Hay Festival: Philippe Sands talks to Stephen Fry

Phillipe Sands in conversation with Stephen Fry about his latest acclaimed best-seller, The Ratline


Sunday 24th May, 2020 @ 7:30 pm

  • In Conversation
  • Questions & Answers
  • Talk


About the Event

Phillipe Sands in conversation with Stephen Fry about his latest acclaimed best-seller, The Ratline.

As Governor of Galicia, SS Brigadeführer Otto Freiherr von Wächter presided over an authority on whose territory hundreds of thousands of Jews and Poles were killed, including the family of the author's grandfather. By the time the war ended in May 1945, he was indicted for 'mass murder'. Hunted by the Soviets, the Americans, the Poles and the British, as well as groups of Jews, Wächter went on the run. He spent three years hiding in the Austrian Alps, assisted by his wife Charlotte, before making his way to Rome where he was helped by a Vatican bishop. He remained there for three months. While preparing to travel to Argentina on the 'ratline' he died unexpectedly, in July 1949, a few days after spending a weekend with an 'old comrade'.

In The Ratline Philippe Sands offers a unique account of the daily life of a senior Nazi and fugitive, and of his wife. Drawing on a remarkable archive of family letters and diaries, he unveils a fascinating insight into life before and during the war, on the run, in Rome, and into the Cold War. Eventually the door is unlocked to a mystery that haunts Wächter's youngest son, who continues to believe his father was a good man - what happened to Otto Wächter, and how did he die? 

This event is live and there will be a Q&A afterwards.

About the Book

The Ratline
The Ratline

Philippe Sands, QC

Publisher:Orion Publishing Co

Publication date:16 Apr 2020


4.44 out of 5
10 reviews
"Philippe Sands untangles a web of denial, cover-up and self-deception in the story of Otto Wächter"
Financial Times
"the picture he evokes is unfailingly clear and lively"
The Spectator
"(a) grim page-turning life story of a Nazi"
Evening Standard
"A marathon more than a sprint, but the slog is well worth it."
Irish Times
"a taut and finely crafted factual thriller, reminiscent in density and pace of John le Carré"
The Observer
"a compelling piece of forensic historical research"
The Daily Telegraph
"As Phillips Sands’ The Ratline explores, Nazis' complicity in genocide didn’t stop Americans trying to recruit them."
New Statesman
"Sands presents a riveting Nazi love story in four parts"
Times Literary Supplement
"(an) enthralling and eagerly anticipated (certainly by me) follow-up to his Baillie Gifford-winning East West Street"
The Bookseller
"Sands’s untangling of the mysteries surrounding Otto von Wächter is masterfully done"
The Sunday Times

The new book by the winner of the Baillie Gifford Prize and author of the Sunday Times bestseller EAST WEST STREET - a historical detective story that sets out to uncover the truth behind what happened to leading Nazi Otto von Wachter