The Man at Box 1142

excerpted from the book


America's recruitment of Nazis,
and its disastrous effect on our domestic and foreign policy

by Christopher Simpson

Collier / Macmillan, 1988

Reinhard Gehlen, Hitler's most senior military intelligence officer on the eastern front, had begun planning his surrender to the United States at least as early as the fall of 1944...

General Gehlen ... was a scrawny man-at five feet eight and a half inches he weighed less than 130 pounds at the time of his surrender-with an arrogant demeanor and a violent temper that got worse as he grew older. But he also had extraordinary powers of concentration and a jeweler's attention to detail, both of which served him well in his remarkable thirty-seven-year career as a spy master.

In early March 1945 Gehlen and a small group of his most senior officers carefully microfilmed the vast holdings on the USSR in the Fremde Heere Ost (FHO), the military intelligence section of the German army's general staff. They packed the film in watertight steel drums and secretly buried it in remote mountain meadows scattered through the Austrian Alps. Then, on May 22, 1945, Gehlen and his top aides surrendered to an American Counterintelligence Corps team.

Luck was with them. Captain John Bokor was assigned as their interrogator at Camp King, near Oberursel, in the American occupation zone. Bokor had been interned by the Germans early in the war, had been treated well, and had later served as an interrogator of captured German officers at Fort Hunt near Washington, D.C. Though he was unquestionably anti-Nazi, Bokor's contact with the German officer corps had left him with a certain amount of respect for the enemy and a disdain for the narrow-minded anti-Germanism of many American officers of the time. He was, as Gehlen recalled later, "the first American officer I met with expert knowledge of Russia and with no illusions about the way political events were turning . . . we became close friends and have remained so."' During the weeks following Bokor's new assignment Gehlen gradually laid his cards on the table. Not only did the former Wehrmacht general know where the precious archives were buried, but he had also maintained the embryo of an underground espionage organization that could put the records to work against the USSR. Captain Bokor was interested.

... it is clear that before a year was out, the Americans had freed Gehlen and most of his high command, then installed them in a former Waffen SS training facility near Pullach, Germany, which has remained the group's headquarters to this day.

... Gehlen derived much of his information from his role in one of the most terrible atrocities of the war: the torture, interrogation, and murder by starvation of some 4 million Soviet prisoners of war. Even Gehlen's defenders-and there are many of them, both in Germany and in the United States-acknowledge he was instrumental in organizing the interrogations of these POWs. The success of this interrogation program from the German military's point of view became, in fact, the cornerstone of Gehlen's career. It won him his reputation as an intelligence officer and his major general's rank.

But these same interrogations were actually a step in the liquidation of tens of thousands of POWs. Prisoners who refused to cooperate were often tortured or summarily shot. Many were executed even after they had given information, while others were simply left to starve to death. True, Gehlen's men did not personally administer the starvation camps, nor are they known to have served in the execution squads. Such tasks were left to the SS, whose efficiency in such matters is well known.

Instead, Gehlen's men were in a sense like scientists who skimmed off the information and documents that rose to the surface of these pestilent camps. Now and again they selected an interesting specimen: a captured Russian general ready to collaborate, perhaps, or a Ukrainian railroad expert who might supply the locations of vulnerable bridges when given some encouragement to talk. Gehlen's officers were scientists in somewhat the same way that concentration camp doctors were: Both groups extracted their data from the destruction of human beings.

Nazis and collaborators became integral to the operation of Gehlen's postwar organization, and nowhere was this clearer than in control of emigre operations...

Gehlen's man in emigre enterprises, SS Brigadefuhrer Franz Six, is a major war criminal and is still alive at last report. He was once described by Adolf Eichmann as a Streber (a "real eager beaver") on the so-called Jewish Question and as a favored protégé of SS chief Himmler's. Eichmann should have known: His own first efforts in the Holocaust were carried out under Six's personal command in the "Ideological Combat" section of the security service. In 1941 Six led the Vorkommando Moskau, an advance squad of the Nazi invasion, whose job it was to seize Communist party and NKVD archives in order to compile lists of hunted Soviet officials and to liquidate those who were caught. Six's Vorkommando never made it to Moscow, but his own reports indicate that his unit murdered approximately 200 people in cold blood in Smolensk, where they had stopped on the march to the Russian capital. The Smolensk victims, Six wrote headquarters, included "46 persons, among them 38 intellectual Jews who had tried to create unrest and discontent in the newly established Ghetto of Smolensk."

As late as 1944 Six spoke at a conference of "consultants" on the "Jewish Question" at Krummhubel. The stenographic notes of the meeting indicate that "Six spoke . . . about the political structure of world Jewry. The physical elimination of Eastern Jewry would deprive Jewry of its biological reserves, " he announced. "The Jewish Question must be solved not only in Germany but also internationally". Himmler was so pleased with Six's work that he lifted him out of projects in Amt VI and gave him a newly created department, Amt VII, of his own.

But Six was not simply a killer. He was a college professor with a doctorate in law and political science and a dean of the faculty of the University of Berlin and was regarded by some of his peers as one of the most distinguished professors of his generation. Six-Dr. Six, as he preferred-had joined the Nazi party in 1930, then the SS and SD a few years later. He was, along with Walter Schellenberg and Otto Ohlendorf, one of the nazified professors and lawyers who supplied a thin cover of intellectual respectability to the Hitler dictatorship. A number of such men enlisted in the security service and became the brains of the party, the intelligence specialists who presented dispassionate analyses to the Nazi high command concerning ideological warfare, racial questions in the East, and tactics for the Final Solution.

Blowback - CSimpson

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