West Germany had been de-Nazified, had it not? The new model, democratic West Germany was shorn of authoritarian aspirations, the ‘tiny minority’ of Nazi fanatics had been punished. Germany was safe and clean and well-behaved....

De-Nazification was a cursory, superficial affair. There were too many other interests at stake for it to have been otherwise. Even before the building of the Berlin wall the occupying forces on both sides of the newly-emergent Cold War were busy recruiting Nazis to positions of power and influence. Regardless of ideology, the Americans and the Russians needed members of the Nazi military and political machine. The Nazis had intelligence networks, safe houses, knowledge, all too valuable to ignore.

So it was that men such as Otto Skorzeny, Otto Remer and Reinhard Gehlen escaped punishment were soon able, like thousands of other Nazis, to resume their activities. Some, like Skorzeny and Gehlen, developed extensive contacts with American Intelligence. Skorzeny, the man who had rescued Mussolini after his capture by partisans, was allowed to escape to fascist Spain, where he provided the CIA with help and information over the years. Gehlen, another high-ranking Nazi, established the West German intelligence service, which was soon a major employer of thousands of displaced Nazis.

It wasn’t just Americans who adopted hard-line Nazis to their cause, the Soviets were just as assiduous in employing Nazi war criminals. Within the post-war Nazi scene groups such as Otto Remer’s ‘Socialist Reich Party’ – the successor to Hitler’s NSDAP – adopted a ‘neutralist’ foreign policy which opposed American domination of West Germany. This avowedly neo-Nazi party was soon being funded by Moscow, who had actually reduced funding to the German Communist Party because the fascist SRP was so much effective.
It would be bad enough that these people walked away from the Hitler regime unscathed, but they lost no time in rebuilding a new, post-war Nazi movement. Supplying money, contacts, intelligence and ideology these old-guard fascists set about creating fascist movements and parties throughout Europe, North America and beyond.

Whilst some of them shed the trappings of Third Reich nostalgia to create ‘pan-European’ or ‘Euro-nationalist’ variants of Nazis, others persisted in keeping a more rigid ideological line. Despite internal schisms and faction fighting, the fact remains that these fascist veterans exerted an influence right through from the immediate post-war years to the current day. like .the American far-right, the emerging ‘National Bolshevik’ Red-Brown alliances in Russia and the South American influence of Klaus Barbie and his cohorts.

A neo-Nazi conspiracy exists;the forces of fascism have clearly depended for their continued existence on powerful allies within state agencies – particularly the intelligence services (the same people viewed as allies in the fight against fascism).

Today the biggest dangers arise not from the ideologically pure neo-Nazi sects, but from those groups who have adapted to the militant anti-fascist movement and have, or are in the process of, re-casting themselves as racist populist parties in the mould of the French National Front or the Austrian Freedom Party.

From the Aug. 9, 1948 issue of TIME magazine

He had been a lieutenant colonel in Hitler's Elite Guard. He was intelligent, cunning, courageous. His face—ice-blue eyes, sabre-scarred chin, thin, contemptuous smile—was a symbol of Nazi fanaticism. He denied most of the legends that had grown around his name (one: that he had been assigned to assassinate General Dwight D. Eisenhower. Said he: "Only a rumor. You can be sure that if any attempt had been made it would have succeeded.") But the truth about Otto Skorzeny was impressive enough.

In the summer of 1943, after Mussolini had become the prisoner of Italy's Badoglio Government, it was Skorzeny whom Hitler personally assigned to rescue the Duce. After weeks of dime-thriller spy work he located Mussolini in an inaccessible hotel on the 9,560-ft. peak of the Gran Sasso in the Abruzzo Mountains northeast of Rome. He led an assault which reached the hotel by crash-landing gliders against the mountainside. Skorzeny reported: "Duce, the Führer has sent me as a token of his loyal friendship." They flew out together in a tiny plane which had to take off by dropping 1,000 feet over a precipice

Skorzeny surrendered to U.S. troops at Salzburg, in 1945. Since then, he had been in prison, first at Dachau, then at Darmstadt. His war-crimes trial, on charges of torturing U.S. prisoners, resulted in acquittal; but he was held in custody because a denazification court had not yet gotten around to his case. Last week he escaped. Somewhere in Germany, Otto Skorzeny had gone underground.


Source: Law Reports of Trials of War Criminals. United Nations War Crimes Commission. Vol. IX, 1949

TRIAL OF OTTO SKORZENY AND OTHERS

GENERAL MILITARY GOVERNMENT COURT OF THE U.S. ZONE OF GERMANY

18TH AUGUST TO 9TH SEPTEMBER, 1947

A. OUTLINE OF THE PROCEEDINGS

The ten accused involved in this trial were all officers in the 150th Panzer Brigade commanded by the accused Skorzeny. They were charged with participating in the improper use of American uniforms by entering into combat disguised therewith and treacherously firing upon and killing members of the armed forces of the United States. They were also charged with participation in wrongfully obtaining from a prisoner-of-war camp United States uniforms and Red Cross parcels consigned to American prisoners of war.

