Skip to main content

tv   Book Discussion  CSPAN  February 16, 2015 5:30pm-6:31pm EST

5:30 pm
>> pulitzer prize-winning investigative journalist is next on booktv. he recalls the influx of nokia to enter the united states following world war ii and reports that many of these men were granted clearance by the u.s. government to employ them as scientists, intelligence officers, engineers and spies. this is about an hour. >> we're really fortunate to have with us this evening and experienced investigative reporter.
5:31 pm
eric first got into journalism at the "los angeles times" where he worked for 15 years. los angeles time is in washington covering the justice department when shifted to "the new york times" 12 years ago he continued to cover justice. this lifetime well positioned and very well soars after the september 11th attacks to report on the bush administration to step up domestic spying operations. in 2006 he and another "new york times" reporter, james arrived and, received a pulitzer prize for international reporting as the pulitzer committee put it they are carefully sourced stories on the secret domestic eavesdropping that stirred a national debate on the boundary line train fighting terrorism and protecting civil liberties. ..
5:32 pm
eric reveals an extensive recruit. of former nazis, in years later, when the justice department was searching for former nazis in this country the investigations were complicated by thefts of other government agencies to cop seal their own involvement in the past of those being hunted. it wasn't until the first years of this century that the u.s.
5:33 pm
government acknowledged much of this dark history. but even that acknowledgment came only in a secret internal justice department report that officials done want to release. in 2010, eric wrote a story about that document, which became in the emimpetus for the back. a review says eric brings an elegant writing style to this unsavory but important story, and nazis next door is a captivating book, rooted in first-rate research. and another reviewer, called the book quote a fascinating and infuriating corrective to the american mythology of the good war. ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming eric lisch bah. >> thank you very much. thanks for having me.
5:34 pm
it's always gate to be back at politics and prose and was happen to read in the paper you're expand fog other locations, which is great noose for everyone -- great news for everybody in washington who loves books. this book began with a tip. i got a tip about four years ago now from a source who told me that there was a secret report at the justice depth that laid bare the whole hit of the government's efforts to find and deport nazis in america yet for mysterious reasons, the source said thity depth had been sitting on the report for three or four years, never would put it another publicly. there's something really interesting. some newing in but stuff in there the source told me. you should see if you can get your hands on it. one sure way to get a reporter's attention is to tell them there's a secret report the government doesn't want you to see. like waving a often-red meat in
5:35 pm
front of a hungry dog and of course i bit. i wanted to get the report, and through a bit of blind luck i did. it was fascinating stuff, and it concluded by declaring sadly that america in the years after the war had allowed itself to become a quote-unquote safe haven for nazis. a wrote a story for "the new york times" about the report. even before i finished writing the story i realized that there was a book here to be written. there was so much hoyt, and some shamefulful history, it demanded close are attention if got that feeling who you think you're on to an important story. you tell yourself, there's more here, and there was. so this book is mostly, of course about the nazis, who fled to america after the war. but in another way it's also about the holocaust survivors themselves who are the victims in those concentration camps and
5:36 pm
that's not something i intended to really focus on in the book. that took me by surprise as i was doing my research. and i realized as i look at that period immediately after the war, beginning in the spring of 1945, that to truly understand how maddeningly easy it was for the nazis to get into america you have to first appreciate and first understand how horribly horrific include difficult it was for the holocaust survivorsing are for the victims, to get out of the concentration camps at the very same time. so indulge me while i read to you from the first chapter of my book, which is called "liberation." and this is what liberation looked like for the survivors. spring 1945. displayed persons camp outside munich. while the nazis fled, their victims were left to languish. these were the quote-unquote
5:37 pm
lucky ones, hundreds of thousands of jews catholics, gays jehovah witnesses communists and other so-called parasites enslaved in nazi concentration camps who somehow managed to survive hitler's killing machine. yet eve an germry defeat the survivors remained imprisoned for months in the same camps where the nazis put them to rot. the him nationals of the jailers changed with the flag of the vicors above the camps but the barbed wire fences and armed guards still encircled them. they were in a post war purgatory. a woman was month the masses confined in the camp. quote, we felt like so much surplus junk. human garbage which the governments the world wished would somehow go away. the allies had come at hitler from all sides in 1945. the russians from the east, the
5:38 pm
americans and the british from the west. one-by-one the allied forces discovered scenes of horror and madness in concentration camps abandoned by the retreating nazi. inside the camps remained tens of thousands of survivors and heaps of up buried corpses. generations later i nationalled the world embracing the survivors. the iron gates of the camp must have swung open on the rolf of the forces and the victims -- like trapped coal miners, freed from a mine shaft or a wrong accused prisoner emerging from behind the prison walls they were free, hot meals, showers, doctors, must have awaited them. the reality was darker. many thousands did not leave the allied camps. some not for months some not for years some not at all. thousands died from disease and malnourishment even after
