BY CRISTIAN SALAZAR AND RANDY HERSCHAFT, The Associated Press
NEW YORK – Newly released records reveal details on how U.S. intelligence officials used and protected some Nazi Gestapo agents after World War II, tracked Holocaust administrator Adolf Eichmann and relied on a suspected war criminal from Ukraine living in New York to try to disrupt the USSR, according to a report to Congress obtained by The Associated Press.
The report, titled “Hitler’s Shadow: Nazi War Criminals, U.S. Intelligence, and the Cold War,” was authored by historians hired by the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration. It was sent to Congress late Thursday.
The report draws from an unprecedented trove of records on individuals and clandestine operations that the CIA was persuaded to declassify, and from over 1 million digitized Army intelligence files that had long been inaccessible.
“The CIA records give us a much better picture of the movements of Nazi war criminals in the postwar period. The Army records are voluminous, and will be keeping people busy for many years,” said Richard Breitman, of the American University in Washington, D.C., who co-authored the report with Norman J.W. Goda, of the University of Florida.
CIA spokesman George Little said Friday: “The CIA at no time had a policy or a program to protect Nazi war criminals, or to help them escape justice for their actions during the war. The agency has cooperated for decades with the Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations.”
The records were made available under the Nazi War Crimes Disclosure Act of 1998, one of the most ambitious and exhaustive federal government efforts to expose its own secrets.
The papers include correspondence, legal documents, excerpts, clippings, medical records and vouchers. They illuminate the activities and postwar whereabouts of some of the most high-profile alleged Nazi war criminals.
One of the report’s chapters deals explicitly with how the Americans used Gestapo officers, including Rudolf Mildner, after the war.
Mildner oversaw security in Denmark in 1943 when most of the country’s 8,000 Jews were ordered arrested and deported to Auschwitz concentration camp – though they were rescued after Danish resistance leaders were tipped off. The Army detained Mildner, and kept him from landing in the hands of war crimes investigators, because his knowledge of Communist subversion was considered useful.
“The Army’s willingness to use Gestapo officials against Communists was more substantial or greater than what we had known, even if there are no cases as prominent or large as Klaus Barbie,” said Breitman, referring to the notorious “Butcher of Lyon” who worked for U.S. intelligence in the postwar period.
Mildner later escaped to Argentina, where he met up with Eichmann, who had also fled from Europe to the South American country.
The newly disclosed records answer some questions about Eichmann’s movements before he was kidnapped by Israeli intelligence in 1960 and spirited away to be prosecuted for his crimes, the report said.
“The most recent American declassifications fill in some small gaps,” the report states. “They show what the West knew about Eichmann’s criminality and his postwar movements. No American intelligence agency aided Eichmann’s escape or simply allowed him to hide safely in Argentina.”
The report also details significant use of Nazi collaborators by the CIA during the Cold War.
In an attempt to disrupt the USSR, through penetrations in Ukraine, the agency turned to Nazi-affiliated nationalists, including Mykola Lebed, who led a paramilitary organization that pursued ethnic cleansing policies during the war. He was relocated to New York by 1948, and his relationship with the CIA “lasted the entire length of the Cold War,” the report states.
Though he was later publicly identified by federal investigators as a possible war criminal, he was never brought to justice.
The CIA “shielded Lebed by denying any connection between Lebed and the Nazis and by arguing that he was a Ukrainian freedom fighter,” the report stated.