In October, 1944, the accused Colonel Otto Skorzeny had an interview with Hitler. Hitler knew Skorzeny personally from his successful exploit in liberating Mussolini and commissioned him to organise a special task force for the planned Ardennes offensive. This special force was to infiltrate through the American lines in American uniform and to capture specified objectives in the rear of the enemy. The German High Command directed all army groups to seek volunteers who spoke English for a secret assignment. These volunteers were concentrated in a training centre where a special task force called the 150th Brigade was formed. It was furnished with jeeps and other American vehicles, part of their weapons and ammunition was American and the members were issued with American documents. They received training in English, American mannerisms, driving of American vehicles, and the use of American weapons. The Chief-of-Staff of the German Prisoner-of-War Bureau was approached by Skorzeny to furnish the Brigade with American uniforms. These uniforms were mainly obtained from booty dumps and warehouses, but some were obtained from prisonerof-war camps where they were taken from the prisoners on orders from two of the accused. Some Red Cross parcels were also obtained in this manner.

The accused Skorzeny took over the command of the brigade on 14th December. On the 16th December the Ardennes offensive began. The objectives of the three combat groups into which the brigade was divided were the three Maas bridges at Angier, Amee and Huy respectively. The men were dressed in American uniforms and wore German parachute overalls over these uniforms. Their orders were to follow the spearhead of the three panzer divisions to which they were attached and as soon as the American lines were pierced they were to discard their overalls and, dressed in American uniforms, make for the three bridges. They were instructed to avoid contact with enemy troops and if possible to avoid combat in reaching their objectives. The piercing of the enemy lines by the S.S. Armoured Division was not successful, and on 18th December Skorzeny decided to abandon the plan of taking the three Maas bridges and put his brigade at the disposal of the commander of the S.S. corps to which it had been attached, to be used as infantry. He was given an infantry mission to attack towards Malmedy. During this attack several witnesses saw members of Skorzeny's brigade, including two of the accused, wearing American uniforms and a German parachute combination in operational areas, but the evidence included only two cases of fighting in American uniform.

In the first case, Lieutenant O'Neil testified that in fighting in which he was engaged about 20th December his opponents wore American uniforms with German parachute overalls, some of them who were captured by him said " that they belonged to the ' First ', or the ' Adolf Hitler ', or the ' Panzer ' Division ". The second case was contained in an affidavit of the accused Kocherscheid, who elected not to give evidence in the trial. He said in his affidavit that during the attack on Malmedy he and some of his men were engaged in a reconnaisance mission in American uniform when they were approached by an American military police sergeant. Kocherscheid, fearing that they would be recognised, fired several shots at the sergeant.

Skorzeny's brigade was relieved by other troops on 28th December and was subsequently disbanded.

All accused were acquitted of all charges.

B. NOTES ON THE CASE

1. THE USE OF ENEMY UNIFORMS, INSIGNIA, ETC.

It is a generally recognised rule that the belligerents are allowed to employ ruses of war or stratagems during battles. A ruse of war is defined by Oppenheim-Lauterpacht (International Law, Vol. II, paragraph 163) as a deceit employed in the interest of military operations for the purpose of misleading the enemy ". When contemplating whether the wearing of enemy uniforms is or is not a legal ruse of war, one must distinguish between the use of enemy uniforms in actual fighting and such use during operations other than actual fighting.

On the use of enemy uniforms during actual fighting the law is clear. Lauterpacht says:

As regards the use of the national flag, the military insignia and the uniforms of the enemy, theory and practice are unanimous in prohibiting such use during actual attack and defence since the principle is considered inviolable that during actual fighting belligerent forces ought to be certain of who is friend and who is foe.

The Defence, quoting Lauterpacht, pleaded that the 150th Brigade had instructions to reach their obectives under cover of darkness and in enemy uniforms, but as soon as they were detected, they were to discard their American uniforms and fight under their true colours.

On the use of enemy uniforms other than in actual fighting, the law is uncertain. Some writers hold the view that until the actual fighting starts the combatants may use enemy uniforms as a legitimate ruse of war, others think that the use of enemy uniforms is illegal even before the actual attack.

Lawrence (International Law, p. 445) says that the rule is generally accepted that "troops may be clothed in the uniform of the enemy in order to creep unrecognised or unmolested into his position, but during the actual conflict they must wear some distinctive badge to mark them off from the soldiers they assault".

J. A. Hall (Treatise on International Law, eighth edition, p. 537), holds it to be " perfectly legitimate to use the distinctive emblem of an enemy in order to escape from him or draw his forces into action".

Spaight (War Rights on Land, 1911, p. 105) disagrees with the views expressed above. He argues that there is little virtue in discarding the disguise after it has served its purpose, i.e. to deceive the enemy. " If it is imroper to wear the enemy's uniform in a pitched battle it must surely be equally improper to deceive him by wearing it up to the first shot or clash of arms ".

Lauterpacht observes (International Law, Vol. 11, p. 335, note 1) that before the Second World War " the number of writers who considered it illegal to make use of the enemy flag, ensigns and uniforms, even before the actual attack, was becoming larger

Article 23 of the Annex of the Hague Convention, No. IV, 1907, says:

In addition to the prohibitions provided by special conventions it is especially forbidden . . . (f) to make improper use of a flag of truce, of the national flag, or of the military insignia or uniform of the enemy, as well as the distinctive badges of the Geneva Convention.

