An Argentinian Woman Raised By Her Worst Enemy

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.

Original article from The New York Times


  1. I would like to take a moment to comment about the role of the Catholic Church in this matter. Despite being a Catholic myself, I find this logic flawed and morally lacking. Granted the argument seems sound by trying to give the children a better life, but how is separating babies from their parents any way of producing a better life, not to mention the traumatic effects on the parents. As evidenced by the case of Victoria Montenegro, the reality of this logic leads to deep emotional scars.
    Looking from a broader perspective, I really think it is time that people stop hiding their true intentions behind religion. While I am sure religion itself can be a wonderful thing for those who need it and for those who want its support, the problem is that people always use it as a means of justifying their own actions. Granted this issue being a bit of a pet peeve of mine, but I find it really distasteful that a few select people have to warp something like religion to fit their own purposes. Then again, I suppose it is just the way of the universe that people put the blame everywhere except on themselves where it belongs. Finally, as a brief disclaimer, I want to point out that I am not criticizing any one relegion, I am merely criticizing the way that many people, especially religous authorities, decide to use it.

  2. There is a chain of perpetrators of the crimes in Argentina that ends with The US and UK at its head.
    Why on Earth should Argentina pay debts owed to private companies that are in bed with these “I find no name abominable enough”.

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