originally appeared in the Antifa Info-Bulletin, an Internet mailing list, on 21 March 1997. Contact Tom Burghardt at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to subscribe to this list, which provides invaluable information about fascism and the struggle against fascist tendencies all over the world on a regular basis.
``Don't miss it!'' scream the advertisements. It's ``one of the year's ten best.'' It's the dramatic musical saga of that great Argentinean heroine Eva Peron, starring Madonna. The Hollywood film industry and Madonna have resurrected the ghost of Eva Peron onto fifty foot movie screens around the world in an effort to present ``poor little Evita,'' as a saintly historical figure to be adored by all the world.
But wait! Before you shell out your seven or eight bucks for a ticket, perhaps there are a few things about this movie that you should know. What these adverts don't mention is that the repackaging of Eva Peron as a tragic, though lovable, heroine involves the wholesale cover-up of her and her husband's real life historical roles as fascist dictators allied with the Nazis and as providers of sanctuary to some of history's most depraved mass murderers.
And yet it is one of the most highly acclaimed movies of the year. Already Hollywood has conferred on it its ``Golden Globe'' awards for ``Best Picture'' and on Madonna for ``Best Actress.'' (Much to many people's surprise, Evita only received five relatively minor nominations from the Hollywood establishment for Academy Awards. Could there actually be someone in Hollywood who is sensitive to this fascist-friendly propaganda after all?!)
But if this is a movie glorifying a fascist criminal, why all of the acclaim? Well, there's a whole lot more to this new cultural phenomenon of glamorizing dead fascists than you might think. Once again America has done what Hitler and Goebbels could only have dreamed about: turn a Nazi-loving-Jew-hater into an international cultural icon to be worshipped by the masses.
One of the details about Evita that the advertisements and the film itself don't tell you is that Eva Peron and her husband Juan Peron were personally responsible for helping some of the most evil mass murderers of all time to escape punishment after World War II and live comfortably in Argentina. Among the Nazi murderers that Eva Peron personally helped to flee justice and live happily ever after in her country were none other than Adolf Eichmann, Dr. Josef Mengele and Croatian fascist leader Ante Pavelic.
Dr. Mengele is best known for his twisted medical ``experiments'' on Jewish children at Auschwitz. Ante Pavelic was head of the Croatian fascist state which exterminated the Jews and Gypsies of Croatia and Bosnia and murdered over one million Serbian men, women and children. Although it was probably not true, it was long believed that the Perons were also providing sanctuary for ``Der Fuhrer'' himself, Adolf Hitler.
Oh yeah, one of them didn't live so happily ever after. Adolf Eichmann, once the Nazi SS ``Jewish Expert'' responsible for planning the extermination of the Jews, was kidnapped by Israeli commandos in 1960, smuggled to Israel, tried, convicted and executed in 1962. Tsk, tsk. Perhaps in her next movie role Madonna can play the ``poor widow'' of Adolf Eichmann. Reportedly, Madonna has insisted that Evita was the role ``she was born to play.''
Of course, it is no secret that the Perons ruled Argentina as a fascist state from 1943 to 1955. Nor is it news that they were loyal Axis allies until March of 1945. Juan Peron's fascist vision for Argentina matured while he served as Argentina's military attach to Mussolini's fascist government in Italy in the years before World War II. He came to power in Argentina as leader of a brutal military coup in 1943 in which he made clear his imperialist intentions to rule all of South America in a manner patterned after his hero Adolf Hitler, complete with concentration camps for leftists and non-White races. Following a brief power struggle in which he eliminated all rivals, Peron transformed the fascist state into his personal dictatorship and imposed a cult of personality on the people which required the worshipping of himself as ``El Lider'' and of his new wife, the radio actress Eva Duarte as ``Evita.'' ``Our Lives For Peron!'' was a required public greeting.
After breaking diplomatic relations with Hitler in 1945, the Peron regime was adopted by the United States government as a bastion of anti-communism, and soon became the most notorious safe haven in the world for Nazi war criminals. These fascist murderers were transported to Argentina with the full knowledge and support of the United States government and the Catholic Church in what would later be known as ``the Ratlines.''
For Jews, Serbs, Russians and other peoples whose loved ones were murdered by the millions, the Perons can be remembered in only one way -- as the best friends and protectors of Nazism and genocide in the Western Hemisphere. But for Argentineans too, the Perons are remembered for a bloody legacy. The Perons' dictatorship was one of a long line of fascist military regimes in Argentina which committed innumerable atrocities and which laid the foundation for the long night of bloodletting and terror in the 1970's and early 1980's when an entire generation of young Argentinean leftists and labor leaders were butchered by the tens of thousands in a mass murder unparalleled even in South America's bloody recent past. Yes, this is the ``heroic'' Peron legacy that Hollywood is honoring! This is the role Madonna says ``she was born to play!''
