Allende’s Past: No Surprise

A new book about the early years of Salvador Allende is the subject of two recent articles (1, 2) in the Telegraph. The book is based on Allende’s doctoral dissertation, which he wrote in his twenties and which has not previously been published in full. It makes clear that young Allende had views that we would consider fascist, contra the popular image of him as a humane democrat.

Allende’s family insists variously that the book’s allegations are not true or are based on facts taken out of context, and that anyway Allende later changed his views. The author, Victor Farias, counters that Allende displayed Nazi sympathies during his periods in public office.

Why does it matter? The author has a plausible hypothesis:

. . . “Allende was a false hero. Europeans need a socialist hero in South America. That’s never been the case for Allende, his image is a construct made in Spain and Germany and other countries. But I think with this book this construct must go. The opposition is very hard but the arguments are from him himself, it is his voice.”

Of course Mr. Farias is also trying to sell books. The controversy that awaits the release of this one promises to be educational.

The book is Salvador Allende: Anti-Semitism and Ethanasia by Victor Farias.

(Via Val Dorta, whose masterful blog post on “The Allende Myth” is a must-read.)

6 thoughts on “Allende’s Past: No Surprise”

  1. Unfortunately Allende’s view was not uncommon among many Latin America intellectuals at the time.

    Chile had a strong German influence at the time, starting with a large German community. German professors taught at the best schools, Universities and military academies. German texts in medicine, military studies, and science, were translated into Spanish, and sent to Chile among other Latin American countries.
    This influence was cultivated by succesive German governments, starting with Kaiser Wilhelm, and continuing with the Weimar Republic. All sorts of cultural and technical exchanges became popular, and many Chileans went to Germany.
    In Chile, Some of the many Weimar-era military advisors became ardent Nazi’s, and even helped found a “Nacional Socialist Party” in 1929 with Chilean military officers.
    A whole generation of Chilean intellectuals, doctors, and artists came under this influence.
    This was the same all over Latin America, with Weimar era, pseudo-cientific racialist nonsense being replaced by overt Nazi propaganda.

    In addition, it didn’t help that Henry Ford, massively distributed translations of the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” to Latin America .

  2. Madrid, May 17, 2005

    Tel. 34-91.531.19.89
    Fax 34-91.531.68.11

    Press Release

    1. Forthcoming appearance of the complete unpublished thesis of Dr. Salvador Allende to qualify for the Doctor-Surgeon degree at the University of Chile, in May 1933, entitled Mental Health and Delinquency.

    2. Warning regarding a text in circulation which libels Salvador Allende.

    Forthcoming publication of university thesis by Dr. Salvador Allende

    The complete text will be published in June. In his thesis Allende examined the schools of thought which were then current (in 1933) in legal and crimininalistic medicine regarding personalities of delinquents and methods to prevent crime and rehabilitate the delinquent..

    The purpose of publishing the complete 1933 thesis is to provide a link, not known until now, which forms part of Allende´s consistent approach to principles of social and cultural progress by means of the development of political and economic democracy, respect for humanistic values and condemnation of all forms of racial discrimination and anti-Semitism.
    In this thesis, the young Allende refers to the observations of Lombroso, the Italian criminologist, about the supposed relationship between Hindus, Arabs, Gypsies and Jews and certain kinds of crime. Allende concludes that Lombroso has not shown that race has any influence on delinquency (“there is no precise data showing any such influence in the civilized world,” Allende maintains).
    The young medical student refers to the theses of the then famous endocrinologist, Nicolas Pende, on the Southern Italians, the Spanish and English in relation to thyroid activity. He coincides with the Spaniards professors Suńer and Jiménez de Asúa, in describing as insufficient, simplistic and one-sided the doctrines of the endocrinologist schools such as those which, referring to the thyroid and the thymus, see internal glandular secretion as the only explanation of crime.
    Allende cites within the category of “collective crimes” the nascent Nazi-Fascist movements, which, without mentioning them by name, he describes in this way: “the world economic crisis and existing political instability have created in different countries armed institutions in the guise of political parties that use extreme violence “.
    In his thesis, Allende attributes a criminal nature to some leaders of the masses who use force “to impose their principles on all else” Without mentioning Hitler by name, he describes that contemporary phenomenon in the following words.

