Argentine Jewish MP proposes 'day of remembrance' for victims of the Nazis the country gave refuge to

Waldo Wolff's draft bill has secured the enthusiastic backing of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre


Argentina is considering declaring July 15 a ‘day of remembrance’ for the victims of the Nazi war criminals gave sanctuary to in the aftermath of the Second World War.

The draft law was proposed by Jewish parliamentarian Waldo Wolff and backed by the Simon Wiesenthal Centre.  

Argentina, Mr Wolff wrote in an accompanying justification for the proposal, hosted at least 180 individuals who were “suspected, accused, tried and/or sentenced" for war crimes in Europe after the Second World War. 

The country, then under the rule of Juan and Evita Peron, became a safe haven for war criminals escaping Europe.

Among those who emigrated to Argentina was Adolf Eichmann, one of the orchestrators of the Holocaust, Auschwitz doctor Josef Mengele and Eduard Roschmann, who is cited for the death of some 40,000 Jews in the Riga Ghetto.

July 15 has been proposed as it was the first full day that Mr Eichmann, who was later captured and taken Israel to face justice, spent in Argentina on his arrival in 1950.  

Mr Wolff wrote that Argentina’s “generous tradition of political asylum” had been used to “provide refuge for questionable characters, sometimes out of carelessness and other times through the deliberate actions of those seeking to protect individuals like Eichmann”.

The bill is sponsored by nine other Argentine MPs and would see July 15 becoming a day on which the Argentine government would be required to host educational and commemorative events.

The Simon Wiesenthal Centre gave its backing to the proposal in a video released on Wednesday.

Dr Shimon Samuels, its director of international relations, said: “The Wiesenthal Centre proudly sponsors this bill and hopes that such policy regarding antisemitism will be followed in other Latin American countries.”

“This is about justice, and not revenge,” added Dr Ariel Gelblung, the director of the Wiesenthal Centre in Latin America.

Argentine Holocaust survivor Monica Dawidowicz, who gave testimony, said: “It is very painful to know that while Nazis entered through an open door, Jews could do so only with false documents, illegally or through bribery.”

In 1938, Argentina instructed its diplomats abroad to refuse visa requests from Jews seeking to escape Europe. It adopted the IHRA definition of antisemitism in June.

Mr Wolff is an opposition Jewish MP with a controversial record both within the Jewish community and in wider Argentine politics.

A former footballer who played in both Argentina and Israel, he was previously the vice-president of the Delegation of Argentine Israelite Associations – Argentine Jews’ representative body.

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