Press Release
Press Release · Wednesday, September 20, 2000

Press Release: Nazi War Criminal Records Interagency Working Group
Thomas H. Baer, Los Angeles

Richard Ben-Veniste, Washington DC

John E. Collingwood, Federal Bureau of Investigation

Elizabeth Holtzman, New York

Michael J. Kurtz (Chair), National Archives and Records Administration

Harold J. Kwalwasser, Office of the Secretary of Defense

William H. Leary, National Security Council

Kenneth J. Levit, Central Intelligence Agency

David Marwell, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Eli M. Rosenbaum, Department of Justice

William Z. Slany, Department of State

September 20, 2000
CIA Intends to Release Records on Cold War Spymaster

Press Contact:
Giuliana Bullard, 703-532-1477

College Park, MD….. Today, citing the Nazi War Crimes Disclosure Act, the Central Intelligence Agency filed an affidavit in U. S. District Court acknowledging an intelligence relationship with German General Reinhard Gehlen that it has kept secret for fifty years. The CIA's court filing today in the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) appeal of researcher Carl Oglesby admitted the Gehlen relationship. The CIA stated that it has records related to Gehlen and pledged that it will process them for release in accordance with the Nazi War Crimes Disclosure Act. The CIA cited a commitment to conform to the spirit of the Disclosure Act as the primary reason for its release decision at this time.

For the better part of two years, the Nazi War Criminal Records Interagency Working Group (IWG), established under the Act, has overseen the declassification and release of records of the U.S. Government related to war crimes and war criminals of World War II.

The CIA's announcement marks the first acknowledgement by that agency that it had any relationship with Gehlen and opens the way for declassification of records about the relationship. Gehlen, who had served as Hitler's most senior military intelligence officer on the eastern front, was one of the ex-Nazis who became a U. S. intelligence resource after the war. He ran an extensive network of spies with Nazi and collaborationist backgrounds known as the Gehlen Organization. The network was aimed at the Soviet Union during the postwar period, and purportedly received millions in U.S. funding.

Working immediately after the war with Army Intelligence, the Gehlen Organization became the responsibility of the CIA, which continued the relationship until 1956. One document released by the IWG on June 26, 2000, shows an early connection between the Strategic Services Unit (predecessor of the CIA) and Gehlen's group. The SSU searched for members of Gehlen's organization in POW camps and extensively interrogated them. As the Cold War developed during 1946, American intelligence officials found themselves lacking recent experience with Soviet intelligence activities and decided to use German experts on the Soviet Union-even though some may have been war criminals.

In addition to the task of declassifying records related to the Holocaust and war crimes during World War II, the IWG is responsible for identifying and overseeing declassification of records of post-war activities involving the use of Axis war criminals. Gehlen's organization fits into that category.

Former Congresswoman Elizabeth Holtzman, a member of the IWG, said "This shows that the law is working. We now must work closely with the Agency to follow through with the release of these records." The IWG coordinates the transfer and release of records at the National Archives and Records Administration and notifies the public when they are available for study.

For additional PRESS information, please contact the National Archives Public Affairs staff at (301) 837-1700 or by e-mail.


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