The True Stories Of Nazis Who Escaped To South America

By Penny Chavers
ISRAEL - CIRCA 1961: Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann smoking in his cell at Djalameh Jail; Haifa. Source: (Photo by Gjon Mili/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

Some Nazis escaped justice during and after World War II. Many, of course, were killed during the war, and many others were caught and tried for war crimes -- but thousands of them fled Europe. A lot of these fugitive Nazis ended up in South America, especially Argentina.

Decades went by -- some of our favorite decades. Rock 'n roll was invented, as was the birth control pill. Beatlemania struck. Man landed on the Moon and a big concert took place near Woodstock, New York. There were two great Godfather movies. And then there was disco.

And through it all, there were still World War II Nazis in South America. And all the world knew it. In a general sense, we knew they were down there -- we didn't know where, or in some cases, we knew where but had no means to extract them and bring them to justice. These remnants of the most hateful regime in modern times were living out their days in peace and obscurity, looking forward to dying of natural causes.

It's a quiet background story to the entire groovy era, an open secret: The existence of fugitive Nazis in South America. The vast majority were never caught, but some of the more famous ones were pursued and even captured.