Eascape to Argentina

A declassified document of the National Navy, dated 22 May 1945, reveals the presence of German submarines in Argentine jurisdictional waters almost two weeks after Germany had surrendered.

A secret communication sent to the Navy Minister, Rear Admiral Alberto Teisaire, by Vice Admiral Héctor Vernengo Lima, chief of the General Staff, asserts that, according to the data contributed by the Ministry of Foreign Relations, the presence of Nazi submarines in the South Atlantic was verified.

The document says:

"Your Excellency.

According to information from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the presence of German submarines in South Atlantic waters, which would try to reach Japanese waters, would have been confirmed. This General Staff considers that the Commander-in-Chief of the Sea Squadron should be ordered to avoid the passage of German submarines from the Atlantic to the Pacific, establishing a suitable patrol on the South end until further notice".

t was never really known whether these submarines were going to Japan or Patagonia. In addition, although the naval control operation suggested by Vernengo Lima was established, it was discontinued in June of that year.

Seven days after the cessation of controls, on 27 June, a couple were reported to have landed from a submarine, with a rubber boat, near the town of Stroeder, south of Buenos Aires, where there was an important colony that was settled by German

This is stated by a report of the provincial police that was forwarded to Federal Co-ordination. The document says that both were received by a German who transported them on a sailboat to a farm located near the town of Veronica.

On 18 July 1945, in the Patagonian Gulf of San Matías, the torpedo boat 'Mendoza' -of the Argentine navy- sighted a submarine periscope in front of an area known as El Fuerte, which is located south of Las
Caves, in the province of Río Negro, almost one hundred kilometers from San Antonio Oeste.

According to official documents declassified, the warship, which was later supported by another ship, chased and attacked the submersible, with several depth bombs. The follow-up lasted a few hours, until nightfall, and a total of eight depth charges were shed. After the attack, oil stains appeared, although it is not known whether they were the result of having hit the target or the result of a classic trick, to throw lubricants and other elements to the surface, in order to make the attackers believe that they had been able to sink the submarine.

Three days after the attack came the official order "to lift patrol of the coasts", directed to all the ships of the national navy that participated in the search of Nazi submarines.

After the "patrol of the coasts" had been lifted, submarine sightings were observed in the Buenos Aires localities of Copetonas, Claromecó and Necochea, on  23, 24 and 29 July respectively, according to the Argentine naval period documentation.

The archive evidence does not suggest that it would have been particularly difficult to escape unnoticed in Argentina

Recently the Argentine naval archive and also the Police archive declassified documents relating to the submarine U-977 and two other U-Boats which allegedly unloaded close to Necochea, Buenos Aires province, on the night of 27 July 1945.

The Lahusen organisation had a network of shops, warehouses and ranches throughout Patagonia and ran the espionage network in Argentina.

The police reports -and the police knew all about what was going on- describe at length the evidence of how two submarines unloaded into lorries drawn up on the beach, after which the lorries then drove into a nearby Lahusen ranch. A carload of plain-clothes police arrived next day and entered the property to question the occupants. They were then "violently ejected" by four Germans brandishing machine pistols.

After consideration the police authority at La Plata ordered the enquiry to be called off since no obvious crime had been committed, and it was perfectly normal in Argentina for heavily armed Germans to eject the police by force from their premises.

According to documents from the Argentina Navy that were revealed by the newspaper "La Nacion" in 1997, on 25 July 1945 sightings of a submarine off the coast of Claromecó were recorded.

Similar documents reveal a series of similar sightings in those days in the area of Necochea, San Clemente del Tuyú and Balneario Reta.

Declassified Argentine police reports, supported by depositions from three former 'Graf Spee' crew members to the CEANA Board of Enquiry into Nazi Activities in Argentina, state that one or two U-Boats unloaded at Piedra Negra beach east of Necochea on the night of 27 July 1945.

Three former 'Admiral Graf Spee' crew members, Alfred Schultz, Walter Dettelmann and Willi Brennecke gave sworn depositions to CEANA [Congressional Committee for the Investigation of Nazi Activities in Argentina] that "between 23 and 29 July 1945 they assisted at the unloading of passengers and cargo from two German U-Boats on the Argentine coast".

The stenographic record of their evidence seems to have been lost, but a synopsis of it appears in the CEANA Chronicle confirming its existence.

Ronald Newton was a member of the CEANA Investigation and produced material in his book "El Cuarto Lado del Triangulo" [BsAs 1996] to the effect that "following a denunciation at Necochea at 1800 hr on 27 July 1945, a search was made of the beaches and a man of German origin who admitted signalling by lamp to a U-Boat offshore, which was preparing to disembark, was arrested by a patrol".

Newton continued:

"At first light on 28 July 1945 a search was made along the coast either side of Necochea and at midday, about 15 kms towards Mar del Plata, evidence was found of launches and rubber dinghies having been hauled up the sands, the impressions of heavy crates and boxes being off-loaded at an assembly point where there were tyre-tracks of several lorries. The tyre tracks were followed to the gates of a large Lahusen farm set back from the beach and screened by much vegetation".

The Lahusen organisation had been run by a family from Bremen since at least the turn of the century. It was operated from seven floors of offices in the centre of Buenos Aires, owned 100,000 hectares of land in Patagonia and adjacent regions, had a store in nearly every village and employed staff numbering tens of thousands. Although alleged to be the operational centre for all Nazi espionage activity in Argentina, the Commission of Enquiry into Enemy Property created by the Argentine Government following the declaration of war in early 1945 decided not to investigate the company.

Newton's report continues:

"The police patrol entered the driveway of the estate and drove for two kilometres before being stopped and violently ejected by four Germans armed with sub machine-guns. Upon receiving the report, the Provincial Chief of Police at La Plata ordered the Necochea officers to abandon their enquiry".

Alain Pujol was a member of the French Deuxieme Bureau who made an exhaustive study into Nazi assets overseas. His investigation included interrogations of the three 'Admiral Graf Spee' crewmen mentioned above. He reported that numerous cases bearing the stencil "Geheime Reichssache" were shipped by Ernst Kaltenbrunner from Schleswig Holstein to a Lahusen ranch at San Clemente del Tuyu [on coast NE of Mar del Plata].

They were brought there in five lorries owned by a potato farmer at Balcarce [50 kms inland from Mar del Plata] These five lorries had assisted at the unloading of two U-Boats on the Argentine coast during the night of 28 July 1945. Pujol stated that in his opinion the cargo was "the treasure of the RSHA" valued at one thousand million dollars.

The two U-Boats sailed from Kiel in April 1945 together with U-977. Newly declassified Argentine and Brazilian archive material presents a different picture from the accredited official historical record.

Russian Marshal Zhukov alleged in June 1945 that a large U-Boat left Hamburg at the end of April 1945 with a woman aboard: Argentine sources report a large U-Boat unloading on Necochea beach 28 July 1945 had a female aboard.

If Hitler had come down in one of the U-Boats to this location, he would never have been seen between his arrival at the Necochea ranch, and his transfer [when the dust had settled] to the supposed exile locality near San Carlos de Bariloche. The German influence in that region was very powerful even postwar, and Reich gold spoke volumes.

The U-Boats most likely  unloaded top secret military-technical equipment to Argentina.

Recently declassified documents at the Argentine Naval Archive show that Heinz Schäffer's book about him being 66-days submerged on the Schnorchel was fiction.

U-977 was within fifty miles of the Brazilian cruiser 'Bahia' when she blew up on 4 July 1945. This was on the Equator.

For this reason, and because the Argentine authorities wished to disguise their knowledge of Heinz Schäffer's true activities off the Argentine coast, they got their heads together with him and invented the 66-day slow voyage which put him so far north on 4 July 1945 that (a) he could not have torpedoed the "Bahia" - something of which he was suspected at the time - and (b) he could not have been sailing as scout-boat for the two cargo U-Boats off the Patagonian coast in mid-July 1945. The two transport U-Boats had been attacked by the Brazilian warship "Babitonga" on 18 July 1945 and behaved in a strange manner, as the documents show.

As now appears to be the case, the 'Bahia' was sunk by crew negligence - during AA practice a volley was fired into the depth charges stored on the poop deck and the stern was blown off, resulting in the loss of the ship and most of the crew.

Only one officer of ther "Bahia" survived, and his detailed report has been adopted by the Brazilian and US Navies as accurate. This officer was Eng-Lt Torres Dias [Report quoted in Almirante Saldanha da Gama, 'A Tragedia do Bahia', "Historia Naval Braileira", Vol 5, Band II, Servicio de Documentacao Geral da Marinha, Rio de Janeiro 1985]

The salient circumstances are as follows: The 'Bahia' carried a stack of depth charges on the poop deck. She had seven 20mm Oerlikons. These weapons had a free field of fire because the blocking wedges had all been removed. At 0900 the cruiser was stopped in the water in order to launch a target float to exercise the Oerlikons. When the float was the required distance off, the commander rang down for "slow ahead". This was at 0910 hrs. At that moment No 7 Oerlikon commenced firing, and the fifth round was fired into the depth charges, blowing off the stern of the ship and spreading a terrible fire through the superstructure.

For ten minutes prior to the explosion, 'Bahia' was an anti-submarine vessel stationary in the water with her engines stopped. It would not be possible for a U-Boat to have manouevred into position and fired standard torpedoes and for nothing to have been detected. A U-Boat commander would not have used the more silent acoustic torpedo against a target making no noise.

For the foregoing reasons it seems certain that 'Bahia' was sunk due to the negligence of commander and crew.

It is believed, U-977 was involved in shielding an unloading operation along the southern coast of Buenos Aires Province. When she surrendered at Mar del Plata on 17 August 1945, U-977 had a large amount of fuel aboard, depth charge damage, and had been repainted. A submerged object, identified by hydrophones, was followed and depth charged by the Argentine torpedo boat 'Mendoza" near San Antonio del Oeste on 18 July 1945, where some people saw a man and a woman had disembarked from a submarine.

This was almost certainly  U-977. The attack was called off abruptly for unknown reasons. Understandably Schäffer is silent on the depth-charging he received, after which somebody, somewhere, helped him repair his sub.

None of this is mentioned in Schäffer's 1955 work

"Fantastic Voyage" of the U-977

On 25 May  1945, while people were celebrating the end of World War II in Europe, a long, slender gray submarine cleaved the waters of the Atlantic, heading south on a mission that is still debated, even today. She was Unterseeboot U-977, with Korvetenkapitän Heinz Schäffer commanding, and this is the story of her strange final cruise.

On 26 April 1945, the U-977 finished her war patrol and put in at the German U-Boat base at Christiansund in Norway.

German submarine U-2511 was a Type XXI U-Boat under the command of Korvettenkapitän Adalbert Schnee

After training with 31. Unterseebootsflottille, U-2511 was transferred to 11. Unterseebootsflottille at Bergen, Norway, for front-line service on 15 March 1945.

According to the commander of U-977, Heinz Schäffer, Captain Schnee was in port in Denmark taking on stores when he started bragging about the wonders of the boat. After an extended period, Cpt. Schäffer lost his temper and bet him a cask of champagne that he would reach Norway before Schnee. The bet was taken, Schnee believing that he would win easily. On the way to Norway, U-977 was having trouble with their Schnorchel while dived: the exhaust from the Diesels kept filtering into the rest of the boat, the Schnorchel head would shut as it dipped beneath the waves, and all the air would be sucked out of the boat. So the captain ordered the boat to surface. After airing it out, Schäffer decided to continue to Norway on the surface. His reasoning was that no U-boats had been seen on the surface in those waters in some time, and he doubted the Allies would strain themselves carrying out extra checks now that the war was basically over.

