Return ticket – My father, executioner of the Argentine dictatorship

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They are Argentinians carrying a heavy family secret. Under the Argentine dictatorship, from 1976 to 1983, their fathers were police officers or soldiers. The latter have since been accused, sometimes convicted, of crimes against humanity. After living in shame and silence for a long time, these children, when they grew up, decided to make their voices heard and tell their terrible legacy. They called themselves the “children of genocidaires”.

In Argentina, some people have known this terrible family secret since they were very young. Others have lived for decades without ever suspecting anything. Until the opening of trials for crimes against humanity committed under the dictatorship of Jorge Videla, which began in 2009 and continue today. How can you build or rebuild yourself when discovering that your own father is guilty of torture, rape, sometimes murder? How to find your place next to the children of the victims?

Read alsoWhen the stolen children of the Argentine dictatorship find their roots

The facts date back to the time of the “dirty war” (1976-1983), during which thousands of Argentines, considered “political opponents”, were kidnapped by the military junta. Many were tortured, then thrown, still alive, from planes into the Rio de la Plata. These are the infamous “death flights”. Many bodies were never found. Human rights associations estimate the number of disappeared, the “desaparecidos”, at 30,000.

In recent years, certain children of the dictatorship’s executioners have embarked on a process unprecedented in the world. That of making their family history known publicly, in order to repudiate the crimes committed by their fathers and to place themselves on the side of “memory for truth and justice”.

We went to meet these children, forty after the end of the Argentine dictatorship, and followed them on the long path of acceptance that they had to take, some by campaigning against negationism or by creating an association, others via psychoanalysis or the writing of a play.

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