The Full Wiki



Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Formation 1946
Type Network
Legal status Organization
Purpose/focus To prevent the prosecution of SS officers for war crimes.
Region served International
Official languages German
Affiliations Stille Hilfe

ODESSA, (for German Organisation der ehemaligen SS-Angehörigen, “Organization of Former SS Members”) is believed to have been an international Nazi network set up towards the end of World War II by a group of SS officers in order to avoid their capture and prosecution for war crimes. A fictional account of the organization was manifest in Frederick Forsyth's 1972 best-seller thriller The Odessa File, which fictionalized an SS network named ODESSA (the above cited Organisation der ehemaligen SS-Angehörigen) that smuggled war criminals to Latin America. However, several authoritative books by professionals involved in the U.S. War Crimes Commission (including T.H. Tetens and Joseph Wechsberg) have verified the organization's existence and given details of its operations. Wechsberg studied Simon Wiesenthal's memoirs on ODESSA and verified them with his own experiences in the book The Murderers Among Us.

The purpose of ODESSA was to establish and facilitate secret escape routes, later known as ratlines, for SS members out of Germany and Austria to South America and the Middle East.

Persons claiming to represent ODESSA claimed responsibility in a note for the 9 July 1979 car bombing in France aimed at anti-Nazi activists Serge and Beate Klarsfeld.



According to Simon Wiesenthal, ODESSA was set up in 1946 to aid fugitive Nazis. Interviews by the ZDF German TV station with former SS men suggest instead that ODESSA was never the single world-wide secret organization that Wiesenthal described, but several organizations, both overt and covert (including the CIA, several Latin American governments and an Italy-based network of Catholic clerics), that helped ex-SS men. The truth may have been obscured by antagonism between the Wiesenthal organization and German military intelligence.

Long before the ZDF TV network, historian Gitta Sereny wrote in her 1974 book Into That Darkness, based on interviews with the former commandant of the Treblinka extermination camp, Franz Stangl (see References following), that ODESSA had never existed. She wrote: “The prosecutors at the Ludwigsburg Central Authority for the Investigation into Nazi Crimes, who know precisely how the postwar lives of certain individuals now living in South America have been financed, have searched all their thousands of documents from beginning to end, but say they are totally unable to authenticate (the) ‘Odessa.’ Not that this matters greatly: there certainly were various kinds of Nazi aid organizations after the war — it would have been astonishing if there hadn’t been.”[1]

However, while Nazi concentration camp supervisors denied the existence of ODESSA, neither US War Crimes Commission reports nor American OSS officials did. In interviews of outspoken German anti-Nazis by Joseph Wechsberg, former American OSS officer and member of the US War Crimes Commission, it was verified that plans were made for a Fourth Reich before the fall of the Third (Wechsberg, p. 80), and that this was to be implemented by reorganizing in remote Nazi colonies overseas: "The Nazis decided that the time had come to set up a world-wide clandestine escape network" (Wechsberg p.82). "They used Germans who had been hired to drive U.S. Army trucks on the autobahn between Munich and Salzburg for the 'Stars and Stripes', the American Army newspaper. The couriers had applied for their jobs under false names, and the Americans in Munich had failed to check them carefully... "ODESSA was organized as a thorough, efficient network... Anlaufstellen (ports of call) were set up along the entire Austrian-German border... In Lindau, close to both Austria and Switzerland, ODESSA set up an 'export-import' company with representatives in Cairo and Damascus." (Wechsberg, p.82)

In his interviews with Sereny, Stangl denied any knowledge of a group called ODESSA. Recent biographies of Adolf Eichmann, who also escaped to South America, and Heinrich Himmler, the alleged founder of ODESSA, made no reference to such an organisation.[2]

Sereny attributed the fact that SS members could escape to postwar chaos and the inability of the Roman Catholic Church, the Red Cross, and the American military to verify the claims of people who came to them for help, rather than to the activities of an underground Nazi organisation. She identified a Vatican official, Bishop Aloïs Hudal, not former SS men, as the principal agent in helping Nazis leave Italy for South America.

