VS.-Nazi Link Revealed
Declassified documents shed light on
U.S. ties with former Nazi criminals.
Jewish Telegraphic Agency
Detroit Jewish News
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Merle Schwartz has gone above and beyond the
call of volunteer duty time and again during her adult life.
Yet nothing has touched the retired educational consultant
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Merle enjoys most meeting patients and hearing about
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Merle Schwartz is a .11-1CN volunteer
and one of the Hospice Heroes
No Jew Is Ever Alone
June 15 2006
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former Nazi rose to the high-
est ranks of a Western intel-
ligence agency — and was a
Soviet mole. A lead to Adolf Eichmann
was ignored. A spy's lies made him
useless, but he escaped prosecution for
These are among the revelations
found among 8 million pages of docu-
ments released June 6 that deal with
German and Japanese war crimes,
including 27,000 pages that detail the
relationship after World War II between
U.S. government agencies and sus-
pected Nazis war criminals.
"Using very bad people can have
very bad consequences',' Elizabeth
Holtzman, a former U.S. congresswom-
an -and a member of the Interagency
Working Group that released the docu-
ments, said at a news conference June
6 at the National Archives. The group
was established in 1999 to declassify
rooms full of documents related to
Nazi war crimes. The mandate was
later extended to Japanese war crimes.
There is a pointed message as well
for a United States currently at war
with a terrorist enemy, speakers said.
Considering human rights issues in
recruiting spies "may not only be the
right thing to do, but the wise thing to
do',' Holtzman said. "We may want to
understand this as a nation before we
plunge ahead to repeat the mistakes of
The release of documents came eight
years after Congress passed the Nazi
War Crimes Disclosure Act requiring
agencies to provide the information.
Four historians who examined the
documents outlined cases in which the
active U.S. and Western recruitment of
former Nazis was questionable at best
and disastrous at worst.
One of the most outstanding failures,
outlined by historian Norman Goda of
Ohio University, was Heinz Felfe, an SS
officer who rose through the ranks of
West Germany's Gehlen organization
to become its counterintelligence chief
The Gehlen organization, an anti-
Soviet spy agency headed by Richard
Gehlen, a former German general
during World War II, was a magnet for
ex-Nazis who wanted U.S. sanction;
the organization was sponsored by the
Felfe was exposed as a Soviet spy
in 1961, but not before he had done
considerable damage, some revealed
for the first time in the papers released
this month. For instance, Felfe success-
fully advocated for greater cooperation
between the Gehlen group and the CIA,
which made him "the West German
official most knowledgeable about CIA
operations in Eastern Europe:' accord-
ing to Goda.
He was consequently able to sabo-
tage one of the CIWs most important
spy operations, against the KGB base in
East Germany. The CIA subsequently
estimated that Felfe had compromised
In another instance documented
by Timothy Naftali of the University
of Virginia, the CIA learned as early
as 1958 that Eichmann, the architect
of the destruction of European Jewry,
was living in Argentina under the alias
In fact, Eichmann's alias was
"Klement',' but that was close enough
to have led to his capture, Naftali con-
cludes in his study.
The CIA refrained from action
because of its policy of not pursuing
Nazi war criminals.
Some members of the working
group, which in addition to historians,
includes presidential appointees and
representatives of law enforcement and
intelligence agencies, said there was
another message in the release of the
materials that was relevant for the cur-
rent government: the price of keeping
too many secrets.
The CIA was insisting on a literal
interpretation of the law, and wanted to
confine requests for papers to known
war criminals, and not to others sus-
pected of Nazi affiliation. Intervention
from Sen. Mike DeWine, R-Ohio, and
Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., who had
sponsored the legislation creating the
working group, persuaded the agency
to back down last year.
Another factor in the release was
the appointment in 2004 of Rep. Porter
Goss as CIA director. He mandated
greater openness. ❑