Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.

News & Supplemental  

Nazis Shaping Postwar German Government? No Kidding!

COMMENT: Substantiating much of what I’ve been saying about the postwar role of Third Reich alumni in the Federal Republic of Germany, Der Spiegel has set forth information about many of the Nazis shaping the institutions of the Federal Republic.

I would note that, as refreshing as it is to see the German government and mainstream press finally confronting this issue, the story is “modified limited hangout.”

Several considerations in this regard:

  • Discussing the 1953 coup attempt by former Goebbels aid Werner Naumann, the article is obliquely dismissive of its significance.
  • Nowhere does the story mention the “fuehringsring”–the Nazi underground control infrastructure that administered the postwar German government from its seat in Madrid.
  • In reference to the Naumann coup attempt, the article mentions nothing about the roles of Konrad Adenauer, Hans Globke and other elements of the German government in preventing any prosecution of the coup plotters.
  • Of course, there is no mention of the Bormann capital network or its influence in postwar Germany.
  • There is no mention of Adenauer economics minister and successor Ludwig Erhard, or his work with the SS-controlled Kleine Arbeitskreis in planning the postwar German economy.
  • And there most assuredly is no mention of how the contemporary German “democracy” is fulfilling the Reich’s agenda by realizing the goals of a German-controlled European economic union, by realizing the fuehringsring’s stratagem of employing the vertriebene groups as vehicles for the “drang nach osten,” by instituting the Greek neo-Nazi party as a governmental entity to administer austerity, or the house historian of German media giant Bertelsmann (publisher for the SS during the war) Dirk Bavendamm’s assessment that World War II was started by U.S. imperialism, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Jewish control of the United States and its media!

“From Dictatorship to Democracy: the Role Ex-Nazis Played in Early West Germany” by Ralf Beste, Georg Bonisch, Thomas Darnstaedt, Jan Friedmann, Michael Frohlingsdorf and Klaus Wiegrefe; Der Spiegel; 3/6/2012.

After World War II, West Germany rapidly made the transition from murderous dictatorship to model democracy. Or did it? New documents reveal just how many officials from the Nazi regime found new jobs in Bonn. A surprising number were chosen for senior government positions. . . .

. . . The document revealed that Chancellor Kurt Georg Kiesinger, a member of the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) who governed Germany from 1966 to 1969, had been a member of the Nazi Party ever since Adolf Hitler seized power. According to the Interior Ministry list, German President Walter Scheel, a member of the business-friendly Free Democratic Party (FDP) who was in office from 1974 to 1979, had been a Nazi Party member “from 1941 or 1942.”

The list names ministers of all political stripes and from a wide range of social backgrounds. Some, like leftist Social Democratic Party (SPD) mastermind Erhard Eppler (Minister of Economic Cooperation), did not become Nazi Party members until the end (at 17, in Eppler’s case). Others, like conservative Christian Social Union (CSU) agitator Richard Jaeger (Minister of Justice), had been part of Hitler’s paramilitary organization, the SA (since 1933, in Jaeger’s case). Even FDP luminary Hans-Dietrich Genscher (first interior minister and later foreign minister), who denies to this day that he knowingly joined the Nazi Party, is listed as a Nazi Party member.

According to the government list, former SPD Finance Minister Karl Schiller was in the SA, while his fellow cabinet minister Horst Ehmke was a Nazi Party member, as were (“presumably,” the list notes) former SPD Labor Minister Herbert Ehrenberg and Hans Leussink, a former education minister with no party affiliation. On the conservative side, the report names several former Nazi Party members, including former CDU Foreign Minister Gerhard Schröder and former CDU Minister for Displaced Persons Theodor Oberländer, as well as former CSU Post and Communication Minister Richard Stücklen and former CSU Interior Minister Friedrich Zimmermann. . . .

. . . . How many Nazis took part in the rebuilding of the government after World War II? How much influence did the surviving supporters of the Nazi dictatorship have on the establishment and operation of Germany’s first functioning democracy?

