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

Eric Licht­blau
  • Review
By – January 6, 2015

Pulitzer Prize-win­ning jour­nal­ist and author Eric Licht­blau has writ­ten a riv­et­ing account of how the CIA covert­ly allowed top Nazi sci­en­tists and polit­i­cal oper­a­tives to enter the Unit­ed States because of their use­ful­ness in the Cold War con­flict with the Sovi­et Union after World War II. Licht­blau pro­files the crimes of both the Nazis and their East­ern Euro­pean col­lab­o­ra­tors, who lived out their lives in the U.S. pro­tect­ed by the CIA. Among the Ger­man sci­en­tists who entered the U.S. were Wern­er von Braun, the rock­et sci­en­tist who led the team that put a man on the moon; Arthur Rudolph, von Braun’s assis­tant, who togeth­er with von Braun used slave labor in the Nazi V‑2 rock­et pro­gram; Huber­tus Strughold, who over­saw a clin­ic in Nazi Ger­many where bru­tal human exper­i­ments were con­duct­ed on chil­dren and pris­on­ers, but in Amer­i­ca came to be known, because of his work with the Air Force, as the father of space med­i­cine. Then there were the East­ern Euro­peans such as Croatia’s cab­i­net min­is­ter, Andri­ja Artukovic, who was impli­cat­ed in the mur­ders of hun­dreds of thou­sands of Serbs, Jews, Roma, and oth­er non-Aryans. He lived in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia for near­ly forty years before the U.S. extra­dit­ed him to Yugoslavia in 1986 for war crimes.

The list goes on and on — six­teen hun­dred alone in Oper­a­tion Paper­clip and thou­sands more, many from East­ern Europe, who found a safe haven in the Unit­ed States. Why? Amer­i­can pol­i­cy after the Nazi defeat was best sum­ma­rized by Allen Dulles, the first direc­tor of the CIA, when he wrote in regard to the con­fronta­tion with the Sovi­et Union, that we should be free to talk to the Dev­il him­self” if it would help in the Cold War. Dulles believed the U.S. ben­e­fit­ted from work­ing with more mod­er­ate” Nazis.

Licht­blau gives due cred­it to those who soon after the war became aware of the pres­ence of Nazis in Amer­i­ca. Among them was Chuck Allen, a jour­nal­ist from Philadel­phia who began inves­ti­gat­ing sus­pect­ed Nazis as ear­ly as the 1960s; Con­gress­woman Eliz­a­beth Holtz­man, who spear­head­ed the cre­ation of the Jus­tice Department’s Nazi hunt­ing office in 1979; Eli Rosen­baum, an inde­fati­ga­ble hunter of Nazis in the new­ly cre­at­ed gov­ern­ment agency, and many oth­ers. But there were also those who tend­ed to sym­pa­thize with Nazis whom the Jus­tice Depart­ment attempt­ed to deport. Chief among them was Pat Buchanan, and Licht­blau pro­vides a full account of his efforts to thwart the efforts of the Nazi hunt­ing office.

Licht­blau’s book is an impor­tant, fas­ci­nat­ing read.

Relat­ed content:


Read Elise Coop­er’s inter­view with Eric Licht­blau here.

Jack Fis­chel is pro­fes­sor emer­i­tus of his­to­ry at Millersville Uni­ver­si­ty, Millersville, PA and author of The Holo­caust (Green­wood Press) and His­tor­i­cal Dic­tio­nary of the Holo­caust (Row­man and Littlefield).

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