Mossad and MI6 hired Nazi Walter Rauff
holds up pictures of ambulance used as mobile gas chamber, and of Nazi Walter Rauff.
What the famous Nazi hunter did not know was who had hired SS colonel Rauff and helped him get away.
Walther Rauff was not one of the big names among Nazi leaders, but nor was he the kind of nobody occasionally unearthed in the hunt for war criminals. Rauff earned himself a special place in the history of Nazi genocide without even having to leave his office, but he never faced trial, and was able to resume his career, assisting General Pinochet in Chile, till he died there peacefully.
In 1941, German troops on the eastern front were being overworked, killing captured partisans, Jews and communists. Walter Rauff, who'd been turned out of the German Navy after figuring in a high society divorce case, then served with Heydrich in Prague, was in the Reich Security Main Office (RSHA), part of the SS, in charge of technical supplies . He is credited with the idea of using special vans to which the exhaust could be connected to turn them into mobile gas chambers. Later the Nazis used Zyklon B gas.
In later life, interviewed by a German reporter in Chile, Rauff reflected: "Did I think twice about employing the gas vans? I couldn't say. At the time the most important consideration for me was the psychological stress felt by the men involved in the shootings. This problem was overcome by the use of gas vans".
Rauff reached the rank of SS -Standartenfuhrer, colonel, in the SS. He was sent to North Africa to see if he could speed up Nazi plans to exterminate Jews which, despite Vichy collaboration, were proceeding slowly. He is said to have tried to get Rommel interested in plans for Egypt, but it was too late, as the Nazi armies were driven back.
Declassified CIA documents say "Near the end of the war Rauff, then an SS and police official in northern Italy, tried to gain credit for the surrender of German forces in Italy, but ended up only surrendering himself. After escaping from an American internment camp in Italy, Rauff hid in a number of Italian convents, apparently under the protection of Bishop Alois Hudal. In 1948 he was recruited by Syrian intelligence and went to Damascus (only to fall out of favor after a coup there a year later)".
According to one report, he tortured Jews in Syria. He and his family then settled in Ecuador, later shifting to Chile, where he may have served in Chilean intelligence. CIA officials could not determine Rauff's exact position. The CIA report adds: "In any case, the government of General Augusto Pinochet resisted all calls for his extradition to stand trial in West Germany".
But how was Rauff helped to get to South America, and who was he working for in the years in between? An article in the Israeli daily Ha'aretz has revealed a sensational part of the answer. 'An SS officer who was responsible for the murder of at least 100,000 people and was wanted by the Allies as a war criminal, was employed by the Israeli secret service. Instead of bringing him to justice it paid him for his services and helped him escape to South America. Documents of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) that have been released over the past several years show that the Americans were aware that Rauff's case was not exceptional.
'A CIA memorandum dated March 24, 1950 describes the relations between the Israel agent Edmond (Ted) Cross, whose name is deleted on this document, and a Nazi named Janos Walberg: "Subject's engagement be [sic] the Israeli Intelligence Service would fit into the picture as revealed by talks with X with [Edmond (Ted) Cross a.k.a. Magen or Crowder] consisting in the utilization of former Nazi elements for observation and penetration in the Arab countries. The attempt to send the well-known former SS Colonel Walter Rauff to Egypt having failed, the Israeli Service with all probability (however this has not yet been confirmed) had engaged Subject [Walberg], whose sentiments and past would arouse no suspicions in Egypt that he is a Jewish agent."
An earlier document, from February 1950, states that Cross helped Rauff obtain the necessary papers for immigration to South America, even though the attempt to send him to Egypt had failed. Why, though, did Israel help Rauff? This document provides a hint: "It is not improbable that Subject's presence in Syria was in connection with a mission for the Israel[i] service." Rauff was indeed in Syria, serving as military adviser to President Hosni Zaim, who sought a peace agreement with Israel. Rauff was forced to leave after Zaim was deposed in a military coup.
