Christopher SimpsonBlowback: America's Recruitment of Nazis and Its Effects on the Cold War
Once we examined Simpson's bibliography, we were not surprised that Simpson parrots KGB propaganda. He confirms his bias by including not one, but two, KGB-fabricated propaganda tomes targeting and smearing Latvians and Ukrainians, respectively:
- Avotins, E.; Dzirkalis, J.; and Petersons, V. Daugavas Vanagi. Riga: Latvian Publishing House, 1963.
- Styrkul, V. The SS Werewolves. Lvov: Kamenyar Publishers, 1982.
Simpson confirms he is fully vested in KGB-originated fabrications of history.
Citations and Sources
Other than allegations born of propaganda, what other materials has Simpson consulted on alleged "Latvian Nazis"? He lists the following:
- On Vanagis’ postwar role in Displaced Persons camps, see Daugavas Vanagi Biletens (November 1955), available in the New York Public Library.
- On Latvian militia participation in pogroms and mass murders,
- see Hilberg, op. cit., pp. 204– 205 and 254,
- and Gilbert, Holocaust, pp. 155– 57 and 388.
- On their flight to Germany at war’s end, Dallin, German Rule, p. 621n.
- For the Vanagis’ own version of their role in the SS and in Nazi collaboration in Latvia, see Daugavas Vanagi Biletens (November 1951, January 1953, February 1953, March 1953, and April 1953).
Daugavas Vanagi Biletens — DP Camps
While Simpson cites Daugavas Vanagi materials, he does so with the preamble: "For the Vanagis’ own version..., implying their portrayal of events is at the very least self-serving.
We hope to digitize Biletens in the future.
Relevance? Simpson gives short shrift to Latvian accounts except to denounce them. Clearly, nothing stated by any Latvian source served to soften Simpson's view that the Latvian Legion were Nazi war criminals.
Raul Hilberg (June 2, 1926 – August 4, 2007) was an Austrian-born American political scientist and historian. He was widely considered to be the world's preeminent scholar of the Holocaust, and his three-volume, 1,273-page magnum opus, The Destruction of the European Jews, is regarded as a seminal study of the Nazi Final Solution.
We cannot fault Simpson for taking a highly respected work on the Holocaust at face value. However, even renowned scholars such as Hilberg were not immune to falling prey to Soviet propaganda, viz. Volume 1 regarding the Rumbula massacre, the single largest organized slaughter of Jews in the Baltic states:
On the involvement of Latvian auxiliaries in the [Rumbula] massacre, see Avotins, J. Dzirkalis. and V. Petersons, Daugavas Vanagi—Who Are They? (Riga, 1963), pp. 22-24.
While Daugavas Vanagi—Who Are They? accuses Latvians, we know from detailed records that it was Frederich Jeckeln's hand-picked squad of a dozen Germans taking turns in the slaughter of 25,000 Jews in two days, six shooting at any time while the other six rested.
Hilberg—who here cited Soviet propaganda as a scholarly source—was employed by the U.S. Justice Department as an expert witness in INS and OSI proceedings against Estonians, Latvians, and Lithuanians, the most well known case being that of Karl Linnas. In one of the very few times the OSI prevailed, mainly because the judge preferred to take the Soviet-provided depositions at face value and denounced the lack of concrete proof of accused fabrication as the casting of innuendo by the defence, Linnas was eventually deported to the Soviet Union based on witness depositions provided by Soviet authorities—the same authorities who accidentally published transcripts of portions of Linnas' show trial in absentia before it took place. Given the USSR conducted show trials (including one for Hāzners), manufactured "archival" records, and deposed the dead for witness accounts, and decades after the war even produced "evidence" indicting as Nazi collaborators troublesome anti-Soviet activist exiles who were only children during WWII, all testimony coming out of the USSR was suspect as fabricated.
Simpson's narrative typifies the choke-hold Soviet propaganda has over the scholarly narrative of the Holocaust in Latvia and the wider Baltic states, symptomatic of the U.S. Justice Department's blind embrace of Soviet evidence and consequent pollution of the justice process. Everyone remembers and repeats the accusations, as does Simpson. No one remembers the mostly abject failure of the OSI to deport any Baltic individuals based on Soviet-provided evidence. Instead, the OSI's accomplishments have been hailed as Herculean.
No citation can be taken at face value or accepted based on the credentials of the author—every citation must be traced back to its original source to determine fact or fabrication.
Even Hilberg is not immune to KGB propaganda.
Sir Martin Gilbert, CBE, FRSL (25 October 1936 – 3 February 2015) was a British historian and honorary Fellow of Merton College, University of Oxford. He was the author of eighty-eight books, including works on Winston Churchill, the 20th century, and Jewish history.