5:39 pm
hitler's defeat. at dozen of camps like them they remained jailed inside the walls that hitler erect. with survivors surround be the stench of death and swallow the liberating fors would not allow them to leave. the world didn't know what to do with them. crowded and ill fed the survivors were left to wear their striped camp uniforms, the same uniforms that had become such a toxic signal of nazi oppression. in some camps they were side-by-side with nazi pows who had been their wartime tormenters, some nazi prisoners were put in charge of the inmates, ruling over them even in defeat. compiled jews in the camp who were originally from germany, austria and other act sis -- axis nations were treated as enemy nationals because of their countries of origin. no different from natz eu si prisoners jailed with them. many of the germans had it
5:40 pm
better. at allied run camps reserved for german prince prisoners of war ex-nazi officers watched movies took college courses, and at the camps they worked to get extra rags to make up for the starvation of the warriors. american officials resisted. they complained the jews were getting preferential treatment and were using black market systems of the camps to violate limits on food remarking. the situation became so volatile the german police and -- staged a raid on the activities in the camps in 1946. rioting broke out with police killing one jewish dt. he survived the holocaust but not it's aftermath. now, word began to get back to washington to jewish groups about these horrific conditions, even in victory that the survivors were experiencing and washington didn't want to believe it. truman didn't want to believe it. senate didn't want to believe it. house didn't want to believe it.
5:41 pm
finally the calls for some actions were so loud that truman had to appoint a social emissary to go over to the camps and investigate whether or not these reports of such horrific living conditions could really be true. i've seen a lot of damning reportness washington covering this town. this was about the most damning report i've ever read. what the dean o pennsylvania wrote back to truman was that quote, as matters now stand we appear to be treating the jews just that the nazis treated them except that we do not exterminate them. the nazis' victims, the dean found, were being victimized once again but this time by the americans. so how could this have happened? how could liberation look so tragic for the survivors of the holocaust. when i began my research i
5:42 pm
didn't intend to look at the survivors that seemed so much of a side of the story of the nazi fugitives. this was a book about the nazis as a looked more deeply into the horrific treatment of the prisoners i wanted to know, how could this happen? i was rummaging around in the archives of the holocaust museum and ran across a diary of the man who ran the camps general george s. patton a subject of a fawning biography by a guy on fox news, bill o'reilly i think is his name. old blood and guts was he nickname, war hero, tough talking kind of the caricature of the great american hemp also as it turns out, a brutal antisemite. this is what i found in patton's journal when he described this reaction to that report i just read to you. the truman that received from earl harrison, the dean of the law school.
5:43 pm
just a second. sorry. this is what patton wrote. quote: harrison and his ilk believe that displaced persons is a human being. which he is not. and this applies particularly to the jews, who were lower than animals, patton wrote in his driry, after learning of the skying report to truman. patton complained of how the jews in one camp who l with quote no sense of human relationships would defecate on the floors floors and live inty. like lazy locusts. and the synagogues were set up to celebrate the holy day. we entered the synagogue which was packed with the greatest stink of mass humanity i have ever seen patton wrote. this was eisenhower's first glimpse of the dp so it was new
5:44 pm
to him. have seen them from the beginning and marveled they can look the way they do or act the way they act. remember this was the general in charge of the prisoners for the allied forces who had just won the war. and yet he could speak with such vulgarity and such blatant antisemitism, at first when i read this i thought this must be a forgery. i find it hard to believe that general patton had really ruin it this words so i went to a second source and fadly, unfortunately, it was an authentic document. and there were many other episodes in pat top's career that affirms his views towards the prisoners and how he felt toward them. at the same time he had an almost odd fondness and admiration for the nazi powes in his camps. despite ordered from eisenhower to denazi identify post par germany, patton insisted on using nazis as camp
5:45 pm
administrators and allowing them to keep their posts in civilian government after the war. quote, if you need these men patton told an officer, keep them and don't worry about anything else. he saw them as brutally efficient and they were in the best position to run the camps. i tell another story about patton in the book, also illuminating as far as his views views views anded a admiration for natz eu si prisoners. -- nazi prisoners. weeks after germany's surrender general pant ton visited a german pow barrack and sought out a senior official held there, a leading german racketrocketteer. he ran the v-2 missile program and had overseen the work of westerner von braun and. quote, are you the guy in charge of the development of the v-2 rockets, patton asked? yes, he answered with a nod.
