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Odessa- Myth or Reality?

Updated on January 12, 2013

What is Odessa?

At the end of World War Two higher ranking members of the SS became wanted war criminals for the horrible acts they had committed against their fellow man during the rule of the Nazis.

Those who escaped capture by the Allies or Russians were thought to have been helped by a secret organisation. It was supposedly made up of high ranking Nazis and Nazi sympathizers. This organisation was known as ‘Odessa’. The main aim of the organisation was to help ex high ranking SS and Nazis escape the country and to keep the ideology alive.

Even though SS members met openly after the war they all denied the existence of this organisation.

an example of the 'impassable' Austrian moutains
an example of the 'impassable' Austrian moutains

How does such an organisation begin or function?

In the chaos that existed in Germany and the occupied areas at the end of the war it was difficult to track down individuals. These countries were full of soldiers and refuges from all over Europe. It would be nearly impossible to find one person in column of 10,000 refuges never mind millions. Combine this with the tactics that the SS used to stop the Allies find them such as switching uniforms, then it makes the hunt for Nazis nearly impossible.

The mountains of Bavaria and the border with Austria were impossible to patrol and seen as natural barriers. Because of this it soon became the escape route for many members of the SS, such as Adolf Eichmann and Otto Skorzeny.

This is how Odessa is rumoured to have started, under the leadership of Otto Skorzeny.

Otto Skorzeny
Otto Skorzeny

After the SS members got over the mountains they would head to Italy. There they would get helped my clergy men of the Catholic Church. It is thought that, in Rome, the Vatican secret service played a key roll in finding SS member safe passage, usually into Latin America.

The German national; church in Rome was run by Bishop Alows Hadal. He called Hitler the ‘architect of German greatness’. He saw Nazism and Catholicism working together to build the future. So he had the motive to help the escaping SS members.

In Rome the Red Cross had ID to give to all people who needed to get back to their home country. It was difficult to travel anywhere without some form of ID and refugees had none. As a religious movement the Catholic Church was helping many refugees get home. As such they had nearly unlimited access to these forms of ID. All that was needed was a false name and the war criminals could leave the country un-questioned. These unmarked routes out of the country became known as the ‘rat lines’.

How would such a vast organization find funding?

 These same rat lines were used by the United States to move out ex-Soviet personnel and double agents. Members of the Catholic clergy would get the red cross visas and fake personal information, for the Americas, for $1400 green back. This money was used to keep the rat lines running. However, the SS members got through the rat lines for no fee. America was indirectly funding Nazi war criminal’s escapes.


During the war the Nazi regime had printed a huge amount of counter-fit currency of all kinds. Although much of it was captured by the Allies it is possible that many of the dump locations for these caches of fake notes were not found. With SS members knowing the location its plausible that these caches were also used to fund Odessa.

Other evidence that supports the existence of the Odessa escape network

Clause Barbie, Gestapo Chief, worked with the Americans after the war. He escaped through the rat lines, after which asked for $20,000 to be sent to an address in Italy for ‘personal reasons’.

Adolf Eichmann’s passport was signed by a catholic priest.

Walter Rauff, creator of the gas vans, escaped through the rat lines then openly boasted about it.

Fritz Bauer was thought to have been murdered by members of Odessa due many Nazis being tried for war crimes in the German state of Hesse.

Odessa claimed, in a letter sent to the family, they were behind the bombing attempt on Klarsfeld family after Beate Klarsfeld’s work trying to get South American governments to acknowledge the crimes of the war criminals hiding in their country.

Do you believe Odessa is real?

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    • profile image

      ruffridyer 6 years ago from Dayton, ohio

      Yet another reason I am not a cathlic. Whatever else you may say about them the nazi's seemed to be well organized and resourceful.

      An interesting hub.

    • jaskar profile image

      jaskar 7 years ago from England

      this is a rather strange view to take but id be ok(ok as you can be and still be a moral human being) with it if Nazis and SS members escaped to where ever and hide with shame and fear. but it is this idea that there was a secret organisation that helped people so full of hate and ignorance that sends a cold chill down my spine, espcailly when it is clearly that if such an organisation did exist that it was in partnership with the CHURCH.

    • ahorseback profile image

      ahorseback 7 years ago

      It is well known that the US, Russia ,England and who knows who else hired nuclear engineers both during and after the war[s]. There is no need to think that many SS troops , officers and political leaders "escaped" at the end of he war. Was it well organized , yes and no , I'm sure individuals as well found their way into disguised lifestyles. Everywhere , with the help of many....