Opening of CIA Records under Nazi War Crimes Disclosure Act
Press Release · Wednesday, May 8, 2002
|Thomas H. Baer, Public Member
Richard Ben-Veniste, Public Member
Christina M. Bromwell, Department of Defense
Elizabeth Holtzman, Public Member
|Steven Garfinkel (Chair), National Archives and Records Administration
William J. Hooten, Federal Bureau of Investigation
William H. Leary, National Security Council
David P. Holmes, Central Intelligence Agency
|Paul A. Shapiro, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Eli M. Rosenbaum, Department of Justice
Marc J. Susser, Department of State
Giuliana Bullard, 703-532-1477
Susan Cooper, 301-837-1700
The Nazi War Crimes and Japanese Imperial Government Records Interagency Working Group (IWG) announces the opening and public availability of Central Intelligence Agency files on 381 individuals and subjects associated with Nazi war crimes or war criminals. The CIA recently declassified these files under the Nazi War Crimes Disclosure Act (PL 105-246). They are available for researchers at the National Archives' College Park, Maryland facility, at 8601 Adelphi Road.
Under the auspices of the IWG, the CIA has reviewed and declassified "Name Files" of many Nazi figures and related subjects, including the files on Walter Schellenberg (Head of the Reich Security Main Office Foreign Intelligence Service) and Otto Skorzeny (Hitler's favorite commando, having snatched Mussolini from captivity). The files also provide new insight into such individuals as Walther Rauff, Krunoslav Dragonovic, and Reinhard Gehlen. (Highlighted below.) The IWG website (www.archives.gov/iwg) provides a full list of the names and subjects, including the 20 CIA Name Files released in April 2001.
The CIA's name file on Walther (Walter) Rauff, one of Nazi Germany's notorious war criminals, contains some new information about Rauff's wartime efforts and detailed, if unconfirmed, reports about his postwar travels and career. As an official of the Criminal Technical Institute of the Reich Security Main Office, Rauff designed gas vans used to poison Jews and persons with disabilities. He later was involved in persecution of Jews in North Africa, and there is a postwar report in the file that he tried to arrange the extermination of Jews in Egypt during late 1942.
Near the end of the war Rauff, then an SS and police official in northern Italy, tried to gain credit for the surrender of German forces in Italy, but ended up only surrendering himself. After escaping from an American internment camp in Italy, Rauff hid in a number of Italian convents, apparently under the protection of Bishop Alois Hudel. In 1948 he was recruited by Syrian intelligence and went to Damascus, (only to fall out of favor after a coup there a year later). According to one report, he tortured Jews in Syria. He and his family then settled in Ecuador, later shifting to Chile, where he may have served in Chilean intelligence. CIA officials could not determine Rauff's exact position. In any case, the government of General Augusto Pinochet resisted all calls for his extradition to stand trial in West Germany, and he died peacefully in southern Chile in 1984.
Father Krunoslav Draganovic was a Franciscan priest who actively served the Nazi satellite regime in Croatia, which was responsible for the deaths of between 330,000 and 390,000 orthodox Serbs and about 32,000 Jews. Following the war, Draganovic facilitated the escape of numerous Croatian war criminals to South America via the College of Saint Jerome in Rome. From 1959 to 1962, especially tense years in the Cold War, Father Draganovic worked as a spy for US Army intelligence against the Yugoslav regime. Draganovic's CIA file shows the Agency's skepticism regarding Draganovic's reliability--skepticism that resulted in the termination of his employment with the U.S. Army.
This release includes a substantial collection of high-level documents on the origins and first years of the relationship between Generalmajor Reinhard Gehlen and the United States Government. As Nazi Germany collapsed, Gehlen turned himself in to the U.S. Army. During the war he had led the Fremde Heeren Ost, the intelligence unit that collected and analyzed information on the Eastern Front for Hitler and the Wehrmacht. In the summer of 1945 Gehlen offered to continue the same work for the United States.
Much has already been written on the 25-year relationship that ensued when American officials accepted Gehlen's offer; but these documents detail the complexity of that relationship as well as the strategic gamble made by the United States in sponsoring the rebirth of Gehlen's wartime organization. The U.S. Army remained Gehlen's sponsor until 1949, when the Central Intelligence Agency, after much internal debate, took over as Gehlen's main patron. According to one CIA official, though Gehlen was "chiefy motivated by a desire for personal success" and would not be "an American or Allied puppet in office," he was "sincerely interested in harmonious cooperation between the Germans and the Western Allies." Gehlen ultimately became the first head of the Bundesnarichtensdient (BND), the West German foreign intelligence service, and relations between the BND and CIA were good. But, as these documents illustrate, the relationship entailed certain problems. In building his organization, Gehlen recruited some former members of the SS. Besides the troubling moral issues involved, these recruitments opened the West German government, and by extension the United States, to penetration by the Soviet intelligence services.
Among these new documents is a formerly classified two-volume CIA history "Forging an Intelligence Partnership: CIA and the Origins of the BND, 1945-49." The history is a compilation of key documents on the U.S relationship with Gehlen and his organization in the early postwar period. Besides this history, material includes the name files of some of Gehlen's associates, including the former SS officer Heinz Felfe, who was exposed as a Soviet mole in 1963.
Since 1999, the IWG has overseen the identification, declassification review, and release of formerly classified U. S. Government records as required by the Nazi War Crimes Disclosure Act. Under the auspices of the IWG, U.S. Government agencies have declassified nearly 5 million pages to date. These records will take their place among the many millions of pages of related documents previously made available for research in the National Archives.
For additional PRESS information, please contact the National Archives Public Affairs staff at (301) 837-1700 or by e-mail. Visit the National Archives Home Page on the World Wide Web at http://www.archives.gov.
This page was last reviewed on August 16, 2018.
Contact us with questions or comments.