“EX” NAZIS in U.S. GOVERNMENT
How Wall St. Bailed Out the Nazis
by Jerry Meldon / June 6, 2013
Near the end of World War II, the secret collaboration between U.S. spymaster Allen Dulles and Nazi SS officers enabled many German war criminals to escape prosecution and positioned them to fan the flames of post-war tensions between the former allies, the United States and the Soviet Union. In that way, the Old Nazis — aided by Dulles and other ex-Wall Street lawyers – prevented a thorough denazification of Germany and put the Third Reich’s stamp on decades of atrocities during the long Cold War, spreading their brutal death-squad techniques to faraway places, especially Latin America. Though the World War II generation has largely passed from the scene and the Cold War ended more than two decades ago, the consequences of Dulles’s actions in those final days of World War II are still reverberating in Germany.
One of the after-shocks was felt in a Munich courtroom just last month, with the opening of the trial of Beate Zschape, a 38-year-old neo-Nazi who is accused as an accessory to two bombings, 15 bank robberies and ten murders between 2000 and 2007 by the terrorist cell, the “National Socialist Underground” (NSU). Two male fellow gang members reportedly took their own lives to avoid arrest before Ms. Zschape torched their hideout and turned herself in, in November 2011. But the back story is no less disturbing. Nine of the NSU’s ten murder victims were immigrants, eight of them Turkish, one Greek. All ten were slain execution-style by the same Ceska Browning pistol. Yet it took more than a decade for police forces across Germany and the country’s domestic intelligence agency, the Bureau for the Protection of the Constitution (BFV), to connect the dots that would link the homicides to Germany’s xenophobic neo-Nazi netherworld.
But the question is whether the missed connections resulted from incompetence or complicity. Last summer, following reports of the massive shredding of BFV’s files on right-wing extremists, the head of the agency tendered his resignation. Then in November, Der Spiegel reported: “Four parliamentary committees [are] dissecting the work of law enforcement units … four department heads have already resigned. The government’s failures in fighting rightwing terrorists have plunged [the BFV] into the worst crisis since it was … set up in postwar Germany to … stop precisely the kind of extremist thinking that allowed the Nazis to rise to power in the 1930s. The discovery of the NSU and its crimes … has shaken the system to its core. … “The more secrets come to light, the clearer it becomes how extensively intelligence agencies had infiltrated right-wing extremist groups. The trio of neo-Nazis that made up the NSU was surrounded by informants linked with [the BFV]. … One of the big questions … is whether [the BFV] actually strengthened military right-wing groups.” How the BFV worked at cross-purposes – coddling neo-Nazis while supposedly constraining them – is not entirely surprising in light of the circumstances surrounding the BFV’s birth. West Germany’s first parliamentary elections in 1950 propelled into the chancellorship, Konrad Adenauer – a stalwart of the same party as that of current German chancellor Angela Merkel, the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU). When Adenauer named Dr. Hans Globke as his Secretary of State, the West German chancellor laid his cards on the table. Globke’s checkered past included wartime service at the helm of the Nazi Interior Ministry’s Office for Jewish Affairs. He drafted the infamous Nuremberg Laws for the Protection of German Blood and wrote the “Commentary” that provided the rationale for genocide.
The Interior Minister who signed the Nuremberg Laws, Dr. Wilhelm Frick, was sentenced to death at Nuremberg and hanged in October 1946. Globke would appear to have been culpable, too, having advanced his career during Nazi rule. His immediate supervisor, Interior Ministry Legal Counsel Bernard Loesner, resigned following Hitler’s decision to proceed with the extermination of European Jewry. When Loesner stepped down, Globke stepped up and left his fingerprints on the Final Solution. But Globke was not only spared the fate of some colleagues tried at Nuremberg but emerged as an important figure in shaping post-war West Germany. In the 1961 book, The New Germany and the Old Nazis, T.H. Tetens, a German economist who worked for the U.S. War Crimes Commission, noted that Globke controlled every department of West Germany’s government in Bonn and “has done more than anyone else to re-Nazify West Germany.”
Der Spiegel revisited the same subject in a March 2012 article headlined “The Role Ex-Nazis Played in Early West Germany.” It reported that two dozen cabinet ministers, a president and a chancellor had belonged to Nazi organizations. The article reported that historians were poring through voluminous BFV files “to determine how many of the Nazi dictatorship’s helpers hid under the coattails of the domestic intelligence service in the earlier years of the Federal Republic” and whether “the protection of the young, optimistic constitution [had been] in the hands of former National Socialists.” Berlin historian Michael Wildt told Der Spiegel he was convinced that the postwar police and intelligence services had been riddled with former Nazis. Entire government departments and agencies, he said, “covered up, denied and repressed” their murky history – which evoked the following mea culpa from Der Spiegel’s staff: “It’s a charge that doesn’t just apply to politicians and public servants, at least not in the early years of the republic. Senior members of the media, including at Spiegel, proved to be unwilling or incapable of sounding the alarm. This isn’t surprising, given the number of ex-Nazis who had forced their way into editorial offices.”
Author T.H. Tetens noted the irony in Dr. Globke, “[the] former key administrator in the Final Solution, [having] full control over the Office for the Protection of the Constitution.” Had he lived long enough, Tetens might have suggested that the BFV be renamed the Office for the Protection of Neo-Nazis. Tetens might also feel vindicated by recently released CIA documents describing another branch of German intelligence that Globke’s controlled, the vast spy network run by Adolf Hitler’s former espionage czar, Lt. Gen. Reinhard Gehlen, a.k.a. the “Gehlen Organization,” a.k.a. “The Gehlen Org” or, simply, the “Org.” Until 1955, when West Germany became a sovereign state, the Gehlen Org operated nominally under the aegis of James Critchfield of the CIA – which paid for the Org’s intelligence product. In reality, Gehlen ran the Org from its creation in 1946 until his retirement in 1968. In 1956, the Org officially became Germany’s foreign intelligence service and was renamed the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND). Recently, the BND has been declassifying its files to come clean about its postwar origins. Documents released to date by both it and the CIA confirm suspicions that, at least in the Gehlen years, the Org/BND was little more than a U.S.-bankrolled “sheep-dipping” operation for fugitive Nazis.
The U.S. Connection
And this troubling history goes back even further to the days of World War II when the American intelligence agency, the Office of Strategic Services, fell under the control of a group of Wall Street lawyers who saw the world in the moral grays of business deals, measured less by right and wrong than by dollars and cents. In the introduction to The Old Boys: The American Elite and the Origins of the CIA, author Burton Hersh identifies this common denominator: “In 1941 [the year of America’s entry into the war}, an extraordinarily nimble New York antitrust attorney named William ‘Wild Bill’ Donovan inveigled Franklin Roosevelt into underwriting the first encompassing intelligence instrumentality, the Office of the Coordinator of Information [OCI]. “Donovan’s profession was relevant, and it was no accident that all three [of The Old Boys’] load-bearing protagonists … Bill Donovan, Allen Dulles, Frank Wisner – achieved status in America by way of important Wall Street law partnerships. … “The faction-ridden [OCI] gave way in 1942 to the [OSS]. From then on a civilian-directed, operationally oriented spy service would top the wish list of America’s emerging power elite.”
These Wall-Street-lawyers-turned-spymasters brought their moral relativism and their ardor for aggressive capitalism to their World War II decision-making. Thus, they created an opening for Nazi war criminals who – after Germany’s crushing defeat at the Battle of Stalingrad in February 1943 – saw the writing on the wall regarding the future of the Third Reich and started hedging their bets. As the war ground on for two more years, thousands of them took steps to evade post-war prosecutions, in part, by arranging protection from British and American officials. Most of those American officials served in U.S. intelligence agencies, either Army intelligence or the civilian-run OSS, the CIA’s forerunner. OSS spymaster Allen Dulles played into this Nazi game in spring 1945, as Soviet, British and American forces were converging on Berlin. Dulles engaged in negotiations for the separate surrender of German forces in Italy with SS General Karl Wolff. It apparently didn’t bother Dulles that Wolff, like many of his SS brethren, was a major war criminal. After September 1943, when Italy withdrew from the Axis and made peace with the Allies, Wolff’s troops committed an average of 165 war crimes a day executing his orders to liquidate the Italian resistance and terrorize its supporters. (In 1964, a German judge sentenced Wolff to 15 years in prison for various war crimes, including ordering the deportation of 300,000 Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto to the Treblinka death camp.)
Initially, Dulles met with Wolff in defiance of orders from the dying President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The contacts also were behind the back of Soviet leader Josef Stalin, whose army had not only turned the tide of the war at Stalingrad but was still doing the bulk of the fighting. As Hitler’s Third Reich neared the end of its days, six out of every seven German divisions were lined up against the Red Army. Ultimately, Dulles secured authorization for what was code-named “Operation Sunrise,” but his determination to consummate a deal with Wolff didn’t stop at negotiations. When the Italian resistance set a trap for Gen. Wolff, Dulles saved him in what his OSS colleague (and future Supreme Court Justice) Arthur Goldberg described as treason. Moreover, when Soviet spies informed Stalin about the Dulles-Wolff assignations – which continued even as the Red Army suffered 300,000 casualties in a three-week period – the ensuing brouhaha played right into Hitler’s own game plan for survival. Desperate to bolster the morale of his collapsing army, Der Fuehrer seized on the dissension opening in the ranks of the Allies. He gave his generals the following pep talk (as transcribed in Gabriel Kolko’s The Politics of War): “The states which are now our enemies are the greatest opposites which exist on earth: ultra-capitalist states on one side and ultra-Marxist states on the other. … [Their] objectives diverge daily … and anyone … can see how these antitheses are increasing. “If we can deal it [the alliance] a couple of heavy blows, this artificially constructed common front may collapse with a mighty thunderclap at any moment.” Indeed, Wolff’s surrender overtures to Dulles might have been an attempt to both save his own skin and help Hitler drive a wedge into the “artificially constructed common front.”
The overall value of Dulles’s negotiations toward ending the war also was dubious. Less than one week before the general armistice ending the War in Europe, Dulles offered Nazi officers an advantageous deal, letting one million German combatants surrender to British and American forces on May 2, 1945, rather than to the Russians. By surrendering to the British and Americans, most of these Germans not only avoided harsh treatment from the Russians but high-ranking Nazi officers benefited from the Truman administration’s quick pivot from its war-time alliance with Stalin to the Cold War confrontation with Moscow. President Harry Truman’s staunchly anti-communist advisers, including Secretary of State James Byrnes, persuaded Truman to default on FDR’s commitment to a thorough postwar denazification of Germany, one in a series of decisions which enabled thousands of war criminals to avoid justice and permitted many to assume key positions in the new West German government.
Steering the Cold War
Yet, the use of Nazis by U.S. intelligence agencies had the additional dangerous effect of letting the Nazis influence how the United States perceived its erstwhile allies in Moscow. Washington formulated much of its early Cold War policies based on information about Moscow’s intentions that originated with Gehlen’s blemished agents.These infamous Final Solution perpetrators included:
–Willie Krichbaum, reportedly the Gehlen Org’s top recruiter. As the senior Gestapo official for southeastern Europe, Krichbaum managed the deportation of 300,000 Hungarian Jews for extermination.
–Dr. Franz Six, former Dean of the Faculty of the University of Berlin and Adolph Eichmann’s immediate supervisor in the Ideological Combat branch of the SS security apparatus. In 1941, according to a report he wrote (which Christopher Simpson cites in Blowback: The First Account of America’s Recruitment of Nazis, and its Disastrous Effect on our Domestic and Foreign Policy), a Six-led SS commando group murdered 200 people in the Russian city of Smolensk, “among them 38 intellectual Jews.” Wanted for war crimes, Six joined the Gehlen Org in 1946, but later was betrayed by a former SS officer working undercover for a US/UK dragnet for fugitive Nazis. In 1948, a U.S. military tribunal sentenced him to 20 years for war crimes including murder. After serving four, he was granted clemency by John McCloy, another Wall Street lawyer then serving as U.S. High Commissioner for Germany. Six then rejoined the Org.
–Gestapo captain Klaus Barbie, the infamous “Butcher of Lyon,” who escaped via the so-called “rat lines” to South America, where he then worked with right-wing intelligence services and organized neo-Nazi support for violent coups against elected and reformist governments, including the 1980 “cocaine coup” in Bolivia. After decades of spreading Nazi techniques across Latin America, Barbie was arrested and returned to France where he was given a life sentence in 1984 for ordering the deportation of 44 Jewish orphans to the death camp at Auschwitz
–SS Colonel Walter Rauff, who dodged postwar prosecution for developing mobile gas vans and administering their deployment to murder some 250,000 Eastern Europeans, mostly Jewish women and children. The appearance of Rauff’s name on the list is interesting because, as the Milan-based SS intelligence chief for northwestern Italy in 1945, he was Gen. Wolff’s liaison with Allen Dulles. According to a 1984 Boston Globe Op-Ed by former U.S. Justice Department lawyer John Loftus, Rauff, after playing his part in Operation Sunrise, calmly turned himself in and told agents of the U.S. Army Counter-Intelligence Corps (CIC) that he had made surrender “arrangements [with] Mr. Dulles … to avoid further bloodshed in Milan.”
In Loftus’s words, Dulles “promised that none of the [surrender] negotiators would ever be prosecuted as war criminals. When Truman and Stalin discovered what Dulles [had been up to], there were outraged orders to call off Sunrise… [But] Dulles went ahead anyway, with Truman’s reluctant concurrence … [Dulles] kept his bargain … Rauff was released.” Christopher Simpson confirms in Blowback that “each of the SS officers involved in Operation Sunrise [escaped] serious punishment … despite the fact that each was a major war criminal. A U.S. military tribunal tried [SS intelligence chief] Walter Schellenberg, who had helped trap and exterminate the Jews of France. He was convicted but freed shortly thereafter under a clemency [order] from the U.S. High Commissioner for Germany, John McCloy… “Wolff was sentenced to ‘time served’ in a [British] denazification proceeding in 1949, then released … without … objection from … U.S. … authorities. Fifteen years later a West German court tried Wolff a second time. He was convicted of administering the murder of 300,000 persons, most of them Jews, and of overseeing SS participation in slave labor programs.”
Fleeing to Latin America
However, when the war ended, neither the Gehlen Org recruitment program nor Wall Street lawyer McCloy’s clemency rulings had begun, leaving tens of thousands of war criminals desperate to relocate in secure foreign outposts. SS Col. Rauff just happened to have the right connections to make that happen. In Unholy Trinity: The Vatican, the Nazis and Soviet Intelligence, Australian investigative reporter, Mark Aarons, and former Justice Department lawyer Loftus reconstruct how Rauff became the mass murderers’ travel agent of choice. Shortly after the Wolff/Dulles surrender negotiations were successfully completed on April 29, 1945, Rauff was arrested by unidentified Americans and delivered to an OSS unit led by James Angleton, the future CIA counter-intelligence chief. From its description by Aarons and Loftus, Angleton’s team appears to have been tracking communists in the Italian underground – which would have been consistent with Washington’s postwar policy of backhanding leftwing resistance leaders, from European partisans to Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh, irrespective of the magnitude of their contributions to the Allied cause.
Angleton’s team reportedly debriefed Rauff at length, probably about what he had learned when he carried out Wolff’s orders to liquidate the resistance. After Angleton’s team released him, Rauff established contact with his former SS colleague Friederich Schwendt – who was already on the payroll of the U.S. Army Counter-Intelligence Corps (CIC) and, like Rauff himself, was wanted for murder. Schwendt was also a master counterfeiter. He laundered his product through banks, obtaining legitimate Western currency in return – enough, in fact, that over the next three years, Rauff was able to furnish thousands of fellow war criminals false identities and one-way tickets to South America. Rauff himself wound up in Chile, where he later reportedly advised Gen. Augusto Pinochet’s ruthless secret police. As for Allen Dulles, he became director of the CIA from 1953 to 1961. Under his leadership, the CIA overthrew democratically elected governments in Iran (1953) and Guatemala (1954) and replaced them with anti-democratic dictatorships. To this day, neither country has fully regained its democratic footing.
After the CIA’s disastrous 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion, President John F. Kennedy sacked Dulles, but Dulles did not wander far from the centers of power. After JFK’s assassination two years later, President Lyndon B. Johnson asked Dulles to serve on the Warren Commission’s investigation of Kennedy’s murder. Dulles died on Jan. 29, 1969. However, even today, seven decades after Dulles opened the door to U.S. collaboration with Nazi war criminals, his decision continues to infect government actions around the globe.
by Robert Parry / Dec. 17, 2010
The U.S. government protected Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie in the years after World War II and later unleashed the infamous Butcher of Lyon on South America by aiding his escape from French war-crimes prosecutors, according to a report issued by the National Archives in 2010. The report, entitled “Hitler’s Shadow,” concentrates on the decisions by the U.S. Army’s Counterintelligence Corps to use Barbie and other ex-Nazis for early Cold War operations, but other work by investigative journalists and government investigators has shown how Barbie’s continued allegiance to Nazi ideology contributed to the spread of right-wing extremism in Latin America. With his skills as an intelligence operative and his expertise in state terror, Barbie helped shape the particularly vicious style of anti-communism that dominated South America for most of the Cold War. He also played a role in building a conduit for drug proceeds to fund right-wing paramilitary operations, including Ronald Reagan’s beloved Nicaraguan Contra rebels.
In 1980, Barbie used his perch in Bolivian intelligence to organize an alliance of military leaders and cocaine barons to overthrow Bolivia’s democratically elected leftist government in a bloody coup. Though fitting with Washington’s distrust of left-wing populist governments in South America, the so-called Cocaine Coup had other long-term consequences for the United States. Bolivia’s coup regime ensured a reliable flow of coca to Colombia’s Medellin cartel, which quickly grew into a sophisticated conglomerate for smuggling cocaine into the United States. Some of those drug profits then went to finance right-wing paramilitary operations, including the CIA-backed Contras, according to other U.S. government investigations. Barbie reportedly collaborated, too, with representatives of Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church as they worked with Bolivia’s Cocaine Coup regime to organize anti-communist operations in South America. By then, the region had become a center for Moon’s global money-laundering operations. In 1982, Moon began pouring hundreds of millions of his mysterious dollars into the right-wing Washington Times newspaper to influence U.S. politics.
Eventually, as Bolivia’s corrupt Cocaine Coup government crumbled and Barbie’s identity became well known, French authorities finally secured Barbie’s return to France to face a war-crimes trial in 1983. (He died in 1991.) The Butcher of Lyon’s role in these South American anti-communist activities caused brief embarrassment for Moon’s church and some right-wing Americans. But the Nazi collaboration didn’t draw much attention from the U.S. news media, which was already shying away from critical reporting on the Reagan administration’s unsavory alliances in Central and South America. Indeed, the Right’s growing dominance of Washington opinion circles can be viewed as a continuum dating back to those days right after World War II, when U.S. priorities switched quickly from prosecuting Axis war criminals to seeking their help in crushing leftist political influence in Western Europe and Asia. Suddenly, U.S. intelligence agencies were freeing Nazi and Japanese war criminals from prison and exploiting their talents to neutralize labor unions, student groups and other left-wing organizations. Though the National Archives report deals with ex-Nazis in Europe, a similar program was underway in Japan where war criminals such as right-wing yakuza gangsters Yoshio Kodama and Ryoichi Sasakawa were freed and allowed to become important political figures in Japan – and later internationally by supporting a global crusade against communism.
In the 1960s, Kodama and Sasakawa joined with Rev. Moon and two right-wing dictators, Taiwan’s Chiang Kai-shek and South Korea’s Park Chung Hee, to create the World Anti-Communist League (WACL), which also brought in right-wing leaders from Latin America and Europe, including ex-Nazis and neo-Nazis, according to authors Scott and Jon Lee Anderson in their landmark 1986 book, Inside the League. So, with the Cocaine Coup in 1980, Barbie not only closed the circle, bringing together death-squad commanders, ex-Nazis, neo-Nazis and various sociopaths from around the globe, but he helped ensure that drug proceeds would be available to fund right-wing causes in the future. “Hitler’s Shadow,” in effect, tells the first chapter of this right-wing restoration as U.S. intelligence agencies turned to former Nazi officials and SS officers to counter the perceived greater threat from the Soviet Union and Communist groups in Europe.
“Gestapo officers, who also held ranks in the SS, were in the U.S. Army Counterintelligence Corps’s automatic arrest category after the war,” the report said. “Later, CIC used former Gestapo officers to garner useful intelligence for the postwar period on everything from German right-wing movements to underground communist organizations. Intelligence officers often overlooked the significant role Gestapo officers played in the murder of Jews, POWs, and the political enemies of the Nazis.” The report notes that “approximately 1,200 newly released files relate to the penetration of German Communist activities and specifically to ‘Project Happiness,’ the CIC’s codename for counterintelligence operations against the KPD,” the German Communist Party.
Though Barbie – notorious for personally torturing French partisans during the war – may be the best known ex-Gestapo officer recruited by the CIC, others had similar histories. For instance, Anton Mahler was the chief interrogator of Hans Scholl, a leader of the White Rose, a Munich-based student organization that secretly passed out leaflets urging Adolf Hitler’s overthrow and decrying German apathy in the face of Hitler’s crimes. Hans and his sister Sophie Scholl were convicted of high treason and beheaded in February 1943. Mahler also served in Einsatzgruppe B in occupied Belarus as the group slaughtered more than 45,000 people, most of them Jews, the report said. Nevertheless, CIC deployed Mahler as an informant starting in February 1949 and soon made him a full-time employee.
Regarding Barbie, the report builds on a 1983 investigation by a Justice Department investigator who confirmed suspicions that U.S. intelligence had worked with and protected this hunted war criminal who was accused of executing 4,000 people and shipping 7,000 Jews to concentration camps. “In the spring of 1947 a CIC agent named Robert S. Taylor from CIC Region IV (Munich) recruited Klaus Barbie, the one-time Gestapo Chief of Lyon (1942–44),” the new report said. “Barbie helped run a counterintelligence net named ‘Büro Petersen’ which monitored French intelligence. “In 1948 Barbie helped the CIC locate former Gestapo informants. In 1949–50, he penetrated German Communist Party (KPD) activities in CIC Region XII (Augsburg). … He continued to work for the CIC in return for protection against French war crimes charges.”
