Following the threat of a lawsuit, the Justice Department finally released the report on the CIA’s harboring of Nazis in the United States. The Justice Department submitted an edited version of the report to the National Security Archive after having resisted the release of the report since 2006. The New York Times recently published an article after obtaining a full unedited version of the 600 page report. The report is the result of six years of work and it focuses on both the successes and failures of the Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations (OSI). This office was created in 1979 to facilitate the deportation of Nazis residing in the United States.
The most controversial information contained in the report is that which shows the CIA’s involvement with harboring Nazi immigrants. It has been previously documented that the CIA used Nazis for intelligence purposes after the war, however, this report examines the level of deception involved in this collaboration. The CIA often assisted and employed these men despite knowing of their criminal pasts. The report states that, “America, which prided itself on being a safe haven for the persecuted, became – in some small measure – a safe haven for persecutors as well.”
Since the OSI was created, over 300 Nazis have been deported, stripped of citizenship, or blocked from entering the United States, despite the aid offered by the CIA. For example, the Nazi scientist Arthur Rudolph was brought to the United States by the CIA in 1945 because of his rocket making expertise. Rudolph went on to work for NASA. The OSI later found evidence that he was involved in exploiting slave labor in Germany during WWII and sought to deport him in 1983. The OSI believed that the deportation of someone as prominent as Rudolph would show their commitment to their Nazi deportation program. Rudolph moved back to Germany in 1984 after information regarding his involvement with slavery surfaced. The report reveals that the CIA often had prior knowledge of the wrongdoings of Nazis such as Rudolph but continuously denied having such knowledge.
In another instance, the OSI discovered that Nazi, Otto Von Bolschwing, whom worked for the CIA for many years, was involved in the initial planning of the Holocaust. Upon discovering this information, the OSI sought to deport Von Bolschwing, however, he died before his deportation.
The Department of Justice report elicits a number of questions surrounding the issue of Nazi harboring. Were the actions taken by the CIA to utilize the skills of the Nazis after WWII immoral or inappropriate? As Nazis living in the United States become increasingly elderly, is mandating their deportation inhumane? Should they be allowed to stay in the United States?