Chapter 11 – A new alliance for the crusade against Communism
by Peter Cohen
It would surely be natural for a reader of the Holocaust Book to ask “What happened to the people who were responsible for the Holocaust and other awful crimes during World War 2? Were they punished after Germany surrendered?”
The book does not provide an answer. Like the vast majority of mainstream historians, the staff of the Forum for Living History appear to be uninterested in finding out what happened to the Nazis after World War 2 ended, or more exactly what did not happen to the vast majority of them.
At the Yalta Conference in February 1945 the UK, the US and Soviet Union agreed “…to bring all war criminals to just and swift punishment and exact reparation in kind for the destruction wrought by the Germans; wipe out the Nazi Party, Nazi laws, organizations and institutions, remove all Nazi and militarist influences from public office and from the cultural and economic life of the German people…”
From the Protocol of the Potsdam Conference, 1 August 1945, Section II (emphasis added):
5. War criminals and those who have participated in planning or carrying out Nazi enterprises involving or resulting in atrocities or war crimes shall be arrested and brought to judgment. Nazi leaders, influential Nazi supporters and high officials of Nazi organizations and institutions and any other persons dangerous to the occupation or its objectives shall be arrested and interned.
6. All members of the Nazi Party who have been more than nominal participants in its activities and all other persons hostile to Allied purposes shall be removed from public and semi-public office, and from positions of responsibility in important private undertakings. Such persons shall be replaced by persons who, by their political and moral qualities, are deemed capable of assisting in developing genuine democratic institutions in Germany.
7. German education shall be so controlled as completely to eliminate Nazi and militarist doctrines and to make possible the successful development of democratic ideas.”
Aid, comfort and employment for war criminals
Not long after the end of the war it became clear that in the British, French and US military zones the above goals would not be achieved. Nor would they be achieved in the new nation that the Western powers established in May 1949 as Bundesrepublik Deutschland (BRD, or West Germany).
Although the Western powers were publicly committed to a policy of “de-Nazifying” Germany, they never created a structure or an organization that would enable it to be effectively implemented. Those who tried to identify or investigate Nazis were often obstructed by their superiors in government or in the military commissions that were supposed to govern the occupied zones. A limited number of Nazis were punished for their crimes. Most of those who were sent to jail were released shortly afterward.
An Anglo-American policy for de-cartelization, i.e. dismantling the big German banks and industries that had fuelled the German war machine, was established in May 1945. It was never implemented on a meaningful scale, mainly because the people in charge were not interested in doing so.
For example, the anti-cartel section set up by the Americans was headed by William Draper from the New York investment bank Dillon, Reed & Co. which had a long history of profitable dealings with German bankers and industrialists. The section included Captain Norbert Bogdan from the J. Henry Schroeder Banking Corporation of New York, which had been established by the Rockefellers together with one of the Schroeder brothers who arranged financing for the Nazis and the German war industry. It also included Rufus Wysor, president of the Republic Steel Corporation and Fred Devereux, retired vice-president of AT&T.
In 1945 the Kilgore Committee appointed by the US Senate reported that these men typified a large number of Allied officials in Germany who were convinced that
no effort should be made to penalize German industry or prevent it from recapturing its prewar position in world markets… They look forward to resuming commercial relationships with a rehabilitated German industry whose leading figures are well-known to them (cited in Bower).
The Nuremberg Trials
The Trial of the Major War Criminals was the first attempt to establish the guilt of any of the leading figures in Nazi Germany, and to punish them. It was the most publicized of the Nuremberg trials held in 1945-46. A total of 24 defendants were indicted, one of them in absentia. Ten defendants were convicted and hanged. Two committed suicide in prison. Three were acquitted. The others received sentences of between 10 years and life imprisonment. One of the acquitted was Hjalmar Schacht, who played a key role in financing the Nazi party and the German war machine. The British judge considered him to be “a man of character” as distinct from the other “ruffians” in the dock. A majority of the other judges agreed that a high-class character like Schacht should not be punished.
Gustav Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach was declared medically unfit to stand trial. His son Alfried was tried separately in 1947 (see below).
Class also determined the fate of former “General Plenipotentiary for Labor Deployment” Fritz Sauckel, who was sentenced to death by hanging for having organized shipments of slave laborers to German corporations. He was perceived as “a crude and uneducated man”.
He had carried out the orders of his superior, Albert Speer, who came from a wealthy family and was educated as an architect. During the war Speer was in charge of industrial production for the German war machine. He impressed the judges with his “honesty” and “intellect”. Speer was sentenced to 20 years in prison. He was and is considered to have been a person of intelligence, charm and culture.
During the war Speer’s task naturally involved ensuring that production quotas were met. He demonstrated his intellect and charm when he
…impatiently criticized Sauckel for delivering too many women and children among the two million (slave laborers) in 1942. And in September 1943 he demanded that the minister of labor find another 1.2 million to work in Germany’s factories. Sauckel obeyed… (cited in Bower).
A number of other trials were held at Nuremberg. The US arranged twelve of them. According to the sources presented by Wikipedia,
In total, 142 of the 185 defendants were found guilty of at least one of the charges. 24 persons received death sentences, of which 11 were subsequently converted into lifetime imprisonment; 20 others were sentenced to lifetime imprisonment, 98 were handed down prison sentences of varying lengths, and 35 were acquitted. Four defendants had to be removed from trials due to illness, and four more committed suicide during the trials.
Bower: Many of the longer prison sentences were reduced substantially by decree of high commissioner John J. McCloy in 1951, and 10 outstanding death sentences from the Einsatzgruppen Trial were converted to prison terms. The same year, an amnesty released many of those who had received prison sentences. (Bower)
With the exception of a limited number of criminals who were turned over to the Soviets by the Western powers, the rest may be divided into three categories:
- Nazis in Germany who were restored to positions of power and influence, or at the very worst to gainful employment
- Nazis who were recruited for service in Western industry, intelligence organizations and the military, mainly by the US and the UK, and in some instances by France.
- Non-German Nazis, mainly Balts and Ukrainians, who found safe havens in Western countries, including Sweden
“We just plain turned them loose,” said US Army Colonel Clio E. Straight, one of the first people appointed to prosecute war crimes after WW 2.
A peephole on history
Although the question of the fate of the Nazi criminals is outside the scope of mainstream inquiry, on page 7 of the Holocaust Book there is a peephole on history in the form of a reference to the Nuremberg Laws that were enacted in 1935 and deprived German Jews of their remaining civil rights. The peephole offers access to a wider horizon of historical truth that is normally absent from the mainstream accounts. The Nuremberg Laws did not provoke any protests from the Western powers at the time. Adolf Eichmann claimed that the laws were “the basis for the Final Solution of the Jewish people”.
The Holocaust Book refers to the Nuremberg Laws as an example of the Nazi goal of “creating a racially pure and homogeneous society”. It mentions that the laws were written by lawyers. It does not mention that one of the lawyers was named Hans Maria Globke, and that he was:
- An active member of the Nazi party
- A high-ranking and decorated official in Hitler’s Ministry of the Interior.
- Responsible for the introduction of the obligatory first names “Sara” and “Israel” as identifiers of German Jews.
- Responsible for drafting a peace treaty with France that stipulated deportation of all Jews and Roma to concentration camps.
- Responsible for drafting Section 11 of the Reich Citizenship Law of Nov. 25, 1941, the juridical basis for the attempt to exterminate the Jews.
- Responsible for drafting decrees that legitimized degradation and extermination of ethnic groups in Belgium, Czechoslovakia, France, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Poland and Yugoslavia.
- Never prosecuted after the war.
- In 1949 appointed State Secretary to Konrad Adenauer, the first chancellor of West Germany (BRD), with the full approval of the US, UK and French governments.
Globke was thus clearly subject to Section 2 of the Potsdam Protocol.
As state secretary to Adenauer, Globke’s principle task was to identify suitable appointees for senior positions in the West German civil service. Unsurprisingly, most of the candidates he selected were Nazis.
Ministers come and go, but state secretaries are the powers behind the throne. Those selected by Globke included the secretary of the Finance Ministry Alfred Hartmann, who during the war “had supervised confiscation of Jewish Property in Globke’s own ministry”. Another interesting appointee was Dr. Günther Bergmann, secretary of the Ministry of Transport. He had previously administrated the plunder of Serbia. Another was Ludger Westrick, new secretary in the Ministry of Economic Affairs. He had been appointed by Hitler to the 10-man advisory council for development of aviation equipment. He was also head of the aluminum trust (Vereinigte Aluminiumwerke AG Berlin, VAW), at which more than 75% of the work force were slave laborers, including children of 13 years and women over 60. He later succeeded Globke as head of the West German Office of the Federal Chancellery.
The new state secretaries also included Rudolf Senteck, a particularly appropriate choice for Adenauer’s Ministry of Refugees. He had previously been an SS officer in Hitler’s Race and Resettlement office, which was responsible for Aryanizing Germany.
“It isn’t necessary to be a Nazi in order to obtain an important post in the Adenauer government, but it helps” – Ludwig Knoll, 1912-1992, conscripted into the Wehrmacht 1939, served on the Eastern front, including the approaches to Stalingrad, later captured by the Americans in Italy, interned in a POW camp and released in the summer of 1945.
In 1951 Globke and other state secretaries prepared an amendment to the constitution of West Germany which enabled Nazis who had been removed from ministries by US or UK officials to return to their old jobs, and to receive promotions if such had been scheduled.
