Thursday 28 October 2010

My Enemy's Enemy (I)

Speculating about what could have pushed local authorities to accept the alleged presence of an Einsatzkommando in northern Finland during WWII, Finnish researcher Oula Silvennoinen stated (28-09-2008) that:

"For a large part of Europe's bourgeoisie, communism was long a much greater abomination than national socialism. The fight against communism justified almost any means possible. This anti-communism included significant potential for violence, even in democratic cultures."
It's interesting that Silvennoinen should explain the collaboration between the Finnish and Nazi-German governments in those terms, because the fight against communism has long been used to officially justify unsavoury aspects of Realpolitik by democratic nations:
"The [CIG's Samuel] Bossard Report [of 1947] marked the first time that either SSU [Strategic Services Unit] or CIG [Central Intelligence Group] had an independent opportunity to examine the operation and to question both Gehlen and Baun as well as other members of the German organization. Impressed with the anti-Communist sympathies of the Germans and the breadth of their contacts (especially with various emigre groups), the CIG representative found 'no evidence to prove that the unusual confidence that had been placed by American authorities in the German operators had been abused' ". [1](*)
The "Gehlen" mentioned above was Generalmajor Reinhard Gehlen. One of the top men in the Abwehr (Nazi Germany's Military Intelligence service, outside the SS), Gehlen and a handful of trusted staff, like Oberstleutnant Herman Baun, had been squirreling away documents and other material, as well as contacts with operatives behind Soviet lines, as bargaining chips in the scenario of an Allied victory.

 The Gehlen network and archives became commonly known as Gehlen Organization and were codenamed Operation Rusty by the American authorities.

Bossard's endorsement is noteworthy, considering that only a few months earlier (16-10-1946) CIG had reported that:
  1. The information produced was unreliable, due to the "practice of drawing broad conclusions from inadequate evidence and a strong tendency to editorialize".
  2. The whole operation wasn't cost-effective: "(…) the statement made in Operation Rusty regarding costs in the 'world intelligence market' (…) are ridiculous throughout."
  3. "One of the greater assets available to US intelligence has always been the extent to which the United States as a nation is trusted and looked up to by democratic-minded people throughout the world. Experience has proven that the best motivation for intelligence work is ideology followed by common interests and favors. The Germans, the Russians, their satellites, and to a lesser extent [the British] have employed fear, direct pressure of other types [Torture? Blackmail?], and lastly, money. With most of these factors lacking to it, Operation Rusty would appear to be dependent largely upon the last and least desirable". [2](*)
Summing things up: an organization headed and staffed by former Nazi Germany officers was put in charge, by American authorities, of counter intelligence, basically on account of the "impressive anti-Communist sympathies" that Gehlen shared with his subordinates.
And although -to the best of my knowledge- no accusation of war crime was ever levelled against Gehlen personally, his organization included much more dubious, shadowy characters such as SS-Standartenfuehrer Walther "Walter" Rauff (designer of the exhaust-gas extermination van, thought to be responsible for up to 100,000 deaths and one-time aide, and protégé of SS-Obergruppenfuehrer Reinhard Heydrich, head of RSHA and chair of the Wannsee Conference) and SS-Hauptsturmfuehrer Nikolaus "Klaus" Barbie (head of the Gestapo in Lyon, thought to be responsible for up to 4,000 deaths), with full knowledge of the American authorities and, perhaps to a lesser degree, their western Allies, including the State of Israel. (**)

In time Gehlen's organization became the BND (the Intelligence Service of the Federal Republic of Germany), headed by Gehlen since its inception in 1956, until 1968, when Gehlen retired. Later in 1947 the CIG (incorporating other American intelligence agencies, as SSU) was renamed CIA.

The next two blogs in this series will contain brief biographical profiles of Rauff and Barbie.

(*) Those quotes are taken verbatim from the reports, except for the remarks inside the brackets, which are mine. Although in the Introduction document the reference to the British was blacked out, the same paragraph can be read in full in Document 21.
However, Document 21 does not explain what "direct pressure of other types" means.
(**) The references to the western Allies and the State of Israel will be justified in forthcoming blogs: specifically, France in Barbie's case, and Israel in Rauff's.

The text quoted is taken verbatim from
Tamara Feinstein (edit.). The CIA and Nazi War Criminals. National Security Archive. George Washington University. 04-02-05.
[1] Op. cit. Volume 1: Introduction
[2] Op. cit. Document 21. Draft to Deputy A, Operation Rusty, 16-10-1946

Images: Wikipedia.

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