from the book
America's recruitment of Nazis,
and its disastrous effect on our domestic and foreign policy
by Christopher Simpson
Collier / Macmillan, 1988
U.S. 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...."
U.S. national security planners appear to have concluded that
extreme-right-wing groups that had once collaborated with the
Nazis should be included in U.S.-sponsored anti-Communist coalitions,
for the participation of such groups became a regular feature
of U.S. 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 U.S. assassination techniques.
In most cases, it appears to have been neither necessary nor practical
for U.S. 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 U.S. 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 U.S. 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 U.S. intelligence agencies
had anything to do with this.
The price tag for the U.S. 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 U.S. military
budget. The real question for U.S. 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 U.S. had to meet
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
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 U.S. government could be kept secret.
The American people deserve better from their government.
There is nothing to be gained by permitting U.S. intelligence
agencies to continue to conceal the true scope of their association
with Nazi criminals in the wake of World War II.