Words Unspoken


HELP ENLIGHTEN YOUR FELLOWS. BE SURE TO PASS THIS ON. SURVIVAL DEPENDS ON IT.

By Gaither Stewart

THE POWER OF LOVE


Since his return home from the war Helmut had never felt emotions of normal human warmth. The atmosphere in the maddened postwar years was chaotic. Life back in the homeland was different than he had expected. He knew that he too was different. The peace of which the politicians spoke didn’t regard returning soldiers like him. He was just a war-shattered, sex-hungry returnee from the East where among the young men inhabiting the cellars of the German-occupied part of Stalingrad cold and rats had reigned.

CIA collaborator Richard Gehlen. The US quickly (and warmly) embraced many Nazis, proving that class ties always override momentary squabbles between “friends”.

At the same time, the shortage of men in the homeland had created a likewise painful situation for German women. The women were alone and lonely. Each harbored love to share. And no men to whom to give it. The men were all away on the front somewhere. And few were the men who returned home whole. Human relations were convoluted.

Things in general had gone haywire in Central Europe. War costs everyone. War ravaged the homeland as it did all of Europe. The whole continent was in shambles. The distinct stench of charred wood and crushed stone of the bombed out cities, ubiquitous and omnipresent, permeated the life of people and existence. Permanent total war had its particular smells. Those smells would never be extinguished. Nonetheless, in the postwar life in the cellars of the demolished cities of the homeland the unbounded urge for promiscuity infected men and women alike … and flowered concomitant with the flowing beer and Schnapps.

In Stalingrad, Helmut had lived in dank dark and cold cellars together with other cold men … and together with the rats smelling their blood. Rats, huge and dirty. Rats crawling over him in the night.

Back home in the postwar lived life bloomed in the cellars too. Like in the East the above ground was destroyed. Time and again, full of drink and lust for life, he and one or the other of the lonely women fell into the grass behind the Leopoldgastätte. Into the wild grass. One into the other. Life hungry men and women without names reunited.

Me, who walked back from the East Front! I made it back. I got back whole. A whole man. I walked across Munich’s Viktualienmarkt and Marienplatz today and felt on display. I was in demand. Had all the men fallen?

Lonely women and scarce men had created a volatile situation of rapture. The unleashed rapture lasted five years. Short years. Eternal years, it came to seem. The rapture would never end I thought then.

Then Ute came into my life. From the start I loved her name. Ute [pronounced oo-tay]. A meaningful name. Of constancy, intransigence and perseverance. Qualities not in great demand in that period of irrepressible frenzy for life, a time when personal willfulness seemed truant. Like the military sniper in Stalingrad says before he pulls the trigger: It’s nothing personal. I learned what that meant. Ute put an end to that impersonal life. She was the new German woman.

Grünwaldgrad, I called this district of Munich! Again I entered the Alter Wirt for a beer. She was sitting at the table just opposite. We looked at each other. Waves of magic and currents tinged with sensuality passed from one to the other. Her short dark hair, the smoothness of her face untouched by make-up. I knew she was different in every way. She was alone. But, I knew too, every aloneness is similar in its loneliness. In a Stalingrad cellar, a Munich basement club, or in the Alter Wirt beer hall. That beautiful woman knows aloneness, I thought.

It is Saturday afternoon in a late Munich summer. My day off. I carry two beers to her table. She smiles. Few words are spoken. Unnecessary words remain unsaid. I suggest a walk along the Isar. Munich summers are so short. We should take advantage of it. Ute instead wants to go to Schwabing. We drink. Zum wohl! And off to downtown we go.

Marienplatz is in Trümmerhaufen. The tram ride through the ruins and rubble of a once great city is a study of the cost of war. Frauenkirche, our Notre Dame, a shell hanging over it all. Main street leading to the Stachus is a walkway cleared of rubble. Lined by gutted churches, ghastly ghostly shells. The Hofgarten is just a façade, the silhouette of the half dome of the former Army Museum jutting up in the mist behind it. The Siegestor—the Victory Gate—is sagging in defeat.

The empty shells of the ‘Thousand Year Reich!’ We used to joke about it in the cellars of Stalingrad. A thousand years and never again a thousand, someone quoted Nostradamus. After the first winter in Russia the soldiers felt the end. When we didn’t break through on the Moscow and Leningrad fronts, German soldiers perceived their defeat. Russians felt it too. Maybe the Russians always knew it. It was just a matter of time and the Russian winter.

The tram stops right in front of my favorite Leopoldgastätte. A survivor, a relic of the past, like me. Gott sei Dank. Beer and Steinhäger. Zum wohl! Chugalug. Ute hardly blinks. We sit at my usual table near a big window facing Leopoldstrasse. I hate and fear the shadows recalling the dark cellars.

She tells me about her home. The swinging swaying overhead suspension railway—the Schwebebahn—runs up the Wupper Valley toward Düsseldorf, flying over the ruins of the industrial Ruhr. An air-train hailed as the transport system of the future … until the day they transported a smallish elephant in it. It fell into the River Wupper … and the Schwebebahn remained like a Futurist Installation.

I tell her about Stalingrad cellars and how they flew me out with the last transport from the encircled Sixth Army. General Paulus and 240,000 soldiers stayed fighting to nearly the last. Then they surrendered. But I broke through. Like a Galapagos turtle, I made it through and back to German lines.”

“Why you? And not other baby turtles? Chance?”

“Military intelligence was my job. The Abwehr. Too valuable to leave me there for certain captivity. After making me talk the Russians would shoot me like they did the SS men who’d tortured and killed their people. Problem was I didn’t know anything of interest to reveal. That would make the torture worse.”

“Now you’re here … a hero. You made it back.”

“I’m not even a defeated hero. I walked to the West, Ute. Go west, young soldier, I told myself. But I stopped on the Elbe. And with what remained of our armies—with the old men and the boys—I fell back. And back and back. Until it was over. I made it through to the Americans. Got through again. They sent us POWs to America. Picked beans in North Carolina until they sent me back home. Back to München. I’ve always been lucky. Nearly always.”

