CIA and FBI used at least 1,000 ex-Nazis of all ranks and collaborators as anti-Soviet spies during the Cold War overlooking their war crimes and concealing it even from the US Justice Department, The New York Times reports citing newly disclosed files.
The NYT cites the materials from a book by Eric Lichtblau “The Nazis Next Door: How America Became a Safe Haven for Hitler’s Men,” which is to be published on October 28 and tells a story about US intelligence services cooperating with ex-Nazis after the World War II.
Newly declassified records and interviews show that in 1950s the CIA and the FBI began to actively recruit the former Nazis and collaborators. It is reported that the US highly appreciated their “value” against Russians and used them as secret “assets” in confrontation with the Soviet Union. Even the war crimes were not an obstacle, the disclosed files say.
Richard Breitman, a Holocaust scholar at American University who was on a team that declassified war-crime records, said the morality of recruiting ex-Nazis was rarely considered.
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“This all stemmed from a kind of panic, a fear that the Communists were terribly powerful and we had so few assets,” he said.
The first public evidence of these facts appeared in the 1970s but recently disclosed archives show that the number of recruited Nazis was much higher than thought before and the government was trying to conceal this until recently.
Norman Goda, a historian on the declassification team, says a complete count is impossible as many records still remain classified.
“US agencies directly or indirectly hired numerous ex-Nazi police officials and East European collaborators who were manifestly guilty of war crimes,” he said. “Information was readily available that these were compromised men.”
In 1980 the Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations requested the information with the FBI about 16 suspected Nazis living in the US but the Bureau refused to provide it. According to new data all 16 people worked for FBI as spies and informants providing leads on Communist “sympathizers.”
An FBI official left a memo stressing the need for “protecting the confidentiality of such sources of information to the fullest possible extent.”
The intelligence services hired Nazis of all ranks, sometimes very high. For instance, just after WWII the CIA recruited Otto von Bolschwing who was a top aide to Adolf Eichmann, mastermind of the “Final Solution” – Nazi Germany’s plan during World War II to systematically rid the world of its Jewish population through genocide. In 1954 he was relocated to the US and granted citizenship as “a reward for his loyal postwar service.”
Von Bolschwing lived in the US for another 20 years before US prosecutors discovered his past. His son, Gus von Bolschwing, said the cooperation between his father and the CIA “was not consistent” with American values.
“They used him, and he used them,” he said in an interview. “It shouldn’t have happened. He never should have been admitted to the United States. It wasn’t consistent with our values as a country.”
The intelligence agencies’ protection of their ex-Nazi spies continued long after the end of the Cold War. According to a government official cited by The NYT, in 1994 US prosecutors were pressured by a lawyer with the CIA into dropping a probe into an ex-spy implicated in a Nazi massacre of thousands of Jews in Lithuania.