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Part I
The Repression

Nunca Más (Never Again) - Report of Conadep  - 1984



In statements made to the press in October 1981, the then Minister for the Interior Albano Jorge Harguindeguy denied that the government of the Military junta was involved in anti-Semitism, although he did admit that it was ’impossible to control all personnel [referring to the forces of repression] amongst whom there might be - as anywhere in the world - some sadistic or mentally ill Person’. (Crónica, 1.10. 8 1.)

According to the testimony of R. Peregrino Fernández, a Federal Police officer and one of Minister Harguindeguy’s advisers, it is known that:

Villar (Alberto, later Chief of Federal Police) and Veyra (Jorge Mario, Commander of the Federal Police) played the role of ideologues: they would recommend literature and comment on the works of Adolf Hitler and other Nazi and Fascist authors.

This ideology led to a particular brutality in the treatment of prisoners of Jewish origin. In La Perla SDC, Lillana Callizo (file No. 4413) could hear the screams of Levin when they hit and insulted him for being a Jew… Alejandra Ungaro (file No.2213) describes how after being beaten, especially on the back and head, ’They painted my body with swastikas using strong marker-pens.’ In El Atlético SDC, ’one of the military personnel who called himself ”the Great Führer” made the prisoners shout ”Heil Hitler!”, and at night they could frequently hear recordings of his speeches.’ (D. Barrera y Ferrando, file No. 6904.)

In the survey of Olimpo secret centre carried out by this Commission on 25 May 1984, witness Mario Villami (file No. 6821) pointed out the place where the operations room had been and said:

’I saw a swastika made of wallpaper on one wall.’

Admiration of and identification with Nazism also emerges from. other testimonies:

’When they were beating us up they would say, ”We’re the Gestapo!”’ (Jorge Reyes, 1st Regiment, Patricios SDC, file No. 2563.)

This admiration could be a reason for increasing punishment, as in the case of Elena Alfaro (file No.3048), held in El Vesubio, secret detention centre:

If life in the camp for any prisoner was a nightmare, the situation was even worse for Jews. They were the victims of constant beatings and other acts of aggression, to such an extent that many preferred to hide their origin, saying, for instance, that they were Polish Catholics.

Alternatively, this admiration could also be a motive for alleviation of the victims’ suffering, as occurred with Rubén Schell (file No. 2825), who was held prisoner in the Pozo de Quilmes secret detention centre and who, because of his obvious German descent, received better treatment. After a long session of torture, ’Coco’ or ’the Colonel’ said to him while questioning him: ’Listen, Flaco, what are you doing amongst this common scum? With looks like your’s you should be an SS. He showed him a swastika he had tattooed on his arm, giving orders that from then on Schell was to be well fed. ’From that day on I was no longer tortured,’ adds Schell.

Anti-Semitism was presented as a component of a deformed version of what’being Christian’ or’religious’ signified. This was nothing other than a cover for political and ideological persecution. The defence of God and of Christian values was a simple ideological motivation which could be understood by the agents of repression, even at their lowest organizational and cultural levels, This necessary identification was made to instill a ’fighting spirit’ in all personnel involved in repression and to give them an objective which would relieve their consciences, removing the obligation to examine the causes and real ends for which they were persecuting and punishing not only a minority of terrorists but also people of different political, social, religious, economic and cultural backgrounds.

In the raid on the home of Eduardo Alberto Cora (file No.1955), abducted together with his wife, ’after destroying everything they found, the raiders wrote on the wall the words ”Long live Christ the King” and ”Christ saves”.’ Some raids and operations were carried out with the battle-cry ’For God and Countryl’

The agents of repression thought of themselves as having the power of life and death over each prisoner: ’When the victims besought God, the guards would reply with an irrational Messianism: ”Here, we are God. ” ’ (Jorge Reyes, file No. 2563.)

Prisoner Nora Iadarola (file No. 1471) was made to repeat 500 times, 

’Long live Videla, Massera and Agosti; God, Home and Country!’

