"At least a thousand." That's the number of Nazis the US government hired on as anti-Soviet spies in the wake of World War II, reports the New York Times' Eric Lichtblau, whose book, The Nazis Next Door: How America Became a Safe Haven for Hitler’s Men, is due out tomorrow. That Nazis served as Cold War spies and informants for the US has been known for roughly four decades, but the scope—uncovered via declassified files, interviews, and Freedom of Information Act requests—is new, as are details on just how far the government went to keep the relationships under wraps.
The records show the US was willing to overlook what one official termed "moral lapses": The CIA employed a former top aide to Adolf Eichmann, and promised not to surface Otto von Bolschwing's ties to his former boss when Eichmann was captured in Argentina in 1960 (prosecutors uncovered the relationship two decades later). The CIA also tried to squash the 1990s prosecution of Aleksandras Lileikis, who had settled in Boston after being hired in 1952—even though the agency's own files linked him to the massacre of 60,000 Jews in Lithuania. In the 1980s, the FBI balked at sharing info on 16 past and current Nazi informants with the Justice Department. The Times notes that none of the spies are believed to still be alive. Lichtblau's full article, adapted from his book, is worth a read. (Read more Nazi stories.)