5:46 pm
patton impressed pulled three cigars from his pocket and handed them to his nazi rival. my congratulations, patton said. i couldn't have done it. so i began to realize in my research that again the horrific unfathomable treatment of survivors had everything to do with its easy path to america that greeted the nazis, and i began to use that as a framework for the story. you have to remember that for every jew who did not get into america or into palestine in those difficult years, that was one more series a for a nazi collaborator maybe disguised as a poe wo a former civilian administrator to get into america. the visas were a precious commodity in those early years with seven million people left stateless in europe after the war. 40,000 visas were the small lot that was issued in the first three years after the war. and the immigration policies were stacked against the jews in
5:47 pm
trying to get those precious few. this is what senate lawyer wrote when he was trying to limit the number of survivors allowed into america after the war. the jews quote do not desire to work but expect to be cared for. the visas were a golden ticket out and for every jew who is kept in the brutal camps and denied an exit to america that meant one more series a available for someone else. in those area years after the war, fully 40 possessor of all the visas went by design to refugees from the baltics. hundreds of thousands of people from the so-called captive states occupied by the nazis during the war. hundred's thousands of lithuanians,es stonens, latvians and ukraines and others. one who one u.s. policymaker put are of good stock and good breeding and are welcome in america itch don't want to diminish the victimization of many of this refugees. the vast majority of those 400,000 were in fact war refugees who had been helicopter
5:48 pm
captive by the nazis or held captive by theistey bloc for decades more but to it was clear there were many thousands of nazis collaborators who played an active role in the holocaust during the nazi occupation of eastern europe. these were people who were police chiefs under the nazis, prison wardens camp guards at concentration camps interrogators, who played every role you can imagine in terms of being what is often called hitler's willing executioners during the occupation of eastern europe. there were men like karl lichted, a police official who ran a nazi concentration camp in estonia where thousands of jews were shot to death on his orders in a death camp. he would lead the school children from bus that took them to the camp to the edge of the death pit in their underwear, making sure to save the dolls
5:49 pm
and belongings afterwards in a bit of morbid safekeeping. he was able to disguise him easily as a war refugee and get into america on a visa and lived on long island quietly for 36 years. there were also men like jacob rhymer, ukraine who settled in queens and made a good living managing a restaurant and selling potato chips in the stich his visa application had him down as a p.o.w. during the war and left outserved as a decorated officer for the ss, taking part in raids of the jewish villages training guards. half a century laterrity department officers came after rhymer and others like him to deport him for his role in the nazis. this is how one of the prosecutors explains the mass of post war politic to the judge. he was never entitled to immigrant to america there are were only a limited number of visa and he took the visa of a real victim. one more nazi in american meant
5:50 pm
one less actual victim who got to leave the brutal camps and come to america. it was simple math. and so they came. thousands of nazi collaborators scattered across america in queens, boston baltimore, washington chicago los angeles, and as jacob rhymer and carl lint showed is wasn't hard. you identify yourself as a p.o.w. or civil servant and put down a fake name. one used an alias and lived in southern california for 30 years. if used his real anytime immigration official might hate reffizedded he was a top cabinet minister of croatia the man who actually signed the racist and antiseptember met tech careers rounding up jews but they didn't know that and didn't check. there was little chance of getting caught since the post war refugee system was so overwhelmed and inept. think of the flawed roleout of obamacare but without the
5:51 pm
computers. so thousands of nazis came in quietly through the back door, disguised as someone else. but several thousand others came in through the front door essentially invited by the u.s. government, the pentagon, the cia, the fbi and other intelligence branches. i mentioned general dohrnberger the head of the nazi v2 program. he and other sign 'tises came to america after the were in a secret program called program paperclip. all about the cold war and defeating the soviets. the idea was to keep pace with the russian scientists and so we brought over our own teams of germ yap scientists. officially the people we brought over cooperate be, quote-unquote, ardent nazis whatever that meant. but this was clearly a figment that was disregarded very quickly. and in fact these were high-ranking nazi officials who worked in hitler's scientific program who were involved in building rockets on the backs of slave laborers doing medical experiments on prisoners and
5:52 pm
worse. dohrnberger and von braun built hitler's rockets as a camp in germany. they didn't build themselves. asleep laborers did them for them. moats of the prisoners were french russians, pols and others ask and the nazis literally worked them to death. the more rockets hitler wanted built to bomb london and antwerp, the more prisoners died doing it. some ten thousand slave laborers died there of disease mall new tigs, exhaustion and worse. if workers didn't perform their daily quota or suspected of trying to sabotage the parts so the rocket wouldn't work they were taken to a giant construction crane in the middle of the work site and hanged while all the other prisoners watched as a lesson of what would befall them if they tried the same thing. this was the place that these nonardent nazis ran before they came to america and set up shop in alabama. unlike the discovery of other
5:53 pm
camps-americans didn't hear about the liberation of this place and i suspect that was by design. u.s. military officials weren't anxious to let the soviets or americans for that matter know that they were raiding the rocket factory, raiding it not only of the hardware, parts and blueprints, but of it scientists and engineers as well and bringing them back to live as americans in alabama, in texas, and ohio, in california. and man named arthur rudolph was the head of rocket production. he reported to westerner von braun and came to the usf with the scientists and was a top engineer in the saturn space program. not as famous as westerner von braun. decades later prosecutors confronted him what really happened under his watch at the slave labor factory. he said he just built rockets. the prisoners he said as far as he knew he said with a straight face, were well treated.
