The CIA’s Gehlen Organization as a refuge for Hitler’s secret police

The so-called Gehlen Organization or ‘Org’ was founded under the control of the United States Army 1n 1948, complete control passing to the CIA in 1948,

.A very significant number of the German nationals belonging to the Gehlen Organization have been discovered to have belonged to either the Gestapo or the RSHA, the Reichssicheitshauptamt. This was the blanket organization for all German State and Party intelligence and counterintelligence agencies.

The fact that an indivual was assigned to the RSHA does not mean that they were involved in anything more sinister than clerical work in an office. But included in this list are a number of individuals whose wartime record indicates their activities were of a such a nature that their inclusion in any U.S. sponsored and controlled agency has no justification whatsoever.

 The American members of this group (the Gehlen Organization was entirely controlled by the U.S. CIA from 1948 through 1956) will be included in a subsequent volume. The listing here of some, and it must be emphasized that this treatment covers only the most serious offenders, is alphabetical and not by rank.

SS-Sturmbannführer Emil Augsberg, SS No. 307 925. Born May 1, 1905. Subject was a member of the RSHA, the adjutant to SS-Gruppen­führer Globocnik who was SS and Police Leader in the Polish district of Lublin. He was the head of the concentration camps of Treblinka and Belzec. Augsburg later was a member of the Wannsee Institute in Berlin where he was a specialist in Polish problems. He ended the war on the personal staff of Heinrich Himmler.      

SS-Obersturmbannführer Dr. Fritz Baader, SS No. 278 278. Born April 9, 1909. Dr. Baader was on the staff of the Senior SS and Police Leader in Hungary.         

SS-Sturmbannführer Otto Barnewald, SS No. 6 469. Born January 10, 1896. Subject was on the staff of the Concentration Camp, Buchenwald.

SS-Sturmbannführer Ernst Biberstein, SS No. 272 692. Born February 15, 1899. Biberstein was a member of the RSHA. He also commanded Einsatzkommando 6 of Einsatzgruppe C. The Einsatzgruppen were composed of RSHA personnel and operated behind the front lines in warfare against partisans. The activities of these groups often far exceeded their briefs and many of them were responsible for dreadful atrocities against partisans, civilians and Jews. Biberstein’s activities were such as to secure a death sentence by an Allied court after the war, a sentence that was commuted in 1951, permitting him to work for the Gehlen organization.

SS-Sturmbannführer Ludwig Boehme, SS No.249 802. Born August 21, 1898. Subject was on the staff of the Concentration Camp at Ausch­witz.

SS-Brigadeführer Christoph Diehm, SS No.28 461. Born March 1, 1892. Diehm was chief of staff of the Kaminiski Brigade. This unit was commanded by a Russian named Kaminiski and was involved in fighting partisans on the East Front. The unit took part in the fighting in Warsaw in 1944 where its behavior was so brutal that it was ordered disbanded and its leader shot.

SS-Sturmbannführer Karl Döring, SS No 67 310. Born February 5, 1903. Subject was on the staff of the Concentration Camp at Dachau. He was later the postwar West German Ambassador to the Cameroons.

 SS-Sturmbannführer Dr.Max Eberl, SS No. 680 352, Born December 26,1892. Dr. Eberl was a member of the RSHA and was involved with euthanasia at Treblinka Concentration Camp under Globocnik.

SS-Standartenführer Hans Eichele, SS No. 21 640. Born May 1, 1901. Eichele was Standortkommandat at the Concentration Camp, Dachau  

SS-Sturmbannführer Walter Huppenkoethen, SS No.126 785. Born December 31, 1907. Huppenkoethen was a member of the RSHA and Commanding Officer of the SD & Police in Lublin and Cracow (Poland). He was tried after the war for his activities.

SS-Obersturmbannführer Dr. Erich Isselhorst, SS No.267 313. Born February 5, 1906. Subject was Commander of the Police and SD at Strassburg and also Inspector of the SD, Stuttgart . He was also Commanding Officer of Einsatzkommando 8 of Einsatzgruppe A.

