José Antonio Kast, the right-wing candidate who won the first round of Chile’s presidential election last month, has long denied allegations that his German-born father was a Nazi during World War II. Kast said his father was forced as a young man to enlist in the German Army as it fought the Allies.
But a newly unearthed document appears to confirm Michael Kast’s membership in the Nazi party, the Associated Press reported Wednesday.
An ID card found in Germany’s Federal Archive with the membership number 9271831 shows that an 18-year-old-man named Michael Kast joined the National Socialist German Workers’ Party — the Nazi party — on Sept. 1, 1942.
The Federal Archive couldn’t confirm that it was the same Michael Kast as José Antonio Kast’s father, the AP reported, but the date and place of birth listed on the card are a match. A copy of the card was originally posted on Twitter last week by the Chilean journalist Mauricio Weibel.
The document appears to contradict Kast’s narrative of his father’s involvement with the Nazi regime.
“When there is a war and [military] enrollment is mandatory, a 17- or 18-year-old doesn’t have the option to say, ‘I’m not going,’ because they will be court martialed and shot to death the very next day,” Kast said on social media, according to the AP. Kast’s father emigrated to Chile in the 1950′s and became a successful businessman. He died in 2014.
But while military service was mandatory for young men in Germany, membership to the Nazi party was not. “We don’t have a single example of anyone who was forced to enter the party,” German historian Armin Nolzen, who has researched party membership, told the AP.
José Antonio Kast finished first in the opening round of the presidential election with 28 percent of the vote. He faces leftist congressman Gabriel Boric in the runoff on Dec. 19.
Kast set himself off in a crowded field by espousing right-wing views on immigration — he proposed building a ditch on the border with Bolivia — and women’s rights: He opposes abortion, and said some government benefits should be given only to married women.
Kast has also spoken admiringly of the dictator Augusto Pinochet, whom his brother served as central banker. He has drawn comparisons to former president Donald Trump and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.
Kast, who led Boric by 2 percentage points in the first round of the election, has since walked back some of his most extreme proposals in an effort to draw more support in the runoff.
Recent polls give Boric a slight advantage over Kast.