The new book by the winner of the Baillie Gifford Prize and author of the Sunday Times bestseller EAST WEST STREET - a historical detective story that sets out to uncover the truth behind what happened to leading Nazi Otto von Wachter
As Governor of Galicia, SS Brigadefuhrer Otto Freiherr von Wachter presided over an authority on whose territory hundreds of thousands of Jews and Poles were killed, including the family of the author's grandfather. By the time the war ended in May 1945, he was indicted for 'mass murder'. Hunted by the Soviets, the Americans, the Poles and the British, as well as groups of Jews, Wachter went on the run. He spent three years hiding in the Austrian Alps, assisted by his wife Charlotte, before making his way to Rome where he was helped by a Vatican bishop. He remained there for three months. While preparing to travel to Argentina on the 'ratline' he died unexpectedly, in July 1949, a few days after spending a weekend with an 'old comrade'.
In The Ratline Philippe Sands offers a unique account of the daily life of a senior Nazi and fugitive, and of his wife. Drawing on a remarkable archive of family letters and diaries, he unveils a fascinating insight into life before and during the war, on the run, in Rome, and into the Cold War. Eventually the door is unlocked to a mystery that haunts Wachter's youngest son, who continues to believe his father was a good man - what happened to Otto Wachter, and how did he die?
A triumph of research and brilliant storytelling
A gripping adventure, an astounding journey of discovery and a terrifying and timely portrait of evil in all its complexity, banality, self-justification and madness. A stunning achievement
This is a burningly necessary book. Sands makes a gently unsparing dissection of deception, love, delusion and ineradicable evil. Elegant, painstaking, passionate and quietly enraging
Hypnotic, shocking and unputdownable
Breathtaking, gripping, and ultimately, shattering. Philippe Sands has done the unimaginable: look a butcher in the eye and tell his story without flinching
Philippe Sands is Professor of Law at UCL and a practising barrister at Matrix Chambers. He has been involved in many of the most important international cases of recent years, including Pinochet, Congo, Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Iraq, Guantanamo and the Rohingya. He is the author of LAWLESS, TORTURE TEAM, EAST WEST STREET, which won the Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-fiction, and THE RATLINE. He is a contributor to the Financial Times, Guardian, New York Review of Books and Vanity Fair, and makes regular appearances on radio and television. He is President of English PEN and a member of the board of the Hay Festival.