On June 6, 1947, Argentina's first lady Eva Peron left for a glittering tour of Europe.
The glamorous ex-actress was feted in Spain, kissed the ring of Pope Pius XII at the Vatican and hobnobbed with the rich-and-famous in the mountains of Switzerland.
Eva Peron, known as "Evita" by her adoring followers, was superficially on a trip to strengthen diplomatic, business and cultural ties between Argentina and important leaders of Europe.
But there was a parallel mission behind the high-profile trip, one that has contributed to a half century of violent extremism in Latin America.
According to records now emerging from Swiss archives and the investigations of Nazi hunters, an unpublicized side of Evita's world tour was coordinating the network for helping Nazis relocate in Argentina.
This new evidence of Evita's cozy ties with prominent Nazis corroborates the long-held suspicion that she and her husband, Gen. Juan Peron, laid the groundwork for a bloody resurgence of fascism across Latin America in the 1970s and '80s.
Besides blemishing the Evita legend, the evidence threatens to inflict more damage on Switzerland's image for plucky neutrality. The international banking center is still staggering from disclosures about its wartime collaboration with Adolf Hitler and Swiss profiteering off his Jewish victims.
The archival records indicate that Switzerland's assistance to Hitler's henchmen didn't stop with the collapse of the Third Reich. (more...)