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uring the Second World War, Argentina was the Axis’ South American supporter. Although not part of the Axis, Argentina supported the Nationalistic regimes due to their historic ties to the countries, most notably Germany. As the war progressed, Argentina saw the rise and fall of Fascism in Europe and had a choice. Remain sympathetic to the Axis and risk the wrath of the Allies after they finish Germany and Japan off, or support the Allies in the invasion of their old friend. This choice was made in 1945.

Pressure from the US

The United States has always tried to control South America and their regimes. This was seen extensively during the Cold War through Operation Condor, starting in 1968, which sought to keep Soviet influence out of the continent. Even before the Red Scare, the US still sought to influence their ‘neighbors,’ something clearly seen in the case of Argentina at the time.

The US Navy ship West Virginia sinking after being hit by six torpedoes and two bombs during the attack on Pearl Harbour. Source: Wikicommons

The US saw Argentina as a threat as, since the beginning of the global conflict, the country leaned more towards the Axis rather than the Allies. This was further strengthened by the Argentine Anglophobia, a historic trait of the country. After the Pearl Harbour attack, these feelings became even more obvious. To establish “continent-wide resistance,” the US asked for all South American nations to join the Allies, a proposal that Argentina denied.

This resulted in an American embargo and blockade of the country in 1941. After this embargo, the political situation in Argentina went on to become unstable. Pro-Axis and pro-Allied factions fought for power within the government and for the support of the people. The Revolution of 1943 led to an Axis-leaning pro-neutrality government taking power, solidifying Argentina’s position as the only neutral country in Latin America regardless of the pressure from the US to openly support the Allies.

The liberation of Paris in 1944

The French capital of Paris was officially liberated on the 25 of August 1944. Many pro-Allied citizens of Argentina took to the streets to celebrate in support of the newly freed people of France. This celebration soon turned into protests as the people showed their support for the Allies. This placed much pressure on the Argentinian government. As 1945 dawned, and the Germans started to retreat en-masse, there was only one real choice left for the leader of the country.

Charles de Gaulle in front of the Champs Élysées on 25 August 1944. Source: Wikipedia Commons

On 27 March 1945, Argentina declared war on the Axis, ending its doctrine of ‘pro-Axis neutrality.’ Even though the country was technically at war with the Axis, the government continued to show minimal support to the Allies, although, throughout the war, around 4,000 Argentinians went on to serve in the British Armed forces.

Post-WWII, the Argentinian government, under the control of pro-Nazi president Juan Perón, allowed many German war criminals who sought refuge from the war tribunals of Europe to enter Argentina. This has led many people to theorize that Hitler might have escaped to Argentina, an unlikely theory that remains unproven to this day.

What we can say for certain is that Argentina was and probably still is home to some of the most despicable people on our planet that, due to the help of Perón, managed to escape the hand of justice.

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