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The Emergence of the Nazi Ratlines After WW II

Alex Constantine - March 28, 2023

By Kaleena Fraga | Edited By John Kuroski

ATI, Published February 25, 2023
Updated February 28, 2023

After World War II, thousands of Nazi war criminals escaped justice with the help of ratlines — which were set up by the Vatican, South American politicians, and sometimes even U.S. spies.

This is the shadowy story of ratlines, the spidery system of escape routes created by American spies, South American politicians, Vatican officials, and other individuals who helped Nazi war criminals flee Europe.

The Emergence Of Ratlines After World War II

The word “ratline” comes from the sea. According to Slate, it refers to ropes near a ship’s mast, which sailors might have climbed while trying to survive a sinking ship. But after World War II, it took on a different connotation.

Then, thousands of Nazis seeking to flee Europe did so via the so-called ratlines that offered an escape route to various countries in South America, mostly to Chile, Brazil, and Argentina. They were assisted in large part by Argentine President Juan Peron, who had grown to admire European dictators like Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini.