PART 1 - Worst Kept Secrets of the Bumbling Bear (The CIA-Nazi Marriage)
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Thu Dec 6 07:48:12 MST 2001
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Worst Kept Secrets of the Bumbling Bear
by Jared Israel
[Originally Posted 22 May 2001]
[Reposted 2 December 2001]
Below is an article from the 'San Francisco Bay Guardian', entitled, 'The
CIA's Worst-Kept Secret.' It discusses some recently unclassified CIA files.
These documents, 18,000 pages in all, confirm that U.S. intelligence
recruited and protected Nazis starting at the end of World War II.
I am posting and writing about this article for two reasons. First, it
includes some useful information about the Nazi-CIA marriage. Second, it
presents that information from a perspective that I consider at once mistaken
and widespread; hence worth discussing.
The article was written by Martin Lee. Mr. Lee argues that after World War
II, Nazi spies duped the U.S. into hiring them, thereby protecting themselves
and their networks from prosecution.
He cites the example of General Reinhard Gehlen. Gehlen had been chief of
Nazi intelligence in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. According to Mr.
Lee, Gehlen fooled spymaster Allen Dulles, who later became Director of the
CIA, in the following way:
"Gehlen was quickly spirited off to Fort Hunt, Va. The image he projected
during 10 months of negotiations at Fort Hunt was, to use a bit of espionage
parlance, a "legend" --one that hinged on Gehlen's false claim that he was
never really a Nazi, but was dedicated, above all, to fighting Communism.
Those who bit the bait included future CIA director Allen Dulles, who became
Gehlen's biggest supporter among American policy wonks. " (From the text
There's a bit of a problem here.
Starting more than a decade earlier, Allen Dulles, a leading diplomat and
spy, and his brother, John Foster, a Wall Street insider, had created a
financial-intelligence apparatus to assist the Nazis. So Dulles had
long-standing, friendly relations with Nazis. That being the case, why would
Dulles be upset if he 'learned' that Gehlen (a top Nazi spy) was a Nazi? (1)
Moreover, Gehlen had not been some cloistered spy. His job had not been
simply to coordinate the gathering of information. He had been a key leader
of the work of fascist groups in the occupied East, such as the Iron Guard in
Romania, the Latvian Vanagis and the Croatian Ustashe. These groups committed
the most unimaginably brutal atrocities against 'Untermenschen', Jews,
'gypsies', Serbs and other Slavs and Orthodox Christians, as well as against
anti-Nazis, both Communist and non-Communist, including various Nationalist
groups, which resisted the Nazis. Gehlen was a leading war criminal.
Did Allen Dulles know all this? Of course he knew all this. He was a U.S.
spymaster with almost three decades experience and he had worked with the
Nazi leadership for two decades. Dulles arranged to have Gehlen secretly
brought to the U.S. precisely so that the Russians wouldn't get hold of him
and put him on trial for war crimes and hang him.
Once they had Gehlen safely in the U.S., Allen Dulles and other top U.S.
Intelligence operatives met with Gehlen and planned a nightmare creation: a
vast European spying-and-subversion apparatus, controlled by Washington but
staffed by hundreds and then thousands of Nazi war criminals. The Nazis may
have lost the war but Nazism had found new life. (6)
Since Allen Dulles knew that Gehlen commanded an army of monstrous war
criminals in Eastern Europe and Russia, what is the significance of Dulles'
supposed (though frankly unbelievable) belief that Gehlen was not a Nazi?
Mr. Lee's suggestion that Dulles' rescue and empowerment of Gehlen was
somehow less monstrous because he was 'fooled' about Gehlen's Nazi beliefs is
typical of the way the mass media has been whitewashing American foreign
policy since 1945.
According to this reasoning, it is a crime if Nazis (or Islamist terrorists)
go out and commit atrocities on their own. But if they commit atrocities at
the behest of American leaders who are a) naive about who these Nazis (or
Islamist terrorists) are and b) are only using these Nazis or terrorists in
pursuit of good American values, then it is OK. This treats the American
foreign policy establishment as if it were some perpetual teenager who may
have fallen in with a bad crowd, but heck, he'll grow out of it.
