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History > Cold War > USA > CIA, FBI


Recruitment of Nazis as spies and informants











In the decades after World War II,

the C.I.A.

and other United States agencies

employed at least a thousand Nazis

as Cold War spies and informants and,

as recently as the 1990s,

concealed the government’s ties

to some still living in America,

newly disclosed records and interviews



At the height of the Cold War

in the 1950s,

law enforcement

and intelligence leaders

like J. Edgar Hoover at the F.B.I.

and Allen Dulles at the C.I.A.

aggressively recruited

onetime Nazis of all ranks

as secret, anti-Soviet “assets,”

declassified records show.


They believed

the ex-Nazis’ intelligence value

against the Russians outweighed

what one official called

“moral lapses”

in their service to the Third Reich.


The agency hired

one former SS officer

as a spy in the 1950s,

for instance,

even after concluding

he was probably guilty

of “minor war crimes.”


And in 1994,

a lawyer with the C.I.A.

pressured prosecutors

to drop an investigation

into an ex-spy outside Boston

implicated in the Nazis’ massacre

of tens of thousands of Jews

in Lithuania,

according to a government official.


Evidence of the government’s

links to Nazi spies

began emerging publicly

in the 1970s.


But thousands of records

from declassified files,

Freedom of Information Act

requests and other sources,

together with interviews

with scores of current

and former government officials,

show that the government’s

recruitment of Nazis

ran far deeper

than previously known

and that officials sought

to conceal those ties

for at least a half-century

after the war.


















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