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German WW-II Plans to Destroy Panama Canal Disclosed in Now Declassified Files


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Chile's police thwarted Nazi plot to destroy Panama Canal in second world war, declassified files show

Our Foreign Staff 23 June 2017 • 1:21am


A ship crosses the Culebra cut of the Panama Canal on opening day in 1914 Credit: AFP

Nazi agents in Chile plotted to destroy the Panama Canal around the time of the Second World War, declassified files show, an act that would have changed the "history of the whole world".  

One lawmaker suggested the documents, which were made public on Thursday by the Chilean equivalent of the FBI, could also indicate there were business or political figures in the South American country at the time who backed the Nazis. 

According to the 1937-1944 files released by Chile's investigations police, the force's counterintelligence unit thwarted the plan after it detained the people leading it in the country's main port of Valparaiso. No other details on the plot were provided.

The head of Chile's investigations police said the Department 50 unit also dismantled two Nazi espionage networks operating in Chile at the time.


A book of Chile's Civil Police with declassified files related to Nazi espionage in Chile is displayed after it was made public in Santiago Credit: Reuters

"If they had prospered in their objectives, it could have changed not only Chile's history, but the history of the whole world," said investigations police director Hector Espinoza.

"I don't think I'm mistaken when I say that the ones who really made history were the members of Department 50."

The files were put in display at a ceremony in the Chilean capital. The director of Chile's National Archives, Emma de Ramon, said that the documents , which can also be accessed online, are "original" and "reliable."

Young members of families of German descent in southern Chile underwent paramilitary training, while Nazi supporters in the country routinely sent Germany information about the routes of Allied merchant vessels, the documents showed.


People watch several Nazi documents at Chile's National Archive in Santiago Credit: AFP

Chilean police had arrested around 40 people as a result of their investigation, the documents showed, and found code books, radios and weapons, as well as plans to bomb mines in northern Chile.

The discovery comes the same week that a cache of Nazi artifacts was found hidden behind a bookcase in Buenos Aires, the Argentine capital.

There was significant support within Chile and Argentina of the Axis powers during World War Two. After the war, many leading Nazi officials fled justice in Europe to hide out in South America.

The 80 files of documents were officially handed over to the country's national archives office and will be available for public viewing.


A book of Chile's Civil Police with declassified files relating to Nazi espionage in Chile is displayed after it was made public in Santiago Credit: Reuters

"Until yesterday, this was a state secret," centre-left lawmaker Gabriel Silber said after a ceremony to hand over the files.

"Maybe, from today, we are going to recognize an uncomfortable truth that unfortunately some political and business figures in Chile supported the Nazis."


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