Nazis

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article Share Article
views updated

Nazis

The first Nazi Landesgruppe ("country organization") in Latin America was founded among German settlers in Paraguay in 1929; other such groups were created in Latin America prior to Hitler's accession to power in 1933. Activists in these organizations were recent German and Austrian immigrants who had experienced war, revolution, and inflation in Europe; most did not yet feel themselves established, or did not intend to remain, in the New World. Created at local initiative, country organizations had to be approved by the Auslands-Organisation ("foreign organization") of the Nazi Party in Germany; furious personal and factional disputes ensued. In total numbers, the Brazilian and Argentine Landesgruppen were two of the four largest Nazi organizations (with Holland and Austria) outside Germany; however, the ratio of party members to German citizens—theoretically, only German citizens were eligible for membership—resident in the country was much greater in Venezuela and Panama. In mid-1937, 143,640 Reichsdeutsche (German nationals) resided in Latin America; of them, 7,602 (5.3%) were party members.

Enthusiasm for Hitler's Third Reich probably reached its peak among overseas Germans around 1936, by which time Hitler had restored order and eliminated the restrictions of the Treaty of Versailles; this would suggest, perhaps, that nationalism counted for more than ideology. Nazis (and other German agencies) proselytized actively among Latin Americans, but since most of the latter were repelled by Nazi attitudes of racial superiority and hostility to religion, they made few converts. They also proselytized among partly assimilated settlers in older German-speaking communities, particularly in the Southern Cone. Their efforts to propagate Nazi and German nationalist dogma in German-language schools proved offensive to the Argentine, Brazilian, and Chilean governments. The resultant conflicts led, in 1938 and 1939, to legislation restricting the political activities and cultural autonomy of all foreign-language groups; between 1938 and 1942 the party itself was banned everywhere.

During World War II, individual Nazis participated in Germany's clandestine-warfare operations in the Americas, but the party as such was a negligible factor. After 1945 German Nazis and ex-collaborators made their way to South and Central America. Most lived in quiet obscurity, but a few joined with local right-wing radicals to perpetuate the Nazi ideology in marginal, though occasionally violent, sects.

See alsoGermans in Latin Americaxml .

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Hans-Adolf Jacobsen, Nationalsozialistische Aussenpolitik, 1933–1938 (1968).

Donald M. Mc Kale, The Swastika Outside Germany (1977).

Ronald C. Newton, The "Nazi Menace" in Argentina, 1931–1947 (1992).

Holger M. Meding, Flucht vor Nürnberg? Deutsche und österreichische Einwanderung in Argentinien, 1945–1955 (1992).

Additional Bibliography

Ben-Dror, Graciela. Católicos, nazis y judíos: La Iglesia argentina en los tiempos del Tercer Reich. Buenos Aires: Lumiere: Universidad de Tel Aviv, Instituto de Historia y Cultura de América Latina, 2003.

Friedman, Max Paul. Nazis and Good Neighbors: The United States Campaign against the Germans of Latin America in World War II. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

                                     Ronald C. Newton