America's recruitment of Nazis, and its disastrous effect on our domestic and foreign policy
By CHRISTOPHER SIMPSON*
Collier / Macmillan, 1988
o A discreet silence
o Slaughter on the Eastern Front
o The man at box 1142
o The eyes and ears
o "I ... prefer to remain ignorant"
o Bare fists and brass knuckles
o Guerrillas for World War III
o Pipelines to the United States
o The politics of "liberation"
o Brunner and Bolschwing
o The end of "liberation"
A Discreet Silence
THE BASIC rationale US policymakers used after 1945 to justify employment of former Nazis and collaborators was the possibility -- no, the imminence -- of the outbreak of a new war between the United States and the USSR.
The American anticipation of a cataclysm was reinforced by the East-West geopolitical confrontation in Europe and the Mideast in the first years after World War II; by the shortage of reliable information about actual conditions in the east; and not infrequently by religious doctrine that asserted that the Communists were Satan's army on earth.' Such perceptions varied from individual to individual, of course, but were by no means a fringe phenomenon.
The actual balance of forces in Europe during the decade following 1945, however, meant that neither the United States nor the USSR was capable of unilaterally imposing its will on the other through military force alone. The Soviets' advantage in troop strength and geographical position gave it powerful leverage in Eastern Europe, America's atomic bomb and economic wealth notwithstanding.
Given that situation, President Harry Truman ordered a program of psychological warfare, covert operations, and intelligence gathering aimed at the USSR and its satellites that began as early as 1945 and significantly accelerated in the years that followed. Recently declassified records make clear that by 1948 Truman had approved claimed to have large networks of sympathizers behind Soviet lines. German intelligence specialists like General Reinhard Gehlen, who had run these networks during the war, asserted that a modest infusion of American money and arms could produce secure organizations of espionage agents, saboteurs, and strong-arm specialists inside the East bloc countries and in the teeming refugee camps that then dotted western Germany. The idea, in a nutshell, was secretly to underwrite the work of these groups in much the same way that the Allies had backed resistance forces inside German-occupied territory during the war.
Contrary to the promises once made inside secret US government councils that the use of such persons would be of practical benefit to this country, the truth is that these Nazi utilization programs have frequently been disasters, even when all ethical considerations are laid aside; Their behind-the-lines spy teams are now known to have been largely nonexistent, and those that did exist were laced with Soviet double agents. Instead of building a relatively airtight anti-Communist spy service, the same old boy circles used to recruit former Nazis ended up giving the USSR a relatively easy way to penetrate legitimate US intelligence gathering on Soviet military capabilities and intentions. US-sponsored secret warfare campaigns employing these recruits failed consistently, leading to the arrests, imprisonments, and sometimes executions of thousands of Eastern Europeans.
The government's use of Nazis and collaborators in intelligence programs has also left a mark on life in the United States itself. This impact is what is known in spy jargon as "blowback," meaning unexpected-and negative effects at home that result from covert operations overseas.
Often blowback from CIA clandestine work abroad has been no more (and no less) alarming than, say, a fraudulent news report planted in a European magazine that later shows up in US publications as fact. Sometimes, however, the problem has become far more serious. In a case revealed here for the first time, an organization of former SS and German military intelligence experts provided false information that nearly led to World War III. In another instance Senator Joseph McCarthy employed a secret US espionage squad made up in part of Nazi collaborators to gather slanderous information used to smear political opponents.
Despite these negative consequences, the existence of US operations employing ex-Nazis has remained a carefully kept secret in the West. There has been a certain convergence of powerful interests, rather than the great conspiracy that some critics have alleged, that has kept this story buried. The American government, for example, has not been inclined to publicize the men and women involved in sensitive "national security" missions. Many US documents concerning these programs have been systematically purged from the files and destroyed, and the majority of the records that remain are still classified above "secret." Most of the men who put together the US program-including the CIA's former chief of clandestine operations Frank Wisner and his boss, CIA Director Allen Dulles-are dead. Most of those who are still alive refuse to talk.
Until recently the US media could usually be counted on to maintain a discreet silence about emigre leaders with Nazi backgrounds accused of working for the CIA. According to declassified records obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, several mass media organizations in this country -- at times working in direct concert with the CIA -- became instrumental in promoting cold war myths that transformed certain exiled Nazi collaborators of World War II into "freedom fighters" and heroes of the renewed struggle against communism. The general public, for the most part, has had little reason to suspect that anything was amiss...
America's own initial plan to enlist the brains of Nazi Germany concentrated on scientists, declassified US Army records show. Some American intelligence officials were clearly aware from the very beginning that they were recruiting former Nazis, including SS officers and others alleged to have personally participated in executions of concentration camp inmates. Even so, top Pentagon officers believed that these Germans could be put to work in the then continuing war with Japan and the emerging conflict with the USSR. A highly secret US military intelligence coordinating center advised the US Army to alter its dossiers on those scientists so as to bring them into this country with supposedly clean wartime records. The United States soon stopped "beating a dead Nazi horse", as Bosquet Wev, executive officer of the Pentagon's intelligence coordinating office, put it, and began importing German chemical warfare experts, submarine specialists, and the scientists who had once built Germany's rockets using slave labor from Nazi concentration camps.
At about the same time these experts were conscripted, the United States also began a small, extremely secret program to enlist German espionage and covert operations specialists at an American camp for high-ranking Axis POWs near Wiesbaden. There the chief of US Army intelligence in Europe, General Edwin Sibert, gave the go-ahead to a gaunt former Wehrmacht (German army) general named Reinhard Gehlen to construct a new espionage organization made up of German experts on the USSR. Sibert, in what was at the time a clear violation of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's orders concerning denazification of Germany, assumed personal responsibility for the project. Before the 1940s were out, Sibert and Gehlen's small seed had grown into an organization upon which the Americans depended for much of what they knew about Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union.
With Gehlen's group at its core, former Nazis and collaborators went on to play an important, though largely unnoticed, role in the interlocked evolutions of the cold war and of American intelligence capabilities. Gehlen provided US Army intelligence and later the CIA with many of the dire reports that were used to justify increased US military budgets and intensified US/USSR hostilities. He exaggerated the Soviet military threat in Europe, says the CIA's former chief analyst on Soviet military capabilities Victor Marchetti, in order to ensure further protection and funding for his US-financed operation. The German intelligence group, as it turns out, usually received at least part of any new budget appropriations that accompanied escalation of the conflict with the USSR.
At about the time the Gehlen organization was getting on its feet, the US Army Counterintelligence Corps (CIC) gradually moved from investigating underground Nazis for war crimes prosecution to using some of these same Nazis and collaborators to track Communists. By 1948 the CIC found itself in a sub rosa bureaucratic battle with both the US Air Force and the then newly founded CIA over funding in the spy war against the Russians. One of the most valuable prizes in this intra-American conflict was control of several thousand former Waffen SS soldiers and officers whom the army had hired and equipped for use in a guerrilla war against the USSR. The army ended up actually integrating these SS troops into US nuclear strategy.
Policy concerning clandestine use of former Nazi collaborators during the early cold war years was shaped by a series of National Security Council directives and intelligence projects sponsored by the Policy Planning Staff of the State Department, then under the leadership of George F. Kennan, according to records discovered recently in US State Department archives. Kennan was at the time assigned the task of internal policy oversight of all US clandestine operations abroad. His initiatives -- along with those of Allen Dulles, Frank Wisner, and a number of other latter-day CIA executives -- helped convince Truman's NSC to approve a comprehensive program of covert operations that were explicitly modeled on the Vlasov Army, an anti-Communist emigre campaign created by the SS and the Nazi Foreign Office during World War II. Scholars and propagandists who had once collaborated in formulating the Nazis' political warfare program were brought into the United States to provide brains for the new operation.
Wisner, the dynamic director of the CIA's clandestine operations directorate, gradually gathered many of the threads of earlier Nazi utilization efforts into agency hands. Wisner believed in the tremendous espionage potential of the Eastern European emigre organizations, their value as propagandists and agents of influence, and the unique advantages of using soldiers who had no provable ties to the US government for certain particularly sensitive missions, including assassinations. More than that, Wisner was convinced that Communist rule would be soon overthrown in Eastern Europe and possibly in the USSR itself. America was already at war, as he saw it, and there was no time to quibble over the pasts of its new foot soldiers.
Wisner's clandestine campaigns were originally aimed at the USSR and its satellites. Before the decade was out, however, the American people also became an important target for CIA propaganda programs. It is at that point, over the winter of 1951-1952, that the blowback from the CIA's overseas operations reached a new and more dangerous stage. According to National Security Council records, Wisner began large-scale programs designed to bring thousands of anti-Communist exiles to the United States as a means of rewarding them for secret operations overseas and to train others for guerrilla warfare against East bloc countries. The CIA secretly subsidized the work of right-wing refugee relief organizations aiding such immigrants, including some groups with clear ties to extreme nationalist and Fascist organizations in Europe. The agency simultaneously funneled millions of dollars into advertising and staged media events inside the United States during the same period, with support for these overseas "refugee liberation" projects as a primary theme.
Tens of thousands of Eastern European refugees emigrated to the United States throughout the late 1940s and 1950s. Clearly the overwhelming majority of these new immigrants have proved themselves to be valuable citizens, who have made great contributions to science, culture, medicine, sports, and the American work force as well as to the defense of values like democracy and national pride. But just as any large group of humans contains some criminals, so, too, did this emigration. The difference this time was that of the criminals who did come, many were experienced right-wing political activists who were highly organized and blessed with the patronage of the CIA.
Shortly before the presidential election of 1952 the agency sharply expanded its media operations with a multimillion-dollar publicity campaign inside the United States designed to legitimize expanded US cold war operations in Europe.' This program was guided by a theory known as "liberationism," and an important part of that strategy held that certain exiled Fascist leaders left over from World War II should be regarded as democratic "freedom fighters" against the USSR. The CIA's propaganda campaign inside the United States was clearly illegal; but the agency concealed its ties to the effort, and the enterprise prospered.
Right-wing emigre organizations, which had once been little more than instruments of German (and later US) espionage agencies, began to take on a distinct life and authority of their own during the cold war, particularly inside America's large Eastern European immigrant communities. Through organizations such as the CIA-funded Assembly of Captive European Nations (ACEN), certain Ukrainian fraternal groups, and the Latvian Daugavas Vanagi alliance (each of which included in positions of leadership persons whom US investigators have alleged to be Axis war criminals), these extreme-right-wing exiles gradually expanded their reach in American affairs.
Although never the mainstream voices for their particular nationality groups, these organizations and others like them succeeded in creating genuine power bases on the far right of the US political spectrum. Before the decade of the 1950s was out, the activities of extremist European emigre organizations combined with indigenous American anti-communism to produce seriously negative effects on US foreign policy and domestic affairs under both Republican and Democratic administrations. By 1959 these exile groups had articulate defenders inside the staff of the National Security Council and had won a measure of influence on Capitol Hill. Observing their impact on US policy toward the USSR and Eastern Europe had become, as columnist Walter Lippmann wrote, "a morbid experience."
In short, US clandestine operations employing Nazis never did produce the results that were desired when they were initiated, but they did contribute to the influence of some of the most reactionary trends in American political life. This lesson has increased in significance over the years. More recent US interventions abroad have facilitated the entry into America of extremist and even terrorist emigre organizations that have subsequently gained political footholds in ethnic communities in this country, often through the use of violence and intimidation. The influence of Bay of Pigs veterans in Cuban-American enclaves or of the former Saigon police among Southeast Asian refugees comes to mind in this regard. "Blowback" of this type has not been limited to cold war Nazi utilization operations; it is a much more widespread characteristic of the CIA's emigre operations than is generally recognized and one which deserves further study...
Slaughter on the Eastern Front
CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY, " states the Allied Control Council Law No. 10 of 1945, are "atrocities and offenses, including but not limited to murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation, imprisonment, torture, rape, or other inhuman acts committed against any civilian population, or persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds...."
This statute, together with earlier joint declarations by Allied governments concerning war crimes, became the formal foundation upon which the Nazis and their collaborators were tried after World War II. The Control Council law as written is comprehensive. It also includes prohibition of war crimes-including murder or deportation of civilian populations by occupying armies, plunder, killing of POWs or hostages, wanton destruction of cities or towns, etc.-and crimes against peace, meaning the launching of an invasion or waging an aggressive war in violation of treaties. Punishment for those convicted under the law range from deprivation of civil rights to the death penalty, depending upon the circumstances of the crime.'
While this declaration prohibits specific acts by individuals, it also implicitly acknowledges that the genocide and slavery perpetrated by Nazi Germany required a high degree of coordination. Criminal culpability explicitly extends to the administrative apparatus of the SS, to the Nazi party, and to the chiefs of German industry that profited from concentration camp labor. It includes pro-Fascist newspaper publishers who promoted racial hatred in the pages of their publications and the senior officers of Axis ministries and local governments that carried through the day-to-day business of mass murder and persecution.
This text uses the term war crimes to refer to those activities banned by Allied Control Council Law No. 10, such as murder, torture, deportation, or persecution on the basis of race or religion. A "war criminal," logically, is one who has committed those crimes. But as is well known, many persons directly responsible for the Holocaust against the Jews, the mass murder by starvation of millions of Soviet prisoners of war, and other atrocities have escaped and never been tried for their deeds. Therefore, any serious discussion of who can properly be called a "war criminal" must of necessity consider all the historical evidence of what took place during the war and the Holocaust-not just the relatively small number of cases that were formally tried before the International Tribunal at Nuremberg or other courts. The term war criminal, as used here, is narrowly defined, but it goes beyond simply those persons who have been convicted in a court of law. It applies to the responsible officials of the political parties, police organizations, or wartime Axis governments whose records of terror, extermination, and anti-Semitism are beyond dispute; to the individuals who voluntarily participated in genocide or mass murders; and, in a small number of cases, to propagandists or publicists who actively promoted persecution on the basis of race or religion.
To understand how certain people ... escaped punishment for their crimes, it is necessary to look briefly at one of the most prominent features of the Nazi political philosophy: extreme anti-communism and particularly fanatic hatred of the USSR.
The slaughter that followed the German attack on the Soviet Union in June 1941 is without equal in world history. Next to the Nazis' operation of the anti-Jewish extermination centers at Treblinka, Sobibor, Birkenau, and elsewhere, the most terrible crimes of the entire war took place in name of anti-communism in the German-occupied territories on the eastern front. Civilian casualties in these areas were so enormous, so continuous, and so extreme that even counting the dead has proved impossible. Scholars have attempted to deduce the numbers of fatalities from captured German records, reports of Einsatzgruppen (mobile execution squads), prisoner of war (POW) camp mortality reports, and Soviet census statistics. The evidence indicates that between 3 and 4 million captured Soviet soldiers were intentionally starved to death in German POW camps between 1941 and 1944. About 1.3 million Jews were exterminated inside Nazi-occupied Soviet territory, mainly through mass shootings but also through gassing, deportation to extermination camps, looting and destruction of villages, hangings, and torture. The generally accepted figure for all Soviet war dead is 20 million human beings-about 15 percent of the population of the country at the time-but the destruction was so vast that even this number can be only an educated guess.
The Nazis deliberately used famine as a political weapon in the East, and it soon became the largest single killer. As the German invasion of the USSR began, General (later Field Marshal) Erich von Manstein ordered that "the Jewish-Bolshevist system must be exterminated.... In hostile cities, a large part of the population will have to starve." Nothing, Manstein continued, "may, out of a sense of mistaken humaneness, be distributed to prisoners or to the population-unless they are in the service of the German Wehrmacht."*
[* Other features of military regulations promulgated by Manstein on the eve of the war include orders for the immediate liquidation of all captured Soviet political officers or leaders, summary executions for civilians who 'participate or want to participate' in resistance to German troops, and "collective measures of force", which soon came to mean murder of entire populations of villages, including children-to punish hamlets in which 'malicious attacks [against the Wehrmacht] of any kind whatsoever' had taken place. German soldiers who had committed what would otherwise be crimes under Germany s own military code were not to be prosecuted if their acts had taken place "out of bitterness against . . . carriers of the Jewish-Bolshevik [sic] system.
Manstein later claimed at his trial for war crimes that the starvation order had escaped my memory entirely. He was convicted by a British tribunal and sentenced to eighteen years in prison, but he obtained release in 1952 after serving fewer than three years of his term. The former field marshal eventually became an adviser to the West German Defense Ministry.]
This was a war not only of conquest but of extermination. Entire regions of the USSR were to be cleared of the existing Communist apparatus and of Slavic "subhumans" to make way for settlement by "Aryan pioneers." Above all, it was believed necessary to conduct an ideological war to wipe out the "Jewish-Bolshevist plague" and those who were its "carriers."
Hitler's high command carefully planned the extermination campaign on the eastern front, drawing up directives for mass killings l and distributing them to Wehrmacht and SS commanders. They established special SS teams devoted exclusively to mass murder -- the Einsatzgruppen and their subgroups, the Sonderkommandos and Einsatzkommandos -- and set up liaison between the killing teams and the army commanders at the front to ensure that the killing teams received the necessary intelligence and logistical support. The SS carefully tabulated the results of the carnage as it took place, wrote it up, and sent word back to Berlin. Teams of inspectors and experts (among them men who were later employed as experts on Soviet affairs by US intelligence agencies) traveled the eastern front throughout the war to make sure the exterminations or confiscations of food from occupied territories were going properly and were being carried out, as one Einsatzgruppe leader was to testify at Nuremberg, in a manner which was "humane under the circumstances."
What has since come to be termed "political warfare"-that is, the use of propaganda, sabotage, and collaborators to undermine an enemy's will to fight-played an important role in German strategy from the beginning of the conflict. Specialized Nazi-trained propaganda and terror teams made up of native collaborators were among the first units that marched with the German armies across Europe.
The collaborationist troops of the eastern front were ... integral part of German strategy in the East and deeply involved in Nazi efforts to exterminate the Jews. The Western powers recognized this fact during the war. Collaborators captured by Western forces were treated as prisoners of war, and many were turned over to the USSR as traitors and suspected war criminals in the first months after Germany's surrender. The predominant opinion in the US command at war's end was that it was now up to the USSR to decide what to do with the Nazis' eastern troops and other traitors, just as it was up to the Americans to decide what to do with Tokyo Rose and similar captured defectors from this country.
But a parallel development that would soon have a powerful impact on how Axis POWs were treated in the West was taking `. place. There was at the time in American hands another group of the Axis prisoners, who, unlike the collaborators from the East, were regarded as quite valuable: scientists who had put their skills to work for the Nazi cause.
All the major powers considered German scientists part of the booty of war. The Americans, British, and Soviets each had established special teams that concentrated on the capture and preservation of German laboratories, industrial patents, and similar useful E hardware of the modern age. Scientists were generally regarded as another technical asset to be appropriated.
