Hitler in Bariloche, Argentina
There is a rumour oft-repeated that Adolf Hitler did not die in that bunker in Berlin. As the story goes, he and Eva Braun fled to an idyllic Argentinian town after the Second World War and died there of old age. They spent their final years on a farmstead, watching the cows graze, perhaps taking occasional strolls through the forests, and remembering the good times back in Germany when Adolf was Fuhrer.
The rumour has been written about in books as fact – published with a legitimacy most people feel is undeserved. In fact, it is actually quite ludicrous and there are many historians who have proven it to be complete nonsense. When you’re in that town yourself, though, you can start to understand why the rumour may have started.
Bariloche (officially called San Carlos de Bariloche) is a gateway to Patagonia. It’s in the heart of Argentina but, standing there on the main streets, you could be mistaken for thinking you were somewhere in the Alps. The city on a lake, white-capped mountains on the horizon, chocolate shops, beer taverns and a crisp fresh taste in the air. The only thing missing are the yodellers. It’s no surprise Bariloche has been dubbed ‘Little Switzerland’.
Bariloche: Gateway to Patagonia
The mood of the town is no accident. In the 1930s, the Argentinian authorities wanted to lure more European tourists to the country. So, they established Bariloche as a hub for skiing and other mountain activities. To make it feel more comfortable for the Europeans, they changed the architecture styles to feel more like home. The wood and stone of the towns in the Alps were replicated in the town of the Andes.
The plan worked and the area blossomed as a tourism destination. It helped that many of the residents were already from Austria and Germany. The region began to feel like a little slice of Europe, tucked away in the middle of South America. It’s for this reason that many Nazis did find refuge here after the war and the rumours of Adolf and Eva began.
Even today, with tourists from all over the world, the European façade remains. Signs for the local beer have cresting snow drawn over the tips of the logo; souvenir shops sell dolls of lederhosen-clad hikers; and chocolate shops name their wares with French or German names. Scratch below the surface, though, and Bariloche is actually just as Argentinian as anywhere else in the country.
The real highlights of the town are the nearby mountains and national parks. Some of the best views of the region are from the nearby peaks. The lakes and the islands they create fan out for 360 degrees and the scenery looks like it’s straight out of a painting. Hence my stylising of the following photos. Enjoy.
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