He beat Schnee by two days.

Captain Schäffer recalled:

"I won my champagne because neither of the other U-boats arrived till the 27th. We were now ready for operations. I bivouacked with all my crew on a mountain slope. We had lit a log fire and the flames blazed scarlet against the sky, the sparkling stars and the shimmering sea. We lay in a circle around the fire, forty-eight of us in all, talking of the troubled days in our own country and the fate of our families and friends.

"A few day's ago, my engineer had learned of his father's death. He had lost an arm in the First World War only to be killed serving with the Volkssturm in the Second. Germany, the mighty nation of only three years ago, was now defeated and broken, with foreign (Allied) troops pouring over her countryside".

U-977 was scheduled to return to sea on 2 May 1945. Grossadmiral Karl von Dönitz had succeeded Adolf Hitler as Führer of the Third Reich, and, Schäffer recalled:

"Everyone said he would carry on the war from Norway. Dönitz ordered the U-977 to infiltrate the harbor in Southampton [UK] and sink as much enemy shipping as he could".

Four days later, on 6 May 1945, almost on the eve of the German surrender, the U-Boat's periscope collapsed, and Schäffer turned back.

How could they navigate blindly for 66 days?

Schäffer writes in his book the following:

"A few days after we had sailed our main periscope collapsed. This was serious, as we now had no choice but to use the Snort, and with the Snort we had to travel blind. [...] True, we carried a reserve periscope, but that did not help us out as it was a short type, designed only for use when we attacked at night or in the twilight. The glass was a special one and through it we could only see what lay directly on top of us".

On 7 May, he received a radio message from Dönitz's headquarters, advising all German U-Boats to surrender.

"We didn't pick up the speaker's name because the aerial attached to our Snort [Schnorchel] broke before we got so far. Who was it who had been speaking? Certainly not von Dönitz, after all his fine words? No, it was probably an enemy trap...

"Next day [8 May 1945--VE Day] we again picked up another signal, which I again felt must come from the enemy since it was quite irreconcilable with the outlook and temper of our own leaders and completely at variance with our own orders. I decided to ignore it and act on my own initiative.

"Finally [on 10 May 1945] there came a third signal to all U-Boats at sea to surface, put their armament out of action and hoist blue or white flags--from the Allied Disarmament Commission. I could stand it no longer and gave orders to shut off the wireless".

Here is where the account gets a little fuzzy. Schäffer claims that it was his decision, and his decision alone, to undertake the epic voyage. But critics argued that a trip to Argentina was already in the cards when U-977 left Norway.

According to Schäffer, he called the ship's company into the chart room on 12 May 1945 and made his speech:

"Kameraden [Comrades], it seems the darkest hour has struck both for us and for Germany. We have lost the Second World War. We all knows what lies before the German people--the enemy propaganda has made no secret of it...We must decide the right course to take. We can either hoist the white flag, or sink our boat, or put into harbor in some country that has behaved honorably all through the war. One of our engineers knows Argentina and has kept in touch with friends there, so he is well-informed about this South American republic, and I myself have friends and acquaintances there...I suggest, therefore, that we continue on our way, but that we do not attack a single ship, for I would not have us avenge ourselves with the blood of innocent men. It is futile to carry on the war alone. As it is, we have all the stores we need for our voyage to Argentina to spare us the bitter bread of captivity".

The crew voted on it.

"Thirty out of the forty-eight plumped for South America, two wanted to go to Spain, hoping to make a surer and speedier return (to Germany) from there, and sixteen expressed a wish to return to their familes--these last married men, nearly all of them petty officers, the oldest on board".

Schäffer gave the sixteen men the U-Boat's rubber dinghies, surfaced at night off the coast of Norway, and then let them go. Once submerged again, U-977 headed for the British Isles. Getting down the Channel would be like running a gauntlet, for, as Schäffer pointed out, "the British would certainly be patrolling the approaches. They didn't mean to let any leading personality of the [Third] Reich slip away, and were well aware of the audacity of their enemy. We turned out to be right. The sea around Britain was thoroughly patrolled without relaxation for a long time after the war...Often we heard mines and depth charges exploding in the distance. Were they after other U-boats?"

To a stunned crew, Schäffer outlined his incredible plan. He intended to sail to the Equator--without surfacing at all. Such a voyage had never before been attempted by any submarine. By cruising at a depth of 25 fathoms [150 feet] by day, and 10 fathoms [60 feet] by night, and by slowing the cruising speed to 3 knots to conserve Diesel fuel, he calculated that they could reach Cabo Verde "in a couple of months."

"After eighteen days without a break, the crew began to get on edge, with black rings under their eyes, and faces pale and even greenish-looking. The bulkheads, too, were turning green with damp. Since we were permanently dived, now we couldn't get rid of the refuse from the galley and this piled up into a revolting mess, apart from the smell, breeding flies, maggots and other vermin.

"After seven weeks of the same old faces, some of us were on the verge of nervous breakdowns. With rubbish and dirt piling up everywhere, there was clearly only one thing to do, namely to unload a torpedo, jam the refuse into the empty tube and fire it out by compressed air.

"The mould was getting the upper hand, and unless we washed down the bulkheads every day, they began to turn quite green. Our clothes stuck to our bodies, and as we had to wash in salt water, we began to itch all over. Some of the chaps broke out in rashes, others into boils, but it couldn't be helped. We had been fifty days under water, and we had to hold out till we were off Gibraltar, when we should be able to proceed surfaced by night. The U-Boat's crew began having second thoughts about the voyage.

"One of the men came to me to suggest that we put in to a Spanish port," but Schäffer was "determined to stick fast to my resolution. Something had to be done, for discipline was going to pieces. I would come upon a group of men muttering together, but when I approached they would suddenly fall silent.

"The boat was often full of vapour [Diesel smoke], which hurt our lungs and made our eyes smart, for every wave would automatically shut off the Snort valve and temporarily reduce the [air] pressure before the valve could open and let the [fresh] air rush in".

Schäffer was well on his way to becoming the Captain Ahab of the Twentieth Century. While some crewmen remarked, "Are you certain this white whale is in Argentina?" and "The skipper must be half-fish. Maybe he doesn't need air down here, but we do!" others worried aloud about being executed as pirates should the U-977 be caught by an Allied task force.

Schäffer "decided to act rigorously...When my Number One reported, 'All hands mustered forward,' I put on my white cap, which had been lying in my locker for ages, as well as my blue uniform with all my decorations and went to address the men".

"In our darkest hour, you bore yourselves in a way history won't forget--they didn't call us the Sea Wolves for nothing," he shouted, "'And are you going to let yourselves go now? Go sulking around looking like whipped curs? You've lost all interest in our dash for freedom, haven't you, just because life seems too tough for you at the moment? Because you can't see the sun and have to spend your time down in this hold and don't know what the future holds in store? How often have I heard it said, 'Oh, we should have done this or that;' 'Our fuel won't take us to South America;' 'We might run out of stores' and 'Our health is being undermined?' What sort of fool do you take me for? Do you think I don't know what I'm doing or never foresaw all this? Didn't you all decide freely on this venture and put your trust in me? Well, it's too late to go back now".

Mutiny had been narrowly averted, but the U-Boat's ordeal went on.

"Woodwork started to rot, condensation was permanently dripping down the bulkheads, bunks and linen permanently damp. When they were not on watch, the majority would just lie down on their bunks in a complete stupor".

Finally, on Day 66, Schäffer gave the order everybody had been waiting for. "All hands, prepare to surface".

"I raised the conning-tower hatch and climbed out onto the bridge," Schäffer recalled.

"The senior watch-keeper came up after me, and we looked about us. There was no ship anywhere in sight. Overhead stretched the starry vault of sky, astern all was a-sparkle with the moon's diamond glimmer, and everywhere about us rolled a vast expanse of sea. I gazed on the universe around me with a new kind of awe. To breathe great breaths of this clear fresh air was indeed an elixir, for after the scanty oil-laden atmosphere of our underwater prison, this sea- air seemed the most precious of all gifts. The U-977 made straight for Cabo Verde.

"I saw...that some of the islands of the group were uninhabited, and the crew jumped at the idea of landing on one of them. We made for Branca Island and surfaced off of it, feeling by now quite secure. Everyone came up on deck to admire the dead-calm sea with the rocks mirrored in stretches of blue, and the white beaches beyond".

From this point on, the U-Boat's voyage became almost a pleasure cruise.

"Naturally, everybody wanted to bathe in the sea. The ideal thing would be surf-riding behind the boat, and, as we had plenty of wood and, of course, rope, in a day we had our surf-board ready...One day a man on the surf-board gave a terrifying yell, for an enormous fish was swimming alongside. We wondered if it was a shark. I had never seen such an enormous sea monster in all my life, but luckily it turned out to be a whale. If the man was terrified, the whale was quite unimpressed.

"No sooner had they gotten the terrified crewman back aboard the sub than 'Moby Dick' began sounding. With a crash of its rear flippers, the whale disappeared beneath the waves".

When its prow broke the surface, U-977 had entered a new postwar world.

"We often passed passenger ships with all their navigation lights on, for, after all, the war was over now. One night a passenger steamer overtook us, and we caught the distant strains of dance music. People were walking up and down on the promenade deck, and we looked on, itching to take action, while the giant vessel, a very mountain of light, passed unconcernedly on its way, remaining in view for a full hour. The Sea Wolf, once the terror of the ocean, had become a very tame puppy indeed".

Crossing the Equator without incident, the U-Boat continued on its journey southward.

"Time passed quickly. At one time we saw the haze of light in the sky that betokened Rio de Janeiro. We were proceeding now more and more to the south, and it was colder again--we had left the tropics behind us".

[In 1945, Rio de Janeiro was the capital of Brazil. Fifteen years later, in 1960, President Juscelino Kubitschek opened the new and present capital city of Brasilia].

"One day, we learnt from the wireless that U-530 [under the command of Korvetenkapitän Otto Wehrmuth) had put into the Rio de la Plata (the estuary between Argentina and Uruguay]. We listened anxiously. What was going to become of the ship's company?...Then we heard that U-530 had been handed over to the United States with all its complement as prisoners of war".

Schäffer wrote that this news "depressed" him and he briefly considered surrendering in either Brazil or Uruguay. But then he made up his mind to head for Mar del Plata in Argentin

"17 August 1945 was a brilliantly sunny day. We first made out the Argentinian coastline and then the [Mar del Plata] lighthouse; when this last came into view, the whole crew fell in on deck...While we were still outside the three-mile [five-kilometer] limit we flashed in English the signal German submarine and stopped our engines...Very soon, the Argentinian minesweeper P.Y. 10 and two submarines came alongside and informed us in English that an advance party would be coming out".

-- Heinz Schäffer, "U-Boat 977" W.W. Norton & Co. New York, N.Y., 1952


According to Dr. Dimitri Filippowitsch, a high-ranking officer in the Russian military:

“The German U-Boats U-530 and U-977  were unusual U-Boats from the so-called 'Führer Convoy', an extremely secret formation, whose exact mission remains unknown to this day".