Officials at the Interior Ministry, the source of the most recent government document, have issued an EU-wide call for assistance in addressing Germany’s Nazi past. Historians from the western city of Bochum are now poring over old files from the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) which stretch for about 500 meters (1,640 feet) to determine how many of the Nazi dictatorship’s helpers hid under the coattails of the domestic intelligence service in the early years of the Federal Republic — and how this could have happened. . . .

. . . In truth, it wasn’t just a few implanted Nazis who participated in the Holocaust through the so-called Judenreferat (Jewish Department). In fact, the entire ministry implemented the political dictates of the rogue regime with the practiced effectiveness of a functioning government agency. The Foreign Ministry was “part of this monstrous dictatorship, and it performed its duties,” says Norbert Frei, a historian from the eastern German city of Jena and one of the authors of the study. . . .

. . . The restoration of the old elites also had consequences for foreign policy, which veteran diplomats still deny to this day. Old Nazis were usually sent to posts in South America and Arab countries, where they shaped the image of the supposedly new republic. The diplomats repeatedly took steps to protect Nazis hiding abroad and accused war criminals from persecution.

In the 1950s, the German embassy in Buenos Aires unquestioningly issued travel documents to the family of Adolf Eichmann, one of the key organizers of the Holocaust, for a trip to Germany. No one bothered to draw any conclusions about Eichmann’s whereabouts.

As SPIEGEL revealed in 1968, the main legal protection office at the Foreign Ministry even developed into a “warning service” for old Nazis. With the help of the Red Cross, the diplomats informed about 800 Germans and Austrians that they should avoid traveling to France, because they had been convicted of war crimes there and could run into “difficulties.” . . . .

. . . The chancellor, for his part, entrusted himself and his chancellery to Hans Globke, a former official in Hitler’s interior ministry and one of the authors of the Nuremberg race laws. The man Adenauer once called “my dear Herr Globke” was the most powerful government official in Germany for a time, even though anyone who wanted to know could easily consult the abominable lawyer’s anti-Semitic concoctions. He was responsible for the mandatory assignment of the first names Israel and Sara to Jews in Nazi Germany. The ability to quickly identify someone as a Jew was one of the preconditions of the Holocaust.

Globke was the most capable civil servant that the new country believed it had at its disposal. Part of his competence had to do with the precision with which he once distinguished among different classifications of Jews: “The three-eighths Jew, who has one fully Jewish and one half-Jewish grandparent, is considered a crossbreed with one fully Jewish grandparent, while the five-eighths Jews with two fully Jewish grandparents and one half-Jewish grandparent is considered a crossbreed with two fully Jewish grandparents.” With the same Prussian bureaucrat’s sense of perfection, Globke also developed Adenauer’s center of power, the Federal Chancellery at Schaumburg Palace. . . .

. . . Saevecke embarked on a career in law enforcement at the BKA. He had joined the Nazi Party in 1929, when it was still very small, and eventually reached the rank of Hauptsturmführer in the SS. While with the SS, Saevecke organized forced labor operations involving Tunisian Jews and ran the Milan office of the security police, where he was responsible for hundreds of executions.

After the war, the senior official openly described himself as a “former old National Socialist.” He remained staunchly true to his worldview. As a CIA contact noted, Saevecke would “literally stop at nothing to suppress the communist movement, against which he has felt an elementary hatred since the 1920s.” While with the BKA, Saevecke was in charge of the police effort surrounding the 1962 SPIEGEL scandal, before going into retirement. . . .

. . . . Roughly 80 percent of the judges and prosecutors who had served Hitler’s regime of terror until May 8 were soon dispensing justice once again — but this time in the young Federal Republic. “Perhaps there is truly evidence,” wrote Nazi expert Jörg Friedrich, “that a constitutional state can stand on a judicial mass grave.” . . .