5:54 pm
he was just doing his job. a bunch of nazi doctors came under, three dozen in san antonio. one named dr. -- what westerner von braun was to rocket science, he was to space medicine. he was a revered scientist, the father of space medicine they're called him himself job was to keep pilots alive in space in the changing atmosphere and he was doing it long before he got to texas. in germany, he and in the nazi doctors under him in the medical experimentation programs ran and oversaw the grisly experiments on prisoners, even on children, to see what the body could withstand. children were put into a flight simulator and subjected to sudden violent changes in altitude. many died. other prisoner were made to drink putrid seawater until they'd vomit or die. the idea was to see how much seawater the nazi pilots could withstand and survive once their planes crashed as was happening
5:55 pm
often during the war itself. he was brought over to america and was vetted as an american here roy. you can make the case, i pose, and some have, that morality aside the scientific expertise that the nazis brought to america outweighed the obvious nazi baggage they brought with them itch itself it wasn't for von braun's work on jet propulsion and the theories on space medicine the u.s. may never haveland on the moon ahead of the russians. immoral or not the recruitment brought the united states clear technological breakthroughs. there's another group of nazis who were aided and protected by the u.s. government. you can't for this goop -- you can make -- can't make the it was worth it argument. they were the nazi spies used by the cia, the fbi, oss, defense military agencies and others as antisoviet assets in europe the middle east has continue america, and inside the united
5:56 pm
states itself. the thinking was that no one hated the soviets more than natz eu sis and american intelligence grew ruiz like j. edgar hoover at the fbi and allen dulles at the cia wanted to put the hatred and expertise against the soviets to work by anointing the ex-nazi spies as american spies, cold war spies and informants. dulles in fact started dealing with natz eu sunday even before the war was over. itle the story in the book how allen dulles who became the cia director later met a few months before the end of the war with a nazi general, a ss man who had been him her's chief of staff. wolf developed the train victims which took millions of victims to their death yet he and allen dulles with the war raging sat buy a fireside and sipped scotch while talking in german about common acquaintances and mutual
5:57 pm
interests. dulles send a series of amazing cables to washington in which he described general wolf nazi general, chief of staff to himer, as a moderate nazi. his word, not mine. who could help america, he wanted to put the war behind him and could help america in dulles' view. also i wrote in the book and "the new york times" last week in the story we did, there was as many as a thousand naz iowa worked for the u.s. as spies in the cold war after 1945. in europe and the middle east, in lattin america and some in the united states itself. unlike the technology though that von braun and the nazi enengineers brought america, much of the information these nazis brought was worthless if spent weeks going through now declassified intelligence files on the nazi spies and their value to the u.s. was practically nonexistent it
5:58 pm
should surprise no one sitting here although it did the cia at the time that once the ex-nazis went to work for the united states they were liars, thieves and drunks. some in fact turned out to be soviet double agents. the obvious lesson which u.s. officials didn't seem to get at first, was that you couldn't trust a nazi. one of the nazi spies, for instance, was a man named alexander who lived in massachusetts for year after the war. before that for in the nazis, he worked as a secret service police chief in lithuania during massacres there at the start of the war. he was the one who would sign the orders rounding up the jews, thousands and thousands of jews from around the city and turn them over to the gestapo, where 60,000 of them were led to a death pit outside town and massacred to death. his signature was at the bottom of those orders. and yet in the view of the cia, he was a cold war asset. he became a spy in europe for
5:59 pm
america. even though in the cia's own files they noted almost in passing he was under the control of the gestapo during the war and he was probably involved in the massacres but he was u.s. material. probably the most insidious of the nazi spies and a man i devote a fair amount of attention in the book was a prussian barron. he was a spy but not very good. once on a train in us a trea in 1953 he lost a suitcase filled with top secret u.s. documents, getting it mixed up with another passenger's luggage. he opened the bag and realize instead of secret spy photos to there were pajamas and a shaving kit. but the cia kept him on board anyway and helped him to move to the united states, where he lived in new york and then later california for decades. he used the cia said his relocation to the united states
6:00 pm