Globke was also instrumental in arranging for generous pensions to all men who had served in the SS, on the grounds that they had been employed by the German state, or to their widows.
The widow of Reinhard Heydrich (among other things responsible for the plan for extermination of Polish Jews) got a pension, as did Field-Marshal Erhard Milch, convicted of war crimes by the Americans at Nuremberg. Notorious SS officers quite openly claimed and received compensation for the loss of personal effects which had been confiscated by the Allies for distribution to liberated slave workers.
The less fortunate were those who had not served the Third Reich. A widow of seventy-six whose husband had been liquidated in the Riga ghetto was refused a pension because she could not prove that her husband had died there. A German worker’s widow whose husband had been executed in 1945 for collecting money for the widow of an executed communist was denied a pension because his collection was for a supporter of a tyrannical regime. A claim for invalid insurance by a former concentration camp inmate was refused because ‘the camp’s low-fat diet must have been good for his health.’ The SS officers who had run the camp, however, would have had no problems in getting a pension. They were former state employees.
General Erhard Milch had been State Secretary in the German Air Force and Hermann Göring’s right-hand man. He was also half-Jewish. Göring promised to protect Milch, saying “I’m the one who decides who’s Jewish and who isn’t around here – basta“, (cited in Borkin).
In 1956 the Adenauer government banned the Communist Party of Germany and the Young Communist League. There was no protest from the West, although it was not the Communists who had launched World War 2 and operated the concentration camps.
Globke remained the most powerful government official in Germany until he was forced to resign in July 1963 after being tried in absentia by a court in the DDR which exposed his crimes. He nevertheless retired on a comfortable pension, paid for of course by the West German government.
Nazis appointed to manage the West German economy
“What’s wrong with them? They were not Nazis, they were businessmen” – Sir Percy Mills, head of the British Military Government’s Economics Division (cited in Bower).
In virtually every branch of German industry in the Western zones, with the partial exception of the coal sector, former Nazis and Nazi supporters were restored to their previous positions in companies that had supported Hitler and profited from his wars.
After the establishment of the BRD, Adenauer appointed four men to manage the West Germany economy: Hermann Abs, Ludger Westrick, Karl Blessing and Ludwig Erhard.
Hermann Abs was
the spiritual rector of the infamous Deutsche Bank, which combined an unusual concentration of economic power with active participation in the criminal policies of the Nazi regime. The Deutsche Bank of Hermann Abs acted as a top institution of the German government and served the economic penetration of the satellite countries and the occupied countries of Europe. Abs used all his energies to extend the rule of Germany over Europe. (US Office of Military Government of the USA, Report of November 1946, cited in The Brown Book. See also Section 2 of the Potsdam Protocol.)
Deutsche Bank had financed companies such as Siemens, Mannesmann and IG Farben, which used SS-supplied slave labor on a large scale. Abs was tried in absentia in Yugoslavia and received a sentence of 15 years hard labor, which he never served.
The German Reconstruction Loan Corporation and the Deutsche Länderbank were responsible for allocating billions of dollars of Marshall Plan aid to German industries. On 1 March 1948 Hermann Abs was appointed deputy head of the Loan Corporation and president of the Deutsche Länderbank, which enabled him to exercise decisive control over the refinancing of German corporations that had supported Hitler.
He was considered to be “West Germany’s uncrowned Minister of Finance”. For example, the West German delegation at the London Debt Conference in 1951 was headed by Abs, not by Adenauer’s finance minister.
In 1953 Abs received West Germany’s highest civilian award, the Great Federal Service Cross, for his successful efforts to restore the prosperity of the German capitalists who had financed and supplied Hitler. In 1960 he received a decoration from Generalissimo Franco for his services to Fascist Spain.
By 1965 Hermann Abs was among other things the president and Board Chairman of the Deutsche Bank, Board Chairman of Badische Anilin- und Soda Fabrik AG (BASF), the successor to IG Farben, vice-president of the Deutsche Bundesbahn, Board Chairman of more than 40 other companies, and a leading figure in several employer associations.
Ludger Westrick’s activities under Hitler have been described above.
Karl Blessing was a member of the Circle of Friends that financed Hitler. In 1934 he was a member of Hitler’s Ministry of Economics. In 1937 he became a member of the advisory council of Deutsche Reichsbank, and participated actively in financing and implementing the rearmament program that enabled Hitler’s war of aggression, which was “the supreme crime” according to the Nuremberg judgment.
Blessing was interned briefly after 1945. He served with Abs under Adenauer, and by 1957 had become president of the West German Federal Bank.
Ludwig Erhard was a consultant to the program for ”rationalization” of the Austrian economy after the Anschluss, which involved integrating it in the Germany economy.
In 1943, after the Soviet victory at Stalingrad, German bankers and industrialists had realized that Germany would lose the war, and they began planning policies to ensure profitability afterward. They formed two groups, the Committee for Foreign Economic Affairs (AAF), composed of bankers and industrialists, and a Working Group (KA) composed solely of industrialists. Erhard was the link between the two. Among other things, the AAF identified bankers and industrialists in the UK and the US who would be sympathetic to their aims in post-war Germany.
Erhard’s work for the committees was coordinated by SS officer Otto Ohlendorf, head of Hitler’s Ministry of Economics, previously head of Einsatzgruppe D, which he himself claimed had murdered more than 90,000 Soviet civilians. Ohlendorf was sentenced to death for war crimes and hanged in June 1951.
In 1963 Erhard succeeded Adenauer as Chancellor of West Germany. To my knowledge, Erhard never condemned or even publicly commented on the crimes committed by Ohlendorf or his other associates in Nazi Germany.
Saving the men who bankrolled and armed the Nazis
Some people in the Western military governments were in favor of investigating and prosecuting Nazis for war crimes, but they were in the minority and their efforts were often blocked by their superiors. Although government leaders in the US and the UK were reluctant to prosecute German capitalists, on several occasions they were forced to do so by the pressure of public opinion in Germany as well as their own countries. The results were not encouraging for those who had fought the Fascists.
The first industrialist to be tried was Friedrich Flick, an early and ardent supporter of Hitler who had acquired a fortune by plundering industries in German-occupied countries and exploiting large numbers of slave laborers. He and five directors of his companies were tried in 1947 on charges of plunder, use of slave labor and complicity in crimes committed by the SS.
Flick claimed that the SS had forced him to use slave laborers. The court found that although he had plundered property it was not on a systematic basis and was “in a very small degree”. He was sentenced to seven years in the Landsberg prison in Bavaria. His assets were not confiscated, and he was permitted to conduct board meetings in the prison. He was released in February 1951 at the request of the Adenauer government.
A number of directors in the Dresdener Bank, one of Hitler’s financial mainstays, had been arrested. But after the lenient verdict in the Flick trial, the American prosecutor realized that it would be impossible to obtain convictions, and they were released, with one exception. That was Karl Rasche, who had actually been a member of the SS. He was convicted on charges of plundering, but not for financing slave labor. The American judges ruled that it is not a crime to lend money even if the banker knows that it will be used for criminal purposes.
IG Farben had been intimately involved in preparing Hitler’s war of aggression. The company owned facilities in direct connection with the Auschwitz camp, and manufactured the poison gas used there and in other camps. It made extensive use of slave labor provided by the SS.
In August 1947, 28 members of Farben’s senior management were tried on charges of “Planning, Initiation and Waging of Wars of Aggression and invasions of other countries; Plunder and Spoliation; and Slavery and Mass Murder”.
Carl Krauch was the only one of the defendants whom the American prosecutor expected to be convicted. Among other things, Krauch had helped to prepare the 4-year rearmament plan for the German war machine.
His defense was extremely illustrative. Krauch’s lawyer asked the judges to compare Farben to ICI in the UK, DuPont in the US or Montecarni in Italy, “and at once the similarity will become clear to you”. The lawyer said that Krauch feared Communism, like the businessmen who directed these companies. He collaborated with the Nazi government because he wanted to help defend his country against the Soviet Union. Krauch was acquitted on charges of planning and preparing for war. The judges said that it was “mere conjecture” to claim that Krauch was aware that the purpose of German rearmament was to wage a war of aggression. He received a sentence of six years in Landsberg for slavery and mass murder. He was released in 1950 on the grounds of good behavior.
Eleven other Farben directors received prison sentences of between 18 months and eight years. Like Krauch, none of them served their full sentences.
As indicated previously, Farben had close connections with leading American capitalists. The Board of Directors of Farben’s US subsidiary included Edsel Ford of the Ford Motor Company, C. E. Mitchell of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and Walter Teagle, director of the bank and of the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey (now EXXON), and also director of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Warm Springs Foundation in Georgia. Paul M. Warburg (Jewish) of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York was also a Farben director, as was his brother Max in Germany. H. A. Metz of Farben in Germany was a director of the Warburg family’s Bank of Manhattan. Carl Bosch was a director in both the Farben US subsidiary and the Ford Motor subsidiary in Germany. None of the American directors in IG Farben was indicted for complicity in war crimes.
At the end of June 1947 Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach and ten directors in his companies were convicted of using slave labor. Krupp was sentenced to twelve years imprisonment, and his assets were confiscated. Krupp was devastated. But he could look to the future with confidence, as we shall see.