Ratline to Bolivia
The story of Barbie’s escape to South America with the CIC’s collaboration was addressed in the 1983 report by Allan A. Ryan Jr., head of the Justice Department’s Nazi-hunting Office of Special Investigations. Ryan’s 218-page report said that in 1951, the CIC helped Barbie evade French authorities and flee over a “ratline” to Bolivia. Ryan said that a half dozen CIC officers participated in the cover-up of Barbie’s identity and excused their actions by claiming that the French arrest of Barbie could jeopardize the security of other CIC operations. To get Barbie to Bolivia, the CIC officers used a ratline run by a Croatian priest, Father Krunoslav Draganovich, Ryan wrote. Ryan said the Central Intelligence Agency later rebuffed suggestions that Barbie be reactivated in the 1960s, but Barbie – using the name Altmann – held an official position with a state-owned shipping company that allowed him to move freely and even to travel to the United States. [For more on Ryan’s report, see Time magazine, Aug. 29, 1983]
More significantly, Barbie became a figure in Bolivian intelligence and used that perch to coordinate with other right-wing intelligence services around the continent that were engaged in Operation Condor, a program of assassinating suspected subversives and other dissidents. In the 1970s, these intelligence agencies had teamed up to give their assassination squads regional and even global reach, including the murder of Chilean diplomat Orlando Letelier and an American co-worker on the streets of Washington in 1976. For the Cocaine Coup in 1980, Barbie recruited Argentina’s feared intelligence service along with young neo-Nazis from Europe. The World Anti-Communist League arranged support from Moon and other Asian rightists. For years, Moon had been sinking down roots in South America, especially in Uruguay after right-wing military dictators seized power there in 1973. Moon also cultivated close ties with dictators in Argentina, Paraguay and Chile, reportedly ingratiating himself with the juntas by helping the regimes buy weapons and by channeling money to allied right-wing organizations. “Relationships nurtured with right-wing Latin Americans in the [World Anti-Communist] League led to acceptance of the [Unification] Church’s political and propaganda operations throughout Latin America,” the Andersons wrote in Inside the League. “As an international money laundry, … the Church tapped into the capital flight havens of Latin America. Escaping the scrutiny of American and European investigators, the Church could now funnel money into banks in Honduras, Uruguay and Brazil, where official oversight was lax or nonexistent.”
Moon expanded his network of friends when Barbie helped pull together a right-wing alliance of Bolivian military officers and drug dealers for the Cocaine Coup. WACL associates, such as Alfredo Candia, coordinated the arrival of some of the paramilitary operatives from Argentina and Europe who would help out in the violent putsch. Barbie, then better known as Altmann, was in charge of drawing up plans for the coup and coordinating with Argentine intelligence. One of the first Argentine intelligence officers to arrive was Lt. Alfred Mario Mingolla. “Before our departure, we received a dossier on” Barbie, Mingolla later told German investigative reporter Kai Hermann. “There it stated that he was of great use to Argentina because he played an important role in all of Latin America in the fight against communism. From the dossier, it was also clear that Altmann worked for the Americans.”
As the coup took shape, Bolivian Col. Luis Arce-Gomez, the cousin of cocaine kingpin Roberto Suarez, also brought onboard neo-fascist terrorists such as Italian Stefano della Chiaie who had been working with the Argentine death squads. [See Cocaine Politics by Peter Dale Scott and Jonathan Marshall] Still a committed fascist, Barbie started a secret lodge, called Thule. During meetings, he lectured to his followers underneath swastikas by candlelight. On June 17, 1980, in nearly public planning for the coup, six of Bolivia’s biggest traffickers met with the military conspirators to hammer out a financial deal for future protection of the cocaine trade. A La Paz businessman said the coming putsch should be called the “Cocaine Coup,” a name that would stick. [See Cocaine Politics] Less than three weeks later, on July 6 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, U.S. undercover drug enforcement agent Michael Levine said he met with a Bolivian trafficker named Hugo Hurtado-Candia. Over drinks, Hurtado outlined plans for the “new government” in which his niece Sonia Atala, a major cocaine supplier, will “be in a very strong position.” [See Levine’s Big White Lie]
On July 17, the Cocaine Coup began, spearheaded by Barbie and his neo-fascist goon squad which was dubbed the “Fiancés of Death.” “The masked thugs were not Bolivians; they spoke Spanish with German, French and Italian accents,” Levine wrote. “Their uniforms bore neither national identification nor any markings, although many of them wore Nazi swastika armbands and insignias.” The slaughter was fierce. When the putschists stormed the national labor headquarters, they wounded labor leader Marcelo Quiroga, who had led the effort to indict former military dictator Hugo Banzer on drug and corruption charges. Quiroga “was dragged off to police headquarters to be the object of a game played by some of the torture experts imported from Argentina’s dreaded Mechanic School of the Navy,” Levine wrote. “These experts applied their ‘science’ to Quiroga as a lesson to the Bolivians, who were a little backward in such matters. They kept Quiroga alive and suffering for hours. His castrated, tortured body was found days later in a place called ‘The valley of the Moon’ in southern La Paz.” To DEA agent Levine back in Buenos Aires, it was soon clear “that the primary goal of the revolution was the protection and control of Bolivia’s cocaine industry. All major drug traffickers in prison were released, after which they joined the neo-Nazis in their rampage. “Government buildings were invaded and trafficker files were either carried off or burned. Government employees were tortured and shot, the women tied and repeatedly raped by the paramilitaries and the freed traffickers.” The fascists celebrated with swastikas and shouts of “Heil Hitler!” Hermann reported. Col. Arce-Gomez, a central-casting image of a bemedaled, pot-bellied Latin dictator, grabbed broad powers as Interior Minister. Gen. Luis Garcia Meza was installed as Bolivia’s new president. The victory put into power a right-wing military dictatorship indebted to the drug lords. Bolivia became South America’s first narco-state.
One of the first well-wishers arriving in La Paz to congratulate the new government was Moon’s top lieutenant (and former KCIA officer) Bo Hi Pak. The Moon organization published a photo of Pak meeting with the new strongman, General Garcia Meza. After the visit to the mountainous capital, Pak declared, “I have erected a throne for Father Moon in the world’s highest city.” According to later Bolivian government and newspaper reports, a Moon representative invested about $4 million in preparations for the coup. Bolivia’s WACL representatives also played key roles, and CAUSA, one of Moon’s anti-communist organizations, listed as members nearly all the leading Bolivian coup-makers. Soon, Colonel Luis Arce-Gomez, a coup organizer and the cousin of cocaine kingpin Roberto Suarez, went into partnership with big narco-traffickers, including Cuban-American smugglers based in Miami. Nazi war criminal Barbie and his young neo-fascist followers found new work protecting Bolivia’s major cocaine barons and transporting drugs to the Colombian border. “The paramilitary units – conceived by Barbie as a new type of SS – sold themselves to the cocaine barons,” German journalist Hermann wrote. “The attraction of fast money in the cocaine trade was stronger than the idea of a national socialist revolution in Latin America.”
A month after the Cocaine Coup, General Garcia Meza participated in the Fourth Congress of the Latin American Anti-Communist Confederation, an arm of the World Anti-Communist League. Also attending that Fourth Congress was WACL president Woo Jae Sung, a leading Moon disciple. As the drug lords consolidated their power in Bolivia, the Moon organization expanded its presence, too. Hermann reported that in early 1981, war criminal Barbie and Moon leader Thomas Ward were seen together in apparent prayer. On May 31, 1981, Moon representatives sponsored a CAUSA reception at the Sheraton Hotel’s Hall of Freedom in La Paz. Moon’s lieutenant Bo Hi Pak and Bolivian strongman Garcia Meza led a prayer for President Ronald Reagan’s recovery from an assassination attempt. In his speech, Bo Hi Pak declared, “God had chosen the Bolivian people in the heart of South America as the ones to conquer communism.”
In the early 1980s, cocaine kingpin Suarez – his coffers now overflowing with cash – invested more than $30 million in various right-wing paramilitary operations, including the Contra forces in Central America, according to U.S. Senate testimony in 1987 by an Argentine intelligence officer, Leonardo Sanchez-Reisse. Sanchez-Reisse testified that the Suarez drug money was laundered through front companies in Miami before going to Central America. There, Argentine intelligence officers — including Sanchez-Reisse and other veterans of the Cocaine Coup — trained the fledgling Contra forces. But by late 1981, the cocaine taint of Bolivia’s military junta was so deep and the corruption so pervasive that U.S.-Bolivian relations were stretched to the breaking point. “The Moon sect disappeared overnight from Bolivia as clandestinely as they had arrived,” Hermann reported. The Cocaine Coup leaders soon found themselves on the run, too. Interior Minister Arce-Gomez was extradited to Miami and was sentenced to 30 years in prison for drug trafficking. Drug lord Suarez got a 15-year prison term. General Garcia Meza became a fugitive from a 30-year sentence imposed on him in Bolivia for abuse of power, corruption and murder.
