Star Wars movies are filled with every kind of undertone — mythology, politics, religion, history, you name it. The most glaring has always been the not-so-subtle homages to Nazi Germany and the Third Reich. Palpatine’s rise to power, the manipulation of mass opinion, and the camps the Empire secretly set up echo what the world watched in the first half of the 20th century. Nothing is more heart dropping than The Force Awakens when General Hux gives a powerful, motivating (if you’re into the “destroy the universe” kind-of-thing) speech to thousands of stormtroopers, only to be praised with a thumping Nazi salute. J.J. Abrams has been very forward that this was intentional. When creating the concept of the new villains, he said:
“That all came out of conversations about what would have happened if the Nazis all went to Argentina but then started working together again?”
The new canon seems to follow the same thought. It could even help us fill in some blanks between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens.
Before we can understand our favorite galaxy, we need to know what happened in this one. Everyone knows the main events of World War II, but South America was able to stay out of the spotlight. Countries like Argentina remained neutral, but only in the public eye. Towards the end of the war, the Argentinian president, Juan Peron, secretly ordered escape routes to get Nazi officers to safety in South America. In some cases, these routes involved “ratlines” with the Catholic Church. The Church wanted to help protect and spread their religion, so they set up these channels to get Catholics to safety. Whether knowingly or not, this often included Nazi officers. About 9,000 known officers escaped to the safe haven.
Once safely in South America, most officers hid for decades. There’s new evidence that shows some started to regroup. A number of prominent officers decided not to hide, though. Most notably, Han Ulrich-Rudel founded the neo-nazi movement and returned to Germany some time later to shake up the political scene. Before heading back to the motherland, he set up a fake company, Merex. Rudel used Merex to sell discarded Nazi equipment and weapons to his new network.
The neo-nazi organization remained relatively hidden, never causing a real stir, until their first attack at a fundraiser in Brazil. The May Day Attack was a small bomb that was set off during an event promoting free elections.
Treat this like Mad Libs and swap out a few of the nouns for Star Wars names and places. It still holds up.
What we know so far is that with the Emperor’s help, Thrawn sent at least one officer to the Unknown Regions. Despite the Chiss staying out of the Clone Wars, the Galactic Civil War, and the Empire’s reign, they seemed eager to set up escape routes. By the time the Emperor was killed, there was an entire Super Star Destroyer filled with servants of the Empire.
Some time later, these well-trained officers came back to the charted galaxy with an agenda. They sought out political backing and funding. They stayed quiet until The Napkin Bombing— a small attack at a function meant to move a free election forward (an idea The Last Jedi director, Rian Johnson, came up with).
Not everyone stayed hidden. Agent Terex, a former Stormtrooper, used his knowledge of the Empire’s assets to find discarded equipment and weapons. He turned around and sold it to a new network that aligned to his ideals.
If we look at the key players and chain of events, almost everything lines up:
Argentina = Unknown Regions
President Peron = Chiss
Rudel/Merex = Terex
May Day Attack = Napkin Bombing
There’s one obvious missing piece. How does the Catholic Church fit into this? Was there an organization that knowingly or unknowingly had a vested interest in getting Imperial Officers to safety? If so, imagine how we could find out. Season 4 of Rebels is wide open, as is any book or comic book series. Even The Last Jedi could reveal the tie.
The one truth we do know? The events of the sequel trilogy, like its predecessors, is using history as a major influence.