A Mosque in Munich: Nazis, the CIA, and the Rise of the Musl

"Science," the Greek word for knowledge, when appended to the word "political," creates what seems like an oxymoron. For who could claim to know politics? More complicated than any game, most people who play it become addicts and die without understanding what they were addicted to. The rest of us suffer under their malpractice as our "leaders." A truer case of the blind leading the blind could not be found. Plumb the depths of confusion here.

A Mosque in Munich: Nazis, the CIA, and the Rise of the Musl

Postby admin » Wed Jun 10, 2015 8:59 pm

by Ian Johnson
© 2010 Ian Johnson



And there are those who built a mosque from mischievous motives, to spread unbelief and disunite the faithful. -- Koran 9:107

Table of Contents

• Inside and Back Cover
• Cast of Characters
• Prologue: On the Edge of Town
1. The Eastern Front
2. The Turkologist
3. The Nazi Prototype
4. Reviving the Ostministerium
5. The Key to the Third World
6. Learning Their Lesson
7. "A Politically Smart Act": The Mosque Is Conceived
8. Dr. Ramadan Arrives
9. Marriage of Convenience
10. The Novelist's Tale
11. Winning the Mosque
12. Losing Control
13. The Brotherhood Triumphant
14. Beyond Munich
15. Defining the Debate
16. 1950s Redux
• Epilogue: Inside the Mosque
• Acknowledgments
• Sources
• Notes
• Index
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Re: A Mosque in Munich: Nazis, the CIA, and the Rise of the

Postby admin » Wed Jun 10, 2015 9:00 pm

Inside Cover Left:

In the wake of the news that the 9/11 hijackers had lived in Europe, journalist Ian Johnson wondered how such a radical group could sink roots into Western soil. Most accounts reached back twenty years, to U.S. support of Islamist fighters in Afghanistan. But Johnson dug deeper, to the start of the Cold War, uncovering the untold story of a group of ex-Soviet Muslims who had defected to Germany during World War II. As German agents fashioned the group into an anti-Soviet propaganda machine, they naively began a faltering liaison between political Islam and the West that would produce unintended consequences through the Cold War and up to today. And as West German and U.S. intelligence operatives vied for control of this inscrutable but influential Muslim community -- with a quiet mosque in Munich at the center of their covert struggle -- radical Islam built its first beachhead in the West.

Culled from an impressive array of sources, including newly declassified documents, A Mosque in Munich interweaves the stories of several key players: a Nazi scholar turned postwar spymaster; key Muslim leaders across the globe, including members of the Muslim Brotherhood; and naive CIA men eager to fight communism with a new weapon, Islam. A rare ground-level look at Cold War spying and a revelatory account of the West's first, disastrous encounter with radical Islam, A Mosque in Munich is as captivating as it is crucial to understanding the mistakes we are still making in our relationship with Islamists today.

Inside Cover Right:

"A Mosque in Munich should be read in the corridors of power and by citizens who take a serious interest in the continuing issue of how best to address the challenge posed by political Islamism, in both Europe and the Middle East." -- JEFFREY HERF, author of Divided Memory: The Nazi Past in the Two Germanys

Pulitzer Prize-winning Wall Street Journal reporter Ian Johnson spent five years researching and writing this book, interviewing survivors, scouring archives, and pressuring governments to release sensitive intelligence documents. He is also the author of Wild Grass: Three Portraits of Change in Modern China.

Jacket design by Brian Moore
Front and back jacket photograph (Munich)
© The Granger Collection
Spine image (map) © Getty Images
Author photograph © Otto Pohl

Back Cover:


"I thought I knew something about blowback: the way U.S. support for anti-Soviet Muslim militants in Afghanistan two decades earlier came back to haunt us on September 11, 2001. But Ian Johnson has unearthed an extraordinary episode of similarly disastrous American judgment that begins well over half a century ago, whose full consequences we've not yet seen. It's a chilling piece of history few people know, and he tells the story with a novelist's skill." -- ADAM HOCHSCHILD, author of Bury the Chains and King Leopold's Ghost

"A Mosque in Munich is an important book about an important subject. But Ian Johnson is more than a brilliant journalist and tireless researcher; he is a writer of the first rank. His story of an extraordinary Muslim community in Germany is instructive, enlightening, and beautifully done." -- IAN BURUMA, author of Murder in Amsterdam: The Death of Theo Van Gogh and the Limits of Tolerance

"Ian Johnson is one of the best foreign correspondents working today. His literary sensibility gives life to this amazing period, with a cast of characters ranging from exiled Uzbeks to suave CIA agents with a taste for nudist camps. Along the way, he shows how the battle against communism unwittingly contributed to the development of today's terrorist organizations." -- PETER HESSLER, author of Oracle Bones

"This fascinating book shows how the establishment of a mosque in Munich and the international machinations that surrounded it contributed, over time, to the rise of radical Islam and Islamic terrorism in Germany and the whole of Europe. Johnson's vivid, absorbing narrative underscores how decisions made decades ago can still haunt us today." -- MARK KRAMER, director, Cold War Studies Program, Harvard University


IN 1947, MARGARET DOLLINGER went for a swim in the Isar, the Alps-fed river that runs through Munich. There she saw a bronzed, vaguely Asian-looking man. He was Hassan Kassajep, a thirty-year-old Soviet refugee hoping to start a new life. The two looked at each other shyly. "I knew he was the man," she said. They parted only at his death, one year shy of their golden wedding anniversary.

