Wednesday, September 22News That Matters

Newly disclosed CIA memo reveals U.S. concealed high-ranking Nazi’s role in Holocaust so he could serve as a Cold War asset

In the years following World War II, the United States and West Germany jointly worked to conceal a high-ranking Nazi official’s role in deporting tens of thousands of Jews, newly disclosed intelligence records obtained by German public broadcaster ARD reveal, per The New York Times.

Franz Josef Huber led a large section of the Gestapo — Adolf Hitler’s secret police — that stretched across Austria, and his forces worked closely with Adolf Eichmann on the coordination of the deportation of Jews to concentration and extermination camps. Eichmann, famously, was tried and executed in Israel in 1962 for his role in the Holocaust, but Huber dodged that fate, even though he was arrested by American forces in 1945. He was released in 1948 and continued to live out his days in Munich, seemingly avoiding responsibility altogether because he was seen as a potential Cold War asset.

The CIA, for example, believed he could help recruit agents in the Soviet bloc. As one memo from 1953 reads, the agency was “by no means unmindful of the dangers involved in playing around with a Gestapo general,” but “we also believe, on the basis of the information now in our possession, that Huber might be profitably used by this organization.” The West German intelligence service, the BND, gave him a cover story, and it took 20 years before the agency decided “they could no longer tolerate the connection,” the Times writes.

While Huber’s story may stand out because of his significant standing within the Third Reich, Prof. Shlomo Shpiro of Israel’s Bar-Ilan University explained that “Western intelligence services struggled to recruit reliable anti-communist contacts,” which meant they frequently ignored the backgrounds of potential assets. “Many former Nazis took advantage of the new communist threat to secure for themselves both immunity from war crimes prosecution and hefty salaries from U.S. and West German intelligence agencies,” he said. Read more at The New York Times.

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