With the exception of Krupp and a few others,
None of the industrialists or bankers were forced, or even asked, to hand over the billions of dollars’ worth of materials, industrial plant, patent secrets and gold which they had stolen from the European countries and brought back to Germany. Even within Germany the spoils of Aryanization were rarely confiscated (Bower).
The prevalent attitude in the US and UK governments had already been expressed in the House of Commons in 1944:
It is not a war crime for anyone to have financed and assisted the growth of Hitlerite power, and the industrialists and others who may have done this cannot be indicted as war criminals (cited in Bower).
This viewpoint was later refuted by Section 2 of the Potsdam Protocol.
Emptying the Landsberg prison
In the late 1940s the Western propaganda campaign against the Soviet Union was in full swing, and the ruling class in the US wanted to invigorate German industry, ostensibly to help defend civilization against the Communist threat, in reality to generate profits and defend their class interests.
The US banker John McCloy had been president of the World Bank from March 1947 to June 1949, when he was appointed High Commissioner for Germany. Following the establishment of West Germany, McCloy was told by Hermann Abs that the release of the industrialists in the Landsberg prison was a prerequisite for the recovery of the German economy and for ensuring Germany’s participation in the war on Communism. Konrad Adenauer, Karl Blessing and Ludwig Erhard told him the same.
In fact, every German told every American who cared to listen that Germany’s friendship and help against the Communists would be easier to secure if the gates of Landsberg prison were opened not just to release the industrialists but every one of the five hundred convicted men inside.
Bower is inaccurate. The German working class, German Communists and German Social Democrats were not anxious to see war criminals released from Landsberg.
The process of emptying Landsberg began in 1950, when an advisory board in the US reviewed the sentences handed down at Nuremberg, and recommended clemency in nearly all of them. The process was stimulated by the creation of West Germany and the outbreak of the Korean war, which Washington claimed was proof of the Soviet Union’s evil intentions, as previously noted.
Late in January 1951 McCloy announced that of the 104 Landsberg prisoners, 74 would have their sentences “drastically reduced”. This included commutation of ten death sentences. Five death sentences were confirmed. A number of death sentences for SS officers who had massacred American soldiers were also commuted.
Alfried Krupp and eight other directors were released from Landsberg. McCloy directed that all of Krupp’s confiscated assets be restored to him.
According to Bower (emphasis added),
One man who was not taken by surprise was Krupp himself; he had known for some time that he was to be released. A room had been set aside at Landsberg for the Krupp directors to discuss corporate business, and directors and officials would come from Essen with the necessary documents to plan the company’s program for rapid expansion to meet Western demands in Korea [for supplies of war materiel]. Eating and drinking the best food and wines available, Alfried and his fellow convicts took pleasure in insulting the very people who put them there.
In justifying his decision McCloy seemed to go beyond a straight explanation, producing what was almost an apology for the courts’ harshness. About the slave labor charges he said:
‘There is no doubt whatever that this labor was inhumanely treated, being constantly subjected to corporal punishment and other cruelties. There is likewise no doubt that the industrial concern and its management were not primarily responsible for this treatment. The judgment does indicate that several of the defendants were involved with certain of the illegalities but it is extremely difficult to allocate individual guilt among the respective defendants’…
The continued imprisonment of former army officers in Landsberg was impeding efforts to rearm the BRD. The German military would not cooperate unless McCloy released not only their comrades, but convicted SS officers as well. In April 1953 Adenauer told President Eisenhower that continued detention was “a psychological problem” and claimed that the remaining prisoners had been wrongfully imprisoned for war crimes. An “Interim Mixed Parole and Clemency Board” was set up to arrange the release of the 160 remaining prisoners.
Within the next few years they were all set free. They included:
Andreas Shilling, an SS corporal at the Mauthausen concentration camp, where he enjoyed injecting hospital inmates with motor oil and watching them suffer “a slow and agonizing death”.
Horst Deutsch, a member of Kommando 99 at Buchenwald, which executed Soviet prisoners of war.
Dr Hertha Oberhauser, who according to Bower
…had been convicted and sentenced to twenty years’ imprisonment at Nuremberg for her role in conducting medical experiments on women inmates at the Ravensbrück concentration camp.
According to Professor Keith Mant, the British pathologist who investigated German medical experiments in concentration camps: ‘Oberhauser can be described as little better than a sadist. She actually volunteered to work in Ravensbrück. Inmates selected by her were infected with either tetanus or gangrene. She removed limbs and vital organs, and in the post-operative period rubbed ground glass or sawdust into the open wounds. Deliberately she allowed infections and diseases to spread on previously healthy women to search for cures which might be used on German soldiers. An estimated one thousand women died from the Ravensbrück experiments.
Despite her crimes, Oberhauser’s sentence was reduced by McCloy and she was released in 1952. Six years later she was discovered working as a family doctor at Stocksee, in Schleswig-Holstein. The state’s chamber of doctors, well aware that she had voluntarily gone to Ravensbrück, had treated her as a returning prisoner of war and given her a cash grant, an interest-free loan, and help to build up a practice (Bower).
New careers for Himmler’s helpers
Robert Kampner, the US deputy chief prosecutor at Nuremberg, once estimated that there were about 10,000 SS and other Nazi criminals living in West Germany. A representative sample of SS veterans is given below.
Heinz Reinefarth was a brigadier general in the SS and a major general in the SS police. Among other things he was responsible for the suppression of the uprising in the Warsaw ghetto and the liquidation of its inhabitants, as well as several other massacres of Polish civilians. After the war he was elected mayor of Westerland/Sylt and was also a member of the regional parliament in Schleswig-Holstein. Repeated requests from Poland for his extradition were refused by the West German government. (See Niclas Sennerteg, Warszawas bödel. Ett tyskt öde /Warsaw’s executioner. A German destiny/, 2003.)
Dr. Werner Best joined the Nazi party in 1930 and participated actively in the SS program for terrorizing German anti-Fascists. In 1942 he was appointed “Reich Commissioner for Denmark”, where he was responsible for murder and other crimes. After the war he was sentenced to death in a Danish court, but was pardoned at the request of the Adenauer government. In 1965 he was a legal advisor to the Hugo Stinnes Group and served in the Foreign Office of West Germany.
Bruno Streckenbach was responsible for the SS pacification program in Poland, where he recommended that court procedures against Poles who had been arrested should be dispensed with, and the accused should be hanged forthwith. He was also head of the 19th Latvian grenadier division. He was captured by the Soviets and sentenced to hard labor for life. They returned him to the BRD, which had agreed to keep him in jail but freed him almost immediately.
Heinz Jost joined the Nazi party in 1923. He became an SS brigade commander and a major general in the police force. He participated in thousands of murders in Poland and the USSR. In 1948 he was sentenced to life imprisonment by an American military tribunal. The sentence was commuted to 10 years in 1951, and he was released soon afterward. In 1965 he was working as an economic consultant in West Germany.
SS ObersturmbannführerRudolf Bilfinger participated in the discussions on the final solution of the Jewish question at the Wannseeconference in January 1942. He was deeply involved in plundering Jewish property. The DDR supplied Adenauer’s government with evidence of Bilfinger’s crimes, but he was never prosecuted. For many years after the war he was head administrative court counselor in Baden-Württemberg. He was suspended from duty in March 1965 in response to public protests, and was pensioned in June of that year.
Heinz Lammerding was promoted to SS general by Himmler. He commanded the SS tank division Das Reich. In June 1944 units of this division entered the French village of Oradour and murdered 548 men, women and children on Lammerding’s orders. He also ordered the public hangings of 120 French civilians in the city of Tulle. After the war he was sentenced to death in absentia by a court in Bordeaux. He lived for a time in Wiesbaden under an assumed name and later became a building contractor in Düsseldorf under his own name. Requests from France for his extradition were refused by the West German judiciary.
In 1939 SS Gruppenführer Otto Winkelman was head of the German disciplinary police, responsible for recruiting SS police for duty in the East. In March 1944 Himmler appointed him SS police chief in Hungary, where together with Adolf Eichmann he was responsible for the deportation and murder of about 400,000 Jews. After the war he became a member of the City Council in Kiel, and was also chairman of the Association of Former Police Officers. He retired with a general’s pension.
In 1965 there were about 100 Nazi generals and admirals in the West German military establishment. According to Bower, all of the 632 military personnel who were executed by the British and the Americans after 1945 for war crimes were subordinates. None of the generals or admirals who had ordered the crimes was executed, with the exception of Alfred Jodl, who had been chief of military operations during the war.
Generals and other high-ranking war criminals in the Nazi war machine were able to pursue successful and profitable careers after 1945.
One of them was Hans Speidel, who became head of the Wehrmacht General Staff in France in August 1940 and as such was responsible for crimes against the French population. In March 1942 he was transferred to the Eastern front as head of the 8th Army General Staff, and was able to continue his depredations on a larger scale. After the war he lived in southern Germany until 1950, when he and Adolf Heusinger, another ex-general and war criminal, were appointed personal military advisors to Konrad Adenauer.
When West Germany joined NATO Speidel became head of the Military Forces Department in the West German Ministry of War. Soon afterward he was appointed Commander of NATO Land Forces Central Europe. He was pensioned on 31 March 1964 but continued as special adviser to the West German government on issues related to NATO.
Another interesting case is Heinz Trettner, who was one of the first volunteers in he Condor Legion that Hitler sent to Spain to support General Franco’s attack on the Republic.