which included essentially white washing his record of any notations to his nazi service, was what they called a reward for his cia service and in view of the quote-unquote innocuousness of his nazi activities. now, innocuousness is an odd choice of terms when you consider who he worked for in germany. his boss in the jewish affairs office was a man who i'm sure you know, named adolph eichman. the architect of the final solution. in the years before the war, he was not only a mentor and advicer to eichman and the nazis but a policymaker who devised ways of terrorizing the jews in the hope that they would be so victimized they would flee germany and europe altogether, so this is what he wrote for okay eichman in a paper in 1938 called the jewish problem. he wrote: a largely antijewish atmosphere must be created among
6:01 pm
the people in order to form the basis for the continued attack and the effective exclusion of them. the most effective means would be angering the people leading to excess in order to take away the sense of security from the jews. even though this is an illegal method it has had a long standing effect. the jew has learned a lot and fears nothing as much as a hostile at foss fear which can grow spontaneously against him at any time. in the national archive documents i found some fascinating documents from in the cia files from 1960. you may remember the pivotal event was the capture of adolph eichman in argentina by the israelis in a bold mission, secret mission that no one in the u.s. or anywhere else new in advance. they kidnapped him from a bus stop not far from his home, and
6:02 pm
they swept him out of the country and back to israel to stand trial in what would become one of the great famous trials of the 20th century, and he was ultimately executed for his role as the architect of the final solution. now, the raid made headlines around the world, but for out otto in new york city, living in a nice apartment on the upper east side, it was a terrifying moment. he was worried his name was going to come out at the trial. and it came out several times. eichman credited him as one of the pea nears of the antijewish policies and was worried the israelis would find out he was living in new york and would get him, too. he already built up a good life for himself in new york as a successful international businessman with his nazi past behind him. he was being nominated for a big job with the state department in india, an expert-import job and now he thought all of that was at risk. so went for help become to the cia. the cia was worried too, about
6:03 pm
their own exposure, if his links to the agency became known. they wrote him one memo in 1961, quote, if our assumption that he may be named as an eichman collaborator and a fellow conspirator and the resulting publicity may prove embarrassing to the u.s. if the subject becomes involved with the state department of its activities. sew cia came up with a plan. they would protect him and not tell the israelis or the justice department or not tell anyone else. wouldn't tell the nazi hunters that eichman's former aide was living a quiet life in new york city. but there was one condition for their protection. they told him that he had to drop that bid for the state department job because they couldn't risk his name being tied to eichman and the cia. and in closing, let me read you from a series of remarkable meetings and horrifying meeting
6:04 pm
that the cia held with him in 1961. and so on the spring evening in new york city, two cia officials who worked with him during the spy days in eastern europe sat him down to deliver the ultimatum. either relinquish the state department job or risk the messy consequences. despite the ominous message he struck a cop sill yaer to tone. he cia val i'd his, quote continued friendship. agency officials felt duped by everything they were learning about his close ties to eichman his handler claimed, but no one was injured the meet wasn't meant as a punishment. the purpose of the meeting was to draw his attention to the scandal that might result if the pressed his die sire for employment with day state department. the eichman arrest mated impossible for him to serve in a government post. he protested. it was ridiculous if brought out a denazi fix indication
6:05 pm
certificate he received in austria after the war. surely that was evidence of his innocence. he tried to walk his old ceo colleagues through his career to explain how he had been forced to join the party and played only a knock nothing role before turning against hitler. they cut him off. they expected his denials. they read through the material linking him to eichman. it was obvious his handler told him that he had told the cia far less than the truth about this nazi activities, just as an eye side they knew the was a nazi. didn't realize how quite bad a nazi he was, back to script. it was impossible to believe from the ss records in their possession he was anything but an active participant in full patter in in eichman's operations in nazi germany. all likely to spill out into public view if he pushed ahead with the statement department posting. the record oft his ss activities would make him a pariah in america and europe.