The United States and Great Britain jointly created a Combined Intelligence Objectives Subcommittee (CIOS) to coordinate their efforts to seize particularly valuable targets. Actual raids were carried out by subordinate teams designated by a letter, like the "S Force" (also known as the "Sugar Force" in cable traffic) in Italy, the "T Force" in France, Holland, and Germany, and so on. These units had only minimal armed strength, but they traveled complete with accomplished linguists, Western scientists, and police specialists who permitted them to identify rapidly and capture useful experts and materials.
The stakes in the search for the scientific expertise of Germany were high. The single most important American strike force, for example, was the Alsos raiding team, which targeted Axis atomic research, uranium stockpiles, and nuclear scientists, as well as Nazi chemical and biological warfare research. The commander of this assignment was US Army Colonel Boris Pash, who had previously been security chief of the Manhattan Project-the United States' atomic bomb development program-and who later played an important role in highly secret US covert action programs. Pash succeeded brilliantly in his mission, seizing top German scientists and more than 70,000 tons of Axis uranium ore and radium products. The uranium taken during these raids was eventually shipped to the United States and incorporated in US atomic weapons.'
The US government's utilitarian approach to dealing with German science and scientists, however, proved to be the point of the wedge that eventually helped split American resolve to deal harshly with Nazi criminals, including the captured collaborators who had served on the eastern front. It is clear in hindsight that the Americans in charge of exploiting German specialists captured through Alsos and similar programs became pioneers of the methods later used to bring other Nazis and collaborators into this country. Equally important, the philosophical concepts and psychological rationalizations expressed by US officials in dealing with the German experts were gradually stretched to cover utilization of almost any anti-Communist, regardless of what he or she had done during the war.
The man at box 1142
REINHARD GEHLEN, Hitler's most senior military intelligence officer on the eastern front, had begun planning his surrender to the United States at least as early as the fall of 1944...
General Gehlen ... was a scrawny man-at five feet eight and a half inches he weighed less than 130 pounds at the time of his surrender-with an arrogant demeanor and a violent temper that got worse as he grew older. But he also had extraordinary powers of concentration and a jeweler's attention to detail, both of which served him well in his remarkable thirty-seven-year career as a spy master.
In early March 1945 Gehlen and a small group of his most senior officers carefully microfilmed the vast holdings on the USSR in the Fremde Heere Ost (FHO), the military intelligence section of the German army's general staff. They packed the film in watertight steel drums and secretly buried it in remote mountain meadows scattered through the Austrian Alps. Then, on May 22, 1945, Gehlen and his top aides surrendered to an American Counterintelligence Corps team.
Luck was with them. Captain John Bokor was assigned as their interrogator at Camp King, near Oberursel, in the American occupation zone. Bokor had been interned by the Germans early in the war, had been treated well, and had later served as an interrogator of captured German officers at Fort Hunt near Washington, DC. Though he was unquestionably anti-Nazi, Bokor's contact with the German officer corps had left him with a certain amount of respect for the enemy and a disdain for the narrow-minded anti-Germanism of many American officers of the time. He was, as Gehlen recalled later, "the first American officer I met with expert knowledge of Russia and with no illusions about the way political events were turning . . . we became close friends and have remained so."' During the weeks following Bokor's new assignment Gehlen gradually laid his cards on the table. Not only did the former Wehrmacht general know where the precious archives were buried, but he had also maintained the embryo of an underground espionage organization that could put the records to work against the USSR. Captain Bokor was interested.
... it is clear that before a year was out, the Americans had freed Gehlen and most of his high command, then installed them in a former Waffen SS training facility near Pullach, Germany, which has remained the group's headquarters to this day.
... Gehlen derived much of his information from his role in one of the most terrible atrocities of the war: the torture, interrogation, and murder by starvation of some 4 million Soviet prisoners of war. Even Gehlen's defenders-and there are many of them, both in Germany and in the United States-acknowledge he was instrumental in organizing the interrogations of these POWs. The success of this interrogation program from the German military's point of view became, in fact, the cornerstone of Gehlen's career. It won him his reputation as an intelligence officer and his major general's rank.
But these same interrogations were actually a step in the liquidation of tens of thousands of POWs. Prisoners who refused to cooperate were often tortured or summarily shot. Many were executed even after they had given information, while others were simply left to starve to death. True, Gehlen's men did not personally administer the starvation camps, nor are they known to have served in the execution squads. Such tasks were left to the SS, whose efficiency in such matters is well known.
Instead, Gehlen's men were in a sense like scientists who skimmed off the information and documents that rose to the surface of these pestilent camps. Now and again they selected an interesting specimen: a captured Russian general ready to collaborate, perhaps, or a Ukrainian railroad expert who might supply the locations of vulnerable bridges when given some encouragement to talk. Gehlen's officers were scientists in somewhat the same way that concentration camp doctors were: Both groups extracted their data from the destruction of human beings.
Nazis and collaborators became integral to the operation of Gehlen's postwar organization, and nowhere was this clearer than in control of emigre operations...
Gehlen's man in emigre enterprises, SS Brigadefuhrer Franz Six, is a major war criminal and is still alive at last report. He was once described by Adolf Eichmann as a Streber (a "real eager beaver") on the so-called Jewish Question and as a favored protégé of SS chief Himmler's. Eichmann should have known: His own first efforts in the Holocaust were carried out under Six's personal command in the "Ideological Combat" section of the security service. In 1941 Six led the Vorkommando Moskau, an advance squad of the Nazi invasion, whose job it was to seize Communist party and NKVD archives in order to compile lists of hunted Soviet officials and to liquidate those who were caught. Six's Vorkommando never made it to Moscow, but his own reports indicate that his unit murdered approximately 200 people in cold blood in Smolensk, where they had stopped on the march to the Russian capital. The Smolensk victims, Six wrote headquarters, included "46 persons, among them 38 intellectual Jews who had tried to create unrest and discontent in the newly established Ghetto of Smolensk."
As late as 1944 Six spoke at a conference of "consultants" on the "Jewish Question" at Krummhubel. The stenographic notes of the meeting indicate that "Six spoke . . . about the political structure of world Jewry. The physical elimination of Eastern Jewry would deprive Jewry of its biological reserves," he announced. "The Jewish Question must be solved not only in Germany but also internationally". Himmler was so pleased with Six's work that he lifted him out of projects in Amt VI and gave him a newly created department, Amt VII, of his own.
But Six was not simply a killer. He was a college professor with a doctorate in law and political science and a dean of the faculty of the University of Berlin and was regarded by some of his peers as one of the most distinguished professors of his generation. Six -- Dr. Six, as he preferred -- had joined the Nazi party in 1930, then the SS and SD a few years later. He was, along with Walter Schellenberg and Otto Ohlendorf, one of the nazified professors and lawyers who supplied a thin cover of intellectual respectability to the Hitler dictatorship. A number of such men enlisted in the security service and became the brains of the party, the intelligence specialists who presented dispassionate analyses to the Nazi high command concerning ideological warfare, racial questions in the East, and tactics for the Final Solution.
The eyes and ears
OF ALL the networks of former Nazis and collaborators employed by the United States after World War II, it is Gehlen's organization that has left the most substantial imprint on the United States. Gehlen's analysis of the forces that guide Soviet behavior, which were forged in part by his personal defeat at the hands of the Russians during World War II, became widely accepted in US intelligence circles and remain so to this day.
Gehlen's impact on the course of the cold war was subtle, but l real. Self-avowed pragmatists in the US intelligence services have consistently argued that the otherwise questionable employment of Gehlen and even of unrepentant Nazis through the Org was justified by their significant contributions to fighting a powerful and ruthless rival: the Soviet Union. "He's on our side," CIA Director Allen Dulles later said of Gehlen, "and that's all that matters."
During the first years of the CIA under Rear Admiral Roscoe H. Hillenkoetter's administration, according to a retired executive of the CIA's Office of National Estimates, Gehlen's reports and analyses were sometimes simply retyped onto CIA stationery and presented to President Truman without further comment in the agency's morning intelligence summaries. Gehlen's organization "shaped what we knew about the Soviets in Eastern Europe and particularly about East Germany," he continued. Heinz Hohne, an internationally recognized historian and senior editor at Der Spiegel magazine, asserts that "seventy percent of all the US government's information on Soviet forces and armaments came from the Gehlen organization" during the early cold war. While any such precise number is bound to be arbitrary, the thrust of Hohne's comment is certainly accurate.
Contrary to the accepted wisdom, however, US dependence on Gehlen's organization for intelligence on the Soviet military was quite likely a blunder from a strictly practical point of view. For one thing, enlisting Gehlen was in itself a substantial escalation of the cold war that undermined what little hope was possible for EastWest cooperation during the pivotal years of 1945 to 1948. Once on board, Gehlen's Nazi-tainted operatives often gave the Soviets an easy target for denunciations of war criminals being sheltered by the West. This has since become a highly successful Soviet propaganda theme-in part because there is some truth to it-that is replayed regularly to this day as a means of undermining US and West German relations with Eastern Europe. Financing Gehlen's organization also appears to have made infiltration of Western intelligence by Soviet spies easier, not more difficult, as will be seen. Most important, Gehlen's operatives and analysts strongly reinforced US intelligence's existing predilection toward paranoia about communism and the USSR, contributing significantly to the creation of a body of widely believed misinformation about Soviet behavior.
"Gehlen had to make his money by creating a threat that we were afraid of," says Victor Marchetti, formerly the CIA's chief analyst of Soviet strategic war plans and capabilities, "so we would give him more money to tell us about it." He continues: "In my opinion, the Gehlen Organization provided nothing worthwhile for understanding or estimating Soviet military or political capabilities in Eastern Europe or anywhere else." Employing Gehlen was "a waste of time, money, and effort, except that maybe he had some CI [counterintelligence] value, because practically everybody in his organization was sucking off both tits." In other words, Gehlen did not produce the reliable information for which he was employed, but careful monitoring of the Org might have produced some clues to Soviet espionage activity because the group had been deeply penetrated by double agents, thus giving the United States a vastly expensive and not very efficient means of keeping up with Soviet spies.
"The Gehlen Organization was the one group that did have networks inside Eastern Europe, and that is why we hired them," international affairs expert Arthur Macy Cox says. "[But] hiring Gehlen was the biggest mistake the US ever made. Our allies said, 'You are putting Nazis at the senior levels of your intelligence,' and they were right. It discredited the United States." According to Cox, the Gehlen Organization was the primary source of intelligence that claimed that "the Soviets were about to attack [West] Germany.... [That was] the biggest bunch of baloney then, and it is still a bunch of baloney today."
Had Gehlen's role been limited to the preparation of top secret studies for the use of America's own most expert intelligence analysts, it is unlikely that his project would have done much harm during the postwar period, and it might actually have done some good. But that is not how intelligence agencies actually work. In reality, contending factions in the government leak their versions of events to favored members of Congress or reporters and from them to the public at large. "Secret reports" revealed in this way -- especially those that frighten or titillate us -- take on a mystique of accuracy that is undeserved. These "secrets" become potent symbols that rally constituencies whose concern is not with the accuracy of a given bit of intelligence but rather with the use to which the leak can be put in the domestic political arena. As time goes on, a self-reinforcing process sets in, each new leak lending credibility to the next, which in turn "confirms" those stories that have already been revealed.
"The agency [CIA] loved Gehlen because he fed us what we wanted to hear," Marchetti concludes. "We used his stuff constantly, and we fed it
to everybody else: the Pentagon; the White House; the newspapers. They loved it, too. But it was hyped up Russian boogeyman junk, and it did
a lot of damage to this country."
"I ... prefer to remain ignorant"
THE EMERGING East-West conflict had entered a new and clearly more hostile phase early in 1947. The British government, exhausted by war and deeply in debt, had abruptly announced that January that it was withdrawing from its earlier guarantees to stabilize power in Greece, where a bitter civil war was raging between left-wing rebels and British-backed Greek monarchist forces. President Truman blamed the Soviets for the crisis and stepped in with a multi-million-dollar aid program for the "democratic" forces in Greece-though there is considerable dispute over just how democratic they actually were ...
... US Intelligence turned ... [to] the Holy Bond of Greek Officers, or IDEA, by its Greek initials. This organization was made up in large part of Nazi collaborators. The Greek army and police were well known to have been controlled by rightists since the 1930s, and the bulk of those forces had collaborated with the Nazis during the German occupation. These sympathizers created "security battalions" during the war to hunt down anti-Nazi partisans and to execute Jews who had escaped from the ghetto at Salonika. These detachments were responsible for the murders of tens of thousands of Greeks during the occupation, according to all accounts, and directly assisted the Nazis in the liquidation of about 70,000 Greek Jews. After the Nazis had been driven out of the country, however, the security battalions and their officers were in deep disgrace. Colonel George Papadopoulos helped create IDEA shortly after the Nazis had been driven out of Greece, ostensibly to protect the Greek population from Communist attack. "In reality," however, the Times of London later reported, "a principal activity of IDEA was to secure rehabilitation of those officers who had been initially purged by the post-liberation coalition government because of their activities in the collaborationist 'security battalions of the occupation years."
Secret Pentagon papers now in the US National Archives show that the United States poured millions of dollars into IDEA during the US intervention in Greece in order to create what it termed "Secret Army Reserve" made up of selected Greek military, police, and anti-Communist military officers...
American arms and money had a powerful impact on Greece. Many Greek nationalist forces abandoned their former EAM lies-in part because of the brutality of the EAM in its execution of an attempted guerrilla war against the US-backed forces-and within two years a strongly pro-American government achieved control of the country.
Truman's decisive action in Greece had wider ramifications. It helped crystallize sentiment inside the US government, which up to that point had often been divided over just how harshly to deal with the USSR, into a new and much more obdurate approach to U S.-Soviet relations. This new strategy marked an important watershed in the development of US efforts to make use of Nazis and Nazi sympathizers, eventually creating the administrative structure and bureaucratic rationale for their utilization on an even wider scale than before.
The thinking behind this strategy was perhaps best articulated by George F. Kennan, the State Department expert on Soviet affairs who at the time had recently been appointed chief of the department's Policy Planning Staff. Kennan had served several tours of diplomatic duty in Moscow over the previous two decades, and his experience there had left him deeply bitter about both Stalin s dictatorship and the prospects for East-West cooperation. His antipathy toward Stalin had kept him isolated from the policy process during the Roosevelt administration, when relatively close US-USSR ties were backed by the White House. He had come into his own, however, in the Truman years. His famous 1946 "Long Telegram" from Moscow (as it has since come to be known) became a rallying cry for those at State, the War Department, and the White House who were determined to get tough with the Russians. That message read, as Kennan himself later recalled, "exactly like one of those primers put out by alarmed congressional committees or by the Daughters of the American Revolution, designed to arouse the citizenry to the dangers of the Communist conspiracy. Even so, "its effect . . . was nothing less than sensational," he writes. "It was one that changed my career and my life in very basic ways.... My reputation was made. My voice now carried."
By the time the United States intervened in Greece, Kennan enjoyed the direct sponsorship of Secretary of the Navy (soon to be Secretary of Defense) James Forrestal and of Secretary of State George Marshall. Acting on Forrestal's behalf, Kennan prepared a -- pivotal analysis of the USSR that has since come to be called the containment doctrine" and is generally recognized as one of the basic programmatic statements of the cold war. In it, Kennan succeeded in reconciling many of the inchoate and conflicting perspectives on how to deal with the Soviets that had characterized Truman s administration up to that point. He argued that US-Soviet relations were a fundamentally hostile, protracted conflict that had been initiated by the USSR-not the United States-and that normal relations between the two states would be impossible as long as a Soviet type government was in power in the USSR Their ideology," he wrote, ". . . has taught them that the outside world was hostile and that it was their duty eventually to overthrow the political forces beyond their borders.... [This] means that there can never be on Moscow's side any sincere assumption of a community of aims between the Soviet Union and powers which are regarded as capitalist."
The USSR was an imperial empire, Kennan continued, but the modern-day East-West clash could be managed through measures sort of all-out war through what he termed "long term, patient but firm and vigilant containment of Russian expansive tendencies" and the adroit and vigilant application of counterforce at a se of constantly shifting geographical and political points." As originally formulated, the containment doctrine envisioned bottling internal pressures inside the USSR until they forced the Soviet Union to "cooperate or collapse," as Newsweek summarized it process that was expected to take about ten to fifteen years. "Soviet power, Kennan concluded, ". . . bears within it the seeds of its own decay, and . . . the sprouting of these seeds is well advanced."
Regardless of Kennan's reservations, it was precisely these more aggressive aspects of containment that attracted Forrestal and other hard-liners in the Truman administration. In their hands, containment became the theoretical framework for US-Soviet relations under which a wide variety of clandestine warfare tactics, ranging from radio propaganda to sabotage and murder, was chosen to counteract-"contain"-left-wing initiatives virtually anywhere in the world.
Although it was rarely mentioned in the public discussions, it is clear that covert operations aimed at harassing (and, if possible, overthrowing) hostile governments were an integral part of the containment strategy from the beginning. A new breed of realpolitik advocates among the government's national security specialists embraced containment as a rationale for what has since come to be called "destabilization" of the USSR and its satellites. Put briefly, destabilization is a type of psychological or political warfare that is calculated to undermine a target government, to destroy its popular support or credibility, to create economic problems, or to draw it into crisis through some other means. US security planners of the late 1940s became fascinated with the prospect of destabilizing the Soviet Union's satellite states while simultaneously harassing the USSR. They were anxious to capitalize on the spontaneous rebellions against Soviet rule then rumbling through the Ukraine and parts of Eastern Europe, some of which were approaching civil wars in intensity...
Use of former Nazi collaborators became interwoven with these clandestine destabilization efforts and with the containment doctrine in general from 1947 on. According to Pentagon records, at the same time that Kennan was publicly promulgating containment, he and his close colleague Charles Thayer were lobbying with top Department of State and military officials for a revival of the remnants of the Nazi collaborationist Vlasov Army for use against the USSR. Kennan and Thayer pushed for the creation of a new school for anti-Communist guerrilla warfare training designed to bring together US military specialists, Vlasov veterans and other Eastern European exiles from Soviet satellite states. Several such schools were eventually established in Germany and in the United States and served not only as a training ground for insurgents but also as a source of highly skilled recruits for a variety of other American clandestine operations as well.
Not all the clandestine containment programs were aimed at the USSR and its satellites. Some of the most important early applications of these tactics began in Western Europe. The Italian elections of early 1948 marked another important milestone in the development of US covert operations and in high-level US support for use of former Nazi collaborators. Two developments of far-reaching importance for these programs took place during this election campaign. First, US security agencies successfully tested a series of propaganda and political manipulation techniques that were later to come into widespread use around the world, including inside the United States itself. Secondly, the CIA established much deeper and broader ties with the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church in Rome than had previously been the case. This not only had a powerful impact on the Italian political scene but also ... laid the foundation for the agency's relationship with Intermarium, an influential Catholic lay organization made up primarily of Eastern European exiles that operated under the protection of the Vatican. At least a half dozen senior leaders of Intermarium and its member groups can be readily identified as Nazi collaborators. Some were fugitive war criminals. However, Intermarium was later to emerge as one of the mainstays of Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberation from Bolshevism (later renamed Radio Liberty), and scores of other CIA-sponsored clandestine operations during the next two decades.
