Although the writer José Manuel Portero had his readers familiar with the adventures on the Costa del Sol of the police inspector Lino Ortega and his assistant, the sub-inspector Carmona, protagonists of his crime novels, now he leaves this genre parked and surprises with an interesting historical essay. In this book, which is the result of rigorous research -despite the difficulties and restrictions of the pandemic-, Portero emphasizes the reasons and causes why the Malaga coast was chosen as the ideal refuge for many of the close collaborators Hitler.
In Nazis en la Costa del Sol, published by the Almuzara publishing house, Portero brings to light a long list of Nazis fugitives from justice and, most of them, responsible for horrible crimes that were embraced by a regime that considered them brothers. In Franco’s Spain “they were given shelter, recognition and all the facilities so that their businesses could prosper and live comfortably,” says Portero.
The trigger that created this book, according to its author, is Violeta Friedman, a survivor of the Holocaust and specifically, of the Auschwitz II-Birkenau extermination camp, where in 1944, when she was only 14 years old, she was taken along with all her family and where only her sister and she managed to get out alive. Friedman became an icon of the fight against Holocaust denialism in Spain for his judicial battle against Léon Degrelle, a former chief of the Waffen SS refugee in Spain, who in an interview with the magazine Tiempo denied the Holocaust and even dared to joke about the death camps.
Portero stumbled upon the Romanian survivor’s story while searching for documentation to inspire new plots for her next detective novel. “It was reading the story of this woman when I discovered that Degrelle had lived in Benalmádena and that she died in Malaga,” says Portero, who confesses that as he continued to investigate the subject, the list of Nazis who were neighbors was increasing dramatically. from the Costa del Sol.
This book has memory as a common thread and hence Portero also includes the names and surnames of the people from Malaga who were or died in Mauthausen and in the annexed concentration camps because, according to what happened, “it would be doing a disservice to those who died , if their names disappeared ”.
Regarding the Nazis who lived with the people of Malaga, Portero comments that “there were many and very big fish”. He even got to know one of them personally in a communion to which he was invited by some friends in Benalmádena. “I met by chance and, obviously, without knowing who he really was, Gerd Honsik, who was the greatest ideologue of Nazism,” he confessed. Honsik, a staunch Holocaust denier, was arrested in Benalmádena in 2007 and shortly thereafter extradited to Austria.
The book highlights how these Nazis, “some in a shameless way and others in a more discreet way, have managed to transmit their ideology during the time they were here. And what they did continues … it was not erased when they died because the doctrine when it spreads, it nests somewhere and if it nests, at some point it comes to light again ”, he commented.
The writer compiles in his book a long list of Nazis who lived on the Costa del Sol, none of whom recognized the atrocities that the Fürher regime committed or the planning and management of the systematic genocide of the Third Reich. Among the names that attract the most attention is Otto Remer, the SS general who saved Hitler from several attacks and who died in Marbella at the age of 84; Otto Skorzeny, member of the SS and the favorite man of action of the Fürher who earned the nickname of The Most Dangerous Man in Europe for leading operations like the rescue of Musolini; Hans Hoffmann, creator of the German College, -recognized as one of the best educational centers in Europe-, and real estate investor or Aribert Heim, the Doctor Death of Mauthausen, who practiced atrocious experiments on Jews and Spanish prisoners.
These characters felt comfortable on the Malaga coast, a paradise in which they moved freely with false identities and in which most of them enjoyed a long life. Proof of the freedom with which they lived on the Costa del Sol, according to Portero, “is that in the 90s, every April 20, bars were closed so that they could celebrate the anniversary of Hitler’s birth in style. ”, An astonishing permissiveness with which the residents of the Costa del Sol have lived for years and whose memories do not erase from their memory.