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Monika Ertl came to Bolivia in 1952 when her father brought the family over from Germany. In Bolivia she accompanied her father on several filming expeditions and learnt to use both a film camera and firearms. Later she entered a marriage briefly, but felt unhappy playing the "trophy wife" of a Bolivian-German mining engineer. After her divorce she became involved with the survivors of Che Guevara's routed guerrilla movement. After helping out in minor occasions she finally joined the political underground. In Germany, she became known as "Che Guevara's avenger" because of her alleged involvement in the murder of Colonel Roberto Quintanilla Pereira in Hamburg, Germany: although this has never been completely proven it can safely be assumed that she did shoot Quintanilla who, at the time, was serving in Hamburg as the Bolivian consul. A former leader of the 'National Liberation Army' (ELN) of Bolivia, Osvaldo "Chato" Peredo, confirmed in an interview filmed by German director Christian Baudissin in 1988 that Quintanilla was a prime target of the ELN, because he had been responsible for ordering the hands of Guevara be cut off and sent to La Paz for further identification. He also states that Ertl "after carrying out the mission in Hamburg" returned to Cuba where she met with Régis Debray.
After being under covert observation for several days she and another guerrilla were eventually ambushed and killed by Bolivian security forces on May 12, 1973 in El Alto (in La Paz) where she was reorganizing the ELN. According to Régis Debray she was also preparing the abduction of the former Gestapo Chief of Lyon Klaus Barbie to bring him to Chile and consequently to justice in France where he was wanted as a Nazi war criminal. At the time Barbie was known to be an adviser of the secret police in Bolivia. Her body was not turned over to her family to be buried and she rests in an unknown grave.
- Christian Baudissin: Wanted: Monika Ertl, documentary 1989
- Jürgen Schreiber (journalist): Sie starb wie Che Guevara. Die Geschichte der Monika Ertl. Artemis & Winkler, Düsseldorf 2009 ISBN 978-3-538-07274-9
- Ertl is among the prominent characters in a fictionalized account of her family, Los Afectos (Affections) by Bolivian author Rodrigo Hasbún.
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