Anti-Semitism came to be yet another manifestation of the repressive groups. within the totalitarian vision of society held by the ruling regime. Nora Stejilevich (file No. 2535) was just finishing packing for a trip to Israel, when a group of people entered her home looking for her brother Gerardo. She was travelling with some professional people to work on a project. That day, 16 July 1977, after searching the whole house, removing books and papers and seeing that the person they wanted was not there, they took Nora.

They threatened me for having uttered Jewish words in the street (my surname) and for being a bloody Yid, whom they would make soap out of me.

They took me straight away to the torture room where I was subjected to the electric prod ...

They kept asking me for the names of the people travelling with me to Israel ... they centred the interrogation around Jewish matters. One of them could speak Hebrew, or at least a few words which he could place in the correct order in a sentence. He tried to find out if there was any military training in the kibbutzim. They asked for a physical description of the organizers of the study tours, like the one I was on (Sherut Laam), a description of the building of the Jewish Agency (which I knew very well), etc. They assured me that they were primarily concerned with ’the problem of subversion’ but the ’Jewish problem’ was second in importance and they were gathering information for their files ...

During the interrogation session I could hear the screams of my brother and his girlfriend, Graciela Barroca, whose voices I could make out perfectly. In addition the torturers referred to a scar which both of us - my brother and I - have on our backs, which confirmed his presence there. I never heard of him again.

Days later, they told me my arrest had been a mistake, but not to forget that I had been there.

Juan Ramón Nazar (file No. 1557), ex-editor of the newspaper La Opinión of Trenque Lauquén, states with regard to one of the interrogation sessions to which he was subjected:

The attitude of these people was strongly anti-Semitic. They asked me if I was familiar with the ’Plan Andina’, whereby Israel was to take over part of Patagonia.

Miriam Lewin de Garcfa (file No. 2365), secretly held in air force premises, said that:

The general attitude was of deep-rooted anti-Semitism. On one occasion they asked me if I understood Yiddish. I replied that I did not, that I only knew a few words. They nevertheless made me listen to a cassette they had obtained by tapping telephones. The speakers were apparently Argentine businessmen of Jewish origin, talking in Yiddish. My captors were most interested in finding out what the conversation was about ...

They collected the information obtained in files, including in them the names and addresses of people of Jewish origin, plans of synagogues, sports clubs, businesses, etc....

The only good Jew is a dead Jew, the guards would say.

Daniel Eduardo Ferndndez (file No. 1131) was a nineteenyear-old youth in August 1977 and has the unwelcome privilege of having survived the Club Atlético SDC. From this unforgettable experience he recalls that during the interrogation sessions:

They continually went on at me as to whether I knew any Jewish people, friends, shopkeepers, anybody, as long as they were of Jewish origin.

There was a torturer there they called ’Kung-Fu’, who would practise martial arts on three or four people at a time - they would always be prisoners of Jewish origin - who were kicked and punched.

Jews were punished simply because they were Jewish. They would be told that the DAIA (an Argentine Jewish organization) and international Zionism subsidized subversion, and that the organization of the pozos was financed by ODESSA (an international group which supports Nazism) ... 

All kinds of torture would be applied to Jews, especially one which was extremely sadistic and cruel: ’the rectoscope’, which consisted of inserting a tube into the victim’s  anus, or into a woman’s vagina, then letting a rat into the tube. The rodent would try to get out by gnawing at the victim’s internal organs.

In the same centre of torture and extermination, Pedro Miguel Vanrell (file No. 1132) confirms that Jews were made to raise their hand and shout, ’I love Hitlerl’

The torturers would laugh, take the prisoners, clothes off and paint swastikas on their backs with spray paint. Afterwards the rest of the prisoners would see them in the showers, occasions on which the guards - pointing them out - would again beat them up and abuse them.

Vanrell remembers the case of a Jew nicknamed ’Chango’, whom the guard would take out of his cell and force into the yard.

He would make him wag his tail, bark like a dog, lick his boots. It was impressive how well he dit it, he imitated a dog as if he really were one, because if he didn’t satisfy the guard, he would carry on beating him ...

Later he would change and make him be a cat ... 

There, ’Julián the Turk’ always carried a key-ring with a swastika and wore a crucifix round his neck. This character would take money from the relatives of Jewish prisoners.




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