"The mission Rauff was to have carried out in Egypt is not known, but his connection with Cross may supply more than a hint. According to research by Ruth Kimche, a former Mossad employee, Cross was sent in July 1948, as the War of Independence raged, to assassinate several key figures in Egypt with the help of a group of Jews. At the last minute the mission was called off. Cross returned to Egypt in September, but again the plan was not executed, probably because he became entangled in a love affair with the Egyptian Princess Amina Nur a-Din and had to leave the country.
'According to Kimche, "The whole story is very reminiscent of the Lavon Affair of the 1950s, except that fortunately for them the 1948 plan was not implemented, apparently thanks to the Egyptian princess." But the plan was not jettisoned, either. In 1949, as the U.S. documents show, Cross wanted to sent Rauff to Egypt. According to another document in Rauff's CIA file, Rauff did not reach Egypt, but a 1953 memorandum quotes the U.S. ambassador to Egypt as saying that a man named Rauff was in the country'.
Until now we only knew that the CIA found work for former Nazis in Arab countries. It was known that Mossad made a deal with both the Federal German intelligence service BND and Nazi arms dealer Otto Skorzeny in the 1960s, to counter German scientists. Israel did nothing to help bring 'Butcher of Lyons' Klaus Barbie to justice, possibly because its agents were working on the same side as him in Bolivia. But the new information puts the deals with the devil back much earlier, well before the capture and trial of Adold Eichmann in 1960. That episode, hitherto seen as closing a chapter of Nazi-hunting, now seems to stand more like an isolated exception.
Apparently Rauff was not just working with Israeli intelligence, nor were they the only ones who helped and covered him. As the Ha'aretz article continues:
'From Damascus Rauff went to Beirut, and from there to Italy. With the assistance of Israeli, and apparently also British intelligence, he sailed for South America in December 1949. He settled in Quito, the capital of Ecuador. A 1953 report put him in Buenos Aires, where he probably headed an anti-Communist group. In 1958 Rauff moved to Chile, obtaining permanent residency status there a year later. ... On December 19, 1962, Rauff was arrested in Chile after West Germany requested his extradition. Chile's Supreme Court refused the request and released Rauff. Allende's election as president did not change the situation: in a friendly letter to Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal Allende wrote that he could not reverse the court's 1962 decision. In September 1973, Allende was killed in a military coup against his democratically elected government. A few months later, the French paper Le Monde reported that Rauff was appointed head of Chile's intelligence service; the report was denied by the Chilean government. Ten years later, in January 1984, Chile turned down an extradition request for Rauff from Israel's Justice Ministry. A month later, West Germany repeated its extradition request. Chile said the case would be reopened only if it were presented with evidence of new crimes. Extraditing Rauff would not serve any public interest in Chile, the court said, since he had lived in the country for many years and his behavior was always beyond reproach.
'Then director general of Israel's Foreign Ministry, David Kimche, visited Santiago in 1984. The press reported that he urged his hosts to deport Rauff, whom he described as one of the major war criminals living in a Western country. His wife, Ruth Kimche, said on behalf of her husband that he does not recall this; they were in Chile on a private visit, she says. The sincerity of the Israeli efforts toward Rauff's capture can be gauged from the fact that already in 1979 Israel sold patrol boats to Chile and then overhauled Chilean war planes, and in 1984 was still assisting with their maintenance. Rauff died of lung cancer in May 1984. The statement issued by the Israeli embassy sounded like a sigh of relief: "The problem with Mr. Rauff is now solved. God has tried him."
'The fact that Rauff supplied intelligence to Israel has been published before, but for some reason the reports did not generate a public debate over the moral implications of Israel's providing protection to a major Nazi criminal, who was the subject of an international campaign by Nazi hunters Simon Wiesenthal and Beate Klarsfeld to bring him to trial. Similarly, the renowned U.S. Holocaust researcher Richard Breitman, who as director of historical research for the Nazi War Criminal Records Interagency Working Group reviewed Rauff's CIA file, chose to ignore information indicating that Israeli intelligence systematically employed Nazis in Arab countries'.
For the full article, see Ha'aretz, March 29, 2007,
"In the Service of the Jewish State", by Shraga Elam and Dennis Whitehead