In his new book, The Nazis Next Door, Lichtblau reports that thousands of Nazis managed to settle in the United States after World War II, often with the direct assistance of American intelligence officials who saw them as potential spies and informants in the Cold War against the Soviet Union. Lichtblau says there were whole networks of spy groups around the world made up of Nazis — and they entered the U.S., one by one.Share
"They sort of had put in their service," Lichtblau tells Fresh Air's Dave Davies. "This was their 'reward' ... for their spy service ... coming to the United States and being able to live out their lives basically with anonymity and no scrutiny."
Most Americans knew little about the Nazis among them. And then in 1979, media reports and congressional interest finally spurred the creation of a Nazi-hunting unit with the Justice Department.
That prompted the first wave of Nazi-hunting, Lichtblau says.
"You had teams of lawyers and investigators and historians at the Justice Department who began ... looking at hundreds and hundreds of names of suspected Nazis and Nazi collaborators who were living all around the country, in Queens, in Baltimore, in Florida and Chicago," he says.
And, in some cases, the CIA had scrubbed the Nazis' files, Lichtblau says.
"They actively cleansed their records," Lichtblau says. "They realized that guys who had been involved at senior levels of Nazi atrocities would not pass through immigration at the INS — and they basically removed a lot of the Nazi material from their files." (Read more.)