But new and still more disturbing information about the Perons' is now being discovered following the release of declassified U.S. intelligence reports from the CIA as well as previously secret Argentinean government documents acquired by the World Jewish Congress here in New York and researchers in Buenos Aires. According to The Observer story of November 3, 1996 some of the new information obtained through these investigations reveal that Eva Peron herself personally led a committee established by her husband to actively secure the safe passage of thousands of Nazi and other fascist war criminals to Argentina in exchange for hundreds of millions of dollars in Nazi gold, cash, jewels and art plundered from their victims. The article notes that declassified CIA documents name Eva Peron as the person in charge of this lucrative smuggling operation. The Observer points to other documents which trace Eva Peron's handling of the massive fortune she acquired as the savior of Nazi and Ustahi murderers. No wonder the current Hollywood film refers to her as a saint -- for the defeated mass murdering fascists with nowhere to run after the war she truly was just that.
In 1947 Eva Peron embarked on a well publicized tour of Europe. However, it is now known that the real purpose of that tour was to enable her to personally meet with Swiss bank directors in Geneva, Berne, Neuchatel and Lucerne to set up the accounts in which the hundreds of millions of dollars of Nazi loot was deposited. The ironic aspect of this is that the U.S. media has reported part of this story -- millions of dollars are still in those accounts and belong to the victims of the Holocaust. But what has not been reported is that much of that sits in the accounts of the Eva Peron Foundation, the foundation established with the loot of the Peron estate. Furthermore, the new documents suggest that the total number of Nazis, Ustashi and other wartime fascists given sanctuary in Argentina by Juan and Eva Peron was 15,000, not several hundred as was previously thought. According to The Observer, all of this information has been confirmed by Elan Steinberg, the Director of the World Jewish Congress in New York. But apparently the U.S. media does not wish to report news that may interfere with the money making operations of the U.S. movie industry. They will no doubt begin to report it only after the film has completed its box office run.
But where are all of those ``human rights activists'' now to help lead the boycott? Where is the Soros Foundation and Helsinki Watch and Amnesty International and the whole cabal of human rights fakers? Can't seem to find them protesting when a film glorifying Nazis is being shown and the truth about it is being suppressed, can you? They're much too busy trying to put pressure on the governments of Serbia, Cuba, Iraq, China and everywhere else where U.S. ``interests'' are at stake. But you can be sure that stopping the revival of fascist propaganda is not one of those interests.
Incredibly, Evita is not the only major new movie playing in theaters right now that glamorizes, romanticizes and whitewashes a former fascist as its leading character. Another new film that has recently opened called ``The English Patient'' portrays in a highly distorted manner the wartime experiences of an Hungarian aristocrat and Nazi officer who served with Nazi Intelligence and Rommel's army in North Africa during World War II. But in the movie this Nazi is portrayed as an heroic, romantic character who becomes a victim of the war as he falls in love with an English woman and who helps the Nazis only as a way to be with his lover. In real life, Count Laszlo Almasy was not only a wealthy, fascist aristocrat who was actually homosexual, but he was also a violent racist who was determined to expand Germany's racial empire to the Middle East and North Africa. He won the German Cross for his service and even wrote a Nazi propaganda tract glorifying Rommel in 1943.
Shall the reader be surprised at this point when he or she reads that this epic Nazi saga too has been praised to the sky? Time Magazine, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the Washington Post, along with many others in the American cultural establishment have all declared ``The English Patient'' to be ``the best film of the year.'' It won the ``Best Picture'' award (for a drama) at the Golden Globes, and has been nominated for 12 Academy Awards. Curiously, a single article partially exposing the lies concocted by this film (and the novel by Michael Ondaatje on which it was based) was published in the New York Times on December 17, 1996. In it Jane Perlez quotes several angry Hungarian anti-fascists attacking both the film and the novel as ``amoral and ahistorical ... trivializing the significance of the choices men like Almasy made.'' A mild rebuke for such an outrage, but duly noted. However, amid all the clamor hailing the movie as ``the best film of the year,'' such faint criticism passes unheard, a mere curiosity -- indeed, as it was intended. Oh, but if the film were about Serbian nationalism, then surely we would see an article every day in the New York Times, and sixteen human rights groups taking action. Thank goodness it's just about Nazism!