This does not carry the law on the point any further since it does not generally prohibit the use of enemy uniforms, but only the improper use, and as Professor Lauterpacht points out, it leaves the question what uses are proper and what are improper, open.

Wheaton (International Law, Vol. II, sixth edition, p. 753), points out that Article 23 (f) by no means settles the question, and adds that "each case must necessarily be judged on its merit, and determined conformably to the basic principles of war law, special regard being paid to the element of bona fides ". (As an example for a bona fides use of enemy uniforms, he gives the case where no other uniforms are available to the belligerent army.)

Paragraph 43 of the Field Manual published by the War Department, United States Army, on 1st October, 1940, under the title " Rules of Land Warfare ", says:

National flags, insignias and uniforms as a ruse-in practice it has been authorised to make use of these as a ruse. The foregoing rule (Article 23 of the Annex of the IVth Hague Convention), does not prohibit such use, but does prohibit their improper use. It is certainly forbidden to make use of them during a combat. Before opening fire upon the enemy, they must be discarded.

The American Soldiers' Handbook, which was quoted by Defence Counsel, says:

The use of the enemy flag, insignia and uniform is permitted under some circumstances. They are not to be used during actual fighting, and if used in order to approach the enemy without drawing fire, should be thrown away or removed as soon as fighting begins .

The procedure applicable in this case did not require that the Court make findings other than those of guilty or not guilty. Consequently no safe conclusion can be drawn from the acquittal of all accused, but if the two above-mentioned American publications contain correct statements of international law, as it stands today, they dispose of the whole case for the Prosecution, apart from the two instances of use of American uniforms during actual fighting.

The first case, that of Lieutenant O'Neil, has to be disregarded as the evidence does not seem to disclose with sufficient certainty the connection between the men dressed in American uniform whom Lieutenant O'Neil captured and the 150th Brigade. In the second instance, the case of the accused Kocherscheid who in an affidavit admitted that he fired on an American military police sergeant when dressed in American uniform, the accused stated in his affidavit that he fired several shots at the sergeant, but there was no evidence to show that he killed or even wounded him as was alleged in the charge.

2. ESPIONAGE

Two Counsel in defence of the accused Kocherscheid, argued that he was on an espionage mission in " no man's land " when he met the military police sergeant. He believed, on reasonable grounds, that he and his men were discovered and shot at the military police sergeant to protect his own life and the lives of his men. Counsel argued that as he returned from the espionage mission to his own lines he was protected by Article 31 of the Hague Convention and could therefore not be punished afterwards for his acts as a spy.

Article 29 of the Annex to the Hague Convention, 18th October, 190.7, defines espionage as the "act of a soldier or other individual who clandestinely or under false pretences seeks to obtain information concerning one belligerent in the zone of belligerent operations with the intention of communicating it to the other belligerent ". According to Article 31 of the same Convention, a spy who is not captured in the act but rejoins the army to which he belongs and is subsequently captured by the enemy, cannot be punished for his previous espionage but must be treated as a prisoner of war.

The argument put forward by Defence Counsel appears to be unsound. Article 31 gives immunity to a spy who returns to his lines in so far as he cannot be punished as a spy. The accused in this case, however, were not tried as spies but were tried for a violation of the laws and usages of war alleged to have been committed by entering combat in enemy uniforms. Articles 29-31 of the Hague Convention have therefore no application in this case and it would appear that the accused Kocherscheid's acquittal was based on lack of sufficient evidence, as he did not give evidence at the trial and the Prosecution's case rested entirely on his pre-trial affidavit.

3. THE TAKING OF UNIFORMS, INSIGNIA, ETC., FROM PRISONERS OF WAR

Article 6 of the Geneva (Prisoner-of-War) Convention, 1929, provides that:

All effects and objects of personal use, except arms, military equipment and military papers, shall remain in the possession of prisoners of war ...

The taking of uniforms of prisoners of war is therefore a violation of the Geneva Convention.

Article 37 of the same Convention states that:

Prisoners of war shall be allowed individually to receive parcels by mail containing food and other articles intended for consumption or clothing. Packages should be delivered to the addressees and a receipt given.

To appropriate such packages before they reach their addressees is therefore also a violation of the Geneva Convention.

As mentioned above, the Court had not to give any reasons for their findings, but it is possible that having acquitted the accused of the main charge the Court applied the maxim de minimis non curat lex, also acquitting the accused of what were lesser violations of the Geneva Convention (cf. Vol. III, p. 70, of this series).


The crimes alleged by the prosecution in the four-charge indictment were all violations of the laws and usages of war. Charge I asserted that Skorzeny and his men participated in combat wearing U.S. uniforms. Although most interpreters of international law agree that wearing of enemy uniforms is permissible in carrying out a ruse, it is unlawful to be uniformed in the garb of the enemy during actual combat. Therefore, it was crucial for the prosecution to prove that the defendants participated in combat wearing U.S. uniforms. Charge II alleged that the defendants tortured and killed more than 100 U.S. prisoners of war. Charge III stated that Skorzeny and his co-defendants removed, used, and appropriated insignia of rank, decorations, uniforms, identification documents, and other effects and objects of personal use in the possession of U.S. prisoners of war. Charge IV alleged misappropriation of Red Cross food and clothing parcels consigned to U.S. prisoners of war.

