Russ BellantOld Nazis, the New Right, and the Republican Party
PUBLISHER: South End Press
Russ Bellant's Old Nazis, the New Right, and the Republican Party, published under the aegis of the anti-right "Political Research Associates," is likely his most well-known work.
The Harvard Educational Review found Bellant's report noteworthy for its unveiling of domestic fascism (our emphasis):
Old Nazis, the New Right, and the Republican Party
By Russ Bellant
Boston: South End Press, 1991. 148 pp. $11.00 (paper).
While the "Reagan Revolution" made it popular in the United States once again to be openly discriminatory, neofascist thinking is presently burgeoning among the extreme right in this country. Russ Bellant, in his important book Old Nazis, the New Right, and the Republican Party, exposes the roots and growth of domestic fascist networks, which include Nazi collaborators, within the Republican Party. He reveals how such members, during the Reagan era, held positions of power on the Republican Ethnic Heritage Groups Council, an ethnic outreach division of the GOP. Bellant also scrutinizes the American Security Council for its participation in anti-Semitic and racist practices under the guise of anticommunism. It seems to me that any educator, or any citizen for that matter, interested in protecting what is left of democracy in this country needs to engage this type of research. For those who are sceptical of Bellant's conclusions, they can either take the word of Alan A. Ryan, Jr.—the former Director of the Office of Special Investigations for the Department of Justice—who says on the book's cover that it is "Well-documented and reliable," or they can begin to do some research of their own—which is what education for a responsible citizenry is supposed to be all about!
Considering ourselves responsible citizens, and being sceptical of Alan A. Ryan, Jr.'s assessment given his view that Waffen-SS service alone proved someone a war criminal, we began our own research into Bellant's contentions, focusing on Latvians as our litmus test.
|Unattributed, Harvard Educational Review, Vol. 65, No. 1, Spring 1995, 1 April 1995, accessed 30 June 2016. LINK|
Updated: May, 2017
Hitler's Henchmen | Fractured Bellantian History“THE HISTORY OF THE REPUBLICAN HERITAGE GROUPS COUNCIL”
A key component of Ballant's narrative emanates from his contention that all the Estonian and Latvian Legion (Waffen-SS) members had long-time ties to the Nazis before the war, and that a sinister government plot reversed their status as Nazis, war criminals, and inflictors of "cruel death"—thus allowing them to enter the United States. Smear Latvians to smear the Republicans they support.
The Displaced Persons Commission, which worked from 1948 to 1952, arranged for approximately 400,000 persons to come to the U.S.[a] 1Initially it sought to bar members of pro-Nazi groups, but in 1950 a dramatic reversal took place. The Commission declared “the Baltic Legion not to be a movement hostile to the Government of the United States .... ”[b] The Baltic Legion was also known as the Baltic Waffen 2(armed) SS.
The final report of the Commission noted that 3the decision “was the subject of considerable controversy.”[c] As well it 4should have been. The Waffen SS participated in the liquidation of Jews in the Baltic region because the SS units were comprised of Hitler's loyal henchmen, recruited from fascist political groups long tied to the German Nazi Party. Anyone opposed to the German occupation of the Baltic region (Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia) was likely to meet a cruel death at their hands. 5They were now considered qualified to come to the United States, to become American citizens. Further, pro-Nazi elements from other parts of Europe came to the U.S. through nominally private groups associated with the Commission.
[a] U.S., Displaced Persons Commission, Memo to America, The DP Story, The Final Report of the Displaced Persons Commission (Washington, D.C.: GPO, 1952), p. v. [b] Ibid., p. 101. [c] Ibid.
Bellant's imagined drama is that the "reversal" in question was to now permit the Nazi Baltic, i.e., Estonian and Latvian, Legionnaires to enter the United States. In actuality, U.S. authorities in Germany undertook a thorough examination of the Latvian (and Estonian) Legion and, after due consideration, confirmed that they had no Nazi sympathies or affiliation and, aside from being largely conscripted, fought only on the Eastern Front, only against Soviet reoccupation. Rather than taking the Commission's declaration as legitimate, Bellant portrays it as an excuse and a lie which allowed Baltic Nazis to flood into the United States.
Our inference would be that the Legion are "general SS"—and more dangerous, being, as has been described, their "military wing."
Bellant would have us believe that the "controversy" is an argument over whether or not to let Nazi supporters and war crime participants come freely into the United States. We have a copy of the source Bellant cites; however, it offers no insight into what the "controversy" might have been. All we know is that the Commissioner, Harry N. Rosenfield, communicated to the Latvian Charge d'Affaires in a letter dated September 12, 1950 the adoption of the following motion: "That the Waffen SS Units (Baltic Legions) are to be considered as separate and distinct in purpose, ideology, activities, and qualifications for membership from the German SS, and therefore the Commission holds them not to be a movement hostile to the government of the United Stated under Section 13 of the Displaced Persons Act, as amended." To this point, anyone who had been a member of any Waffen-SS unit had been barred from entry into the United States. Anyone accused of specific war crimes was still denied entry and subject to investigation.
All the Waffen-SS units were primarily combat units. Bellant's contention here is a complete lie. The German Allgemeine SS perpetrated and managed every aspect of the Holocaust in Eastern Europe. The Latvian Waffen-SS was formed in 1943 and had no role in the Holocaust. (Additionally, the police battalions which originally formed the Waffen-SS core were not, as have been convicted in Soviet show trials, Holocaust perpetrators run amok of their German masters, but already front-line battle units on the Eastern Front. There was no pre-war tie to Nazism except on the part of some Baltic Germans, which entire community Hitler repatriated en masse. There were Latvian fascists; however, as ultra-nationalists, they hated the Germans, who represented seven centuries of foreign domination, ever since the German "founding" of Riga in 1201. We should also mention the Ulmanis administration, while accused of being fascist, arrested the Latvian fascists, exiled their leader, welcomed Jews fleeing from Germany, and banned the publication of anti-Semitic literature. No Latvian had loyalty to Nazism.
