Otto von Wächter: On the trail of the Nazi who disappeared

In his new BBC Radio 4 series and podcast, Philippe Sands is trying to discover how a senior Nazi eluded justice. He talks to Rob Attar about the troubling questions that emerged from his quest

Otto von Wächter, who went on the run after the Second World War.

This article was first published in the November 2018 edition of BBC History Magazine

In February 2012 the author Philippe Sands arrived at a faded 17th-century castle 50 miles north of Vienna where he had been invited to stay by its genial owner, Horst von Wächter. The two men struck up a rapport. “Horst is a lovely man,” Philippe says. “A lovely man who loves his dad, who was a serious Nazi.”

Horst’s father was Otto von Wächter, an Austrian-born Nazi politician who held several senior positions in Hitler’s regime, including serving as governor of the districts of Kraków and Galicia during the occupation of Poland and parts of the Soviet Union. Philippe had first heard about Otto while researching his award-winning historical memoir East West Street and was introduced to Horst by the child of another Nazi heavyweight, Niklas Frank (son of Hans Frank, governor-general of occupied Poland).

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