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History, Reference, Research, and GrogTalk => Military (and other) History => Topic started by: bayonetbrant on January 12, 2015, 08:52:57 AM

Title: Where did the Nazis all 'disappear' to?
Post by: bayonetbrant on January 12, 2015, 08:52:57 AM

fascinating article that sort of confirms what Forsythe had said in his epilogue to The Odessa File

AS the decades roll by, there are fewer and fewer Nazi war criminals left alive to track down. Which made the recent reports suggesting that Alois Brunner, the top lieutenant to Adolf Eichmann, may have died as recently as a few years ago in his late 90s all the more surprising.

Even more startling for many, though, was the fact that he wasn’t hiding in Argentina or Brazil but in Damascus, Syria, where he had lived from the 1950s under the name Georg Fischer. Apparently, he may have even advised the Syrian government, according to Efraim Zuroff, director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Israel office (though without the benefit of an eye and three fingers he lost opening letter bombs over the years).

It turns out Mr. Brunner wasn’t an anomaly. Many of the most notorious Nazi fugitives — members of the SS and the Gestapo — fled to South America after the war, but hundreds fanned out through the Middle East, primarily to Egypt and Syria. Eichmann was captured by the Mossad in Buenos Aires and brought back to Israel for trial and execution. But his deputy, Mr. Brunner, was among those who carved out new lives in the Middle East, where governments sometimes recruited them to build up military and intelligence programs.

A few years ago, as The Times’s Berlin bureau chief, I worked with a colleague on an article about the most-wanted Nazi in the world, Dr. Aribert Heim. Investigators and Nazi hunters were searching for him in Chile, but we discovered that Heim had absconded to Egypt, converted to Islam and quietly lived out his days in a working-class neighborhood of Cairo.

Like Brunner, he was part of a wave of German soldiers and scientists who made their way to North Africa and the Middle East. Leaders in Egypt and Syria especially viewed the Germans as more sympathetic to their aspirations than Britain and France, which still had significant interests in the region. During World War II, many Arab nationalists hoped the German field marshal Erwin Rommel would sweep the Allies out of the Middle East.

That respect for German military might and expertise survived the fall of the Third Reich. Following the defeat of the Arab coalition by the Israelis in 1948, German advisers were discreetly sought out as the best resources for building new, stronger armies. In a French documentary last year, “The Nazi Exiles: The Promise of the Orient,” the French-German filmmaker Géraldine Schwarz traced the paths of German soldiers of fortune, fugitives and propagandists, including Lt. Gen. Artur Schmitt, who fought with Rommel in North Africa. The Arab League recruited Schmitt to help form a more effective fighting force.

After a trip to the Golan Heights in 1951, Schmitt wrote to an Egyptian colleague that the Arab defeat by Israel had been “the consequence of Egyptian leaders’ inability to take advantage of the early stages of fighting to wipe the state of Israel off the map with a blitzkrieg of two weeks at most.”

Meanwhile, a Syrian agent traveled to Rome to seek out Walter Rauff, who helped develop the vans used as mobile gas chambers, to lead a search for military and intelligence advisers. Within months dozens of Nazis made their way to Damascus, including Franz Stangl, who had commanded the Sobibor death camp.

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More than 50 Germans were known to have gone to Syria, while at least 70 more went to Egypt. Many fugitives, like Heim, converted to Islam and adopted Muslim names, making them more difficult to track.

In most cases, the recruitment of people accused of war crimes was kept discreet. Yet many of the Germans in 1950s Cairo, known as the “Alemanni,” lived openly as they helped modernize and train the Egyptian army.

Their ample salaries arrived half in Egyptian pounds at local banks and half in francs sent to Swiss bank accounts. They rented luxury apartments, drove Mercedes-Benzes on their weekend trips to the Red Sea and had memberships at country clubs.

In some cases they were merely following the jobs. With military activity suspended in postwar West Germany, a career officer had few options but to find a new profession or seek his fortune abroad. In her film, Ms. Schwarz tracked down the villa in Cairo where Dr. Wilhelm Voss, a leader of the German defense economy and former SS standartenführer, lived with his entourage. The Waffen-SS member and German Special Forces commando Gerhard Mertins trained Egyptian paratroopers but also represented German businesses like Mercedes and Siemens.

Often enough the government in Bonn was happy to see its former soldiers at work in the Egyptian capital, as long as their Nazi pasts did not cause embarrassment. “Contact with the German military advisers” led to “a fundamentally positive attitude toward the Federal Republic, which has repeatedly made itself felt agreeably in negotiations,” a staff member at the German Embassy in Cairo wrote in 1957.

