Posted by: Lister | February 20, 2007

Bad Apples of the Gehlen Organisation

I’m going to start reading Zepezauer’s “The CIA’s Greatest Hits”. My intention is to check with other sources — eg: wiki’s list of CIA Operations. I’m setting no time-table. Let’s see how far I get.

1. The Gehlen Organisation

An OSS operation, future CIA Director Allen Dulles recruits General Reinhard Gehlen to spy in Eastern Europe.

GWU – National Security Archive (Feb 2005)

Gen. Reinhard Gehlen persuaded the U.S. Army and then the CIA to sponsor his intelligence network even though he employed numerous former Nazis and known war criminals.

[Scholars of IWG] ::: “The notion that they [CIA, Army Counterintelligence Corp, Gehlen organization] employed only a few bad apples will not stand up to the new documentation. Some American intelligence officials could not or did not want to see how many German intelligence officials, SS officers, police, or non-German collaborators with the Nazis were compromised or incriminated by their past service […] Hindsight allows us to see that American use of actual or alleged war criminals was a blunder in several respects […] there was no compelling reason to begin the postwar era with the assistance of some of those associated with the worst crimes of the war. Lack of sufficient attention to history-and, on a personal level, to character and morality-established a bad precedent, especially for new intelligence agencies. It also brought into intelligence organizations men and women previously incapable of distinguishing between their political/ideological beliefs and reality. As a result, such individuals could not and did not deliver good intelligence. Finally, because their new, professed ‘democratic convictions’ were at best insecure and their pasts could be used against them (some could be blackmailed), these recruits represented a potential security problem.”

Zepezauer mentions Klaus Barbie and others in the final paragraph. Surely a darker part of the story and I wonder why he doesn’t make more of it. (Ditto when it comes to von Bolschwing).

Barbie, a Gestapo officer who sent Jewish children to Auschwitz, first worked for the British then was recruited by America’s Counter-Intelligence Corps in 1947.

Jewish Virtual Library – Klaus Barbie

With the aid of the Americans he fled in 1950 prosecution in France and relocated to South America together with his wife and children.

He lived in Bolivia as a businessman under the name Klaus Altmann from 1951. Though he was identified in Bolivia at least as early as 1971 by the Nazi hunters Beate and Serge Klarsfeld, it was only in February 1983 that the Bolivian government after long negotiations extradited him to France to stand trial. This caused the U.S. to offer a formal apology to France in August 1983.

Otto von Bolschwing, named as an associate of Eichmann after the latter’s capture by the Israelis. But when did the CIA know Bolschwing’s history?

JVL – Otto Von Bolschwing

Bolschwing “had been Eichmann’s tutor on Zionism and the politics of Zionism in the mid-1930s and then his ally in persecuting the Jews of Austria.”

After the war, Bolschwing served as an asset first for the Gehlen organization, and was then recruited directly by the CIA for work in Austria. Despite his less than stellar achievements as an asset, the CIA rewarded him for his service by helping him obtain entry and citizenship in the United States.

Salon has an article, Our Nazi allies, detailing the CIA’s reluctance to hand over papers on Bolschwing (This is copyright 2000 — before the GWU article above, which doesn’t mention Bolschwing):

Simpson says that among the most important CIA files still classified are ones concerning Otto von Bolschwing, who as an SS officer served on Adolf Eichmann’s staff and was one of the chief masterminds behind the plan to exterminate the Jews. In 1941, he was the top SS officer in Bucharest, Romania, and instigated a pogrom in the city during which hundreds of people were murdered. Some of those killed were hung on meat hooks at a meat-packing plant, had their throats cut, and then were branded “kosher meat” with red-hot irons.

Von Bolschwing was recruited by U.S. intelligence at the end of the war and assigned to the Gehlen Org. In 1954, the CIA brought him to the United States. Since as a Nazi criminal he was ineligible to reside here, the agency provided the INS with a letter saying it had conducted a full investigation of him and had found no derogatory information. Von Bolschwing was discovered to be living in California in the 1970s, prompting Justice Department proceedings to deport him. In the end, he was stripped of his citizenship but allowed to remain in the country due to his age and the fact that he was suffering from a degenerative brain disease. He died in a California nursing home.

The CIA has always claimed, quite implausibly, that it didn’t know von Bolschwing was a war criminal. But so far it has given no sign that it will turn over his file.

And here’s a GWU article on Bolschwing, (March 2005). (Same as JVL article)



  1. The more I read and study the use of Nazi’s as supposed spies and informers by the Allies (Canada,
    Britain and the U.S.) It turns my stomach. The fight againstj Communism was one of the excuses and that was a vanilla exercise if there ever was one.
    How many lives were lost not only by the Nazi’s and then Soviet Union but by the East Germans. All fostered by the twisted minds of the U.S. intelligence arms and their collaberators. The McCarthy hearings showed how utterly stupid and disgraceful the communist hunt turned out to be. All of this aided by the very people employed by the intelligence agencies who in their wisdom kept McCarthy afloat through their own complicity.
    I love Canada and the U.S. but the price for Democracy is not even being paid, since the very people employed to fight for it are crooked, self-serving, and undermine every honest citizen in both of our countries. The members of the Armed Forces are exempt from this denunciation;
    they pay the price every day. All too often their lives are wasted for decisions being made by Bureaucrats and Government Functionaries with secret agendas.

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