The American government worked closely with Nazi war criminals and collaborators, allowing many to live in the United States after World War II, and paying others who worked for West Germany's secret service, according to declassified documents from the FBI, CIA and other intelligence agencies released yesterday.
Thousands of Intelligence Documents Opened under the Nazi War Crimes Disclosure Act
Historians' Book Details New Accounts of the Holocaust and Relationships Allied Intelligence Services Had with War Criminals
Hundreds of thousands of pages of FBI, CIA, and U.S. Army intelligence records related to Nazi and World War II war crimes and perpetrators have been declassified and opened to the public under the Nazi War Crimes Disclosure Act of 1998. On May 13, the Nazi War Crimes and Japanese Imperial Government Records Interagency Working Group (IWG) announced the release, which included approximately 240,000 pages from the FBI, 419 additional CIA name and subject files, and more than 3,000 pages documenting U.S. Army involvement with German spymaster Reinhard Gehlen.
The records and others released under the Disclosure Act are discussed in U.S. Intelligence and the Nazis, a new book by IWG historians Richard Breitman, Norman J.W. Goda, Timothy Naftali, and Robert Wolfe.
IWG Chair Steve Garfinkel said, "More than eight million pages of records have been declassified as a result of the IWG. I commend the hard work of the agencies and of the IWG historian team, which has made an outstanding contribution to our understanding of the Holocaust and the world of intelligence with their book, U.S. Intelligence and the Nazis."
The latest release of records, when combined with previously available documents, alter our understanding of certain aspects of the Holocaust. Notably, the book's authors show the failure of U.S. and Allied intelligence to understand how closely tied the "Jewish question" was to the central goals of the Nazi regime; the ways in which U.S. financial institutions helped the German government between 1936 and 1941; and the extent to which U.S. and Allied governments aided and protected war criminals after the war.
OSS Knowledge of the Holocaust
Newly declassified documents demonstrate that a good deal of information about what we have come to call the Holocaust was available to officials of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), a predecessor agency of the CIA. Yet until President Roosevelt established the War Refugee Board in January 1944, the OSS made relatively few efforts to secure information about the fate of Jews in Occupied Europe. The Holocaust information accumulated incidentally, or came in with other matters considered more significant to the war effort.
Jews who managed to get out of Germany or German-occupied territories and reach the United States, as well as all those who immigrated here from Axis countries in 1941 and 1942, were debriefed by a special oral intelligence unit. One Jewish refugee, Alfred Goldschmied, supplied a particularly detailed account of the German takeover of Czechoslovakia and correctly appraised, in mid-1942, the Nazi policy of eliminating the Jews from Europe. The official American government statement that Nazi Germany had a policy of mass extermination of Jews came six months later, suggesting that this early information was not assimilated or used effectively.
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