    “So it comes about that these collective crimes lead to truly tragic consequences, when a psychopathological phenomenon develops in the masses which eminent psychiatrists compare to an insidious virus. A pernicious influence can be exercised all too easily on the masses by an apparently normal person who, in reality, forms part of an identifiable category of the mentally disturbed.”
    Allende then condemns the use of terror as a method of government:
    “History is rife with these examples, so we see, and so we can understand, with the help of psychiatry, how collective deviation is motivated by the irrational impulses of a leader. So it is that Robespierre and Marat amongst others have been diagnosed as belonging to certain pathological categories”
    Allende brings his thesis to an end affirming his trust in free will and in the human conscience of mankind:
    “We are fully in agreement with Mariano Ruiz-Funes when he says: ‘ If Taine is correct in saying that every man carries within himself a Phidias capable of sculpting supreme works of art but also of creating monstrosities, it is equally true that each society creates criminals or shapes men of superior virtues and, in both cases, whether on an individual or social basis, an ethical imperative determines that all activity should be of a transcendental nature. If that is not the case, be assured that our conscience will be burdened with the knowledge that we are in the presence of a mediocre sculptor, one that deserves our disdain.”

    Warning of the libelous text circulating by Victor Farias
    The defamatory intention is exemplified in the treatment of the case of the Nazi military criminal, Walter Rauff.
    1) Farías’s silence on the fact that the Allende Government made possible the questioning of Rauff on June 28, 1972 at the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Santiago by a German judicial civil official
    The declaration was taken in relation to the trial that continued in Germany against the SS official Bruno Streckenbach. The complete text of the declaration is published in Nizkor en

    2) He distorts the way in which President Allende sympathized with Wiesenthal, at the time explaining to him that Chilean law obliged the President to follow the 1963 ruling of the Supreme Court 1963 related to Rauff
    Here is how Simon Wiesenthal describes it in his book, Justice Not Vengeance :
    “But Rauff was lucky: under the Chilean statute of limitations murder charges cannot be brought after fifteen years, and when the Supreme Court in Santiago dealt with the case eighteen years had elapsed. By three votes to two the application for extradition was rejected. A judge from Hanover, who went to Chile to interrogate Rauff in the action against Pradel, returned with the conviction that it would only be possible to get hold of the Obersturmbannführer if a different regime came to power in Chile.
    Eight years later just that happened: the Socialist Salvador Allende became head of state. On 21 August I handed over to the Chilean ambassador in Vienna, professor Benadava, a letter to Allende, drawing his attention to the Rauff case. Allende relied very cordially but pointed to the difficulty of reopening a case when the Supreme Court had already handed down a judgment. I requested Allende to examine the possibility of having Rauff, who was not yet a Chilean citizen, deported: we might be able to proceed against him in a country with a more favorable legislation. But before Allende could answer my second letter there was a coup and Allende lost his life”.

    These are Wiesenthal’s own words that refute the libelous statements of Farias’ undocumented text.
    There are reasons to suspect that Farías also had been able to falsify or to manipulate the text of the letter that he attributes to President Allende in answer to the one of Mr. Wiesenthal. He doesn’t publish a photocopy of the letter but rather a version that is re-typed by an unidentified person, without seal, date or registry number, with the heading “Ministry of Foreign Relations”, and, at the bottom, “President of Chile” after the name Salvador Allende. The three items are inconceivable in the correspondence of Head of State who wrote on “Presidency of the Republic” letterhead and always signed with his name only (without adding “President of Chile”). Letters all were sent with a date and a record number. Suspicion grows when Farías does not identify the source of documents, but claims that “I have found them in the file of the Dokumentationszentrum of Vienna”. A serious omission for an academic professional who does not identify the number of box and/or file where he claims to have found the document.