“It kills me how you always made it through. Turtle man! And now? Why in Grünwald?”

“Got a job across the river. Electrical company!”

“Pullach, eh? The spy nest. Gehlen! Everybody there knows that. Or they know and don’t know. Ah, those spies! Late for spies now, no?”

“Never too late for spies, is it?”

“I read a film résumé that would interest you. The Gehlen Org story. Someone killed it while the two pages still lay on my desk. So it’s top secret, eh? There one day, gone the next.”

“Top secret! Gehlen Org is another Ami plot!”

I order more beer and Steinhäger. The Fräulein waitress smiles at us, lovingly. It was always in the air at the Leopoldgastätte. Sex … and echoes of loves we once knew.

Ute Friedrich was a light-haired Rheinländerin, from the Rheinland, of 26 years. Were she a man, she would be a Prussian pig for Bavarians. But since she was a beautiful woman she was instead an Ausländerin, a foreigner. She said she felt neither. Her family had been well-to-do before the war. Property holdings in the Wupper Valley and interests in Düsseldorf. Not super rich but well-off. When her father didn’t return from the war, her mother gradually sold off property so that their life style remained about the same, providing Ute with a Schwabing apartment while studying Germanistic at Munich University. Now she lived in München-Pullach, had a three-year old daughter and was a screen writer at Bavarian Film Studio in Grünwald-Geiselgasteig.

“Helmut, Gehlen and Pullach seem to link us.”

“Link us? Does Pullach have something to do with it? Pullach is just a place?”

“Silly! Of the link we both feel … one to the other.”

“How are we linked, Ute? You have your life. You, a well-to-do career woman from the Rheinland, a film writer. And me, a Sudeten German from the cellars of Stalingrad. Are we linked? By Gehlen and Pullach, you suggest.”

“Cynic! I meant the war. Gehlen and evil and the war. And Stalingrad cellars. All that made you different. You don’t get out of such things unscathed.”

“Unscathed! Most certainly not. But Gehlen’s not the point.”

Careful, Helmut Hartmann, I warn myself. Links are links, so don’t ruin this before it even gets started because of my proclivity to pardon Gehlen personally because he too had betrayed the Nazis who had destroyed a generation. Several generations … only to make even greater concessions to his own egomaniacal opportunism and maybe to a greater evil in his remorseless urge for power. Ute knows the truth. She knows that Major General Gehlen sold out everything to the Americans. Although the transformation from sanity to madness of our generation had been swift, the change back to sanity is an endless process. Civilian life is not easy either.

“You know what I mean! An all-important what. Gehlen and Pullach mean cynicism. And furthermore it can make you incapable of love. Real love. We forgive too much in our times, don’t you think, Helmut? We forgive the Nazis. We the German people forgive ourselves.”

“Ute! Please. Ich bitte dich.”

I perceive the forlorn tone in my own voice. The despair that she could be right even though we both seem to feel enjoined to follow our instincts to let ourselves be enveloped in the succor of … of nascent love. So for a while we sit quietly. We sip our now stale beers, awkward and in uneasy indecisiveness, and casting surreptitious glances one at the other as if real love in these postwar-torn times were something unprecedented. Or something undeserved.

On the tram back to Grünwald she tells me about her past relationship with another student at the university. An American! By chance, an Ami. She was pregnant at twenty. He never knew. He left her life and never knew his daughter. And now we are speaking of love. Yes, I was thinking of the love so lacking in my life. Signs of our times. After the mayhem, now everybody is subconsciously looking for love. One of the few real life values left. It seems to us the only way back to normality … to normality after the brief glories of victorious occupation of Europe to our cellar lives of impending defeat under the ponderous buildings of Stalingrad in the East … and the eternity in the cellars of our newly destroyed world. The normality that seemed unobtainable after a life imagined by madmen, a life built on unjustified illusions, then dismantled on the tremors of ravaged hopes … and which for many terminated in their irremediable death wishes.

But Ute knew the answers. She had never forgotten love and selflessness and the power to transcend tragedy.

Back again in the Alter Wirt in Grünwald. Coffee and Weinbrand on the table. An east wind has come up outside. Cold is coming. My cigarette lighter flicks a nervous flame. It always works. Thirty times in a row. It could do a hundred times straight. In the cold cellars of Russia we competed. Winner takes all. My Zippo always won. Won what? A slice of horse meat at the most … or maybe rat meat.

“How did you get into all that?”

“All that what? You keep saying that.”

“Gehlen’s Intelligence unit. Stalingrad. The turtle that got through?”

“I was Sudetendeutsch in Czechoslovakia until they resettled many of us in Germany. So many of us here that we called it Münchenbad … after your Karlsbad. I always knew the spa by its Czech name.”

I thought: ‘Maybe it saved me too … to meet Ute Friedrich.’ I digressed to the spa just to postpone love talk and to try to say something sensible to a normal German woman. Karlsbad or Karlovy Var, as if that name were something to clutch at and cling to for a generation that went wrong.

I say: “I called it Karlovy Var as I learned it in elementary school in then Czechoslovakia. So did my mother. But for my fanatical father it was always the German, Karlsbad.”

“For mine, too”, Ute says, again looking at her watch. “Their generation! We went there summers but I hardly remember it. Mother said he just had to take the waters once a year. Always in good health too … yet he never came back from Russia. I think I was six the last time we saw Karlsbad … Karlovy Var.”

“You sound like me today, interviewing the returning POWs from Russia … who think they’re being interrogated. That’s my job … talking about the East. For the Amis, I know that. And espionage. Sometimes finding Russian deserters to send back to Russia as spies.”

“Should you be telling me all these things … must be top secret?”