Very few of us will ever read the declassified Nazi-CIA documents. Articles
like Mr. Lee's from the 'San Francisco Bay Guardian', a left-leaning
newspaper, must inform our view. Throughout the article, Mr. Lee portrays
Washington as naive, trapped by a Cold War mentality into recruiting Nazis
(or, as he suggests at the end of his article, by recruiting too many of
them...you know, Nazis are OK, but only if taken in moderation...)
Can it be that a smart guy like Mr. Lee really believes that the very
sophisticated men who shaped US foreign policy over the past 50 years
unknowingly blundered into bed with the worst butchers of the century? I
cannot say; but by making this absurd idea the theme of his article, Mr. Lee,
the critic, makes himself an apologist for the thing he is seemingly
DID THE NAZI-CIA MARRIAGE TAKE PLACE BECAUSE WASHINGTON WAS IN A "COLD WAR
This notion, which is put forward by Mr. Lee, is contradicted by two
Fact # 1 - No, Because It Started Too Early
Washington began working with high-placed officials in the Vatican at the end
of the war to set up Nazi escape routes. Some of the Nazis whom they
cooperated in rescuing were spies. Others were just Nazi butchers.
The escape routes, appropriately called 'ratlines', started in Eastern Europe
and the Balkans, particularly Croatia, and terminated in the U.S., Canada,
Australia, Latin America, and so on. How could it be true that the U.S. got
swept up in organizing the ratlines due to a Cold War mentality when the Cold
War hadn't yet begun? (2)
Mr. Lee is aware that the U.S. began rescuing Nazis before the Cold War
began. He points out that this:
"...belies the prevalent Western notion that aggressive Soviet policies were
primarily to blame for triggering the Cold War."
Point well taken. But at the same time, Mr. Lee writes:
"The early courtship of Gehlen by American intelligence suggests that
Washington was in a Cold War mode sooner than most people realize." (From the
What does this mean? If aggressive Soviet policies were not to blame for
triggering the Cold War, why does Mr. Lee say that "Washington was [already]
in a Cold War mode" at the end of World War II? Doesn't a "Cold War" require
What Mr. Lee probably means is that at the end of W.W. II; Washington was in
an "Attack Russia!" mode. Indeed, it was precisely Washington's belligerent
and criminal actions, such as rescuing Nazi war criminals, that created the
international climate of hostility and threat which became known as the "Cold
In the decade and a half before World War II, Washington and Wall Street,
including the the Dulles brothers and the grandfather and great grandfather
of President Bush, played a dangerous game. They helped put the Nazis in
power and aided them once they got in power. With their assistance, the
shattered German war industry was rebuilt in record time.
Why did Dulles and the Walker/Bush family and others in the U.S.
Establishment help finance the creation of a powerful, fascist state in
Germany? They did it in large measure because they planned to use the Nazis
to attack Soviet Russia.
Alas, as the poet says, the best laid plans of mice and men often fail.
Instead of settling for their assigned role, of conquering Russia, the German
Nazi/Corporate state decided to conquer everyone. Washington and London
responded to this unacceptable ambition in a measured fashion. First, they
allowed the Nazis to inflict maximum damage on the Soviet Union. Then they
opened a Second Front (the Normandy Invasion) in order to prevent the USSR
from liberating all of Europe and to make sure the Nazis were not completely
After World War II Washington didn't go into "Cold War mode." It simply
continued with its plan of using Germany and the Nazis against the USSR.
Except now the Nazi apparatus existed all over Eastern and Southern Europe
(including in Russia) and Soviet influence was far more extensive as well.
Fact # 2 - No, because the U.S. Foreign Policy Establishment Didn't Use the
Nazis Only to Spy
The Nazi murderers whom the U.S. helped rescue, in violation of law and
decency, were not simply spies. Many of them were monstrous war criminals.
And these war criminal/spies were not simply rescued, dumped in various
countries, and then forgotten.