Bellant states this qualification of the Legionnaires to come to the United States as a betrayal of democracy itself, when, instead, it was one of its most noble expressions. Bellant wraps up tossing in a mystery Nazi bogeyman, "moreover..." naming no group, no part of Europe.
We should mention that Latvian Legionnaires guarded the most notorious prisoners at the Nuremberg trials.
Bellant provides no sources for his fractured historical account.
...the foundation of the Republican Heritage Groups Council lay in Hitler's networks into East Europe before World War II. In each of those Eastern European countries, the 6German SS set up or funded political action organizations that helped form SS militias during the war. In Hungary, for example, the Arrow Cross was the Hungarian SS affiliate; in Romania, the Iron Guard. The Bulgarian Legion, the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN ), 7the Latvian Legion, and the Byelorussian (White Russian) Belarus Brigade 8were all SS-linked. In each of their respective countries, they 9were expected to serve the interests of the German Nazi Party before and during the war.
Many of these groups formed SS divisions: the Ukrainian Nationalists formed the 14th Galician Division, Waffen SS; 10the Latvians formed the 15th and 19th Divisions, Waffen SS; etc.[a] These units and related German-controlled police units had several functions. 12The Ukrainian division unsuccessfully tried to impede the advance of the Soviet army against the Nazi army. Others hunted down those fellow countrymen who opposed the German occupation of Eastern Europe during World War II.
13More sadistically, many units rounded up hundreds of thousands of Jews, Poles, and others and conducted mass murders on the spot, sometimes decimating whole villages. 14They perfected “mobile killing teams” as efficient means of mass executions. Little is known about these units compared to the concentration camps, gas chambers, and ovens, but they were an integrated component of the "Final Solution." 15Approximately one-third of the victims of the Holocaust, perhaps as many as two million, died at the hands of these units.
[a] 11For information on the Waffen SS, see George Stein, The Waffen SS: Hitler's Elite Guard at War: 1939-1945 (Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1966); Alexander Dallin, German Rule in Russia, 1941-45: A Study of Occupation Policies (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1957).
The German SS was not active in Latvia before the war, there were no Nazi-aligned/funded organizations which assisted in forming militias, no Latvian in the Waffen-SS served Nazi interests before, during, or after the war.
Bellant's grammar betrays his bias. The correct representation is that "the (occupying) Germans conscripted the Latvians into the 15th and 19th Divisions, Waffen SS, or, 1st and 2nd Latvian." It is preposterous to state the Latvians organized their own German military divisions.
More of Bellant's unsourced fantasy. The Latvian Legion actually held out in Courland until the end of the war, hoping to use it as a bridgehead against the Russians and Germans as they had less than a generation earlier in their war of independence against both Russians and Germans. The Legion were compelled to surrender along with the German forces at the end of the war. The Legion didn't "hunt" anyone.
Bellant just cited Alexander Dallin's seminal work on the German occupation on the Eastern Front for the role of the Waffen-SS, yet Dallin mentions none of the atrocities which Bellant alleges the Waffen-SS committed. Dallin makes clear that the Waffen-SS were combat units in active battle against the Red Army.
We were wondering how long it would take Bellant to get to the Germanless Holocaust. In the case of Lithuania, for example, official reports in Berlin indicated the Lithuanians were methodically eradicating the Jews. Meanwhile, someone who had read those reports and then travelled to Lithuania wrote back to Berlin that they (the Germans) needed to be more careful, as it was common local knowledge that it was a small German police mobile killing squad that was exterminating all the Jews, village by village.
In that regard, executions of Jews were primarily carried out by special mobile “task forces” (Einsatzgruppen) of the Security Police and the Security Service (SD), German police battalions, and to a much lesser extent (German) Waffen-SS units during and directly after establishing German occupation. (Virtually all the foreign Waffen-SS units were formed after Germany's invasion of the USSR and its first wave of Holocaust mass executions.)
Which begs the question: why is all Nazi propaganda a lie and all Soviet propaganda a lie except that which promulgates the meme that it was the Eastern Europeans who were the real killers, more evil than the Nazis themselves, so much so that German "eyewitnesses" tell of Nazis officers saving Jews from Eastern European brutality?
Bellant's historical fabrication is not boundless, after all. It still leaves the Germans with responsibility for two thirds of the Holocaust.
Readers would expect that the works Bellant cites support his contentions. However, they do not. Bellant interprets, not investigates, sources to support his agenda. His resulting historical narrative is agitprop, not journalism.
Stein indicates that only a small portion of the German Waffen-SS, that is, organized prior to WWII as the military wing of the SS supporting the Nazi ideology, were involved in what would be termed war crimes. Stein further confirms that later Waffen-SS units such as the Latvian Legion were front-line combat units: "The field formations of the Waffen SS spent the entire war under the tactical command of the Army and this may be considered a de facto branch of the Wehrmacht." Specifically, regarding the three Baltic units: "All three Baltic divisions fought in the futile defense of their homelands during the Soviet advance of 1944." Stein also deals extensively with the post-war rehabilitation of the German Waffen-SS (that is, they were soldiers, not Allgemeine SS war criminals). Regarding the rampant war crimes Bellant alleges, Stein offers that there is "no work available at present which offers a meaningful and objective discussion of the criminal activities of the Waffen SS." Notably, Stein's own subsequent examination makes no mention of the Baltic Waffen SS in the context of any war crimes. Indeed, no one has ever been accused of a war crime in service of the Latvian Legion.
