Seguro Obrero massacre

The Seguro Obrero massacre (Spanish: Matanza del Seguro Obrero, lit.'Workers Insurance's Massacre') occurred on September 5, 1938, and was the Chilean government's response to an attempted coup d'état by the National Socialist Movement of Chile (MNSCh), whose members were known at the time as Nacistas ("Nazis"). Known for their affinity towards violence in order to attain their goals, their occupation of the central building at the University of Chile and the Seguro Obrero building was responded to quickly and harshly by the Chilean government and the carabineros.[1] After the failed coup, which involved a stand-off and shootout where one Nacista and one police officer (carabinero) were killed, the Nacistas ultimately surrendered after being given assurances of not being harmed. However, the police then broke their promise and summarily executed the Nacistas, allegedly under the orders of President Arturo Alessandri. A total of 59 Nacistas were massacred, with only four of the rebels managing to escape.[2]

Seguro Obrero Masacre
Part of the Interwar period

Troops of the Tacna Regiment pulling a cannon towards the occupied University of Chile building
DateSeptember 5, 1938
Location
Result Chilean government victory
Surrendered rebels massacred
Belligerents
Nacistas

Chile Government of Chile

Commanders and leaders
Jorge González von Marées Chile Arturo Alessandri
Chile Óscar Novoa
Chile Humberto Arriagada Valdivieso
Strength
64 Nacistas
Casualties and losses
60 killed 1 carabinero killed

Background

edit

The Seguro Obrero Massacre took place on 5 September 1938, in the midst of a heated three-way election campaign between the liberal-conservative Gustavo Ross Santa María, the radical Popular Front's Pedro Aguirre Cerda, and the newly formed Popular Alliance candidate, Carlos Ibáñez del Campo. Elections were set to take place October 25, just over a month after the massacre took place. The National Socialist Movement of Chile supported Ibáñez's candidacy, which had been announced on September 4. The National Socialist Movement, also known as Nacistas, was a political movement which initially had ties to the Nazi party in Germany and supported Adolf Hitler, but distance grew with the Nacistas lack of antisemitism in the 1930s.[3] Initially receiving funds and members from Germans living in Chile and reaching a membership of over 20,000, The movement stressed need for one-party rule, corporatism and solidarity between classes, and soon set up its own paramilitary wing, the Tropas Nacistas de Asalto.[4] Although the name "Naci" was in part inspired by the Nazi party and their success in Europe, stressing Chilean nationality and the creole character of the movement they differentiated themselves by using a "c" in place of the "z" in the Nazi party name.[5] In order to preempt Ross's victory, the National Socialists mounted a coup d'état that was intended to take down the liberal government of Arturo Alessandri Palma through a military and political coup in order to place Ibanez in power.[6][7] The failure of the coup ultimately led to Ibanez removing himself from the race, and the Popular Front candidate Pedro Aguirra Cerda winning by a narrow margin.[8]

Coup

edit
 
The Carabineros open fire on Nacistas occupying the Seguro Obrero. The attempted overthrow of the Chilean government by a pro-Nazi movement with ties to Germany led many in Chile to question the loyalties of the German Chilean community.
 
Carabineros escort members of the Nazi party who surrendered, shortly before the Carabineros executed them.

At around 12:30 on September 5, 1938, approximately 30 armed Nacista youths affiliated with the National Socialist Movement occupied the Seguro Obrero building. José Luis Salazar, a carabinero (uniformed police) who was on watch, upon observing the situation, thought that the Nacistas were concealing weapons under their coats, and prepared to respond. However, a member of the Nacista movement who observed the reaction of the serviceman opened fire, mortally wounding Salazar.[9]

In response, a short while later a group of carabineros arrived and gathered at the base of the building. Heavy fire was exchanged between the Nacistas and the carabineros. Gerald Gallmeyer, a Nacista youth, was killed. His companions continued to resist and attempt to hold the building, but the carabineros ultimately forced them to retreat to the top floor,where they disabled the elevators and barricaded themselves in.[10]