Instead the U.S. maintained a great network of the 'escapees' and their
contacts all over Europe with three purposes:
* to spy;
* to nurture networks of fascists dedicated to infiltrating, subverting and
sabotaging the socialist and non-socialist states of Europe, a network linked
to U.S. intelligence (and to Germany);
* and to prepare a force that could be sent back into the socialist
countries, especially the strategic Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania and
Estonia, and into the Balkans states, especially Yugoslavia, when the time
The Nazi and pro-Nazi 'refugees' were maintained at the expense of U.S.
taxpayers through programs such as the 'Assembly of Captive Nations' (3)
In the late 1980s and early 1990s many of the U.S.-protected Nazi war
criminals (and/or their children) were shipped back to Eastern Europe and the
Balkans where they helped to launch secessionist movements, install U.S. and
German puppet governments, assassinate those who resisted and foster national
hatreds. For example, returning Fascists helped Franjo Tudjman's neo-Nazi
group, the Croatian Democratic Union, or HDZ, take over the Croatian Republic
and launch a secessionist war against Yugoslavia in 1991. (4)
THE BUMBLING BEAR THEORY OF U.S. FOREIGN POLICY
Why do critics of U.S. foreign policy so often present Washington as a
passive force? Why are we constantly told that the U.S. is being 'used by the
Cuban exiles for their own agenda' or that the U.S. has 'screwed up once
again by backing the Kosovo Liberation Army' and that 'sooner or later the
Americans will find out what kind of monsters these Albanian secessionists
are' and so on. (5)
Two explanations come to mind.
First, wittingly or unwittingly, people tend to censor themselves in
confrontation with reckless power.
When one is criticizing an Establishment that bombs pill factories because it
doesn't like the government (as the U.S. did in Sudan), that bombs Bosnia,
Kosovo and Iraq with radioactive weapons and then sends its own and allied
troops into the contaminated areas, that refuses to punish submarine
commanders who cause the deaths of Japanese fishermen while performing
daredevil stunts with nuclear submarines - in criticizing such an
Establishment one may experience the temptation to exercise restraint.
If, for example, one argues that Washington was tricked into working with
Nazis one may feel reasonably secure. One is not challenging the basic
legitimacy of the Wall Street-Washington axis. But if one argues that the
nightmares of U.S. foreign policy have been, like most large-scale human
activities, planned, then one will be accused of being conspiratorial, or
extremist, or worse. One may find that certain doors, previously open, are
now shut tight. Or worse.
Second, American TV and films, viewed by people all over the world, project
an image of the Innocent American official: kind hearted, too powerful for
his own good; easily fooled and manipulated. This plays a big role in
conditioning people to think of the U.S. government as a bumbling bear.
Since the movies are partly responsible for this nonsensical image of
American leaders, let me paraphrase a famous movie speech by way of
"Don't be too sure we're as naive as we're supposed to be. That sort of
reputation might be good business, toning down the critics and making it
easier to deal with the enemy." (With apologies to Sam Spade in the 'Maltese
Falcon', for which see http://www.filmsite.org/malt.html )
Was Washington an innocent bystander during World War II? It was most surely
not. The OSS, predecessor of the CIA, was engaged all over Europe. OSS
operatives knew - and reported - that monstrous crimes were being committed
by Nazis, following which Washington recruited these same Nazis into its
burgeoning covert apparatus, the most sensitive branch of the U.S.
Think about this. The OSS was a small organization. The Nazi apparatus was
huge and well organized. Absorbing the Nazis into U.S. intelligence was like
a garter snake eating a rat. What does this mean? It means the most powerful
forces in the U.S.A. had decided that the CIA was to be, in essence, a Nazi
Washington's goal was to break up the USSR and other Socialist states and
bring them under U.S. domination. The way Washington planners viewed things,
Nazis had many virtues. They respected capitalism. They despised a host of
groups (including Serbs and other Slavs, 'Gypsies', other dark-skinned
people, etc.) who tended to resist U.S. domination. They were good at playing
on prejudice against these groups. Moreover, the intensity of their hate gave
an energy of persistence to their work. They were skilled at demagoguery,
subversion, assassination, and torture.
