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C.I.A. Knew Where Eichmann Was Hiding, Documents Show


WASHINGTON, June 6 — The Cen­tral Intel­li­gence Agency took no action after learn­ing the pseu­do­nym and where­abouts of the fugi­tive Holo­caust admin­is­tra­tor Adolf Eich­mann in 1958, accord­ing to C.I.A. doc­u­ments released Tues­day that shed new light on the spy agen­cy’s use of for­mer Nazis as infor­mants after World War II.

The C.I.A. was told by West Ger­man intel­li­gence that Eich­mann was liv­ing in Argenti­na under the name Clemens — a slight vari­a­tion on his actu­al alias, Ricar­do Kle­ment — but did not share the infor­ma­tion with Israel, which had been hunt­ing for him for years, accord­ing to Tim­o­thy Naf­tali, a his­to­ri­an who exam­ined the doc­u­ments. Two years lat­er, Israeli agents abduct­ed Eich­mann in Argenti­na and flew him to Israel, where he was tried and exe­cut­ed in 1962.

The Eich­mann papers are among 27,000 new­ly declas­si­fied pages released by the C.I.A. to the Nation­al Archives under Con­gres­sion­al pres­sure to make pub­lic files about for­mer offi­cials of Hitler’s regime lat­er used as Amer­i­can agents. The mate­r­i­al rein­forces the view that most for­mer Nazis gave Amer­i­can intel­li­gence lit­tle of val­ue and in some cas­es proved to be dam­ag­ing dou­ble agents for the Sovi­et K.G.B., accord­ing to his­to­ri­ans and mem­bers of the gov­ern­ment pan­el that has worked to open the long-secret files.

Eliz­a­beth Holtz­man, a for­mer con­gress­woman from New York and mem­ber of the pan­el, the Nazi War Crimes and Japan­ese Impe­r­i­al Gov­ern­ment Records Inter­a­gency Work­ing Group, said the doc­u­ments showed that the C.I.A “failed to lift a fin­ger” to hunt Eich­mann and “force us to con­front not only the moral harm but the prac­ti­cal harm” of rely­ing on intel­li­gence from ex-Nazis.

The Unit­ed States gov­ern­ment, pre­oc­cu­pied with the cold war, had no pol­i­cy at the time of pur­su­ing Nazi war crim­i­nals. The records also show that Amer­i­can intel­li­gence offi­cials pro­tect­ed many for­mer Nazis for their per­ceived val­ue in com­bat­ing the Sovi­et threat.

But Ms. Holtz­man, speak­ing at a news brief­ing at the Nation­al Archives on Tues­day, said infor­ma­tion from the for­mer Nazis was often taint­ed both by their “per­son­al agen­das” and their vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty to black­mail. “Using bad peo­ple can have very bad con­se­quences,” Ms. Holtz­man said. She and oth­er group mem­bers sug­gest­ed that the find­ings should be a cau­tion­ary tale for intel­li­gence agen­cies today.

As head of the Gestapo’s Jew­ish affairs office dur­ing the war, Eich­mann put into effect the pol­i­cy of exter­mi­na­tion of Euro­pean Jew­ry, pro­mot­ing the use of gas cham­bers and hav­ing a hand in the mur­der of mil­lions of Jews. Cap­tured by the Unit­ed States Army at the end of the war, he gave a false name and went unrec­og­nized, hid­ing in Ger­many and Italy before flee­ing to Argenti­na in 1950.

Israeli agents hunt­ing for Eich­mann came to sus­pect that he was in Argenti­na but did not know his alias. They tem­porar­i­ly aban­doned their search around the time, in March 1958, that West Ger­man intel­li­gence told the C.I.A. that Eich­mann had been liv­ing in Argenti­na as Clemens, said Mr. Naf­tali, of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Vir­ginia.

The West Ger­man gov­ern­ment was wary of expos­ing Eich­mann because offi­cials feared what he might reveal about such fig­ures as Hans Globke, a for­mer Nazi gov­ern­ment offi­cial then serv­ing as a top nation­al secu­ri­ty advis­er to Chan­cel­lor Kon­rad Ade­nauer, Mr. Naf­tali said.

