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U.S. Aid in Emigration of Nazis Reported : Agency Also Confirms Barbie Was Protected From Extradition

Times Staff Writer

U.S. intelligence agencies recruited at least five former Nazis to work for them in Europe after World War II and eventually helped them emigrate to the United States, according to a Government Accounting Office report released Friday.

The five, who are not identified by name, included two alleged war criminals, a former Nazi SS officer, a convicted assassin and a “traitor,” said the report, made at the request of House Judiciary Committee Chairman Peter W. Rodino Jr. (D-N.J.).

In addition, seven others out of a total of 114 former Nazis or Axis collaborators whose cases were reviewed by the GAO reportedly entered the United States, but without “identifiable” aid, the report said.

Aid to Barbie Confirmed

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At the same time, the agency confirmed that Klaus Barbie, the notorious one-time Gestapo chief in Lyon, France, was indeed protected from extradition while he worked for the U.S. Army in occupied Germany. A 1983 Justice Department report found that Barbie, known as the “Butcher of Lyon” because of his bloody suppression of resistance fighters, escaped, with U.S. assistance, to South America, where he lived for more than 20 years. He is now awaiting trial in France.

According to the GAO, the Nazis were recruited when U.S. intelligence agencies in Europe, ill-prepared to obtain information on Soviet intentions and capabilities after the war, scrambled to develop their own sources of information.

“At the end of the war, U.S. forces demobilized, the Office of Strategic Services (forerunner of the CIA) dismantled and many of the more experienced intelligence agents returned to the United States,” the report said.

Remaining intelligence officers, characterized by the report as “naive,” had little experience in gathering information about Soviet Union and local communists and so hired former enemy agents trained to combat communist activities.

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“Although we were told by various intelligence officers that war criminals were not supposed to be used, some were,” the report said. “In addition, although most U.S.-employed Nazis and collaborators remained in Europe subsequent to their employ, some were assisted by U.S. agencies to emigrate to other countries, including the United States.”

Findings ‘Unconscionable’

In response to the report’s findings, Rodino declared: “It is unconscionable that we had any involvement in allowing anyone responsible for the Holocaust to find safe haven within our shores.”

Rodino wrote to the GAO, Congress’ watchdog agency, two years ago to verify charges that federal agencies helped Axis war criminals and collaborators emigrate to the United States and concealed their identity after their arrival as a reward for their services to U.S. intelligence during the late 1940s.

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In the cases of the five former Nazis who received help in emigrating to or remaining in the United States, the report said they were protected by sympathetic U.S. officials or were judged by the CIA to be innocent. Three of the five have died, the GAO said, while two still live in the United States.


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