Dr. Alois Hudal, Roman Catholic bishop – and,
during the 1930s, an honorary member of the Nazi Party.
Title page of the book The Foundations of National Socialism (1937).

Argentine writer Uki Goñi, in his 2002 book The Real Odessa: Smuggling the Nazis to Perón’s Argentina suggested that Sereny’s more complex, and less conspiratorial, story was closer to the truth. In 1938, on the verge of World War II, and with Hitler’s policies on Jews in transit, Argentina’s government sanctioned an immigration law restricting access by any individual scorned or forsaken by his country’s government. Allegedly, this implicitly targeted Jews and other minorities fleeing Germany at the time. This law was denounced by Uki Goñi, who admits that his own grandfather had participated in upholding it. However, the reality is that between 1930 and 1949, Argentina took in more Jewish refugees per capita than any other nation in the world, with the exception of Palestine. Dr. Leonardo Senkman of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem says: "the reopening of post-war European emigration to Argentina during the first Peron Presidency in 1946 pushed up the net immigration figure to 463,456 persons between 1947 and 1951..." the highest in thirty years.[3] The legislation, though already in disuse for many years, was repealed on 8 June 2005 as a symbolic act. The Jewish Virtual Library writes that while Juan Perón had sympathized with the Axis powers, "Perón also expressed sympathy for Jewish rights and established diplomatic relations with Israel in 1949. Since then, more than 45,000 Jews have emigrated to Israel from Argentina."[4]

Of particular importance in examining the postwar activities of high-ranking Nazis was Paul Manning’s book Martin Bormann: Nazi in Exile which detailed Martin Bormann’s rise to power through the Nazi Party and as Hitler’s Chief of Staff. During the war, Manning himself was a correspondent for the fledgling CBS News along with Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite in London, and his reporting and subsequent researches presented Bormann’s cunning and skill in the organization and planning for the flight of Nazi-controlled capital from Europe during the dimming years of the war--notwithstanding the possibility of Bormann’s death in Berlin on May 1, 1945.

According to Manning, “eventually, over 10,000 former German military made it to South America along escape routes set up by ODESSA and the Deutsche Hilfsverein…” (page 181). ODESSA itself was incidental, says Manning, with the continuing existence of the Bormann Organization a much larger and more menacing fact. None of this had yet been convincingly proven.

Other mentions

  • ODESSA was mentioned in three Phoenix Force books: Ultimate Terror (#9 - 1984), The Twisted Cross (#21 - 1986), and Terror In The Dark (#31 - 1987).

See also


  1. ^ Gitta Sereny, Into That Darkness (Pimlico 1974), 274
  2. ^ David Cesarini, Eichmann: His Life and Crimes (Vintage 2004); Peter Padfield: Himmler: Reichsfuhrer SS (Macmillan 1990)
  3. ^ Daniel Blinder, "El peronismo y los judíos", La Voz y La Opinión
  4. ^ Jewish Virtual Library.


  • "A la caza del ultimo Nazi". El Mundo. October 30, 2005.  
  • Goñi, Uki (2002): The Real Odessa: Smuggling the Nazis to Perón’s Argentina. New York; London: Granta Books. ISBN 1-86207-581-6 (hardcover); ISBN 1-86207-552-2 (paperback, 2003)
  • Infield, Glenn (1981) Secrets of the SS. New York: Stein and Day, ISBN 0-8128-2790-2
  • Lee, Martin A. (1997): The Beast Reawakens. Boston, MA: Little, Brown and Company. ISBN 0-316-51959-6
  • Manning, Paul (1980) Martin Bormann: Nazi in Exile. Lyle Stuart, Inc., ISBN 0-8184-0309-8, also available online
  • Sereny, Gitta (1974): Into That Darkness. From Mercy Killings to Mass Murder. Republished (1983) as Into That Darkness: An Examination of Conscience. New York: Vintage. ISBN 0-394-71035-5
  • Wechsberg, Joseph (1967): The Murderers Among Us. New York: McGraw Hill. LCN 67-13204

External links

Simple English

Odessa (Ukrainian: Одеса, Russian: Одесса; also referred to as Odesa) is a city in southwestern Ukraine. It is the administrative center of the Odessa Oblast (province), and is its own separate district within the oblast. Odessa is a major port on the Black Sea.

