Christopher SimpsonBlowback: America's Recruitment of Nazis and Its Effects on the Cold War

“Author claims US program supported Baltic Nazis”

“In an interview with RT's Lucy Kafanov, author Christopher Simpson talks about the US role in whitewashing World War II-era crimes in the Baltics in the name of supporting anti-communists.”

Uploaded by RT on May 19, 2010


Transcript | RT's Lucy Kafanov Interviews Author & Professor Chris Simpson

LK: As in other years, the world reacted with outrage to the march of hundreds of Latvian Waffen-SS Legion veterans who gather annually in the [sic.] Rīga to pay tribute to their comrades who fought the Soviet Union in World War 2. But unlike their Russian and European counterparts, not a single U.S. politician condemned the event. Coincidence? Or a reflection of the darker chapter of U.S. history? For a closer look I'm joined by Christopher Simpson professor at American University here in Washington and the author of Blowback, an account at the U.S. recruitment of Nazis and its disastrous effect on the Cold War and U.S. foreign and domestic policy. Professor Simpson, thank you so much for joining us. CS: Thank you. LK: I want to start by turning our attention to a recent event in the Baltics. 1We saw about a thousand former Nazi veterans marching in the [sic.] Rīga essentially glorifying the former Waffen-SS legions in that area and this event caused widespread condemnation by foreign officials in Europe, yet not a single U.S. politician mentioned this here at home. We haven't seen in the press nor in the political discussion. Why the silence in the U.S.? CS: Well, personally I, I feel it's shameful that a 2mass rally of former Nazi criminals or their supporters can take place in an important part of the world—the Baltics, and not get attention in the U.S. media. But I think that, that it's not about sympathy from the U.S. media so much as it is about ignorance. LK: Well, let's talk about the political aspect of this chapter in history. Are there any reasons why the U.S. might not necessarily be interested in highlighting this chapter? CS: Sure. There was a systematic program by the United States government, in particular its intelligence agencies, to use refugees from Baltic states, including Nazi criminals, or people who collaborated with the Nazis during the war, for intelligence purposes. And what this has created is a situation in which if there is a person 3who claims to be a freedom fighter or an anti-communist from Eastern Europe, that person in U.S. media tends to be automatically regarded with respect or even as a hero. But in reality, a 4significant portion of those people had in fact collaborated with the Nazis. In the first years of the Cold War, these people, the former Nazi collaborators, came together as new political units and they attempted to, on the one hand, re-establish themselves as anything other than a Nazi collaborator because they feared they would be prosecuted, and in this specific circumstances [sic.] as being great Democrats and so on and freedom fighters, and became a political force within that nationality. And one of the first steps that they took was to, to 5attempt to engineer immigration schemes that would get them out of Europe into the United States and re-establish themselves with new identities. There's a 6clear track record through which the immigration agencies, National Security Council in the United States, CIA, other intelligence bodies of that sort recruited these people for military and intelligence missions at that time. LK: I mean, that sounds shocking. Whby, why would the U.S. want to recruit someone with that kind of an atrocious background. I mean, 7the idea of recruiting former Nazi collaborators or actual Nazis themselves doesn't, I feel like it would sound shocking to most American viewers hearing this. CS: Right, and it was systematically denied at that time, but nevertheless it took place, and we can, we can track it through the document record over a period of 40 and 50 years in some cases. During the war, of course Nazis were the enemy, but then, during that time period, there was a policy that if you could, you could capture the enemy and switch his or her loyalties then you wanted to get information from them—very logical. Okay. But that period there was a sentiment that even if you got information from them, that didn't mean that they were free of responsibility for the crimes. It simply meant that the crimes would be tried later. When there was a large-scale political shift in the United States in which the Soviet Union in general and Russia in particular became a prime enemy at the United States, then 8those conditions that had been attached to the criminals, those were lost in the shuffle. LK: What was, just very briefly, briefly, for our viewers, the historical background that led to this? CS: It is inescapable that Stalin's government committed very serious crimes against the Baltic states that have left a deep scar in the Baltic States. Okay. So you have people who were Nazis sometimes during the same period, they come to the United States, and they say, look at the crimes of Stalin. And everybody goes, oh my God, the crimes of Stalin. Horrifying. Genocidal. So, the United States government doesn't like Stalin, right? But, all of the sudden, 9it becomes not simply a ordinary country, but a deeply criminal country. In that circumstance, the very extreme views of the Baltic lobby coincide and become a political lever for the right wing of the Republican Party. And the right wing of the Republican Party, which already has a domestic presence in the United States, relies on these people for propaganda, for local political organizing, turn people out at rallies, all this type of thing. So the, the political forces begin to feed on each other and are useful to each other. LK: [interjects] To this day? CS: To some extent to this day. Okay. LK: [interjects] In what ways does the Baltic lobby shape U.S. foreign policy and domestic policy? CS: In the U.S. for sixty years, and really, still today, to be anti-communist is the only possible political religion. The roots of the Baltic lobby were primarily the post-World War 2 immigration to the United States that 10included a number of public leaders and also religious leaders who had collaborated with the Nazis. This meant two things. One, is that they were militantly anti-Russian and anti-Communist. Two, that that they had something to hide. And the best way to hide was to be very hostile to Russia. In the relatively small population of Balts in the United States, this group had a 11disproportionate influence. It was more influential than you might otherwise think. They were able to link up with earlier generations of Balts who were nationalist but were not fascists or Nazis, they were simply nationalists. They wanted independence. This doesn't make somebody a Nazi, but what it did mean is that these people could be 12exploited politically by people who had been Nazis. [Music and graphics cut in at this point with no expression of thanks to Simpson, leading us to believe this clip is part of a longer interview.—Editor]