6:06 pm
there was the risk not just of public shaming but of the war crimes prosecution. did he want to go through quote, the anguish and expense of a legal trial before west germans court? no he agreed he didn't want to take such a riskful realizing there was now would to press on with the job application he agreed to withdraw his name, reciting his health. the nazi issue would not mentioned. hit handlers would draft a telegraph to the state depth and a letter from a congressional supporter who strongly backed him. he was despondent overseeing his nazi past thrown back it's him 15 years after the war. twice he mentioned suicide to his cia friends and was particularly worried how to explain to his wife his sudden change of heart of the india job. she has been depressed and was recovering from a car accident shep knew little about his past and he wasn't the type who could live her life with a guilty
6:07 pm
secret. grudgingly he settled on a plan help would admit to his life that before the war before they were married he worked for the nazis in emting jews out of germany. his work was now being subjected to unfair misenter operation in the wake of eichman's capture and he was pulling his name from the taint department job. that was all she needed to know. what about his american citizenship? he received his citizenship papers only two years before. was his immigration status now in danger, too? the cia couldn't mike any guarantees, his handler told him but the agency would do what it could by working to ensure that no one else outside the cia's security channels found oust about his deep ties to eichman. his dark secrets were safe with the cia. no one else needed to know. he was satisfied. as upset also he was over the sudden turn of events his mood seemed to brighten as they
6:08 pm
agreed on a course of action to contain the damage from the ugly episode. quote, he showed surprising resilience and apparent courage, enquote, his handler wrote admiringly. he is tough and resourceful. he was glad to report. the ex-nazi would no doubt soldier on. he was already looking to the future and seemed intent on, quote, clearing his record and reinstating himself as a first class citizen. and it was another 20 years, believe it or not before the prosecutors and the yates department realize who he was. another 20 years he lived in upper class lifestyle in new york and in northern california living freely, only for a few months at the end of his life did the shadow of his nazi past finally come back and on his death bed he admitted he was a nazi. we're going to take some questions. [applause]
6:09 pm
>> trying to use the microphone for questions right up here. no one? i guess we can go home. the mic is right up here. >> let me thank you for this important talk. it's quite important, again i'm not from america. i'm from the caribbean so i'm outside of here. which is important. three questions. two questions. the first question is, trying to create a cob text against all this happened, paper clip, the spies, et cetera, et cetera, i think you leave us a little bit hanging here. how could a country that claims be a academicracy, human rights, protect people et cetera,
6:10 pm
et cetera, ultimately and -- we can't want to hear the justification of the cold war itch don't pie that. how can such a country quite well known fully aware who they're working with decide to go ahead with these people? let me be provocative and maybe give an answer myself. >> sure. >> could it be that the history of the united states right, the slaughter of indians enslavement of back people, the philippines, in the caribbean where they are -- behaved in very horrific fashion, that there was in essence a certain -- the german was not a big problem under certain conditions. that's the first thing. secondly some talk about the possibility that the nazis
6:11 pm
contributed to indirectly or directly to a kind of a heating up of the cold war right? they came in and were -- this thing may have infected the developing cold war. did you see any of that? some writers are suggesting who are looking at paper clip and other type of things. if you can maybe say something about that. >> the question of how could this have possibly happened is the ultimate question, and is a matter for probably philosophers as much as historians and moral theologians, but i think a lot of it whether you accept it or not, was about the cold war, about the fear of confronting a new enemy the soviets, and very quickly forgetting about the ol' one we just defeated, the nazis itch think that fear and that embrace of at least some nazis
6:12 pm
and collaborators war clearly fueled by a lingering antisemitism. people like general patton who are openly denouncing prisoners under him as locusts, jewish survivors of the holocaust. clear live that was an -- hays attitude was extreme for the times but unfortunately not all that uncommon. i think it was the cold war and antisemitism. as as far as whether or not the nazis fueled the cold war it did in an indirect way in the sense i mentioned allen dulles who met with himler's chief of staff before war was over and i talk about that really led to the opening salvo in the cold war. what happened was that stalin found out about dulles meeting with general wolf, the himler chief of staff and was furious
6:13 pm
because the u.s., fdr promised we're not going to negotiate. at yalta the big three made a commitmentment we will not negotiate with nazis and people who perpetrated such horrible atrocities and here what allen dullless meeting over scotch with general wolf, and stalin sent a series of blistering cables to fdr, and fdr had to write back on his death bed. he died just a few weeks after this. saying, you double-crossed us, essentially, and you're already plotting ways to use the nazis against us when we're still fighting a war. and some historians, i think correctly, view this as sort of the opening moment of the cold war, even before the war was over. >> your collar. >> i look worse than that. >> i wondered if you had thoughts and any sense of financial payoffs related to all
6:14 pm
these people able to get where they got? >> i didn't find evidence of direct financial payoffs for protection for any of the the nazis, but certainly a number of them went on to very lucrative careers itch mentioned otto, who was big-time international businessman who would go back to germany and was involved in chemical production in germany. that was partly through the help of the united states and the cia. i also mentioned general wolf the one dulles befriended and he spent -- he originally was facing execution at nuremberg was a top nazi and thanks to dullless he was eliminated as a defendant and was just a witness to nazi war atrocities.