The Italian Communist party was favored to score heavily in the 1948 elections, and many analysts said that the party might democratically win control of the country's government. This prospect created such alarm in Washington that George Kennan-by then the foremost long-range strategist for the US government-went so far as to advocate direct US military occupation of the Foggia oil fields if the voting results went wrong from the point of view of the United States.
Washington's apprehension was shared-indeed, was enthusiastically fueled-by the Holy See. The church's hierarchy, which was already under severe economic and political pressure in Eastern Europe, feared a Communist takeover of the very heart of its institution, or at least of its worldly resources. The prospect of a Communist electoral victory in Italy coming close on the heels of Communist gains in Yugoslavia, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Poland was viewed by many of the hierarchy as the most profound material crisis the church had seen in centuries. Prochurch Italian officials were "positively desperate and almost immobilized by the fear which hangs over them," Bishop James Griffiths, an American emissary to the Vatican, wrote at the time. They were afraid, the bishop said, of a "disastrous failure at the polls which will put Italy behind the Iron Curtain.''
The election campaign became a major test of containment and of its accompanying clandestine political warfare strategy. Allen Dulles, Frank Wisner, James Angleton, William Colby, and a team of other top-ranked US intelligence officials put together a crash program of propaganda, sabotage, and secret funding of Christian Democratic candidates designed to frustrate the Italian Communist party's ambitions. The CIA was a young organization in those days and was primarily limited (until June 1948) to simple information gathering and analysis. Therefore, much of this campaign was handled on an ad hoc basis out of the offices of Allen and John Foster Dulles at the Sullivan & Cromwell law firm in New York. Kennan watched events unfold from his vantage point at State Department headquarters in Washington, while Thayer kept up a steady cannonade of pro-West and anti-Communist broadcasts over the Voice of America.
Working in close coordination with the Vatican and with prominent Americans of Italian or Catholic heritage, the CIA found that its effort in Italy succeeded well beyond its expectations. On a public level the United States dumped $350 million in announced civil and military aid into the country during this campaign alone. Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Gary Cooper, and a score of other prominent Americans were enlisted to make radio broadcasts to Italy warning against the Communist electoral menace. A CIA-financed media blitz showered Italian newspapers with articles and photographs expressing American munificence and Communist atrocities, both real and manufactured...
The CIA's strategy in Italy, including Monsignor Biccherau's strong-arm squad, was a great success. The Italian Communists lost by a comfortable margin, and the American intelligence services emerged with the Catholic Church as a powerful new ally. Perhaps most important of all, the strategy of using covert operations to achieve political goals in peacetime was firmly implanted in the minds of Washington's foreign policy elite as a powerful weapon in an increasingly dangerous cold war.
The utility of the new covert operations apparatus seemed clear at the time: It permitted the White House to circumvent the cumbersome bureaucracy of Congress and the Department of State in the field of foreign affairs; it extended the reach of the United States with what appeared to be relatively little risk; and it permitted the president secretly to carry out actions that would discredit the United States if they were undertaken openly. Covert action was also relatively cheap, at least compared with the costs involved in maintaining a permanent military presence throughout the world.
George Kennan, in particular, "was deeply impressed by the results achieved in Italy," according to Sig Mickelson, the longtime chief of Radio Free Europe. "And [Kennan] foresaw similar crises arising in the future." Kennan was "directly concerned with the refugee problem and worried about the weakness of the nation's intelligence apparatus," Mickelson writes. "[He] advocated the creation of a covert action capability designed to complement covert psychological operations somewhere in the governmental structure.... His intention was to create a mechanism for direct intervention in the electoral processes of foreign governments," the former Radio Free Europe president continues. "It would be under the control of the Department of State, specifically [Kennan's own] policy planning staff, but it would not be formally associated with the department. State was still skittish about dealing openly with foreign governments on the one hand [while] carrying out covert destabilizing efforts on the other."
Greece in 1947 and Italy in 1948 also taught the CIA that it could employ former Nazi collaborators on a large scale in clandestine operations and get away with it US national security planners appear to have concluded that extreme-right-wing groups that had once collaborated with the Nazis should be included in US-sponsored anti-Communist coalitions, for the participation of such groups became a regular feature of US covert operations in Europe in the wake of the Greek and Italian events.
A case may be made for the idea that doing so was simply real politik. Former collaborators were, after all, a substantial organized force, so why not make use of them? At the time the benefits of using former Nazi collaborators appeared to outweigh any drawbacks. The American media-and the American people, for the most part-warmly welcomed the victories of European center parties over their Communist rivals There were few public questions concerning exactly how these successes had been brought about...
THE GREEK and Italian campaigns revealed something else as well: Covert action was largely out of the control of the established foreign policy
apparatus in Washington. Although the Italian operation had been endorsed by all the appropriate government committees, not one of them had
really known what was under way...
Secretary of State George Marshall counted on George Kennan to make sure that obvious blunders like the Romanian affair did not occur again. By the summer of 1948 Truman and Marshall had delegated personal responsibility for political-oversight of all peacetime clandestine operations to George Kennan, according to a later Senate investigation of US foreign intelligence activities. (Control of espionage and counterintelligence, however, remained outside the diplomat's purview.) Key members of Kennan's Policy Planning Staff-officially a somewhat egg-headed institution dedicated to planning US strategy for ten or twenty years in the future-were detailed to help him with this task.
Two forces, then, converged to thrust the covert operations weapon into Kennan's hands. First, there was President Truman's desire-strongly backed up by Secretary of Defense Forrestal-to make use of this powerful tool in what appeared to be a deteriorating situation in Europe. Secondly, there was the determination, especially by Secretary of State Marshall as well as by Kennan himself, to make sure that no one else in the US government seized political control of this prize before the State Department did.
A new stage in the American effort to use ex-Nazis began. The early "tactical" or short-term utilization of former Fascists and collaborators-techniques somewhat akin to the exploitation of prisoners of war by intelligence agents-gradually came to an end. American agencies and policymakers replaced the tactical approach with a deeper "strategic" appreciation of the usefulness that emigre groups might have in large-scale clandestine operations against the USSR. The US government increasingly accepted the exiles' organizations as legitimate and began to pour substantial amounts of money into them-at least $5 million in 1948 alone, and probably considerably more.
The strategic thinking behind the United States tactics during this period is best summarized in a top secret National Security Council directive and a group of supporting policy papers which are known collectively as NSC 20. These documents, which were drawn up primarily by Kennan and his Policy Planning Staff (PPS), were formally adopted by Truman's NSC in August 1948.2 They deserve quotation at some length because they provided the basic policy framework for US clandestine operations against the Soviets, including the use of former Nazi collaborators, for the remainder of Truman's term.
Kennan sought, as the preamble of his policy statement states, "to define our present peacetime objectives and our hypothetical wartime objectives with relation to Russia, and to reduce as far as possible the gap between them." The objectives, he writes, were really only two:
a. To reduce the power and influence of Moscow....
b. To bring about a basic change in the theory and practice of international relations observed by the government in power in Russia.
Adoption of these concepts in Moscow [however] would be equivalent to saying that it was our objective to overthrow Soviet power. Proceeding from that point, it could be argued that this is in turn an objective unrealizable by means short of war, and that we are therefore admitting that our objective with respect to the Soviet Union is eventual war and the violent overthrow of Soviet power.
But actual warfare is not what he had in mind. The idea, rather, was to encourage every split and crisis inside the USSR and the Soviet camp that could lead to the collapse of the USSR from within, while at the same time maintaining an official stance of nonintervention in Soviet internal affairs. "It is not our peacetime aim to overthrow the Soviet Government," NSC 20 continued. "Admittedly, we are aiming at the creation of circumstances and situations which would be difficult for the present Soviet leaders to stomach, and which they would not like. It is possible that they might not be able, in the face of these circumstances and situations, to retain their power in Russia. But it must be reiterated: that is their business, not ours...."
Anti-Communist exile organizations are cited as one of the primary vehicles for the creation of the desired domestic crisis. "At the present time," Kennan continues, "there are a number of interesting and powerful Russian political groupings among the Russian exiles . . . any of which would probably be preferable to the Soviet Government, from our standpoint, as rulers of Russia." At the same time it is decided that both the Soviet internal problems and the official "hands-off" posture that the United States desires could be more effectively achieved by promoting all the exile organizations more or less equally rather than by sponsoring only one favored group. "We must make a determined effort to avoid taking responsibility for deciding who would rule Russia in the wake of a disintegration of the Soviet regime. Our best course would be to permit all of the exiled elements to return to Russia as rapidly as possible and to see to it, in so far as this depends on us, that they are all given roughly equal opportunity to establish their bids for power....
The policy framework for clandestine operations involving exiles from the USSR, in short, was to encourage each of them to attempt to seize power in his or her homeland but to attempt to decline responsibility for having done so. Most interesting in the present context, no distinctions were to be made in the extension of aid to the various exile groups. The practical implication of this decision in the world of 1948 is clear: The United States would indeed support the veterans of the Vlasov Army, the eastern SS collaborators, and other groups that had permitted themselves to become pawns of Berlin during the war.
The State Department began the first known major clandestine effort recruiting Soviet émigrés at the same time its drafts of NSC 20 were working their way through the policy process. This project was known as Operation Bloodstone, and it became one of the department's most important covert projects from 1948 until approximately 1950, when it was superseded by similar programs under direct CIA sponsorship.
Bloodstone proved to be an open door through which scores of leaders of Nazi collaborationist organizations thought to be useful for political warfare in Eastern Europe entered the United States. The project's usual cover, even in top secret correspondence, was an innocuous effort to utilize "socialist, labor union, intellectual, moderate right-wing groups and others" for distribution of anti-Communist "handbills, publications, magazines or use of . . . radio" that was secretly financed by the US government. This all was true enough.
But there was much more to Bloodstone than its cover story. In reality, many of Bloodstone's recruits had once been Nazi collaborators who were now being brought to the United States for use as intelligence and covert operations experts. Some of them eventually became US agent spotters for sabotage and assassination missions. The men and women enlisted under Bloodstone were not low-level thugs, concentration camp guards, or brutal hoodlums, at least not in the usual sense of those words. Quite the contrary, they were the cream of the Nazis and collaborators, the leaders, the intelligence specialists, and the scholars who had put their skills to work for the Nazi cause.
Kennan's anti-communism was far more sophisticated than that of many of his colleagues, and he wanted to use clandestine warfare techniques carefully. He viewed as unrealistic and dangerous demands for a quick "liberation" of Eastern Europe from Soviet influence, which were beginning to make themselves heard from the political right. Kennan had long been suspicious of popular participation in the formulation of foreign policy, and he considered the
US Congress, for example, too mercurial, too ill informed, and too much subject to domestic pressures to serve the country well when it came to foreign affairs. These attitudes made him aware of the dangerous impact that yahoo-style reaction was beginning to have on American policy overseas. "I personally look with some dismay and concern at many of the things we are now experiencing in our public life," Kennan had written in the spring of 1947.'7 "In particular I deplore the hysterical sort of anti-Communism which, it seems to me, is gaining currency in our country."
Whatever the reason, Kennan made common cause in those years with other men who were soon to commandeer the work he had begun and take it places the diplomat apparently never expected. NSC 10/2 failed to bring covert operations under close civilian control. Instead, the clandestine service metastasized through the government at an extraordinary rate. Regardless of what Kennan may have intended, as NSC 10/2, NSC 20, and other programs he had helped design became institutionalized, they transformed themselves into an unrelentingly hostile effort to "roll back communism" in Eastern Europe, an effort that eventually consumed millions of dollars, thousands of lives, and considerable national prestige. As the political temperature between the superpowers inevitably got more frigid, the forces that Kennan had once ridden to power overwhelmed him and his program. By 1950 his erstwhile allies in secret work-men like Allen and John Foster Dulles, Paul Nitze, and Arthur Bliss Lane-were grasping for more power and depreciating Kennan's policies for being "soft on communism."
In the end, Kennan testified many years later, "it did not work out at all the way I had conceived it.''
Bare fists and brass knuckles
MANY OF THE BLOODSTONE recruits -- both Nazi collaborators and anti-Nazis-were passed along to two heavily funded CIA psychological warfare projects that are still in operation. These two enterprises were authorized under the "subversion against hostile states" and "propaganda" sections of NSC 10/2 and are probably the largest and most expensive political warfare efforts ever undertaken by the United States. They are certainly the longest-running and best-publicized "secret" operations ever. Their names are Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberation from Bolshevism, the latter of which is better known as Radio Liberation or Radio Liberty.
Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty (usually abbreviated RFE/ RL) began in 1948 as a corporation named the National Committee for a Free Europe, a supposedly private charitable organization dedicated to aiding exiles from Soviet-occupied Eastern Europe. The roots of the RFE/RL effort, in an administrative sense, are the same political warfare programs that gave birth to Bloodstone and NSC 10/2.
George Kennan, Allen Dulles, and a handful of other foreign affairs specialists came up with the National Committee for a Free Europe (NCFE) as a unique solution to a knotty problem. The US government found it advantageous to maintain conventional, albeit frosty, diplomatic relations with the Communist-dominated governments of the USSR, Poland, Hungary, and the other satellite states. However, the Department of State and the intelligence community also wished to underwrite the anti-Communist work of the numerous emigre organizations that claimed to represent "governments-in-exile" of the same countries. It was impossible to have diplomatic relations with both the official governments of Eastern Europe and the "governments-in-exile" at the same time, for obvious reasons. The NCFE was therefore launched to serve as a thinly veiled "private-sector" cover through which clandestine US funds for the exile committees could be passed.
The seed money for the National Committee for a Free Europe was drawn from the same pool of captured German assets that had earlier financed clandestine operations during the Italian election. At least $2 million left over from that affair found its way first into the hands of Frank Wisner's OPC and then into the accounts of the NCFE, according to former RFE/RL president Sig Mickelson, who helped administer Radio Free Europe money for many years. Printing presses, radio transmitters, and other equipment salvaged from the Italian campaign were also transferred to the OPC and from there on to the NCFE.
Allen Dulles and Frank Wisner combined their talents to line up an all-star board of directors for the NCFE that served as a cover, in effect, to explain where all the money was coming from. Early corporate notables who served on the board or as members of the NCFE include (to name only a few) J. Peter Grace of W. R. Grace & Company and the National City Bank; H. J. Heinz of the Mellon Bank and Heinz tomato ketchup fame; Texas oilman George C. McGhee; auto magnate Henry Ford II; film directors Darryl Zanuck and Cecil B. De Mille; and so many Wall Street lawyers that NCFE board meetings could have resembled a gathering of the New York State Bar Association. The intelligence community's contingent featured former OSS chief William J. Donovan, Russian emigre Bernard Yarrow, and Allen Dulles himself, among others. Labor was represented in the person of James B. Carey, a self-described CIO "labor executive" who played a leading role in the trade union movement's purge of Communists during the late 1940s. Carey was outspoken in his attitude concerning communism. "In the last war we joined with the Communists to fight the Fascists," he told the New York Herald Tribune. "In another war we will join the Fascists to defeat the Communists."
From the beginning the National Committee for a Free Europe depended upon the voluntary silence of powerful media personalities in the United States to cloak its true operations in secrecy. "Representatives of some of the nation's most influential media giants were involved early on as members of the corporation [NCFE]," Mickelson notes in a relatively frank history of its activities. This board included "magazine publishers Henry Luce [of Time-Life] and DeWitt Wallace [of Reader's Digest]," he writes, "but not a word of the government involvement appeared in print or on the air." Luce and Wallace were not the only ones: C. D. Jackson, editor in chief of Fortune magazine, came on board in 1951 as president of the entire Radio Free Europe effort, while Reader's Digest senior editor Eugene Lyons headed the American Committee for the Liberation of the Peoples of Russia Inc., a corporate parent of Radio Liberation. Still, "sources of financing," Mickelson writes, were "never mentioned" in the press.
The practical effect of this arrangement was the creation of a powerful lobby inside American media that tended to suppress critical news concerning the CIA's propaganda projects. This was not simply a matter of declining to mention the fact that the agency was behind these programs, as Mickelson implies. Actually the media falsified their reports to the public concerning the government's role in Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberation for years, actively promoting the myth-which most sophisticated editors knew perfectly well was false-that these projects were financed through nickel-and-dime contributions from concerned citizens. Writers soon learned that exposes concerning the NCFE and RFE/ RL were simply not welcome at mainstream publications. No corporate officers needed to issue any memorandums to enforce this silence: with C. D. Jackson as RFE / RL's president and Luce himself on the group's board of directors, for example, Time's and Life's authors were no more likely to delve into the darker side of RFE/ RL than they were to attack the American flag.
CIA-funded psychological warfare projects employing Eastern European émigrés became major operations during the 1950s, consuming tens and even hundreds of millions of dollars. Noted conservative author (and OPC psychological warfare consultant) James Burnham estimated in 1953 that the United States was spending "well over a billion dollars yearly" on a wide variety of psychological warfare projects, and that was in pre-inflation dollars. This included underwriting most of the French Paix et Liberte movement, paying the bills of the German League for Struggle Against Inhumanity, and financing a half dozen free jurists associations, a variety of European federalist groups, the Congress for Cultural Freedom, magazines, news services, book publishers, and much more.
These were very broad programs designed to influence world public opinion at virtually every level, from illiterate peasants in the fields to the most sophisticated scholars in prestigious universities. They drew on a wide range of resources: labor unions, advertising agencies, college professors, journalists, and student leaders, to name a few. The political analysis they promoted varied from case to case, but taken as a whole, this was prodemocracy, pro-West, and anti-Communist thinking, with a frequent "tilt" toward liberal or European-style Social Democratic ideals. They were not "Nazi" propaganda efforts, nor were many of the men and women engaged in them former Nazi collaborators or sympathizers. In Europe, at least, the Central Intelligence Agency has historically I been the clandestine promoter of the parties of the political center, not the extreme right.
p134 Unlike the relative moderation of the present-day RFE/RL broadcasts, the cold war operations of these stations were hardhitting. It was "bare fists and brass knuckles," as Sig Mickelson puts it. Their work was, as National Committee for a Free Europe President Dewitt Poole noted in one 1950 directive, "to take up the individual Bolshevik rulers and their quislings and tear them apart, exposing their motivations, laying bare their private lives, pointing at their meannesses, pillorying their evil deeds, holding them up to ridicule and contumely." Further, the radio broadcasting operations were themselves used as covers for a much broader range of political warfare activities, including printing and distributing black propaganda, intelligence gathering, and the maintenance of agent networks behind the Iron Curtain.
