HOW THE NAZIS WON THE WAR
In his book Blowback, Chris Simpson described Operation Paper
Clip, which involved the importation of large numbers of known
Nazi war criminals, rocket scientists, camp guards, etc.
There was also an operation involving the Vatican, the US State
Department and British intelligence, which took some of the worst
Nazi criminals and used them, at first in Europe. For example,
Klaus Barbie, the butcher of Lyon [France], was taken over by
US intelligence and put back to work.
Later, when this became an issue, some of his US supervisors didn't
understand what the fuss was all about. After all, we'd moved
in-we'd replaced the Germans. We needed a guy who would attack
the left-wing resistance, and here was a specialist. That's what
he'd been doing for the Nazis, so who better could we find to
do exactly the same job for us?
When the Americans could no longer protect Barbie, they moved
him over to the Vatican-run "ratline," where Croatian
Nazi priests and others managed to spirit him off to Latin America.
There he continued his career. He became a big drug lord and narco-trafflcker,
and was involved in a military coup in Bolivia-all with US support.
But Barbie was basically small potatoes. This was a big operation,
involving many top Nazis. We managed to get Walter Rauff, the
guy who created the gas chambers, off to Chile. Others went to
General Reinhard Gehlen was the head of German military intelligence
on the eastern front. That's where the real war crimes were. Now
we're talking about Auschwitz and other death camps. Gehlen and
his network of spies and terrorists were taken over quickly by
American intelligence and returned to essentially the same roles.
If you look at the American army's counterinsurgency literature
(a lot of which is now declassified), it begins with an analysis
of the German experience in Europe, written with the cooperation
of Nazi officers. Everything is described from the point of view
of the Nazis-which techniques for controlling resistance worked,
which ones didn't. With barely a change, that was transmuted into
American counterinsurgency literature. (This is discussed at some
length by Michael McClintock in Instruments of Statecraft, a very
good book that I've never seen reviewed.)
The US left behind armies the Nazis had established in Eastern
Europe, and continued to support them at least into the early
1950s. By then the Russians had penetrated American intelligence,
so the air drops didn't work very well any more.
You've said that if a real post-World War II history were ever
written, this would be the first chapter.
It would be a part of the first chapter. Recruiting Nazi war criminals
and saving them is bad enough, but imitating their activities
is worse. So the first chapter would primarily describe US-and
some British-operations throughout the world that aimed to destroy
the anti-fascist resistance and restore the traditional, essentially
fascist, order to power.
In Korea (where we ran the operation alone), restoring the traditional
order meant killing about 100,000 people just in the late 1940s,
before the Korean War began. In Greece, it meant destroying the
peasant and worker base of the anti-Nazi resistance and restoring
Nazi collaborators to power. When British and then American troops
moved into southern Italy, they simply reinstated the fascist
order-the industrialists. But the big problem came when the troops
got to the north, which the Italian resistance had already liberated.
The place was functioning- industry was running. We had to dismantle
all of that and restore the old order.
Our big criticism of the resistance was that they were displacing
the old owners in favor of workers' and community control. Britain
and the US called this "arbitrary replacement" of the
legitimate owners. The resistance was also giving jobs to more
people than were strictly needed for the greatest economic efficiency
(that is, for maximum profit-making). We called this "hiring
In other words, the resistance was trying to democratize the workplace
and to take care of the population. That was understandable, since
many Italians were starving. But starving people were their problem-our
problem was to eliminate the hiring of excess workers and the
arbitrary dismissal of owners, which we did.
Next we worked on destroying the democratic process. The left
was obviously going to win the elections; it had a lot of prestige
from the resistance, and the traditional conservative order had
been discredited. The US wouldn't tolerate that. At its first
meeting, in 1947, the National Security Council decided to withhold
food and use other sorts of pressure to undermine the election.
But what if the communists still won? In its first report, NSC
1, the council made plans for that contingency: the US would declare
a national emergency, put the Sixth Fleet on alert in the Mediterranean
and support paramilitary activities to overthrow the Italian government.
That's a pattern that's been relived over and over. If you look
at France and Germany and Japan, you get pretty much the same
Nicaragua is another case. You strangle them, you starve them,
and then you have an election and everybody talks about how wonderful
The person who opened up this topic (as he did many others) was
Gabriel Kolko, in his classic book Politics of War in 1968. It
was mostly ignored, but it's a terrific piece of work. A lot of
the documents weren't around then, but his picture turns out to
be quite accurate.
an interview of Noam Chomsky by David Barsamian
from the book Secrets, Lies and Democracy, published in 1994
Tucson, AZ 85751
tel 602-296-4056 or 800-REALSTORY
other Noam Chomsky books published by Odonian Press
What Uncle Sam Really Wants
The Prosperous Few and the Restless Many
Lies, and Democracy