This book is dedicated to the Kassajeps and other Muslim emigres who fought this obscure war. Many of them faced impossible moral choices and ended up thousands of miles away from home, living in countries they didn't really understand, hoping that their work would change history. It did, but in ways that they couldn't have expected.

This is a common refrain in history -- the story of unintended consequences. But in this case I felt a special poignancy. I came to know these people intimately through their letters, photos, and, in some lucky cases, through meeting people like Margaret Kassajep in person -- aged survivors of another era. I was also struck by the sadness of a life lived in secret. These people could rarely talk openly about what they had done. Sometimes it was because they were embarrassed by their actions -- collaborating with an odious regime, for example, or betraying friends. At other times they felt bound by a code of silence, either directly imposed or implicitly understood in covert operations. Most had constructed an alternate reality: that of the scholar or the freedom fighter, the religious activist or the businessman. I wondered what remains of a life when it is stripped of a public identity.

In the case of the people in this book, the answer is, a lot. Though most of them are dead and their life stories obscure until now, their actions reverberate today as we confront similar issues. Like light refracted from a distant planet, they illuminate our own lives.

April 2009
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Re: A Mosque in Munich: Nazis, the CIA, and the Rise of the

Postby admin » Wed Jun 10, 2015 9:01 pm


The Main Actors

ROBERT H. DREHER: CIA agent working in Munich for a front organization, the American Committee for Liberation (Amcomlib). Backed the Muslim Brotherhood.

GERHARD VON MENDE: Turkic studies expert who pioneered the use of Muslims against the Soviets in the Nazi era; ran a similar intelligence bureau after the war in West Germany.

SAID RAMADAN: Exiled senior leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, with close ties to Western intelligence. Led Islamists in the battle to seize control of the Munich mosque project.

Other major players, grouped by their primary allegiance:

The Americans

IBRAHIM GACAOGLU: Feisty Muslim leader; served the Germans during World War II but later accepted U.S. aid.

AHMAD KAMAL: California author and Muslim activist who cooperated with U.S. intelligence but ran a rogue operation in Munich.

ROBERT F. KELLEY: Head of Amcomlib's Munich operations.

B. ERIC KUNIHOLM: Amcomlib's political director in New York headquarters; strong backer of using Muslims against the Soviet Union.

RUSI NASAR: Uzbek activist supported by Amcomlib and other agencies in anti-Soviet activities.

SAID SHAMIL: North Caucasian leader close to U.S. intelligence; worked closely with Dreher.

GARIP SULTAN: Worked for von Mende during World War II and immediately afterward; later worked for Amcomlib.

The Germans

BAYMIRZA HAYIT: Uzbek historian and von Mende's right-hand man.

ALI KANTEMIR: Dagestani leader, loyal to von Mende.

HASSAN KASSAJEP: Secretary of Mosque Construction Commission; tried to mediate between ex-soldiers and students.

VELI KAYUM: Self-styled "Khan" of the Uzbeks; mercurial and unreliable.

NURREDIN NAMANGANI: Uzbek imam of an SS division; later employed by von Mende to take control of Munich's Muslims.

The Muslim Brotherhood [1]

MAHDI AKEF: Current "supreme guide" of the Muslim Brotherhood; headed the Munich mosque for three years.

GHALEB HIMMAT: Syrian businessman and head of the Munich mosque for thirty years; lives near Nada in the Italian Alps.

HAJ AMIN AL-HUSSAINI: Former Grand Mufti of Jerusalem; worked with von Mende and the Nazis during the war and with Ramadan afterward.

YOUSSEF NADA: Egyptian businessman who helped arrange financing for the Munich mosque; helped set up the Brotherhood in the United States.

YOUSSEF QARADAWI: One of the most influential spiritual figures in the Muslim Brotherhood today; helped rebuild the Brotherhood in the 1970s by focusing on the West.

IBRAHIM EL-ZAYAT: Took control of the Munich mosque association from Himmat after the 9/11 attacks.



1. People considered close to the group or its ideology; not necessarily formal members of the Egyptian political party.
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Re: A Mosque in Munich: Nazis, the CIA, and the Rise of the

Postby admin » Wed Jun 10, 2015 9:01 pm

PROLOGUE: On the Edge of Town

IN THE WINTER OF 2003, I was browsing in a London bookstore that sold radical Islamic literature. It was the sort of store that had earned London the nickname "Londonistan": stacked with screeds calling for the downfall of free societies, it tested the limits of free speech -- and unwittingly catalogued the troubles plaguing Europe's Muslim communities. I was a regular customer.

