Huemul Island

HUEMUL ISLAND, A SHORT DISTANCE offshore from Bariloche, Argentina, is green and tranquil. But it’s more than meets the eye. There, obscured by dense trees, lie the ruins of an energetic past involving secret nuclear experiments and Nazi scientists.

In 1949, president Juan Perón personally invited Ronald Richter, an Austrian scientist famous for developing a particle accelerator for the Nazis, to Argentina to work on fusion energy. Richter was given carte blanche and hundreds of millions of pesos, as well as the entirety of Huemul Island, to pursue his work. 

But after initial claims of success, the work was revealed to be fraudulent and the project shut down in 1952. Three years later, Perón was overthrown, and Richter was arrested for fraud in the aftermath. The advanced scientific complex was left to rot, eventually being used as target practice for the military. 

Today, trees and vines are reclaiming the structures once home to cutting-edge nuclear experiments run by the Nazi physicists. Visit the island, and you’ll enjoy its eerie calm and fascinating history, as well as sweeping views of the town and surrounding mountains from Richter’s old office atop the island’s lone hill.