A list with the names of 12,000 alleged Nazis who ended up in Argentina toward the end of World War II have been revealed by the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
The human rights organisation, dedicated to researching the Holocaust and combatting anti-Semitism, unveiled the list after confirming details in records discovered by Argentine researcher Pedro Filipuzzi.
"Many of the Nazis had contributed to one or more bank accounts at the Schweizerische Kreditanstalt, which later became the Credit Suisse Bank, based in Zurich, Switzerland," the Wiesenthal Center said in a press release.
Dozens of leaders responsible for the Holocaust and the extermination of victims in concentration camps, including high-profile names such as Josef Mengele and Adolf Eichmann, fled to Argentina towards the end of World War II, mostly assuming false identities to mislead investigators.
"During the 1930s, the pro-Nazi military regime of [ex-Argentina] President José Félix Uriburu, who was nicknamed “Von Pepe” as a Germanophile, and of his successor Agustín Pedro Justo, welcomed a growing Nazi presence in Argentina," the Wiesenthal Center added in a statement.
"In 1938, the latter was replaced by anti-Nazi president Roberto Ortiz, who established the “Special Commission to Research Anti-Argentine Activities,” principally to de-Nazify Argentina," the release continued.
"Up until 1938, however, there was an official figure of 1,400 members of the NSDAP/AO (the German National Socialist Party/Foreign Organisation), based in Argentina, with 12,000 supporting members of the cover-up “Unión Alemana de Gremios” (the German Union of Syndicates) formerly named "Frente Aleman del Trabajo" (German Labour Front) and an additional 8,000 affiliated to other Nazi organisations.
Nazi organisations included German companies such as G Farben – the supplier of the Zyklon-B gas used tin concentration camps – and financial bodies such as the 'Banco Alemán Transatlántico' and the 'Banco Germánico de América del Sur.'
"These two banks apparently served for Nazi transfers on the way to Switzerland," said Dr Shimon Samuels, the Wiesenthal Center's director for international relations.
“Many of the names listed were related to pro-Nazi companies blacklisted by the US and UK during World War II,” added Ariel Gelblung, the organisation's director for Latin America.
Argentine pro-Nazi groups tried to erase the evidence of those activities by burning files in 1943. But Filipuzzi, a former employee of Telefonica, discovered by chance an original copy of the list of 12,000 names in an old warehouse in Buenos Aires and shared it with the Wiesenthal Center.