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Nazis on the Run: How Hitler's Henchmen Fled Justice Hardcover – June 9, 2011

3.8 out of 5 stars 65 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Gerald Steinacher's 'Nazis auf der Flucht' offers a well-researched, deeply engaging, and exhaustive analysis of escape routes of high-ranking Nazis and war criminals via Italy to Argentina and other overseas destinations. It makes an important contribution to our understanding of Nazi escape routes, for it not only demystifies the Odessa myth, but also sheds light on the complicity of influential organizations such as the Catholic Curch, the International Red Cross, and the U.S. and Argentinean governments. Natalie Eppelsheimer, German Studies Review Coming now and in the next few weeks are at least two important new works of nonfiction about the Nazis besides Larson's, from Austrian historian Gerald Steinacher and British historian Frederick Taylor. Philipp Kerr, Washington Post Steinacher uses an array of records including recently declassified US intelligence files, various official Italian and German archives, the archives of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Geneva, Catholic Church records from the National Catholic Welfare Conference and from the Instituto Santa Maria dell'Anima (the German/Austrian Church in Rome), and a host of local records from South Tyrolean towns. The result is a fine study and a great read. Norman W. Goda, The International History Review Gerald Steinacher describes exactly how they managed this in "Nazis on the Run"-only the second authoritative book on the subject, after Uki Goni's "The Real Odessa" (2002). Philip Kerr, Wall Street Journal Steinacher offers much new information Robert Knight, Times Literary Supplement a well-written book that is packed with startling information and grubby stories about the moral cost of political exigency. David Cesarnani New Statesman In this murky world of hidden identities, deception and secrets, it is good to have a book as level-headed as this one, based on thorough research. Richard J. Evans, The Guardian This book will be the standard for generations of historians who wish to study the fate of Hitler's followers who evaded justice for decades or escaped it altogether. Recommended. Library Journal

About the Author

Gerald Steinacher is currently a Joseph A. Schumpeter Research Fellow at the Center for European Studies at Harvard University and Lecturer on Contemporary History at the University of Innsbruck, Austria.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; First Edition edition (June 9, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199576866
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199576869
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 1.4 x 6.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (65 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,286,916 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By R. Murphy VINE VOICE on June 10, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I was extremely interested in reading Nazis On The Run as soon as I looked at the description. This looked like a spotlight on a fascinating and often overlooked area of history, like many other wonderful histories that I've read before. Where my difficulty stems from is that this book (which, in all fairness, is from the Oxford University Press) has its origins in an academic thesis, and is simply incapable of stepping far enough away from its roots to be a mainstream read. There are many, many wonderful books that I've read that are descendents of academic work (just off the top of my head: "Predictably Irrational," "Sperm Wars," "Little Red Riding Hood Uncloaked" -- all of which I recommend!), but a mainstream non-fiction book simply cannot be presented like a thesis and be an enjoyable read. If this book is intended to exist solely as an academic text and resource, then frankly it is being marketed really poorly.

Nazis On The Run is extremely dry, relies on the reader having a very thorough understanding of the historical landscape, has a breakdown that is extremely useful for academic reference but is horrendously boring for the armchair historian, and boils an exciting topic into a rather dull lecture.

Let me state unequivocally: This is excellent research. It is poor non-fiction. The difference between those two is entirely in style and delivery, so I am making no aspersions at all to Steinacher's academic work and achievement -- only to his ability to present difficult and nuanced information in a way that engages, entertains, and informs the lay reader.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Eight years after drafting the policy that murdered Anne Frank and millions of others, it was Adolf Eichmann's turn to hide in the attic. A fellow ex-SS man in Innsbruck took one look at the architect of the Final Solution and told him to get out of his house. Another member of the network ferrying fugitive Nazis let him in, but now French police were on the prowl. Justice was about to call.

Then Eichmann found salvation of a kind - from a priest. The priest, who Eichmann noted with amusement had helped Jews during the war, now gave Eichmann wine, a needed change of clothes, and passage across the Brenner Pass. Why was this servant of a God Eichmann didn't believe in helping the criminal go free? And why were so many others - the Catholic Church, the U.S. government, the Red Cross - doing the same? How and why are the subjects of this new book.

As author Gerald Steinacher puts it, a concatenation of reasons shaped what became an escape trail, or "ratline," from Italian South Tyrol (where ethnic Germans often sympathized with the Third Reich) to distant points of refuge like Argentina, where President Juan Perón welcomed them without questions. Perón wanted the technical expertise, while high officials in the Red Cross, Vatican, and Washington D.C. placed a high value on what they called "anticommunists."

"The story of the U.S. ratline and the turncoat agents it ferried to freedom is one of expediency and hypocrisy justified by the advent of the Cold War," Steinacher writes. "For some Nazis, SS men, and collaborators, it proved to be a salvation, for others, merely a temporary respite from eventual justice."

"Nazis On The Run" is painful reading on two counts.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
How the Nazi's fled Germany is an intriguing story--it's something that's interested me for a while, as both fodder for outrageous fictional stories, as well as a true-life account of corruption and the continuation of evil. That someone has written a concise history of their flight is great news for people interested in the subject.

The problem, however, is that Gerald Steinacher's NAZIS ON THE RUN is rather painful to read. He admits it started as a thesis; though he cut it, it still reads that way. With a story this complex, with so many details to be handled, it helps to create flow, tension, etc. Steinacher doesn't bother with this, which creates a book that is interesting but (dare I say it) boring. Certainly historians will enjoy this book, and won't mind the dull read; but people with a casual interest in the subject had better look elsewhere (though I'm not sure there IS anywhere else to look as of yet). Perhaps your best bet is to give it a try yourself--if you can wade through the jargon-heavy, non-user-friendly prose, there is a lot of intriguing, thought-provoking information to be gleaned from this book.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The fact that thousands of Nazi criminals and their accomplices fled justice and were never caught has been known for many years. To give just one example, one of them, Eugen Dollmann, who belonged to the infamous SS, remained hidden under the protection of Cardinal Schuster in Italy, whence he wrote in his memoirs that "after successfully escaping from an Allied prisoner-of-war camp 'I had battled adventurously all the way to Milan. Shortly afterwards, scruffy and wrapped in an old English office's coat, I stood facing Cardinal Schuster. The cardinal smiled gently: 'You don't need to say anything ,Dr Dollmann. Over the past few years you have done a great deal for the Church. Now the Church will do something for you'....The Church did something for me. It sheltered me..."
Dollmann was not alone benefiting from the hospitality of the Catholic church. He was just one of the many Nazi criminals who were hidden by the Vatican and in Italy, and many of these made their way to a safe haven, mainly to South America, some to the Middle East, where they were welcome in Lebanon or Syria.
Most of this fascinating book is devoted to Italy, since that country was to become an all-important highway for war criminals on their way to overseas destinations. Escape routes through Italy started functioning in 1946 and the majority of Nazis fleeing from Europe passed through Italian harbours on their journey abroad. The German-speaking population of South Tyrol was the one which was to play an essential role in aiding the fugitives. This is precisely one of the main themes on which the author zeroes in. He describes the bonds of the ethno-nationalism of the Tyroleans with the other Germans, and the book highlights how the set of conditions facilitated the emergence of an escape hatch in South Tyrol.
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