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Publisher's Summary

"Hypnotic, shocking, and unputdownable." (John le Carré, internationally renowned bestselling author)

Baron Otto von Wächter, Austrian lawyer, husband, father, high Nazi official, senior SS officer, former governor of Galicia during the war, creator and overseer of the Krakow ghetto, indicted after as a war criminal for the mass murder of more than 100,000 Poles, hunted by the Soviets, the Americans, the British, by Simon Wiesenthal, on the run for three years, from 1945 to 1948....

Philippe Sands pieces together, in riveting detail, Wächter's extraordinary, shocking story. Given full access to the Wächter family archives - journals, diaries, tapes, and more - and with the assistance of the Wächters' son Horst, who believes his father to have been a "good man," Sands writes of Wächter's rise through the Nazi high command, his "blissful" marriage and family life as their world was brought to ruin, and his four-year flight to escape justice - to the Tirol, to Rome, and the Vatican; given a new identity, on his way to a new life via "the Ratline" to Perón's Argentina, the escape route taken by Eichmann, Mengele, and thousands of other Nazis. Wächter's escape was cut short by his mysterious, shocking death in Rome, in the midst of the burgeoning Cold War (was he being recruited in postwar Italy by the Americans and the U.S. Army Counter Intelligence Corps or by the Soviet NKVD or by both; or was he poisoned by one side or the other, as his son believes - or by both?)....

An extraordinary discovery, told up-close through access to a trove of family correspondence between Wächter and his wife - part historical detective story, part love story, part family memoir, part Cold War espionage thriller.

"Breathtaking, gripping, shattering." (Elif Shafak)

©2021 Philippe Sands (P)2021 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"Gripping...fascinating and important, told in vivid detail...fiercely inquiring...suspenseful...extraordinary." (The New York Times Book Review)

"Fascinating and haunting, a disquieting book that raises more questions than Sands could possibly answer...a book that should be read and pondered again and again." (BookPage

"Part detective story and part love story...Sands's ability to tease out Horst's emotional, and often contradictory, views of his father as an indicted war criminal is fascinating...he unlocks here a series of provocative questions about culpability, collective guilt, and the advancement of international law." (LA Review of Books

What listeners say about The Ratline

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Amazing Story

Time heals all wounds and also covers up a lot of dirt. This is an astounding story of a high ranking Nazi who was aided by a number of people in escaping the Reich atvthe end of the war. The fact so many willing participants helped him escape is a solod explanation of why this Nazi and others felt they were victims followimg orders who deserved better. The sense of entitlement is mind boggling and while it soumds petty and vindictave I was bitter he never realized what a POS he is and he was never brought to justice.

5 people found this helpful

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Extraordinary and Disturbing

This is an extraordinary and disturbing story of a persistent and sophisticated effort to track the life and evil deeds of a high ranking Nazi, including the actions and motives of those who sheltered him, protected him from accountability for his crimes against humanity (e,g., the Vatican, the US predecessor to the CIA, etc) and the author’s efforts to help the war criminal’s own son accept as true the actions of his father. Amazing that so much new can still be learned decades and decades after the end of WW II.

4 people found this helpful

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The ratline

Wonderful story The crime was obvious from beginning but the story shows how difficult the truth is to be validated and accepted by some Great story My country should be ashamed to allow the rat line to exist

4 people found this helpful

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Breathless

After living in Austrian and in Italy for many years, I felt that I had read a fair amount of texts on the subject of the Final Solution. Nevertheless, this book left me breathless. The primary source material, the ability of the author to tell the story from many points of vuew and in many voices, was riveting. This is a must read book, told and read in the most profound way. It should on every school 20th century syllabus. I can not wait to read East West Street.

4 people found this helpful

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Fascinating and unexpectedly touching

Like Daniel Mendelsohn's riveting and deeply moving account in "The Lost," this story of tracking down every last clue about the "exalted life and mysterious death" of a Nazi fugitive from justice and sharing it with his son, who was determined to cling to his father's memory as a man of moral principle, is both fascinating and unexpectedly touching. Highly recommended by this listener.

3 people found this helpful

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Ratline strong overall

The weakest part of the book is the lack of focus on Otto’s crimes in Poland and Ukraine. It is understood that he was wanted for roundups and killings, but I just didn’t get a feel for his actions as head of the Nazi General Territories. His wife’s cloying letters took up a lot of the book, which didn’t give me much insight into Otto. I liked the readers. I wanted to know more about the Bishop’s reasons for helping Otto and the other escaping killers.

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way to long

this book was way way way too long. it never seemed to end.

it took multiple detours down sideroads that were not needed



1 person found this helpful

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Fascinating!

Detective work requires putting together small bits of pictures to gain the entire story. This book unfolds just like that.

Sadly, the story is a miserable one. All the players & who all was sympathetic to the Rat line will blow your mind.

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Amazing details

This book was an extraordinary history lesson. The research done was incredible and interesting. I highly recommend reading this book.

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Fascinating well performed book

An outstanding book. Truth is strange than fiction. Very well researched and performed Offers multiple viewpoints on Ww Ii

1 person found this helpful