The fraudulent "Document on Terror"
THIS TOUGH agitation drew its ideological vigor from a variety of sources. Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln were often quoted and praised in RFE/ RL broadcasts, as were Eastern European national heroes like the Hungarian Lajos Kossuth and the Pole Thaddeus Kosciuszko. At the same time, however, RFE/RL sometimes produced a dull undertone of Nazi-like propaganda in its early years. At times material that had been directly created by the Nazi security service SD found its way into RFE/RL broadcasts and publications. The NCFE often distributed the highly publicized -- but fraudulent -- "Document on Terror," for example, as a means of crystallizing public anger in the West against communism during Radio Free Europe fund-raising campaigns. The "Document" purported to be a translation of a captured Soviet secret police directive encouraging the use of terror against civilian populations. It included sections on "general terror" (murders, hangings, etc.), "creating the psychosis of white fear," "enlightened terror" (use of agents provocateurs), "disintegrating operations," and others. The CIA aggressively promoted the text of the "Document" both directly through RFE/RL and indirectly through coverage planted in a wide variety of sympathetic newspapers, magazines, and television broadcasts to audiences around the world.
The NCFE announced that it had obtained the "Document" from "a former Baltic cabinet minister, favorably known to us," who in turn had gotten it from a Ukrainian refugee, who in turn had "found it on the body of a dead NKVD officer" in Poland in 1948. The committee acknowledged in small type that it had "no means of conclusively establishing the authenticity" of the "Document," but it insisted that it was a "genuine product of Communist theory" whose recommendations "did . . . take place." This low-key caveat concerning the questionable authenticity of the "Document" was soon forgotten in the media storm that followed publication of the item.
The "Document" became a staple of anti-Communist propaganda and continues to show up occasionally in extreme-right-wing publications to this day. Recycled extensively through congressional hearings, Reader's Digest articles, and newspaper accounts, this "captured report" emerged as one of the frequently cited sources of "documentary evidence" of Communist terror during the cold war. It was not until 1956, with the publication of Khrushchev's extraordinary report detailing Stalin's crimes, that the "Document" began to fade from view.
In fact, however, the "Document" was a forgery, whose origins can be traced to the wartime Nazi intelligence service. The true source of the "Document" was, according to American psychological warfare expert Paul Blackstock, "one of the Nazi secret police or related terrorist organizations such as the Sicherheitsdienst or one of the notorious SD or SS 'action groups' "-that is, the Einsatzgruppen (mobile murder squads). Blackstock uses an etymological investigation to track the origins of phrases used in the "Document" back to their sources. He concludes that the section concerning "disintegrating operations," for example, originated in a Nazi manual used for indoctrinating Eastern European collaborationist troops, including the Ukrainian Waffen SS.
RFE/RL broadcasts sometimes featured well-known Nazi collaborators and even outright war criminals. Officially, of course, the political slant of those stations was nondenominational support for "freedom" and "democracy." The large majority of RFE/RL employees were not Nazi collaborators, and the two stations often quoted anti-Nazi European politicians with approval. RFE/RL's broadcasts of European Social Democrats, in fact, occasionally led to complaints from hard-core anti-Communist congressmen in the United States, who found such ideas dangerously close to communism.
Even so, certain war criminals found a comfortable roost at RFE / RL. Radio Free Europe repeatedly featured Romanian Fascist leader (and Archbishop of the Romanian Orthodox Church in America) Valerian Trifa, for example, in Romanian-language broadcasts, particularly during the 1950s. Vilis Hazners, who was accused in a CBS-TV 60 Minutes broadcast of spearheading a Nazi gang that "force[d] a number of Jews into a synagogue [which was] then set on fire," emerged as a prominent Latvian personality in Radio Liberation transmissions. Hazners, at last report, was still broadcasting for RL in the 1980s. Belorussian quisling and mass murderer Stanislaw Stankievich also frequently free-lanced programs for the radios.'
The Pentagon was gradually coming to grips with using former Nazi collaborators at about the same time that the State Department and CIA were. General Lucius Clay's war scare of early 1948, together with the deepening cold war, convinced many Americans in and out of government that there was at least an even chance of an all-out US-USSR war over Europe before the decade was out.
As the final arbiter of US security the Pentagon considers it part of its job to assume the worst about Soviet intentions in order to be adequately prepared for any eventuality. By 1948 that the United States would increasingly rely on atomic weapons to deter any Soviet military moves against the West had already become a foregone conclusion among most US military strategists. The American perception that the Soviets enjoyed overwhelming superiority in troops and conventional arms in Europe seemed to leave few other choices.
The Pentagon was evolving a strategy of exactly how to go about using atomic weapons in a war with the USSR at about the same time that Kennan, Dulles, and Wisner were hammering together the National Committee for a Free Europe and the NSC 10/2 clandestine warfare authorization. By the time the decade was out the military's preparations for waging nuclear war-if that proved necessary-had merged with many of the ongoing CIA and State Department political warfare operations that have been discussed thus far. As those two streams came together, Nazi collaborators became entwined with some of America's most sensitive military affairs.
Guerrillas for World War III
THE VLASOV ARMY and Waffen SS veterans from Eastern Europe worked hard to integrate themselves into the evolving US nuclear weapons strategy during the cold war years. Colonel Philp and General Gehlen, it will be recalled, began as early as the winter of 1945-1946 to use German officers and refugees from the East to gather information about military construction behind Soviet lines. Each time the location of a new Soviet military site was confirmed, word of its location was passed to a special US Air Force office at the Pentagon whose job was the selection of targets slated for atomic annihilation.
As US atomic planning grew more sophisticated, the role of émigrés in America's nuclear war-fighting strategy expanded quickly. By late 1948 paramilitary expert General Robert McClure had won the US Joint Chiefs of Staff to approval of a full-scale program of guerrilla warfare that was to follow any US nuclear strike on the USSR. From then until at least 1956, when this strategy was at the height of its popularity in US command circles, preparations for post-World War III guerrilla insurgencies employed thousands of émigrés from the USSR. Pentagon documents show that Vlasov veterans and Waffen SS men played a major role in these underground armies. Considering the wartime record of these forces, there is reason to suspect that a number of these enlistees may have been war criminals.
These émigrés did not, of course, create US nuclear strategy. The advent of atomic weapons and their impact on international affairs would have taken place with or without the use of former Nazis and collaborators in US war planning. The exile soldiers simply rode the coattails of the movement toward reliance on nuclear weapons during the late 1940s and early 1950s. In many cases they themselves were not aware of what the Pentagon had in mind for them. The integration of these groups into even the most humble levels of US nuclear planning, however, gave the military and intelligence agencies a powerful reason to conceal the Nazi pasts of their unusual troops.
The process of integrating ex-Nazi emigre groups into US nuclear operations may be traced at least to early 1947, when General Hoyt Vandenberg became the first chief of staff of the newly independent US Air Force. Vandenberg had commanded the Ninth Air Force in Europe during World War II, then been tapped to head the Central Intelligence Group, the immediate predecessor to the CIA, in 1946. Among the general's responsibilities at the air force was the development of written plans describing strategies and tactics for the use of America's new nuclear weapons in the event of war.
"Vandenberg had a clear idea about just how he thought a nuclear war was going to be fought," argues retired Colonel Fletcher Prouty, who was a senior aide to the air force chief of staff in the 1940s and later the top liaison man between the Pentagon and the CIA. "[He] knew that if there was a nuclear exchange in those days-and we are talking about atomic bombs, now, not H-bombs -- you would destroy the communications and lifeblood of a country but the country would still exist. It would just be rubble. People would be wandering around wanting to know who was boss and where the food was coming from and so forth, but the country would still be there." Therefore, the US thinking went, "we must begin to create independent communications centers inside the Soviet Union [after the nuclear blast] and begin to pull it together for our ends."
The army, air force, and CIA all began competing programs to prepare for the post-nuclear battlefield. This included creation of what eventually came to be called the Special Forces-better known today as the Green Berets-in the army and the air resupply and communications wings in the air force. The job of these units, Prouty explains, was to set up anti-Communist political leaders backed up by guerrilla armies inside the USSR and Eastern Europe in the wake of an atomic war, capture political power in strategic I sections of the country, choke off any remaining Communist resistance, and ensure that the Red Army could not regroup for a counterattack.
In 1950 CIC and CIA agents used the Labor Services cover to begin guerrilla training of at least 100 members of the far-rightwing League of Young Germans (Bund Deutscher Jungen, or BDJ). These "Young Germans" were no Boy Scouts; most were Waffen SS and Wehrmacht veterans, according to a later West German government investigation, and a considerable part of the leadership of the group had been enthusiastic "Jew baiters" in the Goebbels ministry during the Nazis' rule.
The budget for the clandestine group was 50,000 deutsche marks per month, according to records seized by German police in 1952, plus an ample supply of free arms, ammunition, and explosives cached in the Odenwald Hills south of Frankfurt. American and German advisers provided BDJ agents with extensive military instruction, including, as a report in the West German parliament later revealed, "use of Russian, United States and German weapons, including machine guns, grenades, and knives . . . [as well as] light infantry weapons and explosives." The underground group called itself a US "Technical Service" unit.'
But the training program was only the beginning. BDJ Technical Service leaders decided that the best thing they could do for Germany following a Soviet attack was to liquidate certain German leaders they regarded as insufficiently anti-Communist. German Communists were, of course, at the top of the Technical Service assassination list. Next in line for elimination were leaders of West Germany's Social Democratic party, the country's loyal opposition during the Adenauer administration. The Technical Service group planned to murder more than forty top Social Democratic officials, including the party's national chief, Erich Ollenhauer; the interior minister of the state of Hesse, Heinrich Zinnkann; and the mayors of Hamburg and Bremen. BDJ's US-trained underground infiltrated the Social Democrats to shadow individual party leaders so as to kill them more efficiently when the day to act arrived.
The plot unraveled in late 1952, however, when a chance arrest by local police led to discovery of the hit list of Social Democratic officials. The CIC's behavior following this accidental exposure was so compromising that it raised serious questions in the German parliament whether the US government was aware of the Technical Service unit's assassination plans all along. Then again, perhaps the CIC response to the arrests was just stupid, not a conspiratorial cover-up. Either way, American CIC officers took custody of the arrested BDJ members and proceeded to hide them from the German civil police, who intended to charge the "Young Germans" with numerous weapons violations and conspiracy to commit murder. The German chief of the Technical Service unit, an ex-Luftwaffe man named Gerhard Peters, was placed under wraps for almost two weeks in a US-requisitioned building that was off-limits to German civil authorities. US CIC agents also seized all the remaining Technical Service records that they could lay their hands on, then refused to turn the dossiers over to the German equivalent of the FBI.
But the cat was out of the bag. Soon Social Democratic deputies were demanding investigations and pounding the lecterns in state and federal parliaments all over West Germany. Unfortunately for the Americans and for the Technical Service, their blunder had been discovered in the midst of a closely fought election, and the Social Democrats made the most of it. In the end, US authorities were forced to confirm, as the New York Times reported, that they had "sponsored and helped finance the secret training of young Germans, many of them former soldiers, to become guerrilla fighters in the event of a war with the Soviet Union."
US use of former Nazi collaborators in assassinations
THE QUESTION of US use of former Nazi collaborators in assassinations is important, and not just because of the obvious damage that the Technical Service imbroglio did to US relations with Germany's influential Social Democrats. Few subjects are more deeply clothed in mystery than this one, and the evidence concerning how US assassination operations worked during the cold war and who was responsible for them is inevitably scattered and fragmentary. All that can be said with certainty is that such murders did take place and that in some cases former Nazi collaborators were instrumental in carrying them out.
To put the case most bluntly, many American clandestine warfare specialists believed that the most "productive" -- and least compromising-method -- of killing foreign officials was to underwrite the discontent of indigenous groups and let them take the risks. American intelligence agencies' use of this technique appears to have originated in operations during World War II, when the OSS supplied thousands of cheap pistols to partisans in France and Yugoslavia specifically for assassination of collaborators and German officials. (According to Pentagon records,' the OSS also air-dropped these weapons in areas where there were no significant rebel forces so that the Nazis, upon finding the guns, would tighten the screws on local populations and thereby produce new anti-Nazi partisans.)
The concepts of maintaining "plausible deniability" for the actual murder and of the expendability of the killers themselves are a key to understanding US assassination techniques. In most cases, it appears to have been neither necessary nor practical for US intelligence officers to give precise instructions for murder. Instead, the OPC gave directions to commit assassinations to guerrilla movements in the same simple, sweeping terms that had been used in wartime Yugoslavia. US intelligence encouraged insurgents to "eliminate the command and other dangerous personnel of the MVD and the MGB [the Soviet secret police]," as the psychological warfare appendix to a Pentagon war plan put it in 1948. Other assigned tasks under the Halfmoon war plan, as it was known included "organiz[ing] for the destruction of industry, communications and other factors in Soviet war-making capacity"; "engag[ing] in sabotage wherever and whenever it disrupts enemy action"; and "creat[ing] panic and terror."
Several organizations of former Nazi collaborators were ready to undertake such slayings on a major scale. Covert operations chief Wisner estimated in 1951 that some 35,000 Soviet police troops and Communist party cadres had been eliminated by guerrillas connected with the Nazi collaborationist OUN/UPA in the Ukraine since the end of the war, and that does not include casualties from other insurgencies in Lithuania and the Muslim regions of the USSR that were also receiving aid from the United States and Britain.
These shotgun-style killings and guerrilla actions account for the large majority of murders carried out with US assistance in Europe during the cold war. It is inappropriate, of course, to lay responsibility for all these deaths at the feet of the CIA. The rebellions against Soviet rule were not initiated by the agency; they exploded inside the country out of discontents that were bound to give rise to violent resistance. Still, it is clear that CIA aid sustained such rebellions longer and made them more deadly to all concerned than they might otherwise have been. Moreover, these widespread shotgun-style slayings served as cover for a smaller number of specific individual assassinations that appear to have been directly ordered by US intelligence officers.
Former Nazi collaborators made excellent executioners in such instances, because of both their wartime training and the fact that the US government could plausibly deny any knowledge of their activities. Suspected double agents were the most common targets for execution. "In the international clandestine operations business, it was part of the code that the one and only remedy for the unfrocked double agent was to kill him" (emphasis added), the CIA's director of operations planning during the Truman administration testified before Congress in 1976, "and all double agents knew that. That was part of the occupational hazard of the job." The former director, whom the government declines to identify, also claimed, however, that he didn't recall any executions of double agents actually occurring during his tenure there. It is understandable that he might fail to remember any executions; for admitting a role in such killings could well lead to arrest and prosecution for conspiracy to commit murder in Europe, if not in the United States itself.
"We kept personnel at several air bases around the world for these types of missions," says Colonel Prouty, who was responsible for US Air Force air support of CIA missions overseas, including the delivery of agents to their targets and subsequent evacuation measures. "Some of these guys were the best commercial hit men you have ever heard of. [They were] mechanics, killers. They were Ukrainians, mainly, and Eastern Europeans, Greeks, and some Scotsmen. I don't know how the Scotsmen got in there, but there they were. None of them were American citizens." Prouty asserts that teams of such "mechanics" were used in cross-border infiltrations, in highly dangerous rescues of American agents inside the USSR and China, and in special murders. According to Prouty, there was no clear policy concerning the use of killing. "It was an ad hoc event, and it [the actual assassination] was done by third parties. If it had to be done in Yugoslavia, for example, it was set up with exile Yugoslavians or the [emigre] Polish groups. The [US] Army had by far the best assets" for this type of thing, he states, but "on the operational level there was good cooperation with the air force, CIA, and army." Many of the Eastern Europeans, he says, were Nazi collaborators during the war.
Several such killings did take place during the late 1940s under Operations Hagberry and Lithia, both of which were approved at senior levels of the Pentagon. These two instances, furthermore, must be considered only the documented examples of a more widespread practice. Hagberry required, according to army records, the "liquidation of the Chikalov Ring, a possible Soviet intelligence net operating within the US zone of Germany." And Lithia, which began under army auspices in November 1947, authorized "liquidation in [the] United States Zone [of Germany] of the Kundermann Ring, a large scale Czechoslovakian intelligence net." Army intelligence believed that the Chikalov Ring and the Kundermann organization had managed to plant double agents in certain emigre espionage networks that were being jointly managed by the United States and Britain under still another code-named project, Operation Rusty, and it is those agents who were marked for "liquidation." Army spokesmen today claim with shrugs of their shoulders that all further files concerning Hagberry and Lithia have simply disappeared. No further information is available, they say, and there is no indication of who withdrew the Hagberry and Lithia files or when they vanished.
Other people were murdered gangland-style during Operation Ohio, according to published reports in the United States. Ohio employed a squad of Ukrainian ex-Nazis to carry out at least twenty murders m a displaced persons camp at Mittenwald, south of Munich. The Army CIC and later the CIA are reported to have financed this squad for strong-arm work against double agents, Soviet spies, and similar undesirables. The fragmentary evidence still available suggests that most of the squad's victims were double agents whose deaths-when they became public at all-were attributed to factional violence among rival right-wing Ukrainian emigre groups.
"We were just out of World War Two, and we were using those [wartime] tactics," says Franklin Lindsay, the former CIA/OPC paramilitary expert. "In my case, I had operated only in wartime conditions. Given the feeling that we were very near war at that time, one tended to operate in the same way as in wartime." Lindsay, however, rejects the term assassination as a description of CIA/OPC practice during his tenure there.
The records of Operation Bloodstone add an important new piece of information to one of the most explosive public issues of today: the role of the US government -- specifically the CIA -- in assassinations and attempted assassinations of foreign officials. According to a 1976 Senate investigation, a key official of Operation Bloodstone is the OPC officer who was specifically delegated responsibility for planning the agency's assassinations, kidnappings, and similar "wet work."
Colonel Boris Pash, one of the most extraordinary and least known characters in American intelligence history, completes the circle of US agents, Nazi collaborators, and "mechanics" involved in these highly sensitive affairs. Pash is not a Nazi, nor is there any evidence that he is sympathetic to Nazis. But his work for US intelligence agencies places him in the critical office given the responsibility for planning postwar assassination operations.
Pash, now in his eighties, looks much like a bespectacled retired high school teacher. That's not surprising. He taught gym at Hollywood High School for a decade prior to World War II. He is modest-even shy, some might say -- with a gravelly voice and a cautious manner born of a lifetime of keeping secrets. Politically Pash remains loyal to the legacy of General Douglas MacArthur, with whom he served in occupied Japan. Colonel Pash is one of the few remaining originals of US intelligence, and his experience in "fighting the Communists" goes back to the 1917 Russian Revolution. He was in Moscow and Eastern Europe in those days with his father, a missionary of Russian extraction, and the young Pash spent much of the Soviet civil war working on the side of the White armies, then with czarist refugees who had fled their country. In the 1920s Pash signed on as a reserve officer with the US military intelligence service, and he maintained the affiliation throughout his years at Hollywood High. He was called to active duty in the first days of the Second World War, played a role in the internment of Japanese civilians in California, and was soon assigned as chief counterintelligence officer on the Manhattan Project, the supersecret US effort to develop the atomic bomb. (More than a decade later it was Colonel Pash's testimony that helped seal the fate of scientist Robert Oppenheimer in the well-known 1954 security case.) Before the war was out, it will be recalled, Colonel Pash led the series of celebrated special operations known as the Alsos Mission that were designed to capture the best atomic and chemical warfare experts that the Nazis had to offer.
