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Argentina Museum Drops Name of Nazi Collaborator from Its Title

October 19, 2006
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An Argentine museum has stripped its namesake from its title following the revelation of his Nazi past. The former Menghin Archaeological Museum is located in Chivilcoy, 100 miles northwest of Buenos Aires. It was opened in October 1973, shortly after Oswald Menghin’s death.

Born in 1888 in Austria, the archaeologist Menghin was the head of the Vienna Prehistorical University during the Nazi occupation. Menghin was Austrian education minister for a short time during World War II and was responsible for limiting the number of Jewish professors and students in universities. He was one of the signatories of Sigmund Freud’s university expulsion.

The collaborator moved to Argentina in 1948. He ended a long stint at the Buenos Aires University as an emeritus professor. After his daughter married a Chivilcoy businessman, he moved to that city in his later years, where he died in 1973.

In 2005, university professor and U.N. consultant Marcelino Fontan published the book “Oswald Menghin: Science and Nazism,” in which he describes Menghin’s role as part of the “cultural Nazi operative.”

Fontan, who studied with the Nazi collaborator at the Buenos Aires University, wrote that Menghin continued to express his racist ideology there.

Despite Fontan’s book, the museum name wasn’t touched until last month, when the Buenos Aires magazine “Veintitres,” or 23, published the story of Menghin’s past.

Under public pressure, Chivilcoy legislative authorities voted unanimously Sept. 28 to eliminate Menghin’s name from the museum. A new name is to be chosen.

Chivilcoy government official Antonio Vega said the city’s residents had always seen Menghin as a respectable academic. “We never suspected about his Nazi past,” he said.

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