At least 1,000 former Nazis were recruited by the C.I.A. and F.B.I. to spy on behalf of the United States during the Cold War, The New York Times reportedMonday.
The article comes ahead of the release of a book written by one of the Times’ own reporters, Eric Lichtblau, entitled “The Nazis Next Door: How America Became a Safe Haven for Hitler’s Men”.
As the book and the article explain, ex-Nazis were hired by American spy agencies at the height of the Cold War for their intelligence value against the Russians, providing leads to agency officials on communist “sympathizers”.
High-ranking SS officers such as Otto von Bolschwing, mentor and top aide to Adolf Eichmann and architect of the “Final Solution”, were protected by leading intelligence officials like J. Edgar Hoover at the F.B.I. and Allen Dulles at the C.I.A.
In 1968, Mr. Hoover even authorised the F.B.I. to wiretap a left-wing journalist, Charles Allen, who wrote critical stories about Nazis in America. Internal records uncovered by the New York Times show that Hoover deemed Allen a potential threat to national security.
Records also show that some Nazis were not only recruited as spies, but were actively relocated to the US by the C.I.A. Otto von Bolschwing’s son, Gus von Bolschwing, who moved to New York City in 1954 along with his father, told the New York Times that he didn’t think his father’s relationship with the C.I.A. was “consistent with our values as a country.”
Perhaps this is why the spy agency sought to keep their extensive collaboration with ex-Nazis a secret for so long. According to the New York Times, in 1980, F.B.I. officials refused to tell even the Nazi hunters in the Justice Department what they knew about 16 suspected Nazis living in the United States.
Agencies continued to conceal the government’s ties to former Nazis still living in the US as recently as the 1990’s.
Aleksandras Lileikis, who the CIA linked to the machine-gun massacres of 60,000 Jews in Lithuania, lived in the US for 40 years until the Justice Department discovered his Nazi past and prepared to deport him in 1994. Afraid agency documents about the ex-Nazi spy would be subpoenaed, the C.I.A. attempted to stop the case from being filed. The agency did not succeed, however, and Mr. Lileikis was ultimately deported.
Unsurprisingly, many of the ex-Nazis recruited proved to be incompetent and untrustworthy. Some were pathological liars and embezzlers, while others turned out to be double-agents for the Soviet Union, the Times reported.
Yet, according to Holocaust scholar Richard Breitman, the morality of recruiting ex-Nazis to work as US spies was never considered, even as the US became one of the world’s biggest safe havens for Nazi criminals.
None of the spies are known to be alive today.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.