    3. Farías silence that Pinochet protected Rauff from those who wanted to put him on trial.
    Below you can read the letter from the Director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Dr. Efraim Zuroff, sent on November 23, 1997 to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu :

    “Simon Wiesenthal Center
    23 Cheshvan 5758
    23 November 1997

    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

    Dear Prime Minister,

    We recently learned that the Chief of Staff of the Chilean army and the country’s former president General Augusto Pinochet is planning a visit to Israel. Although he was invited by ‘Machshirei Tenua’, a private company, the visit nonetheless has serious public implications which have prompted this letter.

    General Pinochet served for many years as a dictator who purposely and systematically ignored the principles of human rights and democracy. During his presidency, many of his political opponents were murdered, among them numerous Jews. These facts are, in my opinion, sufficient cause to prevent his visit to Israel, but allow me to add an additional dimension related to the activities of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

    For years, General Pinochet granted a safe haven to Nazi war criminals who escaped to Chile, among them SS officer Walter Rauff who invented the gas vans in which hundreds of thousands of Jews were murdered during the Holocaust in the Chelmno death camp, various parts of the Soviet Union and in Yugoslavia. Later Rauff served in Tunisia and in Italy, where he played an active role in the measures taken against the Jews.

    After the war, Rauff escaped from Europe and settled in Chile. I am well acquainted with the great efforts invested by the Wiesenthal Center and other Jewish organizations during the late seventies and early eighties to convince the Chilean government headed by Pinochet to extradite Rauff to the German authorities who sought to put him on trial. Pinochet, however, adamantly refused to accede to this request and defended the Nazi war criminals (who died in Chile in 1984).

    From a moral point of view, the State of Israel, as the national home of the Jewish people, cannot host individuals like Pinochet who caused so much damage, sorrow and pain to Jews. Your intervention is therefore requested regarding this painful subject in order to prevent the visit of the murderous dictator, defender of Nazi war criminals like Walter Rauff.

    Please spare us this embarrassment.
    Sincerely yours,
    Dr. Efraim Zuroff
    Simon Wiesenthal Center”

    4. Farías’ silence in the face of what is public and well-known, that Salvador Allende’s relationship as a youth and an adult, with all the creeds, beliefs and ethnic groups in Chile, without distinction, was always excellent.
    Every one of Farias’ supposed “discoveries” and “findings” on Salvador Allende turn out to be a string of unsupported falsifications.

    *** ***
    For more information on the next publication you can refer to the President Allende Foundation (Spain).

  3. Madrid, May 27, 2005

    Apartado de correos 14755 AP
    Madrid 28080. SPAIN
    Tel. 34-91.531.19.89

    Press Release

    1. The original text as written by Salvador Allende has been published today in Internet unmasking the defamatory libel which has been put in circulation. The correspondence between Simon Wiesenthal and President Allende is also published.

    2. It is available on CLARIN (, 12.3 Mb), and comprises the unpublished thesis with which Dr. Salvador Allende sought the professional qualification of Physician-Surgeon from the University of Chile in May 1933. It was entitled Mental Health and Delinquency (156 pages). The text is now published with an Introduction of Juan E. Garcés, political scientist, and a Prologue of Juan Carlos Carbonell, Professor of Criminal Law at Valencia University.

    A defamatory libel alleges that Salvador Allende as a student defended racist and anti-semitic concepts in his University thesis of 1933. The words of Allende himself demonstrate the fallacy of this accusation.

    Fifteen lines are all that the aspirant doctor Allende requires in order to conclude that “there is no precise data showing any such influence in the civilized world” in reference to the contention of the Italian criminologist Lombroso attributing race as a causal factor in certain types of crime (page 123 of the version now accessible on internet).

    In this coming month of June the University thesis will be published in Santiago de Chile on paper.

    The correspondence between Simon Wiesenthal and President Allende is also published today in the web page of CLARIN (, Hemeroteca section).

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