For Victoria Montenegro, “Daddy’s Little Girl” is not a phrase to be used lightly. The thirty-five year old Argentinian woman has finally come to grips with the truth revealed to her more than a decade ago: the man who raised her was not her real father. Instead, Colonel Hernán Tetzlaff was actually her parents’ murderer, and he illegally took Montenegro as his own child in 1976.
Tetzlaff confessed this shocking revelation to Montenegro in 2000, describing how he and his wife falsified Montenegro’s birth records after Tetzlaff had murdered her parents and had taken her when she was only four months old.
The colonel was a chilling figure, who discussed military operations at the dinnertime when Montenegro was growing up and claimed to have been a hero for the country by helping eliminate “subversives” of the Argentinian government. However, these fabrications were uncovered when investigations into the military leadership during Argentina’s dictatorship revealed the abduction of nearly 500 babies from their families from 1976 to 1983. These “dirty war” crimes were not granted amnesty by subsequent presidents elected after the fall of the dictatorship. Even more disturbing is the role that the Catholic Church is suspected to have played during this dictatorship, as the church supported the military government and the abductions of the children as a way to ensure their safety from government enemies. Montenegro stated that the church felt it was saving the lives of those abducted children by baptizing them into Christianity and giving them a chance at a better life.
Advanced forensic technology and greater government support has led to success stories, like Montenegro’s, of exposing the truth. While Montenegro struggled to believe what she had learned in 2000, she reluctantly gave a DNA sample and quickly discovered that her biological parents, Hilda and Roque Montenegro, were active participants in the resistance against the Argentinian dictatorship.
After Tetzlaff was convicted of illegally appropriating Montenegro in 2001, he served time in prison before his death in 2003. Despite the truth she learned and the lies she was living because of this man, Montenegro visited Tetzlaff weekly in prison until he died. Montenegro is slowly connecting with her biological parents’ family.