Dallin makes clear the "Eastern Waffen-SS" were front-line combat units under Wehrmacht command, fighting on the Eastern Front. Dallin's "German Rule in Russia" is a seminal and comprehensive work on German administration in the East—and contains nothing to support Bellant's contentions the Waffen-SS committed atrocities, least of all the Latvians.
Once Bellant sees "SS," distinctions don't matter. Our initial reaction to Bellant's diatribe to this point was to ask, is he so driven to smear the Reagan administration, Republican Party, and Bush election campaign that he doesn't care if it means maligning the innocent in the process? We then realized the true danger—Bellant actually believes what he writes.
|The 18th Latvian Police Battalion, convicted in a Soviet show trial for Holocaust crimes at Slonim, Belarus did not exist during the first round of alleged slaughter and was not in Slonim at the second; one officer convicted and executed was hospitalized at the time.|
|We should qualify this statement to note that the notorious Arājs Kommando was joined to the Latvian Legion late in the war as conditions deteriorated for the Germans on the Eastern Front. That joining has been falsely used to tar every member of the Latvian Legion with Holocaust crimes against humanity. Those in the Legion, the vast majority conscripted, numbered some 100,000 (the more recent the estimate, the higher) while Arājs Kommando numbered 300-500 during their participation in the Holocaust.|
|Note that even Arājs Kommando, which killed tens of thousands of Jews under direct German supervision, had no automatic weapons, which would be essential to any "killing squad." The Germans trusted only themselves to carry out industrialized executions, such as those at Rumbula.|
|As we note regarding another author citing Dallin, he concludes his chapter on the German occupation of the Baltic states noting that their only alternative to Nazi rule was Soviet reoccupation. We would only note the Latvians held out until the end of the war in Courland—the third alternative of restored independence was doomed not militarily, but diplomatically by Roosevelt and Churchill.|
Updated: May, 2017
Coalition of American Nationalities (CAN) | Bush Campaign Under Fire“FORGIVE AND FORGET”
The heart of Bellant's exposé is the premise that the Bush campaign has been infiltrated by outright Nazis, if not former sympathizers, if not individuals of a "dubious" past. As soon as he had a draft completed, Bellant began to circulate it to stir the pot.
In 1988 many of the key figures in the Republican Heritage Groups Council were named as leaders of the George Bush presidential campaign's ethnic outreach arm, the Coalition of American Nationalities. These included Anna Chennault, Walter Melianovich, Laslo Pasztor, Frank Stella, Radi Slavoff, Philip A. Guarino, and Florian Galdau. 16Other persons on the Bush ethnic panel with questionable views or pasts were Bohdan Fedorak and Akselis Mangulis....
17In August of 1988 draft copies of the first version of this report were mailed to several journalists. At the same time a reporter for Washington Jewish Week began collecting information on the backgrounds of the Bush campaign's Coalition of American Nationalities (CAN) members after hearing criticisms of the Justice Department's Office of Special Investigations while covering the Republican Convention. Washington Jewish Week originally focused on CAN members Ignatius Billinsky and Jerome Brentar, but expanded the article after receiving documentation and background information on the Republican Heritage Groups Council from the author of this report. The Philadelphia Inquirer also began a substantial investigation of the charges in this report.
[After other CAN member resignations,] 18in early November , the Philadelphia Inquirer raised questions about a Latvian member of CAN, which prompted the final resignation, that of Akselis Mangulis, charged with having belonged to the pro-Nazi Latvian Legion which had connections to the SS....
Yet no matter what the intent or goal, the 19Republican Heritage Groups Council has incorporated racist, anti-Semitic, and fascist forces, and even rehabilitated some Nazi collaborators; legitimized them as ethnic leaders in their own communities and in the press; and provided a vehicle for expanding their influence in the Executive branch and Congress, where they have played a role in shaping American foreign policy.
Mangulis, a teenager at the time, was drafted (or be shot) by the Nazis into the Waffen-SS, had no Nazi sympathies, killed no Jews, and lost two fingers to a Russian machine-gunner in WWII. Bellant's self-serving partisan circulation to stir the pot against the Bush campaign [see next quotation] did so at the price of ruining the lives of innocent individuals. It wasn't enough that they had survived war, started life over again after losing their homeland, everything to Soviet occupation. Bellant and his ilk took it upon themselves to crucify them in the public eye. The Philadelphia Inquirer story which ran that November 4this a bit disjointed; however, we cannot blame the reporter, who, unfamiliar with the history, did his best to piece things together. The UPI newswire service carried a more cogent report the following day, also capturing the human impact (below).
Eastern European émigré leadership was the target of Soviet subterfuge and propaganda. Virtually all the names of Latvian Nazi suspects pursued by the INS and later OSI originated in Soviet propaganda. Moreover, the author of the propaganda later confirmed it to be so; and the KGB operative who delivered it into the hands of Holocaust activists confirmed the Soviet campaign to discredit the Soviet Union's most troublesome émigré nationalities: the Baltics and Ukraine heading that list. Opposition to Soviet evidence being used to discredit individuals was a legitimate expression of concern. Soviet witnesses included depositions by the dead; the accused included those who were only children at the time; and trial transcripts were published in newspapers prior to the trial taking place. Soviet show trials convicted and executed Latvians who were not present to commit the crimes they were accused of—however, Soviet "archives" proved them guilty.
Having read the Philadelphia Inquirer article, Bellant takes far too much self-congratulatory righteous credit. It is clear from the article that the Inquirer reached out for scholarly background; the article does not suggest Mangulis is a Nazi sympathizer. The UPI account the following day makes it clear the Bush campaign cut ties with Mangulis purely as damage control. That did not stop Bellant or those he had incensed over Nazis working for the GOP from continuing to pound the Nazi accusation hammer, that is, why aren't Mangulis and company being investigated further? Objectively, because they were never guilty in the first place; antagonistically, to cover up "pro-Nazi" Latvian Legion connected to SS et al. ties.
