Report tying Peron to Nazis going public after battle

BUENOS AIRES — A scathing report charging that the late popular President Juan Peron helped Nazis settle here is about to go public.

But the report, by the Jewish umbrella group DAIA, almost never saw the light of day because of alleged pressure to censor a key chapter.

The DAIA report — which also details the role of several other Argentine administrations in protecting former Nazi officials and blocking legal actions against them — will be released in a deal between the Jewish group, a team of researchers from a group known as the Witness Project and the project's independent board of supervisors.

The Witness Project was established after President Carlos Menem ordered all official files about former Nazis who sought refuge in Argentina after World War II to be made public.

DAIA received a full set of documents and set up a $2 million fund to support a team of researchers to examine the files. The Witness Project team was headed by Beatriz Gurevich. The research went on for two years.

All went well until March, when DAIA President Ruben Beraja met with Argentine Interior Minister Carlos Vladimiro Corach and presented him with a copy of the Witness Project's conclusions.

Corach, who is a close adviser to Menem, apparently did not like what he read. Corach specifically objected to a long chapter describing how Argentina consistently fought the deportation of suspected war criminals to Europe.

In the 50 years since the end of the war, Argentina only deported three people — Gerhard Bohne, Josef Schwammberger and Erich Priebke — while successive governments actively protected the likes of Josef Mengele and Adolf Eichmann.

This month, the government created a national committee to probe how many Nazi officials arrived in the country after World War II, the level of protection extended to them by local authorities and the transfer of Nazi gold to Buenos Aires.

After a long silence from all parties concerned, an agreement was reached this month to publish a two-volume book later this year. It will contain the critical chapter on deportations and Gurevich will receive full credit as head of the research team