Crous, Dr Jan W. Librarian of the German Archaeological Institute in Rome (79 via Sardegna). In August 1942 confiscated goods of the Czechoslovakian Institute in Rome. In March 1944 went to Alt Aussee to arrange for storage in the salt mine of objects from Rome.
Curtius, Prof Ludwig. Director of German Archaeological Institute in Rome (79 via Sardegna). Reported to have assisted Prince Philipp von Hessen in his acquisitions for Germany.
Deichmann, Prof Dr Friedrich Wilhelm. Head of Christian Archaeology Section of the German Archaeological Institute in Rome.
Fuchs, Dr Siegfried. Deputy Director of German Archaeological Institute, Rome. Reported responsible for seizure of Czechoslovakian Archaeological Institute in 1942, and for transfer to Germany of the Archaeological Institute and the Herziana libraries. Assisted by Dr Hoppenstedt. Reported to be SS Gruppenfuehrer and to have remained in Rome attached to the SD.
Fuehrmann, Dr Hans. Chief, Photographic Section, German Archaeological Institute, Rome.
Fulnmann. Official of the German Archaeological Institute, Rome.
Reported to have seized Czechoslovakian archives.
von Gerkan, Prof Arnim. Director, German Archaeological Institute, Rome.
Haas, Dr. (Rome). Member, German Embassy staff. Reported to have assisted members of the German Archaeological Institute in the transfer of works of art from northern repositories to Rome.
Kupers (possibly Kupper). Reported in charge of administration of the German Archaeological Institute in Rome; probably participated in the plan to transfer the German libraries from Rome.
Moellhausen. German Consul in Rome, reported to have worked with members of the German Archaeological Institute to protect Italian art treasures.
As one can see, the above list includes two directors, a deputy director, and other officials of the Institute as well as a member of the German Embassy staff in Rome and the German Consul in Rome. This indicates that the Institute itself was involved deeply in the operation and that it was not merely one or two “bad apples” trying to make extra money or win points with the Reich. Indeed, as we see from the above OSS file Director Dr Siegfried Fuchs was himself believed to be an SS Obergruppenführer and was also a member of the SD (Sicherheitsdienst, or Secret Service) in Rome. (He was also summoned to join the Waffen-SS by 1943 when it appeared as if Rome were about to fall to the Allies who had landed in Sicily.) Fuchs had been insisting that the archives and artifacts at the Institute in Rome be evacuated; it seems his colleagues did not agree, but in the end (by December 21, 1943) the evacuation of the Institute’s holdings
had begun and the property of the German Archaeological Institute in Rome had been transferred to a salt mine at Bad Aussee,136 about 100 kilometers southeast of Salzburg. (The area around Bad Aussee and its neighboring town, Alt Aussee, was where the Nazis had hidden a huge cache of stolen art in the salt mines, including priceless Michaelangelo and Vermeer works.) The Institute itself had strong links to the Ahnenerbe, and the two organizations had joined forces in order to compete with Alfred Rosenberg (1893-1946), one of the architects of the Reich’s racial policies, who wanted his own archaeological and anthropological institute.137
This is a tantalizing lead, courtesy of the Pöch diary. It adds another dimension to what we already know of the Ratline, for in addition to the Ustashe, the SS, the CIC, the OSS, the Red Cross, and the Catholic Church we now have German academia in the form of the Archaeological Institute as another very possible link in the underground network of escaping fugitives, moreover fugitives with access to nearly unlimited funds in the form of priceless art objects and archaeological artifacts. If we remember the looting of the Baghdad Museum at the time of the second Gulf War, and of how many Sumerian, Babylonian and Akkadian artifacts made their way into the international market at that time, we can imagine how easy it would have been in the days before computers and the Internet to hide, ship, and sell valuable paintings, sculptures, and ancient religious objects to interested parties who had no scruples about provenance in those unsettled and chaotic post-war days.
In addition to the men listed above, there were many SS officers and art specialists who were active in Austria and the Netherlands: the regions where Pöch and his wife were operating and, indeed, the Nazi thieves who were responsible for looting art from the Netherlands worked for Seyss- Inquart, the friend of the Pöch couple from their days in Austria and later as they attempted to work the Dutch camps over which Seyss-Inquart was the Reich’s Commissioner. Amsterdam was a major European art center, and the Nazis lost no time in ransacking both the museums and the private collections in Jewish hands for precious objects to enhance the Reich’s horde.
One of those in charge of seizing Jewish property in the Netherlands was SS officer Hans Fischböck, an aide to Adolf Eichmann and the Reich’s finance minister in Holland under Seyss-Inquart. He was also a member of the Freundeskreis Himmler, along with Wolfram Sievers, Hjalmar Shacht,
etc. and was thus a close confidant of the SS leader. After the war, it was the indispensable Father Draganovic who signed his fraudulent Red Cross passport application.138 Fischböck assumed the name of Jakob Schramm and fled to Buenos Aires in 1951. This was the same year that the Pöch couple left Europe for the same destination. Fischböck arrived in Argentina in February, 1951, and the Pöch couple at the end of that year.