Bellant's conclusion is as flawed as it is partisan. His understanding and portrayal of history appears driven more by his desire to damn Eastern European GOP supporters as Nazis, and in doing so, strike a death blow to Bush's presidential campaign than to pursue objective reporting. In Bellant's world, ruined reputations are collateral damage.
Suspended Bush campaign aide denies Nazi linkNovember 5, 1988
The Bush campaign Thursday suspended Mangulis, 67, who chairs Latvians for Bush and the American Latvian Association, so he and his family could deal—away from the campaign—with allegations he was linked to the Nazi SS, said Bush campaign spokesman Mark Goodin.
Mangulis was the only Latvian in the Bush campaign's Coalition of American Nationalities. Seven of the coalition's original 88 members resigned or were dropped in September following published reports linking them to fascist or anti-Semitic organizations.
“We decided it unilaterally. We informed him, and he and his family are in sync with the decision,” Goodin said.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Friday that Mangulis, an architect, was a member of the Latvian Legion during WWII.
The newspaper said the Nazis organized the Latvian Legion in 1943 as an auxilary of the Waffen SS from police battalions in Latvia that had been under German command, according to Andrew Ezergailis, a history professor at Ithaca College and an expert on the subject.
Mangulis told the Eagle Tribune he was forced to join the Latvian Legion under threat of death.
“There was a great struggle at the time,” he told the newspaper. “All girls is taken against their will to labor in German if we don't fight. We say we will fight. The Latvian Legion was formed at that time.”
Mangulis said the Germans warned the Latvian men, “If you don't fight, if you run, you will be shot. If they couldn't find you, punish you, they shoot your family.”
He said he was drafted in 1943 at age 19, served as a radio operator and was sent to the Russian front. Mangulis said he lost two fingers of his left hand to a Russian machine gunner in 1945, adding, “that was the end of my war.”
Mangulis said he had little to do with the Nazis during his service because his unit was primarily made up of Latvians, and that he had no contact with the SS and saw no concentration camps.
He denied a New York Times report Friday that he had resigned as chairman of Latvians for Bush because of the Nazi allegations and said he would continue to campaign for Bush.
“Politics,” he said. “It is all politics.”
|Preston, David Lee. Bush Backer Barred Over Nazi Links, Philadelphia Inquirer, accessed 1 July 2016. LINK|
|Bellant's full page op-eds demanding the RNC investigate its Nazi supporters confirms his agenda.|
|Unattributed. Suspended Bush Campaign Aide Denies Nazi Link, United Press International (UPI), 5 November 1988, accessed 1 July 2016. LINK|
Updated: May, 2017
Bellant in the Press
Before examining others of Bellant's contentions, it is worth reviewing how his report was portrayed in the press among those who cared the most: Holocaust survivors and the wider Jewish community. Following is a report as disseminated by the Jewish Telegraph Agency (JTA).
Ex-nazis Among Leadership Ranks of Republican Outreach GroupsWASHINGTON, September 25 (JTA)
A new study charges that accused Nazis, fascists and anti-Semites hold or have held leadership positions in some of the Republican National Committee’s ethnic outreach groups.
The report, “Old Nazis, the New Right and the Reagan Administration: The Role of Domestic Fascists Networks in the Republican Party and their Effect on U.S. Cold War Politics,” by Detroit free-lance writer and researcher Russell Bellant, was released Sept. 15 and reported Friday in the Washington Jewish Week.
Bellant, 40, uncovered accused Nazis in the outreach groups formed under the umbrella of the RNC’s Heritage Groups Council.
He also found that four of the seven members of Vice President George Bush’s Coalition of American Nationalities who resigned in the past two weeks are still active in the Heritage Groups Council and its constituent groups.
In an interview, Bellant said that he could not uncover any remaining RNC link to Jerome Brentar, Bohdan Fedorak and Ignatius Bilinsky, the other three who resigned, but he said they might be involved in the RNC on the state level.
He said he was not calling for the resignations of the individuals in question, but, added that “it would be nice if some Republicans would call for the resignations instead of the Democrats.”
RNC WON’T INVESTIGATE
Responding to Bellant’s accusations, Albert Maruggi, the RNC’s press secretary, said there are no plans to investigate the backgrounds of any of the ethnic group members cited in the report.
He repeated a comment made by Kathryn Murray, RNC director of communications, in the Washington Jewish Week story that the study’s conclusions were “patently ridiculous and absurd.”
Marshall Breger, President Reagan’s former liaison to the Jewish community and now chairman of the Administrative Conference of the United States, said some of the charges in the report may be true, but said its suggestions that the involvement of the ethnic individuals represents “a Republican conspiracy is ridiculous.”
The study concluded that “a combination of ignorance, amnesia and in some cases political sympathy, have allowed both American and European abetters of the Third Reich to play a prominent and respectable role inside the Republican Party.”
Breger said those in question are part of a larger “problem of American history,” that after World War II, “the U.S. government assisted persons with anti-communism backgrounds who had neo-Nazi backgrounds to enter this country.” He added that both political parties have received support from such individuals.
The 87-page report was published by Political Research Associates of Cambridge, Mass. The research organization was founded in 1981 to investigate the extreme right in the Chicago area following Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazi rallies in Skokie and Marquette Park, III.
FOUR STILL TIED TO BUSH
The four Bush ethnic coalition members who recently resigned but are still active in the constituency groups of the Heritage Groups Council, or the council itself, are:
Philip Guarino, former vice chairman of Bush’s Coalition of American Nationalities. He once chaired the Italian-American Republican Club and, from 1971 to 1975, was vice chairman of the Heritage Groups Council. Guarino has been listed as a member of P-2, a fascist group.
Radi Slavoff, who was national co-chairman of Bulgarians for Bush, chaired the Heritage Groups Council from 1985 to 1987. Slavoff reportedly served in a national front aligned with the Nazis.