. . . Now the halls of justice were even staffed with judges who had once served on the Nazis’ People’s Court (Volksgerichtshof), which was set up in 1934 to handle “political offenses” and became notorious for the frequency, arbitrariness and severity of its punishments. Nevertheless, the civilian courts handling the de-Nazification process merely classified them as “hangers-on.” In 1953, at least 72 percent of judges on the Federal Supreme Court, Germany’s highest court for criminal and civil law, had former Nazi connections. The number increased to 79 percent by 1956 and, in the criminal division, it was at 80 percent by 1962. . . .

When the British wiretapped a group of former Nazis surrounding Werner Naumann, the former deputy of Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels, they gained the impression that the ex-Nazis were infiltrating the FDP in North Rhine-Westphalia. On the night of Jan. 14, 1953, British military police officers surrounded the houses in the western and northern cities of Solingen, Düsseldorf and Hamburg where the Nazi conspirators were staying and arrested them. The next morning, the occupying power informed an astonished public that the Nazis had been pursuing “plans to regain power in West Germany.”

In retrospect, the threat was probably not as great as the British portrayed it, and the case against Naumann and his associates was dropped. But the episode illustrates how seriously the occupiers took the situation. . . .

Discussion

4 comments for “Nazis Shaping Postwar German Government? No Kidding!”

  1. all detailed in my books “Germany’s Four Reichs” 2002/3 and sequel “Germany’s FOURTH Reich” 2007/8 with accurate forecasts now coming true

    Posted by Harry Beckhough | May 23, 2012, 2:06 am
  2. @Harry Beckhough–

    Once again, it is deeply gratifying to see one of the heroes of Bletchley Park using this website and continuing the struggle against fascism.

    In a supplemental comment, perhaps you could provide interested readers/listeners with information about ordering your books.

    In addition, I, too, have been warning about this and predicting that the seeds sown in the latter stages of the war and during the postwar period would blossom anew.

    Those seeds are now sprouting. We must all be “constant gardeners,” pulling the weeds wherever we find them.

    Best,

    Dave Emory

    Posted by Dave Emory | May 23, 2012, 7:22 pm
  3. @Dave: Amen to that. I myself may end up buying some of Mr. Beckhough’s books. I’m sure they’ll be a fascinating read.

    Posted by Steven L. | May 24, 2012, 10:41 pm
  4. Well look at that, it turns out were way more Nazis in the post-war West German Justice Ministry that previously recognized according to a new study. Surprise:

    AFP/DPA/The Local

    Most of post-war justice ministry were Nazis: report

    A new study presented on Monday revealed that more than half of the leadership of the West German Justice Ministry were former members of the Nazi party, including dozens of former paramilitary SA members.

    Published: 10 Oct 2016 14:19 GMT+02:00
    Updated: 10 Oct 2016 14:19 GMT+02:00

    Between 1949 and 1973, 90 of the West German Justice Ministry’s 170 leading judges and lawyers were former members of the Nazi party, according to the government report.

    “There was very large continuity,” former Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger – who had commissioned the study while in office – told broadcaster Deutschlandfunk on Monday.

    Of those 90, 34 had been members of the Nazi party’s original paramilitary SA group, which helped Adolf Hitler rise to power and participated in the bloody Night of the Broken Glass (also known as Kristallnacht) that killed an estimated 91 Jewish people.

    In 1957 alone, 77 percent of senior ministry officials were former members of Hitler’s party, a higher proportion even than during the 1933-45 Third Reich, the study found.

    “We didn’t expect the figure to be this high,” said study co-author Christoph Safferling, who evaluated former ministry personnel files, speaking to the daily Süddeutsche Zeitung.

    The fascist old-boys network closed ranks, enabling its members to shield each other from justice, the study found – helping explain why so few Nazi war criminals ever went to prison.

    “The Nazi-era lawyers went on to cover up old injustice rather than to uncover it and thereby created new injustice,” said current German Justice Minister Heiko Maas, who presented the report on Monday.