After the war Colonel Pash served as the army's representative on Bloodstone in the spring of 1948, when the tasks of that project, including recruiting defectors, smuggling refugees out from behind the Iron Curtain, and assassinations, were established. Bloodstone's "special operations," as defined by the Pentagon, could "include clandestine warfare, subversion, sabotage and . . . assassination," according to the 1948 Joint Chiefs of Staff records. In March 1949, Pash was assigned by the army to the OPC division of the CIA. There, according to State Department records, his responsibilities included many of the functions originally approved under the Bloodstone program.
At the CIA Boris Pash became an administrator and organizer, as distinct from a field operative. His five-man CIA unit, known as PB/7, was given a written charter that read in part that "PB/7 will be responsible for assassinations, kidnapping, and such other functions as from time to time may be given it . . . by higher authority." Pash's fluency in Russian, his skill in dealing with Bloodstone émigrés, and his solid connections in anti-Communist exile circles were valuable assets in that job. Indeed, those qualifications-along with his sterling record as a counterintelligence officer-may well have been what led to his selection as PB/7 chief.
As with so many other aspects of the history of US intelligence the evidence here must be carefully sifted. Pash himself denies involvement in the Bloodstone program, asserting that he has "no recollection" of Bloodstone or of "anything like that." However, documents establishing his participation in Bloodstone and PB/7 are now a matter of public record.
Pash did testify before Congress in 1976 that his responsibilities at the CIA included planning for defections from Communist countries, facilitating the escape of prominent political refugees, and disseminating anti-Communist propaganda behind the Iron Curtain-all of which were clearly Bloodstone activities. Pash's supervisor at the CIA (who is not identified in the hearing record) offered further details concerning some of the less savory aspects of emigre operations during the 1940s that coincide with what is known of Bloodstone. Pash's PB/7, the supervisor said, was responsible for "kidnapping personages from behind the Iron Curtain . . . [including] kidnapping people whose interests were inimicable to ours."
Much of the documentary evidence concerning what PB/7 did during the first years of the CIA has disappeared, leaving both Congress and the general public with many unanswered questions concerning US operations among émigrés during the cold war. The CIA claimed in 1976 that it had "no record of documents which deal with this aspect [i.e., assassinations] of Pash's unit" and that even the office's charter was missing. Colonel Pash himself insisted in congressional testimony that he did not "believe" that he had any involvement in or responsibility for planning or conducting assassinations. He also testified that he had no recollection of the language of the charter of PB/7, the CIA office of which he had been in charge.
Despite the mysterious disappearance of the PB/7 records while in the hands of the CIA, the chain of circumstantial evidence concerning some Bloodstone émigrés' roles in paramilitary, kidnapping, and assassination operations abroad is too strong to be easily dismissed. First, there is the incriminating Pentagon document, quoted above, which indicates that paramilitary operations, assassinations, and kidnappings were an explicit mission of the Bloodstone program from its beginning.
Secondly, at least one key Bloodstone official, Boris Pash, was active in Bloodstone's early phases in mid-1948, then became chief of the OPC office responsible for planning paramilitary operations, assassinations, and kidnappings at about the time that control of "politico-psychological" and paramilitary operations was passed from the Bloodstone committee to the OPC.
Thirdly, at least some Bloodstone émigrés with backgrounds as Nazi collaborators-former Albanian Minister of Justice Hasan Dosti, for example-went on to become deeply involved in clandestine operations that did indeed involve paramilitary operations, murders, and unconsummated plans for assassinations, such as the 1949 and 1950 secret raids on Albania designed to overthrow the government. (Dosti did not participate in the actual field operations. But the organization he led, the Committee for a Free Albania, served as a "private" cover for the Albanian guerrillas, who were, in fact, organized and financed by the OPC.)
Fourthly-and perhaps coincidentally-certain Soviet spies, double agents, and "people whose interests were inimicable" to those of the CIA were marked for death by the agency. Pash's immediate superiors in the OPC acknowledge that the "one and only remedy" for Communist double agents was to murder them. According to published reports in the United States, persons accused of being Soviet or East bloc agents were in fact killed during this period by former Nazi collaborators at Mittenwald and in other displaced persons camps, though under mysterious circumstances that have never been clearly traced back to the OPC.
In the opinion of the author, the early Bloodstone operations played a significant role in laying the groundwork for what one Senate investigator later called
"a procedure [within the CIA] which, although not spelled out in so many words, was generally understood and served as the basis to plan or otherwise contemplate political assassination."
The killings of minor double agents in German DP camps were murders and deserve to be investigated as such. More significant, however, is what these otherwise obscure crimes appear to have foreshadowed: Before the decade of the 1950s was out, the CIA is known to have established mechanisms for using "deniable" assets and émigrés for the execution of heads of state and other international leaders. These later killings, which are arguably the most serious blunders ever made by the CIA, have created blowback problems on an international scale and have had a significant and generally negative effect on the lives of millions of people.
RATLINES, in espionage jargon, are networks of agents who smuggle fugitives or undercover operatives in and out of hostile foreign territories. These escape and evasion routes, as they are sometimes called, are a standard part of the clandestine operations of every major power, and there were hundreds of such ratlines snaking out of the Soviet-occupied territories in Eastern Europe in the wake of World War II.
The story of one of these ratlines is of special interest here because it reveals the manner in which the United States became entangled in the escape of large numbers of Nazi and Axis criminals, many of whom remained ardent Fascists as contemptuous of American democracy as of Soviet-style communism. In hindsight it is clear that many of the ratlines used by the United States during the cold war began as independent, unsanctioned Nazi escape organizations that later turned to selling their specialized services to US intelligence agencies as a means of making money and protecting their own ongoing Nazi smuggling efforts. Some of the exiles involved in this dangerous work did it for money; some, for ideological reasons, some, for both.
The most important Western ratlines that have come to light thus far, including those that smuggled Nazis, operated in and through the Vatican in Rome. Unraveling the reasons why and how the Catholic Church became involved in Nazi smuggling is an important step in understanding the broader evolution of the postwar alliances between former Nazis and US intelligence agencies. One organization is worthy of close scrutiny. It is the prominent Catholic lay group known as Intermarium. During its heyday in the 1940s and early 1950s leading members of this organization were deeply involved in smuggling Nazi fugitives out of Eastern Europe to safety in the West. Later Intermarium also became one of the single most important sources of recruits for the CIA's exile committees. This can be said with some certainty because about a score of Intermarium leaders ended up as activists or officials in Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberation, and the Assembly of Captive European Nations (ACEN), each of which the US government has since admitted as having been a CIA-financed and -controlled organization.
For much of the Catholic Church's leadership, it will be recalled World War II had been an interlude in a deeper and more important struggle against "atheistic communism" that had been raging for decades. This more fundamental struggle had closely aligned the Vatican hierarchy with a half dozen conservative Christian Democratic and clerical-Fascist political parties that were willing Nazi pawns during the war, even when the Church of Rome was itself under ideological attack from the German Nazi party. The majority of the Nazis' Axis partners in Eastern Europe, as well as Vichy France, had been led by Catholic political parties during the war. The puppet government in Slovakia, for example, was run by a Catholic priest, Monsignor Jozef Tiso. Croatia, a terrorist breakaway state from Yugoslavia, described itself as a "pure Catholic state" whose leader, Ante Pavelic, had been personally received by the pope, while clerics in Admiral Nicholas Horthy's Hungary enjoyed a more profound influence in that country's wartime government than did its own parliament. It is well established, of course, that some Catholic Church leaders bravely resisted Nazi crimes sometimes at the cost of their lives. Even so, it is also true that the church-based political parties mentioned above played a central role in Axis military aggression. These organizations used the mantle and the moral authority of the church to help carry out the preparations for, and in some cases the actual execution of, the Nazi genocide of the Jews.
As Nazi Germany collapsed during late 1944 and early 1945, many senior church officials helped organize a massive campaign of refugee relief for millions of Catholics fleeing from Eastern Europe. Once this was under way, few distinctions were made between the Catholics responsible for the crimes against humanity committed in the Axis states and those being persecuted simply for opposition to the Soviets. The vast majority of the refugees who swept through Rome in the wake of the war had left their homelands for reasons that had nothing to do with war crimes, obviously; they had simply been in the wrong place at the wrong time when the German or Soviet armies had stormed through their villages.
At the same time, however, these refugee routes became the most important pipelines out of Europe for Nazis and collaborators fleeing war crimes charges. Factions within the church that had long been sympathetic to the Nazis' extreme anti-Communist stand organized large-scale programs to facilitate the escapes of tens of thousands of Nazis and collaborators from Germany, Austria, Croatia, Slovakia, the Ukraine, and a number of other Eastern I European states. The pivotal role of the church in the escape of the l Nazis has been emphasized by Luftwaffe Colonel Hans Ulrich Rudel, the highly decorated German air ace who became an international spokesman for the neo-Nazi movement after the war. "One may otherwise view Catholicism as one wishes. But what the Church, especially certain towering personalities within the Church, undertook in those years [immediately after the war] to save the best of our nation, often from certain death, must never be forgotten!" Colonel Rudel exclaimed in a speech at Kufstein in 1970. "In Rome itself, the transit point of the escape routes, a vast amount was done. With its own immense resources, the Church helped many of us to go overseas. In this manner, in quiet and secrecy, the demented victors' mad craving for revenge and retribution could be effectively counteracted."
The Vatican's principal agencies for handling refugees were a group of relief agencies in Rome that divided the assistance work according to the nationality of the refugee. Lithuanians went to see Reverend Jatulevicius at No. 6 on the Via Lucullo, for example, while Padre Gallov at 33 Via del Parione aided Hungarians and Monsignors Dragonovic and Magjerec at the Istituto di St. Jeronimus were in charge of Croatian relief, and so forth.
According to a top secret US State Department intelligence report of May 1947,
"the Vatican ... is the largest single organization involved in the illegal movement of emigrants . . . [and] the justification . . . for its participation in this illegal traffic is simply the propagation of the Faith. It is the Vatican's desire to assist any person, regardless of nationality or political beliefs, as long as that person can prove himself to be a Catholic."
The classified study confirmed that Nazis and their collaborators were not excluded from the effort:
"[I]n those Latin American countries where the [Catholic] Church is a controlling or dominating factor, the Vatican has brought pressure to bear which has resulted in the foreign missions of those countries taking an attitude almost favoring the entry into their country of former Nazis and former Fascists or other political groups, so long as they are anti-Communist. That, in fact, is the practice in effect in the Latin American Consulates and Missions in Rome at the present time."
Pipelines to the United States
American policy on the use of defectors from the East, including those who had been Nazi collaborators, was institutionalized in three National Security Council decisions during late 1949 and 1950. The government still contends that revealing the full text of these orders would "damage national security" if they were published today, more than thirty-five years later. These high-level orders, which were reviewed and approved by both Presidents Truman and Eisenhower, are known as NSC 86, NSCID (pronounced "N-skid" and standing for NSC intelligence directive) 13, and NSCID 14. They are based on recommendations prepared by Frank Wisner's OPC division of the CIA during the Bloodstone program.
These decisions gave the CIA control of several highly secret government interagency committees responsible for handling émigrés and defectors both overseas (NSCID 13) and inside the United States itself (NSCID 14). Like the earlier Bloodstone effort from which these directives sprang, NSCIDs 13 and 14 were not designed to rescue Nazis as such. They were instead aimed at making good use of all sorts of defectors from the East-with few questions asked. The bureaucratic turf remaining after the CIA had taken its share was divided among the FBI, military intelligence, the State Department, and, to a small degree, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS).
Most important in the present context, these orders authorized clandestine CIA funding of a variety of ostensibly private refugee relief organizations so as to ensure the cooperation of those agencies in the government's efforts to locate and exploit presumably valuable defectors. Under the aegis of these secret orders, the CIA assumed the power to bring "temporarily" anyone it wished to the United States (or anywhere else, for that matter), regardless of any other laws on the books in the United States or any other country.
NSCID 14, moreover, dramatically expanded the agency's authority to conduct clandestine operations inside the United States-in an apparent violation of the CIA's charter-as long as those affairs were conducted through emigre political organizations that supposedly still had some connection with the old country. The CIA has used that loophole to authorize hidden agency funding for the Committee for a Free Latvia, the Committee for a Free Albania, and other supposedly private exile organizations active in this country. A substantial amount of the agency's money ended up being spent on lobbying the US Congress and on other propaganda efforts inside this country-a clear violation of the law.
When Congress created the CIA, it specifically legislated that the agency be barred from "police, subpoena, law-enforcement powers or internal security functions" in the United States. This was to be a foreign intelligence agency, not a still more powerful version of the FBI. Most Americans, including the members of the congressional watchdog committees responsible for oversight of CIA operations, have long contended that this provision banned the agency from involvement in political activities inside this country. Even Senator Leverett Saltonstall, long the ranking Republican on the Senate's intelligence oversight committee, remarked to then CIA Director John McCone (in 1962):
"Is it not true, Mr. McCone . . . that any work on ethnic groups in this country would not be within the province of the CIA? . . . Am I correct in that?" (McCone replied, "I cannot answer that, Senator," and the matter was dropped.)
But unbeknownst to most of the Congress and the American people, however, the agency has repeatedly chosen to interpret the NSC 86, NSCID 13, and NSCID 14 orders as authorization for substantial political involvement in immigrant communities in America. As early as 1949 -- only two years after Congress had thoroughly debated keeping the CIA out of American politics -- the agency began underwriting several major programs designed to bring favored European exiles into this country. Then, in 1950, this immigration work was coupled with a multimillion-dollar publicity campaign in the United States tailored to win popular approval for cold war measures sponsored by the CIA, including increased funding for Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberation, and the emigre political groups in the governments-in-exile program.
These efforts have left a lasting mark on American political life, especially among the United States' large first-generation Slavic and Eastern European immigrant population. Hundreds of thousands of decent people of Central and Eastern European heritage entered this country legally during the 1950s, often at the price of great personal sacrifice. But the measures undertaken by the CIA in connection with NSC 86, NSCID 13, and NSCID 14 led to the infiltration of thousands of Waffen SS veterans and other Nazi collaborators into their communities in the United States at the same time. This in turn laid the foundation for a revival of extremist right-wing political movements inside immigrant communities in this country that continue to be active.
The CIA, and Frank Wisner's clandestine action shop (the OPC) in particular, were never content with the immigration to the United States of a handful of especially valuable assets. The 100 Persons Act was simply too restrictive, Wisner believed. The agency was running international programs involving thousands of foreign agents, with tens of thousands of subagents. Many of these men and women were risking their lives for the modest paychecks they got from the Americans, as he saw it. The promise of free immigration to the United States was crucial in recruiting new overseas help for the CIA and in retaining the loyalty of many persons already on the US payroll.
According to State Department records, Wisner wanted to grant US citizenship as a reward to not just "100 Persons" per year, but to thousands, even tens of thousands of informants, covert operators, guerrillas and agents of influence. Whatever else might be said of Wisner, he was never one to let sticky legal technicalities stand in the way of what he believed to be the best interests of the country. He set out to create a wide variety of both legal and illegal dodges to bring men and women favored by his organization into the country.
This immigration campaign became an integral part of CIA clandestine strategy of the period. The agency manipulated US immigration laws and procedures on behalf of thousands of favored émigrés, selecting some for entry to this country and rejecting others. While only a fraction of this influx appears to have been Nazis or Nazi collaborators (the true number is impossible to know until the agency opens its files), it is clear that a number of identifiable war criminals were brought to the United States with CIA assistance during this period. Equally important, the security agencies of the government gave tacit support to private refugee relief committees the stated goals of which included assisting thousands of Waffen SS veterans in immigrating to the United States.
Bloodstone had begun this process on a relatively modest scale, with about 250 sponsored immigrants per year. By 1950, however, CIA representatives approached Congress with a plan to authorize special importation of some 15,000 CIA-sponsored refugees per year, in addition to those entering under the Displaced Persons Act and other more conventional immigration channels. They were to be émigrés "whose presence in the US would be deemed in the national interest," according to Department of State documentation," as a result of the prominent or active part they played in the struggle against Communism." Congress whittled that authorization down to 500 "carefully selected" refugees over a three-year period. Even so, the CIA's professed need for 15,000 annual entrance visas is some measure of its ambitions in this field. Émigrés sponsored under this law came to be known as "2(d)" cases, after the section of the immigration code that provided the legal authorization.
Congress's refusal to support fully the agency's 15,000-visa-per-year immigration effort was not the final word on the matter. Indeed, the CIA expanded upon the authority it had been granted by the National Security Council under NSC 86 and NSCIDs 13 and 14. If the agency was barred from directly importing 15,000 exiles annually, it reasoned, it could still employ the NSC's top secret authorization to sponsor indirectly many of the same émigrés through ostensibly private relief organizations...
The private refugee aid groups were closely monitored by the CIA. As a later NSC decision on refugee and defector programs puts it, these programs "contribute to the achievement of US national security objectives both toward Communist-dominated areas and the Free World.... These contracts, under which the [private] agencies are reimbursed only for services actually performed on behalf of escapees, are carefully supervised to assure that they give maximum support to the objectives of the program.''
Yet in several cases Nazi collaborators and sympathizers took control of key aspects of refugee relief agencies serving their nationalities in the United States.
It is clear today that several of these group and a number individual Vanagi Nazi collaborators enjoyed clandestine US government subsidies from the CIA. This money was laundered through the CIA's Radio Free Europe and Assembly of Captive European Nations channels or through private organizations such as the International Rescue Committee, among others.
It is evident that the CIA knew that substantial numbers of men and former Nazi collaborators were streaming into this country through organizations that were themselves on the CIA's payroll. Highly competent US intelligence officers followed each twist and turn of these emigre organizations and knew exactly who was linked to which political faction in the old countries. The affairs of Eastern European exiles were, after all, a major focus of the CIA's work at the time. Their relief groups and political organizations were thoroughly infiltrated with agency informers. Indeed, if the CIA did not know what was taking place in the immigration process, that in itself raises serious questions concerning its ability to collect and analyze information from refugee sources.
But nothing was done by the CIA, so far as can be determined, to stop the influx of ex-Nazis and collaborators during the 1950s. If anything, the government subsidies to their organizations actually increased. Some men and women who had once enlisted as agents for the Nazi occupiers of their homelands put their skills back to work as inside sources for the CIA and FBI once they had arrived here. Federal agencies are, of course, unwilling to release the names of their confidential informants, but a 1978 study by the General Accounting Office clearly establishes that working relations between US police agencies and these former Fascists did exist.
