A group of elderly Nazi war criminals who emerged from hiding deep in the rain forests of Bolivia in an attempt to meet with Pope Francis during his visit to the South American dictatorship are planning to present the Holy Father with a Swastika crucifix.
The controversial move follows the highly publicized stunt last week in which Marxist Bolivian president Evo Morales presented the Pope with a novelty hammer and sickle crucifix.
The group of former concentration camp guards, senior SS officers and mad scientists were among thousands of Nazis who, as Hitler’s regime collapsed in 1945, fled to South America, where they were warmly welcomed by fascist dictators in a number of countries.
Most famously, Final Solution architect Adolf Eichmann sought refuge in Argentina, where he was captured in 1960 by Israeli agents and later executed for his crimes — an incident that is still being investigated by Amnesty International and the UN to see if Israel violated Eichmann’s right to family life.
The group hoping to meet the pope had hidden out for over 70 years in a semi-underground complex shrouded by jungle canopy, but many believe they were given tacit support and protection by a series of fascist regimes. Since Bolivia’s transition to democracy in the early 1990s, the Nazis had been forced to keep a lower profile, but in recent years, with the increasingly authoritarian rule of President Evo Morales, they have felt increasingly comfortable — and even at home — under a regime that nationalizes private businesses and suppresses dissent.
The Dandy Goat’s Latin America correspondent asked the group whether they were fearful of coming out of the shadows. “Sure, Morales is a Marxist,” said 99-year-old Hauptmann Lothar Krantz, formerly camp entertainment officer at Auschwitz. “But his party is the Movement for Socialism. Movement for Socialism, Nationalism Socialism … Can’t we all just get along?”
Herr Krantz noted that in the 20th century, some 130 million people were slaughtered under the sign of the hammer and sickle. “We only managed six million Jews and a slack handful of gypsies and homosexuals,” he added. “Yet President Morales is running a country and we’re hiding in the jungle. Where’s the justice in that?”