6:15 pm
he had to spend a couple of years in a p.o.w. camp. dulles couldn't get him out completely but he was allowed to carry a gun and would go off boating on a yacht on weekends. so his prison confinement is not what one would consider normal prison time. as far as the financial reward, he then wrote letters to dulles who helped him escape war crime prosecution, wanting to be reimbursed for all of his lost time in the p.o.w. camps bass he had a business career to resume and this was costing him money. and so one of dulles' aides wrote back -- he literally put in for drive cleaning and tailoring and clothes in around 1951. and one of dulles' aides wrote back saying he should thank his lucky stars he is lucky he didn't lose a lot more than his shirt.
6:16 pm
>> you mentioned at the beginning that the jews were victims and that i do not take lightly as a jew. part of this really -- that part really disturbed me and i listened to youish on "fresh air" which brought me here tonight. but also it's a betrayal of our soldiers. i mean i've visited graves in europe and i've seen the gravestones in normandy facing the west, so our soldiers could be laid facing the united states when they were buried there. i just find this -- i'm just incredulous how this can be justified by the government. >> the most eye-opening part of the research was the condition of the survivors as prisoners. i had sort of a vague idea before i started researching this book that it was -- okay, it was tough for them to get into america, tough to get into palestine. i read as many of -- exodus. life wasn't great but i had no
6:17 pm
sense they were literally still prisoners behind barbed wire, under armed guard. >> do they give any consideration to the military and people who sacrificees their lives for that war? >> the military they were the ones guarding over them. they were running the camps under patton. >> i'm wondering how many european collaborators that weren't german we brought over but were pronazi and rounded up jews in their own country. >> most of the ones who it into the united states were not from germany. there were some probably in the hundreds who were germans. otto, the guy i mentioned, the eichman aide, he was german through and through, and other people like him. probably the vast majority of the ten thousand or so nazis that made it to the u.s. were from even europe. i talked about the flood gates
6:18 pm
from eastern europe from the baltics and elsewhere, who came into the u.s. and included thousands of nazi collaborators who were running con send addition camps and interrogating and rounding up jews. that was the biggest group of nazi fugitives to make into it the u.s. not from germany itself. >> what happened to the jews you said were treated as axis because they were german jews or -- >> the policy -- >> had it worse? >> the policies in the beginning around late 1946, eased up a little bit, the conditions for the survivors and the dp camps. did improve. patton died, which maybe was part of the reason. and the immigration policies loosened up a bit. so beginning in 1947 '48 it became a little easier but thousands of them died before that happened. in the dp camps.
6:19 pm
and meanwhile, nazis were coming in, in even bigger numbers. there was a period in the early 1950s under the immigration laws where being a nazi was not a ban to getting into the ute and that became a legal problem years and years later when the justice department started going after these guys in the 1980s because they couldn't claim they violated immigration policy because it wasn't illegal to be a nazi and come to the united states. so they had a bit of a problem on their hands. >> as i jew i can ask only one question. i'm shocked at how well the nazi prisoners lived that the american g.i.s didn't hate them as much as the russian g.i.s did. they were fighting them for years. and you said eisenhower walked through the camps we patton and saw how baldly the jews were treated. >> right. patton talk about that, that eisenhower to his credit,
6:20 pm
seemed shocked by this. >> the guy who led german villages through the camp, he said he didn't want people to say it never happened. >> and publicly patton said the right things about the horror of the concentration camps and liberating camps. he was a good politician in that sense who publicly was repulsed but then you see what he writes in his journals and what he actually did in practice at the camps. >> did truman or eisenhower or anyone powerful in america from the beginning after the war fight this? we don't want nazis, we want to liberate the prisoners? >> the -- people at the state department who were adamantly opposed to the idea of bringing in the scientists. the pentagon really wanted that. people like allen dulles wanted that at what became the cia. people at the state department who said this will be a black mark in history and we can't do
6:21 pm
this. and basically they lost that debate. [inaudible question] >> after that report i mentioned to truman, where he had the dean of the penn law school comparing the u.s. displaced person camps to nazi concentration camps things did improve. it 'twas a slow process but they were not treated as reviled personners to the extent they had been in the first six months or so after the war. >> well, thank you. you've done a great service. thank you very much. >> thank you. >> hello. >> hi. so in light of this exposure of this very important piece of history, that needs to be corrected, here we are in the 21st century, with descendents
6:22 pm
