The Nazis Next Door

Title:                      The Nazis Next Door

Author:                 Eric Lichtblau

Lichtblau, Eric (2014). The Nazis Next Door: How America Became a Safe Haven for Hitler’s Men. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

LCCN:    2014023543

E743.5 .L49 2014

Scope and content

  • “The shocking story of how America became one of the world’s safest postwar havens for Nazis. Until recently, historians believed America gave asylum only to key Nazi scientists after World War II, along with some less famous perpetrators who managed to sneak in and who eventually were exposed by Nazi hunters. But the truth is much worse, and has been covered up for decades: the CIA and FBI brought thousands of perpetrators to America as possible assets against their new Cold War enemies. When the Justice Department finally investigated and learned the truth, the results were classified and buried. Using the dramatic story of one former perpetrator who settled in New Jersey, conned the CIA into hiring him, and begged for the agency’s support when his wartime identity emerged, Eric Lichtblau tells the full, shocking story of how America became a refuge for hundreds of postwar Nazis”– Provided by publisher.


  • Prologue: A Name from the Past — Liberation — The Good Nazis — “Minor War Crimes” — Echoes from Argentina — Tilting at Swastikas — In the Pursuit of Science — Out of the Shadows — “An Ugly Blot” — The Sins of the Father — A Good Party Spoiled — “An Innocent Man” — Backlash — Ivan the Terrible — The Road to Ponary — Appendix.


Date Posted:      September 20, 2016

Caveat. Perpendat itaque lector cavendum (civilis).[1]

Reviewed by Joseph C. Goulden[2]

At least nine books have been written on the “intellectual reparations” policies implemented by the Allies after WWII. The first, Operation Paperclip[3], appeared in 1971 and dealt mainly with former Nazi rocket scientists and engineers brought to the United States. A recent account under the same name added new material based on declassified documents and named more individuals involved.[4]

A broader version of that topic, Wanted![5], also covered former military and SS members. And now journalist Eric Lichtblau has revisited the matter, adding details gathered from material released by the CIA and FBI.

In The Nazis Next Door, Lichtblau uses the story of the self-admitted onetime Nazi SS officer, Tscherim (Tom) Soobzokov—originally discussed in Wanted!—to illustrate how the United States overlooked evidence of criminal pasts, not just in the scientists, but also in those categorized as “moderate Nazis”—former intelligence officers—in order to recruit anti-communist agents.

Soobzokov had sued the New York Times (that published Wanted!) for its coverage of his case and won a large settlement out of court. Lichtblau describes how the rumors about Soobzokov had originated and the harassment that followed. Since he had been an agent for the CIA and FBI, he sought their help—which was not forthcoming. In the end, he was assassinated in a car bombing.

Soobzokov is not the only former CIA agent Lichtblau discusses. In the case of former SS officer Theodor Saevecke, he writes that the CIA provided him with “whitewashed documents” and he was “exonerated,” dying in America of old age. (p. 35) An even more notorious case involved Wilhem Hӧttl, whom Allen Dulles had “first pursued… as an American spy.” (p. 36) Hӧttl later testified as a witness at the Nuremburg trials, but his promised knowledge about the Soviets was useless.

Lichtblau devotes a chapter to Dulles and his contacts with “The Good Nazis.” The most well-known was SS General Karl Wolff, with whom he worked to secure an early surrender of German troops in Italy toward the end of the war as part of Operation Sunrise. Lichtblau belittles Dulles’ “sharing a fireside scotch with Himmler’s former chief of staff” during their first meeting. (p. 15) But he neglects to mention that he was not alone and that they were attempting to get the cooperation of the man in charge of the German army in Italy. Intelligence professionals may interpret Lichtblau’s analysis as evidence of ignorance of intelligence tradecraft.

The Nazis Next Door conveys the impression that the recruiting of German sources was largely fruitless and morally unfounded, no matter what. Thus the attempts to honor the agreements made to those brought to the United States were unjustified. In essence, there were no good or reformed Nazis. This jaded view aside, Lichtblau has added some case-closing detail to a controversial period.

[1] On occasion, personal loyalties and opinions can be carved in stone and defended with a vengeance — at times with some venom thrown in. In these situations, the actual importance of the subject matter is dwarfed by the amount of aggression expressed. Retain a sense of proportion in all online and in-person discussions. [From The Intelligencer: Journal of U. S. Intelligence Studies.]

[2] Goulden, Joseph C. in The Intelligencer: Journal of U.S. Intelligence Studies (22, 2, Spring 2016, p. 129). Joseph C. Goulden’s 1982 book, Korea: The Untold Story of the War, was published in a Chinese-language edition in 2014 by Beijing Xiron Books. He is author of 18 nonfiction books. Goulden is a long-time reviewer of espionage and spy books for The Washington Times, for AFIO’s Intelligencer, for law journals, and other publications. Some of the reviews appeared in prior editons of The Washington Times or The Washington Lawyer (DC Bar Association) and are reprinted by permission of the author. Goulden’s most recent book [as of 2016] is Goulden, Joseph C. (2012). The Dictionary of Espionage: Spyspeak into English. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications.

[3] I believe Goulden is referring to the American version, Lasby, Clarence G. (1971). Project Paperclip: German Scientists And The Cold War. New York: Atheneum

[4] Jacobsen, Annie (2014). Operation Paperclip: The Secret Intelligence Program to Bring Nazi Scientists to America. New York: Little, Brown and Company

[5] Blum, Howard (1977). Wanted! The Search for Nazis in America. New York: Quadrangle/New York Times Book Co. [LCCN: 76009689]


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