WASHINGTON (Oct. 31)
Members of Congress can be expected to add their voices soon to the growing appeals for the establishment of a special commission to investigate the role of U.S. intelligence agencies in bringing former Nazis to the U.S. following World War II.
The call for an independent commission was voiced most recently in a memorandum by Brooklyn (NY) District Attorney Elizabeth Holtzman and supported by representatives of major Jewish organizations. It followed the completion of an investigation by the General Accounting Office (GAO) which was criticized in the Holtzman memo as “painfully limited and inadequate.”
In a recent hearing of the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees and International Law, which requested the GAO report in 1982, Rep. Barney Frank (D. Ma.) told the study’s authors that he has “never been more disappointed with a GAO work product.”
“We waited and waited and they took three years to come up with very little,” Frank later told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in an interview. He said he would initiate a bill in the House within the next couple of weeks to establish an independent commission that could investigate the matter more thoroughly and effectively than the GAO had done.
TWO DISAPPOINTING REPORTS
Entitled “Nazis and Axis Collaborators Were Used to Further U.S. Anti-Communist Objectives in Europe — Some Immigrated to the United States,” the GAO study was the second report produced by the office since the House subcommittee began its investigation in 1977 of intelligence links with Nazis who immigrated to the U.S.
The first report, completed a year later, found only one case of a former Nazi who had attempted to immigrate to the U.S. with intelligence assistance, but the individual was subsequently turned back at Ellis Island. Although the report noted that other suspected Nazis had worked for U.S. intelligence agencies, it found no evidence of government assistance in their immigration.
But the investigation was revived in 1982, following a program on CBS-TV’s “60 Minutes,” that exposed the existence of some revealing new intelligence dossiers that had not been turned over to the GAO for its study.
The dossiers on individuals the GAO investigated contained evidence not only of the recruitment of former Nazis for intelligence purposes, but of explicit government assistance in concealing or falsifying information on Nazi backgrounds that would have otherwise barred the applicants from entering the U.S. The evidence is said to have included a notation in one subsequently declassified file — “Do Not Disclose to GAO.”
Largely through these disclosures by John Loftus, a Boston attorney and former trial lawyer for the Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations (OSI) who was interviewed on the “60 Minutes” program after publishing a book on the subject, “The Belarus Secret,” it became clear that the GAO had been way off the mark.
The GAO was asked by the Congressional subcommittee’s chairman Peter Rodino (D. NJ) to take up the investigation anew. This time, three years later, the GAO did find evidence of U.S. government agencies having deceived immigration authorities in the early years of the Cold War about the background of former Nazi applicants. But the study, based on a review of 12 intelligence files of suspected Nazis or Nazi collaborators, found no evidence of any program “specifically developed to aid the immigration of these types of aliens into the United States.”
“Granted,” Loftus said in his critique of the report at the recent subcommittee hearing,” one in the government ever established anything entitled the ‘Nazi Recruitment Desk’ but there was evidence of general programs to aid Nazi immigration.”
He cited, as he did in his book, evidence from intelligence agency files of programs undertaken in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s to either bypass or deceive immigration authorities.
The illegal immigrants included, according to Loftus, scientists and engineers brought here through “Project Paperclip” for work on space and military programs, as well as many of those who were admitted under a law passed in 1949 that waived the normal citizenship procedures for up to 100 people a year brought here for intelligence purposes. After training in the U.S., many were sent back to form an anti-Communist underground in Eastern Europe, Loftus said.
Other experts in the field, notably Charles Allen, Jr., have provided similar information over the years to Congressional committees and the Justice Department. Allen is the author of several books and of numerous investigative articles in the JTA Daily News Bulletin on this subject. His latest book, “Nazi War Criminals in America: Facts … Action — The Basic Handbook,” details the case histories and legal status of Nazi war criminals in America and their utilization by U.S. intelligence agencies.
Although the extent and nature of assistance given to former Nazis remains to be learned, Loftus noted the recent speculation of one Justice Department official that some 10,000 Nazi war criminals entered the country in the years following the war.
POSSIBLE CAUSE FOR THE DISCREPANCY
How did the GAO come up with only five cases of wrongdoing by intelligence officials when Loftus alone cites documents indicating hundreds and maybe more?
“If a conclusion can be drawn from the previous unsuccessful investigations, it may be that checking name files does not work,” Loftus said. “There are no intelligence files labelled ‘Nazi smuggling’ and the individual agent dossiers are often the last place that an intelligency agency will place incriminating information.”
The revealing evidence, Loftus said, could have been found instead in the “impersonal files,” primarily of the State Department’s Office of Policy Coordination, classified not by the name of each immigrant, but by the name of Nazi organizations, including former members of Nazi puppet governments in Eastern Europe employed by U.S. intelligence after the war.
This is because the OSI, which was established in 1979 to investigate and prosecute alleged Nazi war criminals, deals only with living immigrants, whose investigation might lead to deportation proceedings. They don’t account for the many who might have died.