The[US] army command eventually decided that much tighter control would be necessary to ensure the security and effectiveness of postnuclear guerrilla operations. The best of the emigre foot soldiers should be brought to the United States, the army concluded, enlisted in the US Army, and provided with intensive training far beyond what was possible in the Labor Service units. The army reasoned that this more formal recruitment of émigrés would also permit the granting of security clearances to translators with backgrounds in Russian, Ukrainian, and other Eastern European languages. The new enlistees were to remain under US Army control, even though the military was eager to cooperate with the CIA on specific missions.
In 1950 the army convinced Congress to pass an unusual piece of cold war legislation, known as the Lodge Act, that permitted 2,500 alien nationals (later raised to 12,500) residing outside the United States to enlist in the US Army. It guaranteed them US citizenship if they successfully completed five years of service. The overwhelming majority of the Lodge Act recruits who volunteered over the following decade have proved themselves to be loyal citizens. Most are intensely patriotic, many have been decorated for heroism in battle, and some have given their lives in service to their adopted country. It is ironic, then, that the US Army chose to mix Gestapo agents and Nazi collaborators with this group of decent men.
According to declassified orders now found in the National Archives, about 25 percent of the enlistees were channeled into a variety of especially confidential assignments, including slots as atomic, chemical, and biological warfare specialists. Others became translators of captured secret documents and instructors for US intelligence analysts.
Many of the remainder of the Lodge Act recruits underwent special guerrilla training at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and became the nucleus of the present-day Green Berets. Indeed, the famous green beret itself is in part a legacy of the European military fatigues that so many of America's first Special Forces recruits had worn during their service prior to their arrival in this country. The commander of the program at Fort Bragg, interestingly enough, was Colonel Aaron Bank, an army paramilitary expert who only a few months previously had directed the CIC units responsible for running Klaus Barbie, Mykola Lebed, and similar intelligence assets in Germany.
Colonel Charles M. Simpson, the unofficial historian of the Green Berets and a thirty-year army veteran, leaves little question about the training of army and CIA volunteers placed under Colonel Bank's care at Fort Bragg. The instruction, Simpson writes, began with selection of sites for clandestine airdrops of agents behind enemy lines, then went on to "raids and ambushes [and] guerrilla organization." Particular attention was placed, he says, on "kidnap and assassination operations."
Unfortunately for the army, Lodge Act recruiting went more slowly than expected, and only 211 men (out of 5,272 applicants) had passed screening and actually enlisted by August 1952. Special Forces recruiters responded by easing the language and literacy requirements and by streamlining many of the security checks that had previously slowed the processing of volunteers.
Army Adjutant General Major General Edward Witsell ruled that the civilian immigration laws that barred ex-Nazis and collaborators from obtaining US citizenship would not apply to the army's Lodge Act recruits. "[I]ndividuals enlisted under these regulations are not subject to exclusion from the United States under the provisions of the Internal Security Act or under the Immigration and Nationality Act . . . ," Witsell ordered, taking responsibility for screening émigrés out of the hands of civilian authorities altogether. True, "members . . . of any totalitarian party" were still barred from the United States under the army regulations, but ex-members of Fascist organizations were not, nor were veterans of armies that had made war on the United States. Witsell's unusual and probably unconstitutional decision seems to have gone entirely unnoticed at the time, perhaps because of the fact that the very existence of the ruling was withheld from the public under a classification of "Restricted-Security Information"
One result of this policy was that certain racist perspectives bordering on Nazi-style anti-communism persisted in the early Green Berets As Richard Harwood reported in the Washington Post some years later, "during those years, the Special Forces attracted recruits from Eastern Europe and old-line NCOs with single-minded views about 'fighting Communism.' . . . 'We had an awful lot of John Birch types then' says an officer with several years of experience in the Special Forces," Harwood writes. " 'They thought like Joe McCarthy.'
As puzzling as it may seem today, there is no question that the American army officers who recruited former Nazis into the Special Forces were motivated primarily by a hatred of totalitarianism. As they saw it, the Special Forces units were something of a creative maverick within the hidebound army, its members disdained shiny boots, army protocol, and just about anything that smacked of brass The Special Forces motto, "De Oppresso Liber " which the Green Berets translate as "From Oppression We Will Liberate Them," was not chosen for its public relations value, the slogan, like almost everything else about the forces, was generally kept secret in the early days. This catchphrase reflected the beliefs of the officers, or perhaps more accurately, it reflected what the officers thought that their beliefs were. In those simpler days the army staff could argue in complete seriousness that use of former Nazi collaborators as guerrillas behind Soviet lines would "prove . . . that our American way of life is approaching the ideal desired by all mankind."
In sum, the influx of former Nazis, Waffen SS veterans, and other Nazi collaborators into the United States during this period was not simply an oversight or an administrative glitch created by the inefficiencies of the INS. It was, rather, a central, though usually unacknowledged, aspect of US immigration policy of the day, particularly as the program applied to refugees from the USSR and the Soviet-occupied states of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia. About 500,000 Eastern European exiles entered the United States under the Displaced Persons Act and the later Refugee Relief Act during this period, and it is obvious that relatively few of these immigrants were former Nazis or Waffen SS men and that of those who did fall into those categories, fewer still were war criminals. But even a small percentage of 500,000 people is a large number. Allan Ryan, the former director of the Justice Department's war criminal investigation unit, estimates that nearly 10,000 Nazi war criminals entered the United States during this period, although he rejects the suggestion that US intelligence agencies had anything to do with this.
One of the most important characteristics of the war criminals who did come to the United States is that they did not arrive here as isolated individuals. As has been seen in the cases of the Croatian Ustachis, the Ukrainian OUN, and the Latvian Vanagis, to name only three, many of these immigrants were, in fact, part of experienced, highly organized groups with distinct political agendas that differed little from the Fascist programs they had promoted in their homelands. The anti-Communist paranoia of the McCarthy period gave these groups fertile soil in which to put down roots and to grow. In time they began to play a small but real role in the political life of this country.
The politics of "liberation"
THE CENTRAL Intelligence Agency did not sever its ties with the extremist exile organizations once they had arrived in this country. Instead, it continued to use them in clandestine operations both abroad and in the United States itself. Before the middle of the 1950s the agency found itself entangled with dozens-and probably hundreds-of former Nazis and SS men who had fought their way into the leadership of a variety of Eastern European emigre political associations inside this country.
Instead of withdrawing its support for the extremist groups and for the men and women who led them, the CIA went to considerable lengths to portray these leaders as legitimate representatives of the countries they had fled. At about the same time that the agency initiated the immigration programs ... it dramatically expanded its publicity and propaganda efforts inside the United States itself. A major theme of this effort was to establish the credibility and legitimacy of exiled Eastern European politicians-former Nazi collaborators and non-collaborators alike-in the eyes of the American public. Through the National Committee for a Free Europe (NCFE) and a new CIA-financed group, the Crusade for Freedom (CFF), the covert operations division of the agency became instrumental in introducing into the American political mainstream many of the right-wing extremist emigre politicians' plans to "liberate" Eastern Europe and to "roll back communism.
The price tag for the US arms buildup, according to Paul Nitze, who drafted most of the main policy statements on the issue, was some $50 billion-almost three times the then existing US military budget. The real question for US policymakers of the day, write Walter Isaacson and Evan Thomas in their study of American foreign policy formulation The Wise Men, "was whether Congress and the Administration would pay for it. The public had to be persuaded. The way to do that, Nitze knew from experience, was to scare them; to tell them that the Soviets were intent on world domination, that they were poised to attack, and that the US had to meet them everywhere."
It was in this context that the CIA launched a major propaganda effort in the United States. Despite a legal prohibition against domestic activities by the agency, it initiated a multimillion-dollar publicity project in this country called the Crusade for Freedom. This new group served as a fund-raising arm for Radio Free Europe, the various Free Europe exile committees, and eventually Radio Liberation from Bolshevism, all of which worked primarily overseas, where the agency had stronger statutory authority to operate. These overseas propaganda programs were posing as private corporations made up solely of individual citizens who wanted to do something about the problem of communism in Europe, it will be recalled, and the CFF's fund-raising efforts in the United States provided a convenient explanation for where all the money that RFE was spending was coming from, the CIA's longtime legislative counsel Walter Pforzheimer has said. Its work permitted the broadcasting operations to claim that they were financed by millions of small contributions from concerned Americans-not by the government.
In reality, one of the most important reasons for the CFF was to bring to America the analysis of foreign affairs that had been developed by the National Committee for a Free Europe-and by the CIA. The CFF became a "gigantic, nationwide drive," as former RFE/RL director Sig Mickelson has put it, "to obtain support for the activities of the Free Europe Committee."
The basic message of that analysis was a more aggressive, hard-hitting version of the containment doctrine that would soon come to be known as "Liberation." Liberation, in a nutshell, began at about the point that containment left off, politically speaking. It held, as many containment advocates had argued earlier, that the socialist governments of Eastern Europe were unremittingly despotic regimes, installed by the Red Army and ruled exclusively by Stalin-style terror. Liberation proponents discarded the earlier circumspection about public calls for the overthrow of those states, however, and openly agitated for the "rollback of communism" in Eastern Europe through US instigation of, and support for, counterrevolutionary movements in those countries...
The political rhetoric of the extremist exile groups that had once worked for the Nazis ... evolved in a complex interaction with the gradual introduction of liberationist thinking into America. By the late 1940s exiled extremist leaders had learned the rhetoric of this new, more "American" form of liberation. Their adoption of lip service to democracy began to provide former Fascists with a platform to promote their agenda to millions of Americans, and it created a shelter, in effect, that protected them from the exposure of their Nazi pasts. They were no longer seen as the triggermen of Nazi genocide in the public mind but, rather, as fervent anti-Communist patriots. The government's intelligence agencies played a substantial role in this shift.
The changes in the rhetoric of the extreme Russian nationalist organization Natsional'no-Trudovoi Soyuz (NTS) ... is still active in today's Russian emigration
Many of the NTS leaders of the 1950s, particularly those who served as police and city administrators in the Nazi occupation zone, are major war criminals who personally helped organize the identification, roundup, and execution of millions of Jewish and Slavic civilians. Insofar as NTS men won control of local administrations in the Nazi-occupied regions of the USSR, the organization became an integral part of the Nazis' propaganda, espionage, and extermination apparatus in the East.
The main theme of NTS propaganda throughout the conflict was a campaign to "liberate" the USSR from Stalin, communism, and the Jews through a mutiny by the Red Army. This became the centerpiece of Vlasov Army recruiting efforts at least as early as 1942 and was elaborated in considerable detail with tactics for counterinsurgency operations in the Nazi occupation zone, behind-the-lines infiltration of NTS agents on espionage and sabotage missions, propaganda themes tailored to appeal to Russian sensibilities and similar specifics. When the Germans were finally driven out of Russia, selected NTS agents were left on "stay-behind" missions in an attempt to organize subversion in Soviet rear areas once the Red Army front had passed. The NTS also served as the dominant force (after the Nazis themselves) in the Russkaja Osvoboditel 'naia Armiia (Russian Army of Liberation, or Vlasov Army) and the Komitet Ozvobozhdeniia Narodov Rossii (German-sponsored Committee for the Liberation of the Peoples of Russia), the Nazis' primary front group for eastern front political warfare operations in the desperate closing months of the war.
It was through the NTS, and through the rival national liberation programs sponsored among Soviet minority groups by the Nazis' Rosenberg ministry, that the strategy and tactics of the "liberation" of the USSR were first hammered out. These were the laboratories, so to speak, used by Hans Heinrich Herwarth, Gustav Hilger, and the other German political warfare officers discussed earlier to develop the propaganda themes and behind-the-lines subversion tactics believed most suitable for reaching people inside the USSR.
Constantine Boldyreff was a founder of NTS and a senior leader of the group throughout the war. His wartime career is shrouded in secrecy today; but it is clear that the CIC believed that in late 1944 he helped administer gangs of Russian laborers for the SS. He is a case in point of the manner in which the intervention of US intelligence agencies shepherded the migration of liberation propaganda out of the fallen wartime ministries of Berlin and into the living rooms of America.
It is impossible to determine today what Common Cause knew, if anything, of the NTS's wartime record at the time it sponsored his speaking tour. It is clear, however, from Boldyreff's own US Army intelligence file that the CIC was well aware that the NTS was a totalitarian and pro-Fascist organization. Instead of making this fact clear, however, US intelligence promoted Boldyreff's propaganda work in this country. "A Common Cause spokesman said that Boldyreff is 'well known to American intelligence,' " the Boston Herald reported in its coverage of one of the NTS man's early news conferences. " '[He] is vouched for by high American officials,' and cooperated with the American military government in Germany."
Over the next four years Boldyreff went on to ghostwritten feature stories appearing under his by-line in Look, Reader's Digest, and World Affairs. "Will Russia's democratic revolution take place in time to keep the Communist plotters from using their atomic bombs against humanity?" he asked readers of the American Federation of Labor's mass circulation Federationist. "The answer to this all important question depends on how hard the free world fights to pierce the Iron Curtain and join forces with Russian anti-Communists."
It is clear that Boldyreff was soon enjoying the direct sponsorship of the CIA. British intelligence historian E. H. Cookridge reports that the US agency put Boldyreff on retainer for assistance in recruiting Vlasov Army veterans for espionage missions inside the USSR-a claim that the nationalist leader does not deny. Moreover, several of Boldyreff's ghostwriters-including James Critchlow, who co-authored the article quoted above-have since become known as career executives of the CIA's political warfare projects such as Radio Liberation, a fact that strongly suggests that the agency also had a hand in Boldyreff's publicity tours in the United States.
According to Boldyreff's CIC dossier, US Army and US Air Force intelligence arranged a job for him at the prestigious Foreign Service Institute at Georgetown University in Washington. There, he taught psychological warfare techniques to pilots engaged in clandestine air missions into the USSR. As Boldyreff himself put it in an interview, the air force assignment involved training "about 120" US pilots responsible for cross-border flights into the USSR. "This was the cold war," he says. "Air force officers were more frequently captured, [because] their planes would be shot down, and they needed to know what to do, how to survive. That sort of thing was much more open then than it is today.'
But that was only the beginning. Next came radio interviews, then lucrative speaking engagements at Daughters of the American Revolution and American Legion conventions. The powerful Henry Holt publishing company issued a book made up largely of Boldyreff's commentaries exposing both real and imagined Stalinist assassination plots. Last but not least, Boldyreff made the circuit in Washington of congressional investigating committees, which sought out his advice on fighting communism, psychological warfare, and spotting supposed Red agents inside US government agencies.
Whatever one may think of Boldyreff's politics, none of his personal actions in this country are known to have been illegal. At the same time, however, the actions of the CIA and other intelligence agencies in promoting his entry into American politics were, on their face, an apparent violation of US law and of the CIA's charter. Legal questions aside, it is clear that Boldyreff was only one of a long train of more or less similar ex-Fascist leaders whose publicity work on behalf of "liberation" during the late 1940s and early 1950s was underwritten at least in part by the US government.
The emigre anti-Communist movement continued to accelerate. Soon there emerged in the United States "one vocal and not uninfluential element that not only wanted war with Russia, but had a very clear idea of the purposes for which, in its own view, such a war should be fought," as Kennan noted later in a discussion of his views on the possibility of war with the USSR during the early 1950s. "I have in mind the escapees and immigrants, mostly recent ones, from the non-Russian portions of the postwar Soviet Union, as well as from some of the Eastern European satellite states.
"Their idea," he writes, "to which they were passionately and sometimes ruthlessly attached, was simply that the United States should, for their benefit, fight a war against the Russian people to achieve the final breakup of the traditional Russian state and the establishment of themselves as the regimes of the various 'liberated' territories." Kennan is referring here to the spokesmen of the so-called "Captive Nations" movement, particularly Ukrainian and Baltic nationalists.
"These recent refugees were by no means without political influence in Washington," Kennan adds. "Connected as they were with the compact voting blocs situated in the big cities, they were able to bring direct influence to bear on individual Congressional figures. They appealed successfully at times to religious feelings, and even more importantly [sic] to the prevailing anti-Communist hysteria." Among the countries the Captive Nations movement represented were several that the diplomat admits had been "invented in the Nazi propaganda ministry during the recent war."
Agitation by these émigrés became a part of dozens of CIA-sponsored exile operations in the United States during the early 1950s. Almost all these affairs were sponsored by the CIA covert operations directorate's International Organizations Division, which was then administering the NCFE, the CFF, and similar overlapping projects. This division organized and bankrolled the CFF with an initial grant of $180,000, according to former RFE/ RL chief Mickelson. The agency, working through the NCFE, then went on to pour at least $5 million into CFF propaganda work inside the United States over the next five years.
... the CIA's $5 million direct contribution to anti-Communist education through the CFF can serve, at least, as a yardstick for comparing the scope of the crusade promotion to other political propaganda efforts undertaken in this country at about the same time. That $5 million contribution exceeds, for example, the combined total of all the money spent on the Truman/ Dewey presidential election campaign of 1948. It establishes the CIA (through the CFF) as the largest single political advertiser on the American scene during the early 1950s, rivaled only by such commercial giants as General Motors and Procter & Gamble in its domination of the airwaves.
The crusade was only one part of a much broader CIA-sponsored effort to shape US (and world) public opinion. Related programs included book publishing, scholarly studies of the USSR by carefully selected researchers, and bankrolling hundreds of rallies, commemorations, and other media events. The principal political point of this program was to provide extensive publicity for all available evidence that the USSR was a dangerous imperial power. The agency went on to emphasize news of the "liberation" movements of the exiles as an important morale booster and an illustration of the resistance to Soviet expansion.
The CIA financed a literary campaign explicitly designed to promote former Nazi collaborators as appropriate leaders of liberation movements among their respective nationalities...
This broad-based, multifaceted effort legitimized for many Americans what the extreme-right-wing emigre movement had been saying since the end of World War II. The United States could easily liberate Eastern Europe from the Soviet Union and even dismember the USSR, the theory went, by bankrolling stepped-up subversion programs in the East.
"It became an article of faith that the USSR was going to fall apart at any time," notes scholar Vladimir Petrov. "The idea was that communism was a small conspiracy of men sending out the revolution, that it was hated by the people, [and so] naturally they wanted to overthrow it right away. Communists killed people to maintain their power, so the first chance [the people] had there would be a rebellion."
John Foster Dulles articulated this myth neatly in congressional testimony that went entirely unchallenged at the time. "Some dozen people in the Kremlin," he proclaimed, "are seeking to consolidate their imperial rule over some 800,000,000 people, representing what were nearly a score of independent nations." With those kinds of odds -- 800 million against 12 -- the overthrow of communism from within would seem like a fairly simple task.
"That was the theory at the time," Petrov says. "There was a lot of enthusiasm. Many people thought that communism could be very simply gotten rid of." But in reality, Petrov reflects with a sigh, "this just wasn't true."
