From the author of the internationally acclaimed, award-winning East West Street, comes a tale of Nazi lives, mass murder, love, cold war espionage, a mysterious death in the Vatican–and “the Ratline,” the Nazi escape route to Peron’s Argentina.
Baron Otto Von Wächter, Austrian lawyer, husband, father, high Nazi official, senior SS officer, former governor of Galicia during the war, creator and overseer of the Krakow ghetto, indicted after as a war criminal for the mass murder of more than 100,000 Poles, hunted by the Soviets, the Americans, the British, by Simon Wiesenthal, on the run for three years, from 1945-1948 . . .
Philippe Sands pieces together, in riveting detail, Wächter’s extraordinary, shocking story. Given full access to the Wächter family archives–journals, diaries, tapes, and more, and with the assistance of the Wächters’ son Horst, who believes his father to have been a “good man,” he writes of Wächter’s rise through the Nazi high command, his “blissful” marriage and family life as their world was brought to ruin, and his four-year flight to escape justice–to the Tirol, to Rome, and the Vatican; given a new identity, on his way to a new life via ‘the ratline’ to Peron’s Argentina, the escape route taken by Eichmann, Mengele and thousands of other Nazis. Wächter’s escape was cut short by his mysterious, shocking death in Rome, in the midst of the burgeoning Cold War (was he being recruited in post-war Italy by the Americans and the US Counter Intelligence Corp or by the Soviet NKVD or by both; or was he poisoned by one side or the other, as his son believes–or by both ?) . . .
An extraordinary discovery, told up-close through access to a trove of family correspondence between Wächter and his wife–part historical detective story, part love story, part family memoir, part Cold War espionage thriller.