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Formation allegedly 1944
Type Network
Affiliations Stille Hilfe

The ODESSA, from the Nazi network set up towards the end of World War II by a group of SS officers. The purpose of the ODESSA was purportedly to establish and facilitate secret escape routes, later known as ratlines, to allow SS members to avoid capture and prosecution for war crimes and to escape to Latin America or the Middle East.

The existence of the organisation is a matter of dispute. Books by

  • Information on ODESSA — from the Jewish Virtual Library
  • "What's the True Story on South American Nazis?".  
  • (2002). “Mythos Odessa: Wahrheit oder Legende?” (German) (“The Myth of ODESSA: Truth or Legend?”)

External links

  • "A la caza del ultimo Nazi".  
  • Goñi, Uki (2002): The Real Odessa: Smuggling the Nazis to Perón’s Argentina. New York; London: Granta Books. ISBN 1-86207-581-6 (hardcover); ISBN 1-86207-552-2 (paperback, 2003)
  • Eric Frattini (2011): El Oro de Mefisto Madrid, Espasa Calpe. ISBN 978-84-670-3422-6
  • Infield, Glenn (1981) Secrets of the SS. New York: Stein and Day, ISBN 0-8128-2790-2
  • Lee, Martin A. (1997): The Beast Reawakens. Boston, MA: Little, Brown and Company. ISBN 0-316-51959-6
  • Manning, Paul (1980) Martin Bormann: Nazi in Exile. Lyle Stuart, Inc., ISBN 0-8184-0309-8, also available online
  • Sereny, Gitta (1974): Into That Darkness. From Mercy Killings to Mass Murder. Republished (1983) as Into That Darkness: An Examination of Conscience. New York: Vintage. ISBN 0-394-71035-5
  • Stahl, Daniel. "Odessa und das 'Nazigold' in Südamerika: Mythen und ihre Bedeutungen" ('Odessa and "Nazi Gold" in South America: Myths and Their Meanings') Jahrbuch fuer Geschichte Lateinamerikas (2011), Vol. 48, p333-360, says historians agree ODESSA did not exist
  • Wechsberg, Joseph (1967): The Murderers Among Us. New York: McGraw Hill. LCN 67-13204


  1. ^ Daniel Stahl, "Odessa und das 'Nazigold' in Südamerika: Mythen und ihre Bedeutungen" ('Odessa and "Nazi Gold" in South America: Myths and Their Meanings') Jahrbuch fuer Geschichte Lateinamerikas (2011), Vol. 48, pp 333-360.
  2. ^
  3. ^ Mysteryquest, Rise of the Fourth Reich (Season 1, Episode 6)
  4. ^ Gitta Sereny, Into That Darkness (Pimlico 1974), 274
  5. ^ Guy Walters, Hunting Evil p.215,Bantam Books, Transworld Publishers, London 2010
  6. ^ Wechsberg, The Murderers Among Us (New York, 1967), p. 80
  7. ^ a b Wechsberg, The Murderers, p. 82
  8. ^ Hannah Arendt (1963). Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil. New York: Viking. 
  9. ^ David Cesarini, Eichmann: His Life and Crimes (Vintage 2004); Peter Padfield: Himmler: Reichsfuhrer SS (Macmillan 1990)
  10. ^ Guy Walters (2010). Hunting Evil: The Nazi War Criminals Who Escaped and the Quest to Bring Them to Justice. Crown Publishing Group. pp. 139, 156. 
  11. ^ John Sutherland (2010). Bestsellers: Popular Fiction of the 1970s. Taylor & Francis. pp. 187–88. 
  12. ^ Gar Wilson (1986). Chip Off the Bloc. Worldwide. 
  13. ^ Eric Frattini (2008). The Entity: Five Centuries of Secret Vatican Espionage. St. Martin's Press. p. 392. 


See also

In 1000 Ways To Die, the segment "Master E-Rased" shows a Nazi soldier who survived WW2 and escaped to the USA thanks to ODESSA. He was shot in the head in the war and still had the bullet lodged inside his brain; when he hit his forehead during an argument with his wife, said bullet moved and hit a major artery, killing him.

It was mentioned in three Phoenix Force novels: Ultimate Terror (1984), The Twisted Cross (1986) and Terror In The Dark (1987).[12] It was also mentioned, sometimes in veiled terms, in Philip Kerr's 2006 novel, The One From the Other — one of Kerr's Bernie Gunther mysteries. Novelist Eric Frattini has emphasised his belief in ODESSA and incorporates elements in his novels, such as the 2010 thriller, The Mephisto's Gold.[13]

ODESSA is mentioned in the 1978 Robert Ludlum novel The Holcroft Covenant.

In the 1976 thriller novel by Ira Levin titled The Boys from Brazil, Dr. Josef Mengele, the concentration camp medical doctor who performed horrific experiments on camp victims during the Second World War, is involved in ODESSA. According to the young man, Mengele is activating the "Kameradenwerk" for a strange assignment: he is sending out six Nazis (former SS Officers) to kill 94 men, who share a few common traits. In the book the terms "Kameradenwerk" and "ODESSA" are used interchangeably.[11]

In the realm of fiction, the a film starring Jon Voight.) In the novel, Forsyth's ODESSA smuggled war criminals to South America, but also attempted to protect those SS members who remained behind in Germany, and plotted to influence political decisions in West Germany. Many of the novel's readers assume that ODESSA really existed.[10]

ODESSA in popular culture

Of particular importance in examining the postwar activities of high-ranking Nazis was Deutsche Hilfsverein..." (page 181). The ODESSA itself was incidental, says Manning, with the continuing existence of the Bormann Organisation a much larger and more menacing fact. None of this had yet been convincingly proven.

Sereny attributed the escape of SS members to postwar chaos and the inability of the Catholic Church, the Red Cross and the American military to verify the claims of people who came to them for help, rather than to the activities of an underground Nazi organisation. She identified a Vatican official, Bishop Aloïs Hudal, not former SS men, as the principal agent in helping Nazis leave Italy for South America.

In his interviews with Sereny, Stangl denied any knowledge of a group called the ODESSA. Recent biographies of Buenos Aires."[8] Notorious Auschwitz doctor Josef Mengele also escaped to South America.[9]

Nazi concentration camp supervisors denied the existence of the ODESSA. The US War Crimes Commission reports and the American [7]

This view is supported by historian Guy Walters in his book Hunting Evil, where he also points out that networks were used, but there was not such a thing as a setup network covering Europe and South America, with an alleged war treasure. For Walters, the reports received by the allied intelligence services during the mid-1940s suggest that the appellation "ODESSA" was "little more than a catch-all term use by former Nazis who wished to continue the fight."[5]

The prosecutors at the Ludwigsburg Central Authority for the Investigation into Nazi Crimes, who know precisely how the postwar lives of certain individuals now living in South America have been financed, have searched all their thousands of documents from beginning to end, but say they are totally unable to authenticate (the) 'Odessa.' Not that this matters greatly: there certainly were various kinds of Nazi aid organisations after the war — it would have been astonishing if there hadn't been.[4]

Long before the ZDF TV network, historian Gitta Sereny wrote in her 1974 book Into That Darkness, based on interviews with the former commandant of the Treblinka extermination camp, Franz Stangl (see References following), that the ODESSA had never existed. She wrote:

[3] According to



  • History 1
  • ODESSA in popular culture 2
  • See also 3
  • Notes 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

ODESSA is best known from its appearance in spy novels and fictional movies. [1]

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