SS veteran Barbie was returned to France to face a life sentence for war crimes. He died in 1991 at the age of 77. But Moon’s organization suffered few negative repercussions from its role in the Cocaine Coup. By the early 1980s, flush with seemingly unlimited funds, Moon had moved on to promoting himself as a key friend of the new Republican administration in Washington. A guest at Reagan’s First Inauguration, Moon made his organization useful to the new President and to Vice President George H.W. Bush, who would later become a paid speaker for Moon’s organization. Where Moon got his cash was not a mystery that American conservatives were eager to solve. “Some Moonie-watchers even believe that some of the business enterprises are actually covers for drug trafficking,” wrote Scott and Jon Lee Anderson. While Moon’s representatives have refused to detail how they’ve sustained their far-flung activities – including many businesses that insiders say lose money – Moon’s spokesmen have denied recurring allegations about profiteering off illegal trafficking in weapons and drugs.
In a typical response to a gun-running question by the Argentine newspaper, Clarin, Moon’s representative Ricardo DeSena responded, “I deny categorically these accusations and also the barbarities that are said about drugs and brainwashing.” [Clarin, July 7, 1996] Nevertheless, Moon’s organization did its best to disrupt the work of U.S. investigative reporters and government investigators looking into the connections between the drug trade and right-wing paramilitary operations such as the Nicaraguan Contras. In the mid-1980s, for instance, when journalists and congressional investigators began probing the evidence of Contra-connected drug trafficking, they came under attack from Moon’s Washington Times. An Associated Press story that I co-wrote with Brian Barger about a Miami-based federal probe into gun- and drug-running by the Contras was disparaged in an April 11, 1986, front-page Washington Times article with the headline: “Story on [contra] drug smuggling denounced as political ploy.” When Sen. John Kerry, D-Massachusetts, uncovered additional evidence of Contra-drug trafficking, the Washington Times denounced him, too. The newspaper published articles depicting Kerry’s probe as a wasteful political witch hunt. “Kerry’s anti-contra efforts extensive, expensive, in vain,” declared the headline of one Times article on Aug. 13, 1986. Despite the attacks, Kerry’s Contra-drug investigation eventually concluded that a number of Contra units were implicated in the cocaine trade. “It is clear that individuals who provided support for the contras were involved in drug trafficking, the supply network of the contras was used by drug trafficking organizations, and elements of the contras themselves knowingly received financial and material assistance from drug traffickers,” Kerry’s investigation stated in a report issued April 13, 1989.
Mysterious Contra Backer
In 1998, CIA’s Inspector General Frederick Hitz confirmed the earlier allegations of extensive cocaine trafficking by the Contras, including significant ties to Bolivia’s traffickers. Hitz also cited a partially redacted document referring to a “religious” group cooperating with the Contra-cocaine trade. “There are indications of links between [a U.S. religious organization] and two Nicaraguan counter-revolutionary groups,” read an Oct. 22, 1982, cable from the office of the CIA’s Directorate of Operations. “These links involve an exchange in [the United States] of narcotics for arms.” In 1982, the CIA quickly shut down any further reporting on this drug deal, citing the role of U.S. citizens. “In light of the apparent participation of U.S. persons throughout, agree you should not pursue the matter further,” CIA headquarters wrote on Nov. 3, 1982. During the Inspector General’s investigation, Hitz conducted a follow-up interview, with Contra-connected drug trafficker Renato Pena, who described the redacted U.S. religious organization as a Contra “political ally that provided only humanitarian aid to Nicaraguan refugees and logistical support for contra-related rallies, such as printing services and portable stages.” Moon’s religious-political groups, some based in the United States, were extremely active supporting the Contras in the early 1980s, suggesting that Moon’s Washington Times might have had more than an ideological reason to attack investigators exploring Contra drug trafficking. To this day, the Washington Times remains a reliably right-wing voice in the U.S. capital. [Moon died on Sept. 3, 2012.] Still, the CIA’s shielding of the name of that “religious organization” and similar protective behavior represented a continuation of a long-standing pattern in which U.S. intelligence covered up for right-wing and neo-Nazi criminality, a dark history that began with the likes of Klaus Barbie and has extended “Hitler’s Shadow” to modern times.
Wernher von Braun not only created the infamous V-2 rocket, but also was behind the Saturn V [NASA]
MEANWHILE at NASA
by Amy Shira Teitel / 03 May 2013
On Thursday, September 20, 1945, Wernher von Braun arrived at Fort Strong. The small military site on the northern tip of Boston Harbour’s Long Island was the processing point for Project Paperclip, the government programme under which hundreds of German scientists were brought into America. Von Braun filled out his paperwork that day as the inventor of the Nazi V-2 rocket, a member of the Nazi party, and a member of the SS who could be linked to the deaths of thousands of concentration camp prisoners. Two and a half decades later on Wednesday, July 16, 1969, von Braun stood in the firing room at Kennedy Spaceflight Centre and watched another of his rockets, the Saturn V, take the Apollo 11 crew to the Moon.
That he was responsible for both the deadly Nazi V-2 and NASA’s majestic Saturn V makes Wernher von Braun a controversial historical figure. Some hold that his participation in the Nazi war effort necessitates classifying him as a villain. But while his actions during the Second World War were monstrous, he wasn’t motivated by some inherent evil or personal belief in Nazi ideology. Von Braun was motivated by his childhood obsession with spaceflight, a somewhat uncritical patriotism, and a naive grasp of the ramifications of his actions in creating one of the War’s deadliest weapons. How can we treat someone who brought technological triumph to two nations, in one case as a purveyor of death and destruction and in the other a bringer of wonder and inspiration?
The von Brauns
Wernher von Braun’s lineage can be traced back to the Junkers, a social class of nobles that dominated the Prussian military officer corps, the landowning elite, and offices of civil service in the 19th and early 20th centuries. High social standing was inherited or acquired through marriage, a legacy that typically gave Junkers a narrow and self-interested world view. Von Braun’s father Magnus was a civil servant, a career that ensured the family had a certain quality of life. Raised in this privileged environment with a sense of his Junker heritage shaped von Braun at an early age into a proud and sometimes arrogant young man. Wernher von Braun’s love affair with space, which was at odds with his upbringing, began when his mother Emmy gave him a telescope for his thirteenth birthday. Looking up at the Moon and the stars, he was seized with a desire to travel into space; launching rockets and landing spacecraft, men, and possibly himself on the Moon became his life’s goal. He devoured books about space travel and worked out mission plans of his own. This obsession with spaceflight took a toll on his academics, as von Braun only applied himself to the subjects that would help him launch rockets. He excelled beyond his professors in maths and physics, eventually teaching classes and tutoring his peers. His grades in other courses, meanwhile, were largely satisfactory. Nevertheless, he was skipped ahead halfway through the twelfth grade to graduate high school a year early.
It was around this time that von Braun got his first hands-on experience with rockets as a member of the Verein fur Raumschiffahrt (VfR), an amateur rocket society. The VfR’s activities caught the German Army’s attention, and when a group of officers went to watch a launch in the spring of 1932, it was von Braun who stood out. Army Ordnance officer Walter Dornberger saw promise in the young engineer and offered him the opportunity to develop his rockets and explore their possible military applications on the Army’s dime. Von Braun accepted Dornberger’s offer and began his doctoral work in physics and engineering at the University of Berlin later that year. In 1933, Adolf Hitler came to power. Still deeply engaged in his doctoral work, von Braun was only partially aware of the nationwide changes brought about by this new leadership. He was only 21 and by his own admission (albeit later in life) apolitical and somewhat disinterested in the world around him. He was patriotic, but rockets were his main concern.
