As Governor of Galicia, SS Brigadesführer Otto Freiherr von Wächter presided over an authority on whose territory hundreds of thousands of Jews and Poles were killed. By the time the war ended in May 1945, he was indicted for ‘mass murder’. Hunted by the Soviets, the Americans and the British, as well as groups of Poles and Jews, Wächter went on the run. He spent three years hiding in the Austrian Alps before making his way to Rome and being taken in by the Vatican where he remained for three months. While preparing to travel to Argentina on the ‘ratline’ he died unexpectedly, in July 1949, a few days after having lunch with an ‘old comrade’ whom he suspected of having been recruited by the Americans. Here, Philippe Sands offers a unique account of the daily life of a Nazi fugitive, the love between Wächter and his wife Charlotte, who continued to write regularly to each other while he was on the run.
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THE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER
‘Hypnotic, shocking and unputdownable’ JOHN LE CARRÉ
‘Remarkable’ THE SUNDAY TIMES
‘Breathtaking, gripping, shattering’ ELIF SHAFAK
‘A taut and finely crafted factual thriller’ OBSERVER
‘A triumph of research and brilliant storytelling’ ANTONY BEEVOR
‘Extraordinary’ EVENING STANDARD
In this riveting real-life thriller, Philippe Sands offers a unique account of the daily life of senior Nazi SS Brigadeführer Otto Freiherr von Wächter and his wife, Charlotte. Drawing on a remarkable archive of family letters and diaries, he unveils a fascinating insight into life before and during the war, as a fugitive on the run in the Alps and then 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 while he was preparing to travel to Argentina on the ‘ratline’, assisted by a Vatican bishop, and what was the explanation for his sudden and unexpected death?
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