In a dramatic speech broadcast on May 27, 1941, half a year before his country entered World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared that what he called an “unlimited national emergency” had just occurred. He then explained: “I am just repeating what is already written in the Nazi book of world conquest. They plan to treat the Latin American nations as they treat the Balkans today. Then, they plan to strangle the United States of America.”
At that time, the expansionist efforts of Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany were not a mystery to anyone. As soon as he reached power, he began a profound change in foreign policy that began with the revision of the Treaty of Versailles.
In 1936, due to the Spanish Civil War, the ‘Führer’ began to intervene abroad, sending the Condor Legion in support of Franco’s troops. This action made him align himself with Mussolini’s Italy for the first time. Thus was born the Rome-Berlin Axis, which was succeeded shortly after by the Anti-Comintern Pact with Japan.
In a new and decisive step forward, Germany violated the Treaty of Versailles and annexed Austria in March 1938. Hitler’s next objective was Czechoslovakia, which he invaded in March 1939. A few days later, on the 23rd of the same month, the Nazis entered the Lithuanian region of Memel. On September 1, 1939, he launched for Poland and the Second World War began, which was joined by the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and France in May of the following year. However, his theory of Lebensraum, or vital soil, based on which he should invade any country that bordered his own, was not limited to Europe.
Since the beginning of the Nazi empire, Latin America had been within Hitler’s calculations, among other things, due to the number of Germans residing there. For this reason, the political organization of the Germans abroad became a priority task when it came to consolidating the party. Such was the effort of time and money made by the Third Reich to recruit colonists to work in the cause of the ‘Führer’, that Roosevelt became convinced that the Nazis wanted to dominate the entire world.
The “new world order”
In October 1941, five months after the aforementioned speech, and a few days after a group of German submarines sank an American ship, President Roosevelt said in another ‘speech’ that the threats were much greater than had been exposed: «I am in possession of a secret map made in Germany by the Hitler Government, by the planners of the new world order. It is a map of South America and part of Central America, just as Hitler proposes to reorganize them».
He then added: «Today, in that area there are fourteen different countries. However, the expert geographers of Berlin have inexorably erased all existing borders, and have divided South America into five vassal states, subjecting the entire continent to their rule. They have also arranged for the territory of one of these new puppet states to include the Republic of Panama and our great communication channel, the canal. This is the plan. I will never let it take effect.”
The map to which Roosevelt alluded, and to which the historians Jorge Camarasa and Carlos Basso Prieto refer in
‘Nazi America’ (Aguilar, 2014), showed Latin America divided into five territories:
– Argentina: which also included Uruguay, Paraguay and part of Bolivia.
– Chile: which absorbed Peru, Ecuador and western Bolivia.
– ‘New Spain’: that merged Colombia, Venezuela and Panama.
– Guyana: which remained intact.
– Brazil: which added to its current territory the rest of Bolivia, including its capital, La Paz.
As Tim Weiner points out in
‘Enemies: An FBI Story’ (Debate, 2012), the map had been delivered to the head of the US Office of Strategic Services, William Donovan, by British intelligence officers. They claimed to have stolen it from a Nazi agent in Rio de Janeiro, but in reality they had forged it to precipitate the entry of the United States into the European war. The ruse, however, remained secret for decades.
It was of little use that the Hitler government denied the veracity of the document, since on December 11, 1941, four days after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the declaration of war by the United States against the Japanese Empire, Nazi Germany declared it also the war against the United States. Hitler claimed that he had taken this step in response to a series of provocations and pretexts by Roosevelt to meddle in the conflict when they were still officially neutral.
The detail of the map fell into oblivion as the most devastating war in human history unfolded, until the document turned up among the papers of the former US president many decades later and could be examined by historian Nick Cull of the University of Southern California. The conclusion he reached was a real surprise, he not only considered it false, but that it had not been prepared by the Nazis, but by the British allies themselves. Specifically, by William Stephenson, a Canadian who collaborated with them from North America.
It is believed that the initial plan was to leave it somewhere carefully chosen for the FBI to discover, but he finally decided to hand it over directly to the FBI claiming to have found it in a search of a Nazi warehouse. The objective was to get the United States out of its neutrality, and it is probable that something had an influence in light of the events. In any case, Cull argues that Roosevelt suspected it. In fact, in the original manuscript of the October 1941 speech, the president wrote “a map of undoubted authenticity,” but then crossed it out and replaced those words with “a secret map.”
This does not imply that the Germans were not working on the organization of their colonies in Latin America, and that these works, naturally, had begun in those countries where the Germanic communities had more roots and a more favorable development. In 1937, in fact, the branch in Chile of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (NSDAP) had about a thousand militants; in Brazil, with 2,903, and in Argentina, with more than 1,500. Furthermore, since the early 1930s, in every country on the continent there were German youth leagues, German school organizations, and huge amounts of money earmarked for pro-Nazi propaganda.
Proof of this roots that could confuse Roosevelt is that South America became during and after World War II the perfect refuge for a sinister group of Nazi personalities. Thousands of scientists, technicians, ideologues, officials and bureaucrats who arrived escaping from their persecutors and found their “promised land” on this continent. Also murderers like Josef Mengele, Klaus Barbie, Adolf Eichmann, Whalter Rauff, Fritz Schwend, Herbert Cuckurs, Franz Stangl, Alfons Sassen and Hans Rudel, among many others, who moved to major cities and rural areas to escape the death penalty or life imprisonment.