As noted in the previous chapter, the entry in the diary that mentions the address of the German Archaeological Institute reads:
Escape Organization. Mr. and Mrs. Oppenheim replacement. Krüger. Sardegna Roma 79A/1. Expenses for travel to South America.
This directly implicates the Institute as the “Escape Organization” and would seem to link two names—Oppenheim and Krüger—directly with it. Unfortunately, we do not have the archives of the Institute at our disposal, something about which other historians have complained.139 However, the names Oppenheim and Krüger do appear on the OSS list of “Red Flag” names associated with stolen art.
The name Oppenheim appears as “Oppenheim, Jean. Paris, rue du Fbg St Honore. Small dealer. Dealt only with Bornheim.”140 The name Krüger appears several times, in different versions:
Krueger, Oberst. Commander of 71st Infantry Regiment and member of German Kunstschutz in Italy. Reported responsible for return of Oliveto deposit to Florence and connected with attempted theft of the Cranach Adam and Eve.
Krueger, Wolfgang. Berlin, Nikolassee, an der Rehwiese 4 Koelpinsee, Insel Usedom, Pommern. Former director of Lepke auction house, Berlin who became an independent dealer. Active as buyer in Paris. Used Schenker Co as shipper.
Krüger, Mme. Paris, 53 ave Foch. Sister-in-law of Petrides.141 Reported to have hidden pictures he obtained from the Germans.
As you can see, the three Krügers represent Italy, Germany and France and none of them is linked directly to the Institute although all three could have used the services of the Institute to evaluate their thefts or to store
them until they could be hidden in some other location. The first Krüger was a Wehrmacht officer, but he was also a member of the German Kunstschutz, or “Art Conservation” group in Italy. He would have been the most logical of the three Krügers to have been involved with the German Archaeological Institute during the war, and to have been involved in the underground networks after the war.
As we noted in Chapter Five, there was also a Krüger working for the mysterious Vianord travel agency in Buenos Aires, which arranged immigration documents for fleeing Nazis. While Krüger is a relatively common German name, to have come across it in two important locations
—at the Institute whose address appears in the diary, and at the other end of the Ratline in Buenos Aires—suggests that we are on the right track with at least one of them. The one in Vianord is linked directly to SS officer Carlos Fuldner’s leg of the Ratline. Both the Fuldner and the Draganovic links in the chain were operative in 1951, the year of the Pöch escape.
The more one investigates the scraps of information contained in the Pöch diary, the more one is lead to a stunning conclusion: the couple identified as Georg Anton and Hella Pöch were in the middle of a heretofore unknown and unacknowledged link in the escape system of Nazi war criminals, one that included not only former SS officers and their supporters in the Catholic Church and the intelligence communities of several nations—including the United States—but the governments of unaligned and “neutral” countries such as Argentina, Peru, Bolivia and Chile as well as the Arab nations of the Middle East. The threat of Soviet Communism was considered so dire and so immediate that roughly half the world signed a pact with the Devil in order to thwart it. The cabal of SS officers, Ustashe war criminals, Latin American fascists and Catholic prelates was convinced that a third world war was imminent, and that they would be in a perfect position to exploit that opportunity to create a new— Fourth—Reich. The Nazis had lost their country and their Third Reich, but in another sense they had won the war of ideas. They had convinced not only dictators like Perón of Argentina and Stroessner of Paraguay of their usefulness in this coming conflict, but could number seasoned American intelligence officials like Allen Dulles among the converted, as well as the generals running Operation Paperclip. It was due to this unholy alliance that a vast network of evil geniuses was allowed to expand throughout the
world, poisoning every political system with which they came into contact with the venom of fear.
There is only one more link in this heavy chain of evidence, and that is the relationship between the fugitive Nazi networks and their collaborators in the Middle East. It is a link that will further validate the information represented by the Pöch diary, if in a most unsettling way.
- Dr. Milan Bulajic, “Jasenovac—work camp or the system of Ustasha camps of genocide?” in the Second International Conference of Jasenovac—System of the Croatian Ustashe genocide camps (1941-1945), Banja Luka (Bosnia and Herzegovina): 2000, p. 47
- These countries included (but were not limited to) Austria, Germany, Yugoslavia, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, the UK, Portugal, Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Syria, Egypt, and Turkey, as well as the United States, Canada and Mexico.