It seems strange now, but once upon a time Americans were taught that the Nazis were the bad guys. It's not that hard to remember a time in the 1960's and 70's when the evils of German militarism and fascism appeared as often in movies, books and TV shows as anti-Soviet propaganda. But not any more. More and more we find articles and books about ``the Good Germans'' who, although they were Nazis, managed to save a few Jews here and there (e.g. Oskar Schindler) or who fought Hitler (usually after it was clear that he was losing the war). It seems that nowadays killing six million Jews and tens of millions of Serbs, Russians, Gypsies and other peoples deemed racially inferior by White Protestants and Catholics was not such a bad thing, judging by contemporary cultural standards in the USA and in Britain too. The New York Times even ran an op-ed piece not too long ago complaining that it's time to stop making Germans feel guilty about their past genocidal orgies and allow them to indulge a little in some good old fashioned nationalist rapture. Let Deutschland be Deutschland (``über alles'' we presume)!
But what accounts for this developing cultural trend in which Nazis and other fascists from World War II are increasingly being represented in our culture in sympathetic and even heroic ways? Why is American culture desperately searching for ``good Nazis?''
There are several very serious political and historical reasons underlying this international cultural trend of reinventing and romanticizing the Nazi and fascist past. First of all, the collapse of the Soviet Union and Communism has meant that the American ruling class no longer needs to fear that its open patronage of fascism and racism will turn American workers into communists. Without a world communist movement to compete with, the American and British capitalist ruling class can revert to their old ways, pre-1939. Historically, those ways ran parallel to those of the German capitalist ruling class, the ruling class that butchered our parents, our grandparents and our relatives by the millions.
The other reasons follow directly from the destruction of the Soviet Union: the New World Order, in which America is now the world's only superpower and its closest military and political ally is Germany. The reunification of Germany in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union has transformed Germany into the imperialist superpower it once was prior to its defeat in World War II. As America's number one ally in the New World Order it is absolutely necessary from the point of view of America's ruling class to rewrite history and prettify, glorify and whitewash Germany's criminal imperialist past as a superpower from 1870 to 1945. In the process all friends of fascist Germany will also henceforth be recast as being ``not so bad'' as we once thought they were. Thus, it should be no surprise that we are taught that Croatian and Bosnian Muslim nationalism is on our side and must be defended at all costs -- despite the fact these are the same movements that historically murdered the Jews, the Gypsies and the Eastern Orthodox peoples of the Balkans in the name of racial and religious purity.
Moreover, German imperialism shall now be presented as not nearly so bad as we once thought, in order so that we may bring you the American voter and viewer ``the New Germany'' -- America's number one military and imperialist ally and partner in future wars. Last year for the first time since its forces wore the swastika, German aircraft and army units launched military assaults outside their own borders. It went with barely a passing mention in the American media. In a few years, or perhaps even months, the U.S. will ask to make Germany a permanent member of the UN Security Council. A brain-dead American public appears ready to accept this and much more.
Unfortunately, The English Patient is proving to be both a critical and a box office success in this country. Evita, on the other hand, according to some reviews is turning out to be a flop, a big yawn, a real dog of a movie. Many critics also are comparing it unfavorably with the stage productions of the 1980's and the performances of Patti LuPone. At least we can take some consolation from this, for it means that paying seven or eight bucks for trash like Evita is not only morally wrong, it's a stupid waste of money as well for the average movie-goer.
And after all there is no shortage of movies out there to go and see. So, why should we pay to go and see fascists portrayed as romantic heroes? Or perhaps the question should be phrased in a different way: why should we not pay and not go to see Evita?
The answer is simple. Commercially supporting movies like Evita gives a green light to movie producers to make similar decisions about how racist and fascist historical figures are to be portrayed. Americans understand only two things: money and power. Empty seats in the theater mean that Hollywood producers are more likely to think twice about excreting Nazi crap like this next time. And while it is true that we cannot stop American culture from expressing and romanticizing its fascist and racist ideological tendencies short of a revolution, we nevertheless can slow it down by organizing campaigns against pro-fascist cultural events like this one. While Hollywood's embrace of fascist heroes is part of a subtle trend in contemporary culture, we must not be subtle in our response to the rewriting of history and the repackaging of fascists as all- American heroes. We must boycott Evita!
So, when it comes to Evita, tell a friend: ``don't cry for Evita, don't pay for it, and just don't go.''