A disproportionate number of the victims of the “dirty war” in Argentina were Jewish. In the mid-1970s the country’s Jewish population was estimated at 400,000—the largest in Latin America. Although this number was only about 2 percent of the total population of 23 million, Jews made up between 12 percent and 19 percent of the missing (desaparecidos). Efforts have been made to explain the variance by noting that Jews were drawn to the professions and thus more likely to be recruited into opposition groups through the universities. Nevertheless, evidence suggests that anti- Semitism was a dominant factor. Bookstores and kiosks were well stocked with Nazi and neo-Nazi literature, Jewish neighborhoods were machine-gunned, and bombs were placed in Jewish-owned establishments. “Dirty war” survivors attest to the especially cruel and degrading punishments inflicted on Jewish prisoners.
   Jews began immigrating to Argentina in large numbers during the 19th century. Although ostracized by the military and the wealthy landowners, they were not widely persecuted until the early 1940s, when the government openly sympathized with the Axis powers. After World War II, President Juan Perón opened the doors to Nazis and Jews alike. Anti-Semitism has remained an issue ever since, becoming overt in times of political crisis. Repression against Jews increased dramatically after the coup of 1976. Unlike Nazi Germany, the junta never made anti-Semitism official policy. Yet it did nothing to discourage the attitude, either.

Historical Dictionary of the “Dirty Wars” . . 2010.

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