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On the trail of Otto Wächter: memory and post-war justice 75 years on with Philippe Sands and Katja Riemann
Philippe Sands, an attorney specializing in international law and author of a prize-winning book about Lwów lawyers Rafał Lemkin and Hersz Lauperpacht, the creators/originators of the concepts of genocide and crimes against humanity respectively, has written another important book: ‘The Ratline: Love, Lies and Justice on the Trail of a Nazi Fugitive’ (2020). This historical investigation concerns Otto Wächter, who served as Nazi Governor of Kraków, and then in Lwów as Governor of the District of Galicia, becoming responsible for the crimes committed in occupied Poland. After the war he managed to escape justice.
Sands’ work is also of importance as regards the memory of the families of perpetrators, denial, and the evasion of history. Sands used the private archives of Otto Wächter’s son Horst, and literally talks to him. "Ratline" is the story of a son trying to keep a positive memory of his criminal father. Finally, Sands' book attempts to disclose the history of Otto Wächter’s escape, concealment and death in the post-war context of uncertainty, espionage, and the Cold War.
At the next Pariser Platz seminar, which will be held on 14 May, we invite you to take part in a conversation with Philippe Sands and German actress and writer Katja Riemann. On the 75th anniversary of the end of the war, we can reference the case of Otto Wächter and the meticulous investigative work of Philippe Sands as the starting point for a discussion on the complexities of memory and post-war justice.
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