The liberation message struck an extraordinarily responsive chord in the United States, one which reverberated far beyond the relatively narrow community of Eastern European exiles. Its potent blend of anti-Communist paranoia, American patriotism, and the self-perceived generosity of doing something practical to aid people seen as suffering from persecution abroad appealed to millions of Americans.
It is probably impossible today to determine the impact that the CIA's emigre programs and domestic propaganda efforts had on the election of 1952 or other mainstream political events of the period with any degree of scientific certainty. The information detailing the full extent of the agency's efforts to shape domestic public opinion remains buried in classified files, if it has not been purged from the record altogether. The carefully controlled surveys of public opinion that might enable scholars to disentangle the specific effects of the CIA's immigration and propaganda programs from the broader political impact of the media's day-to-day coverage of international events were not taken at the time, and it would be pointless to try to take them today, thirty-five years later. It is not surprising that sociologists and political scientists of the period failed to make use of surveys and other statistical tools to examine the impact of CIA clandestine action campaigns in the United States; after all, the fact that a systematic propaganda effort even existed was a state secret at the time.
But the anecdotal evidence concerning the significance of these programs is strong. The role of former Nazi collaborators and US intelligence agencies in promoting the penetration of liberationist political thinking into the American body politic may be traced through several clear steps. First, the rhetoric and the detailed strategies for the "liberation" of the USSR and Eastern Europe were originally generated before World War II by pro-Fascist emigre organizations enjoying direct sponsorship from Nazi Germany's intelligence agencies, which were intent on using these groups as pawns in their plans to exterminate European Jewry and to achieve a military victory in the East. The Nazis significantly developed both the liberation strategies and their exile constituencies during the war, despite the Germans' own internal factional fighting over how to make best use of collaborators.' Secondly, after the war US intelligence agencies brought leaders of a number of these pro-Fascist groups-the Ukrainian OUN, the Russian nationalist NTS, the Albanian Balli Kombetar, certain of the Baltic Nazi collaborators, etc.-into the United States through programs the specific purpose of which was, in part, the generation of effective anti-Communist propaganda. Next, these same exile leaders aggressively promoted essentially the same liberation propaganda in the United States that they had advocated under Nazi sponsorship, though now with a new appeal to American values, such as democracy and freedom, rather than the earlier open advocacy of racial politics and fascism. The CIA gave these domestic publicity campaigns multimillion-dollar clandestine backing during the 1950s by providing operating cash, salaries, and logistic and publishing support and-not least-by facilitating endorsements from respected mainstream politicians.
Neither the Eastern European exile community in America nor, still less, the minority of former Nazi collaborators among them had the political muscle to force adoption of a liberation agenda on the American public by themselves. But they could, and did, often serve as catalysts that helped trigger the much bigger political "chemical reaction," so to speak, that was then under way, the primary ingredients of which were East-West disputes over economic and military spheres of influence. The first and in some ways most credible spokesmen in the United States for liberationist thinking were exiled activists who were, like NTS executive Constantine Boldyreff discussed above, "well known to American intelligence [and] vouched for by high American officials." Their message and slogans caught on with millions of Americans during the first half of the 1950s, especially among conservatives and others alarmed by the spread of communism abroad. In 1952 the public support in the United States for threats to liberate Eastern Europe and the USSR from their Communist governments was sufficiently broad that the Republican party adopted an explicit call for liberation as the main foreign policy plank in its party platform and as a central theme in its presidential and congressional election campaigns.
The Republicans' campaign platform demanded "the end of the negative, futile and immoral policy of 'Containment,' " as the New York Times reported, "which abandons countless human beings to a despotism and godless terrorism." The GOP pledged to "revive the contagious, liberating influences that are inherent in freedom" and to mark the "beginning of the end" for Communist party rule in Eastern Europe and the USSR. America, the Republicans' primary foreign policy spokesman, John Foster Dulles, wrote in Life magazine, "wants and expects liberation to occur." This anti-Communist revolution, he claimed disingenuously, would come about "peacefully." The Republicans used this liberation rhetoric as a means of distinguishing their promises of a new, tougher foreign ,' policy from the program of the Democrats. What exactly Eisenhower intended to do to promote the liberation of Eastern Europe once the election campaign was over, however, was usually left vague.
Arthur Bliss Lane, who had been US ambassador to Poland during the Truman years, became the point man in the Republican party's effort to swing the enthusiasm created by the Crusade for Freedom into the GOP's column during the 1952 election.
The gradual merging of the Republicans' election campaign and the Crusade for Freedom reached its logical culmination on the eve of the 1952 election. The party's ethnic division under Lane approved and allocated money for a psychological warfare tactic that had earlier been used by the CIA in Italy and Eastern Europe. Millions of yellow leaflets were slated to be dropped from airplanes "over places such as Hamtramck," the large immigrant community near Detroit, plugging Eisenhower and blaming Democrat Adlai Stevenson for the "betrayal" of the Slavic "Fatherland and relatives" to the Communists. The yellow paper was to dramatize the leaflet's conclusion. "If you men and women of Polish and Czech descent can, after reading the above, vote for the Democratic candidate," the handbill proclaimed, "you are as yellow as this paper." Everything was ready to go "within 48 hours," according to correspondence in Lane's archives, but Eisenhower's inner circle of election advisers canceled the plan at the last minute.
Eisenhower's election campaign was successful in any event. Lane's "ethnic" campaign produced mixed results: The Republicans did draw substantially more votes from ethnic districts than they had been able to do previously, according to contemporary reports, although the Democratic party's influence in these wards was by no means extinguished. In any case, the majority of American voters backed Eisenhower, at least in part because of his proliberation, "let's get tough with the Communists" foreign policy stance. In January 1953 the first Republican administration in twenty years entered Washington with a grand inaugural parade and a rhetorical commitment, at least, to a mission to liberate Eastern Europe from Communist rule.
Former Nazis and collaborators combined with right-wing elements within the US intelligence community to bring another sort of pressure to bear on the US political scene. The flood of government and private money flowing into anti-Communist political warfare programs during the early 1950s created a cottage industry, of sorts, for informers, professional ex-Communists of varying degrees of reputability, and "information bureaus" specializing in the blacklisting of Americans viewed as politically suspect. One of the least known but most important of these entrepreneurs was John Valentine ("Frenchy") Grombach. He was, it will be recalled, the former military intelligence agent whose leaks to Congress had led to the purge of Colonel Alfred McCormack and McCormack's team of skeptical intelligence experts back in 1946 and 1947.
During the late 1940s Grombach had become a businessman who specialized in selling political and economic intelligence derived in large part from old boy networks of German SS officers, former Hungarian Axis quislings, and Russian nationalist NTS men to the State Department, the CIA, and corporate customers in the United States and Western Europe. Grombach's espionage network operated through, and was partially financed by, the N. V. Philips Gloeilampenfabrieken corporation of the Netherlands and its American affiliate, Philips North America, according to records found in his CIC dossier. This was the same major electronics manufacturer that had provided a channel for his clandestine wartime operations. One of Grombach's most important assets, according to US naval intelligence records obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, was SS General Karl Wolff, a major war criminal who had gone into the arms trade in Europe after the war. A second primary component of Grombach's private intelligence apparatus was a large group of Hungarians loyal to the former royal privy councilor Tibor Eckhardt, according to Ray Ylitalo, who handled liaison with Grombach's undercover service for State Department intelligence.
Grombach worked simultaneously under contract to the Department of State and the CIA. The ex-military intelligence man succeeded in creating "one of the most unusual organizations in the history of the federal government," according to CIA Inspector General Lyman Kirkpatrick. "It was developed completely outside of the normal governmental structure, [but it] used all of the normal cover and communications facilities normally operated by intelligence organizations, and yet never was under any control from Washington." By the early 1950s the US government was bankrolling Grombach's underground activities at more than $1 million annually, Kirkpatrick has said.
As the cold war deepened, Grombach had wheeled and dealed and tried to slide himself into a position where he would have a shot at the top spot in the American intelligence complex. He wanted to be director of the CIA or, better yet, chief of an entirely new US espionage machine built on the ruins of that agency. "Grombach," says Ylitalo, "never could figure out whether he was an employee [of the CIA] or a competitor. That was the problem in a nutshell."
Grombach promoted himself as the most pro-"liberation," most anti-Communist of all of Washington's competing spy chiefs. His organization stood ready, he said, to purge the State Department and the CIA of Communist dupes, homosexuals, and liberals of all stripes. High on the list of his targets were the men who had articulated and implemented Truman's containment strategy: George Kennan, Charles Thayer, Charles Bohlen, and their allies at State and the CIA. In Grombach's eyes, these officials were like his old nemesis Colonel McCormack: too soft on communism and the USSR, too favorable to liberal elements in the CIA; too closely tied to the elitist eastern establishment that had been running the State Department for generations.
Grombach banked on his close connections with Senators Joseph McCarthy, William Jenner, and other members of the extreme Republican right to propel him to national power. He believed that the McCarthyite right was on its way to the White House, and he intended to be there when it arrived. Grombach's outfit effectively became the foreign espionage agency for the far right, often serving as the overseas complement to McCarthy's generally warm relations with J. Edgar Hoover's FBI at home.
Through a quirk of fate Frenchy Grombach found himself in a position where he could exercise enough influence in Washington to help derail the government careers of his rivals. US government contracts bankrolling a network of former Nazis and collaborators gave him much of the ammunition he needed to do the job. Grombach used his networks primarily to gather dirt. This was the American agent's specialty, his true passion: political dirt; sexual dirt; any kind of compromising information at all. "He got into a lot of garbage pails," as Kirkpatrick puts it, "and issued 'dirty linen' reports on Americans." Grombach collected scandal, cataloged it, and used it carefully, just as he had done during the earlier McCormack investigation. He leaked smears to his political allies in Congress and the press when it suited his purposes to do so. Grombach and congressional "internal security" investigators bartered these dossiers with one another almost as though they were boys trading baseball cards.
One of Grombach's most important weapons in his struggle for power was a series of blackmail type of dossiers that his men had compiled on his rivals inside the US intelligence community. He had retailed much of this data piece by piece to the CIA over the years but by 1952 had decided to make use of his network of former SS men and collaborators on behalf of Senator Joseph McCarthy.
The popular support for liberation that was so carefully nurtured during the early 1950s provided fertile ground for entrepreneurs like Grombach to put down roots. Regardless of its "American" and patriotic trappings, liberation's paranoid anti-communism made it easier for some US politicians to make common cause with a former Goebbels propagandist such as Bogolepov or with public spokesmen for prewar anti-Semitic terrorist groups such as NTS leader Boldyreff.
As was seen in the case of the Bogolepov affidavit, private intelligence apparats like John Grombach's organization formed one of the important linkages between the careful politicians in Washington and the former Nazis and collaborators who were occasionally thought to be useful to them. Such unofficial clandestine action groups have long played a sporadic but sometimes important role in American political life; witness G. Gordon Liddy's Watergate burglary team or the more recent scandal surrounding Colonel Oliver North's activities inside the National Security Council. The extralegal status of Grombach's group permitted him to hire and exploit former Nazis and Axis officials for intelligence-gathering purposes, then secretly to put the products of his work to use in partisan political battles in the United States. Perhaps in some other decade John Grombach would have hired persons from other failed regimes as agents; the continuing intrigues among anti-Castro Cubans and the former South Vietnamese police suggest that a new generation of espionage entrepreneurs in the Grombach mold is still at work. But in the early 1950s it was former Nazis and collaborators who were in the most abundant supply for such affairs. It is they who formed much of the heart of Grombach's overseas network and they who gave him much of the ammunition he needed to participate in McCarthy's purges.
At the same time that McCarthy and his allies were battling in the Senate for the dismissals of Thayer, Davies, and Bohlen, the Republicans' election year pledge to liberate Eastern Europe also fueled a rapid expansion of clandestine destabilization operations. A special series of foreign policy conferences code-named Solarium reaffirmed that the new administration would engage in "selected aggressive actions of limited scope, involving moderately increased risks of general war," as Eisenhower's top national security adviser, Robert Cutler, put it, in order "to eliminate Soviet-dominated areas within the free world and to reduce Soviet power in the Satellite periphery." US policy aimed at "a maximum contribution to the increase in internal stresses and conflicts within the Soviet system."
But despite the Republicans' public attacks on Truman's containment policy, Eisenhower's election had been a victory for the Republican establishment, not for the radical right. The Republicans did not have a substantially new strategy for dealing with the Soviets, beyond a tendency to use harsher rhetoric than the Democrats. George Kennan's containment theories may have seemed like part of the problem to most liberation advocates, but his thinking on clandestine political warfare against the Soviets was most welcome to Eisenhower and dominated the scene at the Solarium strategy conferences. Eisenhower himself personally endorsed Kennan's stratagems, his analysis of East-West affairs, and the former diplomat himself.
The president and his advisers decisively renewed the ongoing program of harassment and destabilization inside Eastern Europe that had given birth to the Nazi utilization efforts in the first place. Further efforts to "reduce indigenous Communist power" through clandestine CIA action were approved in both Western Europe and the third world. Guatemala and the Middle East were also singled out for CIA attention, while agency Director Allen Dulles promoted a renewed attempt to overthrow the government in Albania.
The clandestine action provisions of Solarium were later codified in NSC 5412, a slightly revised version of Truman's NSC 10/2 covert warfare decision. NSC 5412 again affirmed that the United States was fully committed to a broad campaign of political war against the USSR. It again affirmed that "underground resistance movements, guerrillas and refugee liberation groups"-obviously including the various surviving collaborationist organizations from Eastern Europe-were still at the center of US covert paramilitary programs.
In the meantime, however, the existing threads of clandestine operations, liberation politics, and the abandonment of war crimes investigations and prosecutions were woven together into a new and more disturbing tapestry. By 1953 the CIA was willing to finance and protect not simply former Nazis and Gestapo men but even senior officers of Adolf Eichmann's SS section Amt IV B 4, the central administrative apparatus of the Holocaust.
Brunner and von Bolschwing
THE TOUGH-GUY ETHOS of most professional intelligence officers has always militated against letting conventional ethical considerations stand in the way of collecting information or carrying out special operations. "We're not in the Boy Scouts," as latter-day CIA Director Riehard Helms often said. "lf we'd wanted to be in the Boy Scouts we would have joined the Boy Scouts."
By the time Allen Dulles became CIA director in 1953, almost all resistance within the CIA to using Nazi criminals to accomplish the agency's mission seems to have evaporated...
... Nazis were never employed or protected for their own sake, but only as a means to achieve some other goal that was presumably in the interests of US national security. Conversely, the fact that a man might have been a mass murderer did not by itself disqualify him from working for the agency if he was believed to be useful. And once such a person had worked for US intelligence, there was inevitably pressure to protect him, if only to keep out of the public eye the operations he had been involved in.
There were occasional internal purges of former Fascists for public relations reasons from time to time during the 1950s. A series of of Soviet propaganda broadsides exposing Nazis at RFE and RL in 1954 led to the dismissals or reassignments of thirteen employees. And Eberhardt Taubert, a former Goebbels ministry propagandist with anti-Semitic credentials stretching back to the 1920s, was forced to resign from the directorship of the CIA -- and German government-financed Peoples League for Peace and Freedom in 1955 -- under public pressure, even though Taubert himself claimed to have abandoned Nazi thinking. A handful of other examples along these same lines cropped up in the course of the decade.
But the fundamental decision to exploit anyone who might have something to offer to the struggle against Moscow remained untouched. This is precisely because such "pragmatism" is at the very heart of contemporary clandestine practice. Using Nazis (or the Mafia or, conversely, a church-sponsored organization of college students) was never an aberration in the minds of most intelligence operatives. This is simply the way clandestine wars are fought, they say, whether the general public likes it or not.
Still, public opinion does remain a factor, at least in the West. Gehlen's organization benefited greatly from that fact because the CIA often turned to Gehlen when it wished to bury certain very sensitive operations even more deeply than usual. At those times his contacts among former SS and Gestapo men could be uniquely valuable. One such occasion took place in Egypt in late 1953, shortly after Solarium's renewed approval of large-scale CIA countermeasures aimed at offsetting Soviet influence in the Mideast. There the Central Intelligence Agency bankrolled the activities of SS Sturmbannfuhrer Alois Brunner, a man considered by many to be the most depraved Nazi killer still at large.
Brunner had once been Eichmann's top deportations expert for the entire Reich. He was a skilled administrator who specialized in driving Jews into ghettos, then systematically deporting them to the extermination camps. This was a difficult job, requiring a keen sense of the exact types of terror and psychological manipulation necessary to disarm his victims.
Brunner did not simply administer the deportations. He was a troubleshooter who rushed from Berlin to Gestapo offices throughout occupied Europe to train local Nazi satraps in how to carry out the destruction of Jews quickly and thoroughly. He did not neglect the murder of children because (as he told Berlin lawyer Kurt Schendel, who was pleading on behalf of a group of French orphans) they were "future terrorists." Brunner studied hard for his assignment and is said to have eventually become an expert on the railway systems of Europe so that he could locate enough boxcars to carry out his mission for the fatherland. "He's one of my best men," Eichmann said.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center estimates that Brunner is personally implicated in the murder of 128,500 people. The French government eventually convicted him in absentia of crimes against humanity and sentenced him to death. Instead of facing trial, however, Brunner was in Damascus, Syria, where he had become Gehlen's "resident" -- a post similar in authority to the CIA chief of station-shortly after the contract for the Org had been picked up by the Americans in 1946, keeping him safe from the French. His alias was "Georg Fischer." Brunner/Fischer eventually became an important part of a CIA-financed program to train Egyptian security forces...
The story of US intelligence relations with criminals such as Brunner is of necessity fragmentary, for both the CIA and Brunner himself have taken extensive measures to keep such affairs hidden. It is clear, however, that Brunner was not an exception to the rule who managed to ingratiate himself with the Americans through guile or through an oversight. There is, in fact, at least one other known case of US recruitment of another SS veteran of Adolf Eichmann's "Jewish Affairs" office, the elite committee that served as the central administrative apparatus of the Nazis' campaign to exterminate the Jews.
That recruit's name is Baron Otto von Bolschwing. Supremely opportunist, von Bolschwing succeeded in traversing the whole evolution of US policy toward Nazi criminals. He had profited during the war from the Nazi confiscation of Jewish property, then later from the defeat of Nazi Germany itself. Von Bolschwing enlisted as a CIC informer for the Americans in the spring of 1945, and before two years were out, CIA agents in Vienna, Austria, had recognized his skills and recruited him for special work on some of the most sensitive missions the agency has ever undertaken. These included running secret agents behind the Iron Curtain and even spying on Gehlen himself on behalf of the Americans.
