German agency hired ex-Nazi mass murderer to spy on Cuba

Walther Rauff

Walther Rauff

A senior member of the German SS, the Nazi party’s Praetorian Guard, who was wanted for the murder of nearly 100,000 people, was hired by West German intelligence to spy on the communist government of Cuba, according to newly released papers. Colonel Walther Rauff, who held several intelligence-related positions in the Nazi state apparatus during the Third Reich, is mostly known for his work for the Main Office of the Criminal Technical Institute of the Reich. While there, he led the working group that designed the so-called gas vans, which used exhaust fumes to exterminate large groups of prisoners trapped inside a tightly sealed vault at the back, while the vans drove to designated burial sites. Nearly 100,000 people were killed in this way in Germany, Poland and the Ukraine, between 1942 and 1945. Soon after the end of World War II, Rauff escaped from an American internment camp in Rimini, Italy, and eventually managed to escape to Chile with the help of the Catholic Church. According to German newsmagazine Der Spiegel, it was in Chile that Rauff was hired by West Germany’s main foreign intelligence agency, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND). The organization approached Rauff in 1958, through Lieutenant Colonel Rudolf Oebsger-Röder, another former SS member, who was working for the BND under the alias O.G. Roeder. Der Spiegel, which accessed the BND’s folder on Rauff, says the former SS member was asked to use his Latin American contacts to infiltrate the communist government of the island of Cuba. At the same time that the BND was recruiting Rauff, he was under investigation by Germany’s Department of Justice, for complicity to mass murder during World War II. In 1962, the German government, which had no idea Rauff was working for the BND, successfully pressured Chilean authorities to arrest the former Nazi official. But he was soon released from prison, because a 15-year statute of limitation made his arrest illegal under Chilean law. Instead of accounting for his amply documented crimes, Rauff died in 1984 in Chile at the respectable age of 77. His funeral was attended by several former Nazis, many of whom gave ‘Heil Hitler’ salutes during the internment ceremony, says Der Spiegel. The magazine states that the BND viewed Rauff’s work as highly “disappointing”, and in 1962 cut his monthly stipend in half, because he had failed to produce tangible results from his spying operations against Cuba. Documents leaked last year to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung revealed that the leadership of the BND, as well as the US Central Intelligence Agency, were aware of the Nazi past of over 200 BND Cold-War-era agents.

One Response to German agency hired ex-Nazi mass murderer to spy on Cuba

  1. Kidd says:

    i smell a new philip kerr book in the somewhat near future .

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