I returned to Argentina in 1969. The country burned. In the city of Cordoba a popular rebellion lit everyone’s revolutionary heart. Everyone, additionally, was waiting for the colonel of the people. His enemies, hating him, forbidding him, had taken him to the highest reaches of myth. The masses, the poor were with him. The working class too. Middle class youths fought in urban and rural militias, they did basic the jobs in the barrios and even in the factories, and they were taking the universities. In this history (tragic history, untellable and undecipherable, that ran madly towards the abyss) were involved Pablo Epstein and Hugo Hernandez. I could not see them much. Vertigo was eating them.
This, despite its density, is not the story I must tell in this account.
What’s more: the country’s violent climate threw me, once again, without intercession, in the flesh, into fear. I’d grown up in Freiburg. Between 1934 and 1943 I had lived my infancy, my first decisive years under the Third Reich. I could, from afar, smell the catastrophe. And this, the catastrophe, was the only thing I smelled in Argentina. The other scents, the ones I often loved, had scampered.
I was always, since becoming a teacher, with the best.
This was enough to put me on the lists of some beings they called subversives. One of the principal butchers of the dictatorship, years later, would say: “We don’t kill people, we kill subversives”.
Hugo Hernandez exiled himself in 1975. Pablo Epstein, three months before the coup d'état, he contracted (contracted?) cancer. He needed to flee, but his doctors forbid it. He went mad, almost. And this almost is worse than madness. Whoever goes mad escapes; gone. He who almost goes mad leaves a part of himself in reality. That part lets him know of the existence of the horror; desiring to find it. Know evil. Have fear. Depend on other’s information. They know nothing, because no one knows. It is only known that, night after night, hundreds of people disappear. Some can be included in the logic the terror follows. They are subversives. But soon one knows the truth, the only truth: everyone is subversive. Or no one knows what makes one a subversive.