The Nazi Question |

The Nazi Question

Aspen Times writer

It’s difficult to write about Bariloche these days – at least in The Aspen Times – without broaching the controversial issue of Nazis living there after World War II.I am particularly sensitive to the issue, because although I’m as Irish as Paddy’s pig, I am married to a Jew and have many Jewish friends and in-laws. So I decided to interview Nico Spagat, an Argentine member of Sister Cities who translated all the proclamations of Bariloche’s mayor and City Council publicly denouncing Nazism and discrimination against Jews.”This is a very, very touchy issue,” he said. “I lived in America as an adult for over 28 years … and I marched in the protests in Selma for someone else’s civil rights. So I understand both cultures … and I’m Jewish.”My family fled Germany during the war and America’s doors weren’t open to us. Argentina took us in.”Nico Spagat’s involvement in Sister Cities is simple. He wants to do good in his community and open the doors of communication between Bariloche and Aspen. With Doctors Mark Purnell and Scott Gallagher, he works to provide medical supplies and training to the very, very poor inhabitants of Bariloche’s barrios.For example, the Sister Cities organization is working to ship an old operating table that is due to be replaced at Aspen Valley Hospital to Bariloche. Also, according to Griff Smith, Bariloche doctors will be coming to Aspen Valley Hospital to receive training on medical procedures this fall.”I’m fighting for a syringe for a child who is dying and in dire need of medicine,” he said, with fire in his eyes. “And this controversy can stop our shipments of medical supplies and the good we do. My Jewishness has nothing to do with it.”When asked if he knew of Nazis living in Bariloche he replied, “I really don’t know if there were any Nazis here, but I do know that in my lifetime here, I have never felt any discrimination. I joined the Sister City effort because I believed in the program and what it can do for people in both countries.” Linda Lafferty

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