Numerous virtues; only one fault: a very bad reputation, regarding which, no
problem unless the truth came out. And should the truth come out, (as it is
indeed trickling out today) the important thing from Washington's point of
view was and is to make sure the inevitable criticism has the proper slant.
Let the critics declare that it was all a terrible, stupid, unforgivable
mistake and we should learn 'our' lesson and never never do such bad things
Better to be attacked for being unforgivably stupid than for being
unforgivably evil. To this end, President Clinton set up an 'Interagency
Working Group' (IWG), made up of "scholars, public officials, and former
intelligence officers who helped prepare the CIA records for
declassification." It would appear that Mr. Lee has accepted the IWG's spin
on the Nazi-CIA connection.
Below is the 'San Francisco Bay Guardian' article.
Following the article I have posted a few dissenting remarks.
-- Jared Israel, 21 May 2001
The CIA's Worst-Kept Secret
>From 'San Francisco Bay Guardian', May 7, 2001
Newly Declassified Files Confirm United States Collaboration with Nazis
by Martin A. Lee
"Honest and idealist ... enjoys good food and wine ... unprejudiced mind ..."
That's how a 1952 Central Intelligence Agency assessment described Nazi
ideologue Emil Augsburg, an officer at the infamous Wannsee Institute, the SS
think tank involved in planning the Final Solution. Augsburg's SS unit
performed "special duties," a euphemism for exterminating Jews and other
"undesirables" during the Second World War.
Although he was wanted in Poland for war crimes, Augsburg managed to
ingratiate himself with the U.S. CIA, which employed him in the late1940s as
an expert on Soviet affairs. Recently released CIA records indicate that
Augsburg was among a rogue's gallery of Nazi war criminals recruited by U.S.
intelligence shortly after Germany surrendered to the Allies..
Pried loose by Congress, which passed the Nazi War Crimes Disclosure Act
three years ago, a long-hidden trove of once-classified CIA documents
confirms one of the worst-kept secrets of the Cold War-- the CIA's use of an
extensive Nazi spy network to wage a clandestine campaign against the Soviet
The CIA reports show that U.S. officials knew they were subsidizing numerous
Third Reich veterans who had committed horrible crimes against humanity, but
these atrocities were overlooked as the anti-Communist crusade acquired its
own momentum. For Nazis who would otherwise have been charged with war
crimes, signing on with American intelligence enabled them to avoid a prison
"The real winners of the Cold War were Nazi war criminals, many of whom were
able to escape justice because the East and West became so rapidly focused
after the war on challenging each other," says Eli Rosenbaum, director of the
Justice Department's Office of Special Investigations and America's chief
Nazi hunter. Rosenbaum serves on a Clinton-appointed Interagency Working
Group committee of U.S. scholars, public officials, and former intelligence
officers who helped prepare the CIA records for declassification.
Many Nazi criminals "received light punishment, no punishment at all, or
received compensation because Western spy agencies considered them useful
assets in the Cold War," the IWG team stated after releasing 18,000 pages of
redacted CIA material. (More installments are pending.)
These are "not just dry historical documents," insists former congresswoman
Elizabeth Holtzman, a member of the panel that examined the CIA files. As far
as Holtzman is concerned, the CIA papers raise critical questions about
American foreign policy and the origins of the Cold War.
The decision to recruit Nazi operatives had a negative impact on U.S.-Soviet
relations and set the stage for Washington's tolerance of human rights'
abuses and other criminal acts in the name of anti-Communism. With that
fateful sub-rosa embrace, the die was cast for a litany of antidemocratic CIA
interventions around the world.
The Gehlen Org
The key figure on the German side of the CIA-Nazi tryst was General Reinhard
Gehlen, who had served as Adolf Hitler's top anti-Soviet spy. During World
War II, Gehlen oversaw all German military-intelligence operations in Eastern
Europe and the USSR.