All of the defendants pleaded not guilty. …The court dismissed Charge II for lack of evidence. The court granted a motion by the prosecution to find de Bruin not guilty and granted a similar motion by the defense for Maus. All other defendants were eventually acquitted. The court did not render an opinion explaining its reasons for the acquittals, contrary to procedure set by Nuremberg courts.



The Long History of American Treachery


This fable starts during the Good (sic) War...


Commonly referred to by the German press as "Hitler's favorite commando," Otto "Scarface" Skorzeny was six feet, four inches tall and 220 pounds with, says journalist Christopher Simpson, "appropriately arrogant 'Aryan' features and a five-inch dueling scar down his left cheek,." It was Skorzeny that Hitler called upon to execute the daring rescue of Benito Mussolini when the dictator's enemies in Italy placed him under house arrest in 1943.


Mussolini was initially imprisoned on the island of Ponza, some 35 miles off the coast of Italy. Using contacts cultivated by German agents well established within the Italian hierarchy, Skorzeny learned of Il Duce's whereabouts and of his subsequent transfer to the Gran Sasso skiing area of Apennine Mountains. The hulking Scarface proceeded to execute a stunning rescue against impossible odds, thus ingratiating himself with his Führer.


"Hitler loved him," says Simpson. Allen Dulles of the OSS (and later the CIA) had a bit of a crush on him, too.


When the clever Skorzeny wisely surrendered himself to the U.S. in the last hours of the Third Reich, he was promptly acquitted of war crimes and managed to "escape" from an internment camp, leaving behind a note that proclaimed he had "only done my duty to my Fatherland." In the ensuing years, Skorzeny worked his mayhem while on the CIA payroll. It was in Egypt, in the late 40s and early 50s, that the Nazi killer left his mark on the international theater. The CIA sent Skorzeny to replace King Farouk with an Egyptian general named Mohammed Naguib. Scarface felt at home in the Middle East where he saw a chance to renew his anti-Semitic, fascist propensities. He threw his support behind rising star Gamal Abdel Nasser and used CIA money to import over 100 former SS cronies to aid in his efforts.

I
n a twist Hollywood could never conjure, the U.S.-funded Scarface would indirectly face off against another U.S.-funded criminal and murderer. .


In the first three months following Pearl Harbor, the U.S. and its allies lost over 120 merchant ships to German U-boats in the waters off the American coast. Suspicion of enemy infiltration grew and the investigative section of U.S. Naval Intelligence in the New York area, the B-3, began to collaborate with mobsters who dominated the New York City docks. Their first contact was Joseph "Socks" Lanza, but with multiple racketeering indictments, Lanza's motives began to be questioned by his cohorts. It was time to for the B-3 to aim higher. "Operation Underworld," as the Navy called it, led directly to Lucky Luciano.


Salvatore C. Luciano, a.k.a. Charles "Lucky" Luciano, was known as the first of the modern Mafia bosses. He had been in prison since 1936 and, as of May 1942, still had twenty-four years of his sentence to serve, followed by inevitable deportation orders. However, Luciano wasn't nicknamed "Lucky" for nothing...he had something the Navy wanted and all they needed was to find a like-minded soul to convince him to share. In 1942, the Navy reached out to Meyer Lansky.


A mobster of legendary reputation, Lansky-once dubbed "the Mafia's Henry Kissinger" by comedian Jackie Mason-was already active in domestic anti-Nazi circles when the navy contacted him. During the mid-1930s, Lansky and his henchmen would regularly break up pro-Nazi meetings in the U.S. On one occasion, journalist Walter Winchell tipped off the underworld chieftain about a gathering that would feature the leader of the pro-Hitler German-American Bund, Fritz Kuhn, scheduled to take place in Yorkville, Manhattan's German neighborhood. Lansky recalled that night as follows: "We got there that evening and found several hundred people dressed in their brown shirts. The stage was decorated with a swastika and pictures of Hitler. There were only about fifteen of us, but we went into action." Rest assured the assembled audience did not get to hear Kuhn speak that night.


With a proven anti-Nazi background and many years of lucrative collaboration with Luciano as collateral, Meyer Lansky was a natural for Operation Underworld. In no time, he had Luciano transferred to Great Meadow, "the state's unprison-looking prison" in the town of Comstock, sixty miles north of Albany. "We went up by train to Albany," Lansky recalled, "and from Albany we get a car to take us to the prison." Almost overnight, stories of lavish banquets became commonplace, although prison authorities and New York Governor Thomas Dewey denied such allegations.


Luciano put out the word on June 4, 1942, and by June 27, eight German secret agents were arrested in New York and Chicago thanks to information provided by patriots who moonlighted as murderers, loan sharks, and gamblers. In November of that same year, with Socks Lanza mediating, a threatened longshoreman's strike was averted...much to the navy's delight.


