BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — Argentina on Tuesday gave Israel thousands of World War II era documents during a visit by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he says marks “a new dawn” in his country’s relationship with Latin America.
The digital documents delivered by President Mauricio Macri include nearly 140,000 secret files and photographs from 1939-1950. They include letters, telegrams and reports that were digitized by Argentina and the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington.
“We have delivered these digitalized historical documents about the Holocaust so that the state of Israel can make sure that they are investigated,” Macri told Netanyahu after giving him a box containing five hard drives. “This is very important for us.”
The documents will clarify what help Argentina provided to Nazi criminals after the war.
Argentina remained neutral during the war but later became a refuge for fleeing Nazi criminals, including some of the most notorious, like Adolf Eichmann. Today, it has Latin America’s largest Jewish community and of the world’s biggest.
Claudio Avruj, Argentina’s secretary of human rights, told JTA that the documents “will help us to know the truth.” He said their delivery to Israel reaffirms the leadership that Argentina has regionally in Holocaust research.
Argentina is the only regional member of the United Nations International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, formerly the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research, or ITF.
Among the documents are the communications between Argentina and countries involved in the war — as well as information sent by the Argentine Embassy in Germany. Some documents also contain records related to the blacklist of Jews, among others.
Netanyahu arrived Monday in Buenos Aires for the first visit by an Israeli leader to the region since Israel’s creation in 1948. He is also scheduled to visit Colombia and Mexico before going to New York, where he will address the UN General Assembly.
“It’s incredible that in 70 years of Israel, no prime minister visited any country in the Western Hemisphere south than the United States,” Netanyahu said. “We are beginning here the dawn of a new era and not accidentally we begin it here in Argentina.”
Macri at the meeting with Netanyahu said Argentina will work “together with Israel and our allies against terrorism.”
He also announced that Vice President Gabriela Michetti will visit Israel.