The Holocaust Museum in Buenos Aires has obtained a recently discovered passport used by Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann when he entered Argentina under a false name in 1950.
The passport, issued by the International Committee of the Red Cross in the name of Riccardo Klement, was unearthed in May by a federal judge while going through old files. The document was included in a 1960 petition by Eichmann's wife, Veronica, for a court to investigate his disappearance. In the filing, she also disclosed Klement's true identity.
When she filed the petition, Veronica Eichmann didn't know her husband had been abducted by agents of Israel's Mossad secret service.
``This is the first document of a Nazi criminal that we have,'' said Graciela Jinich, 57, executive director of the Holocaust Museum in central Buenos Aires, which received the passport from Judge Maria Servini de Cubria on May 23.
A facsimile of the passport will be on view at the museum starting tomorrow.
The International Committee of the Red Cross's office in Buenos Aires said the document, which it describes as a ``temporary safe-conduct,'' was issued to Eichmann after he presented a false name and identity papers. The organization has never had the means to check the identity of applicants, the office said in an e-mailed statement.
The Red Cross has issued more than half a million such documents since 1945 to enable people without valid travel papers, including former prisoners of war and survivors of concentration camps, start a new life in another country, the statement said.
The faded beige document bears stamps showing it was issued in Genoa, Italy, on June 1, 1950. On the first of its eight pages there is a Red Cross seal, a fingerprint and a photo of Eichmann wearing round-rimmed spectacles.
According to the passport, Klement was born on May 23, 1913, in Bolzano, Italy. He sailed from Genoa on June 17, 1950, and disembarked in Buenos Aires 27 days later.
The Mossad smuggled Eichmann out of Argentina to Israel, where he was convicted of mass murder and executed on May 31, 1962. Eichmann was head of the Gestapo's Jewish Department, which sent millions to their death in Nazi concentration camps.
Eichmann was one of hundreds of Nazis who fled to Argentina after World War II, said Carlos De Napoli, a 56-year-old historian and author of the book ``Nazis in the South.'' Part of the country's appeal was a large community of Germans who had immigrated since the end of the 19th century, De Napoli said.
Angel of Death
Adolf Hitler had chosen Argentina's sparsely populated Patagonia region as a possible place for exile if he lost a power struggle with Ernst Rohm, head of the Nazi paramilitary group known as the Stormtroopers. In early 1934, Hitler sent aviator Hanna Reitsch to Argentina, where she arranged for 100,000 hectares (240,000 acres) of land to be at his disposal if needed, De Napoli said.
Among those who sought refuge in Argentina after the war was SS officer Erich Priebke, who lived in the mountain resort of Bariloche before being extradited to Italy in 1995. There he was tried and sentenced to life imprisonment for supervising a 1944 massacre of 335 men and boys.
Josef Mengele, a physician known as the Angel of Death who conducted experiments on inmates of the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland, also fled to Argentina. Mengele entered the country on June 20, 1949, using the name Gregor Helmut. He later lived in Paraguay and Brazil, where he died in 1979.
``Some of the Nazis entered the country with fake names on Red Cross passports, others paid for the right to enter,'' De Napoli said. ``There are still many Nazis in Argentine streets, it's impossible to calculate how many,'' he added.
Like other governments at the time, Argentina invited German scientists to immigrate and continue their research. Friedrich Bergius, a joint winner of the 1931 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, was among those who went to Argentina.
The Holocaust Museum, founded in 1994, has a permanent exhibition of photos, books, newspaper clippings and other objects, many donated by Holocaust survivors. Argentina has Latin America's largest Jewish population.
Outside the building, concrete posts prevent vehicles from reaching the sidewalk. The security measure is taken at most Jewish associations, synagogues and schools in Buenos Aires after the bombings of the Israeli Embassy and the city's main Jewish community center in the 1990s that killed a total of 107 people.
A facsimile of the false Eichmann passport will be on view at the Holocaust Museum, Montevideo 919, Ciudad de Buenos Aires starting tomorrow. Information: +54-11-4811-3588 or .