Trettner was the leader of Luftwaffe Squadron 88, which carried out the terror-bombings of Guernica and Durango. The bombing of Guernica was the subject of one of Picasso’s greatest paintings. Trettner was responsible for the terror-bombing of Rotterdam in 1940. He was also responsible for numerous war crimes in Italy, including the massacre of 500 civilians in Fiesole in the autumn of 1944.
After the rearmament of West Germany Trettner became a four-star general with a post corresponding to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the US. He commanded a substantial number of officers who had previously served under Hitler.
In 1974 Trettner was invited to participate in war games at Sandhurst, the British equivalent of West Point, where he made a very favorable impression on his hosts.
The Manstein trial
A long memorandum compiled at Nuremberg by American lawyers contained evidence of war crimes committed in the Soviet Union by three German field marshals – Gerd von Rundstedt, Walther von Brauchitsch, Erich von Manstein – and one general, Adolf Strauss. The crimes included mass murder of civilians and POWs. In 1947 General Lucius Clay, Military Governor of the US Zone in Germany, urged that the four be brought to trial. At the time they had been under arrest in Great Britain for two years.
An order issued by von Manstein on 20 November 1941 is typical of how the four men encouraged their troops in the Soviet Union. It included the following: “The Jewish-Bolshevist system must be exterminated once and for all. Never again must it encroach on our living space…The soldier must appreciate the necessity for the harsh punishment of Jewry, the spiritual bearer of the Bolshevik terror”.
The majority opinion within the British government was that war-crimes trials should be discontinued. The Foreign Office was not interested in having the men tried. Someone suggested that they be sent to the Soviet Union for trial, since it was there that their major crimes had been committed. But that was regarded as an unfair procedure.
The attitude of the British bourgeoisie was expressed by the author Rebecca West, who wrote that the first Nuremberg trial was “boredom on a huge historic scale…Every person within its walk was in the grip of extreme tedium”. Winston Churchill declared in the House of Commons that
Retributive persecution is of all policies the most pernicious…British policy should henceforth be to draw a sponge over he past – hard as that may be – and look for the sake of our salvation to the future. There can be no revival of Europe without the active and loyal aid of all the German tribes… (sic!)(cited in Bower).
Churchill was obviously alluding to the coming alliance with the Germans against the Soviet Union.
But in Whitehall there were some who realized that if the evidence against the generals were publicized the government would not appear in a favorable light. After virtually endless inter-departmental squabbles, late in 1948 it was decided that von Manstein alone would be tried in Hamburg. The preparations took time, and von Brauchitsch died in October. The Soviets had formally requested the extradition of the remaining three. The British refused on the grounds that they would try von Manstein, and the other two were too ill to stand trial.
Manstein’s German lawyers claimed that their knowledge of the English language and British trial procedures was insufficient. They had pleaded in English many times at Nuremberg, however. In July 1949 they published a letter in the London Times requesting that two British defense lawyers be sent to Germany at public expense. Two British noblemen started a collection fund to pay expenses, to which Churchill and the royalist poet T. S. Eliot contributed.
When the trial opened in Hamburg on 24 August 1949, Manstein was represented by two Labour MPs: Sam Silkin, who was Jewish, and Reginald Paget. Manstein pleaded ignorance. Bower’s account of the trial is highly instructive:
Manstein’s ignorance was matched by Paget’s assertive disbelief of all the evidence of atrocities uncovered since the German defeat. He gave both credibility and respectability to the popular German argument that the atrocities and the Wehrmacht’s alleged complicity in them were products of Communist propaganda. Paget asserted that ‘the German Army in Poland behaved well, ‘some synagogues burned, occasional indignities were imposed on the Jewish population,’ while Manstein’s ‘Jewish-Bolshevist’ order was ‘no different from the Allied non-fraternization rule.’
He consistently ignored the fact that Germany was the aggressor against Russia.
When Paget advanced these arguments in court, the president of the trial, Lieutenant-General Sir Frank Simpson, asked him, after the murmurs in the public gallery had been silenced: ‘Are you being funny?’ ‘Not at all,’ replied Paget. Throughout the case he revealed a political rather than a legal interest, which was clearly not hindered by having a Jewish fellow lawyer and politician on his side.
For Major B. Acht, the official Polish observer at the trial, Paget’s behaviour was just too outrageous. On 10 November he wrote to Sir Frank Simpson that he was withdrawing from the trial:
‘The trial is tending to change its meaning and is developing into a trial of the millions of fighters against Nazi fascism [and the] glorification of Nazism … The defence is advancing the thesis that it is not the murderer but the murdered who is guilty. The defence is daring to plead openly the justification for the moral and legal reasons of the murder itself.. . Unquestionable crimes are being glorified by counsel for the defence who are attempting to camouflage crimes by quoting military discipline.’
von Manstein had been charged on 17 counts. He was acquitted on the most serious of them, but was sentenced to 18 years for “neglecting to protect civilian life”. During his stay in England he had become friendly with the British military historian Basil Liddell Hart, who said that the conviction was an outrage.
von Manstein was imprisoned in a fortress, accompanied by his family, and was supplied with a secretary who helped him write his memoirs. Three years later he was released, and served as a government consultant for the rearmament of West Germany.
Nazi judges dispense postwar justice
Bower cites a high-level source in the British Foreign Office to the effect that prosecution of Nazi judges “Would be an injustice and would greatly weaken the morale of the German judiciary…”
During Hitler’s reign of terror in Germany, the judicial system was an instrument for dispensing death sentences and other punishment against dissenters as well as Jews. Judges were almost invariably members of the Nazi party. After the war the Western allies showed the usual marked disinclination to implement the denazification policy that would have removed these judges.
More than half of the judges appointed to the new Ministry of Justice in the American zone were Nazis, and were all listed as subject to mandatory arrest.
In November 1947 an American civilian lawyer employed by the US Office of Military Government for Germany, reported on a meeting with Jack Rathbone, Deputy Chief of the Legal Division in the British zone:
During the discussion with Mr Rathbone it was brought out that the German Administration of Justice in the British zone employs many more former party members in key positions than is the case in our zone. According to statistics requested from the Central Legal Office by Mr Rathbone during our conference, of 121 key position thirty-eight or thirty per cent are occupied by former members of the party or the SA. The figure would be much higher if all key positions, according to our definition, would be considered. It may be noted that Mr Rathbone was rather surprised and shocked by these figures and he expressed himself strongly in favour of cleaning up the key positions to match our statistics. This goes to show that the British apparently have loosened their supervision of the German Administration of Justice to an extent by which they have more or less (lost) control of what is going on in their German courts. The situation is even more aggravated by the fact that the majority of the thirty-eight former Nazis in key positions have even now not yet been denazified (cited in Bower).
Names of Nazi jurists who were appointed to posts in he West German judiciary are listed in double columns in 40 pages of the Brown Book, which is currently available in German at http://www.braunbuch.de/index.shtml
As indicated above, Nazis who had served in the civil service and the police under Hitler quickly found equivalent positions in the West German federal and state public sector, as did Nazis in the Foreign Office, including the diplomatic corps, and teachers at all levels of the primary and secondary educational systems.
A phalanx of academics that included the so-called “philosopher” Martin Heidegger had served their Nazi masters faithfully, and often played key roles in formulating strategies as well as ideological frameworks for Nazi crimes. In West Germany they were given positions as university professors and governmental advisors, which enabled them to exercise a pervasive post-war influence on students as well as government policies. A representative sample is given below.
Before 1945: Legal adviser to war criminal Ribbentrop, leading fascist specialist on international law, 1936-1944 deputy director of the Institute of Foreign Policy, Hamburg, 1936 member of the Academy of German Law, which was extremely Fascist in character and had been founded by Hans Frank (“Governor” of occupied Poland, hanged at Nuremberg in 1946); extensive activity as a publicist in conceiving and vindicating Fascist foreign policy.
After 1945: In 1954 appointed professor of international law, public law and the philosophy of law, member of the board of the Institute of International Law at Munich University.
Before 1945: Joined the SS in 1934, reached rank of Untersturmführer. 1942-1943 economic adviser for the Army Group Mitte, participated in the economic pillage of Soviet territory, 1943-1945 in planning office of armaments minister Speer as chief department head responsible for deportation to Germany of civilians in occupied territories to work as forced laborers, and for employing prisoners of war in the German war industry.
After 1945: Professor of political economy at the University of Mainz, member of the advisory council of Ministry of Economics.
Before 1945: Assistant to “race specialist” Otmar von Verschuer in Frankfurt-on-Main and at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Anthropology, Human Genetics and Eugenics in Berlin, 1944 reader and head of the Institute of the Biology of Heredity and Racial Hygiene at the University of Rostock, propagandist of the racial theories of fascism, head of the scientific department in the “Main Office of World Outlook Education” in the Reich youth leadership, trained Hitler Youth leaders and leading national socialist officers in “heredity and racial hygiene” questions, cooperated closely with the “Race Policy Office” of the NSDAP.
After 1945: Appointed professor in human genetics at the University of Marburg in 1952, president of the German Association of Sports Doctors until 1961.
Before 1945: Taught at the University of Greifswald, 1939 onward general police expert and counter-intelligence agent, adviser to heads of the government and in Katowice and Auschwitz concentration camps, considered an indispensable figure for development of the repressive police apparatus in occupied Poland. His writings on administrative law glorified Hitler and the Führer principle.