Gilbert's account is best exemplified through the following passages:
In 1543, Martin Luther set out his ‘honest advice’ as to how Jews should be treated. ‘First,’ he wrote, ‘their synagogues should be set on fire, and whatever does not burn up should be covered or spread over with dirt so that no one may ever be able to see a cinder or stone of it.’ Jewish homes, he urged, should likewise be ‘broken down or destroyed’. Jews should then be ‘put under one roof, or in a stable, like Gypsies, in order that they may realize that they are not masters in our land.’ They should be put to work, to earn their living ‘by the sweat of their noses’, or, if regarded even then as too dangerous, these ‘poisonous bitter worms’ should be stripped of their belongings ‘which they have extorted usuriously from us’ and driven out of the country ‘for all time’.
From the first hours of Barbarossa, however, throughout what had once been eastern Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, as well as in the Ukraine, White Russia and the western regions of the Russian Republic, a new policy was carried out, the systematic destruction of entire Jewish communities. These were the regions in which the Jew had been most isolated and cursed for more than two centuries, the regions where Catholic, Russian Orthodox, Ethnic German and Jew had been most marked in their distinctive ways of life, in which language differences had been a barrier, social divisions a source of isolation, and religious contrasts a cause of hatred. The German invaders knew this well and exploited it to the full. In advance of the invasion of Russia, the SS leaders had prepared special killing squads, the Einsatzgruppen, which set about finding and organizing local collaborators, Lithuanians and Ukrainians, in murder gangs, and were confident that the anti-Jewish hatreds which existed in the East could be turned easily to mass murder. In this they were right.
Those Gilbert thanked for materials include:
- Eli M. Rosenbaum (United States Department of Justice, Washington, DC), and
- Neal M. Sher (United States Department of Justice, Washington, DC)
Those surely included Soviet-influenced accounts. Our evidence for that contention? The Soviet propagandistic version of the Nazi invasion and occupation of Latvia featured prominently in the U.S. government's filing to deport Vilis Hāzners, its first case based on KGB disinformation.
Gilbert's is a gripping account and powerful in its relating of testimonies. But, starting with visiting Martin Luther's German anti-Semitism upon the Eastern Europeans, Gilbert, as did Hilberg, proselytizes accepted "truths" about the Holocaust in Eastern Europe without pulling back the Nazi veil of disinformation and the "self-evident" reason the Holocaust in Eastern Europe could have been so thoroughly devastating in its genocide. Gilbert's account echoes Zuroff's contentions of "fanatic" support for the eradication of centuries-old neighbors, the Nazi propagandistic account of the Germanless Holocaust, and the OSI's blind acceptance of Soviet evidence.
Gilbert invests himself in the meme that Eastern Europeans only had to hear that the Nazis were on their way to bludgeon Jews to death. We take umbrage at Gilbert's blanket characterization of Eastern Europe's Jewry being "isolated and cursed." For example, the Jewish merchant class was vibrant and active in Latvia, and Jews were politically active—fielding multiple factions (parties) in elections. As Prof. Andrew Ezergailis documents in his research, the Nazis' anti-Semitic campaign gained little if any traction among the Latvian people. (Indeed, Latvians took exception to the tarring of their Jewish neighbors.) In Lithuania, documents confirm that Germans themselves cleansed the Lithuanian countryside of Jews while reports sent back to Berlin and shared as the official status stated it was the Lithuanians. Simplistic and overarching contentions such as Gilbert's regarding Hilter's collaborators in Eastern Europe and the eagerness of its peoples to murder their Jewish neighbors mark the point at which Gilbert's anti-Slavic, anti-Baltic bias supplants scholarship. That Baltic individuals subsequently collaborated in the Holocaust is not in question; what is disputed is Gilbert's portrayal of widespread support for the xenophobic extermination of a supposedly already marginalized ethno-cultural minority.
Gilbert visits 16th century German Christian anti-Semitism upon the Eastern Europeans. Therefore it was only natural the Eastern Europeans would eagerly kill all the Jews. He thanks representatives of the OSI, whose direct predecessor lied on the record and suppressed exonerating evidence in their attempt to deport Hāzners at any cost. Ultimately, Gilbert's historical account is no more than a compendium of morally offensive prejudices.
The footnote Simpson cites relates to the Vlasov movement, which had nothing to do with Latvians:
The Baltic émigré groups and their military counterparts had likewise moved to the Reich by late 1944; they are omitted from further consideration since they maintained no direct contact with the Vlasov movement, which, in fact, never claimed to represent the Baltic States.
Dallin provides no clarification for "moved." Certainly, the "Self"-Administration authorities had found themselves in an untenable situation throughout the German occupation—these were not Nazi sympathizers—and did not "move" to the safety of the Reich. Civilians and civil authorities fled the Soviet advance via the Courland Pocket, their only possible destinations being a perilous journey to Sweden or down the Baltic coast to occupied Poland. The Latvian Legion held out in Courland to the end of the war. Other units retreated toward Germany and surrendered to the British or Americans. Latvians wound up in Germany by necessity and little if any choice in wartime, not out of Nazi sympathies.
