You think they're so dumb, you think they're so funny
Wait until they've got you running to the Night Rally - Elvis Costello
A recurring and seemingly fabulist theme in the literature of cult and mind control survivors is the perseverence of a criminal Nazi underground in America, surviving on bonds of blood and symbology and enjoying the protection of high power. Eight-year old Rhonda, drawing pictures of her torture depicting swastikas and ceremonial daggers. Kathleen Sullivan writing in Unshackled of being shuffled between porn shoots and "secret Nazi meetings" by her father and grandfather. It's all a bit too rich for most palates, even now, when the Nazi is little more than a stock villain or comic foil. It's hard to get exercised about an enemy if you believe him buried beneath 60 years of history.
We know of Paperclip and the Ghelen Org, and how Nazis came to guide US government science and intelligence (and unacknowledged yet no less real, the covert trafficking of arms and drugs), finding the patronage of their stateside fellow travellers and eugenicists. Not as well known is how many others came to follow.
Between 1948 and 1952, America's Displaced Persons Commission arranged for nearly a half-million Europeans to emigrate to the United States. For two years it barred those who had been members of organizations sympathetic or collaborative to the Nazis. In 1950 that began to change, when first the "Baltic Legion" was removed from the list of "hostile" movements, though the Baltic Legion was also known as the Baltic Waffen SS.
The change of policy was strategic: the CIA was subsidizing the immigration of European Nazis and fascists in order to build a far-right power bloc as a hedge against communism. Its primary vehicle became the Republican Party. In the year the Commission completed its work, the Republican National Committee formed an "Ethnic Division" to mobilize for elections, which became the permanent standing body called the Republican Heritage Groups Council in 1969.
In his 1988 book Old Nazis, the New Right, and the Republican Party, Russ Bellant writes that "it eventually became clear that it wasn't an accident or a fluke that people with Nazi associations were in the Republican Heritage Groups Council. In some cases more mainstream ethnic organizations were passed over in favor of smaller but more extremists groups. [And] the Republican National Committee knows with whom they are dealing."
The leaders of the Republican "heritage" groups included men like Nicholas Nazarenko, who fought as an officer in an SS Cossack unit before going to work for the US Army's Counter Intelligence Corp. The evening after a Reagan speech praising the heritage groups, Nazarenko insisted on opening for Bellant his huge suitcase of political materials, filled with German war memorabilia and literature on the "Jewish problem." He said he was still "in touch" with various "Nazi" organizations: "They respect me because I was a former German army officer. Sometimes when I meet these guys, they say 'Heil Hitler.'"
Bellant again: "in a sense...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 German SS set up or funded political action organizations that helped form SS militias during the war."
The heritage groups accounted for 86,000 volunteers in the 1988 election of George HW Bush, though several of their leaders were compelled to resign from campaign positions on account of collaboration. One was Romanian priest and member of the pro-Nazi Iron Guard Florian Galdau, who boasted of having files on 15,000 Romanians he helped emigrate in the US with the aid of CIA-linked resettlement groups the Tolstoy Foundation and the International Rescue Committee. Candidate Bush insisted they were all honourable men and innocent of all charges.
These old ratlines are of more than historical curiosity, and for more reason than that they suggest an embedding of Nazism in the Republican Party that goes beyond metaphor. They ratlines also appear to continue to function. Mohammed Atta participated in a German-American exchange program, jointly overseen by the State Department and the German Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development and linked to both David Rockefeller and Henry Kissinger. (The Carl Duisberg Society, named after a senior official of IG Farben.) According to Atta's stripper girlfriend Amanda Keller, he called his German associates in Florida his "brothers." One of then, Wolfgang Bohringer, belonged to the "Flying Club of Munich," which was owned by his father. "Such clubs were popular with "postwar German neo-Nazis to circumvent that country’s anti-Nazi laws."
Daniel Hopsicker further observes:
From what has been learned so far, the backgrounds of Atta's German associates seem strikingly similar to that of another German national, Andreas Strassmeir, whose possible relationship with Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh was in the news a decade ago. Strassmeir was at one point named in a lawsuit by families of the victims as a "US federal informant with material knowledge of the Oklahoma City bombing." Strassmeir's father was once a top aide to German Chancellor Helmut Kohl; Atta's German friends are all children of the German elite.
"Sometimes when I meet these guys, they say 'Heil Hitler.'" Sixty years - what's that?