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July, 1945

 Reinhard Gehlen, the Nazis head of counter-intelligence, collaborated with US intelligence agencies after the war to save his skin and to provide intelligence on the Soviet Union.

Debriefing Begins

U.S. Army General Edwin Sibert and members of the US Army Counter-Intelligence Corps begin debriefing Nazi war criminals in prisoner of war camps  in Allied occupied Germany and realize their knowledge of the USSR is extremely valuable, given a relative dearth of US intelligence on the Soviets.  Hitler’s head of intelligence on the Eastern Front, General Reinhard Gehlen, is only too happy to offer his services as a way of escaping imprisonment and possible death. By collaborating with Gehlen and his coterie of Nazi generals, the Americans will weaken the Denazification program envisioned by Roosevelt while heightening tensions with the Soviets.

Meanwhile, the heads of Defense, State Department and Navy meet over dropping  the bomb. New scholarship based on declassified documents reveals that the dropping of the bomb must be seen in the context of rabid cold warriors ( Rockefeller, McCloy, OSS’s Dulles and CIA’s Frank Wisner) determined to  confront the “Soviet threat” wherever it raises its ugly head.  These cold warriors will eventually employ counter-insurgency tactics that had been used by the Nazis against the Soviets during the war. Noted one Soviet expert in the CIA regarding collaboration with the Nazis, “We knew what we were doing. It was a visceral business of using any bastard as long as he was anti-communist.” According to historians Guy Alperovitz and Kai Bird, the dropping of the bomb “was a primary catalyst of the Cold War.” The advent of nuclear weapons, they argue, “gave Washington an alternative to constructing a European peace in cooperation with the Soviet Union. .. With the bomb, U.S. policy-makers realized they could afford the risks of acting unilaterally…Only the atomic monopoly permitted [the integration of Germany into a West European military alliance] with little fear of German resurgence and without regard to Soviet security interests.” American policy, Alperovitz and Bird noted, ‘ policy shifted from industrial disarmament to rebuilding German economic power.”  U.S. collaboration with Nazi generals was another factor in this shift of policy away from Roosevelt’s desire to completely eliminate the Nazi state.

Further reading:


US Intelligence and the Nazis by Richard Breitman et al (based on 8 million documents released under the Nazi War Crimes Disclosure Act by the CIA, FBI, NSA, Army, State Department and other US agencies.


The Very Best Men: The Daring Early Years of the CIA by Evan Thomas


Guy Alperovitz and Kai Bird: The Centrality of the Bomb, Foreign Policy, Spring 1994.


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