The Ratline: The Exalted Life and Mysterious Death of a Nazi Fugitive
By Philippe Sands
Why this book?
This history reeled me in slowly but relentlessly. At one level it’s the story of a fairly high level but mostly forgotten Nazi official named Otto von Wachter, his constantly deepening entanglement in the German war machine and its horrors, and his post-war flight to Rome, with hopes of joining the “ratline” — Nazis resettled in South America with the help of a well-placed Vatican bishop. The author’s own Jewish family members were among those Wachter sent to their deaths, and his principal living source for the history is Wachter’s son, a fascinating pairing. But at a deeper, even more engrossing level, Ratline is about memory and forgetting, about the delusions that allow us to go on when the truth is too awful to accept.
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