In the meantime, another 32 Nacista youths had occupied the central building at the University of Chile. This culminated in a shoot-out as well, beginning at 02:00, when an assault by the carabineros took members of the National Socialist group by surprise; those who surrendered were led with their hands up, toward the Seguro Obrero a few blocks away. There they were informed that the attempted coup had already failed and were sent into the building to convince their companions to lay down their arms on the condition that their lives would be spared. The Nacista activists accepted these terms and surrendered.[9]

However, the police abruptly broke their promise and massacred the Nacistas. According to a reporter who was hiding in the Seguro Obrero building basement during the standoff, the carabineros opened fire on the Nacistas before they had even exited the building. The officers seemingly went from room to room to eliminate the Nacistas who had already surrendered and laid down their weapons, lining them up against walls and mowing them down with rifle fire.[11] Their bodies and faces were mutilated with sabers and bayonets.[12] Ultimately, the police executed 59 Nacistas, with only four youths managing to escape.[11]

Still a topic of debate to this day, some attested that Arturo Alessandri, enraged by the coup and looking to past success of forcefully putting down troublesome groups, issued presidential orders to the Carabinero General Arriagada to eliminate the Nacista threat by 1600 that day or the military and artillery would take over.[12] Although the accusations are grounded in speculation, it is argued by Marcus Klein in La Matanza del Seguro Obrero, and accepted by many historians that Alessandri gave the execution order.[13] Although he denied this even to his deathbed, claiming to have only told Arriagada to restore order however he best saw fit.[14]

See also

edit

References

edit
  1. ^ Sznajder, Mario (1993). "A Case of Non-European Fascism: Chilean National Socialism in the 1930s". Journal of Contemporary History. 28 (2): 269–296 – via JSTOR.
  2. ^ Donoso Rojas, Carlos (June 2009). "Marcus Klein, La matanza del Seguro Obrero (5 de septiembre de 1938)". Historia (Santiago). 42 (1): 252–255. doi:10.4067/S0717-71942009000100012. ISSN 0717-7194.
  3. ^ Friedman, Max (2003). Nazis and Good Neighbours. Cambridge University.
  4. ^ Payne, Stanley (2001). A History of Fascism: 1914–1945. London: Routledge.
  5. ^ Sznajder, Mario (1993). "A Case of Non-European Fascism: Chilean National Socialism in the 1930s". Journal of Contemporary History. 28 (2): 269–296 – via JSTOR.
  6. ^ "El "nunca más" a través de la historia – La Masacre del Seguro Obrero". Revista Punto Final. 10 October 2003. Retrieved 3 August 2009.
  7. ^ Super, Richard (1977). Masterson, Daniel M; Bratzel, John F (eds.). The Underside of Latin American History. Latin American Studies Center, Michigan State University. pp. 49–50.
  8. ^ Super, Richard (1977). Masterson, Daniel M; Bratzel, John F (eds.). The Underside of Latin American History. Latin American Studies Center, Michigan State University. pp. 61–62.
  9. ^ a b Silva, J. Pablo (2010). "La matanza del Seguro Obrero (5 de septiembre de 1938) (review)". The Americas. 67 (1): 134–136. doi:10.1353/tam.0.0299. ISSN 1533-6247. S2CID 146444478.
  10. ^ Super, Richard (1977). Masterson, Daniel M; Bratzel, John F (eds.). The Underside of Latin American History. Latin American Studies Center, Michigan State University. pp. 51–52.
  11. ^ a b Super, Richard (1977). "The Seguro Obrero Massacre". The Underside of Latin American History: 53.
  12. ^ a b Super, Richard (1977). Masterson, Daniel M; Bratzel, John F (eds.). The Underside of Latin American History. Latin American Studies Center, MSU. p. 53.
  13. ^ MonteóN, Michael (November 2010). "Marcus Klein, La Matanza del Seguro Obrero (5 de septiembre de 1938) (Santiago: Globo Editores, 2008), pp. 199, pb". Journal of Latin American Studies. 42 (4): 869–871. doi:10.1017/S0022216X10001549. ISSN 0022-216X.
  14. ^ Super, Richard (1977). Masterson, Daniel M; Bratzel, John F (eds.). The Underside of Latin American History. Latin American Studies Center, Michigan State University. p. 62.
edit