Former health minister Ramon Carrillo to feature on banknote
Move condemned by Jewish groups & Simon Wiesenthal Centre
London, UK – 1 June 2020
Argentina is to honour a former health minister who protected a Nazi war criminal. It will put his image on the new 5,000 peso banknote, which comes into circulation this month.
Ramon Carrillo was health minister in the late 1940s during the rule of Juan Peron. In 1947, he signed a five-year contract to employ SS Dr Carl Vaernet who was known to have fled Europe to escape prosecution at a war crimes tribunal.
Vaernet was wanted for the medical experiments he conducted on gay prisoners in Nazi concentration camps. He was acting under the direction of the head of the Gestapo, Heinrich Himmler, to find ways to eliminate homosexuality.
Argentina’s current health minister, Ginés González García, has praised Carrillo and defended his inclusion on the new banknote.
In the late 1990s, human rights campaigner, Peter Tatchell, waged a long battle to expose Vaernet’s war crimes and his escape from justice.
Mr Tatchell said:
“Argentina is supposed to be a democracy. Why is it honouring a man who sympathised with Nazi ideas of eugenics and who sheltered and aided a Nazi war criminal?
“Vaernet conducted experiments on gay prisoners in Buchenwald concentration camp, in bid to develop medical procedures to erase homosexuality. He acted with the personal approval of the head of the Gestapo, Heinrich Himmler, who was committed to the total elimination of what he denounced as ‘abnormal existence.’
“Carrillo personally employed Vaernet, according to the contract they signed in 1947 to fund his ‘scientific specialism’, which was treatments and cures to stamp out homosexuality.
“Carrillo must have been aware of the war crime evidence against Vaernet because it was reported in the media at the time and there were calls for him to be extradited to Europe to face prosecution,” said Mr Tatchell.
The Jewish community in Argentina has condemned the honouring of Carrillo. Israel’s ambassador in Argentina, Galit Ronen, also criticised the decision on Twitter:
“When we say ‘Nunca más’ (“Never again”) in reference to the Holocaust, there is no point in commemorating someone who at least sympathises with this ideology,” Ronen wrote.
The Latin American chapter of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre strongly criticised the choice of Carrillo for the new banknote:
“Carrillo, in addition to being an admirer of Hitler, created the concept of the ‘ideal soldier’ who would reject conscripts who he considered as racial and gender ‘oddities,’” the Centre said. “We emphatically reject the choice of such a character, that will sully Argentina with his image on its highest denomination banknote.”
The centre has previously confirmed that Vaernet was aided by top Argentine officials to continue his work on finding ways to eradicate homosexuality.
Carrillo supported aspects of Nazi ideology, according to the Jewish News Syndicate and Ynetnews.com.
Vaernet’s grandson, Cristian Vaernet, who has previously expressed regret about his grandfather’s actions, has been quoted as saying:
“I hope that all the mistakes made will help our generation and those of the future to prevent crimes against humanity and the discrimination or persecution of people based on their religion, skin colour or sexuality.”