    Lasting impact on modern era

    The report noted how the former Nazis’ actions while in the justice ministry still have an impact on the present day. Certain ideas from the Nazi era were carried over into post-war times, such as continued discrimination against groups that the Nazis had targeted, like gay and lesbian individuals.

    One justice ministry lawyer, for example, had contributed to crafting the Nazis’ racial laws, which forbade marriages and affairs between Jews and non-Jewish Germans. The same lawyer later held a leading position in family law under the post-war justice ministry.

    Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger said that part of the reason so many former Nazis had been given high-ranking positions in the justice ministry was that the very first post-war leaders needed experienced lawyers to set up the ministry.

    But at the same time this was surprising because both the first justice minister, Thomas Dehler, and his state secretary Walter Strauß had been persecuted by the Nazis: Dehler’s wife was Jewish and Strauß came from a Jewish family.

    Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger said that the process of coming to terms with the country’s Nazi past was “the responsibility of the entire ministry”, though above all of the minister and state secretary.

    The former justice minister also noted that the situation of the past could be related to current events.

    “When you look today at how the use of the concept of ‘national’ is developing among the public, I believe it clearly shows how urgently important it is to show the facts of what happens when people refer to race or bloodlines as special, distinguishing features, marginalizing other people.”

    A study last year by the Centre for Contemporary Historical Studies with the blessing of the Interior Ministry found that the post-war Interior Ministry was filled with mostly former Nazis.

    It wasn’t until the 1960s that people started losing their jobs due to their Nazi pasts, a researcher of the interior ministry report told The Local at the time of its release.

    Collective amnesia

    Monday’s report casts new light on the early post-war era’s collective amnesia about Nazi crimes in then West Germany.

    Germans were then focused on rebuilding a country in ruins, and many remained in denial about past crimes, dismissing the 1945-49 Nuremberg trials as “victor’s justice”.

    The western allies occupying the country – the United States, Britain and France – were focused on what they saw as the new Cold War threat of Soviet Russia, which controlled communist East Germany.

    As a result of these and other factors, allied and later West German courts only convicted around 6,650 ex-Nazis, a tiny fraction of the party membership.

    Few of these served long jail terms because judges required a high burden of proof, including evidence a defendant had acted on their own initiative or with unusual cruelty. Most suspects were regarded as accomplices and thus received lighter sentences.

    A fundamental change only came after most war criminals were dead, with the case of Ukrainian-American John Demjanjuk, a former death camp guard who had become an auto plant worker in Ohio.

    In 2011 a German court convicted him not for crimes he could be linked to personally, but on the basis that he had served as a cog in the vast Nazi killing machine, at the Sobibor camp in occupied Poland.

    “The report noted how the former Nazis’ actions while in the justice ministry still have an impact on the present day. Certain ideas from the Nazi era were carried over into post-war times, such as continued discrimination against groups that the Nazis had targeted, like gay and lesbian individuals.”

    Yep, leaving Nazis in positions of power in the Justice Ministry didn’t just lead to the protection of powerful Nazis. It also meant Nazis were going to be interpreting and implement laws and government policies. It’s a reminder that while a full “de-Nazification” of West Germany wouldn’t have really been feasible given how huge a percentage of the German populace that were part of the party (like the de-Ba’athification of Iraq that ended up completely alienation a huge swathe of the populace), there’s still a big difference between allowing some low-level ex-Nazis into the post-war government, those not found to be guilty of heinous crimes, vs stacking the Justice Ministry with them during the post-war investigation period in part so you can stack the other ministries with key Nazi figures. It’s a pretty big difference.