Examining Dallin's chapter on German administration of the Baltics, his only mention of the Latvian Legion is that Latvians pressed for more autonomy, even a return of sovereign authority, as conditions on the Eastern Front deteriorated for the Wehrmacht—and there were those within the Nazi administration who were prepared to grant it.
Just as elsewhere on Soviet soil, three years of Nazi rule in the Baltic states had turned the mass of the population into foes of the Germans. Of the activists, thousands joined the legions which the Germans recruited to fight the Communists, but many more rose against the Nazis—without thereby endorsing Soviet rule. Objectively, Nazi rule in the Baltic region was a notch less oppressive than elsewhere; economic standards, cultural and political opportunities, and even the behavior of the average German official were slightly better than on old Soviet, Slavic soil. But these privileges were too insignificant to stem the tide of anti-German feeling. Tragically, for the Baltic peoples the only alternative to German rule in 1944 was renewed Soviet conquest.
As with "moved," Dallin is similarly ambiguous with his intent regarding "activists." Certainly these were not thousands of the Nazi faithful taking up the cause of the Reich. Nor is "recruited" the proper term. While the battalions deployed to the Eastern Front shortly after the German occupation was established did consist of volunteers driven by revenge against the Soviets, by the end of the war the Germans had conscripted every Latvian male under the age of 40 into military service.
There is nothing in Dallin's account which indicates Latvian refugees who escaped, eventually, to Germany, had any Nazi sympathies or affiliations..
Daugavas Vanagi Biletens — Waffen-SS
Per our note above, we hope to digitize Biletens. Again, we expect it to be relevant only in providing Simpson with fodder to denounce.
Questions of Relevance
Simpson's list of sources appears balanced and reputable at first glance. But pulling back the covers, he derides the "myth" of Latvian Legion heroism and discounts Latvian sources. And the sources Simpson does cite do nothing to support his Latvians-are-Nazis narrative. Simpson ultimately provides no support for his alleged continuum of Latvian Legion and Daugavas Vanagi involvement with the Nazis before, during, and after WWII.
|Joffe, Lawrence. Obituary: Raul Hilberg, The Guardian, 25 September 2007, accessed 9 January 2010. LINK|
|Wyman, David. Managing the Death Machine, The New York Times, 11 August 1985, accessed 9 January 2010. LINK|
|Woo, Elaine. Raul Hilberg, 81; scholar was an authority on the Holocaust, Los Angeles Times, 7 August 2007, accessed 9 January 2010. LINK|
|Raul Hilberg article at Wikipedia, retrieved 18 February 2016.|
|USA Today reported (January 29, 1997) that OSI possessed "a tremendous success record, [having] uncovered and won more cases than any other Nazi-hunting operation in the world."|
|At Wikipedia, retrieved 15 July 2016.|
|Per the New York Times, April 21 1985: Anthony B. Mazeika, vice president of the Baltic American Freedom League, said the group sought ""solidarity with our Jewish brethren" in pursuing war criminals by "constitutionally correct" procedures. He called for Congressional hearings into his charges that the procedures that have been used by the Office of Special Investigations were unfair and risked deportation of defendants who may be innocent. But Eli M. Rosenbaum, a consultant to the World Jewish Congress who was formerly a prosecutor in the Office of Special Investigations, said that "clearly this campaign to thwart the efforts of the Department of Justice to bring Nazi war criminals to justice is fraught with anti-Semitism."|
|Per a letter from the Secretary of State to the American Embassy in Moscow dated February 1982: "Alan Ryan and Neal Sher would like to meet with Procurator General Rekunkov as a courtesy call if he is available. Ryan feels that face to face meeting will be helpful to renew and refresh joint commitment to cooperation, and to assure Soviets that past efforts have not gone unappreciated. Such a meeting hopefully will provide lubrication for further dealings and assure the Soviets that their extensive efforts in taking protocols, arranging depositions and providing documents have contributed substantially to an unbroken string of OSI victories to U.S. courts to date." at Lituanus retrieved 15 July 2016.|
|CIA classified documents confirm that OSI attorneys (including Sher) deposing Imants Lešinskis after his defection "tried very hard" to persuade him that the Soviet wouldn't forge documents! Given Lešinskis is the KGB operative who delivered fabricated allegations to the West, Sher and company can only be labelled delusional. "Mr. Sher talked at length about the difference between propaganda (which DOJ/OSI would NOT use) and actual archival documents which DOJ/OSI believed to be authentic and which they would use in court." Sher was clearly attempting to negate OSI use of possible forgeries. Retrieved at foia.cia.gov retrieved 15 July 2016.|
|Dallin does refer specifically to the conscription of Latvians and discussions among the Germans regarding Latvia's status in international law in that regard.|
Updated: June, 2017