Because the crews of the submarines refused to talk, the Americans were able to learn very few details, although the captain of U-530 did supposedly speak of an operation by the name of 'Walküre 2'. In line with this operation, his ship set sail from Kiel in Northern Germany for Antarctica two weeks before the end of the war; thanks to the Walther Schnorchel, it only had to surface once during the entire voyage across the Atlantic.

"On board were passengers whose faces were allegedly masked, as well as important documents from the Third Reich. The captain of U-977, Heinz Schäffer, confirmed that he sailed the same route with his boat shortly thereafter and in conducting their own research, the Americans realized that numerous German U-Boats traveled in the direction of Antarctica during the war. What was the reason for these voyages?"

In his book "Aftermath, Martin Bormann and the Fourth Reich" Ladislas Farago talks about Operation Fire Land to ship documents currency and gold reserves to Argentina from 1943 onwards through Spain. It is also reputed that Bormann shifted documents incriminating Roosevelt, Churchill, the British Royal Family and the Vatican etc to Argentina with which to blackmail their persuers.


The officers and crew of the U-Boat had hopped by going to Argentina to avoid being turned over to the Russians and even possibly to be allowed to settle in South America.

Statement of Schäffer C.O. of U–977
I left Kristiansand S. on 2 May 1945, normally equipped, and under orders to proceed to the Channel [i.e. English Channel].  
A few days later I picked up fragments of signals, which I suspected of being the work of enemy deception.  When, however, these signals were not cancelled, I had to assume that the radio stations had fallen into enemy hands and that we had lost the war.  The fact that the uncoded signals signed "Allied Committee" were coming through, convinced me that the orders contained in these signals were illegitimate and not in agreement with the German High Command.  When we began our patrol, an official slogan had been posted on all Naval establishments and ships which said:  "The enemy shall find in Germany nothing but rats and mice.  We will never capitulate.  Better death than slavery".

It must be remembered that radio reception on board the U-977 was only sporadic since, for tactical reasons, we only occasionally came to Schnorchel depth.  However, enough signals had been received so that I no longer had any superiors, and that I was relieved of my oath.  In any case, I did not feel obligated without direct orders from my government to accept enemy orders.  
I no longer considered my ship as a man-of-war, but as a means of escape, and I tried to act for the best interests of all aboard.  I respected the wishes of members of my crew insofar as they did not imperil the ship or cause damage to it.

One of my main reasons in deciding to proceed to the Argentine was based on German propaganda, which claimed that the American and British newspapers advocated that at the end of the war, all German men be enslaved and sterilized.  Another consideration was the bad treatment and long delay in return home suffered by German prisoners-of-war held in France at the end of World War I.  Then again, of course, the hope of better living conditions in the Argentine.  

It was absolutely my intention to deliver the boat undamaged into Allied hands, while doing the best I could for my crew.  I felt that the ship’s engines might be a valuable adjunct to the reconstruction of Europe.  I carried out these intentions and delivered the boat in perfect condition.

Route and stations of U-977:

Sailing date in Kiel, April 1945 (1), intermediate station in Norway,2 May 1945 (2), end of the war, 8 May 1945 (3),
return to Norway and start of the submerged passage, 10 May 1945 (4), end of the submerged passage and touch at the Cape Verde Islands,July 1945 (5),
arriving in Mar del Plata, Argentina, 17 August 1945 (6)


In 2006 Schäffer's original memoir "El Secreto del U-977" was published for the first time in Argentina. This book makes it clear that the 66-days' "world record" voyage submerged was a fiction and that U-977 was the provisions boat for the Patagonian boats coming down from Norway and Germany. This book and the 1945 interrogation coincides.

From this material we know that U-977 and U-530 were never where the Allied versions put them at any stage of their voyages..

U-530 arrived at Mar del Plata on 9 July 1945 and went down the coast to Miramar that day. At Miramar there was an Etappendienst station. A U-Boat's rubber dinghy was left behind in the surf. U-530 was on the Argentine coast for 24 hours, quite long enough to unload passengers or materials. Brazilian and US intelligence officers suspected at the time, and photographs seem to confirm it, that U-530 had two commanders, both known as Otto Wermuth, one short and dark, the other blond and tall. What was the purpose of this?

Wermuth arrived with no books and documents, Schäffer had two of everything, one set of books and charts for the slow voyage, the other for the fast voyage. Not all of these documents have been declassified, but in the interrogation of Schäffer the Argentines criticized the practice of keeping two different sets of navigation charts all in pencil for the same voyage. Some of the fast voyage documents were admitted into evidence by the Brazilian Navy during its 1945 investigation into the sinking of their light cruiser 'Bahía' of which Schäffer was believed to be guilty.

The actual U-977 story would fill a small book. To tackle just one point: The purpose of the fictitious "world record 66-day voyage always submerged" was twofold:

(1) It gave U-977 a very slow voyage south. It appeared that U-977 was always heading slowly for Argentina and doing nothing else. Schäffer had loaded 80 tons of fuel before leaving Norway. On this 80 tons the Argentines calculated that he could just possibly have made Argentina in three months if he had made the voyage mostly on the Schnorchel and Batteries as he had suggested. On the other hand, because of the fuel consumption involved in the greater speed, Schäffer must have refuelled at least twice at sea from "Milchkuh" U-boats which officially did not exist if he got to the Equator by 4 July 1945, and was off Rio de Janeiro on 10 July. From the Argentine declassified interrogations, and Schäffer's recently published book "El Secreto del U-977" we know that the latter was true, and that is why we are certain that more information is being withheld by the Argentine authorities: and

(2) to conceal the fact that the activities of U-977 are unaccounted for thirty-eight days from 10 July 1945, when the boat was admitted to be off Rio de Janeiro.

The problem is that all of the 'Milk Cows' were sunk in 1943 and none of the planned "Milk Cows" was launched so it is hard to imagine that U-977 used the services of the "Milk Cows".

The Type XIV U-Boat was a modification of the Type IXD, designed to resupply other U-Boats. They were nicknamed "Milchkuh" [milk cow].
Due to its large size, the Type XIV could resupply other boats with 613 tons of fuel, 13 tons of motor oil, four torpedoes,
and fresh food that was preserved in refrigerator units. In addition, the boats were equipped with bakeries, in order to provide the luxury of fresh bread for crews
being resupplied. They had no torpedo tubes or deck guns, only anti-aircraft guns.

In 1942, the milk cows allowed the smaller Type VIIC boats to raid the American coast during the "Second Happy Time" of the Battle of the Atlantic. The milk cows were priority targets for Allied forces, assinking one milk cow would effectively curtail the operations of several regular U-Boats and force them to return home for supplies.
Ultra intercepts provided information concerning sailing and routing,and this, coupled with improved Allied radar and air coverage in the North Atlantic,
eliminated most of them during 1943. By the end of the war all ten had been sunk.


The following passage from Schäffer's book is very interesting:

"It took twenty-four hours to reach Berlin (where he was going on leave to see his family)……….Next to me sat an SS officer who, in spite of my flatly contradicting him, simply would not stop talking about decisive new secret weapons. I was fed up with the secret weapons by now for I knew perfectly well from my own experience that if all the blueprints were there, so were the air-raids on our factories. 'Well, of course, you aren’t in a position to judge,' he said, but he was, naturally, because he was working at some SS HQ or other and was out watching the tests every day. If I would only come and look him up I would see something that would make me sit up.

"When I got to Berlin I really did look him up, and after I had waited at the HQ entrance for some time my new acquaintance appeared and started showing me around. Everybody was certain we were going to win, with a conviction I’d never seen the like of even after the fall of France. Among the fantastic contrivances of which I was shown photographs was one I called a 'Death Ray' which my friend wanted me to come back and see in action next day.

"But I wasn’t wasting more time. I wanted to see my mother……."

"U-530 surrendered at Mar del Plata, Argentina, on 10 July 1945, U- 977 surrendered on 17 August 1945.

"When the U-530 and U-977 surrendered so late after the European War's end, Allied Intelligence was more than a little concerned, and dispatched agents to interrogate the German officers. They certainly did not believe that the German captains had taken their ships on a South Atlantic excursion of three to four months just to surrender to the Argentines, as Captain Schäffer of the U-977 and Captain Wermouht of the U-530 actually, and apparently in all seriousness, stated".

Henry Stevens, "The Last Battalion and German Arctic, Antarctic, and Andean Bases"

Stevens summarizes the Allies' real concern - Nazi survival in no uncertain terms:

"The Allies first believed that these U-Boats had taken persons of special importance, perhaps even Adolf Hitler, from Germany to South America. In light of this possibility both captains were held for questioning. Captain Schäffer, who surrendered last, was taken to America for a month or so then to England for another period of questioning. Both captains maintained that there had been no persons of political importance deposited in South America. Eventually the captains were released although Schäffer found living in Occupied Germany intolerable and relocated to South America. Captain Schäffer even went on to write a book explaining his voyage and actions".

"Unfortunately, nobody really believed Schäffer.

"It is claimed that American and British Intelligence had learned that U-530 and U-977 did visit Antarctica before landing in South America but the exact nature of their mission eluded them".

The Typ XXI U-Boat, like most U-Boats in the German Navy by that time, was fitted with the special Schnorchel device that allowed its main Diesel engines to operate while submerged underwater. It is quite possible that these newer Type XXI U-boats also had the newer Schnorchels fitted with special anti-radar coatings. But the Type XXI was also outfitted with the special "Walther" turbine, an "underwater jet" device that utilized hydrogen peroxide that allowed great underwater cruising speeds. In effect, these turbines were "silent" engines allowing great underwater speeds for limited durations of time. Thus, the Type XXI had brought submarine technology and warfare to a new and sophisticated level by the war's end. But would even the Type XXI have been able to brave the North and then South Atlantic Oceans, by that point in the war all but Allied lakes? There is some indication that not only were they successful in doing so, but wildly so. The Germans had adapted special new guidance systems to missiles, and torpedoes. These systems included wire-guidance, as well as magnetic proximity fuses.

Stevens reports that on 2 May 1945, a flotilla of U-Boats, many of them Type XXIs, carefully husbanded by Dönitz at Kristiansand fjord in Norway, departed in a wolf pack for Iceland, making the traditional run through the straits between Iceland and Greenland.

"On 2 May 1945, six days before the German surrender on 8 May 1945, a U-Boat convoy ran from Kristiansund, Norway, which consisted of approximately 120 of the new electric submarines [range 30,000 km] and several giant cargo submarines.

"Aboard the E-class submarines were  only the young, without living relatives, or existing ordinary occupation:

(a) young SS men and Hitler Youth leaders,
(b) many young army nurses and BDM girls
(c) some of the personalities of the German leadership [partly including families], who were still able to escape in time before the Allies.

"Of course, such a large German U-Boat fleet did not escape the attention of the Allies, so that the German U-Boats, as they wanted to advance in the open Atlantic, were attacked by a considerable Western Allied naval force between Greenland and Iceland, but thanks to two new weapons systems, previously unknown to the Allies, the secret German U-Boat armada did not only break through the blockade of the Allied powers, but devastatingly beat them to their massive horror. One of the few survivors of this battle was the captain of a British destroyer ... one of the Allied hushed up fiasco of their armed forces ... "

-- "The New Age", No. 20, 9 May 1980, Huter Verlag, Munich

What happened next has been deleted from what passes as history, at least in the countries of the former Allied Powers. What happened was the last great sea battle of the Atlantic. The German U-Boat convoy ran straight into an Allied naval battle formation. The result was stunning. Using the new torpedoes, Allied ships were totally annihilated. Apparently the Allies never quite realized what they had run into.