    So that’s something new we learned about the post-war West German Justice Department: there were even more Nazis than the cynics suspected. And given the role the Justice Ministry would have in determining who would be allowed to work in other government agencies, it’s going to be interesting to see how many Nazis ended up in other agencies upon further review. And we might find out soon, since those reviews of other ministries are scheduled to happen:

    The Financial Times

    Postwar West German ministry ‘burdened’ by ex-Nazis, study says

    Up to 76% in justice department from 1949-73 had been in party

    yesterday

    by: Stefan Wagstyl in Berlin

    Up to 76 per cent of officials in the post-1945 West German justice ministry were former Nazis, according to an official history published on Monday that highlights how party members protected each other long after the second world war.

    The surprisingly high figure, much bigger than the researchers had expected, could shed new light on democratic postwar West Germany’s evolution after Adolf Hitler’s demise.

    The authors said that the justice ministry, which plays a key role in the government in administering the law, was probably more “burdened” by ex-Nazis than any other ministry.

    The history, entitled The Rosenburg Files, after Rosenburg castle in Bonn where the ministry was located, was written by Professor Christoph Safferling and Professor Manfred Görtemaker on behalf of an independent commission created by the justice ministry.

    The study examined the files of 170 senior and mid-level officials employed at the ministry from 1949-73 who were at least 18 years old in 1945. Of these, fully 53 per cent were Nazi party members. At the peak, in 1957, 76 per cent were ex-Nazis.

    Prominent among them was Franz Massfeller, a Nazi-era official who participated in follow-up meetings to the Wannsee Conference, where the extermination of Jews was planned. He worked at the ministry until 1960. Another top official, who served until 1969, was Eduard Dreher, a Nazi-era prosecutor who sought numerous death penalties for petty offences.

    The justice ministry history follows a groundbreaking 2010 study of the foreign ministry, which argued that German diplomats had been far more closely implicated in Nazi policies than they had admitted in the immediate post-1945 years.

    Reports into ex-Nazis in the ministries of the interior, finance, and social affairs are in train.

    But the work remains sensitive. Research into the chancellery, while long mooted, has yet to begin, although it is well-known in Germany that Hans Globke, the long-serving chief of staff to Konrad Adenauer, postwar West Germany’s first chancellor, had in the 1930s helped devise the anti-Semitic Nuremberg Laws.

    Prof Safferling, a co-author of the interior ministry study, said that such research had been long delayed by the ex-Nazi generation, and later by some of their immediate successors, acting out of personal loyalty: “They didn’t want the past to come out. They knew the finger would be pointed at them.”

    Meanwhile, after 1990 the government was busy for years with German reunification.

    Prof Safferling concedes that in the immediate postwar years, it was hard to find experienced bureaucrats who were not tainted by the Nazi past. Adenauer himself said of Globke: “You don’t throw out the dirty water if you don’t have any that’s clean.”

    However, Prof Safferling says that the justice ministry, which started with only 67 permanent employees in 1949, could have tried harder. “They could not find more [non-Nazi] lawyers in the whole of West Germany? I don’t believe it. The former Nazis, they helped each other.”

    “The authors said that the justice ministry, which plays a key role in the government in administering the law, was probably more “burdened” by ex-Nazis than any other ministry.”

    Well, let’s hope it was the case the justice ministry was the most “burdened” by Nazis. But it’s hard to say at this point since similar reviews of other ministries are yet to come:


    “Reports into ex-Nazis in the ministries of the interior, finance, and social affairs are in train.”

    But the work remains sensitive. Research into the chancellery, while long mooted, has yet to begin, although it is well-known in Germany that Hans Globke, the long-serving chief of staff to Konrad Adenauer, postwar West Germany’s first chancellor, had in the 1930s helped devise the anti-Semitic Nuremberg Laws.

    Prof Safferling, a co-author of the interior ministry study, said that such research had been long delayed by the ex-Nazi generation, and later by some of their immediate successors, acting out of personal loyalty: “They didn’t want the past to come out. They knew the finger would be pointed at them.”

    Well, better late than never. And hopefully not too late.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 11, 2016, 2:23 pm

Post a comment