Argentina takes down ‘prolific’ clandestine Nazi printing press

When Argentina’s federal police raided a house on the outskirts of Buenos Aires this week, they discovered lots of of books plastered with swastikas and imperial eagles. Some of the works glorified Adolf Hitler, whereas others denied the Holocaust and supplied a revisionist historical past of World War II.

All have been a part of the nation’s largest seizure of supplies espousing Nazi propaganda in recent times, officers stated in a information convention Wednesday.

The texts — greater than 200 in whole — have been produced by a “prolific” clandestine printing press that operated beneath the title Librería Argentina, officers stated. On Tuesday, the net bookstore’s alleged proprietor, a 45-year-old man who was not publicly recognized, was arrested on discriminatory acts prices after police raided his mother and father’ house.

“We’re still astonished by the amount of material,” Federal Police Chief Juan Carlos Hernández stated throughout the information convention. “It’s historic. It’s truly a printing press disseminating and selling Nazi symbology, books and indoctrination.”

The raid in Béccar, a city simply north of Buenos Aires, was the tipping level in an investigation that started in 2021 after the Delegation of Israelite Associations of Argentina, the umbrella group representing the nation’s Jewish neighborhood, raised alarms.

The group had obtained complaints a few web site that was disseminating antisemitic content material and promoting the fabric by Mercado Libre, the most important e-commerce platform in South America — working afoul of an Argentine law that prohibits discrimination and finishing up “propaganda based on ideas or theories of superiority of a race or a group of persons of a certain religion, ethnic origin or color.”

The vendor, Hernández stated, offered “high-quality material” and had “a high level of purchases and inquiries.” At some level after the delegation denounced it, the person’s Mercado Libre account was terminated, prompting him to promote the supplies by an internet site of his personal, police stated.

The Librería Argentina web site presents itself as an internet bookstore “specialized in war themes” that makes “room for all books that have been marginalized from the most popular bookstores regardless of their tendency, especially all forms of nationalism and history of ancient or forgotten movements.”

While the bookstore claims it “deplores any form of violence, discrimination or racism,” its web site is brimming with Nazi symbolism, from Othala runes to Celtic crosses and imperial eagles. And its repertoire contains works by Belgian Nazi collaborator León Degrelle, the Italian fascist Julius Evola, and Nazi theorist and ideologue Alfred Rosenberg — in addition to “Mein Kampf” by Hitler.

Eventually, police have been capable of match the 45-year-old man to the Mercado Libre account and the bookstore’s web site, discovering that he used his father’s house as his printing office, officers stated.

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On Tuesday, police hauled away 222 books, 140 e book covers for unprinted copies and two workplace printers. The quantity of supplies was “stupefying” for the authorities concerned and the group that prompted the investigation.

“We are shocked by how profuse the material is,” Marcos Cohen, of the Delegation of Argentine Israelite Associations, stated on the information convention. “I don’t remember anything like this being found before.”

The discovery introduced shock waves throughout Argentina, a nation that has grappled with its legacy as a haven for Nazis fleeing justice after the top of World War II.

In the South American nation, they discovered a welcoming authorities headed by President Juan Perón, who had fascist ties, stated Gerald J. Steinacher, a professor of historical past at University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

“Argentina was a traditional country with strong Italian and German immigration, so there were communities and connections already there,” Steinacher stated. “But another reason is that Argentina had very pragmatic reasons as to why it was willing to take in people with a Nazi background after the war, and it’s because they wanted the German know-how and technology, especially to modernize their military.”

Those who made their approach to Argentina included Josef Mengele, the physician who performed experiments on people; Erich Priebke, a former SS captain who participated within the killing of 335 individuals in an Italian cave; and Adolf Eichmann, one of many key organizers of the Holocaust. By 1997, the nation had established a commission to analyze Nazi actions and Argentina’s role as a refuge for Nazis and their personal or stolen wealth.

Behind a bookcase, a secret passageway leads to a trove of Nazi artifacts in Argentina

Since then, Argentina has cracked down on different cases of Nazi propaganda distribution and antisemitism — one thing Steinacher counseled as a “very important step forward.”

“It’s important not to be passive and allow hate to go by unchecked,” he stated. “That’s one of the lessons we have learned from studying the history of Germany: that a democracy has to be willing to defend itself against people who want to overthrow democracy.”

Yet, the truth that antisemitic and Nazi supplies are nonetheless swirling round Argentina — the nation with the largest Jewish population in Latin America — is nice trigger for concern, Cohen stated on the information convention.

“It is astonishing that there are people producing this type of material, and it is concerning that there are people consuming it,” Cohen stated. “And that is the challenge we have to overcome.”

Hernández, the federal police chief, stated Tuesday’s raid and arrest have been only the start in what may turn out to be a sprawling probe.

“We do not rule out that it is just the tip of an iceberg,” he stated. “For now, we have cut the distribution lines, but the law also punishes those who consume such material.”

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