Ratlines were a system of escape routes for Nazis and other fascists fleeing Europe at the end of World War II.

Ratlines were a system of escape routes for Nazis and other fascists fleeing Europe at the end of World War II. These escape routes mainly led toward havens in South America, particularly Argentina, Paraguay, Brazil, Uruguay, Chile, and Bolivia. Other destinations included the United States, Great Britain, Canada and the Middle East. There were two primary routes: the first went from Germany to Spain, then Argentina; the second from Germany to Rome to Genoa, then South America; the two routes “developed independently” but eventually came together to collaborate.

The Italian and Argentine Ratlines have only been confirmed relatively recently, mainly due to research in recently declassified archives. Until the work of Aarons and Loftus, and of Uki Goñi (2002), a common view was that ex-Nazis themselves, organised in secret networks, ran the escape routes alone. The most famous such network is ODESSA  (Organisation der Ehemaligen SS-Angehörigen; “Organization of Former SS-Members”) network organized by Otto Skorzeny,  made famous by the Frederick Forsyth thriller “The Odessa File”, was run by the ODESSA

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