"Walter Rauff is the inventor of the Gas Truck"

In Patagonia's shortest section is also one of its most haunting, a potent example of Chatwin's laconic style.

Walter Rauff was one of the most reviled men of the Nazi regime, an SS Officer thought to be responsible for the deaths of over 100,000 people. He was stationed in North Africa between 1942 and 1943, where he organised the persecution of the Jews in the Middle East. He was then sent to Italy where he oversaw the mass execution of Jews and Partisans.

He settled in Chile in 1958 at Punta Arenas, working for a crab cannery. Although arrested, he was set free by the Chilean Supreme Court, a decision Salvador Allende regretted he was unable to overrule. It is thought that he might have acted as an advisor to Allende's successor, the dictator Augusto Pinochet. But the CIA could never trace him. He was tracked-down in Santiago in 1979 however, by the film-maker William Bemister who persuaded him to be interviewed for the award-winning documentary The Hunter and The Hunted.

In 1941, Rauff worked on the development of the Gas Truck - a mobile killing chamber that pumped carbon monoxide back into the air-tight compartment where the Gestapo's victims were held.