Type XXI U-Boat in action

Our only third-party report of the event was an article in a South American newspaper which learned of the event. A quote  from the only survivor of the attack,  a British destroyer captain: "May God help me, may I never again encounter such a force", was reportedly carried in "El Mercurio" Santiago, Chile, and "Der Weg" a paper published by exiled Germans living in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

The British consistently maintained a flotilla of destroyers, accompanied occasionally by heavier units of light and heavy cruisers, on station in the straits between Iceland and Greenland throughout the war. The use of new torpedoes - whether wire-guided, acoustic-seeking, or magnetic proximity-fused -  plus the high-submersible speeds and "proto-stealth" capabilities of the Type XXI U-Boats would have been more than a match for the British destroyers on station.

There exists a British Intelligence Objectives Sub-Committee [BIOS] report entitled "Production and Further Investigation of Wesch Anti-Radar Material, CIOS Black List Item 1 RADAR, BIOS Target No. 1/549" whose significance is rather obvious from its title.

The objective of this team was to acquire some 500 feet of this material for secret testing by the British Admiralty. The report details the production of various RAM materials [Radar Absorbent Material] by the Germans, via techniques that involved shredding and heating rubber, and combining zinc oxide, finely ground iron powder [the powder was ground into micro-spheres], which was all then pressed into sheets, and then transferred to press molds, trimmed and heated under small pressure. This material was actually used on the hulls of some late Type XXI U-Boats, as well as on U-Boat Schnorchel devices, to scatter Allied radar to return distorted or indeed, no radar signals.

This report also corroborates yet another allegation, often derisorily dismissed by mainstream researchers, that in May of 1945, a small flotilla of the new Type XXI U-boats, with their revolutionary hydrogen peroxide underwater "turbine" propulsion allowing extraordinary undersea cruising speeds, met, and annihilated, a flotilla of British destroyers.

The allegations included the German use of new types of wire-guided, and magnetic proximity torpedoes.

At least one corroboration of this strange encounter occurs in the BIOS report:

"Vierling has heard of electrical homing devices for torpedoes and their firing by a proximity effect. Torpedoes used magnetic fields varying at about 500 cycles per sec. Torpedoes were built by AEG in Berlin. Some work was done also at Gdynia. These torpedoes were reported to have sunk 12 Destroyers in one engagement in Arctic waters".

Dr Oskar Vierling in 1941 established the Vierling research group  with a staff of 200 employees. The secret research establishment was located in Burg Feuerstein, Ebermannstadt disguised as a hospital with red-cross emblems on the roof to avoid allied bombing.

Here, the acoustically controlled torpedo "Zaunkönig" [Wren] where the torpedoes located their target from the propeller noises of enemy ships -for the time a technological revolution- was developed.  Vierling co-operated under the direction of the High Command of the Armed Forces,  with Erich Hüttenhain and Erich Fellgiebel.

He worked on encryption technology to improve the Cipher SZ 42, started testing for acoustic ignition of mines and he invented an anti-radar coating for submarines "Schornsteinfeger" [chimney sweep].  In addition, Vierling and his team developed radios and electronic computers.

After the fall of Nazi Germany the Burg Feuerstein castle was sealed-off by the British troops. Vierling revealed his previously secret work which he had hidden in secret walled off chambers in the castle and collaborated openly with the new occupiers.

He made his knowledge of Intelligence technology available to the Gehlen  Organisation, for which he designed wiretaps in the post-war period.

From 1949-1955 he was a professor of physics at the Philosophical and Theological College in Bamberg.

There was plenty of evidence, to indicate that as late as 1947, elements of the Kriegsmarine, or German Navy, were still very much active in the South Atlantic, operating either out of South America, or some base, previously unsuspected, in the Antarctic

They were thought to be Type XXI U-Boats, with the “Schnorchel” that allowed them to make the entire passage from Germany submerged and operating out of Argentina, possibly under the Argentine flag, but crewed by German crew.

The French "Agence France Press" on 25 September 1946 stated "the continuous rumours about German U-Boat activity in the region of Tierra del Fuego [Feuerland’ in German] between the southernmost tip of Latin America and the continent of Antarctica are based on true happenings".

The "Almirante Latorre" Incident reported by Chilean newspapers in mid 1945, noted a German type IX U-Boat exchanging materials and charts off Iquique with the Chilean cruiser.

Toward the end of World War II a German submarine from the Monsun Gruppe 33rd Flotilla operating out of Penang, Malaysia was said to have shown up at the La Palma Secret Base, a primitive submarine-pen hewn out of the jungle-like estuaries of Chiapas along Mexico's far southern reaches of the Pacific Coast by the Japanese. That German U-Boat, a long range Type IXD2, was the U-196.

Unlike records of most of the known U-Boats, the background facts of U-196 are literally all over the map.

In the early stages of her career the U-196 is most notorious for having completed the longest patrol by any submarine in WWII, 225 days from 13 March to 23 October 1943. After that the official picture is pretty bland

A more in depth view of the official records gives much the same basic imprint, indicating that the U-196 departed the German U-Boat base in La Pallice, occupied France, into the Bay of Biscay 16 March 1944 thence then into the Atlantic under orders for Penang, Malaysia. By early July she had passed east of Cape Town South Africa into the Indian Ocean arriving at the Malaysia base 10 August 1944, five months after her departure from France. On 30 November 1944, U-196 left Penang to undertake a war patrol around Australia with two other boats.

When she failed to respond to repeated transmissions requesting her position sometime around 1 December, she was listed as missing in the Sunda Straits south of Java, effective 12 December 1944.

The above paragraph are facts typically found in the official record. What follows is information from the unofficial record, as well as legend, folklore, speculation and secondhand eyewitness reports that reveal a truth that stretches way beyond the official demise of the U-196 in the Sunda Straits in early December 1944.

Trailing in the wake of the U-196 was Nazi Uranium mined in Czechoslovakia under slave labor. Both Axis powers had been feverishly working on developing an operable and deliverable nuclear weapon for some time, even to the point, according to a variety of reports, of the setting off a 1944 German Atomic Bomb on the northern island of Rügen in the Baltic Sea and the Japanese somewhat later around Konan [now known as Hungnam] in north-eastern Korea.

The Germans, in conjunction with their own efforts, sensing a potential collapse of their regime in Europe, began shipping Uranium through France, loading it into U-Boats and transporting it to Japan for the Japanese nuclear bomb project. In turn Japan paid for the enriched Uranium-oxide with gold bullion. As things in Europe deteriorated for the Germans and hard to come by materials used in their far-flung war efforts became more scarce and difficult to obtain the Nazis began using submarines to transport the rarest and most important of those materials to their homeland. A good part of the Japanese gold intended to be shipped through to Germany as payment started piling up in the far east submarine ports because of being continually bumped by those more important strategic materials.

The piles of bullion, worth a fortune, easily transported in the hold of a submarine, began making an ever increasing mouth-watering target for anyone in the far east, uneasy with an unfavorable outcome of the war, and having in their hands a way to get away with absconding with it.

Enter the U-196. It is a hunch that a number of Nazis and German military, senior or otherwise, living in Japanese territory, possibly in collusion with some crew members of the U-196 fled from Djakarta in 1944 with a cargo hold full of gold. If the gold was just taken on their own discretion or the crew was originally mandated under official orders to transport the gold outside of Japanese territory and bury it for safe keeping is not known. In any case they took it upon themselves to take the gold and simply disappear. By then, with the whole world open to them and no known destination they were at least at the time, free and well beyond the reach of German authorities and the arm of the Gestapo.

Even though the U-196 was stricken from the records after having been listed as missing, as some suggest, blown up or sunk by mines in the Sunda Straits south of Java, it appears the U-196 headed toward the open Pacific charting a course for Mexico and the La Palma Secret Base. With no one at the base having any reason to suspect any wrong doing they were co-operatively provided with fresh water, supplies and fuel as requested. Then the U-196, headed north toward the mouth of the Sea of Cortez and the coast of Sonora --- to find a new homeland and place to settle, far from the war, with opportunities to start a new life.

There are reports, or at least strong rumors to the effect, that a German U-Boat arrived at the Chiapas secret base for refueling long after the Japanese stopped using it on a regular basis, only to show up along the Mexican northwest coast off Sonora late in the year of 1944. The stories go on to say the U-Boat, said to be under the auspices of the Gruppe Monsun operating out of Penang, Malaysia, was carrying a rather large shipment of Nazi gold intended as an inducement for certain Mexican authorities to ensure a potential post-war settlement of high ranking Germans and Nazi refugees. However, any gold associated with such a venture disappeared along with the submarine.

By late 1944 things had changed drastically and the Germans were not as welcome in Mexico as they could have been, so the wayward travelers of U-196, continuing their odyssey, turned around and headed south out of the Sea of Cortez. With nothing but seeming desert on the Baja Peninsula side and the specter of the U.S. looming along the open Pacific Coast to the north and with no known safe harbor except possibly surrender and the loss of their freedom [and gold] they continued south.

Bypassing a stop at the La Palma Secret Base because of no need to do so having been fully fueled and supplied during their earlier stop and wanting to keep as low a profile as possible in Mexico, the U-196 made its next appearance off the coast of Chile.

A former Chilean sailor living at La Serena, and a one-time crew member of Chile's main and only battleship the 'Almirante Latorre', allegedly told writer and historian Geoffrey Michael Brooks, a British expatriate living in Argentina and author of several U-Boat and German submarine histories, during an interview,  that a large U-Boat rendezvoused with the battleship in Chilean waters. The ex-sailor told Brooks that the U-Boat came alongside to obtain updated maps and charts. The captain of the U-Boat said he was bound for a German colony in Patagonia, possibly Caleta de los Loros. The U-Boat, from sources other than Brooks, has since been identified as the U-196. As to Caleta de los Loros, a continuing series of strong rumors indicate there are two sunken U-Boats just off the coast of the area, although a number of repeated dive attempts over the years by both private parties and the Argentine government have not yielded anything physically substantial.

People go on-and-on about the "fact" that all of the World War II German U-Boats have been accounted for in some fashion or the other and none are listed off Caleta de los Loros. If there are two subs off the coast there they would have to be two so-called off the record "Black Boats," which the same people decry as highly unlikely because there is no proof that such boats ever existed. Information backed up from other sources might argue otherwise.

On 13 December 1939, two years before the U.S. declared war on Gemany, the battleship-like German heavy cruiser the 'Admiral Graf Spee', a so-called "pocket battleship," was heavily damaged in a heated battle with British warships off the coast of South America. She took refuge in the River Plate estuary, a river outlet that empties into the Atlantic between Buenos Aires, Argentina on the south and Montevideo, Uruguay on the north. Under the captain's orders the ship limped into Montevideo for repairs and evacuate the wounded. The captain was told it would take at least two weeks to make the ship seaworthy. Uruguay, being a neutral country and following the rules of the Hague Convention of 1907, the 'Graf Spee' was not entitled to stay in port longer than 24 hours without risking internment. The captain, not sure he could make the run across the estuary to Buenos Aires because of damage to the ship and an increasingly larger British threat beyond the confines of the estuary, rather than risk the lives of his crew, decided to simply scuttle her. The crew was removed and thus then, interned in the "more friendly to Germany" Argentina for the duration.