Von Braun finished his dissertation in 1934. Titled “Design, Theoretical and Experimental Contributions to the Problem of the Liquid Fuel Rocket”, its contents were deemed so important to the future of Germany’s military that it was hidden under a new title, “Regarding Combustion Experiments”, and transferred to the Army Ordnance’s custody. Von Braun was just 22. Not long after, he began working for the Army on a variety of rocket programmes, among them the ballistic missile the Nazi Propaganda Ministry would eventually call Vergeltungswaffe-Zwei, Vengeance Weapon 2 or V-2. The Army increased funding for the V-2 programme throughout the 1930s. By the time the War broke out in 1939, von Braun was running a sizable operation at a dedicated rocket facility at Peenemunde. Sitting on the northern German island of Usedom, Peenemunde afforded von Braun’s team the space to build, test, and launch their rockets harmlessly into the Baltic Sea. But the V-2s that were launched towards London beginning in 1944 weren’t built at Peenemunde. These rockets were built in underground factories near the central German town of Nordhausen – most famously at Mittelwerk, where construction was done by prisoners from the nearby Dora-Mittelbau concentration camp. Over 60,000 prisoners lived, worked, and died in the damp underground tunnels at Mittelwerk. Some succumbed to disease and malnutrition. Some were worked to death. Others were hanged publicly in group executions. The death rate rose so high that crematoriums became a necessity.
Von Braun visited Mittelwerk at least once; he was given a tour of the facility by SS guards in late 1943 when prisoners were still excavating tunnels. But just how this and any subsequent trips affected the young rocketeer is open to speculation. There are no records of von Braun planning or overseeing operations at Mittelwerk, even from a distance. It’s possible that his boyhood disinterest in politics helped him either ignore or repress what he knew about Mittelwerk, or perhaps he was able to justify the deplorable conditions in his rockets’ factory as a necessity of war. Years later, in America, von Braun called the V-2 his contribution to Germany’s wartime arsenal. It was what any citizen was expected to do. During his tenure developing the V-2, von Braun joined the Nazi party and became a member of the SS. He also held on to his dream of landing men on the Moon. One night in early March of 1944, he drank too much at a party and spoke too freely in what he thought was just casual conversation. He told fellow party goers that he foresaw the war ending badly for Germany and added that all he’d ever wanted to do with his rockets was launch them into space. It was an admission akin to treason, which was a crime punishable by death. Von Braun was arrested weeks later, and while he was never incarcerated, it was his first indication that he wouldn’t be safe in his home country when the war ended.
Von Braun was attracted by the opportunities America promised and suspected that the US military would support his continued research in rocketry. He had already decided that he wanted to surrender to and build rockets for America when he heard that Hitler was dead on May 1, 1945. Hiding with his fellow rocket engineers in Bavaria at the time, von Braun elected an emissary from the group, his younger brother Magnus, to go, find and surrender to American soldiers. Magnus did. By nightfall on May 2, Wernher von Braun was in the hands of American soldiers and within months the US government made him the offer he’d hoped for: military funding to develop an Americanised version of the V-2.
After working in relative obscurity in New Mexico for four years, von Braun and other former Peenemunders brought overseas under Project Paperclip were moved to the US Army’s Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama. On March 22, 1952, von Braun introduced the American public to his vision of space exploration in the pages of Collier’s Magazine. In a series of articles published over two years, he described how men would live and work in huge doughnut-shaped orbital space stations before setting off on missions to the Moon. He imagined spacecraft launching and gliding back to Earth daily. And he described, in detail, the rockets he would build to launch such missions. Americans met the man behind this compelling future on March 9, 1955 when von Braun appeared in the first episode of Walt Disney’s Tomorrowland TV series. Viewers saw von Braun’s vision come to life with stunning animation.Von Braun brought the same vision to NASA when the agency absorbed his rocket group in 1960. Throughout the decade, he was pictured shaking hands with presidents, smiling with astronauts, and posing in front of the massive rockets that would launch them into space. And while NASA’s path to the Moon ultimately deviated from von Braun’s vision, he nevertheless achieved his boyhood dream in 1969. Whatever celebrity von Braun achieve in America, it couldn’t erase his Nazi past. But in the same way he covered or ignored his association with Mittelwerk, American leaders and administrators suppressed or deliberately misrepresented his past and emphasised his contributions to the nation’s space programme and space exploration generally. He wasn’t ostracised as an ex-Nazi; he was celebrated as the creator of the Saturn V.
Yaroslav Stetsko, an OUN leader during World War II, meets George H.W. Bush.
COLLABORATION: AMERICA’S DIRTY LITTLE SECRET
An interview with Russ Bellant, author of “Old Nazis, the New Right, and the Republican Party.”
by Paul H. Rosenberg / March 18, 2014
As the Ukrainian crisis has unfolded over the past few weeks, it’s hard for Americans not to see Vladimir Putin as the big villain. But the history of the region is a history of competing villains vying against one another; and one school of villains—the Nazis—have a long history of engagement with the US, mostly below the radar, but occasionally exposed, as they were by Russ Bellant in his book Old Nazis, The New Right And The Republican Party (South End Press, 1991). Bellant’s exposure of Nazi leaders from German allies in the 1988 Bush presidential campaign was the driving force in the announced resignation of nine individuals, two of them from the Ukraine, which is why he was the logical choice to turn to illuminate the scattered mentions of Nazi and fascist elements amongst the Ukrainian nationalists, which somehow never seems to warrant further comment or explanation. Of course most Ukranians aren’t Nazis or fascists—all the more reason to illuminate those who would hide their true natures in the shadows…or even behind the momentary glare of the spotlight.
Q: Your book, Old Nazis, the New Right, and the Republican Party exposed the deep involvement in the Republican Party of Nazi elements from Central and Eastern Europe, including Ukrainian, dating back to World War II and even before. As the Ukrainian crisis unfolded in the last few weeks there have been scattered mentions of a fascist or neo-fascist element, but somehow that never seems to warrant further comment or explanation. I can’t think of anyone better to shed light on what’s not being said about that element. The danger of Russian belligerence is increasingly obvious, but this unexamined fascist element poses dangers of its own. What can you tell us about this element and those dangers?
A: The element has a long history, of a long record that speaks for itself, when that record is actually known and elaborated on. The key organization in the coup that took place here recently was the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists [OUN], or a specific branch of it known as the Banderas [OUN-B]. They’re the group behind the Svoboda party, which got a number of key positions in the new interim regime. The OUN goes back to the 1920s, when they split off from other groups, and, especially in the 1930s began a campaign of assassinating and otherwise terrorizing people who didn’t agree with them.
As World War II approached, they made an alliance with the Nazi powers, they formed several military formations, so that when Germany invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941, they had several battalions that went into the main city at the time, where their base was, Lvov, or Lwow, it has a variety of spellings [also 'Lviv']. They went in, and there’s a documented history of them participating in the identification and rounding up Jews in that city, and assisting in executing several thousand citizens almost immediately. There were also involved in liquidating Polish group populations in other parts of Ukraine during the war.
Without getting deeply involved in that whole history, the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists to this day defend their wartime role, they were backers of forming the 14th Waffen SS Division, which was the all-Ukrainian division that became an armed element on behalf of the Germans, and under overall German control. They helped encourage its formation, and after the war, right at the end of the war, it was called the First Ukrainian division and they still glorify that history of that SS division, and they have a veterans organization, that obviously doesn’t have too many of members left but they formed a veterans division of that.
If you look insignia being worn in Kiev in the street demonstrations and marches to the SS division insignia still being worn. In fact I was looking at photographs last night of it and there was a whole formation marching, not with 14th Division, but with the Second Division, it was a large division that did major battle around the Ukraine, and these marchers were wearing the insignia on the armbands of the Second Division.
