An anti-fascist struggle conditioned by ethnic concerns: Jewish self-defense groups in 1960s South America

Raanan Rein*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Following the kidnapping of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann in Buenos Aires in May 1960 and the antisemitic wave it provoked in South America throughout the 1960s, Jewish-Argentines, Jewish-Uruguayans and Jewish-Chileans organized themselves into armed self-defense groups and trained in response to growing xenophobia and racism. This little-researched history highlights the efforts of Jewish youth to break away from communal political traditions. They defied the practice of their parents and grandparents who preferred peaceful compromise over direct confrontation with either state officials or extreme right-wing organizations. These Jewish youngsters defined organizations like the Argentine Tacuara or Juventud Uruguaya de Pie as neo-Nazi. They took as a role model the ghetto fighters and the partisans of World War II and were now prepared to resort to violence in their struggle against antisemitism. Based on an oral history project, the article describes how they not only guarded community institutions but also attacked nationalist bullies, printing houses of antisemitic literature and Arab diplomatic legations. However, as this article argues, they did not collaborate with leftist anti-fascist groups, since they were also concerned in promoting Zionism and immigration to Israel.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)453-470
Number of pages18
JournalCanadian Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2023


  • Argentina
  • Chile
  • Jews
  • Uruguay
  • antisemitism
  • neo-Nazis
  • self-defense


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