On 16 February 1946, with the war well over with, 811 crew members of the 'Admiral Graf Spee' were shipped home aboard the British passenger-reefer, the Motor Ship 'Highland Monarch' [it should be noted that during the two year period between their initial internement and the end of 1941 around 23 officers along with about 200 NCOs had escaped captivity and returned to Germany]. Officials of the Argentine military turned over the identity books of the returning sailors all lumped together into one big bag without checking any of them against the actual crew members that boarded the 'Highland Monarch'. An additional 79 'Admiral Graf Spee' sailors were picked up at Montevideo under similar circumstances.

During the voyage to Europe the identities of all of the men were matched one-on-one against the identity books. When the match-up was completed it was determined 86 of the men were not from, nor had ever served on the 'Admiral Graf Spee'. They were instead, to a man, U-Boat crew. Not one of the U.S., British, or Argentine governmental authorities connected to the repatriation were able to come up with a satisfactory answer as to how men from U-Boats, especially so many, ended up in Argentina in the first place, let alone be returned to Germany to be repatriated.

All three governments involved in the repatriation plus Germany have been mum on the subject with no list of submarines released matching individual sailors with a given U-Boat.

Speculation is that the 86 sailors smuggled aboard the 'Highland Monarch' must have arrived in Argentina either on clandestine U-Boats associated with the east coast of South America and the Caribbean or having crossed over the Andes from the Pacific side from similar clandestine boats. As for crossing the Andes, Jürgen Wattenberg and five others had crossed over the Andes in the opposite direction into Chile during their escape back to Germany after the 1939 battle of the 'Admiral Graf Spee'.

Jürgen Wattenberg had an eventful war, serving initially aboard the pocket battleship 'Admiral Graf Spee' during the Battle of the River Plate and up until her scuttling off Montevideo. He was interned in Uruguay but escaped and made his way back to Germany, where he arrived in May 1940, and joined the U-Boat service in October that year and received command of U-162 on 9 September 1941, departing on his first cruise on 7 February 1942. Wattenberg was by this time 41 years old, making him one of the oldest U-Boat commanders to undertake a combat patrol. He was the first and only commander of U-162, and in a successful career spanning just under a year, he sank 14 ships, a total of 82,027 gross register tons [GRT].

U-162 was detected in mid-Atlantic north-east of Trinidad on 3 September 1942 and attacked by three British destroyers, and sunk with depth charges. Two of the crew were killed; Wattenberg and 48 other survivors were rescued and became prisoners of war.

Wattenberg was imprisoned in several camps in the United States, starting at Fort Hunt, where he arrived in September 1942. He was then moved to Crossville on 16 October 1942, and again to Camp Papago Park on 27 January 1944. A large break-out occurred on the night of 23–24 December 1944, with Wattenberg being one of the 25 prisoners to escape. Most were recaptured or surrendered fairly quickly; Wattenberg managed to remain at large until 28 January, the last of the escapees to be recaptured. With the end of the war Wattenberg was transferred first to Camp Shanks in 1946, then to a compound near Münster before being released.

He settled in Germany, where he died in 1995, aged 94.

Despite the continued stories of potential unidentified sunken submarines laying on the seabottom off the coast of Argentina, whether they are there or not, the U-196 is not one of them. After contact with the Chilean battleship the U-196, instead of continuing south and around the tip of South America, turned her bow directly west and using the assist of the South Equatorial Current, headed across the Pacific toward New Zealand and the island continent of Australia.

Sometime in late 2005 or the very early stages of 2006 rumblings began to surface that there existed the wreckage of a potential sunken submarine of an unknown nature laying on its side in seabed off the west coast of northern New Zealand. Two months later, in March of 2006, the suspected submarine was brought to the attention of readers of one of New Zealand's biggest selling boating magazines, "Trade-A-Boat". The magazine, which covers all aspects of the New Zealand boating scene, basically reported that the submarine, which had actually been found in 1981, had been relocated after 25 years of being "lost". Apparently after her initial discovery storms covered her with a deep layer of sand after having shifted the hull over 440 yards from her original 1981 location.

Two and a half years later, the "Trade-A-Boat" information filtered down into the hands of a reporter for a northern New Zealand newspaper. On 5 November 2008 an article titled 'U-Boat's Kaipara secrets unveiled?' appeared in "The Northern Advocate", Northland, New Zealands only regional daily newspaper. The Kaipara referred to in the title being the Kaipara District on the western side of the North Auckland Peninsula, and it is located in a position 4,500 miles in a direct straight line due west from the coast of Chile.

Once the contents of the "Northern Advocate" article appeared, the ultimate fate of the U-196 came to light. Onetime curator of the Dargaville Maritime Museum and local diver, Noel Hilliam, came forward, as reported by the article's author Annette Lambly, saying that in 1981 fishermen, in the process of their fishermen duties snagged one of their nets only to discover in their attempt to remove it that it was caught up on what appeared to be a sunken vessel of some sort, a vessel having all the outward appearances of a submarine. When rumors of a sunken vessel, possibly a submarine, came to the attention of Hilliam he immediately contacted the fishermen in question and put into place a dive attempt. He found the sunken object at a depth of 40 feet located in a turbulent surf zone. Even in the churned up water and low visibility that he described as like being inside a washing machine, he was still able to determine the vessel was in fact a submarine saying she had rolled over on one side, carried a clearly distinguishable deck qun and the remains of a conning tower. He also said the bow had a neutral buoyancy but the stern was buried. How the submarine had managed to stay intact and in one piece all those years was a mystery, although in more recent times, the fact that it had been buried in sand for at least the past 25 years was considered a major contributing factor --- and a possible favorable reoccurring phenomenon over the decades.

When Hilliam's 1981 confirmation of a wrecked submarine off the coast of Kaipara District became known he was approached by three people claiming to be descendants of a surviving crew member. According to the descendants, in early mid 1945, the sub, which for the first time they identified as the U-196, had been unintentionally destroyed from an explosion caused by scuttling charges aft of the conning tower above the engine room. They also said prior to the destruction of the submarine, crew members offloaded a whole hoard of gold bullion bars which in turn, once on the beach, were discretely reloaded onto the floor-beds of two trucks. What happened to that gold is not known but the previously mentioned article that appeared in the March 2006 "Trade-A-Boat" magazine implied that it was later stored in a disused copper mine. What that means is not clear because copper mines are rare on the western side of the North Auckland Peninsula although small copper mines had at one time been operated in Northland near Woodville and Dun Mountain. However, only small amounts of copper had ever been produced in turn most likely rendering the mines into a disused category. There may have been other even smaller mining attempts at one time, but having any of them anywhere close to the disembarkation point would be questionable. Although it must be said, having two trucks, except for access, mines being close by would not necessarily be a major necessity.

The remote and uninhabited Auckland Islands, a few hundred miles off New Zealand, are a rumoured location for a cache of Nazi gold.

The story goes that a German U-Boat [U-196?]visited the islands in 1945 and either dumped its precious cargo of gold into the sea
just off the southern shoreor that the crew of the submarine buried the gold somewhere on the islands.
In some versions the cargo is not gold, but religious artefacts or even the mortal remains of Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun.

Despite an almost total lack of evidence to back up any version of the story, people continue to search for in seemingly vain attempts, for the treasure.

There are also rumours that the Spear of Destiny is buried somewhere on the islands.

Although currently uninhabited, look-outs were stationed on the islands during World War 2when the treasure was supposedly dumped or deposited in the area.
None of the look-outs reported anything to support the various stories that circulate about the islands.

"France Soir" on 25  September 1946 reported an encounter at sea off the Falklands between a whaler and a German U-Boat seeking provisions. The U-Boat crew politely paid for these provisions before parting company.

Almost one and a half years after cessation of hostilities in Europe, the Icelandic Whaler 'Juliana' was stopped by a large German U-Boat. The 'Juliana' was in the Antarctic region around Malvinas Islands [the Falklands] when a German submarine surfaced and raised the German official Flag of Mourning - red with a black edge.

The submarine commander sent out a boarding party, which approached the Juliana in a rubber dingy, and having boarded the whaler demanded of Capt. Hekla part of his fresh food stocks. The request was made in the definite tone of an order to which resistance would have been unwise.

The German officer spoke a correct English and paid for his provisions in US dollars, giving the Captain a bonus of $10 for each member of the 'Juliana' crew. Whilst the foodstuffs were being transferred to the submarine, the submarine commander informed Capt. Hekla of the exact location of a large school of whales. Later the 'Juliana' found the school of whales where designated.

To address that 1946 story: To this day there has never been any Icelandic whaler in the South Atlantic, let alone in the Antarctica. No Icelandic ship has ever been named 'Juliana' and Hekla is an active volcano in Iceland, not a last name. 99% of all Icelandic last names for males end in "-son".

The fact that in the dying moments of the Second World War, ten U-Boats, based in Oslofjord, Hamburg and Flensburg, were made available to transport several hundred German officers and officials to Argentina to found a new Reich is widely accepted. These officers, mostly involved in "secret" projects, and many of whom were members of the SS and Kriegsmarine, itself, sought to escape the "vengeance" of the Allies, and continue their work, abroad. The U-Boats were filled with their luggage, documents and, more than likely, gold bullion, to finance their efforts. All the U-Boats departed their home ports between 3 and 8 May 1945. They were to proceed to Argentina where they would be welcomed by the friendly regime of Juan Peron and his charismatic wife Eva Peron.

Seven of the ten of the U-Boats, based on the German/Danish border, set off for Argentina through the Kattegat and Skagerrak. None were ever seen again..."officially".

It has been, however, documented that three of the boats did, in fact, arrive in Argentina... These were U-530, U-977 and U-1238. U-530 and U-977 surrendered to the Argentine Navy at Mar del Plata in early July and August, 1945; U-1238 was scuttled, by her crew, in the waters of San Matias Gulf, off Northern Patagonia.

There were 130 listed uncommissioned U-Boats. Whereas some fell by the wayside in the normal course of things, a few cargo boats of Type IXC/40 are of interest. Two of these launched in 1944, U-1237 and U-1238, but never commissioned, disappeared into thin air.   

The Winter 2002 volume 7, number 4 issue of the international technical shipwreck diving magazine "Imersed" contained an article in 'Wispered Word' entitled 'Going for the Gold' in which it mentioned an un-named group allegedly searching off the Argentine coast for a U-Boat wreck they identified as the U-1238, claiming it contained "10 tons of gold" and documents to set up the Fourth Reich in Argentina.

Seven boats are as yet unaccounted for... and... Kriegsmarine archives, recently discovered, indicate that a total of more than forty boats are completely unaccounted for... all of which were late construction, state-of-the-art craft, and could have made either Argentina or Antarctica, completely submerged... and completely unnoticed by existing "Allied" technology of the time... for the entire duration of their crossing.

Type XXI U-Boats, also known as "Elektroboote, were the first submarines designed to operate entirely submerged, rather than as surface ships that could submerge as a temporary means to escape detection or launch an attack. They were revolutionary when introduced and, if produced earlier and in sufficient quantity, could have seriously influenced the outcome of the Battle of the Atlantic.