As the war drew to a close, Gehlen surmised that the U.S.-Soviet alliance
would soon break down. Realizing that the United States did not have a viable
cloak-and-dagger apparatus in Eastern Europe, Gehlen surrendered to the
Americans and pitched himself as someone who could make a vital contribution
to the forthcoming struggle against the Communists. In addition to sharing
his vast espionage archive on the USSR, Gehlen promised that he could
resurrect an underground network of battle-hardened anti-Communist assets who
were well placed to wreak havoc throughout the Soviet Union and Eastern
Although the Yalta Treaty stipulated that the United States must give the
Soviets all captured German officers who had been involved in "eastern area
activities," Gehlen was quickly spirited off to Fort Hunt, Va. The image he
projected during 10 months of negotiations at Fort Hunt was, to use a bit of
espionage parlance, a "legend" --one that hinged on Gehlen's false claim that
he was never really a Nazi, but was dedicated, above all, to fighting
Communism. Those who bit the bait included future CIA director Allen Dulles,
who became Gehlen's biggest supporter among American policy wonks.
Gehlen returned to West Germany in the summer of 1946 with a mandate to
rebuild his espionage organization and resume spying on the East at the
behest of American intelligence. The date is significant as it preceded the
onset of the Cold War, which, according to standard U.S. historical accounts,
did not begin until a year later. The early courtship of Gehlen by American
intelligence suggests that Washington was in a Cold War mode sooner than most
people realize. The Gehlen gambit also belies the prevalent Western notion
that aggressive Soviet policies were primarily to blame for triggering the
Based near Munich, Gehlen proceeded to enlist thousands of Gestapo,
Wehrmacht, and SS veterans. Even the vilest of the vile -- the senior
bureaucrats who ran the central administrative apparatus of the Holocaust --
were welcome in the "Gehlen Org," as it was called, including Alois Brunner,
Adolf Eichmann's chief deputy. SS major Emil Augsburg and Gestapo captain
Klaus Barbie, otherwise known as the "Butcher of Lyon," were among those who
did double duty for Gehlen and U.S. intelligence. "It seems that in the
Gehlen headquarters one SS man paved the way for the next and Himmler's elite
were having happy reunion ceremonies," the Frankfurter Rundschau reported in
Bolted lock, stock, and barrel into the CIA, Gehlen's Nazi-infested spy
apparatus functioned as America's secret eyes and ears in central Europe. The
Org would go on to play a major role within NATO, supplying two-thirds of raw
intelligence on the Warsaw Pact countries. Under CIA auspices, and later as
head of the West German secret service until he retired in 1968, Gehlen
exerted considerable influence on U.S. policy toward the Soviet bloc. When
U.S. spy chiefs desired an off-the-shelf style of nation tampering, they
turned to the readily available Org, which served as a subcontracting
syndicate for a series of ill-fated guerrilla air drops behind the Iron
Curtain and other harebrained CIA rollback schemes.
Sitting ducks for disinformation
...Third Reich veterans often proved adept at peddling data -- much of it
false -- in return for cash and safety, the IWG panel concluded. Many Nazis
played a double game, feeding scuttlebutt to both sides of the East-West
conflict and preying upon the mutual suspicions that emerged from the rubble
of Hitler's Germany.
General Gehlen frequently exaggerated the Soviet threat in order to
exacerbate tensions between the superpowers. At one point he succeeded in
convincing General Lucius Clay, military governor of the U.S. zone of
occupation in Germany, that a major Soviet war mobilization had begun in
Eastern Europe. This prompted Clay to dash off a frantic, top-secret telegram
to Washington in March 1948, warning that war "may come with dramatic
Gehlen's disinformation strategy was based on a simple premise: the colder
the Cold War got, the more political space for Hitler's heirs to maneuver.
The Org could only flourish under Cold War conditions; as an institution it
was therefore committed to perpetuating the Soviet-American conflict.
"The agency loved Gehlen because he fed us what we wanted to hear. We used
his stuff constantly, and we fed it to everyone else -- the Pentagon, the
White House, the newspapers. They loved it, too. But it was hyped-up Russian
bogeyman junk, and it did a lot of damage to this country," a retired CIA
official told author Christopher Simpson, who also serves on the IWG review
panel and was author of "Blowback: America's Recruitment of Nazis and Its
Effects on the Cold War."
CONTINUED PART 2 - Emperor's Clothes
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