“Oh, it is. I assure you. Top top secret. But talking about it makes me feel free—and generous—just to say it out loud. Back then, back before the real war in the East began—peace pact with Russia or not—our invasion of Russia was around the corner. Everybody knew it. Russian speakers were needed. So since I already spoke Czech they sent me to a top secret language school in Oberammergau for Russian studies. A whole year. I spoke like a Russian. So Gehlen and the Amis want me so I …”

“Helmut! Please stop! You have to stop … for now. My daughter. A babysitter. It’s late. I have to go home. To Pullach.”

“I’ll drive you.”

“No, no, I have my car. Uh, tomorrow, if you like. Here?”

“Why not where I live? The Schloss Hotel. Just around the corner from here. Great view of the Isar Valley. Good restaurant. Tomorrow is strawberry day. Strawberries and whipped cream!” Can’t imagine I’m even saying such things. Back then we lived in mud and ice and ate rats in the ghoulish cellars of Stalingrad. A realm apart from the rest … a befouled battleground that was our residence during the day. At night a kingdom belonging to the black rats and now it’s bizarre that in the Schloss Hotel I request the smaller berries, tastier and tenderer than the big enticing ones. And I want my shirts ironed just so. Man is truly schizophrenic … and can get used to anything … for survival.

THE POWER OF WAR

I, Helmut W. Hartmann, Sudenten Deutsche, WWII Abwehr in the East, flown out of Stalingrad in January 1943 and now an agent in top secret Gehlen Org, recognize the two real societies of this post-war Germany: on the one hand, the overwhelming majority of the defeated and only partially repentant society, and on the other the occupiers, the Amis—not the French plural of friend—but the derogatory Amis-Americans. For we of the Gehlen Org know who really won the war: the Russians won the war. Not the Americans. The Amis occupied us but the Russkies defeated us.

But in me something new churns and takes form. Ute’s presence in my life has pointed out a new life direction. A new path. Something I’ve never before perceived. Never imagined. A feeling of potential fulfillment. Of totality. An almost unbearable sensation. After the everlastingly hopeless cold of Stalingrad’s cellars, I had never had an idea, not even the presentiment of the existence of such a feeling. Survival had seemed my one and only goal in life. Arrival in Munich as a resettled German from former Czechoslovakia: survival. War: survival. Rat-filled Stalingrad cellars: survival. Survival at all costs.

During the next nights we woke, heads together on the same pillow, mouths close, her breath, my breath. Moments when barely the shadow of memories remain, the fleeting perception of the suspicion of something of the past, a vague remembrance of cold and rats flashing across my mind before dissolving again into her breath. I had always affirmed to my comrades that something of our pasts—of our collective pasts—resists seclusion and solitude. That something always remains. And now, some mornings, on the balcony looking out over the Isar Valley toward Pullach, she sang, deep, guttural, no hint of melody, drunk on love and hopeful sleep deprivation and we never thought of sleep. No wasted time for us, yet we both believed we had an eternity ahead. And on our pillow I hadn’t seen ghosts or black cellar rats. Ute’s breath held them at bay.

Over breakfast she asked about Gehlen. Hesitantly, she asked. No secrets from you, I reassured her, in one sentence purposefully breaking all the rules of my profession.

“What kind of a man is he?”

“Mysterious,” I began, “but like a child. Or maybe a rat. Secretive by nature. Cynical. Believes in nothing but Reinhard Gehlen. At first his Foreign Armies of the East Intelligence, German Wehrmacht Intelligence in the East, of which I was part—tried to report the real truth to the Führer. But he didn’t want negative truth. Unfazed, Major General Gehlen began working for himself. Mentally he began preparing to change sides. Was he a Nazi? I suppose he was. But already in 1942-43—like many top staff officers—he knew Germany had lost the war. Just a matter of time, he and the others believed.”

“How did he know?”

“Ute, after the first winter, we all knew. Germany wasn’t ready for Russia. Germany would never be ready. We didn’t even have the right clothing. How could we beat the cold? The Russians just fell back … and waited. And they died for their land. Oh, how they died. By the millions. Civilians too. The SS men just killed anyone or everyone behind our lines. Did you hear about Zoya? No, of course not. How could you? A heroine in the Soviet Union. At eighteen she was a partisan behind our lines. When the SS hanged her, she said: ‘There are two hundred million of us. You can’t hang us all. They will avenge me. Stalin is with us. Stalin will come.’ And even the SS knew they couldn’t hang them all. You can’t defeat people like that … and the cold too.”

“We had a few people like her right here in Munich. Sophie Scholl. Guillotined her! Not far from here.”

“Good … but not the same thing. Komisch, Strange, whatever we Germans speak of, we always come back to such stories. Sometimes I wonder why and how I got through and survived. And all in one piece. Oh, Ute, stay close to me.”

Ute smiled her crooked smile that was becoming familiar. Her unique unbounded and incomprehensible smile. One corner of her upper lip raised slightly higher than the other. And then the flick of the tip of her rose-colored tongue . The things Ute does! But how I love that tongue flick.

“Anyway Gehlen began collecting data, saving maps, stashing away the true information about Eastern realities. At war’s end, probably even earlier, he found his new sponsor: the United States. By 1946, his Gehlen Organization, Gehlen Org, was set up in Pullach, across the Isar River from where we’re sitting now and where you live. It’s staffed by Nazis and infiltrators from the CIA who are more Nazi than the Nazis themselves.”

“Helmut, you are in the wrong profession.”

“Profession? It’s a job. I was never a Nazi. I got into Gehlen’s intelligence service thinking I was serving my country … well, sort of my country. At least my people. But I never learned anything else. Only war! That’s what my generation knows. War and more war. War and survival. We didn’t learn other things … Real life things.”

“You definitely are in the wrong job.”

“I know you’re right but I’ve never known anything else. Still, I’ve got to get out of here.”

“Good idea! That’s something to talk about.”

“Talk? They hear me talking like this, I’d not only be out of a job, but really … really out of everything. Did you know?—I mean, how could you know in your film studio dedicated to what’s fictitious, how could you know of a hit list of two hundred people right here in West Germany to be eliminated? Easy to get on that list. Deserters are the first. They kick me out of there, Ute, I might as well go back to Russia. You don’t just resign and leave them. You don’t get fired with a separation settlement. Very powerful people down there in our Pullach. Very evil people. And they made the CIA … as much as the CIA made the Gehlen Org! Violence is doubly terrifying when it’s in your own house. You become a prisoner in the prison you helped build. They emasculate you. They unman you. ”

“Can you write, Helmut?”