Florian Galdau, honorary chairman of the ethnic coalition, who heads the Romanian-American group and allegedly was a member of the Iron Guard, an anti-Semitic, pro-Nazi movement.
Laszlo Pasztor, a former coalition member who set up the Heritage Groups Council in 1969 and has served as head of the Hungarian-American group. Pasztor served in Hungary’s pro-Nazi Arrow Cross regime.
Before 1969, the Heritage Groups Council “was not an ongoing thing,” Bellant said. But since 1969, Republican presidential nominees have “utilized the Heritage Groups Council as the shell for setting up their own ethnic campaigns,” he added.
He said he studied the council’s precursor, the so-called Ethnic Division, in existence from 1952 to 1969, only superficially.
Bellant said Republicans who helped the RNC organize the Ethnic Division also had set up programs to recruit former Nazis to serve in U.S. paramilitary operations in Europe in 1952.
NAZIS IN LEADERSHIP POSTS
Bellant said that since 1969, several dozen alleged Nazis, fascists and anti-Semites have held leadership posts in the Heritage Groups Council.
The alleged Nazis include:
Nicholas Nazerenko, accused of having been a former World War II officer in the German SS Cossack Division. He heads one of the two Cossack-American units in the RNC.
Ivan Docheff, the mayor of a German city during World War II and founder of a pro-Hitler youth group.
Joseph Mikus, a former diplomat to Rome for the Nazi puppet state of Slovakia.
Stanislav Stankevich, mayor of a Russian city in 1941 when police massacred 6,500 to 7,000 Jews in one night, Bellant said.
In a related development, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported Sept. 18 that in 1972, 22convicted Nazi war criminal Boleslavs Maikovskis of Mineola, N.Y., served on the advisory board of the Latvian-American Section of the Heritage Council for the Re-Election of the President.
We have to commend the JTA for reporting on Bellant's indictment of the Republican establishment rather than simply picking up the proverbial ball and running with his allegations. Bellant's defense of Political Research Associates is specious at best. Bellant's 1988 release of his draft three years before final publication was timed to take down the entire RNC and Bush's presidential campaign. Bellant hides his partisanship behind nondescript labels while shouting "Nazi" at others.
The Alfreds Berzins mentioned here, who founded the American Latvian Association (ALA) and had passed away in 1977, could not have possibly committed war crimes as he spent most of the war in a Nazi concentration camp in Sachsenhausen, Germany.
Maikovskis' "conviction" in INS deportation proceedings—administrative, not legal, as individuals are not entitled to representation and hearsay is admissible as evidence—was in absentia, based primarily on Soviet evidence. Maikovskis chose to flee the United States rather than to be deported to the USSR (an occupying power), having been convicted in a Soviet show trial and sentenced to death in absentia in 1965.
There were, in total, three major Soviet show trials of Latvians, all based on largely fabricated evidence:
- 18th Police Battalion trial (1961);
- Rēzekne trial of Eichelis, Puntulis, Maikovskis and others (1965);
- and the 21st Battalion trials (1972-1974).
For further discussion see Ezergailis, “Holocaust’s Soviet Legacies in Latvia”.
Regarding the charges against him, Maikovskis asserted that to not follow Nazi orders was to risk death. As police chief in Rēzekne, he admitted he signed the paperwork turning over hundreds of Jews to the Germans and reported after the fact their burning down of the town.
|A different Alfreds Berzins, member of the Daugavas Vanagi, passed away in Latvia in 2011.|
|We plan to further research his case in the future.|
Updated: May, 2017
ABN et al.“THE ANTI-BOLSHEVIK BLOC OF NATIONS, THE WHITE HOUSE, AND THE ASC
Bellant starts off with the direct predecessor of the Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations (ABN) being "formed in 1943" by Hitler's allies." We examine some of his general assertions as well as what he has to say about the Latvians.
A booklet published in 1960 by the ABN 23acknowledged its members' alliance with Hitler: "That many of us fought on the German side against Russian imperialism and Bolshevism, was in our national interest . . . the fact that some of us fought on the German side against Russia can be justified from the national, political, and moral point of view."[a]
The ABN in more recent years has maintained the impression that they 24opposed the Nazis and Soviets simultaneously during World War IL This historically dubious impression is conveyed by the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN ) that leads ABN. But other groups that make up the ABN do not bother with an anti-Hitler pretense.
Other ABN affiliates include: . . .
WORLD FEDERATION OF FREE LATVIANS
A member organization of the Coalition for Peace Through Strength, the federation has branches in six countries. Its U.S. branch, the American Latvian Association, is active in the campaign against the Justice Department's Office of Special Investigations, discussed in the next section. The book Inside the League describes the ABN Latvian affiliate as 25“a band of Latvian leaders who assisted the Nazis in exterminating the Jews of their Baltic homeland.”[b]
[a] Niko Nakashidze, The Truth about ABN (Munich: ABN Press and Information Bureau, 1960), p. 14. Although the ABN claims a direct lineage from the 1943 Committee of Subjugated Nations (CSN), some scholars emphasize that the CSN went through a variety of splits and reorganizations immediately after WWII, and that ABN did not emerge in its current manifestation until several years after the war. [b] Anderson and Anderson, p. 45.
Bellant conveniently forgets that all of Eastern Europe was occupied territory. There was no local authority. The Germans were the sole option to fight against the Soviets. Whatever reasons Hitler had for invading Russia and exterminating the Jews of historically central Europe, a centuries-old cradle of Jewry, had no bearing on "alliances" against the USSR. Bellant's blanket projection of Nazi aims onto the peoples the Nazis conquered—for Latvia, a people already conquered by and brutalized for a year under the Soviets—is prejudiced and historically inaccurate.