Some, like the propagandist Johann von Leers, remained committed Nazis and anti-Semites, and were well aware that Egyptian leaders hoped to avenge the humiliating defeat by Israel. Dr. Hans Eisele, twice convicted for crimes as a concentration camp physician, fled to Cairo as investigators once again closed in on him. When the West German government demanded that the Egyptians extradite him, they bluntly refused.

The Israelis were concerned enough about the Cairo Germans — in particular their missile-making expertise — to dispatch an undercover agent to Cairo. A letter bomb nearly blinded the German secretary working for one of the rocket scientists. Another device addressed to Dr. Eisele exploded prematurely in the hand of his Egyptian postman. But by and large they escaped retribution.

The question for future researchers is how much influence the Germans had over these rapidly changing nations and their security apparatus. “The world as it is today was shaped after World War II, so the ’50s are a really key era,” Ms. Schwarz said by telephone from Berlin. “The Germans were advising the army, the secret service and the police at the moment when these countries were being built.”
Title: Re: Where did the Nazis all 'disappear' to?
Post by: bayonetbrant on January 12, 2015, 08:57:28 AM
here's the bit at the end of The Odessa File

The men of the Odessa scattered. Eduard Roschmann's wife returned home and later
received a cable from her husband telling her he was in Argentina. She refused to
follow him. In the summer of 1965 she wrote to him at their old address, the Villa
Jerbal, to ask him for a divorce before the Argentinian courts.
The letter was forwarded to his new address, and she got a reply consenting to her
request, but stipulating the German courts, and enclosing a legal document agreeing
to a divorce. She was awarded this in 1966. She still lives in Germany but has
retaken her maiden name of Willer, of which there are tens of thousands in
Germany. The man's first wife, Hella, still lives in Austria.
The Werwolf finally made his peace with his furious superiors in Argentina and
settled on a small estate he bought with the money realized from the sale of his
effects, on the Spanish island of Formenteria.
The radio factory went into liquidation. The scientists working on the guidance
systems for the rockets of Helwan all found jobs in industry or the academic world.
The project on which they had unwittingly been working for Roschmann, however,
The rockets at Helwan never flew. The fuselages were ready, along with the rocket
fuel. The warheads were under production. Those who may doubt the authenticity of
those warheads should examine the evidence of Professor Otto Yoklek, given at the
trial of Yossef ben Gal, June 10 to June 26, 1963, Basel Provincial Court, Switzerland.
The forty preproduction rockets, helpless for want of the electronic systems
necessary to guide them to their targets in Israel, were still standing in the deserted
factory at Helwan when they were destroyed by bombers during the Six-day War.
Before that the German scientists had disconsolately returned to Germany.
The exposure to the authorities of Klaus Winzer's file upset a lot of Odessa
applecarts. The year which began so well ended for them disastrously. So much so
that years later a lawyer and investigator of the Z Commission in Ludwigsburg was
able to say, "Nineteen sixtyfour was a good year for us, yes, a very good year." At
the end of 1964 Chancellor Erhard, shaken by the exposures, issued a nationwide
and international appeal for all those having knowledge of the whereabouts of
wanted SS criminals to come forward and tell the author- ities. The response was
considerable, and the work of the men of Ludwigsburg received an enormous boost
which continued for several more years.
Of the politicans behind the arms deal between Germany and Israel, Chancellor
Adenauer of Germany lived in his villa at Rh6ndorf, above his beloved Rhine and
close to Bonn, and died there on April 19, 1967. The Israeli Premier David BenGurion
stayed on as a member of the Knesset (Parliament) until 1970, then finally
retired to his home on the kibbutz of Sede Boker, in the heart of the brown hills of
the Negev, on the road from Beersheba to Eilat. He likes to receive visitors and talks
with animation about many things, but not about the rockets of Helwan and the
reprisal campaign against the German scientists who worked on them.
Of the secret-service men in the story, General Amit remained Controller until
September 1968, and on his shoulders fell the massive responsibility of ensuring that
his country was provided with pinpoint information in time for the Six-Day War. As
history records, he succeeded brilliantly.
On his retirement he became chairman and managing director of the labor-owned
Koor Industries of Israel. He still lives very modestly, and his charming wife, Yona,
refuses, as ever, to employ a maid, preferring to do all her own housework.

fascinating book, if you've never read it
Title: Re: Where did the Nazis all 'disappear' to?
Post by: Staggerwing on January 12, 2015, 05:00:41 PM
I have read it, yet now must do so again.