“Write what? Situation reports? Russian troop displacements? Reserve strength? Troop morale in the Russian Third Infantry Division in Stalingrad? Leadership of Russia’s Tenth Army? Oh, yes. Maybe even dispatches from the Eastern front. But write? Screen scripts? No way.”

“Journalism, I mean. War stories. The cellars of Stalingrad. Eating rats. You have so much to say. Life experiences. Your stories make my scripts banal. Insipid and puerile. And all without that suffocating atmosphere of hyperbole we use there in Geiselgasteig.”

“How? Where? And you don’t even believe it’s impossible to leave Pullach?”

“I believe you can. Leave, I mean. Others do. Even CIA agents leave and then write books. You can too. I’ve read about them.”

I don’t answer. But I know the rules. In peacetime I had just continued along the same old fucking rat-infested trajectory. Now, love flowers and changes everything. And so, the weeds must die, I think poetically.

“I will introduce you to an old friend at the Münchener Anzeiger. Then we’ll see. You have a life story to tell. Fiction too, if you like, based on your horrible life experiences. That kind of thing. For that you need magazines. I know a few. You might even go to Russia yourself instead of sending others … see what’s happening there now ten years later.”

“Nasty, Ute! Nasty,” I respond, for a moment my voice quivering. With … with what? Indignation? Hopefully not pride. “But you’re right and I’m wrong.”

“Welcome to a new world, Helmut. The real world.”

“Now I hope to get fired …and not unceremoniously assassinated.”

For all the wrong reasons I had thought there was nothing to be undone in me. Ute and love undid me in no time. A few words demolished me. Was I not a man of one piece? Of a morally rigid rectitude? I had few expressible convictions but admittedly an unspoken acceptance of things as they stood. There must have been in me a terror of the unforeseen disaster of Germany, a history which time could still turn around. Yet, before Stalingrad I hadn’t even perceived the dwindling sense of sublimity that our real history had always promised.

HANNICHKA

The first time I saw three-year old Hannah, I called her Hannichka. She laughed. So for me she has always been Hannichka. But I couldn’t see Hannichka when and as I wanted. She and Ute had to remain secret. I wasn’t sure why I felt that way but I knew if our relationship were public Ute would be investigated; mysterious people would question her neighbors and inquire about her at the film studio. I wanted none of that for her. No, Ute must remain secret. So I couldn’t just drop in after work—when there was an after-work. No, I had to drive my service car to Grünwald first. Park. Enter the Schloss Hotel. Have a drink. Wait a while until I knew the watchers were satisfied. Then change cars. In the hotel garage I have an old Opel. And then I could drive back to Pullach. What kind of life is that? Inconsolable thought. Caught between the anvil and the hammer. The flimsy glories of the plane tree-lined streets of my past were false images. Confining and dangerous to stay in Gehlen Org; suicide to leave. Escape was a chimeric hope to clutch at. For what was I except an old agent from the East, potentially, perhaps inherently a danger to the new masters.

On Sunday Hannichka and I left her mother breakfasting on the Schloss Hotel balcony and set out by tram for downtown. Destination Blumenstrasse and the Marionettentheater. As the Strassenbahn winds its way along rubble-lined streets, with, I knew, a kind of parallel life going on in the cellars, Hannichka frowns and comments on the fallen down houses. Destroyed cities strike children, while I think thank God she wasn’t under one of them. Good she didn’t see it all earlier. By now they’ve transported much of the detritus of former Munich to a still growing hill on the old city airport of Oberwiesenfeld from which you get a sweeping few of the razed city. On the street she holds my hand. Handwritten words on walls read Down With Hitler- Nieder mit Hitler. Church bells everywhere. Catholic Bavarians! The first thing they did after the bombs stopped falling was repair the church bells. Hannichka pulls my hand and looks up at me: “Glocken! Schöne Glocken.” I’m not Catholic. I’m not anything but I love the Glocken … at a distance when they’re soft and inviting. Not overhead, where they sound like artillery overhead about to strike.

“We’ll tell Mami about the pretty bells,” she reminds me.

At Sendlingertorplatz a legless old man is sitting on a board. Hanging on his chest is a placard with the message:

Forget the color white

Choose red

The color of love

When I put two marks in the wooden plate, Hannichka asks what I bought. Liebe, I say. Love. She looks at me funny and holds my hand tight. A cool wind has come up. Rain is on the way.

Fischer, Seine Frau is playing in the puppet theater. The miniature opera house is packed with kids. The fisherman’s wife wants it all: Mayorship, Presidency, Papacy.

“Oh,” goes Hannichka when the witch flies across the boards to the far side of the stage to berate the fisherman. “Ist sie gemein?”

Mean? “I think so, yes,” I say hesitantly. “Maybe a little cuckoo, too.”

Hannichka looks me in the eyes seriously, nods, then smiles and taps her temple with a forefinger.

All the kids are yelling comments to the puppets moving so lightly, barely touching the boards. Pure grace personified. Speaking mostly Bavarian dialect. Hannichka understands. She would yell too the next time.

Soon we would learn most of the repertoire. Kasperl and his adventures, Hänsel und Gretel, operas for children. Hannichka cries and laughs and claps and I hug her, and it’s like hugging Ute.

Hannichka and Kasperl and the Glockenspiel convince me that Ute is right. This is real life. The war is over. I’ve got to get out of it.

TEMPORARY RESOLUTION

“Ute, I have wartime friends in an Alpine village in Italy who still invite me there to the hidden valley called the Valtellina. They were saved by Italian Communists interceding in Moscow on their behalf and repatriated in 1946. We can leave it all behind us. I have some hidden funds. You have enough. We can live well there. You can write. I can try to write. Hannichka will live a normal life.”

