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'Nazi refuge' unearthed by archaeologists in Argentina

In the depths of Argentina's rainforest, archaeologists have discovered what they believe to be a Nazi hideout, built during the Second World War. But lack of evidence has historians questioning the authenticity.

For years, a worn-looking sign reading "Pathway to Bormann's House," has lead the way to the ruins at the center of the archaelogists research. Despite evidence proving the death of Martin Bormann in Berlin in 1945, local legend says Hitler's right-hand man settled in a house in the Teyu Cuare provincial park following the fall of the Third Reich.

Following months of research by a team of archaeologists from the University of Buenos Aires (UBA) in the northeastern province of Misiones, the small complex of buildings has been thrown into the limelight once again, surrounded by as much conviction as ever before.

The team investigating the ruins believes the stone structures, which allegedly date back to the 1940s, were built as a hideout for leading Nazis in preparation for defeat in the Second World War.

Coins and porcelain

Almost exactly 70 years since the end of the six-year war, the ruined buildings now stand hidden beneath wild vines and thick undergrowth.

Among the remains, researchers from the UBA's Center for Urban Archaeology (CAU) found objects which alluded to links with Nazi Germany, including German coins minted between 1938 and 1944, and fragments of porcelain marked with "Made in Germany" which also dated from the same time period.

Crudely chiseled into one of the walls is a huge swastika - the sign most closely associated to the Nazi dictatorship which resulted in the deaths of some 11 million people across Europe, including 6 million Jews.

Preparation for defeat

"We can find no other explanation as to why anyone would build these structures, at such great effort and expense, at a site which at that time was totally inaccessible, away from the local community, with material which is not typical of the regional architecture," archeological team leader Daniel Schavelzon told Argentinean newspaper Clarin.

"Apparently, halfway through the Second World War, the Nazis had a secret project of building shelters for top leaders in the event of defeat – inaccessible sites, in the middle of deserts, in the mountains, on a cliff or in the middle of the jungle like this," Schavelzon said.

Dubious evidence

The lack of evidence and documentation regarding the ruins, however, has forced historians to question the truth behind the overgrown house.

"There were many Germans in Argentina during the Second World War," University of Jena historian Daniel Stahl told DW.

"There was economic trade. Therefore its by no means strange that German coins and goods from this period have emerged in Argentina.

"These theories are not scientifically proven," Stahl added.

Similarly, Buenos Aires-based author and historian Uki Goni, told DW categorically that the ruins were not those of a Nazi hideout.

"This is just another part in the myth," Goni said.

"For about 10 years there has been a sign saying that Martin Bormann lived here, and of course that's not true either as Bormann also died in Berlin.

"We have no proof that those coins weren't dropped there by somebody who was keen to get some more tourist up there so they can make a little bit more money," Goni added.

'Nazi refuge'

Schavelzon, however, said the ruins, which he described as a "refuge for the Nazi hierarchy," would have been in an ideal location - just 10 minutes away from bordering Paraguay where they could easily escape to if necessary.

Despite the Nazis defeat in May 1945, leaders of the German, Croatian Ustasha and Italian regimes were able to live openly in Argentina under the blessing of then-President Juan Peron.

"When the war was over some useful Germans helped us build our factories and make the best use of what we had and in time they were able to help themselves too," Peron said at the time.

Abraham Zylberman, a historian at the Holocaust Museum Buenos Aires, also said, that the assumptions of Schavelzon and his team must first be proved. He acknowledged, however, that for experts, such a discovery would be extremely valuable and unique.

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