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The Nazis Next Door: How America Became a…
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The Nazis Next Door: How America Became a Safe Haven for Hitler's Men

by Eric Lichtblau

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I knew a bit about Operation Paperclip but it is shocking to learn the extent to which the United States government gave safe haven to Nazi war criminals, protected them, and even intervened on their behalf. Meticulously researched and thoroughly documented. ( )
  Sullywriter | May 22, 2015 |
I was outraged and excited when I started this book because I thought it promised to tell how "through the back door came the biggest group yet: thousands of everyday SS personnel, war criminals and collaborators like Jakob Reimer, the SS officer turned potato chip salesman. They sneaked into America as reformed "refugees" . . . They came because no one stopped them."

Instead, it told, and told well, the more familiar, but still outrageous, stories of the Nazi scientists who were welcomed with open arms, starting with the infamous Werner von Braun,* and of the Nazis and their collaborators who were recruited secretly as CIA agents and later rewarded with US citizenship. Licthtblau is a reporter and this is an extremely readable book that tells these stories partly through the lens of the tireless reporters who tracked some of these Nazis down and of the ins and outs of the Justice Department's unit that investigated and attempted to prosecute and expel Nazis and their collaborators. At the close of World War II, the US government was already fighting the next war, the Cold War; thus, the scientists were recruited to prevent Stalin from getting them (although he got his own) and the agents on the theory that nobody hated the Communists more than the Nazis. Lichtblau describes how even before the war ended high-ranking military officials were talking to the Nazis about collaborating with the US.

The parts that were most appalling to me were those that detailed the vicious antisemitism of US leaders, starting with General Patton who is quoted as writing in his diary, referring to Earl Harrison who produced a scathing report on European displaced person camps for President Truman, "Harrison and his ilk believe that the Displaced Person is a human being, which he is not, and this applies particularly to the Jews who are lower than animals." Lichtblau also writes, speaking of postwar immigration from the Baltic nations, "The Baltic immigrants -- unlike the would-be Jewish immigrants derided by Washington policymakers as lazy and ungodly -- were seen instead as hardworking, industrious, and, in the racist language of the day, "of good stock and good breeding," and they were welcomed eagerly to America. The bulk of the hundreds of thousands of Baltic immigrants claiming visas to the United States were no doubt legitimate refugees of war. But thousands among them were not." And, lastly but by no means finally, later on there was the notorious Pat Buchanan, an aide to Nixon, Ford, and Reagan who ran for president himself, who among his multitude of antisemitic statements wrote praising Hitler as a "an individual of great courage."

These, however, were basically asides in the story Lichtblau tells. He chronicles the beginnings of interest in tracking down Nazis and their collaborators in the 1970s, and how the early courageous journalists eventually helped an increasingly effective prosecutorial effort in the Justice Department. He interpserses descriptions of the wartime actions of the Nazis he profiles -- a mixture of CIA operatives, scientists, and non-German collaborators -- with their profiles as new Americans and their general outrage at being outed as Nazis. They largely felt that they had proved themselves as good US citizens and what's past is past.

This book covers the postwar period deftly and chronologically, with an epilogue bringing readers up to date on the people it discusses. Even though I was aware of some of the cases Licthblau covers, I found this an important book, with food for thought about how the US treated the Nazis and their collaborators initially, in particular how it recruited them for intelligence work, how we continue to treat immigrants, and how we still collaborate with people who may have done bad things in their own countries if they're on "our" side. (Of course, we are far from the only country that does this.) This is an important and lively book.

*Of course, it's hard to think of Werner von Braun without thinking of Tom Lehrer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TjDEsGZLbio
7 vote rebeccanyc | Dec 14, 2014 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0547669194, Hardcover)

The shocking story of how America became one of the world’s safest postwar havens for Nazis
 
Until recently, historians believed America gave asylum only to key Nazi scientists after World War II, along with some less famous perpetrators who managed to sneak in and who eventually were exposed by Nazi hunters. But the truth is much worse, and has been covered up for decades: the CIA and FBI brought thousands of perpetrators to America as possible assets against their new Cold War enemies. When the Justice Department finally investigated and learned the truth, the results were classified and buried.

Using the dramatic story of one former perpetrator who settled in New Jersey, conned the CIA into hiring him, and begged for the agency’s support when his wartime identity emerged, Eric Lichtblau tells the full, shocking story of how America became a refuge for hundreds of postwar Nazis.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:31 -0400)

"The shocking story of how America became one of the world's safest postwar havens for Nazis. Until recently, historians believed America gave asylum only to key Nazi scientists after World War II, along with some less famous perpetrators who managed to sneak in and who eventually were exposed by Nazi hunters. But the truth is much worse, and has been covered up for decades: the CIA and FBI brought thousands of perpetrators to America as possible assets against their new Cold War enemies. When the Justice Department finally investigated and learned the truth, the results were classified and buried. Using the dramatic story of one former perpetrator who settled in New Jersey, conned the CIA into hiring him, and begged for the agency's support when his wartime identity emerged, Eric Lichtblau tells the full, shocking story of how America became a refuge for hundreds of postwar Nazis"--… (more)

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