Philippe Sands with Ian Rankin: On the Trail of a Nazi Fugitive
Philippe Sands’s celebrated 2016 memoir East West Street, expertly interwove the personal story of his ancestors in the Ukrainian city of Lviv with a professional interest in the establishment of international law in the aftermath of the Holocaust. His superb follow-up, The Ratline, delves further into the story of Nazi brigade leader, Otto Von Wächter – a man indicted for mass murder in 1945 but who evaded capture and survived as a fugitive in the Austrian Alps for three years, before holing up in Rome under the protection of a Vatican bishop. From there he hoped to be transported along the secret ‘ratline’ to Argentina – a well-known safe passage for Nazi refugees.
For this book, Sands recruited the help of Von Wächter’s youngest son, and The Ratline is partly about an unlikely friendship that grows between them. Above all it is a compelling, unsettling account of a search for truth, told in a style that is so vivid it feels almost like a thriller. Who better then, to interview Sands today than Edinburgh’s beloved crime writer, Ian Rankin.