The litmus test for the Baltics is Estonia. The Estonians raised the Estonian flag in Tallinn as the Nazis retreated. Yet even in retreat the Germans had no intent of acknowledging Estonia as regaining independence. Estonians fought the retreating Nazis and advancing Soviets on two fronts simultaneously, attempting to secure Tallinn. When the Soviets eventually "liberated" the city, it was the Estonian flag, not the Nazi swastika, the Red Army tore down.
Bellant sources his assertion of Latvian Nazism to a work utterly devoid of factual integrity regarding the Latvian Legion before, during, or after WWII. The claim of Latvian war crimes Bellant cites even misspells the accused: "The Latvian chapter of the League is controlled by the Danagaus [sic.] Vanagi ('Danaga [sic.] Hawks'). Operating out of Munster, West Germany, and publishing a newspaper in Canada, the Hawks are a band of Latvian leaders who assisted the Nazis in exterminating the Jews of their Baltic homeland." See our analysis of Inside the League.
26The ABN is the high council for the expatriate nationalist groups that formed the police, military, and militia units that worked with Hitler during World War II. Some were organized as mobile killing teams that exterminated villages and sought to murder whole ethnic, racial, and cultural groups. These mobile killing teams are the forerunners of the modern death squad.
Bellant again ignores the fact of Nazi German occupation and Nazi management and responsibility for the execution of the Holocaust. German "mobile killing teams" went in immediately to exterminate local Jewry as the German front-line advanced. We acknowledge and denounce the crimes of collaborators who subsequently worked under German supervision; but those, such as Arājs Kommando in the case of Latvians, had nothing to do with post-war Latvian leadership.
|This is the cited authors' collective term for the organized league of Nazis who have infiltrated the U.S. and U.S. politics.|
Updated: May, 2017
OSI | Motives and Methods“THE CAMPAIGN AGAINST OSI”
The case against Vilis Hāzners presented a microcosm of the Soviet-INS/OSI-Israeli (source of coached witnesses) connection. That is not the focus of our examination here; however, the salient point is that Alan A. Ryan, Jr. et al. have staunchly stood by the legitimacy of Soviet evidence and maintained they never accepted any "unsolicited" evidence—ignoring that the original list of alleged Latvian collaborators came from confirmed Soviet propaganda, raising legitimate concerns on the part of the communities accused. And while critics denounce émigrés for "circling their wagons" as if they were all accused, recall that Elizabeth Holtzman declared that "all Latvians are Nazis."
The OSI was established by a 1978 act of Congress to discover and deport Nazi war criminals who entered the U.S. after World War II. 28Almost immediately the Ukrainian Quarterly (published by the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America) denounced OSI, as did the quasi-Nazi Liberty Lobby and the neofascist Lyndon LaRouche organization. Soon the Lithuanian-American Council, the American Lithuanian Community, and the Joint Baltic American National Committee—all members of the ASC's Coalition for Peace Through Strength—joined in the anti-OSI campaign. Other Coalition for Peace Through Strength groups that 29actively opposed the OSI pursuit of Nazi collaborators were the Byelorussian-American Association, Congress of Russian-Americans, and the 30World Federation for a Free Latvia.[a]
While some organizations 31claimed they only opposed the methods employed by OSI, others called for its abolition. The specific method used by OSI which drew the sharpest criticism concerned the use of evidence from Soviet citizens, archives, and prosecutors. 32Even though such evidence is independently scrutinized and tested by the U.S. government and must meet U.S. rules of evidence in court, the anti-OSI groups call it “KGB evidence” without offering any proof of their own to back up that assertion. All of the above groups claim there is an “OSI/KGB partnership.”[b] None of the groups has supported the legal proceedings against even one suspected war criminal, even when the accused has publicly confessed his crimes. The charges of KGB plots, according to the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith, appear to be a "propaganda smokescreen that seeks to exploit anti-communism," in an attempt to stop the OSI investigations and legal proceedings.[c]
[a] Ad in Darbininkas, a Lithuanian newspaper, Sept. 7, 1984, p. 4. [b] Ibid. [c] The Campaign Against the U.S. Justice Department's Prosecution of Suspected Nazi War Criminals (New York: Anti-Defamation League, 1985), p. 12. (Hereafter cited as ADL Special Report)
Bellant continues to press his case for an organized pan-ethnic émigré fascist conspiracy.
This guilt by association attack has no place in legitimate journalism.
The issue is not OSI's pursuit of Nazis, it is its determination to convict at any cost once someone is denounced. There was zero tolerance in the OSI for the possibility the accused was innocent. And when accusations fell apart as in the Hāzners case, Alan A. Ryan, Jr. blamed prosecutorial incompetence, with no admission of the possibility Hāzners had been wrongly accused. Not to mention Jewish activists promising mob justice against those who "escaped" conviction and extremists taking matters into their own hands, subsequently bombing and shooting others accused.
Bellant does not spare the Latvians in his smear campaign. The "Pasaules Brīvo latviešu apvienība" (PBLA), founded in 1955, has had as its mission the preservation and protection of Latvian language and culture, pursuit of Latvia's freedom while under Soviet occupation, and since occupation, supporting activities strengthening Latvia's independence. When the director of the OSI considers Latvians war criminals simply because they served in the Waffen-SS, of course Latvians will organize to oppose that prejudiced and historically unsupported viewpoint—one to which Bellant subscribes.
Given the surrounding context, "claimed..only," Bellant basically alleges that émigré organizations opposing the OSI did so only to defend their Nazis.
The claim that Soviet evidence has been tested to the rigors of U.S. courts—a WJC claim per the JTA news story Bellant cites—is patently false. Immigration "trials" are administrative proceedings in which hearsay is admissible. There is no entitlement to representation. When defense attorneys did travel to the USSR to depose "witnesses," it was done in the presence of multiple Soviet officials scrutinizing testimony.
