Memories from Argentina

February 5, 2018

Image provided by Danny Bruteman

 

Nazis fled to Argentina after World War II—now that’s a story we’ve all been led to believe. Danny Bruetman says when he was growing up in Buenos Aires, there were worse issues to worry about. He says no Argentinian Jews cared about the few Nazis Juan Peron let in after the war.

                       

Danny was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. His family moved and grew up under various dictatorships in Buenos Aires. His great grandparents emigrated there from Eastern Europe. Although Argentina is officially Roman Catholic, it is really a secular society, he says adding that "more people care about your religion here in Michiana than they do there." He knew his family was Jewish. Their extended family celebrated the Jewish holidays and he got to spend time with his grandfather when they went to synagogue together.

 

There were conservative and orthodox congregations in Argentina. Neither he nor his brother became bar mitzvah. However, he was very conscious of being Jewish. It was no accident that he married a Jewish woman.

 

Living under a dictatorship offered him a sense of safety. He says, “It sounds worse from the outside than it was living it. I had a wonderful childhood there. It was fun and it was safe.” Each dictator who came to power promised they would bring order to the country’s chaos, he says, and everyone believed them.

 

His parents moved to Cincinnati where Danny was born in 1958. After his parents divorced, he, his mother and brother moved to Argentina and his father lived in Chicago. The two boys shared time with each parent, traveling between Chicago and Argentina. Danny attended medical school in Argentina but did his internship and residency in Chicago. There is no status attached to being a doctor in Argentina—some are driving cabs—and so he chose to practice medicine in the U.S.

           

When Danny and Jody moved here from Chicago 17 years ago with Alexa and Kylie, Jody needed to belong to a Jewish congregation and they both needed to be able to get back to Chicago easily for friends, family, and culture. With Danny’s job at the hospital in Goshen, Granger was the only choice. They joined Temple Beth-El and are still members. Alexis and Kylie became b’nei mitzvah and Jody has been active in Sisterhood.

How did your family get here? Let us know if you'd like to share your story! Give us a call (574-233-1164) or email history@michianajewish.org. We'll be sharing more community photographs and stories from our archives this month on our Facebook page.

 

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