“Will you feel safe there? That is the question. For you, for me, for Hannah.”

“Yes, Ute. We will vanish, for now. Our Europe is huge. Its expanses. From Gibraltar to Greece, from Palermo to Berlin, from London to Sofia. The Alps and the Carpathians. The plains of Serbia, the steppes of Russia. The world’s greatest cities are in our Europe. DeGaulle’s Europe reaches to the Urals of Russia. Those unimaginable distances … most marking our continent that our leaders failed to delimit … Napoleon wanted to. Then Hitler. Put it all under one roof. It never worked. We will be concealed somewhere in the immensity.

“Yes, my love, but huge in comparison to what? For a script I’m working on I had to study world atlases. I found that Europe is small. Actually, Helmut, we’re not even a continent. It’s clear and visible. You just have to look.”

“Not a continent! Then what are we? What is the meaning of those words ‘on the Continent’? You think we won’t be safe down there, across the Alps … inside the Alps in the Valtellina?”

“Oh, yes, we will be safe and secure. For now. Today distances are still great. But tomorrow things will change. Wide highways and fast trains and cheap airplanes will change everything. And other Napoleons and other Hitlers and DeGaulles will come along and try to get us all under one tent. They’re already talking about a union. Borders eliminated. One currency. Then you’ll see how tiny this tip of the Euro-Asian peninsula called Europe really is. And Helmut, who really cares about us Europeans? Oh, we’re quaint, all our incomprehensible languages and folksy ways and the taint, just a breath of danger attached. Foreign tourists love this bunch of once rich and divided countries with no voice in the real world. You think the so-called Cold War has anything to do with Europe? Europe is just the battleground, as usual. Oh, yes, it’s a question of power, you know better than I. But not of Europe. This is a war zone. A war between the Amis and the Russkies.”

“Then no one will even think of us hidden away in those southern Alps.”

Post Scriptum by the author: Helmut still sees Europe the way it had always been and as he thought it was supposed to be. He had lived a life in which the mad visions of a few became the delusions of many, the illusions of the masses and the tragedy of a people. Such was also the foreign image of Old Europe, which in reality was even more corrupt and colonialist-imperialist with an irrepressible predilection for war. Yet, tourists loved it that way, just as did some of Europe’s own intellectuals as well as artists of the world who felt Europe was the only place to be. That variegated multi-ethnic semi-continent of Europe was a world. The so-called Iron Curtain that fell to mark the start of the Cold War after WWII only reinforced the continental image of this incomprehensible Europe, with an enticing ideological taint of danger attached.

PSS: The CIA , I believe, then named Reinhard Gehlen the first chief of the Intelligence Service of the U.S. occupied German Federal Republic of West Germany, the Bundesnachrichtendienst, BND, 1956-68. During the Cold War period he was always a loyal executor of U.S. policies. He died in 1979.


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This is a crosspost with Southern Cross Review (https://southerncrossreview.org/)


A P P E N D I X
Now for the nonfiction part

While on the topic…here’s a complete dossier on the CIA’s connection with the Nazis, which few US politicians or media figures, despite their vociferous pro-Jewish stance, care to mention (nor object to). The archive was released by the NSA and is aptly titled The CIA and Nazi War Criminals. Draw your own conclusions. The use of and collaboration with extremely unsavory types which just a few months or even days before were their enemies has been a cold-blooded practice of the American ruling orders, showing they only recognise class bonds, in this case the perennial defense of privileged plutocratic interests around the world. That’s why they had no problem recruiting German criminals to pit against “the commie threat.” They did exactly the same in Japan and Korea. In Korea the Americans quickly sought out and befriended the South Korean anti-communist cliques who had collaborated with the Japanese during the (Second Wolrd) War and proceeded to empower them. The whole process entailed an ugly bloodbath, in which many Korean patriots were brutally murdered with ample encouragement by Washington. —Eds.


The real inglorious basterds. Between 1942 and 1945 —Reinhard Gehlen (man in center) and staff of Wermacht’s Counter Intelligence Unit. Many of them joined the CIA postwar effort to sabotage and contain the Soviet Union.

The CIA and Nazi War Criminals

National Security Archive Posts Secret CIA History
Released Under Nazi War Crimes Disclosure Act

National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 146

Edited by Tamara Feinstein

February 4, 2005

Washington D.C., February 4, 2005 – Today the National Security Archive posted the CIA’s secret documentary history of the U.S government’s relationship with General Reinhard Gehlen, the German army’s intelligence chief for the Eastern Front during World War II. At the end of the war, Gehlen established a close relationship with the U.S. and successfully maintained his intelligence network (it ultimately became the West German BND) even though he employed numerous former Nazis and known war criminals. The use of Gehlen’s group, according to the CIA history, Forging an Intelligence Partnership: CIA and the Origins of the BND, 1945-49, was a “double edged sword” that “boosted the Warsaw Pact’s propaganda efforts” and “suffered devastating penetrations by the KGB.” [See Volume 1: Introduction, p. xxix]

The declassified “SECRET RelGER” two-volume history was compiled by CIA historian Kevin Ruffner and presented in 1999 by CIA Deputy Director for Operations Jack Downing to the German intelligence service (Bundesnachrichtendienst) in remembrance of “the new and close ties” formed during post-war Germany to mark the fiftieth year of CIA-West German cooperation. This history was declassified in 2002 as a result of the work of The Nazi War Crimes and Japanese Imperial Government Records Interagency Working Group (IWG) and contains 97 key documents from various agencies.