The key improvement in the Type XXI was greatly increased battery capacity, roughly three times that of the Type VIIC. This gave these boats enormous underwater range, and dramatically reduced the time spent near the surface. They could travel submerged at about five knots [9 km/h] for two or three days before recharging the batteries, which took less than five hours using the Schnorchel. The Type XXI was also much quieter than the VIIC, making it more difficult to detect when submerged.

The Type XXI's streamlined and hydrodynamically clean hull design allowed high submerged speed. The ability to outrun many surface ships while submerged, combined with improved dive times, made it much harder to chase and destroy. It also gave the boat a "sprint ability" when positioning itself for an attack. Older boats had to surface to sprint into position. This often gave a boat away, especially after aircraft became available for convoy escort.

The Type XXIs had better facilities than previous classes, including a freezer for foodstuffs. Conveniences for the crew included a shower and a washbasin – crews on other boats spent weeks without bathing or shaving. The Type XXI featured a hydraulic torpedo reloading system that allowed all six torpedo tubes, located in the bow, to be reloaded faster than a Type VIIC could reload a single tube. The Type XXI could fire 18 torpedoes in under 20 minutes. The total war load was 23 torpedoes, or 17 torpedoes and 12 sea mines. The XXI featured an advanced sonar system which allowed aiming torpedoes without using the periscope, increasing stealth.

Between 1943 and 1945, 118 boats of this type were assembled by Blohm & Voss of Hamburg, AG Weser of Bremen, and F. Schichau of Danzig. The hulls were constructed from 8 prefabricated sections with final assembly taking place at the shipyards. This new method could have pushed construction time below six months per vessel, but in reality all the assembled U-Boats were plagued with severe quality problems that required extensive post-production work to fix. One of the reasons is that the sections were made by inland companies [result of Albert Speer's decision], even though these had little experience in shipbuilding. The result was that out of 118 assembled XXIs, only four only four of the submarines were completed during the war, and only two went on combat patrol with no action taken.

The Type XXI design directly influenced 'USS Nautilus', the world's first nuclear submarine, 'USS Albacore', the first submarine with a teardrop hull, the French Narval class submarine, the British Porpoise class submarine, and the Soviet submarine classes known by the NATO reporting names Zulu and Whiskey, although the Whiskey class was smaller and less sophisticated.

Ingeborg Schäffer, the wife of First Lt. Heinz Schäffer, commander of U-977, which surrendered at Mar del Plata on 17 August 1945, was asked in 2008 if her husband had brought Hitler to Argentina. Mrs. Schäffer replied, “If he did not bring him, there were another two U-Boats that could have brought him, and [my husband] could have given them food and so forth, because the others went on to Puerto Madryn". Although her comments are somewhat cryptic, she was obviously aware of other Nazi submarines in Argentine waters at the same time as U-977, information she could have got only from her husband. Schäffer’s U-977 was a Type VIIC from U-Flotille 31.

A sailor  from the 'Admiral Graf Spee,' Petty Officer Heinrich Bethe, also had recollections of the landing, and was interviewed by one Capt. Manuel Monasterio in 1977, when Bethe was living in the Patagonian coastal town of Caleta Olivia under the pseudonym Pablo Glocknick [he was also known as Juan Paulovsky]. Bethe had repaired Monasterio’s car one day after it had broken down. The captain and the former Kriegsmarine petty officer immediately hit it off, and on a number of occasions over bottles of wine and local seafood, the former sailor recounted how he had lived in obscurity on the coast, and his  recollections of the U-Boat landings.

Bethe spoke of a landing area "several hours" of driving over rough roads from the city of Puerto Madryn, which is much further south than Necochea. Bethe recalled that on the evening of 28 July, he directed trucks to a determined point on the coast and from there proceeded to load a large number of boxes that came ashore on rubber dinghies from two submarines. The trucks carried the boxes to two large depositories where they were carefully unloaded. Later, about seventy people disembarked from the U-Boat. In Bethe’s opinion, “the cargo was very valuable, and the people that arrived were not common sailors like [himself], but presumably hierarchy of the Third Reich"

The Allies had believed that Argentina was beyond the range of the VIIC, a smaller class of U-Boat, but the fact remains that Schäffer reached Mar del Plata. However, Puerto Madryn was indeed beyond his range unless he stopped to refuel, as it was more than 500 miles away as the crow flies and much more following the coastline. Ingeborg Schäffer’s testimony, and other evidence from Argentine navy documents, clearly point to two separate groups of U-Boats. 

A separate group included U-530, a IXC/40, which First Lt. Otto Wermuth surrendered at Mar del Plata on 10 July. This boat was in terrible condition and contained nothing of value; it may already have offloaded cargo at Necochea for Estancia Moromar.

Wermuth’s interrogation report—translated from German into Spanish, and finally into English by the U.S. Navy—says that he considered landing at "Miromar" before deciding to surrender at Mar del Plata. He said that he had left Kristiansand on 3 March 1945, and proceeded to Horten in Oslo Fjord, Norway, where for some reason "not stated" he remained for two days [possibly to load cargo]. He also did not explain why it had taken him more than two months to reach Argentina, nor why the submarine had no torpedoes, weapons, or ammunition on board, nor why the crew carried no identification, nor what had happened to the ship's log.

The unexpected arrival of U-530 started many rumors.

Brazilian Admiral Jorge Dodsworth Martins said he believed that U-530 could have sunk the cruiser 'Bahia', while Admiral Dudal Teixeira, also a Brazilian, believed that U-530 had come from Japan.

An Argentine reporter claimed that he had seen a Buenos Aires provincial police report to the effect that a strange submarine had surfaced off the lower Argentine coast and had landed a high-ranking officer and a civilian who might have been Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun in disguise. U-977, that arrived in Mar del Plata on 17 August, was also accused of sinking 'Bahia'; however, an inquiry eventually found that the cruiser had been sunk due to a gunnery accident.

Denies Hitler Landed
19 July 1945

NEW YORK and WASHINGTON. Reports that Hitler and Eva Braun are in Argentina will be investigated by the United States Embassy in Buenos Aires. This was stated today by a spokesman of the State Department.

The Buenos Aires correspondent of the "American Associated Press" says that the Argentine Foreign Minister [Senor Ameghino] has denied the reports that Hitler and his reported wife, Eva Braun, had landed on the Argentine coast from the German U-boat U-530.

Senior Ameghino stated that for two months before the U-530 surrendered, police and naval vessels had constantly patrolled the coast. He added that in consequence of the latest report police vigilance had now been extended to the interior of Patagonia

The Argentine naval authorities are investigating reports that two submarines were sighted off San Clemente Deltuyu only a few days after the U-530 surrendered at Mar Del Plata. The Argentine Government has decided to deliver the U-530 to Britain and America. The whereabouts of the U-Boat during the two months since Germany's capitulation have not been explained.

The Brazzaville [French Equatorial Africa] radio last night quoted the South American newspaper "La Critica" as saying that Hitler and Eva Braun had taken refuge on Queen Maud Island in the Antarctica.

The Argentine Naval Ministry issued an official communique in which they stated that U-530 was not responsible for the sinking of 'Bahia', that no Nazi leader or high-ranking military officers were aboard, and that U-530 had landed no one on the coast of Argentina before surrendering.

According to recently declassified Argentine archives as reported in the 1992 book "Ultramar Sur" by Juan Salinas and Carlos de Napoli the following is now known about U-Boats arriving in Argentina postwar:

(1) U-530 had been on a special operation to the US East coast after sailing from Germany 19 March 1945. This was three days after the bombing of Dresden and may have been linked to Hitler's orders to fire nerve gas shells at New York in retaliation. Hitler was talked out of this plan by Keitel and Jodl. The order is contained in the OKW War Diary [see also Gellermann: "Der Krieg der nicht statt fand"]. Wehrmuth stated that for his unspecified mission he was under direct orders from Berlin.

The new set of interrogation documents show a conflict between the evidence of the crew members, who described how the 10-5-cm deck gun was jettisoned at sea, and the commander, Otto Wehrmuth, who said that the gun had been unshipped ashore before sailing. This draws attention to the importance of the deck gun. It was Wehrmuth's personal decision to make for Argentina rather than surrender to the USA and for understandable reasons.

(2) There is a duplicate set of documents at the Argentine archive for U-977.

The Brazilian cruiser 'Bahia' blew up at the Equator on 4 July 1945 as the result of crew error. At the time it was assumed that a German submarine was responsible, and Schäffer, whose charts put him within fifty miles of the casualty, seemed a likely candidate for the noose and the short drop when the US Navy framed him.

There are documentary indications that the Argentine intelligence service conspired with Schäffer to put him a thousand miles to the north of the tragedy on the day in question, and thus came into existence his novel "U-977" with the world record 66 days by Schnorchel, all in agonizing detail. The Argentine Navy archive has a different version of the novel as no doubt does ODESSA.

The Kriegsmarine had a naval Etappendienst house at San Antonio Oeste, a small town inshore on the coast of Rio Negro. It seems likely that Schäffer called in there for orders on or about 18 July 1945, for he was pursued by the torpedo boat 'Mendoza' for forty miles and then depth charged there that night. These eight depth charges were the sum total of Argentina's anti-Nazi war effort: their pro-Nazi effort remains their more outstanding contribution.

The depth charge attack damaged U-977, but fortunately Schäffer was saved "because it was getting dark", which resulted in all Argentine naval forces being recalled to base [probably after the Etappendienst got in touch]. When Schäffer put into Mar del Plata on 17 August 1945 U-977 had fresh battle damage up front plus a middling quantity of fuel, which was extraordinary if Schäffer had come all the way from Norway without seeing man or beast as he claimed.

(3) Two cargo U-Boats came down from Germany for which U-977 was the scout. The Etappendienst base could only be contacted by landline, since a wireless transmitter would have betrayed its existence and location, and so Schäffer went on ahead there for orders. There were three submarines carrying important war material for abroad at the end of the war: U-234 for Japan, and U-235 and U-236 for Argentina. The latter two numbers were duplicates allocated for convenience.

According to the Argentine naval archive at least one of these two boats unloaded at San Clemente del Tuyu on the night of 28 July 1945. The police knew all about it and had their work cut out not to get involved. The 1952 depositions to the CEANA enquiry have gone missing, or caught fire or something similar, which has saved everybody a lot of embarrassment. The second boat was damaged during a depth charge attack at the Equator on 18 July 1945 by the Brazilian destroyer 'Babitonga' and may have sunk in the Bahia de San Matias while trying to manouevre ashore.

There is some evidence that the present Argentine Government believes in the existence of this second boat which has certain material aboard and is so dangerous to approach that it may have been declared a "war grave" by the German Government even though all aboard are believed to have got away safely. 

There is a quantity of material in Argentine and Brazilian archives which cover the activities of unknown submarines off their coasts in the period July and August 1945.

In one of the attacks at the Equator on 20 July 1945, for example, a submarine was forced to the surface for one minute by the destroyer 'Babitonga' and was seen to discharge a quantity of oil. A sample was collected and assayed, the Brazilian Navy reporting that it was not a Diesel oil used by Allied submarines. It has not been possible to identify any U-Boat in this area at the time, but obviously it was a submarine which belonged to somebody.

