West Germany gave location of Eichmann, historian says
WASHINGTON (CNN) — The United States was told the location and approximate alias of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann more than two years before his capture but did nothing to pursue him, according to CIA documents released Tuesday.
The release of the latest set of intelligence records is part of an ongoing effort to declassify documents as part of the Nazi War Criminals Disclosure Act of 1998.
Eichmann, mastermind of the ”final solution” to exterminate Jews, was captured by Israel and executed in 1962. (Watch compromises made by intelligence agencies — 1:46)
However, in 1958 the West German intelligence service informed the CIA that Eichmann was living in Argentina using the alias Clemens, University of Virginia historian Timothy Naftali said the newly released CIA materials indicate.
The West Germans did not want to see Eichmann captured because they feared what he might say about Chancellor Konrad Adenauer’s national security adviser, Hans Globke, Naftali said.
Globke had served in the Jewish Affairs department of the Nazi government during World War II and was involved in writing laws designed to remove Jews from German society.
”The CIA, which worked closely with Globke, assisted the West Germans in protecting him from Eichmann,” said Naftali.
Eichmann remained at large until May 1960, when the Israeli government discovered his whereabouts and captured him in Argentina, where he was living under the name Klement.
Israeli agents kidnapped him from his Argentine hideout and smuggled him to Israel, where he was tried, convicted and hanged in 1962.
The Eichmann revelation is one of several outlined by historians who are working with members of the Interagency Working Group responsible for locating, declassifying and releasing U.S. documents related to Nazi war crimes.
In another case, Ohio University historian Norman Goda discussed records showing how former Nazi SS intelligence officer Heinz Felfe, who was recruited by the Soviet KGB after the war, was able to join the West German intelligence service set up by the United States. He eventually rose to become chief of the division responsible for surveillance of the Soviets, the records show.
”He was no common mole,” Goda said in a press briefing at the National Archives Building. Felfe was in charge of operations against the Soviets while ”he took his orders from the Soviets.”
Goda said Felfe caused ”massive damage … as large an intelligence disaster as occurred during the Cold War.”
Unlike previous releases, the documents made available Tuesday were largely unredacted.
The interagency group credited former CIA Director Porter Goss for changing the level of cooperation and allowing the release of documents.
The group, chaired by Steven Garfinkel of the National Archives and Records Administration, expects to complete its declassification efforts early next year.
”We are not yet done, but we are continuing with the important work of finding out what was done in the past so we can learn from it for the future,” said one of the 1998 bill’s co-sponsors, Republican Sen. Mike DeWine of Ohio, at Tuesday’s briefing, according to prepared remarks.
The group includes representatives from eight federal agencies and three public members. Since 1999, the group says, it has overseen the release of some 8 million pages of U.S. government records related to crimes committed by the Nazi and Japanese governments during World War II.