This posting comes in the wake of public grievances lodged by members of the IWG that the CIA has not fully complied with the mandate of the Nazi War Crimes Disclosure Act and is continuing to withhold hundreds of thousands of pages of documentation related to their work. (Note 1) In interviews with the New York Times, three public members of the IWG said:

  • “I think that the CIA has defied the law, and in so doing has also trivialized the Holocaust, thumbed its nose at the survivors of the Holocaust and also at the Americans who gave their lives in the effort to defeat the Nazis in World War II.” – Former congresswoman Elizabeth Holtzman
  • “I can only say that the posture the CIA has taken differs from all the other agencies that have been involved, and that’s not a position we can accept.” – Washington lawyer Richard Ben-Veniste
  • “Too much has been secret for too long. The CIA has not complied with the statute.” – Former federal prosecutor Thomas H. Baer

The IWG was established in January 11, 1999 and has overseen the declassification of about eight million pages of documents from multiple government agencies. Its mandate expires at the end of March 2005.

The documentation unearthed by the IWG reveals extensive relationships between former Nazi war criminals and American intelligence organizations, including the CIA. For example, current records show that at least five associates of the notorious Nazi Adolf Eichmann worked for the CIA, 23 other Nazis were approached by the CIA for recruitment, and at least 100 officers within the Gehlen organization were former SD or Gestapo officers. (Note 2)

The IWG enlisted the help of key academic scholars to consult during the declassification process, and these historians released their own interpretation of the declassified material last May (2004) in a publication called US Intelligence and the Nazis. The introduction to this book emphasizes the dilemma of using former Nazis as assets:

“The notion that they [CIA, Army Counterintelligence Corp, Gehlen organization] employed only a few bad apples will not stand up to the new documentation. Some American intelligence officials could not or did not want to see how many German intelligence officials, SS officers, police, or non-German collaborators with the Nazis were compromised or incriminated by their past service… Hindsight allows us to see that American use of actual or alleged war criminals was a blunder in several respects…there was no compelling reason to begin the postwar era with the assistance of some of those associated with the worst crimes of the war. Lack of sufficient attention to history-and, on a personal level, to character and morality-established a bad precedent, especially for new intelligence agencies. It also brought into intelligence organizations men and women previously incapable of distinguishing between their political/ideological beliefs and reality. As a result, such individuals could not and did not deliver good intelligence. Finally, because their new, professed ‘democratic convictions’ were at best insecure and their pasts could be used against them (some could be blackmailed), these recruits represented a potential security problem.” (Note 3)

The Gehlen organization profiled in the newly posted CIA history represents one of the most telling examples of these pitfalls. Timothy Naftali, a University of Virginia professor and consulting historian to the IWG who focused heavily on the declassified CIA material, highlighted the problems posed by our relationship with Gehlen: “Reinhard Gehlen was able to use U.S. funds to create a large intelligence bureaucracy that not only undermined the Western critique of the Soviet Union by protecting and promoting war criminals but also was arguably the least effective and secure in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. As many in U.S. intelligence in the late 1940s had feared would happen, the Gehlen Organization proved to be the back door by which the Soviets penetrated the Western alliance.” (Note 4)

The documents annexed in the CIA history posted today by the Archive echo the observations of Professor Naftali. While placing much of the blame on the Army Counterintelligence Corps’ initial approach to Gehlen, this history emphasizes the CIA’s own reluctance to adopt responsibility for Gehlen’s organization, yet the documents show the CIA ultimately embracing Gehlen.

Some of the highlights from this secret CIA documentary history include:

  • A May 1, 1952 report detailing how Gehlen and his network were initially approached by U.S. army intelligence. (Document 6)
  • Two evaluations of the Gehlen operation from October 16 and 17, 1946, advising against the transfer of Gehlen’s organization to CIG hands and questioning the value of the operation as a whole. (Documents 21 and 22)
  • A March 19, 1948 memorandum from Richard Helms, noting Army pressure for the CIA to assume sponsorship of the Gehlen organization, and continued concern over the security problems inherent in the operation. (Document 59)
  • A December 17, 1948 report outlining the problems with the Gehlen organization, but ultimately recommending CIA assumption of the project. (Document 72)

In answer to the question “Can we learn from history?”, the IWG’s consulting historians noted “The real question is not whether we will make use of our past to deal with the present, but rather how well we will do so. To do it well, we need these documents.” (Note 5)

“This secret CIA history is full of documents we never would have seen under the Freedom of Information Act, because Congress in 1984 gave the CIA an exemption for its ‘operational’ files, on the grounds that such files were too sensitive ever to be released,” commented Thomas Blanton, director of the National Security Archive. “The Nazi War Crimes Disclosure Act has proven this assumption false. Release of these files has done no damage to national security, has provided information of enormous public interest and historical importance, and however belatedly, has brought a measure of accountability to government operations at variance with mainstream American values.”


Documents
Note: Many of the following documents are in PDF format.
You will need to download and install the free Adobe Acrobat Reader to view.
Note: The following CIA history has been split into separate pdf files for each separate document or volume introduction, due to its large size. It includes relevant documents from the CIA, Army Intelligence, and CIA predecessor organizations.

Forging and Intelligence Partnership: CIA and the Origins of the BND, 1945-49. Edited by Kevin C. Ruffner for CIA History Staff, Center for the Study of Intelligence, and European Division, Directorate of Operations. 1999. Released May 2002.

Volume 1: Introduction

Volume 1: Part I – Firsthand Accounts

Document 1: Statement of Gerhard Wessel on Development of the German Organization [undated] Document 2: Statement of General Winder on the History of the Organization [undated] Document 3: Statement of Hans Hinrichs on Early History of the Organization [undated] Document 4: Statement of Heinz Danko Herre. April 8, 1953.
Document 5: Statement of General Gehlen on Walter Schellenberg Story (Post Defeat Resistance) [undated] Document 6: Report of Initial Contacts with General Gehlen’s Organization by John R. Boker, Jr. May 1, 1952.
Document 7: Statement of Lt. Col. Gerald Duin on Early Contacts with the Gehlen Organization [undated] Document 8: Report of Interview with General Edwin L. Sibert on the Gehlen Organization. March 26, 1970.
Document 9: Debriefing of Eric Waldman on the US Army’s Trusteeship of the Gehlen Organization during the Years 1945-1949. September 30, 1969.