Nothing is known of any other U-Boats landing material in Argentina postwar. Local writers, researchers, pilots of private planes occasionally report sunken U-Boats and U-Boat wreckage and artefacts along the coast, some photographed in lovely colour, but so far nothing of value has materialized and survived scrutiny.

By contrast, U-977 was carrying its full complement of weapons and torpedoes when it surrendered on 17 August—a full five weeks after U-530. Wermuth’s mention of "Miromar," and the fact that getting rid of the torpedoes would have provided space for clandestine cargo, suggest that he may have had something to hide from his interrogators. He refused to say whether or not U-530 was alone, but he did say that he operated under direct orders from Berlin and that the last direct contact he had was on 26 April. Wermuth said that he did not know of any other submarines headed for Argentina, but that if any more were coming, they would arrive within a week of his own arrival.

The Nazis did very well in the war, from a business viewpoint. War is a business. It was fought for material gain. The Nazis gained materially. What they lost was territory. What they gained was treasure, new friends, and experience. The treasure included a couple of U-Boats full of bearer bonds, numbered stock shares and patent certificates.

In occupied Germany one could neither vote with these shares nor could one collect interest, dividends, nor royalties. When [West] Germany again "took its place among the nations of the World" in 1955, the Bundestag immediately changed all this. The holders of these once worthless scraps of paper suddenly, once again, possessed incredibly wealth.

"... the hard core of Nazi wealth in Latin America. In 1944 a great treasure had been sent secretly across the Atlantic, the famous "Bormann treasure". This operation involved the transport from Germany to Argentina of several tons of gold, securities, shares, and works of art .."

A brief look at what could be called gold stories, legends, or myths, sheds light on to the missing Nazi treasures. The biggest hoard still missing is that of Bormann's Aktion Feuerland project. Undoubtedly, there are as many myths as there are facts surrounding Bormann's Treasure. Some have taken on the aspects of legends. Thus the reader is forewarned that what follows concerning this hoard may be partially false.

What is known with certainty is up until June 1944, Bormann transferred his loot across France in trucks to Spain. In Spain the treasure was transferred to U-boats, which then made the voyage to Argentina. After D-Day with the land route closed to Spain, Bormann continued his transfer of assets to Argentina by air. Author, Ladislas Farago claims that the virtually complete record of this operation is preserved in the archives of Coordination Federal in Buenos Aires, in the FBI files, and in the archives of the British Admiralty. The later assumed the U-Boats were on regular patrol. Farago claims the shipments began in 1943 and arrived on a regular basis spaced at six to eight weeks apart. He states the money and gold were deposited in the name of Eva Peron.

According to Farago, the Perons managed to gain control over much of Bormann's treasure and in Eva Peron's "Rainbow Tour of Europe" she deposited over $800 million in numbered accounts in various Swiss banks.

Farago lists the treasure as:

187,692,400 Gold Marks
17,576,386 American Dollars
4,632,500 Pounds Sterling
24,976,442 Swiss Francs
8,370,000 Dutch Florins
17,280,009 Belgian Francs
54,968,000 French Francs
87 kilograms Platinum
2,511 kilograms of Gold
4,638 carats of Diamonds and other precious stones.

Farago's list of Bormann's treasure above has been partially verified by Adam Lebor, as he specifically list the same quantities of gold and diamonds.

This brief look at the Bormann treasure transferred to Argentina readily illustrates the difficulty of sorting fact from fiction in the tales of Nazi loot. Author, Uki Goni has also presented proof of the difficulties encountered in relying on Argentina records. He has found that those records have been purged of incriminating files on at least two different occasions. The full truth of the Bormann treasure may never be revealed unless the Untied States and England declassifies all documents from WWII.

"... Several U-Boats arrived in Argentine waters after the capitulation of Germany. They were the carriers of bundles of documents, industrial patents, and securities. On 10 July  1945, the U-530 surfaced at the mouth of the River Platte and entered the port of La Plata. The following month, on 17 August, the U-977 also arrived at La Plata. In accordance with international conventions, both U-Boats were interned by Argentina and later handed over to the United States authorities. 

"To the surprise of few, they were found to be empty of treasure. Two more U-Boats, according to reliable sources, appeared off an uninhabited stretch of the coast of Patagonia between  23 and 29 July 1945".

--  "The Avengers", by Michael Bar-Zohar, Hawthorn Books

Ingeborg Schäffer's testimony suggests that a second group of boats, responsible for the landings near Puerto Madryn described by Heinrich Bethe, might have been escorted by her husband’s fully armed U-977, which left Kristiansand on 2 May, 1945—the day before U-530 sailed. Both U-530, and U-1235 from Gruppe Seewolf, had the range for the southernmost landings.

No proper investigation of U-530 and U-977, considering all the declassified material, has been made to this point. The entire history of the final voyages of these two submarines is based on the US Navy interrogation reports of the crews once they arrived as captives in the United States.

The British interrogations in Hertfordshire in 1945 and 1946 remain classified until 2020, and one wonders what was said by Schäffer to merit it being given such a high level of secrecy.

Until 2002, the reports on the interrogations of Wermuth and Schäffer by the Argentine Navy at Mar del Plata, made the day after their respective arrivals, were kept top secret. Now that they have been declassified we have a second story.

The Argentines have chosen not to release the interrogations of the boats' officers and crew but based on reports from Brazilian naval sources these are also believed to prove that neither voyage was what it seemed, the dates are faulty and we have been fed a pack of lies and deceit by the northern hemisphere to conceal the true purpose behind both voyages. And neither boat had Hitler, Eva Braun nor Bormann aboard.

The interrogation reports of the commanders and crews declassified years ago by the US archive are forgeries to serve a political purpose. These two boats were important.

What was carried aboard these U-Boats was Cargo. In the early months of 1945, Chile, Argentina and Uruguay all signed a document engineered by the Allies, probably by financial inducement, that they would mobilize and co-operate and provide all means necessary to the common global objective of destroying National Socialism. The total contribution of all three in the naval arena was the eight depth charges dropped on U-977 on 18 July 1945. Meanwhile arrangements were being made with Germany, their supposed enemy, to accept any war criminal, the wealth of the Third Reich, land purchase money-laundering arrangements and to allow certain advanced technologies to be pursued inland, and there is no doubt whatever that this occurred. The wealth and the technological transfer could only have been achieved by sea.

U-977 sailed from Kiel on 13 April 1945 and put into Frederikshaven to load 45 tonnes of cargo for Argentina on 14 April 1945.

By a stupendous coincidence, on that very same day, the 14 April 1945, U-235 was reportedly depth-charged and sunk in precise coordinates not far offshore below the northern tip of Denmark. She was allegedly sunk by the German torpedo-boat T-17. The only source we have for the sinking of U-235 is therefore the German Navy, and the German Navy was responsible for sending U-Boats to Argentina..

Of all the U-Boats "sunk" in the Kattegat, U-235 is in the easiest position to find. Over recent years no less than five U-Boats have been located in the Kattegat and raised.None of these found U-boats has been U-235. Search as they might, no salvor can find the tomb of U-235. And they cannot find Friedrich Huisgen's boat because it was only sunk in the War Diary of a German torpedo-boat, and not in real life. 

Schäffer wrote  secretly for the Argentine Navy an amended version of his 1952 book. In "El Secreto del U-977" [published privately in Buenos Aires in 1955] a which differs vastly from the "novel" he had turned out earlier. In this amended book he says that he had been joined by a U-Boat of conventional Type whose number he prefers not to reveal, the trio [U-977, a Type XXI and the conventional Type] set off for Horten and arrived there unscathed on 21 April 1945. 

There are reports that U-435 and at least four others helped transport former Nazi leaders and their treasures to South America between June 1945 and October 1946.

According to official records, U-435 was depth-charged and sunk on 9 July 1943 west of Figueira, Portugal by a RAF Wellington bomber from 179 Squadron. All hands were said to be lost. 

An Argentine Intelligence document states that this boat unloaded passengers at Mar del Plata postwar.

The next heard of U-235 is in a document declassified by Argentine counter-Intelligence. This is a Memorandum of the Coordinación Federal DAE 568 classified "strictly secret and confidential" and dated 14 October 1952, written by the Head of the Cordoba Delegation to the Head of the Division for External Affairs. This document is headed: "Movement of Foreigners" and in translation reads as follows:

"I bring to your attention that our agents [names deleted] have detected in the locality of Ascochinga, mountainous zone of Cordoba province, a ranch situated on the Cerro Negro which has been aquired by a former German officer who disembarked at Mar del Plata submarine base from U-235. This submarine was proceeding from Germany to Patagonia at the conclusion of hostilities. The officer in question holds meetings with former high-ranking Nazi financiers...."

German submarines seem to have just "called in" at Mar del Plata by night to drop off important technical people before continuing to where they unloaded "secretly". This unloading process was not difficult, because from 21 July 1945 the Argentine Navy had called off all coastal patrols along its 4,000 kilometres of coastline.

The small village above Ascochinga was investigated by Argentine author Jorge Camarasa for his book "Puerto Secreto" [Buenos Aires 2006] and a report made on his discoveries.


The presence of a second group of three boats is also suggested in two separate television interviews conducted in Buenos Aires with Wilfred von Oven. Oven was the personal press adjutant to Propaganda Minister Josef Göbbels between 1943 and 1945. He had accompanied the Condor Legion in Spain as a war correspondent and was acquainted with Gen. Wilhelm von Faupel of the Ibero-American Institute. Oven went into hiding in 1945 under an assumed name and fled to Argentina in 1951. A committed Nazi, he was declared persona non grata by the Federal German Embassy in Buenos Aires. Before he died in 2008, Oven was asked about a "fleet" of Nazi submarines coming to Argentina in 1945. On two occasions—once to an Argentine author, and again to a British TV crew—he replied, in what appeared to be almost a conversational slip, "No, there were only three, just three". His interviews are rambling and given in an arch manner suggesting that he knew more than he was willing to tell, but on the matter of the three U-Boats he seemed quite lucid.

The documentary evidence appears to say that these were U-977 and the two that unloaded at Necochea.

Wilfred von Oven [born La Paz, Bolivia 4 May 1912 – died Buenos Aires, Argentina 13 June 2008] was interested in journalism and served with the Condor Legion in Spain as a war correspondent. After obtaining an Army commission in 1939 he served with the Propaganda Ministry as a war correspondent reporting from the fronts in Poland and the Soviet Union during the Second World War. In 1943, with the rank of Lieutenant, the OKW appointed him as Göbbels' Press adjutant, which he remained until the end of the war.

Von Oven witnessed the events of the 20 July 1944 plot. On the afternoon in question the Propaganda Ministry on the Wilhelmstrasse, with Göbbels inside, was surrounded by disloyal troops. Göbbels ordered Oven to discover whether escape was possible. He found they were trapped but reported that the telephone system was still working, an oversight by the plotters which assisted in their downfall.

The relation of von Oven and Göbbels was of the most cordial and of mutual admiration. On 22 April  1945 Göbbels took leave of von Oven to be with Hitler in the underground Bunker of the Chancellery. Von Oven tried to follow Göbbels there, but the Nazi minister told him to stay in his office "fixing all the papers".

After the capitulation in 1945 von Oven went into hiding under an assumed name to escape Allied internment.