- Barbie’s involvement with the German munitions firm Merex AG—a firm wholly-owned by the Gehlen Organization which was itself part of the West German BND (secret service) and a collaborative effort with CIA—is well-documented. Along with Freddy Schwend, Barbie also coordinated arms deals with Gemetex, another German arms supplier. Between the two of them they arranged deals with the governments of Chile, Paraguay, Bolivia and Peru, at times using Hans Rudel as a go-between. With Skorzeny, they also sold arms to Spain. And by “arms” one has to include tanks and rockets. See Linklater, et. al., The Nazi Legacy: Klaus Barbie and the International Fascist Connection, New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1984, p. 237-240.
- Peter Dale Scott, “Why No One Could Find Mengele: Allen Dulles and the German SS,” in The Threepenny Review, No. 23, Autumn 1985, pp. 16-18
- United States General Accounting Office, Comptroller General of the United States, Nazis and Axis Collaborators Were Used to Further U.S. Anti-Communist Objectives in Europe—Some Immigrated to the United States, GAO/ GGD-85-66 (Washington, DC: GAO, 1985, p. 6-7
- U.S. and Allied Efforts To Recover and Restore Gold and Other Assets Stolen or Hidden by Germany During World War II, Preliminary Study, Washington, DC: Department of Commerce, 1997, p. v-vi, emphasis added.
- Uki Goñi, The Real Odessa, p. 248 122 File GB-4773, classified “Secret”, p. 4.
- From the recently declassified interrogation of Hanna Reitsch dated 8 October 1945, from the Air Division, Headquarters US Forces in Austria, Salzburg, Air Interrogation Unit, Ref No AIU/IS/1, page 11, paragraphs 63-67. Reitsch’s memory must have been faulty, for she states this conversation with Hitler took place at 1:30 am, the morning of April 30, 1945. However, according to all reports, she had already flown out of Berlin on April 28.
- From a recently declassified OSS report dated 27 April 1945, GB-4773, entitled “Summary of Information on Reduit,” paragraph 7.
- To be sure, a G-2 report dated 16 April 1945, File INF/2266, bore the subject line “Location of Caves in Germany” which included a map of caves in the Salzburg area. The same file included a list of caves in the area around Salzburg along with the statement: This is the first of a series of Special Reports recording photographic evidence tending to confirm the enemy’s preparation of the so-called “NATIONAL REDOUBT”.
- OSS Report FF-6273 dated 7 April 1945.
- OSS Report GB-4773. Paragraph 2.
- Indeed, the flight of capital to Latin America was specifically linked to the Redoubt, in a Top Secret memo dated 6.7.45, file CSDIC/SC/15AG/SD 21, which states “…ample funds had already been planted in S AMERICA—mainly in the ARGENTINE—and would become available for
financing agents in due course. In order to have “bankers” who could distribute this money, certain trustworthy key men had already been sent to live in SPAIN and SWITZERLAND.” The source for this information was Olivier Mordrelle (1901-1985), a Breton Nationalist and Nazi collaborator who was captured in Bolzano in the Tyrol on May 24, 1945. His MI5 file was only declassified in the year 2011, as more information becomes available on the Ratline and its connection to information concerning the National Redoubt.
- Hanna Reitsch interrogation, paragraph 22.
- Hanna Reitsch interrogation, paragraph 51.
- Hanna Reitsch interrogation, paragraphs 64-65.
- Hanna Reitsch interrogation, paragraph 85: “Why the ‘Redoubt’ was not Utilized”.
- For this story in greater detail, see Heather Pringle, The Master Plan: Himmler’s Scholars and the Holocaust, New York: Hyperion, 2006, p. 251-253.
- See for instance Gerald Steinacher, Nazis on the Run, p. 168-169.
- Interested readers should consult the author’s own Unholy Alliance, New York: Continuum, 2002 for more information on this connection.
- Bundesarchiv R 4901/14064. I am indebted to Heather Pringle for this material on Fuchs and the evacuation of the Institute’s property to Austria.
- This theme has been explored in depth by Klaus Junker, “Research under dictatorship: the German Archaeological Institute 1929-1945”, in Antiquities, June 1998.
- Uki Goñi, The Real Odessa, p. 249
- See, for instance, O. Dalley, C. Jansen, M. Linder, speakers, “History of the German Archaeological Institute in the 20th Century”, Research Plan and Research Cluster of the German Archaeological Institute, from the Institute’s website, last accessed September 8, 2011.
- Not to be confused with Max von Oppenheim (1860-1946), a famous German archaeologist and contemporary of T.E. Lawrence. His last trip to Syria—in March, 1939—was financed by Herman Göring, but there is no indication that there was any connection between von Oppenheim and the German Archaeological Institute in Rome and not with the Ratline in any case. 141 “Petrides” was “one of the most active collaborationist dealers” who was born in Cyprus, but was a British subject and a naturalized Frenchman. He concealed some of his assets with Mme. Krüger.
- “Petrides” was “one of the most active collaborationist dealers” who was born in Cyprus, but was a British subject and a naturalized Frenchman. He concealed some of his assets with Mme. Krüger.
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