Von Bolschwing was deeply involved in intelligence work-and in the persecution of innocent people-for most of his adult life. He had joined the Nazi party at the age of twenty-three, in 1932, and had become an SD (party security service) informer almost immediately. In the years leading up to 1939, von Bolschwing became a leading Nazi intelligence agent in the Middle East, where he worked under cover as an importer in Jerusalem. One of his first brushes with Nazi espionage work, according to captured SS records, was a role in creating a covert agreement between the Nazis and Fieval Polkes, a commander of the militant Zionist organization Haganah, whom von Bolschwing had met through business associates in the Mideast. Under the arrangement the Haganah was permitted to run recruiting and training camps for Jewish youth inside Germany. These young people, as well as certain other Jews driven out of Germany by the Nazis, were encouraged to emigrate to Palestine. Polkes and the Haganah, in return, agreed to provide the SS with intelligence about British affairs in Palestine. Captured German records claim that Polkes believed the increasingly brutal Nazi persecution of the Jews could be turned to Zionist advantage-at least temporarily-by compelling Jewish immigration to Palestine, and that the Haganah commander's sole source of income, moreover, was secret funds from the SS.
The cases of SS veterans like Alois Brunner and Otto von Bolschwing provide a small but documented glimpse into a broad trend of events in US intelligence relations with the former "assets" of Nazi Germany's intelligence services. By the time von Bolschwing entered the United States in 1954, his former patron, Reinhard Gehlen, had parlayed his American backing into de facto recognition as the official intelligence service of the emerging Federal Republic of Germany. CIA Director Allen Dulles liked Gehlen for the simple reason that he seemed to produce useful results. Gehlen's intelligence assets in Eastern Europe appeared to be solid, and his contacts in the German-speaking enclaves in South America, the Middle East, and Africa were second to none. His Org also helped the United States collect signals intelligence, though his work in that area was still not up to the British standard. All these services and more, and all at what seemed a reasonable price.
If there were former SS and Gestapo men at Gehlen's Pullach headquarters, senior members of the American intelligence community didn't want to know enough about them to be forced to do something about it. "I don't know if he's a rascal," Dulles said of Gehlen. "There are few archbishops in espionage.... Besides, one needn't ask him to one's club."
The end of "liberation"
MANY TOP Reagan activists have spent much of their lives promoting the liberationist cause, even when the theory fell out of fashion after the Hungarian uprising of 1956.
President Reagan himself bestowed a Medal of Freedom, the country's highest civilian honor, on liberation theorist (and former OPC/CIA emigre program consultant) James Burnham in 1983. Burnham's liberation analysis "profoundly affected the way America views itself and the world," Reagan intoned at the awards ceremony. "And I owe him a personal debt," the president continued, 'because throughout the years of travelling on the mashed-potato circuit I have quoted [him] widely."
... the Reagan administration has updated liberationism to apply to 1980s crisis points like Angola and Nicaragua. The CIA, with the president's backing, is now spending in excess of $600 million per year to equip some 80,000 to 100,000 anti-Communist "freedom fighters" with arms, supplies, and even state-of-the-art Stinger antiaircraft missiles. This renewed cold war strategy, sometimes known as the Reagan Doctrine, has also become a litmus test of conservative Republican orthodoxy, writes Washington Post political analyst Sidney Blumenthal. Right-wing true believers have taken to using votes on funding for "freedom fighters" like Angolan rebel strongman Jonas Savimbi as a means of extracting concessions from Republican moderates and driving their party farther to the right. The new liberationists' goal, Blumenthal writes, "is to ensure that no Republican will be nominated for president who has not pledged fealty to their ideology."
The scars that secret emigre anti-Communist programs have left on life in the United States run considerably deeper than the contribution they may have made to the early 1950s purge of former Voice of America Director Charles Thayer or to the escape of certain Nazis from justice. The cold war itself-and, indirectly, much that has flowed from it-should be reconsidered today in the light of what is beginning to be known of clandestine activities during that period.
Many, though obviously not all, US covert operations of the period involved use of Nazi collaborators, and it is that aspect of American secret warfare... The basic rationale for using Nazis in covert operations has consistently been that doing so was of practical value to the United States in international relations, that it was putting "future American interests" ahead of the "delights of revenge." In reality, however, these affairs have worked to the long-term-and frequently the short-term-detriment of the United States. The negative blowback from US operations employing Nazis and collaborators may be generally grouped into six categories. The first of these, chronologically speaking, stems from the intense West-East competition over recruitment of German scientists and secret agents. The fight over these intelligence assets played a surprisingly large role in the rapid erosion of trust between the superpowers, especially in the first months after the defeat of Hitler Germany.
The mistrust engendered during this race proved to be an important factor in undermining the possibility of superpower peace as early as the Potsdam Conference of July 1945.3' Both sides at Potsdam read the clandestine campaigns of the other as the "true" policy behind the veils of diplomacy. Yet both also insisted that their own diplomatic initiatives be taken at face value. One practical result of this semiotic clash was an acceleration of the upward spiral of suspicion, hostility, and fear.
The second major type of damaging blowback has been the destructive effect that Western covert operations and political warfare -- particularly programs employing Nazi collaborators -- has had on provoking the cold war and later crises in East-West relations. These affairs were not only products of the cold war but also catalysts that escalated the conflict. They offer graphic proof that the United States' struggle against the USSR began considerably earlier and was carried out with far more violence than the Western | public was led to believe at the time.
Former Axis intelligence analysts enlisted by the US Army and the CIA consistently reinforced the existing self-deception among US national security experts concerning the USSR, particularly during the first formative years of the cold war and the emerging US national security apparatus. Examples may be readily identified today in spite of the extreme security measures that still surround the internal intelligence evaluation processes of those years. These include very basic errors that range from misappraisal of the size and war readiness of the USSR's military establishment to fundamental misjudgments about Soviet political intentions in both Western and Eastern Europe...
Information and analysis that reinforced the dominant preconceptions of the day almost always received a far more sympathetic reception in Washington than news that ran counter to those beliefs. Thus General Clay's (and Gehlen's) alarms about the Red Army in early 1948 counted for more in US national security circles than the reality that the USSR had significantly reduced its troop strength in Europe, in large part because Clay's war scare confirmed the American leaders' worst suspicions concerning the USSR.
Entrepreneurs such as General Gehlen, John Valentine Grombach, and their various rivals have historically been able to manipulate this situation to their own advantage, sometimes for years at a time. Gehlen, above all, proved to be the master at playing to the audience of American national security experts. By shaping the data that shaped global decisions, he played an indirect yet substantial role in world events. His support for a relentlessly hostile cold war against the USSR, together with the success he enjoyed in undermining his critics, has left a durable mark on European history.
The fourth important type of blowback is the long-term corrupting influence that financing the work of men like Alois Brunner, Klaus Barbie, Stanislaw Stankievich, and others has had on the American intelligence agencies themselves. The corrosive effect of recruiting criminals, mercenaries, and torturers as CIA contract operatives extends well beyond the impact of any single incident or operation in which such persons may become involved. The internal logic of clandestine agencies demands that the organization protect its former agents long after their usefulness has passed-or at least to "dispose" of such agents properly, as it is termed in intelligence jargon-in order to retain their loyalty to the institution as long as possible. This can produce compromising personnel problems that last for years, even for decades.
The CIA has historically dealt with its disposal problem by quietly resettling its former contract agents in South America, Canada, or Australia. It has also brought a smaller number of operators to the United States, official reports have finally admitted. (Traitors and suspected double agents present a special sort of disposal problem, of course. Congressional testimony and fragmentary CIA records now in the public domain suggest that some such persons have been murdered.)
Ongoing agent disposal programs create a strong incentive for the government to continue protecting retired Nazis or other criminals for years after their supposed usefulness to this country has expired. The CIA's present determination to protect its agent disposal system remains one of the single greatest obstacles to expulsion of known Nazi criminals hiding in the United States.
The fifth and perhaps the most damaging type of blowback from the emigre and Waffen SS utilization programs stems from the CIA's large-scale intervention in domestic American politics during the 1950s. These operations became important elements in the complex process through which US intelligence agencies systematically nurtured persons viewed as useful, while attempting to suppress those deemed dangerous.
The CIA was presumably motivated by a desire to achieve US foreign policy objectives when it promoted the careers of Eastern European liberation activists inside the United States. Foreign affairs, after all, are the CIA's assigned sphere of operations. But the agency's liberation campaigns were never confined to overseas operations or even to immigrant communities in this country. Instead, they became a component of the agency's larger domestic political agenda. The CIA combined the émigrés' liberation efforts with other agency programs of even larger scope, such as the manipulation of mainstream US media, direct propaganda broadcasting in this country through the Crusade for Freedom and other CIA-financed radio shows, surveillance and harassment of opponents, careful sculpting of academic and scholarly research programs, aggressive lobbying on Capitol Hill, and penetration of the senior leadership of trade unions, corporations, religious groups, and even student organizations.
Many details of the CIA's domestic campaigns have gradually leaked into the public domain over the last decade. The synergistic effect that this enormous effort produced on life in this country is still not adequately understood, however, and may not be for many years. The fact is that the CIA's domestic operations had a substantial and lasting impact on political debate in this country during the cold war years, most important of all on foreign policy issues. The agency played a powerful role in setting the general parameters of the foreign policy debate in the United States throughout those years and in drawing the lines that separated "respectable" opinions from those considered beyond the pale.
The final major type of blowback is the role that these clandestine operations played in the obstruction of justice. US courts assert that they have no jurisdiction to try persons accused of committing Nazi war crimes or crimes against humanity, in large part because the offenses took place in foreign countries and generally did not directly involve US citizens. Therefore, the present US government Nazi hunters who work for the Justice Department's Office of Special Investigations (OSI) are limited to bringing charges against war criminals in this country for violations of US immigration law-not for murder, looting, or other persecution. If the prosecution is successful, the Nazi criminal is expelled from this country.
Although the OSI is loath to admit it, the fact is that its attorneys often have difficulty with war crimes suspects who plead the "CIA defense" in response to OSI charges. Former Nazis and collaborators who once worked for US intelligence agencies are arguing in court that they disclosed their war-time activities, SS membership, or other compromising evidence to their CIA or army controllers back during the cold war. In so doing, defense lawyers claim, their clients satisfied any legal requirement to acknowledge their pasts to the US government during immigration. Therefore, the lawyers say, they cannot be deported today.
In the final analysis, the cold war became the means for tens of thousands of Nazi criminals to avoid responsibility for the murders they had committed. The breakdown of East-West cooperation in the prosecution of war criminals-motivated, again, in part by the short-term interests of the intelligence agencies of both sides in protecting their clandestine operations assets-provided both the means for criminals to escape to the West and the alibis for them to use once they arrived here. "Nazi criminals," as Simon Wiesenthal has commented, "were the principal beneficiaries of the Cold War."
Most of the American officials originally involved in the articulation of "liberation" during the 1950s or who played roles in Operation Bloodstone and other programs employing Nazi collaborators have long since died or retired.
And George Kennan keeps on. Now well over eighty [in 1988], he maintains a remarkably rigorous schedule of public speaking and writing, a neatly cultivated mustache, and a reputation as a senior statesman. He lectures at length on a multitude of subjects without notes, staring thoughtfully at the ceiling rather than at his audience.
He considers himself "a strange mixture of a reactionary and a liberal," as he put it recently, and favors decidedly hierarchical governments run by an enlightened few regardless of the shifting currents of mass public opinion. Democracy, he once quipped should be compared to "one of those prehistoric monsters with a body as long as this room and a brain the size of a pin." He views the political left with undisguised contempt and presents the long dictatorship of Portuguese strongman Antonio Salazar as a model governmental efficiency.
Yet Kennan is today one of the few men of his station who have had the courage to take public issue with the Reagan administration's efforts to renew the cold war in the 1980s. The present American military establishment, he wrote recently, operates on the "assumption not just of the possibility of a Soviet-American war but of its overwhelming probability and even imminence." He blames the present administration, together with the media, for creating an "image of the Soviet opponent in his most terrible, desperate and inhuman aspect: an implacable monster, incapable of impulses other than the lust for sheer destruction, and to be dealt with only in a final military struggle." What much of the US government and journalistic establishment says today about the USSR is "so extreme, so subjective, so far removed from what any sober scrutiny of external reality would reveal that it is not only ineffective but dangerous as a guide to political action." He fears, he says, "the cards today are lined up for a war."
That situation may be traced in part to Kennan's own role in the CIA-sponsored anti-Communist exile programs of the 1940s and 1950s, including those that employed Nazi collaborators. True, the problems of the US-Soviet confrontation are far deeper than any clandestine program. But there are moments in history when small events clarify much bigger patterns, and such is the case with the CIA's enlistment of Nazis during the 1940s and 1950s.
Here one sees the extent of the corruption of American ideals that has taken place in the name of fighting communism. No one, it seems, not even Adolf Eichmann's personal staff, was too tainted to be rejected by the CIA's recruiters, at least as long as his relationship with the US government could be kept secret.
The American people deserve better from their government. There is nothing to be gained by permitting US intelligence agencies to continue to conceal the true scope of their association with Nazi criminals in the wake of World War II. The files must be opened; the record must be set right.
US CLANDESTINE operations employing Nazis never did produce the results that were desired when they were initiated, but they did contribute to
the influence of some of the most reactionary trends in American political life.
"Crimes against humanity," states the Allied Control Council Law No. 10 of 1945, are "atrocities and offenses, including but not limited to murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation, imprisonment, torture, rape, or other inhuman acts committed against any civilian population, or persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds...."
US national security planners appear to have concluded that extreme-right-wing groups that had once collaborated with the Nazis should be included in US-sponsored anti-Communist coalitions, for the participation of such groups became a regular feature of US covert operations in Europe ...
The army, air force, and CIA all began competing programs to prepare for the post-nuclear battlefield. This included creation of what eventually came to be called the Special Forces -- better known today as the Green Berets -- in the army and the air resupply and communications wings in the air force. The job of these units, Prouty explains, was to set up anti-Communist political leaders backed up by guerrilla armies inside the USSR and Eastern Europe in the wake of an atomic war, capture political power in strategic I sections of the country, choke off any remaining Communist resistance, and ensure that the Red Army could not regroup for a counterattack.
The concepts of maintaining "plausible deniability" for the actual murder and of the expendability of the killers themselves are a key to understanding US assassination techniques. In most cases, it appears to have been neither necessary nor practical for US intelligence officers to give precise instructions for murder. Instead, the OPC gave directions to commit assassinations to guerrilla movements in the same simple, sweeping terms that had been used in wartime Yugoslavia.
"We kept personnel at several air bases around the world for these types of missions," says Colonel Prouty, who was responsible for US Air Force air support of CIA missions overseas, including the delivery of agents to their targets and subsequent evacuation measures. "Some of these guys were the best commercial hit men you have ever heard of. [They were] mechanics, killers. They were Ukrainians, mainly, and Eastern Europeans, Greeks, and some Scotsmen. I don't know how the Scotsmen got in there, but there they were.
Before the decade of the 1950s was out, the CIA is known to have established mechanisms for using "deniable" assets and émigrés for the execution of heads of state and other international leaders. These later killings, which are arguably the most serious blunders ever made by the CIA, have created blowback problems on an international scale and have had a significant and generally negative effect on the lives of millions of people.
According to a top secret US State Department intelligence report of May 1947,
"the Vatican ... is the largest single organization involved in the illegal movement of emigrants . . . [and] the justification . . . for its participation in this illegal traffic is simply the propagation of the Faith. It is the Vatican's desire to assist any person, regardless of nationality or political beliefs, as long as that person can prove himself to be a Catholic."
The classified study confirmed that Nazis and their collaborators were not excluded from the effort:
"[I]n those Latin American countries where the Church is a controlling or dominating factor, the Vatican has brought pressure to bear which has resulted in the foreign missions of those countries taking an attitude almost favoring the entry into their country of former Nazis and former Fascists or other political groups, so long as they are anti-Communist. That, in fact, is the practice in effect in the Latin American Consulates and Missions in Rome at the present time."
Hundreds of thousands of decent people of Central and Eastern European heritage entered this country legally during the 1950s, often at the price of great personal sacrifice. But the measures undertaken by the CIA in connection with [National Security Council intelligence directives] NSC 86, NSCID 13, and NSCID 14 led to the infiltration of thousands of Waffen SS veterans and other Nazi collaborators into their communities in the United States at the same time. This in turn laid the foundation for a revival of extremist right-wing political movements inside immigrant communities in this country that continue to be active.
Allan Ryan, the former director of the Justice Department's war criminal investigation unit, estimates that nearly 10,000 Nazi war criminals entered the United States during... [the 1950s], although he rejects the suggestion that US intelligence agencies had anything to do with this.
The price tag for the US arms buildup, according to Paul Nitze, who drafted most of the main policy statements on the issue, was some $50 billion-almost three times the then existing US military budget. The real question for US policymakers of the day, write Walter Isaacson and Evan Thomas in their study of American foreign policy formulation The Wise Men, "was whether Congress and the Administration would pay for it. The public had to be persuaded. The way to do that, Nitze knew from experience, was to scare them; to tell them that the Soviets were intent on world domination, that they were poised to attack, and that the US had to meet them everywhere."
It was in this context that the CIA launched a major propaganda effort in the United States. Despite a legal prohibition against domestic activities by the agency, it initiated a multimillion-dollar publicity project in this country called the Crusade for Freedom.
The fact that a man might have been a mass murderer did not by itself disqualify him from working for the agency [CIA] if he was believed to be useful.
In the final analysis, the cold war became the means for tens-of-thousands of Nazi criminals to avoid responsibility for the murders they had committed. The breakdown of East-West cooperation in the prosecution of war criminals-motivated, again, in part by the short-term interests of the intelligence agencies of both sides in protecting their clandestine operations assets-provided both the means for criminals to escape to the West and the alibis for them to use once they arrived here. "Nazi criminals," as Simon Wiesenthal has commented, "were the principal beneficiaries of the Cold War."
There are moments in history when small events clarify much bigger patterns, and such is the case with the CIA's enlistment of Nazis during the 1940s and 1950s.
Here one sees the extent of the corruption of American ideals that has taken place in the name of fighting communism. No one, it seems, not even Adolf Eichmann's personal staff, was too tainted to be rejected by the CIA's recruiters, at least as long as his relationship with the US government could be kept secret.
The American people deserve better from their government. There is nothing to be gained by permitting US intelligence agencies to continue to conceal the true scope of their association with Nazi criminals in the wake of World War II.
* Christopher Simpson is Associate Professor in American University's School of Communication where he is Director, Project on Satellite Imagery and the News Media. He is also author of The Science of Coercion Communication Research and Psychological Warfare 1945-1960 (Oxford University Press, 1994) and The Splendid Blond Beast (Common Courage Press, 1995), War Crimes of the Deutsche Bank and the Dresdner Bank: Office of the Military Government (US) Reports (Holmes & Meier Publishers, 2002) as well as numerous articles for journals and professional publications, and editor, Universities and Empire: Money and Politics in the Social Sciences during the Cold War (The New Press, 1998).
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