So this is a very clear record, and the OUN, even in its postwar publications has called for ethno-genetically pure Ukrainian territory, which of course is simply calling for purging Jews, and Poles, and Russians from what they consider Ukrainian territory. Also, current leaders of Svoboda have made blatantly anti-Semitic remarks that call for getting rid of Muscovite Jews and so forth. They use this very coarse threatening language that anybody knowing the history of World War II would tremble at. If they were living here, it would seem like they would start worrying about it.
Obviously these people don’t hold monopoly power in Ukraine, but they stepped up and the United States has been behind the Svoboda party and these Ukrainian nationalists. In fact the US connections to them go back to World War II and the United States has had a long-standing tie to the OUN, through the intelligence agencies, initially military intelligence, and later the CIA.
Q: Your book discusses a central figure in the OUN, Yaroslav Stetsko, who was politically active for decades here in America. What can you tell us about his history?
A: Yaroslav Stetsko was the number two leader of the OUN during World War II and thereafter. In 1959, Stefan Bandera, who was head of the OUN, was killed and that’s when Stetsko assumed the leadership. Stetsko in 1941 was the guy who actually marched into Lvov with the German army June 30, 1941 and the OUN issued a proclamation at that time under his name praising and calling for glory to the German leader Adolf Hitler and how they’re going to march arm in arm for the Ukraine and so forth. After the war, he was part of the key leadership that got picked up by the Americans.
There’s a number of accounts I’ve seen, at least three credible up reports, on how they were in the displaced person camp, the Allied forces set up displaced persons camp and picked up tens of thousands of these former allies of Hitler from countries all over the East, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania – there weren’t Polish collaborators I think most people know the Germans heavily persecuted and murdered millions of Polish residents – but Bulgaria, Romania, Croatia, and so forth, Belorussia. They had them in these camps they built and organized them, where the Ukrainians were assassinating their Ukrainian nationalist rival so that they would be the undisputed leaders of Ukrainian nationalist movement, so they would get the sponsorship of the United States to continue their political operation, and they were successful in that regard. So when Bandera was out of the picture, Stetsko became the undisputed leader of Ukrainian nationalists.
The Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists in 1943 under German sponsorship organized a multinational force to fight on behalf of the retreating German army. After the battle of Stalingrad in ’43 the Germans felt a heightened need to get more allies, and so the Romanian Iron Guard, the Hungarian Arrow Cross, the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists and others with military formations in place to assist came together and formed the united front called the Committee of Subjugated Nations and again worked on behalf of of the German military. In 1946, they renamed it the Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations, ABN. Stetsko was the leader of that until he died in 1986.
I mention this in part because the OUN tries to say well during the war we fought the Germans and the communists. The fact of the matter is that they were the leadership of this whole multinational alliance on behalf of the German the last two years of the war and in the war thereafter. All the postwar leaders of the unrepentant Nazi allies were all under the leadership of Yaroslav Stetsko.
Q: What happened when Stetsko, and others like him from other German allied forces came to the United States?
A: In the United States, when they came, his groups organized ‘captive nations’ committees, they became, supposedly, the representatives of people who are being oppressed in Eastern Europe, the Baltic countries, by the Soviet. But they were, in fact, being given an uncritical blank check to represent the voices of all these nations that were part of the Warsaw Pact when in fact they represented the most extreme elements of each of the national communities.
The Captive Nations Committee in Washington DC for instance was run by the person who headed the Ukrainian organization of nationalists, that was true in a number of places. In my hometown area near Detroit as well, they played a major role. In the early 50s, when they were resettled in the United States, there was at least 10,000 of them that were resettled, when you look at all the nationalities. They became politically active through the Republican national committee, because it was really the Eisenhower administration that made the policy decision in the early 1950s, and brought them in. They set up these campaign organizations, every four years they would mobilize for the Republican candidate, whoever it would be, and some of them like Richard Nixon, in 1960, actually had close direct ties to some of the leaders like the Romanian Iron Guard, and some of these other groups.
When Richard Nixon ran for president in 1968, he made a promise to these leaders that they would if he won the presidency he would make them the ethnic outreach arm of the Republican National Committee on a permanent basis, so they wouldn’t be a quadrennial presence, but a continuing presence in the Republican Party. And he made that promise through a guy named Laszlo Pasztor, who served five years in prison after World War II for crimes against humanity. He was prosecuted in 1946 by non-Communist government that actually had control of Hungary at the time. There was a period from ’45 to ’48 when the Hungarian Communist Party didn’t run Hungary. They were the ones who prosecuted him. He had served as a liaison between the Hungarian Nazi party and Berlin; he served in the Berlin embassy of the Hungarian Arrow Cross movement. This is the guy that got picked to organize all the ethnic groups, and the only people that got brought in were the Nazi collaborators.
They didn’t have a Russian affiliate because they hated all Russians of all political stripes. There were no African Americans or Jewish affiliates either. It was just composed of these elements, and for a while they had a German affiliate but some exposure of the Nazi character of the German affiliate caused it to be quietly removed, but other [Nazi] elements were retained.
Q: Your book was researched and published in the 1980s. What was happening by that point in time, after these groups had been established for more than a decade?
A: I went to their meetings in the 1980s, and they put out material that really make clear who they were there 1984, one of their 1984 booklets praised the pro-Nazi Ustashi regime in Croatia, and these Ustashi killed an estimated 750,000 people and burned them alive in their own camp in Croatia. And here they are praising the founding of this regime, and acknowledging that it was associated with the Nazis, and it was signed by the chairman of the Republican National Committee. You couldn’t make this stuff up. It was just crazy.
I interviewed the Kossack guy, he showed me his pension from service in the SS in World War II, and how he was affiliated with free Nazi groups in the United States, and he was just very unrepentant. These are the umbrellas that were called ‘Captive Nations Committees’ by these people that Stetsko was over, and was part of, too. The Reagan White House brought him in, and promoted him as a major leader and did a big dinner—[UN Ambassador] Jeane Kirkpatrick was part of it, George Bush as Vice President, of course Reagan—and Stetsko was held up as a great leader., And proclamations were issued on his behalf.
When Bush was running for president in 1988, Bush Senior, he came to these basically one of the leading locations of the Ukrainian nationalists in North America, which is in just outside of Detroit, a suburb of Detroit to their cultural center, and one of their foremost leaders in the world is headquartered out of their, at the time, he got Bush to come there and they denounced the OSI and Bush just shook his head, he wouldn’t say anything about it.
The OSI was the Offices of Special Investigations, it was investigating the presence of Nazi war criminals in the United States, and deporting those that were found to have lied on their history when they applied to come into the United States after the war. They had deported a number of people from all over the United States. They had a lot of open investigations, and all these émigré Nazis were trying to bring all the political pressure they could to stop these investigations, including the Ukrainian nationalists ones.
So they denounced them, the OSI investigations, in front of Bush, Bush nodded his head, but he wouldn’t say anything because he didn’t want to sound like he was sympathetic to the Nazi war criminals, but at the same time he didn’t want to offend his hosts by disputing the issue with them. So, the issue of World War II was still being played out over four decades later, in the politics of the presidency, and unfortunately Bush and Reagan continued to be on the side that we tried to defeat in World War II.
Q: What was the response when your book came out, with all this information? How was the information received, and what was the political reaction?
A: Prior to the book’s publication, Washington Jewish Week had done a story about some of the ethnic leaders of the Bush campaign and their history, like denying the Holocaust, or being involved with these émigré Nazi groups. They named a couple of them that weren’t part of the Heritage Groups Council, but they were part of the Bush campaign.
