The Nazis Next Door: How America Became a Safe Haven for Hitler’s Men
By Eric Lichtblau
About this time in 1945, weeks after the surprise attack known as the Battle of the Bulge, the Allies began to close in on Berlin and bring World War II in Europe to a close. Total defeat and surrender came on May 7. Soon after, commencing on November 20, the Nuremberg trials, followed by the military tribunal trials of lesser figures, brought to justice those instrumental in carrying out the Holocaust. While the trials formally ended with the last case decided on April 13, 1949, to this day organizations continue to pursue and bring to trial participants, as evidenced by the trial currently underway in Germany of 94-year-old former SS sergeant Reinhold Hanning.
You might wonder how those directly involved in the slaughter of millions managed to evade justice all these years. And you might be surprised to learn how our own country helped shield and protect know Nazis from capture and punishment.
Now, of course you knew that at the end of World War II, the U.S. brought known Nazis to the country to develop our rocket program and launch our space program. The old Soviet government did the same. But it went beyond that, as if that would not have been bad enough. We brought on hundreds, maybe thousands, more to operate as spies. Others slipped in because we weren’t especially diligent with our immigration policies.
Perhaps when you cast your mind back over the Cold War, you might think welcoming top notch scientific minds and on-the-ground spies (experienced fighters of Communism!) acceptable, considering the early frosting of American-Soviet relations. You know, whatever it takes to defeat the Communists. As Allen Dulles, head of U.S. wartime intelligence in Europe and later CIA director, said, American spies “should be free to talk to the Devil himself.” All’s fair in … well, no need to dwell on this.
But perhaps you’ll feel differently when you learn more about these Nazis, how our government officials distinguished between good and bad Nazis, how, ultimately, officials turned a blind eye to these Nazis’s deeds in the name of winning the war against Communism. In other words, some of our military, our CIA, and our FBI allowed what was in their minds an ideological imperative to cloud their judgement. And later, when groups began exposing the Nazis on our soil and their heinous crimes against men, women, and children, leaders in these same organizations worked to thwart efforts to denaturalize and deport war criminals to protect the reputations of their organizations.
Some of these Nazis will ring a bell with you. Famous and infamous are the likes of Wernher von Braun, Hubertus Strughold (honored as the father of space medicine, in fact until 2013), and John Demjanjuk. Others, like Nazi collaborator Aleksandras Lileikis, Otto von Bolschwing, and Tscherim “Tom” Soobzokov will soon be as familiar, they and many others like them.
Also familiar to you will become the men and women who hunted down these Nazis and worked over years and through tremendous frustrations thrown in their way by their, our, own government, to earn some semblance of justice for the hundreds of thousands who perished at the orders or the hands of Americanized Nazis, including Chuck Allen, Eli Rosenbaum, and many members of the Office of Special Investigations operating in the Criminal Division of the DOJ.
Lichtblau offers up much to ponder and lessons to learn. But above all, he demonstrates that when we allow ideology to supplant American values, to override justice, to so distort our national compass so that we will tack in the direction of the devil, then we must seriously examine our concept of humanity. w/c