NEW YORK (Dec. 21)
The Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith today revealed that U.S. Army Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC) employed a Nazi war criminal convicted by a Belgian military court of 67 war crimes, including the torture of two American Army pilots.
The ADL identified him as Robert Jan Verbelen, a former Belgian citizen now living in Austria, and described his connection with the CIC as “a second Klaus Barbie case.”
According to ADL, Verbelen, who fled his native country after the war, worked for American authorities in Austria from 1946 to 1955 under the name Alfred H. Schwab. The ADL said it has information that the U.S. Army was aware of Verbelen’s true identity when he was hired.
In 1947, Verbelen was tried in absentia and sentenced to death by a Belgian military court after having been convicted of crimes involving mass murders and terrorist acts. The acts he was found guilty of, ADL further disclosed, included unlawfully capturing, imprisoning and torturing two American pilots, identified at Lt. Nuntio Street and Lt. Eugene Dingledine, who were shot down over Belgium.
The two eventually wound up at Buchenwald concentration camp, from which they were liberated by the Russians in the closing days of World War II. The ADL said it did not know where the men were from or whether they are still alive.
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT URGED TO INVESTIGATE
In a letter to U.S. Attorney General William French Smith (dated December 16), Justin Finger, director of ADL’s Civil Rights Division, called on the Justice Department to investigate how Verbelen was able to escape to Austria, the circumstances of his recruitment and employment by the CIC and his having secured Austrian citizenship.
Pointing out that the Verbelen case is the second of its kind to be uncovered, he further requested a comprehensive Justice Department investigation of the role of Nazi war criminals in U.S. counterintelligence operations after World War II.
Finger said the documentation on Verbelen was obtained by ADL from the U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command at Ft. Meade, Md. under the Freedom of Information Act, and from the Belgian government, and other sources here and abroad.
He noted that the Verbelen case follows by four months the Justice Department’s confirmation that Klaus Barbie, known as the “butcher of Lyon” was employed by American authorities including the CIC, after being given the death penalty by a French court for sending thousands to their deaths in Nazi concentration camps.
VERBELEN’S OTHER ACTIVITIES
According to ADL, Verbelen, now 72, lives in Vienna, speaks before pro-Nazi groups and writes for right-wing publications. Before and during World War II, he was a leader of the Flemish Nazi group De Vlag (The Flag) which was responsible for organizing terror and murder operations in Belgium.
The records show that following the withdrawal of American troops from Austria in 1955, Verbelen was hired as an agent by that country’s state police and four years later was granted Austrian citizenship. In 1965, he was tried and acquitted by an Austrian court on war crime charges, which triggered sharp protests in Belgium as well as in other nations.
For a time during his residence in Austria, ADL said, Verbelen used the name of Isaac Meisels as an alias. Meisels, a Jew from Brussels, was murdered by the Nazis during the war.