Gestapo Leader Didn't Have to Hide From US After War

Franz Josef Huber avoided punishment by working in German intelligence
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 6, 2021 4:12 PM CDT
US, Germany Enlisted a Gestapo Leader in Cold War
Heinrich Himmler, head of the Gestapo and the Waffen-SS, reviews troops in 1944. Huber was photographed with Himmler at a concentration camp in Austria.   (AP photo/ U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Atlantic Foto Verlag Berlin)

Although Austria wanted to try him for war crimes, Franz Josef Huber wasn't put on trial at Nuremberg. He didn't have to go into hiding or flee, newly released documents show, as other Nazi leaders did. Instead, Huber, a high-ranking Gestapo official who helped send thousands of Jews to their deaths, served a short sentence and was fined after World War II ended. Then he was put to work by the US and Germany in the Cold War, the New York Times reports. "Many former senior Nazis took advantage of the new communist threat to secure for themselves both immunity from war crimes prosecution and hefty salaries from US and West German intelligence agencies," says professor Shlomo Shpiro of Bar-Ilan University in Israel, who has researched the cases of former Nazis joining Western intelligence agencies.

Huber, who led one of the Gestapo's biggest sections, mostly in Austria, worked with Adolf Eichmann on sending Jews to concentration and extermination camps during the war. Eichmann was executed. The US, though, saw a role for Huber. "Although we are by no means unmindful of the dangers involved in playing around with a Gestapo general, we also believe, on the basis of the information now in our possession," a 1953 CIA memo said, "that Huber might be profitably used by this organization." Spy agencies were having a hard time finding contacts they could count on in their operations against communist countries, Shpiro says. He worked for Germany's intelligence service for almost 10 years, per the Times, helped by the efforts of both countries to cover up his past. It wasn't until the 1960s that Germany, fearing the effects of disclosure on public confidence, decided Huber's employment was too risky. He retired and, still not needing to hide, spent his last eight years with his family in Munich, on a German civil service pension. (More Nazi Germany stories.)

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