In 1960, also at the request of West Ger­many, the C.I.A. per­suad­ed Life mag­a­zine, which had pur­chased Eich­man­n’s mem­oir from his fam­i­ly, to delete a ref­er­ence to Mr. Globke before pub­li­ca­tion, the doc­u­ments show.

Iron­i­cal­ly, in view of the infor­ma­tion the C.I.A. received in 1958, doc­u­ments pre­vi­ous­ly released by the C.I.A. showed that it was sur­prised in May 1960 when the Israelis cap­tured Eich­mann. Cables from the time show that Allen Dulles, the C.I.A. direc­tor, demand­ed that offi­cers find out more about the cap­ture.

Since Con­gress passed the Nazi War Crimes Dis­clo­sure Act in 1998, the Inter­a­gency Work­ing Group has worked to declas­si­fy more than eight mil­lion pages of doc­u­ments.

Nor­man J. W. Goda, an Ohio Uni­ver­si­ty his­to­ri­an who reviewed the C.I.A. mate­r­i­al, said it showed in greater detail than pre­vi­ous­ly known how the K.G.B. aggres­sive­ly recruit­ed for­mer Nazi intel­li­gence offi­cers after the war. In par­tic­u­lar, he said, the doc­u­ments fill in the sto­ry of the “cat­a­stroph­ic” Sovi­et pen­e­tra­tion of the Gehlen Orga­ni­za­tion, the post­war West Ger­man intel­li­gence ser­vice spon­sored by the Unit­ed States Army and then the C.I.A.

Mr. Goda described the case of Heinz Felfe, a for­mer SS offi­cer who was bit­ter over the Allied fire­bomb­ing of his native city, Dres­den, and secret­ly worked for the K.G.B. Mr. Felfe rose in the Gehlen Orga­ni­za­tion to over­see coun­ter­in­tel­li­gence, a Sovi­et agent placed in charge of com­bat­ing Sovi­et espi­onage.

The C.I.A. shared much sen­si­tive infor­ma­tion with Mr. Felfe, Mr. Goda found. A new­ly released 1963 C.I.A. dam­age assess­ment, writ­ten after Mr. Felfe was arrest­ed as a Sovi­et agent in 1961, found that he had exposed “over 100 C.I.A. staffers” and caused many eaves­drop­ping oper­a­tions to end with “com­plete fail­ure or a worth­less prod­uct.”

The doc­u­ments also pro­vide new infor­ma­tion about the case of Tscher­im Soob­zokov, a for­mer SS offi­cer who was the sub­ject of a much-pub­li­cized depor­ta­tion case in 1979 when he was liv­ing as an Amer­i­can cit­i­zen in Pater­son, N.J. He was charged with hav­ing fal­si­fied his immi­gra­tion appli­ca­tion to con­ceal his SS ser­vice, which ordi­nar­i­ly would have barred his entry. But the charge was dropped when a C.I.A. doc­u­ment turned up show­ing that he had dis­closed his SS mem­ber­ship.

The new­ly declas­si­fied records show that he was employed by the C.I.A. from 1952 to 1959 despite “clear evi­dence of a war crimes record,” said anoth­er his­to­ri­an at the brief­ing, Richard Bre­it­man of Amer­i­can Uni­ver­si­ty.

Because it val­ued Mr. Soob­zokov for his lan­guage skills and ties to fel­low eth­nic Cir­cas­sians liv­ing in the Sovi­et Union, the C.I.A. delib­er­ate­ly hid details of his Nazi record from the Immi­gra­tion and Nat­u­ral­iza­tion Ser­vice after he moved to the Unit­ed States in 1955, Mr. Bre­it­man said.

But Mr. Soob­zokov ulti­mate­ly did not escape his past. He died in 1985 after a pipe bomb explod­ed out­side his house. The case has nev­er been solved.


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