Contention versus Fact

There could not have been 1,000 Latvian Legion veterans as Russian media contends, we doubt there are that many left alive in total. (The RT interviewer appears to not be familiar with Latvia, as she refers multiple times to "the Rīga" as a location.)

Simpson gets right to his point, which is that Waffen-SS = Nazi criminal. Curiously, he doesn't even address the Holocaust.

To "claim" is Simpson's code word for to "lie."

The charge that a large percentage of Baltic immigrants were criminal collaborators is, simply, false.

Simpson believes Latvian Nazis lobbied U.S. authorities to allow former war-criminal-by-definition Waffen-SS to enter the U.S. and that the finding that the Latvians were not Nazi supporters was a conspiratorial smoke-screen to allow that entry.

If Hāzners—whom Simpson expended considerable effort to vilify—is any indication, Simpson's contention is all conspiratorial conjecture as proven by the CIA's own declassified documents.

RT's question is founded on a false premise. But the casual viewer could well be hearing these contentions for the first time and believe them to be true, anti-American being in vogue.

More of Simpson's conspiratorial fantasy. The CIA was neither importing Latvian Nazi war criminals nor forgetting to prosecute them.

What "extreme" views? Simpson falsely alleges fascism, then alleges the Republican Party is in bed with fascists, with whom they share a common purpose (!).

Those Latvians who weren't very hostile to Russia were those to be looked on with suspicion. It would be incomprehensible to not bear hostility toward an occupying power which has deported and killed family, friends, relatives, which has ravaged your people, and which is now Russifying your homeland and culture.

As we have discussed, in a comparatively small exile community, its leaders wore multiple hats more often than not. That they did so testifies to their indefatigable dedication, not to conspiracy.

We have to ask, "exploited" for what purpose? To hate the USSR? When nearly every Latvian who survived WWII personally knew or was related to a victim of Stalin's wartime or post-war mass deportations, virulent anti-Sovietism was the norm.

Scholar or shill?

Simpson basks in the media limelight fomenting anti-Latvian attitudes as he levies a broad swath of accusations emanating from his prejudice that the Latvian Legion are war criminals. Meanwhile, Hāzners' family—and all Latvians—continue to live with the anguish of false accusations immune to the crucible of truth. But if not the truth, whom does the lie of "all Latvians are Nazis" serve? That Simpson appears on Russia's global propaganda channel to hawk his denunciations offers the most straight-forward answer.

Updated: June, 2017

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