Then when I published the book, it brought out a lot more names, and the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Boston Globe did stories on them. It got to the point where when reporter from the Philadelphia Inquirer would call them about one of their ethnic leaders of the Bush campaign the standard response was he’s no longer part of the campaign, and they’d say that almost as soon as the name would get mentioned. So that they would call that person, and I’ll give the example of Florian Galdau, he was, he ran the Rumanian Iron Guard in New York City. He had wartime record. [Romanian Archbishop Valerian] Trifa himself was implicated in the mass killing of Jews in Bucharest in 1941, I believe. Galdau’s record is clear, because when Trifa was prosecuted he was one of the people targeted by the Office of Special Investigations, and he was forced into deportation in the 1980s, but in those records, they identify Florian Galdau is one of his operatives, so his history is known, except apparently to the Bush campaign.
So when he was identified by the Philadelphia Inquirer, they immediately said he wasn’t part of it, so the Philadelphia Inquirer called Florian Galdau, and he said, “No, I’m part of it. They never said anything to me. As far as I know I’m still part of the campaign.” And that was the pattern.
The Republican National Committee said after the election that they were going to put a blue ribbon committee together and do an investigation of the charges in my book. I was never contacted, nobody affiliated with the book project, the publisher wasn’t contacted none, none of the sources I worked with was contacted. And after about a year, with nobody raising any issues or questions about it they just folded it up and they said well we have not had the resources to investigate this matter.
I did publish an op-ed in the New York Times about two weeks after the election was over, and I think that was the last time anybody said anything publicly about it that got any kind of forum. I think they were allowed to just die and wither away, that is those leaders. The Republican idea was probably to bring in another generation of people who were born in the United States as these émigré’s died off, but they never did anything about this history that Richard Nixon had bequeathed them with. The Reagan White House had really made deep political commitments and alliances with them, they didn’t want to look like they turned their back on them; and Bush wanted them for his reelection campaign, so he wasn’t going to turn his back on them either.
If you want an anecdote, I know that 60 Minutes was working on a piece that Bradley’s team was working on, and Nancy Reagan herself called the executive producer and said that we would really like it if you would wouldn’t do this story, and they killed it. Because, basically, it’s not just about Nazis and the Republican national committee were Nazis in the White House, it inevitably raises the question of who are they how did they get here, who sponsored them and it goes back to the intelligence agencies at that point. And some people don’t like treading there, if it’s tied to an intelligence agency, they prefer to just stay away from the subject. So, some people at 60 Minutes were frustrated by it, but that’s what happened. I think that they were able to effectively kill the story when people tried to cover it. They were able to persuade news managers to not delve into it too much.
Q: What’s happened since you wrote your book, and most of the World War II generation died off? What have the OUN and its allies been up to since then that we should be aware of?
A: Once the OUN got sponsored by the American security establishment intelligence agencies, they were embedded in a variety of ways in Europe as well, like Radio Free Europe which is headquartered in Munich. A lot of these groups, in the ABN were headquartered in Munich under the sponsorship of Radio Free Europe. From there they ran various kinds of operations where they were trying to do work inside the Warsaw Pact countries. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, a number of them moved back into the Ukraine as well as the other respective countries, and began setting up operations there, and organizing political parties. They reconstituted the veterans group of the Waffen SS, they held marches in the 1990s in the Ukraine, and organized political parties, in alliance with the United States, and became part of what was called the Orange Revolution in 2004, when they won the election there.
The prime minister was closely allied with them. They worked with the new government to get veterans benefits for the Ukrainian SS division veterans, and they started establishing the statues and memorials and museums for Stepan Bandera, who was the leader of the OUN, and who I should say was despised by other Ukrainian nationalists because of their methods, because they were extreme and violent toward other rival Ukrainian nationalist groups as well. So Bandera wasn’t a universal hero, but this group was so influential, in part because of its US connections, that if you go online and you Google ‘Lviv’ and the word ‘Bandera’ you’ll see monuments and statues and large posters and banners of Bandera’s likeness and large monuments permanent erected monuments on behalf of Bandera so they made this guy like he’s the George Washington of the Ukraine.
That government was in power until 2010, when there was another election, and a new regime was elected with a lot of support from the East. Ukrainian nationalist groupings around the Orange Revolution were sharply divided against each other, and there was rampant corruption, and people voted them out. The United States was very aggressive in trying to keep the nationalists in power, but they lost the election. The United States was spending money through the National Endowment for Democracy, which was pumping money into various Ukrainian organizations, and they were doing the same thing in Russia and many other countries around the world as well. We’re talking about many millions of dollars a year to affect the politics of these countries.
When the occupations came in Independence Square in Kiev late last year, you can see Svoboda’s supporters and you can hear their leaders in the parliament making blatant anti-semitic remarks. The leader of the Svoboda party went to Germany to protest the prosecution of John Demjanjuk, who was the Ukrainian who was settled in the United States, who was implicated as a concentration camp guard in the killing of innocent people. The German courts found him guilty and Svoboda leadership went to Germany to complain about convicting this guy. The reason they said they didn’t want any Ukrainian tainted with it because they live a lie that no Ukrainian had anything to do with the German Nazi regime, when history betrays them, and their own affiliations betray them. But they don’t like that being out there publicly, so they always protest their innocence of any Ukrainian being charged with anything, regardless of what the evidence is.
Q: Your book was an important revelation but was not alone. Your book notes that Jack Anderson reported on the pro-Nazi backgrounds of some of the ethnic advisors as far back as 1971, yet when your report came out almost two decades later, everyone responded with shock, surprise, and even denial. What lessons should we draw from this history of buried history? And how should it influence our thinking about the unfolding crisis in the Ukraine?
A: I don’t believe it’s ever too late to become familiarized and educated about the history of this phenomenon both the wartime history and our postwar collaboration with these folks. There were a number of exposés written about the émigré Nazis. There was a 1979 book calledWanted and it did a number of case stories of these people being brought in to the United States, including the Trifa story. Christopher Simpson did a book called Blowback that discussed the policy decisions, it’s an incredible book. He’s a professor at American University and he did years of research through the Freedom of Information Act and archives, and got the policy documents under which the decisions were made to bring these folks together, and not just into the United States but to deploy them around the world.
Like my book, it didn’t get the attention it deserved. The New York Times book reviewer was negative toward the book. There are people that really don’t want to touch this stuff. There’s a lot of people who don’t want it touched. I think it’s really important for people who believe in openness and transparency and democratic values, who don’t want to see hate groups come back to power in other parts of the world to know what happened.
There’s not very many Americans that really even know that the Waffen SS was a multinational force. That’s been kind of kept out of the received history. Otherwise people would know that there were Ukrainian Nazis, Hungarian Nazis, Latvian Nazis, and they were all involved in the mass murder of their fellow citizens, if they were Jewish, or even if they were co-nationalists that were on the other side of the issue of the war. They were just mass murderers, across Eastern Europe. And that history, those facts aren’t even well-known. A lot of people didn’t even know this phenomenon even existed.
I think all Americans have a responsibility to know what their government is doing in the foreign policy in Europe as well as elsewhere around the world, as well as Latin America as well as Africa. Since our policy was to uphold apartheid in South Africa why weren’t Americans challenging that more? They began challenging that in the 80s, but the apartheid regime was run by the Nazi party. They were allied with Germany in World War II, they were the Nationalist party and they took power in 1948 and the United States backed that for decades. We backed the death squads in Latin America, even though they massacred tens of thousands of people – 30,000 people in Chile alone. Americans aren’t being attentive to what their government is doing abroad, even though it’s been doing done with their tax dollars and in their name, and I think we just have a general responsibility.
I went to these meetings, I went to these conferences, I went over a period of years. I met with them directly, most of the people I wrote about, I met with them personally or in group meetings. People can’t afford to do that on their own, timewise, but there’s enough literature out there they can read and pursue it, they will get enough enough of a handle to get what the real picture is, to demand change. I’m not totally partisan in this, but I think the Republican Party was extreme on this, but the Democrats folded and didn’t challenge this when they knew it was going on.