Monday, August 26, 2013

Hunting Evil

Despite the unfortunate, salacious title, cover art and design, Guy Walters’ book “Hunting Evil: The Nazi war criminals who escaped and the hunt to bring them to justice,” is a sober and well-written account which debunks much of the mythology and legend that surrounds this subject.

Walters spends much time deconstructing the Odessa myth, the organized "rat lines" which helped Nazis escape to South America following the war.  As we now know, the escape routes were far more ad hoc, the organizers not wealthy Fourth Reich functionaries, but more like an old boy network, men helping their former colleagues out of a bind.

Walters spends a great deal of time deflating Simon Wiesenthal and his efforts to bring Nazi’s to justice.  This was done in Tom Segev’s biography of Wiesenthal; but Walters draws no quarter, seeing Wiesenthal as little more than a liar and charlatan who hurt the cause of Nazi hunting. 

While deflating both sides of the Nazi catching game, Walters also shows something that is all too depressing (and found in other sources): how few genocidal Nazis were actually caught, prosecuted, and served real time in jail.   

The Cold War years took the Nazi hunting zeal out of the US intelligence community.   The communist threat took front and center, and American intelligence would even used mass murderers, like Klaus Barbie, as agents.

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