The book Fugitives is a cogent study of how surviving Nazis worked with the intelligence agencies of several countries after World War II. The narrative begins near the end of the war, when it became clear to many Germans that they had lost. Gen. Reinhard Gehlen, a senior German intelligence analyst, created a plan to barter his expertise on the Soviet armed forces in exchange for a safe future. Gehlen, writes the author, “was above all else a survivor and a careerist and he had every intention of surviving and even thriving, amongst the downfall.”
When American intelligence eventually realised what he could offer them, Gehlen was allowed to assemble the “Gehlen Org,” an independent German secret service under US auspices. That organisation became the route to new respectability for many ex-Nazis, some of them active participants in the Holocaust. Other former Nazis were recruited as consultants, in many cases providing intelligence to anyone willing to pay. The key qualification, as far as the US and other Western intelligence services were concerned, was anti-communism.
As a result, the Gehlen Org proved to be easily penetrated by Soviet agents which led to its dissolution in the late 1950s. The author also traces the roles of ex-Nazis in Middle Eastern politics, including an attempt by Egypt to build up a missile program by enlisting German rocket scientists and a long-running operation by ex-Nazis based in Syria. Meanwhile, Israel’s Mossad took a lively interest in these characters’ activities, leading to a complex spy-vs.-spy game throughout the Middle East. The author draws a richly detailed story of the extensive role of German intelligence and military advisers in the Cold War decades. The book is a lively history of the role played by former Nazis in the postwar intelligence community. TW
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