The Ratline: Love, Lies and Justice on the Trail of a Nazi Fugitive
Dublin Festival of History 2020 presents Philippe Sands in conversation with Robert Gerwarth in partnership with Holocaust Education Trust Ireland.
As Governor of Galicia, SS Brigadeführer Otto Freiherr von Wächter presided over the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Jews and Poles, including the family of the author’s grandfather. By the time the war ended in May 1945, he was indicted for ‘mass murder’ but after the war, Wächter went on the run. He spent three years hiding in the Austrian Alps, assisted by his wife Charlotte, before making his way to Rome where he was helped by a Vatican bishop. While preparing to travel to Argentina on the ‘ratline’ he died unexpectedly, in July 1949. Philippe Sands offers a unique account of the daily life of a Nazi fugitive and his wife before and during the war, on the run, in Rome, and into the Cold War. Eventually the door is unlocked to a mystery that haunts Wächter’s youngest son, who continues to believe his father was a good man – what happened to Otto Wächter, and how did he die?
Philippe Sands is Professor of Law at UCL and a practising barrister. He has been involved in many important international cases in recent years, including Pinochet, Congo, Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Iraq, Guantanamo and the Rohingya. He is a contributor to the Financial Times, Guardian, New York Review of Books and Vanity Fair.
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