After 1945: Professor of public, administrative and church law at the University of Göttingen, rector of the juridical seminar, member of the examining office of the Superior Provincial Court in Oldenburg and Celle.
Before 1945: Professor of agrarian science and policy in Jena and Berlin, chairman of the SS-controlled “Reich Work Group for Space Research” controlled by the SS, promoter of the “blood and soil policy” and the “people without space” theory, collaborator in the “General Plan East” (the land as far as the Urals was to be transformed into a German colony, and 30 to 50 million people were to be exterminated or displaced), 1939 head of the planning staff of the “Reich commission for strengthening of German nationality”, close collaborator of Himmler and war criminal Darré in “Germanization questions”.
After 1945: Professor of rural building and planning at the Hanover Technical College, member of the Senate commission for management of the Academic Foreign Office, 1957 member of the Academy for Research and Rural Planning in Hanover, 1964 professor emeritus.
Verschuer, Otmar, Baron von
Before 1945: In 1933 appointed professor of racial hygiene and the biology of heredity, 1935-1942 professor and director of the Institute of Heredity and Racial Hygiene in Frankfurt-on-Main, 1937 member of the research department on genetics and race of the “Reich Institute for the History of the New Germany”, 1942-1945 director of the notorious Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Anthropology, Human Genetics and Eugenics.
After 1945: In 1949 became a member of the “Academy of Science and Literature” in Mainz, in 1951 professor and director of the Institute of Human Genetics at the University of Münster.
Pathfinders for the Holocaust
Among the desk-bound warriors for Nazism, the life and achievement of Helmut Meinhold deserves special mention. He was one of a group of so-called intellectuals who devised the theoretical foundation for the depopulation of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. The following sketch of Meinhold’s career is based on information from Götz Aly and Susanne Heim, Vordenker der Vernichtung. Auschwitz und die deutschen Pläne für eine europäische Ordnung (1993). (My translation from a Swedish summary by Dr. Thomas Knoll.)
Helmut Meinhold earned a doctorate in political economy at the Institut für Weltwirtschaft (Institute for Global Economy) at Kiel University, and in 1941 at the age of 28 was employed by the Institut für Deutsche Ostarbeit (Institute for German Work in the East)in Krakow, which was part of the “Generalgouvernement”, i.e. the Nazi administrative organization for occupied Poland, headed by Hans Frank.
Meinhold became head of the economics unit at the institute, which had the task of developing solutions for the “population question”. Hitler had stated that Poland was to become a “German area”.
According to Meinhold and other scientific experts, Poland suffered from an excessive “population pressure”, or “surplus population”. The surplus was traceable to the Polish people’s low level of productivity in comparison with Germans. Polish manpower was utilized either insufficiently or not at all. Reducing the population pressure would enable accelerating the process of capital accumulation in order to modernize the economy. Otherwise, Poland would be a burden on Greater Germany (Grossdeutschland).
Theoretical tools for calculating a surplus population had been developed long before the Nazis came to power. By the end of the 19th century German academics had defined the “optimum population” as “the population which enabled the maximum utilization of a country’s economic resources”. Excess population was thus not defined in terms of the number of people per square kilometer, but by reference to a “normal population” in terms of productivity and profitability. Paul Mombert, a political economist who came from a middle-class Jewish family, had devised a formula for calculating the relationship between population and industrial potential, expressed as I = P x L, where P is population and L is the standard of living. The formula implies that the standard of living declines if the population increases. This can be counteracted by either increasing industrial productivity or reducing the population. According to Aly and Heim, the purpose of the formula is to transform the social conflicts and crises associated with the growth of industrial capitalism into a population problem. Mombert’s formula became the basis for the work of Meinhold and his colleagues in Poland and Eastern Europe.
Mombert’s analyses were complemented by Theodor Oberländer, a professor of economics who defined criteria for calculating the surplus population, based on the concepts of either “a consumption standard” or a “work standard”. The consumption standard indicates the number of people whose lives could be sustained within a given geographical area at a given level of productive forces, i.e. the total available resources, production systems, technology and expertise. The work standard indicated the quantity of manpower that could be productively employed on a given area. Oberländer rejected the concept of a physiological existence minimum on the grounds that it varies widely according to “race, occupation and culture”.
Oberländer joined the Nazi party in the early 1920s and after 1933 participated in planning for German absorption of Eastern Europe. Konrad Adenauer later appointed him as minister for refugees, a particularly appropriate position. He filled his ministry with Nazis, of course. The appointment raised an outcry, but Adenauer defended his selection. He told the Bundestag
It may well be that Minister Oberländer was brown, even dark brown, if you will. But he never did anything which was dishonorable, a misdemeanor or a crime (cited in Bower).
Obviously, preparing formulas for reducing the population of Poland was not considered a crime, although it was clearly subject to Section 2 of the Potsdam protocol. Unfortunately for Oberländer, public opinion forced Adenauer to demand his resignation.
Helmut Meinhold applied the contributions of Mombert and Oberländer in occupied Poland in order to “measure the productivity of labor…with reference to the maximum productivity in Greater Europe”, i.e. the new Europe which was to be established under the thousand-year rule of the Reich. Meinhold found that the Polish agricultural sector had a surplus population of exactly 5.83 million people (including children and the aged), which according to him meant that half of the Polish agricultural population was “dead weight”.
Meinhold followed Oberländer’s lead and developed similar analyses for other parts of Europe, with similar results. His studies generated a detailed action plan, which stipulated that the primary goal of capital accumulation, i.e. growth, required a “reduction of the population”, since “surplus population” was equivalent to “destruction of capital”. “Useless eaters” consumed the surplus which was produced by “people who actually worked”, which meant that the surplus could not be reinvested to stimulate growth.
The link between Meinhold’s mathematical analyses and mass murder in concentration camps soon became more direct. After Germany attacked the Soviet Union Meinhold and his colleagues suggested that the surplus Polish population be driven out of the country into “less populated areas” – which according to their own calculations did not exist. This was obviously a coded proposal for mass murder.
After the war Meinhold returned to the Institute for Global Economy at Kiel University, where the British occupation authority gave him the task of defining requirements for rebuilding industry in Hamburg, which had been shattered by bombings. Meinhold determined that a surplus population existed because not enough people had been killed by the bombings, and large numbers of people had arrived in the city from Eastern Germany. Capital had been destroyed on a large scale.
One option was to obtain credits that would finance support of the population and rebuilding of industry. Another was to buy industrial equipment with the proceeds from exports of agricultural products, although malnutrition was widespread in Germany. If no credits could be obtained, the choice would be between maintaining the population at a subsistence level, which would destroy more capital, or letting part of the population starve to death to enable accumulation of capital.
However, these options were not available in the absence of a Nazi government. Meinhold recommended that the British arrange for 50 in every 100 workers to find employment and provide sustenance for the rest, rather than employ 75 and let the rest starve to death. But employing only 50 percent of the available manpower was justified only on the assumption that conditions would improve. If not, “another approach would be necessary”. In his report to the British, Meinhold stated “It is preferable for the 75 who succeed in the struggle for existence to survive and for the rest to die immediately, than for all 100 to succumb. This approach would be defensible if a choice actually had to be made”.
In 1949 Meinhold was appointed head of the Referat Grundsatzfragen, an important advisory groupin the Ministry of Economics of the new West Germany. In 1952 he became a professor at the University of Heidelberg, and later taught economics and social policy at Frankfurt. According to Aly and Heim, he was
the most important adviser to all West German governments on issues of social policy, as leader of the Sozialbeirat, an advisory organization for such issues that comprised scientists as well as representatives of the social insurance administration, employers and unions.
Meinhold was also entrusted with “rationalization” of the West German public pension system. Like his colleagues in the government and the business community, he was worried about the growing proportion of pensioners in the population and the rising cost for public health care. His standpoint was expressed as “Everything must be reversible”, which prefigured the dismantling of social insurance systems in Western Europe from the 1990s onward. He wrote that
If the current attitude that social insurance systems should include a guarantee of security were to become the norm, it will be very difficult to turn back the clock when this will be required by changes in demographic and financial conditions.
Meinhold was also an eager advocate of the European Union.
In 1988 Helmut Meinhold was awarded West Germanys’ highest civilian honor, the Bundesverdienskreuz, for service to his country. The honor was bestowed by the president of Germany, Baron von Weizsäcker, whose father had received a 7-year prison term in 1948 for crimes against humanity, but was released in 1950. Aly and Heim write that the president was fully conscious of Meinhold’s past as “one of many theoreticians of Nazi crimes of violence”.
The validity of the Brown Book
The Brown Book was republished in 2002 as Braunbuch Kriegs- und Naziverbrecher in der Bundesrepublik und in Westberlin. Reprint der Ausgabe 1968 (3. Auflage) Mit einer kritischen Würdigung und einem Gespräch mit dem Leiter der damaligen Arbeitsgruppe, Prof. Dr. Gerhard Dengler.
The text below is from Aly’s review in Süddeutsche Zeitung, 9 August 2002 (emphasis added):
In the former West Germany the (Brown) book was for many years perceived as political pornography. It is obviously designed as propaganda, and contains a few fabrications, but the Brown Book is not a sloppy compilation of disinformation. On the contrary, its empirical foundations have proven to be extremely sustainable, with a margin of error of less than one percent. This outstanding agitprop-book surpasses a large number of historical works of reference.
