Aspen to keep sister city connection with Bariloche |

Aspen to keep sister city connection with Bariloche

Bariloche, Argentina, will remain Aspen’s sister city despite its former Nazi ties. The decision was made at a meeting between Aspen sister city officials and representatives of Aspen’s Jewish community last week.

Officials with the sister city program called the decision “a positive move forward” and pledged to implement programs in the community to promote tolerance.

The decision came during a second closed-door meeting between Mayor Helen Klanderud, sister city representatives Griff Smith and Don Sheeley, and approximately eight members of the Jewish community at The Aspen Institute. The two invitation-only discussions centered around how to respond to news that the Andean resort was a haven for high-ranking Nazis for years following World War II.

After nearly three hours of discussion, the group decided to maintain Aspen’s relationship with Bariloche, but promote educational programs on tolerance and diversity.

“After extensive discussion, [the meeting attendees] decided that they hoped this might lead to a broader dialogue,” Klanderud said. “We are looking to other organizations in the community to promote this dialogue.”

Klanderud said it hasn’t been decided what organizations will be contacted, but that both The Aspen Institute and Aspen’s school district are possible candidates.

A Jewish resident who spoke on condition of anonymity said a contentious issue at the meeting was a letter sent from Bariloche’s mayor to Aspen’s Jewish community. Some Aspen Jews felt the letter did not provide a satisfactory explanation of Bariloche’s past.

“A lot of people didn’t find the letter satisfactory. But outside of putting a tolerance museum in the middle of Bariloche, it’s tough to find something satisfactory,” the attendee said. “We felt that maintaining our relationship with the town would help Bariloche heal its past and move on.

“We also hoped the discussion would make us look inward and address issues of tolerance here in Aspen.”

Eben Harrell’s e-mail address is

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