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Bariloche’s true nature

Aspen Times writer

Dear Editor:

Merriam-Webster defines the term “stronghold” as “a place dominated by a particular group or marked by a particular characteristic.” The city of Bariloche has a population of 100,000. The Wiesenthal Center states Priebke, Schwammberger, Lantschener and probably(?) the infamous Dr. Mengele were residents of this city. To suggest that Bariloche is therefore a “stronghold” of Nazism and to claim these Nazi thugs are pillars of Bariloche’s community seems rather far-fetched to me. The vast majority of Bariloche did not know, prior to 1994, about the Nazi past of these people.

Bariloche is more than 1,000 miles apart from the next big cities. Contrary to colonization in the rest of Argentina or even the United States, Bariloche was colonized by people coming from all over Europe in ratios resulting in many important minorities and in no sweeping majority, creating a culture that is very open-minded, tolerant and with a component of being sport- and nature-loving, as many other mountain towns around the world.

In Bariloche, we celebrate every year the Fiesta de las Colectividades, a festivity in which more than 12 ethnicities are celebrated. Only after living for years in Europe, I experienced that all those collectivities I always took for granted could live in harmony, were still entangled in rage and hate in other parts of the world. In Bariloche, I knew Basques and Spanish, Serbs and Croats, Germans and Jews, and honestly, I never experienced or heard of any kind of confrontation between country of origin or religion.

On top of all this, one very important fact goes unaccounted by your report: In 1994, as soon as the Nazi past of Erich Priebke became known, and again, on April 2, 2004, the City Council of Bariloche, through the declaration Nr 216, Nazism was strongly condemned, solidarity with the families of the victims of the Ardeatine Caves was stated, and respect of human rights was expressed as our highest value according to our Jewish-Christian culture.

We live in a world that is not fair and has a very complex and dark history. I understand that after World War II, the United States brought over 1,600 Nazi scientists to the United States to work for the Pentagon, among them Wernher von Braun (Linda Hunt, “U.S. Cover-up of Nazi Scientists,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, April 1985). I guess it’s not very popular to shed a light on these issues and so it’s easier to put the finger on others to blame.

If in the United States, the Nazi past of a person would be unveiled, is it not possible that a few of his closest friends would try to diminish the relevance of his past? But, shall the media and we all give that much importance to them? Well, it does sell, doesn’t it?

It is up to us to make the world a fairer place.

[From] an Argentine resident of California, who has deeply enjoyed skiing in the beautiful aspen woods last Christmas season.

Valeria Rueegg

California


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