Today, the main objection to the Brown Book is that it does not list enough names. It was precisely the very large number of well-known West German names and addresses which generated the illusion that none of those whose names were not listed had had anything to do with National Socialism, or in any case very little. This was not true, as research in recent years has shown.
Recruiting Nazi criminals for the war against Communism
“It was a visceral business of using any bastard as long as he was anti-Communist” – Harry Rositzke, former head of CIA secret operations inside the USSR (cited in Simpson).
The basic rationale US policymakers used after 1945 to justify employment of former Nazis and collaborators was the possibility – no, the imminence – of the outbreak of a war between the United States and the USSR (Simpson, emphasis in original).
We have seen that both the UK and the US targeted the Soviet Union as the main threat as early as 1944, when there was no evidence whatsoever of a possible or an imminent war, unless it was launched by the West.
In 1945 the US established the Central Registry of War Crimes and Security Suspects, or CROWCASS, which was discontinued in 1948. Among other things, the registry compared the names of war-crimes suspects with lists of detainees in POW and DP (Displaced Persons) camps, who totaled over 8 million. CROWCASS processed 85,000 wanted reports, sent 130,000 detention reports to investigators in twelve countries, and published 40 lengthy registries of people wanted for crimes against humanity.
But CROWCASS was also used to identify ex-Nazis who were suitable for service in the war against the Soviet Union. The registry was headed by Leon Torrou, an anti-Communist Russian émigré who had served in the Czar’s army. He cooperated with US intelligence agencies that wanted to prevent prosecution of Nazis whom they employed. The normal procedure was to delete the name in question from the list of detainees, which would ensure that the suspect would be considered missing. One of the deleted names was Reinhard Gehlen (see Chapter 10).
According to Simpson, by the end of 1947 the US Army had launched at least six major programs for using ex-Nazis in intelligence operations, i.e. anti-Soviet activities. During the same period, the Western allies became increasingly more reluctant to respond to Soviet requests for extradition of people suspected of war crimes on the Eastern Front. Simpson argues that this was motivated by suspicions that the suspects would be summarily executed without a fair trial, that the Soviet secret police were themselves guilty of crimes, and that the main Soviet interest was to eliminate political opponents, not to punish war criminals.
But Simpson also refers to the “admittedly imperfect and limited efforts that the US had made to bring war criminals to justice”, an understatement to say the least. We have already seen that the rulers of the West cooperated with the Germans after 1945 to obstruct implementation of the de-Nazification and decartelization that had been authorized at Yalta and Potsdam. Hjalmar Schacht and other capitalists who had bankrolled and supported Hitler were free to return to their former positions of power. Generals such as Manstein who were responsible for large-scale war crimes were released, in a few cases after meaningless trials. By early 1947 the British and the US had made it plain that the Soviet Union was their main enemy, along with organizations which had fought the Nazis during the war, such as ELAM in Greece.
Long before NSC 68 was issued, George Kennan had defined the USSR as an imperial empire, whose “ideology” “has taught them that the outside world was hostile and that it was their duty to overthrow the political forces beyond their border”, and that “there can never be on Moscow’s side any sincere assumption of a community of aims between the Soviet Union and powers which are regarded as capitalist”.
It cannot be denied that Kennan’s sense of humor was exceptionally well developed. The first lesson that the Soviets had learned about the hostility of the outside world was based not on ideology but on the War of Intervention, which resulted in the deaths of 14 million people. It was also based on the Western track record after 1922, which included financing and arming Hitler with the aim of eradicating the USSR.
It was not only in Moscow that a community of aims between the Soviet Union and the capitalist world was assumed to be impossible. Since the mid-19th century Western capitalists, the mass media and the armies of academics who supported them had repeatedly and loudly described Communism as a threat to the civilized world that had to be obliterated. According to Kennan, the long-term conflict with the USSR was due to the Soviets, while the imperial Western powers presumably wanted nothing else than to get on with their daily tasks. Kennan also knew that the US had been making plans for a pre-emptive nuclear attack on the USSR since at least the summer of 1945.
The central point is that Kennan and his colleagues understood, as Hitler had understood, that the Soviet Union was the main obstacle to imperialism, i.e. global domination by the ruling classes of Western Europe and the US. Achieving this goal had always involved subjugating other nations by force whenever necessary, and since 1945 the capitalist war against humanity has continued unabated, with predictable results.
In addition to CROWCASS and the other programs referred to by Simpson, in 1948 the US started Operation Bloodstone, which was designed to recruit Soviet emigrés for service in the war on Communism. This was presumably in response to non-existent Soviet aggression.
Simpson refers to a background of increasing East-West tension in 1948, including “a relatively minor dispute over German currency reform”. A relatively minor dispute! As we have seen, the currency reform was a deliberate and very important component of the process of dividing Germany and establishing the BRD, in violation of all preceding agreements between the USSR and the West, both during the war and at Potsdam. And it was precisely the establishment of the BRD that enabled the Nazis and their supporters in the business community to regain power in he public and privates sectors..
Operation Paperclip – war criminals develop US technology
Simpson reports that in 1945-55 a total of 765 scientists, engineers and technicians were brought to the US under Operation Paperclip and other programs. About 80% of them were former members of the Nazi party and/or the SS. Three of them were forced to leave the country after their identities were made public.
Bower provides an interesting sidelight on Paperclip which should be of interest to the Forum for Living History and other organizations that are committed to revealing and condemning anti-Semitism.
Paperclip was authorized personally by President Truman, and originally called for importing 1,000 German scientists for service in the US. It was headed by a US naval officer, Captain Bousquet Wev, who considered that immigration laws that discriminated against Nazis were unfair, since “Membership of the Nazi party was a prerequisite to (sic!) a healthy existence in Germany”, a variation on the well-known theme that membership in the Nazi party was obligatory, not voluntary.
However, one of the members of the Paperclip committee was a lawyer in the State Department. He was an expert on Nazi Germany, according to Bower, and was also Jewish. He was against the entry into the US of one thousand “agents of death”. He pointed out that under US law visas could not be provided until the individual’s “flawless past and good faith” had been proved. One of the US military officers on the committee said, logically enough, “Get that little Jew off the Committee – he’s a menace”.
The Federation of American Scientists also protested against Paperclip and was immediately branded “wildly liberal” by the US military.
Scientists imported under Paperclip included Walter Dornberger and Wernher von Braun, rocket specialists who supervised the building of the facilities for rocket development in Peenemünde where V2 missiles were constructed and tested for use on London’s civilian population. The accelerated production schedule at Peenemünde cost the lives of about 20,000 slave laborers. Both Dornberger and von Braun became American heroes of the space age. Dornberger rose to be a senior executive of the Bell Aerosystems Division of Textron, a major supplier of weapons systems to the Pentagon.
Baltic and Ukrainian Fascists find homes and jobs in the West
It is a commonplace in the standard Western version of history that at the end of the 1930s the population of the Baltics consisted of decent citizens who became the victims of a Soviet occupation that involved widespread terror. The indisputable fact that large numbers of Balts served in the German army and the Waffen SS during World War 2 is explained by their natural resentment of the Soviet Union and/or their conscription by the Nazis, to which resistance would have been fatal. If indeed the Balts committed war crimes it was at the insistence of the Germans. Another variant describes the Balts as fighting desperately for their countries against both the Germans and the Soviets.
The facts do not support this mythology. In the first place, the Baltic population was not homogenous in terms of class or political views, nor of language and ethnicity. The three Baltic provinces had been part of Tsarist Russia since the early 18th century, and revolt spread though the region in connection with the attempted revolution of 1905 in Russia, when red flags were raised in various cities and a Provisional Revolutionary Government was established in Riga. Repression by the Tsarist authorities was brutal.
In 1920 the three provinces became independent countries on the basis of a treaty with the Soviet Union in which Lenin renounced Tsarist claims to their territories, although he also stated that other countries should not intervene in the Baltics. Following independence the region was torn by open warfare in which the working class fought the bourgeoisie, which was supported by the British and the German Freikorps. Thesewere roughly equivalent to the death squads employed by Washington in Central America from the 1950s onward.
From the mid-1920s onward the Baltic countries were ruled by Fascist or semi-Fascist governments that were on friendly terms with Hitler-Germany. The danger of the Baltics serving as a springboard for a German attack was the main reason why the Soviet Union annexed the three countries in 1939-40, which put an end to government repression of the working class.
When the German army drove the Soviets out in 1941, Fascist sympathizers in the Baltics engaged in vicious massacres of Jews, usually on the grounds that they represented the hated Communist regime. In contrast to other countries occupied by Nazi Germany, only a minority of the Jews who died were killed by Germans. There was no need. The Baltic Nazis were very thorough. For details on the homegrown Holocaust in the Baltics, see Chapter 12.
Membership in the Waffen SS forces was always voluntary, and the Baltics were no exception. The Balts who volunteered were no different from the Nazis who commanded them.
After 1945, the Western powers viewed the Baltic Nazis as valuable potential allies in the crusade against Communism, like their counterparts in Germany, the Ukraine and elsewhere.
As the Soviet Union drove Hitler’s armies westward, Baltic Nazis fled with them, and many of them succeeded in finding a safe haven in Sweden (see Chapter 12).
