Ex-Nazis of little use to the CIA

As the CIA works to turn over nearly 8 million pages of documents, a clearer picture of our complicity in the aftermath of World War II is emerging. The latest round of documents to be declassified shows that the CIA knew where Adolf Eichmann was living as well as the alias he was using.

Even after they learned this from West German intelligence sources, they refused to share the information with Israel who were actively pursuing him. This decision was apparently fueled by the belief that revealing (and prosecuting) Eichmann would put other former Nazis, like Hans Globke, at risk.

The United States government, preoccupied with the cold war, had no policy at the time of pursuing Nazi war criminals. The West German government was wary of exposing Eichmann because officials feared what he might reveal about such figures as Hans Globke, a former Nazi then serving as a key national security adviser to Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, Mr. Naftali said.

In 1960, also at the request of West Germany, the C.I.A. persuaded Life magazine, which had purchased Eichmann’s memoir from his family, to delete a reference to Globke before publication, the documents show.

While it’s no secret that the CIA helped to harbor certain Nazis in order to use them for information, this latest round of documents shows that they were not only ineffective in most cases, but often caused more harm than good. With stark examples, such as the cases of Heinz Felfe and Tscherim Soobzokov, we’re reminded of the mistakes we made in dealing with war criminals in the midst of the Cold War.

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