Toby Harnden for The Telegraph, November 14, 2010:
The 600-page report, written in 2006 and which the US Justice Department has tried to keep secret ever since, describes what it calls Washington’s “collaboration with persecutors”.
Agents from the Justice Department’s Nazi-hunting Office of Special Investigations (OSI) found that war criminals “were indeed knowingly granted entry” to the US, even though government officials were aware of their pasts, the report concluded.
“America, which prided itself on being a safe haven for the persecuted, became – in some small measure – a safe haven for persecutors as well.”
The report, obtained by the New York Times, details cases of Nazis being helped by American intelligence officials.
In 1954, the CIA assisted Otto Von Bolschwing, an associate of Adolf Eichmann who had helped develop plans “to purge Germany of the Jews”.
In a series of CIA memos, officials pondered what to do if Von Bolschwing was confronted about his past, debating whether to deny any Nazi affiliation or “explain it away on the basis of extenuating circumstances”, according to the report.
The Justice Department sought to deport Von Bolschwing after it learned in 1981of his Nazi past but he died the same year.
Another case involved Arthur L. Rudolph, a Nazi scientist who ran the Mittelwerk munitions factory. He was brought to the US in 1945 for his rocket-making prowess as part of Operation Paperclip, an American initiative to recruit scientists who had worked in Nazi Germany.
The report highlights a 1949 note from a very senior Justice Department official urging immigration officers to let Rudolph back into the US after visiting Mexico because excluding him would be “to the detriment of the national interest”.
Justice Department investigators later discovered that Rudolph was much more implicated in using Jewish slave labour at Mittelwerk than he or the CIA had admitted. Some intelligence officials objected when the Justice Department tried to deport him in 1983.
The report states that prosecutors filed a motion in 1980 that “misstated the facts” in insisting that CIA and FBI records revealed no information on the Nazi past of Tscherim Soobzokov, a former Waffen SS soldier.
Instead, the Justice Department “knew that Soobzokov had advised the CIA of his SS connection after he arrived in the United States”, the report found.
The report details the government’s posthumous pursuit of Dr Josef Mengele, the German SS officer and physician known as the “Angel of Death”. A piece of Mengele’s scalp was kept in the drawer of an OSI director in the hope that it would establish whether he was still alive.
Investigators used diaries and letters supposedly written by Mengele and German dental records to follow his trail. After the development of DNA, the piece of scalp, which had been handed over to Brazil, helped to establish that Mengele had died in Brazil in 1979, without ever entering the US, the report stated.
The US government has resisted making the report public ever since it was written four years ago. Under the threat of legal action, it provided an expurgated version last month to the National Security Archive, a private research group. The New York Times then obtained a complete version.
The US Justice Department told the newspaper that the report, which was the product of six years of research, was never formally completed, did not represent official findings and claimed there were “numerous factual errors and omissions” though it declined to detail these.
Since the creation of the OSI in 1979, several hundred Nazis have been deported, stripped of their American citizenship or excluded from entering the United States. The OSI was merged with another unit this year.