In 2004, about 1,012,500 people lived in Odessa.



A very old Greek colony named Olbia (Greek: Ολβία, glorious) probably was where the city is now. Many monuments from old times link this place to the Eastern Mediterranean. In the Middle Ages these lands were a part of the Kievan Rus, Galich and Volyn Principality, the Golden Horde, the Great Lithuanian Principality, the Crimean Khanate and the Ottoman Empire. Crimean Tatars traded there in the 14th century. At the time of the RussianTurkish wars these lands were captured by Russia. That was at the end of the 18th century.[1]

From 18191858 Odessa was a free port (porto franco). During the Soviet time it was the most important port of trade in the U.S.S.R. and a Soviet naval base. On January 1, 2000 the Quarantine Pier of Odessa trade sea port was made a free port and free economic zone for 25 years.

Odessa is a warm water port, but of small military value. Because Turkey controls the Dardanelles and Bosphorus, NATO can control ships moving between Odessa and the Mediterranean Sea. The city of Odessa has two important ports: Odessa itself and Yuzhny. Yuzhny is an oil terminal that is impotant to the world. It is in Odessa's suburbs. Another important port, Illichivs'k (or Ilyichyovsk), is in the same oblast, to the south-west of Odessa. Important transportation comes together at these ports. Railways and pipelines come to these ports. Pipelines connect Odessa's oil and chemical factories to Russia's and the EU's.

Odessa Сircuit Court building and Church of the monastery of St. Panteleimon (church consecrated in 1895; used as a planetarium in 1961–1991).

Odessa is the fifth-largest city in Ukraine and its most important trading city. In the 19th century it was the fourth city of Imperial Russia, after Moscow and St. Petersburg, and Warsaw.[2] Its old buildings seem more Mediterranean than Russian. They were made like French and Italian buildings. People in Odessa could always laugh and had a spirit of freedom. The reason is probably because Odessa is a nice place and because the people accept others. They let others be the kind of people that they are.


[[File:|thumb|300px|right|The 142-metre-long Potemkin (originally Richelieu) Stairs. These stairs were constructed between 1834 and 1841. Sergei Eisenstein made them famous in his movie Battleship Potemkin.]]

From the start of Odessa to the end of the 19th century

In the AD 15th century, nomadic tribes of the Nogays under the government of the Khanate of Crimea lived in the place that is now Odessa. During the reign of Khan Haci I Giray, the Khanate was in danger because the Golden Horde and the Ottoman Turks were not friends of the Khanate. To get help, the khan gave Odessa to the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. The place now named Odessa was then named Khadjibey (also spelled as Khadjibei, Khadzhibei, or Gadzhibei; Lithuanian: Chadžibėjus; Crimean Tatar and Turkish: Hacibey). It was part of the Dykra region. Few people lived in that region. They were part of the Turkic tribes. The land was mostly empty steppes.

The Ottoman Empire controlled Khadjibey after 1529. The region surrounding Khadjibey was named Yedisan. The Ottoman Empire controlled that region as part of Silistra (Özi) Province. In the middle of the 18th century, the Ottomans rebuilt a fortress at Khadjibey. It was named Eni Dunia (Turkish: Yeni Dünya, literally "new world").

At the time of the war between Russia and Turkey (1787–1792), on 25 September 1789, Ivan Gudovich led a group of Russian soldiers to Khadjibey. They took Khadjibey and Yeni Dünya for the Russian Empire. A Spaniard in the Russian army named Major General José de Ribas led one part of the group of soldiers. Russians named him Osip Mikhailovich Deribas. The main street in Odessa today is named Deribasovskaya street after him. Turkey let Russia keep the place in the Treaty of Jassy (agreement of Jassy) in 1792. Russians made it a part of a place they named Novorossiya (New Russia).