Volume 1: Part II – Stunde Null

Document 10: Seventh Army Interrogation Center, “Notes on the Red Army-Intelligence and Security.” June 24, 1945.
Document 11: Headquarters, Third Army Intelligence Center, Preliminary Interrogation Report, Baun, Hermann. August 16, 1945.
Document 12: Captain Owen C. Campbell, Evaluation Section, to Lt. Col. Parker, Enclosing Interrogation Reports No. 5724 and 5725. August 29, 1945.
Document 13: Crosby Lewis, Chief, German Mission. October 25, 1945.

Volume 1: Part III – The Vandenberg Report

Document 14: SAINT, AMZON to SAINT, Washington, “Russian Experts of German Intelligence Service.” January 8, 1946.
Document 15: Headquarters, US Forces European Theater (USFET), Military Intelligence Service Center (MISC, “Operation of the Blue House Project.” May 11, 1946.
Document 16: Headquarters, USFET, MISC, CI Consolidated Interrogation Report (CI-CIR) No. 16, “German Methods of Combating the Soviet Intelligence Service.” June 3, 1946.
Document 17: Headquarters, USFET, MISC, Lt. Col. John R. Deane, Jr. to Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, USFET, “Plan for the Inclusion of the Bolero Group in Operation Rusty.” July 2, 1946.
Document 18: Lewis to Chief, Foreign Branch M (FBM), “Operation KEYSTONE.” September 9, 1946, enclosing Lewis to Brigadier General Sibert, G-2, September 6, 1946.
Document 19: Maj. Gen. W.A. Burress, G-2, to Lt. Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg, Director of Central Intelligence, “Operation RUSTY – Use of the Eastern Branch of the former German Intelligence Service.” With attachments. October 1, 1946.
Document 20: Lewis to Richard Helms, Acting Chief of FBM, October 8, 1946, enclosing Lewis to Donald H. Galloway, Assistant Director for Special Operations, September 22, 1946.
Document 21: Draft to Deputy A, “Operation Rusty.” October 16, 1946.
Document 22: Galloway to DCI, “Operation Rusty,” October 17, 1946, enclosing Heidelberg Field Base to Chief, IB, “Agent Net Operating in the Bamberg Area,” with attachment, September 17, 1946.
Document 23: DCI to Maj. Gen. Stephen J. Chamberlin, Director of Intelligence, War Department, “Operation Rusty-Use of the Eastern Branch of the Former German Intelligence Service,” November 20, 1946, enclosing Burress to Vandenberg, “Operation RUSTY-Use of the Eastern Branch of the Former German Intelligence Service,” October 1, 1946.
Document 24: Col. W.W. Quinn to Galloway, “Operation RUSTY,” December 19, 1946.
Document 25: Helms, Memorandum for the Record, “Operation RUSTY.” December 19, 1946.

Volume 1: Part IV – The Bossard Report

Document 26: Cable, Special Operations to [excised]. January 31, 1947.
Document 27: Cable, SO to [excised]. February 10, 1947.
Document 28: Lt. Col. Deane to the German Chief of Operation RUSTY, “Assignment of Responsibilities,” February 25, 1947.
Document 29: Cable, SO to Frankfurt. March 6, 1947.
Document 30: Cable, Heidelberg to SO. March 11, 1947.
Document 31: Report, “Operation KEYSTONE.” March 13, 1947.
Document 32: Cable, SO to Heidelberg. March 14, 1947.
Document 33: Samuel Bossard to [Galloway]. March 17, 1947.
Document 34: Memorandum to Helms, “American Intelligence Network,” with attachment. March 18, 1947.
Document 35: Bossard to [excised] Chief, German Mission. March 20, 1947.
Document 36: Cable, Heidelberg to SO, March 21, 1947.
Document 37: Report, “American Intelligence in Bavaria.” March 29, 1947.
Document 38: SC, AMZON to FBM for SC, Washington, “KEYSTONE: LESHCINSKY.” March 31, 1947.
Document 39: Memorandum to [Galloway] and Bossard, “Evaluation of RUSTY CI Reports,” with attachments. April 1, 1947.
Document 40: Cable, Heidelberg to SO. April 8, 1947.
Document 41: [Bossard] to [Galloway]. May 5, 1947.
Document 42: Bossard to DCI, “Operation Rusty.” May 29, 1947.
Document 43: Galloway to DCI, “Operation RUSTY,” June 3, 1947, enclosing Bossard to DCI, “Operation Rusty,” with annexes, May 29, 1947.
Document 44: Memorandum for [unspecified], “Operation RUSTY,” with attachment, [undated] Document 45: DCI to Secretary of State, et al, “Opertation Rusty,” [undated], enclosing “Memorandum on Operation RUSTY,” June 6, 1947.
Document 46: Cable, Central Intelligence Group to ACS, G-2, European Command, June 5, 1947.
Document 47: Cable, EUCOM to CIG, June 6, 1947.
Document 48: Galloway, Bossard, Memorandum for the Record, June 20, 1947.
Document 49: Brig. Gen. E.K. Wright, Memorandum for the Record, June 20, 1947.
Document 50: Galloway, Bossard, Helms, “Report of Meeting at War Department 26 June 1947.” June 26, 1947.
Document 51: Bossard, “Recommendations drawn up at request of Gen. Chamberlin for the attention of Gen. Walsh.” June 27, 1947.
Document 52: Cable, SO to Heidelberg, June 27, 1947.
Document 53: Cable, SO to Heidelberg, June 27, 1947.
Document 54: Cable, Heidelberg to SO, July 25, 1947.
Document 55: Chief of Station, Heidelberg to FBM, “RUSTY.” October 1, 1947.
Document 56: Headquarters, First Military District, US Army, General Orders Number 54, “Organization of 7821st Composite Group.” December 1, 1947.