It wasn't long before the U.S. government would call on its favorite professional criminals for help in the actual fighting of WWII. As the Allies took control of North Africa and began to contemplate an assault on Sicily, military planners realized that they were too unfamiliar with the coastline of the Italian island to undertake such a venture. In a flash, Lansky recruited an illegal gambling cohort, Joe Adonis, to dig up some Sicilians in New York City. Soon, these padrones, as they were called, were meeting at the headquarters for navy intelligence at 90 Church Street to peruse a giant map of their homeland. The results are, as they say, history: In the small hours of July 10, 1943, Lieutenant Paul Alfieri landed on Licata Beach and made contact with local Sicilians who told him the secret location of Italian Naval Command, hidden in a nearby holiday vista. Inside, Alfieri discovered "the entire disposition of the Italian and German Naval forces in the Mediterranean-together with minefields located in the Mediterranean area-together with overlays of these minefields, prepared by the Germans, showing the safe-conduct routes through the mines."


Once the Allies had landed in Sicily and met with Luciano's contacts, they were aided on the ground throughout the entire venture. This was especially true for General George S. Patton, the commander of the Seventh Army. "Patton was a general of extraordinary martial dexterity, but the sixty thousand troops and countless booby traps in his path should have given him at least a few problems," says author Jonathan Vankin. "His way has been cleared by Sicily's Mafia boss Calogero Vizzini, at the request of Luciano."



While Lacey downplays such stories, he does mention "dark tales of planes dropping flags and handkerchiefs bearing the letter L behind enemy lines-signals, supposedly, from Luciano to local mafia chieftains."


Regardless of the methods used to recruit unabashed murderers into a battle against unabashed mass murderers, anti-communism was again the overriding motivation. Since much of Italy's anti-fascist resistance was made up of leftists and communists, the Mafia was a willing partner in smashing such sentiment. As Sicily was secured by the Allies, "the occupying American Army appointed Mafia bosses-including Vizzini-[as] mayors of many Sicilian townships," says Vankin. "Gangsters became an American-backed quasi-police force." When Vizzini killed the police chief in Villaba, the town where he was appointed mayor, he was not prosecuted.


"In American-occupation headquarters, one of the best employees was Vito Genovese, who eventually inherited Luciano's New York operation," adds Vankin. Upon the war's end, Luciano was granted executive clemency by New York governor Thomas Dewey and was released (albeit for deportation) on January 4, 1946.


Postscript: Amid all these machinations, Meyer Lansky kept his fingers in the foreign policy pie when, in an ironic turn, Zionists approached fellow Jew Lansky in 1948, for help arming Israel. He used his B-3 contacts to track down a Pittsburgh dealer who was supplying Arabs with weapons. These arms conveniently "fell overboard," and Lansky had them diverted to the new Jewish state so they could wage war on their neighbors...some of whom were battling Israel with tactics taught by another U.S. government soul mate, former SS legend Otto Skorzeny.


Roll over, Machiavelli ...and tell Condi Rice the news.



America's Secret Alliance with the SS
an excerpt from: Secrets of The SS
Glenn B. Infield (C)1982

The end of the war and the collapse of the Third Reich revealed the horror wrought by the SS under Hitler. The world was shocked as reports of the Holocaust became known and photographs were published of the victims found in the concentration and death camps of Europe. The entire SS organization became a target for Allied investigators seeking war criminals and at Nuremberg, where the war crimes tribunal met, the SS was officially declared a criminal organization. SS members were even shunned by many German citizens who had helplessly observed their actions during the years of Nazi power but who had been unable to interfere without jeopardizing their own lives. Everywhere the SS was undoubtedly the most hated of Nazi organizations, and public feeling in the United States was no exception. There was an outcry for their "heads." In a freedom-loving country, the deeds of the SS were considered so horrendous that death to the perpetrators seemed the only answer. American government officials agreed--at least publicly. Eisenhower's proclamation to the Germans set the tone for the Americans in their occupation zone:

We shall obliterate Nazism and German militarism. We shall overthrow the Nazi rule, dissolve the Nazi party, and abolish the cruel, oppressive, and discriminatory laws and institutions which the party has created.

To follow these guidelines, the Americans, through the U.S. military government, decided that they would denazify the 13 million surviving German adults in their zone. Under the watchful eye of Colonel Orlando Wilson, commander of the Public Sa disclosing all aspects of their life during the Third Reich. Long prison terms were threatened to those Germans who didn't fill out the questionnaire fully and truthfully. The American counterintelligence corps, using the Nazi files found in the Brown House in Munich, checked the questionnaires to make certain that the answers were correct. Five major categories were defined and each German was placed in one of the five. They were: major offenders, offenders, lesser offenders, followers, and exonerated.

The plan seemed simple and workable. It proved complex and unworkable. After the questionnaires were scrutinized, it was discovered that there were nearly 4 million Germans in the American zone alone in the categories requiring trials! There were not nearly enough American personnel in Germany to handle that many cases. A rough estimate indicated that it would take more than eight years to complete the trials. American officials also came to conclude that the denazification program had many failings, and that if zealously pushed could do more harm to American interests than was at first understood. They began to realize that all Nazi party members did not join for the same reason. Some joined under pressure to keep their jobs, others because they believed in the party's aims. Many wealthy persons contributed large sums to the party and helped it grow, but never became members. And as the relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union deteriorated during the postwar years, many of the "war criminals" identified under the American denazification program became more and more valuable to the U.S. Facing all these problems, American officials decided that they would solve the sticky problem by turning the entire denazification program over to the Germans.

