Philosophy and Agriculture. He also became interested in politics and participated in Artamans, one of the groups that would later make up the National Socialist Party.
The combination of his racist ideology and his passion for agriculture led him to write a book in 1928 The peasant as a source of life for the Nordic race, which prefigures his incorporation into Nazism and then, with the arrival of Hitler to power, his participation in the regime as Minister of Food and Agriculture and as director of the Reich Race and Resettlement Office.
a key link
By then, the persecution of Jews and the theft of their property were commonplace. Also the dizzying increase in Nazi investments in Argentina through ghost companies, created to move gold and stolen money.
Darré had very good connections with his native country, and the Wiesenthal Center suspects that he made use of them in the money triangulation operations.
the war over, Richard Walther Darré was captured by Allied troops and was one of the Nazi leaders tried in Nuremberg.
In his biography of the Reich Minister for Food and Agriculture, Carlos De Nápoli states: “Darré participated in the escape of Nazis to South America by express order of Hitler. It is no coincidence that the largest number of fugitive Nazis arrived in Córdoba and Patagonia.
The trial did not come out badly at all. In 1949 he was acquitted of charges related to the genocide -which would have earned him a death sentence or, at least, life-, but he received a sentence of seven years for other crimes. In 1950 he was released.
Richard Darré died of cancer on September 5, 1953, in Munich. If the investigation into the “dormant” accounts in Switzerland succeeds, perhaps it will be possible to know more precisely what his role was in the maneuver and how much it paid him personally.