Some of the Baltic Nazis found safety in the US-occupied zone of Germany, particularly after the last war-crimes trial in the zone was held in December 1947. Almost 1,700 men and women had been tried, and slightly more than 1,300 were convicted. The US authorities decided that they had done enough. They also decided to refuse requests for extradition of war criminals to the Soviet Union and other previously German-occupied countries. Bower provides several representative examples.
On 28 March 1948 the Soviets submitted a list of 17 Soviet traitors who had either collaborated with the Germans in murdering captured partisans and burning whole families alive, or had worked for German intelligence units. The request was denied.
At the end of the month the US Legal Division approved extradition of four German officers to Yugoslavia, on the basis of what it considered to be conclusive evidence. The extradition was halted “on political grounds” by the US Director of Intelligence.
In June, a Latvian refugee in a DP (Displaced Persons) camp recognized five former Latvian SS and SD (security forces) officers within the camp and sent a detailed denunciation of them to US Army Headquarters. The men had been responsible for “countless atrocities” in Riga and Warsaw.
The army replied
With the exception of atrocities committed in concentration camps which were located in the US area of control or overrun by US troops, the war crimes activities of this headquarters do not entail prosecutions of criminals who committed offences against the civilian population of other countries… We thank you for bringing this matter to the attention of this headquarters (cited in Bower).
Bower writes of
…Balts and Ukrainians who had voluntarily participated in the daily murder of tens of thousands of Jews. For some anti-Communist partisans, the German occupation of the three Baltic nations was a blessing. Spontaneously, Lithuanians and Latvians attacked Jews, murdering thousands by early July 1941. Surprised by their enthusiasm, the SS Einsatzgruppen organized the partisans into an ‘auxiliary police force’ to help the organized murder of 300,000 Jews by the end of 1941. As the Final Solution developed during 1942 from mass shootings to the daily murder in the gas chambers of the extermination camps of Treblinka, Sobibor and Belzec, the Germans relocated the Balts and Ukrainians from the murder squads to assist in the murder of the Jews in the camps.
According to Bower there were 50,000 Balts in the British-occupied zone of Germany, of whom about 20,000 had been wearing German uniforms when they were captured. Those who had been members of the SS were readily identifiable by the blood-tattoo on their arms, but the British authorities were embarrassed, instead of being eager to investigate. Bower writes that the Balts “had become the subject of special and favoured treatment”.
Although the British had not recognized the Soviet annexation of the Baltics, they were not officially against extradition of Balts who were accused of war crimes by the Soviets. A number of influential Balts pleaded against extradition. They included Dr. Alfredis Valdmanis, a minister in the wartime collaborationist government in Riga who had helped organize the Latvian Waffen SS, as well as Charles Zarins, a former Latvian diplomat.
As usual, Zarins argued that the Latvians had been forced to serve in the SS, which was a lie. His appeal was supported by the British Field Marshal Alexander. A similar argument was the basis of a request for leniency for 10,000 former members of the Estonian SS.
The British policy was clarified when the Soviet Union requested extradition of Colonel Arvids Kripens, former chief of staff and regimental commander of a Latvian SS Division. The British admitted that the evidence against him was “pretty black”, and included his orders for the murder of thousands of civilians.
Charles Zarins argued that Kripens and other were “great national patriots, men of quite modest means, anti-Bolsheviks of course, but certainly not to be described as Fascists”. Kripens was “a good and honest man”. One of his supporters was Viktor Arajs, who Bower states was responsible for the murder of 30,000 people in Latvia. The Baltic Nazis succeeded in convincing the British that they could help alleviate the shortage of domestic manpower that had resulted from Britain’s overseas military commitments, and the European Voluntary Workers program was launched to permit immigration of foreign nationals, including thousands of Balts being held in DP camps in the Western zones of Germany.
In contrast, the Labour government instructed the British army in Germany not to allow any Jews to enter Britain, since they would be “a burden on the community” that “might provoke strong reactions from certain sections of public opinion”. The sections in question are not specified by Bower, and presumably were not identified by the government either. About 2,000 European Jews were admitted to Britain, as against more than 100,000 non-Jewish Eastern Europeans, including war criminals.
For example, during a routine medical check of a group of Latvians who arrived at Harwich in October 1947, the British doctor noticed that they had SS tattoos on their arms. The indefatigable Zarins argued that they had been forcibly tattooed by the Germans and subjected to forced labor. The doctor was instructed to confine his attention to the sick, and the Foreign Office stated in a letter to a DP camp commander that it would be “undesirable” for persons bearing such tattoos to be barred from entry to the United Kingdom.
The British also admitted a group of 9,000 Ukrainians who had fought in the German army and were sought by the Soviets for war crimes. The British admitted the validity of the Soviet requests, but “The army was not interested” in what the Ukrainians had done.
Several members of Parliament protested. One of them pointed out that the Ukrainian Nazis were known to be “exceptionally brutal” cold-blooded murderers. He was told that the Foreign Office had taken great pains “to weed out the war criminals”, which was untrue.
Over the next few years the British persisted in willfully ignoring evidence that incoming Eastern Europeans were in fact war criminals.
By contrast, a Pole receiving newspapers from Warsaw was classified as a potential Communist and therefore dangerous. The operation [importing Eastern Europeans] would continue until 1952, ignoring war criminals while searching for Communists (Bower).
In 1948 recruitment of Eastern European war criminals by the US intelligence service and the British SIS was intensifying. Over the next few years they were sent into the Soviet Union and various socialist countries in Eastern Europe, where they were expected to continue fighting the good fight against Communism, as they had previously done for the leaders of the Third Reich.
As Harry Roditzke pointed out, their previous crimes were of no significance – they were welcome partners in the new alliance against the Soviet Union.
One of the most important characteristics of the war criminals who did come to the United States is that they did not arrive here as isolated individuals. As has been seen in the cases of the Croatian Ustachis, the Ukrainian OUN, and the Latvian Vanagis, to name only three, many of these immigrants were, in fact, part of experienced, highly organized groups with distinct political agendas that differed little from the Fascist programs they had promoted in their homelands. The anti-Communist paranoia of the McCarthy period gave these groups fertile soil in which to put down roots and to grow. In time they began to play a small but real role in the political life of this country.
The term “McCarthy period” is misleading. It gives the impression that the hysterical anti-Communist, anti-progressive witch-hunt in the US shortly after World War 2 ended was an aberration, generated by an alcoholic senator from Wisconsin.
It was nothing of the sort. The domestic crusade against Communism was launched by the Truman administration, and reflected the so-called Truman Doctrine as well as NSC 68 and other official statements that identified the Soviet Union as the threat to democracy and world peace. The crusade was continued by subsequent presidents down to the present day. Enabling the Fascists referred to by Simpson to play a “real role” in US politics was a logical continuation of their recruitment in the war against Communism.
Old Nazis still going strong in 1972
In the following years Nazi criminals were occasionally exposed within West Germany, often by radio broadcasts from the DDR. Some of them were tried and either acquitted or given lenient sentences. In many cases the West German judiciary system delayed or refused prosecution. The following informative text is from TIME magazine, 6 June 1972, 28 years after D-Day:
WEST GERMANY: Justice Denied
Some of the most notorious Nazi war criminals have escaped justice because West German judges have permitted unconscionably long trial delays. That is the accusation made by Hermann Langbein, 60, an Austrian Jew who survived Auschwitz and is now secretary of the International Concentration Camp Committee, which documents and tries to secure punishment for Nazi crimes. In the committee’s quarterly bulletin Langbein charges that West German judges have gone out of their way to accept defense excuses for postponement, often causing trials to be delayed for a decade or more. Items:
Horst Wagner, 66, an SS member of the German Foreign Office, was allegedly responsible for transporting Jews from occupied countries outside the Third Reich to concentration camps. He was arrested in 1958, but it took German prosecutors nine years to prepare the case for trial. The date was finally set for May 1968, but since then Wagner, who is out on bail, has won one postponement after another by changing attorneys and claiming ill health. Last July he underwent an eye operation three days before his long-delayed trial was to begin.
Dr. Horst Schumann, 66, a medical experimenter at Auschwitz, was extradited from Ghana in 1966. His trial in 1970 was interrupted because he was suffering from high blood pressure. No new date has been set.
Dr. Werner Best, 68, was accused of complicity in the murder of 8,723 Poles. The case against him, set for last February, was temporarily discontinued by a vacation-replacement court. Last August the case was dropped entirely because of Best’s “old age”.
Dr. Johannes Thümmler, 66, Gestapo chief of Katowice and president of the infamous Auschwitz Summary Court, has never been brought to trial because West German prosecutors declared themselves unable to assemble sufficient material from Poland to present a case. A German journalist, however, recently traveled to Poland and gathered enough material on Thümmler to write a 1-hr. 40-min. television documentary about his alleged atrocities.
Dr. Georg Fleischmann, accused of directing the mass executions of Jews at Smolensk, was arrested in 1965 but never tried. Last July the public prosecutor’s office announced that a case against several of Fleischmann’s accomplices was finally ready for trial; Fleischmann himself died of natural causes in 1970.
Since the end of the war, West German courts have convicted 6,330 people of war crimes and extended the statute of limitations to provide time to bring others to justice. West German officials acknowledge that delays exist. They blame a shortage of court personnel and the fact that witnesses are frequently too old or nervous to testify reliably, making it necessary to round up corroborative testimony. If witnesses abroad are unable to travel to testify in Germany, a number of delicate international negotiations must be carried out before a German investigating judge can journey to, say, Poland or Israel and question witnesses there. Langbein suggests that there are also other factors at work. Says he: “An Austrian or German was much more likely, by inadvertence or bad luck, to become a jailer than to be inside a concentration camp. The public reaction to the sight of a war criminal in the dock is therefore quite naturally one of ‘There but for the grace of God go I.’”