On June 1, 1946, all denazification trials became the responsibility of the Germans. Immediately there were two important results: The United States was relieved of the responsibility for passing judgment on the indicted Germans, and it became very obvious that the German judges were not going to be as severe as the Americans had first intended to be when the program began. Enough time had already passed that the average German citizen felt safe in deciding not to testify against other Germans; they preferred not to be seen as traitors. In fact, most of the Germans considered admitting that they had played a minor role in the Nazi party, proof that they had been loyal to their country! By right, the American officials should have been angry and disillusioned by the debasement of the process and should perhaps have reclaimed the denazification program from the Germans. But the world situation was such at the time that they were more pleased than disappointed. There was not a word of criticism when the Germans freed General Franz Halder, Hitler's army chief of staff; Edward Jadamczik, former Gestapo chief in East Prussia: Günther Reinecke, chief SS judge; and Hugo Stinnes, the Ruhr steel and coal industrialist; and when the courts classified Karol Baron von Eberstein, an SS general, a minor offender. Others who received light or no sentences were Heinrich Morgen, deputy SS judge (exonerated); SS General Felix Steiner (minor offender); SS General Wilhelm Bruckner (three-year sentence); SS Brigadier Alexander von Dornberg (exonerated); and Kurt Schmitt (minor offender).

Why didn't the United States complain about the verdicts of the German denazification courts? The ever-growing conflict between the United States and Russia was causing great concern in Washington. The huge American military force that had played an important role in the defeat of Nazi Germany had been demobilized and only a small U.S. military establishment remained in Germany. Washington had believed that Russia, too, intended to demobilize. Instead, Stalin had I enlarged his military force in eastern Europe and gave evidence of, intending to move into western Europe if the Western Allies showed any weakness. With their military strength at a minimum American officials realized that the situation was critical. It was at this time that a subtle change in the official U.S. attitude toward the SS "war criminals" took place. It was decided that the SS members who had been active on the eastern front and were knowledgeable about the Soviets and their tactics could be of help. When the Soviets seized Czechoslovakia and established the Berlin blockade, the public outcry against the SS acts during the Third Reich was ignored by the American officials and a secret alliance between the United States and the SS was instigated.

One of the first high-ranking SS officers contacted was Otto Skorzeny, who was in a detention camp at Dachau. Skorzeny had been cleared by an American tribunal of any war crimes, but the German denazification court wanted to try him. United States officials were confident that the Germans would free him, too, but when the denazification trial was postponed seven times under pressure from Communist groups in the American zone so that Czechoslovakia could prepare a request to have Skorzeny extradited to their country for trial, the matter came to a head. The American counterintelligence agency tipped off Skorzeny that they could delay the extradition request for a few weeks with paperwork; after that, if he was still in the camp, there was little hope of keeping him from Soviet-dominated authorities in Czechoslovakia. The Americans arranged for him to be transferred to Darmstadt where, with the help of some SS comrades who had still not been arrested, Skorzeny escaped on July 27, 1948. The escape was well planned. An automobile with American military license plates and carrying three men wearing U.S. military police uniforms arrived at-the Darmstadt prison main gate early in the afternoon. One of the occupants, disguised as a captain, announced to the guards at the camp that they had arrived to take Otto Skorzeny to Nuremberg for a scheduled hearing. Showing forged documents to the guard, the "captain" insisted he must get the prisoner immediately so that he could get back to Nuremberg before nightfall. The guard, convinced he was doing his duty, turned Skorzeny over to the trio and they got into the car. That was the last time Skorzeny was in prison.

Did the Americans help in Skorzeny's escape? The Soviet authorities were convinced that they did and were furious. One Russian report stated that Skorzeny had been flown to the United States, where he was being interrogated about his knowledge of Russian military forces. Washington vehemently denied the report and stated that American investigators were searching throughout Europe for the elusive Skorzeny. Questioned in later years about the escape, Skorzeny just laughed. "The uniforms were provided by the Americans," was all he would say, referring to the military police uniforms worn by the trio that picked him up at the Darmstadt prison camp.

If the Americans helped Skorzeny escape as the Soviets charged, what was the reason? Even among U.S. military authorities in Europe at the time there was confusion and mistrust. When the G-2 section of the U.S. Army in Europe heard rumors that Skorzeny was working very closely with U.S. counterintelligence in thwarting Soviet aggression, the assistant chief of staff immediately sent a query to the 66th Counter Intelligence Corps Group. The reply was "doubletalk" at a high level. One paragraph stated:

In view of his past as well as the notoriety received by Skorzeny in the press during past years, it is felt that any open sponsorship or support by the U.S. government on behalf of Skorzeny would probably expose the U.S. government to extreme international embarrassment. However, the possibility exists that Skorzeny has been and is being utilized by U.S. intelligence.

In a later letter, the 66th CIC reported that Skorzeny was not a source or contact for their organization but admitted that they knew his whereabouts. There is no question that Skorzeny was used by various U.S. agencies and military units during this period. The confusion arises because of lack of communication and the adherence to strict secrecy by each of the U.S. organizations hiring Skorzeny. Each was fearful that if the American public discovered that they were collaborating with a former SS officer, the resultant publicity would be detrimental to their organization. CIC agents, for example, still suspected that he had aided several high-ranking Nazis to escape from Germany during the last days of the Third Reich, perhaps even Hitler as had been rumored. They wanted Skorzeny out of prison so they could follow him in hopes he could lead them to Bormann, Fegelein, Hitler, or others of prominence. He didn't.

