A report the Justice Department has been trying to hide for the past four years offers the most detailed account yet of the CIA’s efforts to protect known Nazi war criminals in the United States.
The report, obtained by the New York Times, may be the most concrete account yet of the role that prominent members of Germany’s Nazi party played in the early, formative years of the CIA, following World War II. It alleges the CIA created a “safe haven” for Nazis believed to be of use to the US’s Cold War efforts.
According to the Times, the report
describes the government’s posthumous pursuit of Dr. Josef Mengele, the so-called Angel of Death at Auschwitz, part of whose scalp was kept in a Justice Department official’s drawer; the vigilante killing of a former Waffen SS soldier in New Jersey; and the government’s mistaken identification of the Treblinka concentration camp guard known as Ivan the Terrible.
The report is an account of the history of the Office of Special Investigations, the Justice Department agency created in 1979 to hunt down and deport Nazi war criminals in the US.
One part of the report addresses the story of Otto Von Bolschwing, an associate of Adolf Eichmann who was instrumental in drawing up plans for ridding Germany of Jews. After the war, Von Bolschwing came to be on the CIA payroll, and agency officials were clearly aware of his past. The Times reports:
In a chain of memos, C.I.A. officials debated what to do if Von Bolschwing were confronted about his past — whether to deny any Nazi affiliation or “explain it away on the basis of extenuating circumstances,” the report said.
The Justice Department, after learning of Von Bolschwing’s Nazi ties, sought to deport him in 1981. He died that year at age 72.
Much of the material in the report comes as no surprise to historians, who have long known about Von Bolschwing’s ties to both Eichmann and the CIA, as well as the CIA’s ties to other senior members of the Nazi war machine.
And it has long been known that Arthur Rudolf, a NASA rocket scientist, ran a Nazi munitions factory prior to emigrating to the US. But the report shows that the Justice Department itself worked to ensure that Rudolf would be allowed into the US to aid the US space program.
The report cites a 1949 memo from the Justice Department’s No. 2 official urging immigration officers to let Rudolph back in the country after a stay in Mexico, saying that a failure to do so “would be to the detriment of the national interest.”
Justice Department investigators later found evidence that Rudolph was much more actively involved in exploiting slave laborers at Mittelwerk than he or American intelligence officials had acknowledged, the report says.
A report from the CIA’s Center for the Study of Intelligence succinctly sums up the claims and allegations made about Nazi involvement in the CIA’s formative years.
* CIA, and its predecessor organizations such as the Office of Strategic Services (OSS, 1942-45), the Strategic Services Unit (SSU, 1945-46), and the Central Intelligence Group (CIG, 1946-47), employed German intelligence personnel as sources of information. Afterward, the CIA sponsored the new West German intelligence service, an organization under the control of officers of the defunct German general staff. The ranks of the organization sheltered many officers of the German SS and SD whose loyalty to the new West German Government remained in doubt.
* CIA and its predecessor organizations employed former collaborators of the Third Reich, primarily from Eastern and Southern Europe, initially as sources of information and later as operational assets for activities behind the Iron Curtain.
* CIA, including the Office of Policy Coordination (OPC, 1948-52), brought Germans and East Europeans to the United States to provide detailed information on the Soviet Union.
* CIA, including OPC, formed “secret armies” from various émigré groups in Europe and trained them in the United States. The ranks of these groups included numerous former collaborators of Nazi Germany, and some of these people remained active in other CIA projects.
* CIA evacuated Nazi war criminals and collaborators through “rat lines” in southern Europe, allowing them to escape justice by relocating them incognito in South America.
* CIA abused its legal authority to bring Soviet and Soviet Bloc defectors and other persons of interest to the United States.
* CIA covered up its these activities from Congressional and other Federal investigators.