Putting perceived security concerns before conscience, US intelligence and law enforcement agencies likely employed over 1,000 Nazis as spies during the Cold War, sometimes ignoring or concealing their war crimes and helping them immigrate to the United States, according to the the author of a newly published book. Writing in the New York Times Eric Lichtblau claims that “At the height of the Cold War in the 1950s, law enforcement and intelligence leaders like J. Edgar Hoover at the FBI and Allen Dulles at the CIA aggressively recruited onetime Nazis of all ranks as secret, anti-Soviet ‘assets,’ declassified records show”.
The report comes just a week after an Associated Press investigation revealed that millions of dollars in social security benefits have been paid to war-crimes suspects and former SS guards who left the US for Europe.
Richard Breitman, a Holocaust scholar at American University who served on a government-appointed team that oversaw the declassification of war-crime records, put the number of Nazi spies working for the CIA at at least 1,000, though there are none known that are still living, according to the New York Times report.
Norman Goda, a University of Florida historian and member of the declassification team, told Lichtblau that US officials had no reason not to know about the ex-Nazis’ past. “Information was readily available that these were compromised men,” he was quoted as saying.
One high-profile example of the US policy was Aleksandras Lileikis, the former commander of the Lithuanian Secret Police Vilnius branch, who emigrated to the US in 1955, but was later stripped of his citizenship after a Boston federal court determined that “tens of thousands died under his command” of the outfit.
According to Lichtblau, the CIA paid Lileikis $1,700 a year and two cartons of cigarettes per month to spy for the US in East Germany before helping him move to Boston, even though files indicate US officials were well aware of his ties to the massacres of 60,000 Jews in Lithuania during World War II.
When prosecutors discovered Lileikis’ ties to the atrocities and began seeking his deportation, the CIA tried to get them to drop the case out of fear that the agency would be outed for working with Lileikis, Eli Rosenbaum, who was then a lawyer at the Justice Department’s Nazi-hunting division, told Lichtblau.
The book ' The Nazis Next Door: How America Became a Safe Haven for Hitler’s Men' is due to be published on 28 October 2014.