SS-Obersturmbannführer Oswald Poche, SS No. 267 316. Born January 28, 1908. Poche was commanding officer of the Security Police and SD, Tromsö, Norway.         

SS-Obersturmbannführer Albert Rapp, SS No.280 341. Born November 16, 1908. Subject was Inspector, Security Police and SD, Braunschwieg and commanding officer of Einsatzkommando 7, Einsatzgruppe B.      

SS-Standartenführer Walter Rauff, SS No. 290 947. Born June 19, 1906. Rauff was a member of RSHA and with Senior SS and Police Commander, Italy (Karl Wolff). Rauff was responsible for the construction of the gas vans and eventually had to move to South America to avoid prosecution.

SS-Oberführer Dr. Franz Six, SS No.107 480. Born August 12, 1909. Dr. Six was a member of RSHA, and Commanding Officer of Einzatz­gruppe Vorkommando Moscow. Six was an early member of the Gehlen Organization, but was finally arrested and tried for his activities in 1948. He was sentenced to life in prison, but released in 1951. Six worked for Porsche and Gehlen after his release.

SS-Standartenführer Eugen Steimle, SS No. 272 575. Born December 8, 1909. Subject was a member of RSHA and commanding officer of Einsatzgruppen B and later C. He was subsequently convicted by an Allied court and sentenced to a long term in prison, but released in 1951.          

SS-Sturmbannführer Alois Thaler, SS No.347 142. Born November 28, 1909.     Subject was a member of RSHA and was Senior SS & Police Commander, Italy.

SS-Obersturmbannführer Dr. Ernst Weimann, SS No. 263 985. Born August 5, 1906. Commanding officer, Security Police & SD, Bergen, Norway

SS-Sturmbannführer Kurt Weisse, SS. No. 563 159. Born October 11, 1909.     Subject was a member of SS Regiment Dirlewanger. Oscar Dirle­wanger was a convicted child molester and friend of Himmler. His unit was made up of paroled convicts and used to fight the partisans. Like the Kaminiski unit, their record was so appalling that they were withdrawn from combat by Hitler’s order. Dirlewanger vanished at the end of the war

SS-Sturmbannführer Eugen Wenner, SS No. 200 581. Born November 15, 1912. Wenner was a member of RSHA and was with the Senior SS and Police Commander, Italy.

SS-Obersturmbannführer Wilhelm Wiebens, SS No.16 617. Born March 17, 1906. Subject was a member of RSHA and Commanding Officer of Einzatzkommando 9 under Einsatzgruppe B. 

These names represent only a small percentage (less than 4%) of the names found on a listing of all personnel of the Gehlen Organization from 1945 onwards. These are only the names of higher ranking officers in the SS/SD and Police. The names of many lower rank SS/SD and Police members are still being verified as of this writing, but the names of thousands of Croatians, Slovenes, Balts and Russians are impossible to locate in existing files so they are excluded from this study.

The international uproar attendant upon the discovery that Klaus Barbie was gainfully employed by the U.S. CIC after the war, even after it became well known that Barbie was wanted for his Gestapo activities in Lyon, France, would pale to insignificance when the full impact of the Gehlen Organization’s complete list becomes a matter of public record.

The Gehlen group was controlled completely by the U.S. Army from 1945 until 1948. It was then taken over and controlled directly by the Central Intelligence Agency until 1955-56, when the group was taken over by the Federal Government of Germany and renamed the Bundes­nach­richtendienst (BND) or State Intelligence Service.