Volume 2: Introduction

Volume 2: Part V – The Critchfield Report

Document 57: Chief of Station; Heidelberg to Chief, FBM, “Russian Newspaper Attack on American Intelligence Activities,” with attachment. February 6, 1948.
Document 58: Memorandum to Helms, “Operation RUSTY,” March 18, 1948.
Document 59: Helms to ADSO, “Rusty,” March 19, 1948.
Document 60: Chief, Foreign Broadcast Information Branch to ADSO, “PRAVDA Report of US Spy Group in USSR Zone of Occupied Germany.” March 30, 1948.
Document 61: Chief, FBIB to ADSO, “PRAVDA Report of US Spy Group in USSR Zone of Occupied Germany.” March 31, 1948.
Document 62: Chief, Munich Operations Base to Acting Chief of Station, Karlsruhe, “Rusty.” July 7, 1948.
Document 63: Acting Chief, Karlsruhe Operations Base to Chief, FBM, “RUSTY.” August 19, 1948.
Document 64: DCI to Chamberlin, August, 31, 1948.
Document 65: Chief of Station, Karlsruhe to Chief, FBM, “RUSTY.” October 15, 1948.
Document 66: Cable, SO to Karlsruhe, October 27, 1948.
Document 67: [Helms] to COS, Karlsruhe, “RUSTY.” November 2, 1948.
Document 68: [excised] to COS, Karlsruhe, “RUSTY.” November 18, 1948.
Document 69: Chief, MOB [Critchfield] to Chief, FBM, “Bi-Weekly Letter,” (excerpts), December 4, 1948.
Document 70: Cable, SO to Karlsruhe, December 14, 1948.
Document 71: Cable, Karlsruhe to SO, December 17, 1948.
Document 72: Chief, MOB [Critchfield] to Chief, OSO, “Report of Investigation-RUSTY,” with annexes, (excerpts), December 17, 1948.
Document 73: Galloway to DCI, “Recommendations in re Operation Rusty.” December 21, 1948.
Document 74: Cable, SO to Munich, Karlsruhe. December 22, 1948.
Document 75: Chief, FBM to COS, Karlsruhe, “Operation Rusty.” December 24, 1948.
Document 76: Chief, FBM to COS, Karlsruhe, “Operation Rusty,” December 28, 1948, enclosing DCI to Maj. Gen. William E. Hall, USAF, “Operation Rusty.” December 22, 1948.

Volume 2: Part VI – A Year of Decisions

Document 77: Maj. Gen. S. LeRoy Irwin to DCI, “Operation ‘RUSTY.'” January 19, 1949.
Document 78: Helms, Memorandum for the Files, “Operation Rusty.” February 1, 1949.
Document 79: Chief, FBM to COS, Karlsruhe, “[Gehlen Organization],” February 2, 1949.
Document 80: Cable, SO to Karlsruhe. February 8, 1949.
Document 81: Cable, SO to Karlsruhe. February 9, 1949.
Document 82: Chief, FBM to COS, Karlsruhe, “[Gehlen Organization],” February 9, 1949.
Document 83: Chief, FBM to COS, Karlsruhe, [untitled], February 10, 1949, enclosing Alan R McCracken, ADSO, to Irwin, “Operation Rusty.” February 9, 1949.
Document 84: [Critchfield] to Chief, FBM, “Letter to General Hall,” with enclosures, February 10, 1949.
Document 85: [Critchfield] to Chief, FBM, “[Gehlen Organization]: Procedure for Handling Funds. March 14, 1949.
Document 86: Cable, SO to Karlsruhe, March 16, 1949.
Document 87: [Critchfield] to Chief, FBM, “[Gehlen Organization]: Current Financial Situation.” March 21, 1949.
Document 88: Executive Officer to Chief of Operations and Chief, FBM, “[Gehlen Organization],” April 1, 1949.
Document 89: [Critchfield] to Chief, FBM, “[Gehlen Organization]: Current Situation.” April 18, 1949.
Document 90: Robert A. Schow, ADSO to Director, CIA, “EUCOM Support for the 7821 Composite Group (Operation Rusty),” April 21, 1949.
Document 91: [Critchfield] to COS, Karlsruhe, “Organization and Individual Security Problems [Gehlen Organization] Staff,” May 4, 1949.
Document 92: Headquarters, EUCOM to Chief of Staff, US Army Director of Intelligence, June 6, 1949.
Document 93: [Critchfield] to Chief, FBM, “Basic Agreement with [Gehlen Organization],” June 13, 1949.
Document 94: [Critchfield] to Chief, FBM, “[Gehlen Organization] General Policy,” with enclosures, July 7, 1949.
Document 95: [Critchfield] to Chief, FBM, “Basic Considerations in Reviewing the Concept and Mission of [Gehlen Organization],” September 21, 1949.
Document 96: [Critchfield] to Chief, FBM, “[Gehlen Organization] – Schneider’s Negotiations with Third Parties,” September 22, 1949, enclosing [Critchfield] to Dr. Schneider, “The Coordination and Control of Negotiations with German Political and Economic Circles and Representatives of Western European Intelligence Services,” September 20, 1949.
Document 97: [Critchfield] to Chief, FBM, “Dr. Schneider’s Reply to Recent Policy Guidance Letters,” with enclosures, October 12, 1949.


Notes 1. Douglas Jehl, “CIA Said to Rebuff Congress on Nazi Files,” New York Times, January 30, 2005.

2. Richard Breitman, Norman Goda, Timothy Naftali, and Robert Wolfe, U.S. Intelligence and the Nazis, (Washington, DC: National Archive Trust Fund Board, 2004), 377.

3.Ibid, 8-9.

4. Ibid, 406.

5. Ibid, 8.


 
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Senior Editor Gaither Stewart is a veteran journalist, essayist, and internationally recognized novelist. His stories, essays and articles are published on venues throughout the world. Four collections of his short stories have been published, one as a Kindle Book by Southern Cross Review, VOICES FROM PISALOCA. His latest novel is TIME OF EXILE (Punto Press), third volume in his Europe Trilogy, of which the first two volumes (THE TROJAN and LILY PAD ROLL) have also been published by Punto Press. He lives in Rome, Italy with wife Milena. Gaither can be contacted at gaither.stewart@yahoo.it 

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