They did discover, however that Skorzeny and his SS comrades had an efficient escape route out of Germany and an organization to administer it. Die Spinne (The Spider) was organized by Skorzeny and other SS members long before he escaped from Darmstadt. As one U.S. intelligence report stated:

The leader of this movement is Otto Skorzeny, who is directing this movement out of Dachau. The Polish guards are helping the men that receive orders from Skorzeny.

Die Spinne established a route of "safe houses" between Germany and Italy, starting from Stuttgart, Munich, Frankfurt, or Bremen. From any of these cities the SS members traveled to Memmingen in the Allgäu section of Bavaria. From there two routes took the men south to Italy, one going through Bregenz, Austria, and the other through Switzerland. Rome and Genoa were the destinations. It took the CIC considerably longer to learn, however, that most of the drivers of the trucks delivering the popular American army newspaper The Stars and Stripes were Spinne members and that behind the bundles of newspapers were one or more other SS members en route to Italy. The U.S. military police never checked these trucks. Working with Skorzeny in Die Spinne were SS Captain Franz Rostel, Hermann Lauterbacher of Himmler's staff, Hasso von Manteuffel, and Helmut Beck, among others.

Despite their knowledge of Die Spinne and the escape route, American authorities did nothing to stop the exodus of SS members. By this time the Korean conflict was under way and the United States was concerned about what other action the Communists might take in other parts of the world. Many political and military officials thought that Korea was merely a ploy to attract attention while lulling the U.S. asleep in western Europe and to draw further troops from the already weak American occupation forces in Germany. The ultimate aim of the Communists, according to these analysts, was to move into western Europe and control all of Germany. Skorzeny, understanding the situation clearly, made an offer to the Americans. He was in contact with most of the German generals who had survived the war, knew where the SS officers who escaped the Allies were located, and had a long list of ex-Wehrmacht and SS soldiers, including his former commandos, who were ready and willing to help the United States against the Russians. He vowed that he could organize four or five divisions of veterans who had fought against the Soviets during World War 11 and have them ready to defend western Europe or to be transferred to Korea within a short time, if the U.S. agreed and provided the necessary funds. It was a tempting offer and one that the American authorities seriously considered during the critical period of the Korean conflict.

By this time Skorzeny had set up an "engineering" office in Madrid under the protection of dictator Generalissimo Francisco Franco, whose brother-in-law Skorzeny had saved during the Nazi period. Actually he was coordinating Die Spinne activities from the office as well as handling illegal arms sales. He also managed to close a deal between Germany and Spain for the delivery of railway stock and machine tools, a deal made possible through his SS and German industrialist connections. His commission earned Skorzeny additional wealth beyond his share of the booty he'd gotten out of Germany at the end of the war. When it became obvious that the Communists were not going to use direct military force to take over all of Germany during the Korean conflict, Skorzeny's proposal to gather a new SS army was refused. But the United States government still had use for Skorzeny and his SS comrades.

John J. McCloy, the new high commissioner, was concerned about two matters: the Korean conflict and the possibility of Soviet aggression in Western Europe; and, second, the fate of the Germans sentenced to prison by the tribunal at Nuremberg. In an effort to arrange German help for the defense of Western Europe, he permitted Krupp to hold meetings in prison with his former board of directors and legal staff in order to discuss the reopening of the Krupp plants if permission to do so was granted. McCloy then established a panel under the chairmanship of David W. Peck, presiding justice of the New York Supreme Court, to review the sentences of the Nazis sentenced by U.S. tribunals. The two initiatives merged on January 31, 1951, when McCloy signed two documents: one releasing Krupp from prison, the other restoring his property to him. The SS had won another battle, a postwar battle where the odds had appeared unbeatable. Krupp soon had his dynasty back in operation and within a matter of months was producing 18 million tons of steel. This steel was of great value to the United States during the Korean crisis since the nation's mills could not provide enough steel for the defense of both western Europe and Korea.

Skorzeny was later revealed to be Krupp's representative in Argentina, verification that the SS influence had certainly not died with the end of the Third Reich. Far from it. After the United States "suggested" that West Germany rearm and join NATO, many German generals resumed important positions in the new military force. However, because of fear of public reaction both in Germany and in the U.S., prominent SS officers played a minor role at the beginning, seeking positions outside Germany. Men such as former SS Lieutenant General Wilhelm Farmbacher; Leopold Gleim, chief of Hitler's personal guard; Joachim Dämling, former chief of the Gestapo in Dusseldorf; Dr. Hans Eisele, Buchenwald's chief physician; and Heinrich Willermann, the SS doctor at Dachau; went to Egypt at the request of the U.S. to help build up Gamal Abdel Nasser's security forces. Skorzeny spent time in Argentina as well as Egypt helping organize pseudo-SS forces for these countries. By 1953, 101 prisoners had been released from prison under the McCloy-Peck sentence review procedure, so many that Eleanor Roosevelt, the ex-president's wife, demanded an explanation from the high commissioner. McCloy merely said that he considered it a fundamental principle of American justice that accused persons have a final right to be heard. He didn't mention that his predecessor, General Lucius Clay, had already had each case reviewed. Nor did he mention the real reason that Krupp and a host of other Nazis were being released--to work with and for the United States.