The excuse will doubtless be offered by all controlling parties that they had no way of knowing that their ranks contained such a significant number of Gestapo and SD officials, and many who were on the wanted lists called CROWCASS. This acronym stands for Central Registry of War Crimes and Security Suspects instituted by U.S. Intelligence in May of 1945, and eventually discontinued in 1948. These lists were contained in a total of forty books and were responsible for the apprehension of many wanted war criminals. It should be pointed out, that from 1945 until 1948 when the control of the Gehlen Organization passed to the CIA, it was mandatory that all German nationals who were employed by U.S. authorities in occupied Germany had to be checked both through CIC Central Registry as well as the CROWCASS lists!    

There is absolutely no possibility that a valid claim of ignorance of the makeup of the Gehlen group can be made at this point in time. In fact, in 1948, all of the CROWCASS files were turned over to Gehlen and the CIA, very effectively blocking any possible inquiry into the makeup of the German-American spy network.

Because Gehlen had no knowledge of the inner workings of the Soviet Union, and being limited in his wartime duties of establishing Soviet order of battle, it was necessary for him to seek the services of German, Croatian, Baltic and Russian individuals who had a much broader background in non-military intelligence.

During the Second World War, Reinhard Gehlen was in charge of the German Army’s Foreign Armies East (Fremde Heer Ost) branch of the High Command. In retrospect, his projected views of Soviet military moves were more often wrong than right, but Gehlen was both ambitious and egocentric, a combination which effectively precluded him from considering any views other than his own. Hitler eventually fired him for gross incompetence.

The American military had very little knowledge of the inner workings of the Soviet state because during Roosevelt’s reign they had been strictly forbidden by the President to conduct any intelligence activity against his ideological friend and ally, Josef Stalin. Soviet agents, on the other hand, ran rampant in the United States, spying on every important part of the U.S. government and military establishment. In this, the Soviets were eagerly assisted by a host of American communists who did not view their treachery as such, but rather as their sacred duty to the Soviet Union to whom they owed their entire allegiance.

The defense made, after the fact, by American intelligence agencies to charges of the unrestrained use of foreigners whose activities during the war were brutal in the extreme, was that the U.S. needed as much information on their new enemy as they could develop. Also, the backgrounds of many of their intelligence resources were secondary to their task of developing this intelligence.

Many of the individuals hired by Gehlen had very little experience in the intelligence field, but much in the area of partisan warfare. This combat experience consisted of engaging Soviet partisan and irregular units in warfare with the intention of liquidating them, the same goals, it ought to be pointed out, that the partisans themselves adhered to.

There is also the concept that Gehlen was used by elements in the United States government and military as a foil to convince a reluctant President Truman and the American Congress that Stalin was planning to launch an attack on western Europe. To forestall this attack, these elements urged, it was vital that the United States halt the demobilization of their military and the downsizing of American industry, and reverse the process.

Gehlen’s reports prepared at the behest of his American controllers have proven to be as inaccurate as the ones he prepared for Hitler’s High Command. But in the former case, Gehlen did what he was told to do while the latter case was more an example of ego than mendacity.

Probably the most significant former Gestapo officer under the employ of the Gehlen Org and later, the CIA, was SS-Gruppenführer Heinrich Müller, once head of the Gestapo. Before moving to the United States, Müller worked for Colonel Critchfield, head of the Gehlen group, while living in and working for Switzerland.

Most professional intelligence practitioners would agree, many with reluctance, that the use by either the United States or Great Britain of a superb counterintelligence personality such as Heinrich Müller would be fully justified considering Müller’s expertise in the machinations of the Kremlin and its leaders.

Almost no one, except for bureaucratic types, could justify the use by Gehlen and his controllers, the U.S. Army and later the CIA, of such men whose names are now identified with membership in his organization.

Every nation in modern times has special military or paramilitary organizations at their disposal to enforce their will by ruthless and morally indefensible methods. The Germans had their Einsatzgruppen, their Geheime Feld Polizei and their Jagdverbände, the British their SAS, the U.S. their Special Forces and SEALS, and the Soviets their Speznatz units. All of these units were and are being trained in the techniques of control through terror and what, in the end, amounts to the control, repression and often the physical liquidation of the civilian populations of their military opponents.

