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The Hunt for Nazis: The Real-Life Captures That Inspired The Debt
Posted August 22, 2011 to photo album "The Hunt for Nazis: The Real-Life Captures That Inspired The Debt"
John Madden’s THE DEBT tells the tale of a trio of Mossad agents who hunted down a wanted Nazi war criminal. We explore the stories of the many real-life Nazi war criminals who went into hiding after the war, and the people who tracked them down to bring them to justice.
Franz Paul Stangl, "The White Death"
Franz “The White Death” Stangl
Franz Paul Stangl was the Austrian-born SS commandant of the Sobibor and Treblinka death camps. As commandant of Treblinka, Stangl wore a white uniform and carried a whip. Prisoners called him “The White Death.” Stangl described his reaction to exterminating Jews this way: “To tell the truth, one did become used to it ... they were cargo. I think it started the day I first saw the Totenlager [extermination area] in Treblinka. I remember [SS officer Christian] Wirth standing there, next to the pits full of black-blue corpses. It had nothing to do with humanity — it could not have. It was a mass — a mass of rotting flesh. Wirth said ‘What shall we do with this garbage?’ I think unconsciously that started me thinking of them as cargo. ... I rarely saw them as individuals. It was always a huge mass. I sometimes stood on the wall and saw them in the ‘tube’ — they were naked, packed together, running, being driven with whips.” At the end of the war, Stangl was detained by the Americans but escaped to Syria, and, with the help of Catholic Bishop Aloïs Hudal’s ratline, fled to Syria, where he was joined by his family. He moved to Brazil in 1951, where he eventually found work at the Volkswagen plant in São Bernardo do Campo. In 1961, Austria issued a warrant for his arrest. And even though he was registered at the Austrian consulate in São Paulo under his real name, he was not arrested until 1967, when Simon Wiesenthal tracked him down. In October 1970, he was convicted in Germany of the murder of 900,000 people and sentenced to life in prison. He died eight months later of a heart attack.