The Russian government decided to build a naval fortress on the ruins of Khadjibey city in 1794. This became the city named Odessa by January 1795. In that year its new name was first written in government letters. The reasons for the new name are lost but people guess why Odessa got a new name. According to one of the stories, when someone said Odessos should be the name for the new Russian port, Catherine II said that all names in the South of the Empire were already 'masculine,' and she did not want another one, so she decided to change it to more 'feminine' Odessa. This story may be false. There were at least two cities (Eupatoria and Theodosia) with names that sound 'feminine' for a Russian; also, Catherine II did not speak Russian when she was a child, and lastly, all cities are feminine in Greek (and in Latin). Another story is that the name 'Odessa' is from word-play in French. French was then the language spoken at the Russian court. 'Plenty of water' is assez d'eau in French. If one says this backwards, it sounds like the Greek colony's name. Word-play about water makes sense. Odessa is next to a very big body of water but has a little fresh water. Anyhow, there is still a link with the name of the old Greek colony. So there may be some truth in the things people said long ago.

The new city quickly became a major success. Its early growth owed much to the work of the Duc de Richelieu, who served as the city's governor between 18031814. Having fled the French Revolution, he had served in Catherine's army against the Turks. He is credited with designing the city and organising its amenities and infrastructure, and is considered one of the founding fathers of Odessa, together with another Frenchman, Count Alexandre Langeron, who succeeded him in office. Richelieu is commemorated by a bronze statue, unveiled in 1828 to a design by Ivan Martos.

In 1819 the city was made a free port, a status it retained until 1859. It became home to an extremely diverse population of Russians, Ukrainians, Jews, Greeks, Bulgarians, Albanians, Armenians, Italians, Frenchmen, Germans and traders representing many other European nationalities (hence numerous 'ethnic' names on the city's map, e.g., Frantsuszkiy (French) and Italianskiy (Italian) Boulevards, Grecheskaya (Greek), Evreyskaya (Jewish), Arnautskaya (Albanian) Streets). Its cosmopolitan nature was documented by the great Russian poet Alexander Pushkin, who lived in internal exile in Odessa between 18231824. In his letters he wrote that Odessa was a city where "you can smell Europe. French is spoken and there are European papers and magazines to read".

Odessa's growth was interrupted by the Crimean War of 18531856, during which it was bombarded by British and French naval forces. It soon recovered and the growth in trade made Odessa Russia's largest grain-exporting port. In 1866 the city was linked by rail with Kiev and Kharkov as well as Iaşi, Romania.
Richelieu Street and the Opera Theatre in the 1890s.

The city became the home of a large Jewish community during the 19th century, and by 1897 Jews were estimated to comprise some 37% of the population. They were, however, repeatedly subjected to severe persecution. Pogroms were carried out in 1821, 1859, 1871, 1881, and 1905. Many Odessan Jews fled abroad, particularly to Palestine after 1882, and the city became an important base of support for Zionism.

First half of the 20th century

In 1905 Odessa was the place of a workers' uprising supported by the crew of the Russian battleship Potemkin (also see Battleship Potemkin uprising) and Lenin's Iskra. Sergei Eisenstein's famous motion picture The Battleship Potemkin commemorated the uprising and included a scene where hundreds of Odessan citizens were killed on the great stone staircase (now popularly known as the "Potemkin Steps"), in one of the most famous scenes in motion picture history. At the top of the steps, which lead down to the port, stands a statue of Richelieu. The actual massacre took place in streets nearby, not on the steps themselves, but the movie caused many to visit Odessa to see the site of the "slaughter". The "Odessa Steps" continue to be a tourist attraction in Odessa. The film was made at Odessa's Cinema Factory, one of the oldest cinema studios in the former Soviet Union.

Following the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 during World War I, Odessa was occupied by several groups, including the Ukrainian Tsentral'na Rada, the French Army, the Red Army and the White Army. Finally, in 1920, the Red Army took control of Odessa and united it with the Ukrainian SSR, which later became part of the USSR.

The people of Odessa suffered from a great famine that occurred in 19211922 as a result of the war. During World War II Odessa was occupied by Romanian and German forces from 19411944. The city suffered severe damage and many casualties.

