Spain's Costa Blanca provided a safe haven for many Nazis

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Spain's Costa Blanca provided a safe haven for many Nazis, allowing them to enjoy a retirement without regret or atonement.

Mention the Costa Blanca and most people will have heard of it. The community of Valencia, to which the Costa Blanca belongs, has three of Spain's first-division football teams, is renowned for its popular fiestas, the home of the traditional paella and, of course, the Valencia orange. However, mention the fact that the region was also a retirement home for Nazis and someone, somewhere will be reaching for Godwin's law.

Over the last year in Spain, two books have been published that deal with the subject of Nazis who found refuge on the Costa Blanca. The first is Clara Sánchez's critically acclaimed bestseller and prize-winning novel, What Your Name Hides (Lo que esconde tu nombre), which tells the story of Sandra and Julian and their connection with a group of retired Nazis on the Costa Blanca.

Sandra, a young pregnant woman from Madrid, escapes to the coast to rethink her life and ends up forming a close relationship with an elderly couple. Julian, on the other hand, is an octogenarian survivor of the Mauthausen death camp and retired Nazi hunter who lives in Buenos Aires, but who comes to Spain in search of justice after receiving a tipoff about the location of a former high-ranking Nazi. Although the two narrators of the story are fictional, the location is not: Denia is a real city, which served as both a refuge and transit point for a number of prominent Nazis – some of whom are portrayed in Sanchez's novel.

The second book, The Footprint of the Boot (La huella de la bota), is the work of investigative journalist Joan Cantarero, who dedicates a complete chapter to the subject of Nazis who found refuge in that part of Spain. Cantarero's research exposes the close ties between Spain's legally established neo-Nazi and extreme-rightwing groups and key members of nazism who sought refuge in Spain and South America after the second world war. It details a historical continuum in the relationship between Nazis in Europe from the outbreak of the Spanish civil war, through the second world war, the cold war and the fall of the iron curtain to present day....

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