Whatever the motive, one West German court found yet another reason to postpone the trial last month of Dr. Albert Ganzenmüller, 67, who is accused of organizing the railroad cars necessary for mass deportations of Jews to concentration camps. Ganzenmüller’s lawyer is involved in another prolonged case, and a Düsseldorf judge ruled that the lawyer ‘cannot, therefore, be expected to defend his client before the end of the first trial.’ If other courts follow that lead, all an accused Nazi needs to do to escape trial is choose a busy lawyer.
Did the Soviets employ Nazis?
Both Simpson and Bower occasionally attempt to equate the Soviets and the Western powers in the sense that they all made use of ex-Nazis. However, the Western practices of turning the Nazi war criminals loose, reinstating them in positions of power and/or recruiting them on a very large scale for military and/or intelligence service were not applied in the Soviet zone, which later became the DDR.
The figures for trials, convictions and executions of Nazi war criminals by the Soviets/DDR in comparison to the Western powers are revealing. Between 1945 and 1965, approximately 16,500 persons were charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes in he Soviet zone of occupation and subsequently in the DDR. Approximately 12,800 were convicted, 1,600 were acquitted and 2,200 were not tried due to absence or death.
The West German population was about three times greater than the East German. But during the 20 years following World War 2 only about 12,500 persons had been charged /25% less than in the East), and only 5,200 convicted. In more than 7,000 cases the accused was found not guilty, the prosecution was withdrawn or the trial was never started. Sentences are generally lenient (Brown Book).
In addition, both Bower and Simpson show that the Western powers almost routinely refused to comply with repeated requests from the Soviet Union and other countries for extradition of war criminals.
We have seen that the bankers and industrialists who financed and equipped the German war machine were restored to power in the Western zones. In a few cases their assets were confiscated, but were returned in a short time. As noted above, they were allowed to keep the loot that they had plundered. Their links with Western capitalists continued to generate profits after 1945.
By contrast, all banks in the Soviet zone of Germany were nationalized in 1945, and by the end of 1946 all industrial facilities as well as property and other assets owned by Nazis had been confiscated. In subsequent years members of the Nazi party who had not been convicted of war crimes were allowed to own land, up to a maximum of 1 km2. No such actions took place in the Western zones. If there were bankers or industrialists remaining in the Soviet zone, they were not allowed to resume their previous careers.
The big Prussian landowners (Junkers) and their counterparts in the Western zones had been eager supporters of the Hitler regime, and were therefore subject to Section 2 of the Potsdam protocol. As far as I know, no punitive measures were taken against them in the West.
In 1945-46, about 500 Junker estates were converted into collective people’s farms in the Soviet zone. More than 30,000 km² of land were confiscated and distributed among 500,000 peasant farmers, agricultural laborers, and refugees. Compensation was paid only to active anti-Nazis. In September 1947 the Soviet military administration reported the completion of agrarian reform through the Soviet zone. This report listed 12,355 estates, totaling 6 million acres, which had been seized and redistributed to 119,000 families of landless farmers, 83,000 refugee families, and some 300,000 in other categories. State collective farms were also established.
The Nazi party owed its existence to the support of the bourgeoisie. The asset base on which the power of the bourgeoisie had been built was destroyed in the Soviet zone, and would not be reconstituted in the DDR until after the so-called reunification of Germany in 1990.
Where were the war criminals?
It seems reasonable to assume that most if not all Nazi war criminals fled to the Western zones as quickly as possible. How many did not, and why? Is that information available anywhere? How many war criminals were left behind?
Given the lack of reliable evidence, the following conclusions appear to be valid:
- Major criminals such as Hans Maria Globke and the thousands of others who assumed power in the West German government and civil service were not able to pursue successful careers in the DDR
- High-ranking war criminals in the Nazi armed forces, including the SS, did not return to similar posts in the Soviet or East German armed forces
- Former SS personnel did not receive state pensions in the DDR
- Nazi judges did not dominate the judiciary in the DDR
- Nazi professors did not dominate higher education in the DDR
- German scientists who were guilty of war crimes were not employed in significant numbers by the Soviet Union. Naturally, there were exceptions, since it was inevitable that some ex-Nazis would slip through. But in general Nazis were condemned, not reinstated.
It should be noted that Jews were frequently members of the DDR government. I have not been able to find information on the number of Jews who served in the West German government.
In addition to the East German Communist party (SED), the following parties were active in the DDR: Christian Democratic Union (CDU), Liberal Democratic Party of Germany (LDPD), Democratic Farmers’ Party of Germany (DBD) and National Democratic Party of Germany (NDPD). The Western media never devoted much attention to them, even during the period immediately preceding reunification. As noted previously, the Communist party was banned in West Germany in 1956, presumably for having opposed Nazism. It was liquidated in 1969, after which a new Communist party was allowed to exist.
There is no doubt that the Soviet Union and the DDR employed ex-Nazis as spies against the West. But this has to be seen in the context of the war against Communism. It was the USSR and the Cominform countries who lived under a threat of war, not the West. The Soviets did not prepare plans for pre-emptive nuclear strikes against the West. Nor did they send ex-Nazis into Western countries with orders to sabotage infrastructure or recruit and arm guerilla fighters.
It has also been frequently claimed that the DDR never came to terms with the crimes of the Nazis, and that the government of the DDR concealed complicity of German citizens in the crimes of the Hitler regime. The following text from The Guardian, 29 March 2007, is of interest in this connection:
East Germany did face up to its Nazi past
The West’s demonisation of communism has led to a distortion of history, says Bruni de la Motte.
It is a truism that history is invariably written by the victors, but that shouldn’t stop individuals like me protesting when the truth is so clearly distorted. I read too often recently about how the Communists in Eastern Europe repressed knowledge of the iniquities of Hitler and Nazism. Recent Guardian articles have stated: “… in Communist East Germany which did little to expose its Nazi past” (Hitler’s honour lives on in G8 summit town, March 12); and “Due to the communist regime’s suppression of history and its encouragement of anti-semitism, few Poles were aware …” (I’m no hero, says woman who saved 2,500 ghetto children, March 15).
I was born and grew up in the German Democratic Republic. Our schoolbooks dealt extensively with the Nazi period and what it did to the German nation and most of Europe. During the course of their schooling, all pupils were taken at least once to a concentration camp, where a former inmate would explain in graphic detail what took place. All concentration camps in the former GDR were maintained as commemorative places, “so that no one should forget”. The government itself included a good proportion of those, including Jews, who had been forced to flee Hitler fascism or who had been interred.
The allies’ post-war Potsdam agreement laid down the vital need to prosecute Nazi war criminals and de-Nazify the country. In the East, thousands of new teachers had to be found overnight, as those tainted by the Nazi ideology were not suitable to teach a new postwar generation, and this resulted in schools having under-trained and inadequate teaching staff for some years; all lawyers were replaced too.
Although the Nuremberg trials set the scene with the trial and conviction of the 24 top leaders, after the onset of the cold war the West did not carry through the spirit of Potsdam. In West Germany thousands of leading Nazi army officers, judges who had sent Jews and leftists to their deaths, doctors who’d experimented on concentration camp victims, politicians and others, were left unscathed and continued in their professions. They received generous pensions on retirement, whereas those who opposed the Nazis and had been imprisoned or in concentration camps received no pensions for these periods as “they hadn’t paid their contributions”. In the GDR the “victims of fascism” received extra pensions and other privileges in recognition of their suffering.
General Bastian, who later became a Green MP in the Bundestag, was forced out of the army after revealing that Nazi ideology was rife in the postwar Bundeswehr. In East Germany, on the other hand, all top Nazis were put on trial or fled to the West before they could be caught; and the government produced its famous Brown Book, with a list of leading Nazis who were still “on the run”.” firstname.lastname@example.org
Why did the West welcome Holocaust criminals?
How could the Western democracies give aid, comfort and employment to the Fascists who had been responsible for the Holocaust, reinstating many of them in positions of power?
The answer is that it was in the interest of the ruling classes to do so. We have seen that after 1917 anti-Communism was a central component in the policies of all the capitalist nations, including Fascist Italy, Germany and Spain. And as shown in Chapter 10, even before World War 2 came to an end the leaders of the West had once again identified the Soviet Union, the Communist movement and the working class as the main enemies.
In 1945 the US dominated the international capitalist economy and had become a military superpower. The Western ruling classes now believed that the unresolved inter-imperialist conflicts which had been apparent between the wars could no longer be resolved by armed conflict. The owners of the capitalist system and the leaders of The Free World could jointly concentrate on their shared goal – elimination of the Soviet Union. The Western nations that had attacked Soviet Russia in 1918 found natural new allies in the form of unreconstructed Nazis, who were eager and willing to serve the cause.
This explains the lack of curiosity about the post-war fate of the Nazis on the part of mainstream Western historians, the Forum for Living History and most media people. The subject is intuitively avoided because an investigation would generate too many awkward questions.
If the mainstream historians don’t know what happened to the people who perpetrated the Holocaust, they are disqualified from writing about it. If they do know, they are obviously trying to hide the truth.