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Buchanan Asked to Help Readmit Nazi Scientist to the U.S.

July 8, 1985
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The World Jewish Congress has expressed its “deep concern” over a reported meeting White House communications director Patrick Buchanan had with a German colleague of former NASA scientist Arthur Rudolph, who was last year forced to leave the United States to avoid prosecution for brutalizing slave labor at a Nazi rocket factory in World War II.

The WJC said the meeting, in which a plea on behalf of Rudolph was reportedly made, was held against the backdrop of West German efforts to force the return of Rudolph to the United States. Last month, the State Department received a letter from West German authorities protesting Rudolph’s presence in West Germany, according to the WJC.

Furthermore, the WJC said it found the meeting “especially troubling” in view of Buchanan’s published remarks, as a syndicated columnist prior to joining the Reagan Administration, in which he advocated the abolition of the Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations, the unit that tracks down war criminals in the United States.


Buchanan reportedly met on June 25 with Eberhard Rees of Huntsville, Alabama, a German rocket team member who succeeded Wernher Von Braun as director of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. Kalman Sultanik, WJC vice president, charged that a “multiplicity of efforts” were underway to rehabilitate Rudolph and to whitewash the atrocities committed by the Nazis.

In addition to the Rees meeting with Buchanan, Sultanik pointed out that retired Maj. Gen. John Medaris, who at one time supervised Rudolph and other German scientists brought here after World War II to help in the Army’s missile effort, had written President Reagan and Sen. Strom Thurmond (R. S.C.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, in support of Rudolph. Also, the WJC said Rudolph’s colleagues in the missile program addressed a letter to Reagan asking for his return “in honor.”

Rudolph, who is reported living in Hamburg, was director for production of V-2 rockets in a factory attached to the Dora-Nordhausen concentration camp. A third to one half of the 60,000 prisoners there died because of inhumane working conditions. He had become an American citizen in 1954 after having come to the U.S. in 1945.

He became director in 1965 of the Saturn V program that produced the rocket that carried the Apollo astronauts to the moon. He was awarded NASA’s highest honor for his contributions to the space program. Rudolph returned to Germany and surrendered his U.S. citizenship in March 1984 as part of an agreement with the Justice Department which warned that he would be tried if he refused to leave the country.

Buchanan, meanwhile, authored two columns prior to his appointment to the Reagan White House in which he denounced the OSI for accepting Soviet-supplied evidence in proceedings against accused Nazi war criminals. In addition, in a 1982 television interview with Allan Ryan, former OSI director, Buchanan said.:

“You’ve got a great atrocity that occurred 35-45 years ago, okay? Why continue to invest … put millions of dollars into investigating that? I mean, why keep a special office to investigate Nazi war crimes? … Why not abolish your office?” He also said he saw no “singularity” about the Holocaust that would justify maintaining a special prosecution office.

Sultanik said that the WJC was reassured by Attorney General Edwin Meese’s public pledge last month that the Justice Department was fully behind the efforts of the OSI. “We therefore hope that Mr. Buchanan would clarify matters and express his support for the stated position of the Reagan Administration which backs the Justice Department’s Nazi prosecution program,” Sultanik said.

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