Under the Axis occupation, approximately 60,000 Odessans (mostly Jews) were either massacred or deported. Many parts of Odessa were damaged during its fall and later recapture in April 1944, when the city was finally liberated by the Soviet Army. It was one of the first four Soviet cities to be awarded the title of "Hero City" in 1945.

Second half of the 20th century

Pushkinskaya Street.

During the 1960s and 1970s the city grew tremendously. Nevertheless, between the 1970s and 1990s, the majority of Odessa's Jews emigrated to Israel, the United States and other Western countries, domestic migrationof Odessan middle and upper classes to Moscow and Leningradthat offered even greater opportunities for career advancement, also occurred on a large scale. But the city's grew rapidly by filling the void with new rural migrants elsewhere from Ukraine, industrial professionals invited from Russia as well as other Soviet republics. Despite being part of Ukraine Socialist Republic, the city preserved and somewhat reinforced its unique cosmopolitan mix of Russian/Ukrainian/Mediterranean culture and a predominantly Russophone environment with a uniquely accented dialect of Russian spoken in the city. The city's Russian, Ukrainian, Greek, Armenian, Moldovan and Azeri and Jewish communities have influenced different aspects of Odessa.

In 1991, after the collapse of Communism, the city became part of newly independent Ukraine. Today Odessa is a city of around 1.1 million people. The city's industries include shipbuilding, oil refining, chemicals, metalworking and food processing. Odessa is also a Ukrainian naval base and home to a fishing fleet. It is also known for its huge outdoor market, the Seventh-Kilometer Market.

The transportation network of Odessa consists of trams[3] (streetcars), trolleybuses, buses; and marshrutkas.

Geography and features

Odessa is situated (Google Map) on terraced hills overlooking a small harbor, approximately 31 km (19 mi.) north of the estuary of the Dniester river and some 443 km (275 mi) south of the Ukrainian capital Kiev. The city has a mild and dry climate with average temperatures in January of -2 °C (29 °F), and July of 22 °C (73 °F). It averages only 350 mm (14 in) of precipitation annually.

The primary language spoken is Russian, with Ukrainian being less common despite its being an official language in Ukraine. The city is a mix of many nationalities and ethnic groups, including Ukrainians, Russians, Jews, Greeks, Moldovans, Bulgarians, Armenians and Turks among others.


Odessa Public Library (now Archaeological Museum), like so many other landmarks in the city, was designed in Neoclassical style.

Odessa is a popular tourist destination, with many therapeutic resorts in and around the city.

The Tolstoy, Vorontsov, and Potocki families owned palaces in Odessa, which can still be visited.

The writer Isaac Babel was born in the city, which has also produced several famous musicians, including the violinists Nathan Milstein, Mischa Elman and David Oistrakh, and the pianists Benno Moiseiwitsch, Sviatoslav Richter and Emil Gilels. The chess player Efim Geller was born in the city. (All listed, except for Richter, are representatives of the city's Jewish community.)

The most popular Russian show-business people from Odessa are Yakov Smirnoff (comedian), Mikhail Zhvanetsky (legendary humorist writer, who began his career as port engineer) and Roman Kartsev (comedian). Their success in 1970s contributed to Odessa's established status of a "capital of Soviet humour". Later several humour festivals were established in the city, including the celebration of the April Fools' Day.

See more people born in Odessa in Category:Natives of Odessa.

Most of the city's 19th century houses were built of limestone mined nearby. Abandoned mines were later used and broadened by local smugglers. This created a complicated labyrinth of underground tunnels beneath Odessa, known as "catacombs". They are a now a great attraction for extreme tourists. Such tours, however, are not officially sanctioned and are dangerous because the layout of the catacombs has not been fully mapped and the tunnels themselves are unsafe. These tunnels are a primary reason why subway was never built in Odessa.

Its sister city is Vancouver in Canada.


  1. "History of Odessa" (HTML). Odessa Online. Retrieved May 1 2006. 
  2. Herlihy, Patricia (1977). [Expression error: Unexpected < operator The Ethnic Composition of the City of Odessa in the Nineteenth Century]. pp. p. 53. 
  3. "Odessa Tram Themes" (HTML). Retrieved 2006-5-2. 

Other websites

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address