The claim that émigrés have not produced proof of their contentions of Soviet falsification is Bellant's own, not in the news story. Bellant, again, is wrong. By 1988, both Paulis Ducmanis (primary anti-Latvian propaganda author) had come forward and Imants Lešinskis (KGB operative planting anti-Latvian propaganda in the West) had defected and confirmed Krushchev's organized anti-nationalities campaign to employ false propaganda to discredit anti-Soviet émigré communities: Estonians, Latvians, Lithuanians, and Ukrainians heading that list. Both those events had occurred prior to Bellant's report. Per United States v. Kungys, 571 F. Supp. 1104 (D.N.J. 1983): "Lesinskis worked for the KGB from 1956 to 1978 when he defected. One of his early assignments was with "Motherland's Voice", an agency engaging in propaganda designed to discredit Latvian emigres abroad by characterizing them as war criminals or collaborators during the German occupation or by characterizing them as acting under orders of western intelligence agencies." Charges could be connected to some fact or be completely fabricated.
Intense emotions and rhetoric have accompanied the anti-OSI efforts. The World Jewish Congress has charged that the motivating factor behind such activity is "the fear that the 33Justice Department's prosecutors are exposing the American public to the historical facts that Hitler's annihilation of six million Jews was carried out not by the Germans alone, but rather with the extensive collaboration of Lithuanians, Latvians, Ukrainians, Estonians, and other Europeans."[a]
[a] Kevin Freeman, Charges Emigre Groups are Thwarting OSI Activities," Daily News Bulletin, Jewish Telegraph Agency, April 3, 1985, p. 3.
Opposition did not emanate from the fear that collaborators would be uncovered. It has always been in everyone's best interest to root out and punish the guilty. However, the Holtzman Amendment, by eliminating the crucible of actual court proceedings and removing defendants' legal protections, allowed hearsay and propaganda into the "courtroom." The entire purpose of the amendment was to make it as easy as possible to deport the accused. It removed the strict rule of law from the hunt for Nazis. Administrative proceedings do not hold to the same standards of evidence as a court of law.
Opposition rose from the simple fact that entire nations were being branded as Nazis, from Elizabeth Holtzman's denouncement that all Latvians are Nazis to Efraim Zuroff's blanket indictment of all the peoples lying between the USSR and Germany as "fanatic" supports of Hitler's industrialized extermination of their centuries old Jewish neighbours. The back story to such claims is the syllogism that it was only with fanatical local support that the Holocaust could have been as devastating and complete, thereby proving fanatical support.
|Office of Special Investigations (United States Department of Justice)|
An example of this fallacy would be "My opponent for office just received an endorsement from the Puppy Haters Association. Is that the sort of person you would want to vote for?"
Updated: May, 2017
Chip Berlet | Cohortal ValidationAPPENDIX—“Chronology of 1988 Bush Campaign Controversy”
Bellant engages his Political Research Associates cohort to validate his "findings" and to provide a chronological account of events pertaining to the Nazi invasion of America. Berlet recounts the "Coalition of American Nationalities Republican and Bush Campaign responses to charges (with selected other responses)". The appendix is adapted from a news article Berlet authored.
The 34charges [that the Bush campaign "recruited an ethnic support coalition which included racists, fascists, anti-Semites, Nazi apologists, and even aging Nazi collaborators"] primarily came from three sources: a report by Detroit-based free-lancer Russ Bellant (published by Political Research Associates in Cambridge); a series of articles by reporter Larry Cohler and Walter Ruby appearing in Washington Jewish Week; and articles by David Lee Preston in the Philadelphia Inquirer. Both press sources focused on the Bush campaign's recruitment of Eastern European nationalists who had emigrated to the U.S. after World War II, having fled countries such as Latvia, Rumania, Bulgaria, and the Croation [sic.] section of Yugoslavia. As the Bellant report revealed, these ethnic activists had gravitated towards the Republican Party due to a shared emphasis on rolling back communism and 35gaining independence for the nations near the Baltic coast and the Balkans which now are under Soviet domination.
Berlet appears unsure of his geography, Latvia, for one, being "on" the Baltic, not "near" it. In all of these sorts of "exposés" we are repeatedly struck by the casual ease with which people and entire nations are branded as Nazis by those that know little, if anything, about them—and, similarly, how such contentions are readily accepted as fact.
From Berlet's subsequent chronology:
9/18/88—Philadelphia Inquirer reporter David Lee Preston reports that since 1969, several dozen alleged Nazis, fascists, and anti-Semites have held leadership posts in the Heritage Groups Council. He quotes Alan A. Ryan, Jr. (now with the legal office of Harvard University but formerly director of the Justice Department's OSI war criminal probe) as saying 36he had read Bellant's report and found it to be "well documented and reliable." Preston also reports that in 1972 a 37convicted Nazi war criminal Boleslavs Maikovskis of Minneola, N. Y. served on the advisory board of the Latvian-American section of the Republican's Heritage Council for the Re-Election of the President.
11/1/88—Author 38Charles R. Allen Jr., an expert on the emigre Nazi network, questions the candor of Bush when he "professed ignorance of [the] pro-Nazi backgrounds" of the ethnic campaign supporters. In a Village Voice article, Allen produces a 1983 photograph of George Bush shaking hands with Yaroslav Stetsko, then leader of the pro-Nazi Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations. The photo was taken at a White House reception. Bush signed the photo: "To the Honorable Yaroslav Stetsko with best wishesGeorge Bush." Allen also produced a 1976 RNC memo in which Bush, as RNC Chair, is reported to have reviewed the past work of the Republican Heritage Groups Council and set goals for the coming year.
