Books

The American Boris Weisfeiler, the ghost of the Pinochet dictatorship, appears again in the book

The American Boris Weisfeiler, the ghost of the Pinochet dictatorship, appears again in the book

IN Boris, 1985 (encyclopedic entry).Franco-Swiss writer Douna Loup follows in the footsteps of her great-uncle, a distant but omnipresent family figure, who died in January 1985 in Chile.

January 1985: Boris Weisfeiler, an American mathematician, disappears in Chile. Almost forty years after the never clarified facts, his great-niece exhumes in an intimate text this “the ghostPinochet’s dictatorship, one among thousands of others.

IN Boris, 1985 (encyclopedic entry)., published Friday by Zoé, Franco-Swiss writer Douna Loup follows in the footsteps of this distant but ubiquitous family figure. Born in the Soviet Union, Boris Weisfeiler went into exile in the United States in 1975, where he was naturalized a few years later. After becoming a mathematics professor at the University of Pennsylvania, he mysteriously disappeared while hiking in southern Chile, then under the yoke of a dictatorshipAugusto Pinochet (1973-1990). «The story of Boris is a small story in a big one“, assures the forty-year-old author in an interview with AFP. It took a day in January 2018 for Douna Loup, who has already published two novels, to embrace the subject.

While listening to the song came from the sea written as a sign of respect for the communist leader Marta Ugarta, who was tortured and executed by the secret police of the Pinochet dictatorship in 1976, the first name Boris appears “immediately in mind».

“Elusive”

But the author knows nothing about him and his life. Both an intimate story and research work fed by declassified documents, testimonies and excerpts from his uncle’s personal notebooks, the book immerses the reader in the life of this man, the only American who is among the approximately 3,200 people who died or disappeared under the Chilean dictatorship.

Starting point? Boston, where Boris’s sister Olga lives. It was she who led the fight to shed light on this disappearance, whose investigation was dismissed by a Chilean judge in 2016, due to a lack of evidence. United States, Chile, Russia: Between January 2018 and March 2020, Douna Loup investigates, interrogates family members, ex-girlfriend and friends of Boris Weisfeiler. If at that time the common thread of the book had not yet appeared clearly to her, she still had the desire to tell the life of this uncle whose trace was lost when he was 44 years old, and whom she had tried for a long time.elusive“. From the testimonies, a brilliant man appears, lonely and passionate about mountaineering. Under one condition: that it takes place in remote places, far from everything and everyone. “Talking about his life, his path, is a way of honoring him“, confides the writer, who says that she regrets that the story of her great-uncle was only told through the prism of the news until then, this”that he is not“, she assures.

In Chile, she surveyed residents who lived through the dictatorship and its horrors, in a way to anchor the story of Boris Weisfeiler in the tragedy that this South American country went through. But Douna Loup’s words don’t stop there. Until the end of the investigation, she was trying to find out more about the death of this “the ghostfamily. According to declassified documents, Boris Weisfeiler was kidnapped by Chilean security forces who handed him over to a pro-Nazi religious sect based nearby. This sect is “Colonia Dignidad”, a place of torture and sexual abuse established and used during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. “Today, looking back, I believe we will never know what happened.“, she confides. Failing to find out the truth,I hope to contribute to the peace of Olga and my family, and why not the families of the victims of the dictatorship».

SEE ALSO – Chile: majority for “No” in the referendum on the new constitution

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