Germans not as well known to the public as Krupp were released from prison for a reason which was even more secret. Wilhelm Höttl, an SS officer who worked with Ernst Kaltenbrunner, chief of the SD who was sentenced to hang at Nuremberg; Gerhard Pinckert, a member of a terrorist group commanded by Skorzeny; Alfred Benzinger of the Secret Field Police; Fritz Schmidt, Gestapo chief at Kiel; and other SS officers were quietly discharged from Landsberg and other prisons or the indictments pending against them were dropped. Most of them disappeared from sight under assumed names but they definitely did not go into hiding. They became secret intelligence agents for the U.S., first for the military forces, later for the newly formed Central Intelligence Agency. Of all the strange alliances between the Nazis and the U.S. during the postwar years, this was the most secret.

The idea for the alliance actually began in 1944 when Hitler's chief intelligence officer on the eastern front, Reinhard Gehlen, came into disfavor with the Führer. At the time Gehlen was chief of Foreign Armies East and greatly respected by General Heinz Guderian, his superior officer. When Gehlen reported to Guderian that the Russians were planning a huge winter offensive and warned that the attack would crush the Nazi armies in the east, Guderian had him repeat the prediction to Hitler personally. The Führer raged that Gehlen's report was wrong and that he should be sent to a lunatic asylum. Guderian, angry, vowed that he, too, would go. Both men were subsequently relieved of duty by Hitler but not before Gehien had decided that the war was lost. Convinced of this, he made plans to protect himself and his staff after the surrender he knew would come. At the same time, he planned to lay the groundwork for the rebuilding of Germany. His plan was simple. He made copies of all his important documents dealing with intelligence work on the eastern front, put the copies into 50 steel cases, and buried them in the Bavarian mountains. He was aware that the U.S. had no intelligence organization operating behind Russian lines because the Soviet Union was an ally. He was convinced, just as Hitler was, that the United States and the Soviet Union would not remain allies long after the end of World War II, that the two nations would eventually fight each other over the control of Europe.

Gehlen and a skeleton staff of his Foreign Armies East hid out in. the Bavarian mountains after the war ended until they could surrender to the American troops in the area. When Gehlen walked into the U.S. Army headquarters in Fischausen in May 1945 and announced who he was, he expected to be treated as a VIP prisoner. Instead he was sent to a prison at Miesbach and ignored. It wasn't until Soviet agents came to the American zone asking for him by name that the American officials paid any attention to Gehlen. It was then that they discovered that Gehlen knew a great deal about the Soviet forces, and that he had voluminous files detailing their disposition, organization, and leadership. By this time it was becoming more and more evident to the Americans that the Russians, instead Of cooperating with the Western Allies in the difficult problem of governing the large areas of Europe that had been liberated from the Nazis, were determined to seize control of as much of that territory as possible. Not only did the United States find itself vulnerable because of its military demobilization but because it had no intelligence operation. The Office of Strategic Services (OSS) had been disbanded under orders from President Truman and as yet no other organization had been established to replace it.

So when the Russians showed an interest in Gehlen and demanded that he be turned over to them, General Edwin Luther Sibert, G-2 of 12th Army Group, interrogated Gehlen. When the German general offered to place himself, his Foreign Armies East-staff, and his intelligence files at the disposal of the United States under certain conditions, Sibert immediately notified General Walter Bedell Smith, Eisenhower's chief of staff The offer was tempting, but once again the thought of collaborating with Nazi officers so soon after the end of the war and the realization of the public outcry that would provoke if such a collaboration were discovered, made the two men hesitate. Finally Smith decided that Washington should make the decision. Gehlen and three of his officers were flown to the United States in Smith's plane.

Even in Washington the decision was not quick. It took nearly a year before Allen Dulles, formerly the station agent for the OSS in Switzerland; Loftus Becker; Dr. Sherman Kent; General Lucius Clay; J. Edgar Hoover; and others decided that it would be in the best interests of the United States to take Gehlen up on his offer. Moral considerations would have to take a back seat, and they so advised the Pentagon.

One of the restrictions placed on the German general, however, was that he would not use SS men in his operation. Gehlen was based at Pullach, a small town south of Munich, and he immediately began rebuilding his intelligence organization by reestablishing his network of agents in the Soviet zone of occupation and in the Soviet Union itself. Without the knowledge of Sibert and Smith initially, Gehlen combed the American prison camps for former German intelligence agents and-managed to have them released so they could join his organization. Among these agents were many SS men. By the time the Americans discovered that Gehlen had duped them it was too late. The American intelligence chiefs had become too dependent upon his organization for information about the Soviets to disown it. After the CIA was formed in 1947, the Gehlen group joined it as the Soviet intelligence arm and worked with the CIA until 1956 when the organization transferred to the new West German government as its intelligence section.

So within months after the public learned about the SS atrocities and the worldwide condemnation of that hated organization, the United States was actively collaborating with surviving SS members in a number of ways. This was one of the most closely guarded secrets shared by the SS and the United States government following the war.