The Ratline: The labyrinthine trail of a Nazi fugitive

Book review: Philippe Sands’s extensive research creates a fascinating, detailed, account of the life of Otto von Wächter

This intriguing book charts the career of Otto von Wächter from his beginnings as an ambitious civil servant during the rise of National Socialism in Austria. Photograph: Ullstein Bild via Getty Images

This intriguing book charts the career of Otto von Wächter from his beginnings as an ambitious civil servant during the rise of National Socialism in Austria. Photograph: Ullstein Bild via Getty Images

What if your father or mother had done something terribly wrong? How would you feel about it? How would you rationalise their actions? Would you even wish to defend them? How might your decision to do so (or otherwise) affect the clarity of your conscience, the integrity of your thought, the conduct of your behaviour, indeed the fabric of your entire moral universe?

Maybe you, reader, have already known this predicament. Or perhaps you, like so many, have simply evolved from the childhood perspective of looking up to your parents as magical, all-providing superbeings to the mature understanding that they are actually the flawed and non-omniscient creatures their worldly circumstances reveal them to be. Just like you.

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