of those people who came here and have to somehow reconcile their own -- i mean irfeel like we keep passing generations to generation these kinds of traumatic experiences. so do you have any suggestions for how we can go forward now that this information is out? i and also was curious as to how it's being center field by people who are -- being received by people who are officials in the justice department state department. >> well, i think one thing the government could do to move forward would be to acknowledge its past behavior. when i wrote the story i mentioned for the times last week about the nazi spies, the cia declined comment. as if we were talking about some episode in 2013 rather than
6:23 pm
1946. it would be nice if there were the equivalent of the truth commission to say this is what we did and it was wrong and it was driven by irrational fear and indifferent -- moral indifference, et cetera. you asked about the families and the later generations. i actually spent a lot of time talking to the children of a number of these nazis and i have a whole chapter on that in the book and overwhelmingly the children believe that their fathers were wrongly accused. they were not guilty of the atrocities that the justice department would later accuse them of. they were the victims of soviet propaganda, which is something that j. edgar hoover said for years and years. his fbi informants were accused of being nazis internally and he would say that's just communist talking, and the children today believe essentially that same thing, despite what i would say is overwhelming evidence. there's one son, the son of
6:24 pm
otto the -- who i talked about at length who actually did come to terms with his father being the monster that they accused him of being he at first denied it for a long time, and then he began looking at things like that report on the jewish problem, and re realized this was my father. >> americans are a curious people and so it confounds me that adult nazis ex-nazis, germans with heavy german accent presumably can come to america and find solid and mid-level careers and no one saying what did you do during the war? so how -- >> well, some people did later on when -- you have to
6:25 pm
remember, in the '50s and '60s, the government and think at large seemed completely indifferent to question whether there were nazis and nazi collaborators in the u.s. there were some journalists and others who i write about who tried to bring attention to this in the '60s. in fact not only were they ignored but this left wing journalist the thanks he goss from the fbi was they wire tapped him for years and sent fbi agents to follow him while he gathered his evidence. so it was only in the 1970s and 1980s that people started waking up to the idea that this guy may have been a concentration camp guard or supervisor or ss officer or worse. you almost had at types an overreaction in what you're suggesting where you had sort of -- if you had -- there were actually cases where somebody had a grudge against their neighbor, would say -- who had a
6:26 pm
german accent, would say he was a nazi and turns out he just didn't like his neighbors. so by the '80s we were finally going after these guys and then people who weren't nazis who were swept up in this. so we went from one stream to the other -- one extreme to the other. >> about the death camp had been turned into prisons for the former holocaust arrestees, where was the press? didn't the american press look at that situation? >> you know, surprisingly there actually were exteriors about this. that report to truman, which i had never heard of by started me rye search did get a fair amount of press in the u.s. jewish groups were complaining both before and after the report, and were drawing attention to this. even a report in stars and
6:27 pm
stripes, a month or two after the war ended, out of italy, where you still had germany had surrendered six weeks two months earlier, and you till had nazi s officers running villages and towns in italy and stars and stripes wrote a story with a headline something to the effect of, did we actually win the war? so there were stories. i don't think the press totally abdicated its responsibility but when it came to what the cia was doing and the other intelligence agencies, that stuff is so difficult to report on. >> i was thinking more about the -- >> the conditions, yes. it took awhile for the reports to get back to the u.s. jewish groups. once it got back there actually was a -- not overwhelming press attention but there were stories. >> one final question. >> really don't have time -- >> okay. >> that was the last question. if you want to ask a quick
6:28 pm
question, then we have to wrap it up. >> is it anticipated that hoover's name will remain on the new fbi headquarters building? >> i've wondered that same thing itch don't think they've said that. i would be shocked if it did. in that story i did for the times about the nazi spies, unlike the cia which declined comment, the fbi actually did say that essentially a lot of this was j. edgar hoover's fault. so easy to throw him under the bus these days: [applause] here's a look at books being publish evidence this week: "new york times" reporter traces
6:29 pm
the origins of the board game monopoly, in the mon knoppist. in the age of a essence, steve steve frazer criticizes the politics of fear. ...
6:30 pm
a critical look at standardized testing. [applause] >> thank you. so, welcome everybody. my name is brian jones. i am an educator and activist in new york city. i am going to moderate our event. say a few words and then we we will take it off kemal introduced our panelists. we are hear for a very important reason. to mourn the decision, the fateful decision to not run marchand lands on the 1 yard line. to protect them from future pepper spray incidents. to talk to pineapples or to celebrate the launch of this book the new uprising


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on