Werner Naumann, the replacement Propaganda Minister for Göbbels whose assistant Oven would have been, fled to Argentina in 1946, where Oven arrived in 1951.

On 1 May 1945, Naumann was the leader of break-out group number 3 from the Führerbunker. The group included Martin Bormann, Hans Baur, Ludwig Stumpfegger and Artur Axmann. Erich Kempka testified at Nuremberg that he had last seen Naumann walking a metre in front of Martin Bormann when a Soviet rocket exploded by Bormann while crossing the Weidendammer Bridge under heavy fire in Berlin.

From that group, only Naumann and Axmann escaped the Soviet Army encirclement of Berlin and made it to western Germany.

Naumann fled to Argentina then, where he became one of the editors of the neo-Nazi magazine "Der Weg" published by the Dürer Verlag, which circulated in the German community in June 1947.

He was the highest ranking member of the Nazi hierarchy known to have gone to Argentina immediately postwar. How he entered is not known.

Von Oven initially had the expected protection, which implied a false identity in his documents and then, continued to count on this same protection, shortly after arriving in Argentina he returned to use his real name, and with that same name, he signed his work in Argentina as editor-in-chief of the German newspaper "Freie Presse".

This right hand of Göbbels continued to live in Argentina, in a chalet located in Bella Vista, Greater Buenos Aires, from 1952 until 2008, at which time he died at the age of 96, surrounded by children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, taking to the grave the memories and secrets of the nefarious and obscure National Socialist days in Third Reich Germany. 

For all those who systematically disbelieve the presence and good life of the Nazis of the Second World War in Argentina [or simply pretend to look the other way], the case of Wilfred von Oven is like a dash of cold water. Wilfred von Oven lived placidly in Argentina, protected, endorsed and [by many] respected and admired.  He was not the only one.....

Nazi Havens in South America
by Dr. Yvette Alt Miller
13 January 2018  | 

Secret files reveal 9,000 Nazi war criminals fled to South America after WWII.

After 1945 the scale of the horror of the Holocaust came to light. Faced with unprecedented cruelty, much of the world responded with unprecedented vigor. The new term “crimes against humanity” was coined in the subsequent Nuremberg trials, as Allied lawyers called senior Nazis to account.

Yet fewer than 300 Nazis faced judgment in the Nuremberg trials while up to 9,000 Nazis by some counts were spirited away from Europe after World War II, helped by sympathetic agents and friends. Many found new lives in South America. By the late 1940s, much of South America, particularly Brazil, Chile and Argentina, was a haven for thousands of Nazis eluding justice. German prosecutors in recent years have estimated that Brazil accepted between 1,500 and 2,000 Nazis, Chile took in between 500 and 1,000, and Argentina welcomed up to 5,000 Nazis to their country.

Many South American countries were home to large communities of ethnic Germans during and after World War II. In many cases, these communities were sympathetic to and even welcomed Nazis, helping them to evade justice. In the mid-1980s, it was estimated that 3.6 million of Brazil’s 130 million citizens, one million out of Argentina’s 28 million people, and 200,000 out of 3.5 million citizens of Paraguay were ethnically German. “Many of them maintain the language and traditions of their forefathers,” the New York Times noted in 1985. “Because of their strong cultural identity, the older German farming communities in southern Brazil and southern Paraguay have often been accused of harboring Nazis. In 1962, the Chilean town of Colonia Dignidad was found to be home to 300 families who’d fled Germany after World War II, finding a welcome – and no questions asked – among their compatriots in South America.”

In 1955, Gen. Alfredo Stroessner, a grandson of immigrants from Bavaria, opened Paraguay to former Nazis. In the 1930s, Brazil had the biggest Nazi party in the world after Germany, with 40,000 members; many of these Brazilian Nazis welcomed German Nazis after the war. In Argentina, future president Juan Peron spent part of the war, from 1939 to 1941, working in Argentina’s embassy in Italy and openly admired the politics of Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler. When Peron became President of Argentina in 1946, he ordered the establishment of secret channels – dubbed “ratlines” – to ferry thousands of Nazis from ports in Spain and Italy out of Europe and into Latin America.
Juan Peron.

Historian Uki Goni, in his 2002 book "The Real Odessa: Smuggling the Nazis to Peron’s Argentina", documents that in 1946 Juan Peron sent secret word to France that Nazi officials facing prosecution at home would find a welcoming haven in Argentina. The “Odessa” theory, popularized in the 1972 novel The Odessa File and 1974 movie of the same name, was that a secret group of former SS officers had banded together and was helping former Nazi officials to escape post-war Europe. While there was no “Odessa” group, the truth was far stranger: some of the most senior officials in governments, the Catholic church and aid organizations actively worked to help Nazis escape justice, often sending them to South America.

Peron’s key point man in creating a pipeline for Nazis was the Argentinian Cardinal Antonio Caggiano. He passed along Peron’s top-secret message to a Cardinal in France, who communicated with Nazis living in France, helping usher them to Argentina. Peron invested considerable manpower in smuggling Nazis to Argentina, even setting up a secret office in Bern to help handle the paperwork. In Spring 1946, the first French Nazis began receiving Argentinian tourist visas and setting sail for South America.

Alois Hudal

Many of these Nazis escaping to South America were aided by Catholic officials. Some merely wanted to help Catholics escape from the rising Communist governments in central Europe. Other officials, however, were actively anti-Semitic and desired to help Nazis elude justice. One of the highest ranking Catholic officials who aided Nazi criminals was Bishop Alois Hudal, an Austrian-born admirer of Hitler. Bishop Hudal worked in Rome, ministering to Axis POWs, and tirelessly aided war criminals by providing them with false Vatican-issued identity papers allowing them to gain passports from the International Red Cross and travel to South America.

Bishop Hudal worked with a network of officials throughout Europe; it was he, with the aid of a Franciscan friar in Italy, who provided false papers that allowed senior Nazi Adolf Eichmann to sail for Argentina. Hudal’s activities helping “refugees” [many of whom were Nazis evading justice] garnered him much praise and financial support. The American Catholic Bishops Conference even approved a monthly stipend of $200 to Bishop Hudal to help him in his work.

The work of Bishop Hudal and other Catholic officials to help Nazis flee was an open secret. A 1947 memo sent from the United States’ Italian embassy noted that “The Vatican of course is the largest single organization involved in the illegal movement of emigrants” out of Europe in those years.

Bishop Hudal and other Catholic officials had a willing accomplice in Carl Jacob Burckhardt, President of the International Red Cross in the years after World War II. In his 2011 book "Nazis on the Run: How Hitler’s Henchmen Fled Justice", historian Gerald Steinacher chronicles Burckhardt’s anti-Semitism, as well as his penchant for helping Germans, including former Nazis. It’s hard to know just how many former Nazis fled Europe using false Red Cross papers; in 2012, German lawyers, after examining recently declassified archives, estimated that thousands of Nazis were similarly able to obtain false Red Cross passports. About 800 SS members were able to flee to Argentina alone using these false documents.
One Nazi who fled to Argentina was Horst Wagner, who aided in the deportation and murder of at least 350,000 Jews. Wagner’s story would have remained unknown were it not for the efforts of German family therapist turned author Gisela Heidenreich, whose mother Edith met and fell in love with Horst Wagner during the war. In 2012, Ms. Heidenreich published a work documenting Wagner’s escape from justice, "Beloved Criminal: A Diplomat in the Service of the Final Solution". After escaping from an Allied-run jail in 1948, Wagner followed a path dubbed the “Kloster Line”, receiving sanctuary in convents and churches in Austria before heading to Rome. There, Bishop Hudal helped him obtain false papers and sail to Argentina.

Franz Stangl, the commander of the extermination camps of Sobibor and Treblinka who oversaw the murder of nearly one and a half million Jews, was another senior Nazi Ms. Heidenreich uncovered who followed the same path. Stangl was aided by Catholic church officials and eventually fled to Brazil on a false Red Cross passport. Stangl was eventually extradited to Germany in the 1960s and died in jail. Wagner met a different fate: he was never extradited and lived to old age in the Argentinian town of Bariloche, near Patagonia where he celebrated at weekly get-togethers in local beer halls, singing Nazi songs with other SS comrades who called Argentina home.

In addition to being ideologically sympathetic to Nazi ideology, Juan Peron also had a financial motive in bringing so many Nazis to his country. In 2005, drawing on government archives that had just been declassified, German journalist Gaby Weber found that Peron systematically used his government to launder money belonging to Nazi-owned companies, whose profits would otherwise have been seized as part of criminal investigations. In "The German Connection: The Laundering of Nazi Money in Argentina", Ms. Weber estimates that value of the money laundering operation at well over one billion dollars.

A Mercedes-Benz plant in the suburbs of Buenos Aires might have been the center of the program bringing German wealth and former Nazis to Argentina, Ms. Weber uncovered. Adolf Eichmann worked at the plant, first under his own name, and later under an alias. According to Ms. Weber, Eichmann might have worked as a paymaster, “financing the movement and flight to Argentina” of other Nazis, before he was captured by Israeli forces in 1960, tried, and executed in 1962.

Otto Skorzeny

Otto Skorzeny, an SS commander who was known as Hitler’s favorite Nazi commando, is another senior Nazi figure who might have arranged for other Nazis to find homes in South America. Escaping from an Allied prison in 1947 with the help of local pro-Nazi citizens, Skorzeny moved to Madrid, where he ran an import/export agency that was rumored to be a front for organizing the escape of Nazis to South America. Skorzeny made numerous trips to Argentina, eventually working for a time as a bodyguard to Juan Peron’s wildly popular second wife, Eva, known as Evita.

Evita seems to have been an enthusiastic helper of Nazis in her own right. She was reported to have been romantically involved with Skorzeny, and also might have been active in laundering money from German Nazis. In 2011, Brazilian authors Leandro Narloch and Duda Teixeira wrote, “It is still suspected that among [Eva Peron’s possessions, there were pieces of Nazi treasure that came from rich Jewish families killed in concentration camps.

Nazis who eluded justice to find a haven in South America include

  • “Angel of Death” Josef Mengele, who conducted gruesome experiments at Auschwitz, and fled to Argentina in 1949. He moved to Paraguay in 1959 and Brazil in 1960; he drowned while swimming on a Brazilian beach in 1979.

  • SS Col. Walter Rauff, who invented mobile gas chambers that killed at least 100,000 people; he died in Chile in 1984.

  • Eduard Roschmann, known as the “Butcher of Riga”; he died in Paraguay in 1977.

  • “The Beast”, SS officer Gustav Wagner. He died in Brazil in 1980 after the supreme court blocked his extradition to Germany over paperwork.

  • Klaus Barbie, known as the “Butcher of Lyon.” The Gestapo chief in Lyon, France, contributed to the death of thousands of French Jews and members of the French resistance. He was smuggled into Bolivia, in part with American help, where he aided anti-communist efforts. He was finally extradited in 1983 and imprisoned in France.

The Torah commands “Justice, justice shall you pursue” {Deuteronomy 16:18}. A generation ago, thousands of Nazis eluded justice by fleeing to South America. Today, as a new generation of historians delving into archives and other records, the truth about how so much of South America became a Nazi haven is being uncovered. It’s too late to try most of these Nazi war criminals but their victims, and all of us, deserve to know the truth about this dark chapter in South America’s past.