11/4/88—The Philadelphia Inquirer reports charges concerning the background of Bush ethnic coalition leader Akselis Mangulis. Even before the story appears in print, the Bush campaign announces Mangulis has resigned, although the woman who answers the phone at the Mangulis residence tells reporters Mr. Mangulis was not asked to resign and would not resign.
As Ryan believes service in the Legion and award of the Iron Cross for bravery brand one a Nazi, we are unsurprised by Ryan's positive assessment of Bellant's report. After all, at least 10,000 Nazis had snuck into the United States under the guise of "displaced persons" who had lost their homeland. Ryan posited (Quiet Neighbors, published after he left the OSI) that 10% of the 400,000 (predominantly from the Baltic States) displaced persons (DPs) were Nazis. But so as to not be "alarmist," he halved the percentage, then halved it again. The OSI's subsequent review of its own activities acknowledged that Ryan's resulting 10,000 was a gross over-estimation. What is lost in this is that Ryan's Nazi-hunting zeal while heading the OSI was driven by his estimate that 40,000 Nazis had entered the U.S. As the 400,000 included men, women and children, at a conservative mix of 1:1:1 (the average family group consisted of 2.9 people, "The DP Story"), 40,000 of a third of 400,000 (133,333) translates to Ryan operating on the actual assumption that some 30% of the DP adult male population were Nazis—a number as staggering in its misconception as in its bias.
Maikovskis was shown to have dealt with the occupying Nazi forces as the police chief in Rēzekne, Latvia, in that role having signed over Jews to the Germans and then reporting subsequently that the Germans burned down the town. Maikovskis' defense was that he had not harmed any Jews and that to not cooperate meant getting shot. Meanwhile, Maikovskis had been convicted in a Soviet show trial of personally murdering hundreds of Jews—as a show trial, lending credence to Maikovskis' account. However, as Maikovskis had not revealed this in his application to enter the United States, that was enough to deport him under the terms of the Holtzman amendment. "Convicted" does not mean Maikovskis was convicted in a court of law. We hope to investigate his case further.
Charles R. ("Chuck") Allen Jr., far from being an "expert," was one of the Soviet Unions' most effective "useful idiots," even active in the "U.S.-East German Friendship Society," a career left-wing journalist. We suspect that his anti-Nazi fervor was as politically as morally driven, equating anti-Sovietism with Nazi fascism in a replay of the Eastern Front in WWII.
Herein lies the most pernicious contention, the statement as fact that the Latvian Legion were connected to the "Nazi SS." The accusation, per se, is that Mangulis was a member of a criminal organization. While hierarchically part of the "SS", the Legion were front line units under Wehrmacht command and had no Nazi sympathies or alliances. Bellant erases Mangulis' pride in having fought against Soviet reoccupation and sadness at the tragic loss of his homeland and replaces it with fear and despair for one's reputation, self, family, and friends over false accusations.
Updated: May, 2017
Assessment | Political Agenda + Questionable Sources = Latvian Nazis
Among the sources in Bellant's bibliography:
WAR CRIMINALS AND NAZI COLLABORATORS IN THE U.S.
- Allen, Charles R. Nazi War Criminals in America: Facts . . . Action. New York: Highgate House, 1985.
- Blum, Howard. Wanted! The Search for Nazis in America. New York: Quadrangle, 1979.
- Lasby, Clarence. Project Paperclip. New York: Atheneum, 1971.
- Simpson, Christopher. Blowback: U.S. Recruitment of Nazis and Its Effects on the Cold War. New York: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1988.
OTHER WORKS OF INTEREST
- Anderson, Scott and Anderson, Jon Lee. Inside the League: The Shocking Expose of How Terrorists, Nazis, and Latin American Death Squads Have Infiltrated the World Anti-Communist League. New York: Dodd-Mead, 1986.
- Codreanu, Corneliu Z. For My Legionaries. Madrid, Spain: Editura Libertatea, 1976. This is an English translation of the original 1936 work.
- Cook, Fred J. The Warfare State. New York: MacMillan, 1962; Collier Books, 1964, 1969.
- Eisenberg, Dennis. The Re-emergence of Fascism. South Brunswick, New Jersey: A.S. Barnes, 1968.
- Sklar, Holly. Washington's War on Nicaragua. Boston: South End Press, 1988.
Among those we recognize and have investigated (mid-2016, highlighted) for their claims regarding Latvians and Nazism are:
- Christopher Simpson's Blowback—an inaccurate work denouncing "the myth that the Baltic Waffen SS legions were simply anti-Communist patriots," falsely contending that "some of the Vanagis’[sic.] leaders had served as the Nazis’ most enthusiastic executioners."
- The Andersons' Inside the League—a legion of misspelt, misidentified, misinformed contentions; there is not a single citation for its accusations against Latvians in an otherwise copiously footnoted work.
We have not read Howard Blum's book yet, however, we found in an online snippet that he accuses Latvians of graduating the "Nazi Baltic University in Pinnenberg, Germany." The Baltic University was established after WWII to continue the education of Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian refugees. Founded in Hamburg, it later moved to Pinnenberg.
Given Bellant's pursuit of a political agenda, we are unsurprised by Bellant's choices in sources. He embraces and adds to their historical inaccuracies regarding Latvians, the Latvian Legion/Waffen-SS, and the Daugavas Vanagi.
About the only thing Bellant gets right is that the government's filing to deport Boleslavs Maikovskis was granted. Still, such proceedings were not a court of law; it was not necessary to be proven a war criminal to be denaturalized and deported. That Maikovskis was yet another Latvian convicted in a Soviet show trial put him squarely in the sights of the Nazi hunters. Everything else Bellant contends about Latvians is utterly false.
We have not checked the veracity of Bellant's other claims.
Bellant's foundational premise—that the Latvian Legion were Hitler's SS-backed “henchmen” before, during, and after WWII—dooms the rest of his contentions to the conspiracy theory garbage heap.
Updated: May, 2017