It should be noted that the CIA was not alone in its hiring practices. Through documents released under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), it is discovered in a CIC report dated March 1951, that a certain Dr. Wilhelm H. Schmitz was in the employ of that agency. During the course of the Third Reich, Dr. Schmitz was an SS-Sturmbannführer (as of April 20, 1941) and the head of the Gestapo bureau, IV E 6. This section was called “Counterespionage Section South” and covered Czechoslovakia, the Balkans, Hungary, Italy, Spain and South America.

When the British murdered RSHA chief Reinhard Heydrich in 1942 in Prague, the leadership of the Reich was in an uproar and Himmler went at once to the Czech capital along with Müller...and Dr. Wilhelm Schmitz. Dr. Schmitz, acting under Müller’s orders, was responsible for the actions taken against the Czechs, including the destruction of Lidice and the shooting of over three thousand Czechs, some of whom were actually connected with the plot or were found to be British agents.

After the war, Schmitz, whose background was known to his employers, worked in Prague as a double agent. Schmitz was one of the architects of the CIA-created cover legend that Müller was working for Czech intelligence. The main architect of this delightful fable was the former chief of the Gestapo himself, who greatly enjoyed pulling the legs of his employers, but always, it must be added, with great care.

The CIC later discovered that they had been hoaxed and other documents recently released indicate that the perpetrators of the Müller-Czech stories were ordered to be terminated at once. This phrase is usually considered an official euphemism for assassination.

The hiring by Gehlen of highly undesirable individuals, many of whom were not German SS men, but equally as unpalatable, generally was overseen by Willi Krichbaum, his chief recruiter. Krichbaum, who had been Müller’s chief deputy in the Gestapo and head of the dreaded Geheime Feld Polizei (GFP), filled the ranks of the Gehlen organization with a mixture of ferocious individuals who had the potential to cause terrible problems for the ultimate authority over them.

 From 1945 through 1948, this authority was the U.S. Army and between 1948 and 1956, the CIA. What happened later was that the ranks of the newly-constituted Bundesnachrichtendienst or BND, of the West German government, were swelled with a significant number of former Gestapo and SD people who had the added liability of working for Soviet intelligence.

Following the revelations that British intelligence agencies had been equally infiltrated with Soviet spies, both countries suffered from a drastic and permanent loss of confidence by the United States.

The use by the American intelligence, and governmental communities, of Germans with some expertise on the subject of the Soviet Union is pragmatically understandable. The only reason that Great Britain didn’t make more use of former RSHA personnel is that they could not outspend the Americans, and further, England was so full of Soviet sympathizers and agents that the subject of utilizing the late enemy was anathema to them.

The individuals listed here had very little expertise in Soviet internal affairs, with a few exceptions, and their employment at any level is completely indefensible.

The foregoing study is not meant to show that U.S. Intelligence agencies actively sought to employ Germans who were accused of the commission of serious crimes. It does mean, in every sense, that such persons were knowingly employed by the intelligence agencies as an expedient.

All bureaucracies in all periods encounter the same problems: Maintenance. The actual secrets of the world are so few that one could carry them on small slips of paper in a back pocket. In order to justify acres of buildings filled with tens of thousands of employees, office equipment, telephones, code machines, shredders, computer systems, plastic passes, executive dining rooms, travel expenses and, finally, salaries, all intelligence agencies have to at least give the appearance of performing vital functions for the security of their state. No agency or bureaucracy has ever voluntarily reduced itself, but every one of them finds it necessary to expand itself to acquire more power, more employees, more parking space, and most importantly, larger budgets to be approved by those set above them.

Communism and Soviet expansionism proved to be as vital to the maintenance and growth of the U.S. intelligence and counterintelligence agencies, as capitalism, and U.S. expansionism was to Soviet intelligence and counterintelligence. These massive entities represent the upper and the nether millstone and what is ground between them are those who pay for the follies, the vices, and most important, the bill.