Argentinian mayor decries book, controversy
The mayor of Bariloche has harsh words for the guidebook that has jeopardized its Sister City relationship with Aspen by bringing attention on his town’s alleged links with former Nazi officials.
Mayor Alberto Gabriel Icare responded to a letter from Aspen Mayor Helen Klanderud last week, but he wrote it in Spanish. City officials have been working on the translation and follow-up questions to Icare.
“I wish to confirm the vows and trust and friendship exchanged between Aspen and Bariloche communities,” he wrote, asking Klanderud to assure Aspenites that there are no Nazis residing in the Argentine town today and that Bariloche repudiates war crimes.
Klanderud said Monday she continues to support the Sister City relationship between the two cities.
“I have no reason not to support it at this time, but there are obviously people in this community who have concerns, and I intend to address those concerns,” she said.
City officials in Bariloche apparently condemned Nazism in 1994 and reconfirmed that stance in 2003. Aspen was still seeking copies of those pronouncements yesterday.
Aspen and San Carlos de Bariloche formalized their Sister City ties last year. Recently, though, publicity about a guide book, “Bariloche Nazi” by Abel Basti, put Bariloche’s past in the spotlight and ultimately spawned controversy in Aspen over the relationship between the two communities.
“Barilocheans painfully endure the repetition of scandalous publications of this type that have neither historical nor journalistic support, and are printed only for the personal monetary gain of its author,” Icare wrote.
The book has caused “great indignation” in Bariloche, he added. “Personally, I am very pained by the damage that the sensationalist press is causing us,” Icare wrote.
The book apparently offers directions to the former residence of Nazi SS officer Erich Priebke, who was extradited from Bariloche, and suggests Adolf Hitler came to Bariloche, as well.
Wrote Icare: “The fact is that after the Nuremberg trials by courts which the USA was also part of, the world learned that after the war Adolf Hitler committed suicide in his bunker, while Mr. Basti says that he came to live in San Carols de Bariloche; I must say that I have no doubts whatsoever as to which of these historical versions is the most reliable.”
In a letter to the editors of the Aspen Times, the book’s author claims Icare has avoided taking a stand on the subject of Nazism and the individuals who arrived in Bariloche after World War II.
“I hope the historic truth will, some day, be admitted by the political authorities and main representatives of this city,” Basti wrote from Bariloche.