Wandering the aisles, I noticed a peculiar map of the world. Countries were color-coded according to percentage of Muslim population. Dark green countries had a Muslim majority; light green, yellow, and beige represented decreasing proportions of Muslims -- a typical example of political Islam, which divides the world into us and them, the only criterion being religion. Famous mosques decorated the edge of the map -- the Grand Mosque in Mecca (the yearly destination of millions of pilgrims), the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem (where Muhammad ascended to heaven), the wondrous Blue Mosque of Istanbul -- and the Islamic Center of Munich.

The Islamic Center of Munich? That seemed odd. I had been writing on religion in Europe and other parts of the world for half a dozen years, and had lived in Germany even longer. I had heard of the mosque as the headquarters of one of Germany's smaller Islamic organizations. But the mosque hardly belonged in such august company. Munich was no center of Islam, and the mosque wasn't the biggest in Germany, let alone Europe. Still, it was immortalized in someone's pantheon. I was planning a visit to Munich and decided to find out why.

A few weeks later, I drove along the old main road north from downtown Munich, at first paralleling the sleek autobahn that led to the new airport and the city's futuristic sports stadium. Skirting these exemplars of Germany's vaunted infrastructure, I wove through neglected neighborhoods of the Bavarian capital. The city gave way to suburbs, then to patches of countryside. Finally, the mosque appeared, first just a slender minaret jutting above the pines, a finger pointing toward heaven. Then the rest came into view. It was an egg-shaped house, like a weather balloon held down by a tarp -- an ebullient, futuristic design straight out of the 1950s.

I spied a janitor, thin and short, a man of about sixty in a traditional white gown and sandals. I asked why the mosque was so famous. He shrugged without a glimmer of curiosity and said it surely wasn't. I asked when it had been built. He said he didn't know. I asked who had founded it, but he could only apologize.

His answers surprised me. I had visited dozens of mosques around Europe. At each, proud worshipers had regaled me with the story of its founding, often by immigrants who had scraped together construction money. But this ignorance -- or was it amnesia? -- was odd.

I looked more closely, and the mosque seemed to age. Built of concrete and tile, it had faded and cracked. The trees seemed to swallow the buildings. One of the world's great mosques? I wondered what had happened here.

That question launched a research project that has taken me to unexpected places and consumed a great deal more time than I ever imagined it would. I had supposed I would find the answer quickly by talking to a few members of Germany's Muslim community who had immigrated to Europe in the 1960s, part of a great population shift that has altered Europe's demographics. I guessed that the Islamic Center of Munich had emerged during this era.

Instead, I found the answer much further back in time -- the 1930s. I did interview many German Muslims but spent most of my time in U.S. and European archives. There, among boxes of long-neglected and newly declassified documents, I pieced together the stories of the remarkable people who laid the ideological foundations for the mosque and then battled for control of the building itself.

Contrary to expectations, these founders had little to do with the wider population of immigrants. Instead, I found that three groups supported the mosque in order to attain certain goals. Some were Nazi thinkers who planned to use Islam as a political weapon during World War II and then extended this strategy into the Cold War. Others, primarily members of the Central Intelligence Agency, built on the Nazis' work, hoping to use Islam to fight communism. A third group was made up of radical Muslims -- Islamists -- who saw the mosque as a toehold in the West. All had one thing in common: their goal was to create not a place of worship but rather a center for political -- and even violent -- activity.

At first, the story had a familiar ring. The United States had tried to enlist Muslims to counter the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1970s and '80s, famously contributing to the birth of Al Qaeda. But the Munich mosque was built thirty years earlier, during the opening phases of the Cold War, not near its conclusion, and the goals that informed its foundation were also different. In places like Afghanistan, Islam was mobilized to fight a war with guns and soldiers. But here in Germany Muslims were drawn into a psychological war -- a battle of ideas. I began to realize that the events in Munich were a precursor to developments, both ideological and military, ranging from Afghanistan to Iraq.

Then, as now, such tactics backfired. The battle for Munich's Muslims helped introduce a virulent ideology to the West: Islamism -- not the ancient religion of Islam but a highly politicized and violent system of ideas that creates the milieu for terrorism. In the attacks on New York and Washington in 2001 the West experienced this violence firsthand, but it has a long history, having plagued countries around the world for decades. Islamism's most prominent group is the Muslim Brotherhood, and it was the Brotherhood that turned the mosque into a political cell for its partisan goals. Almost all the Brotherhood's activities in the West originated among the small group of people who ran the mosque. Munich was the beachhead from which the Brotherhood spread into Western society.

The parallels between the 1950s and today are striking. While our societies remain consumed with on-the-ground events on battlefields like Iraq, it is the ideological war that will determine success or failure. Now, like half a century ago in Munich, Western societies are seeking Muslim allies, hoping to find people who share our values in the struggle against a persistent enemy. Munich shows the danger of doing so without careful reflection and scrutiny.

Western governments have made this scrutiny a difficult task. By and large, intelligence agencies' files on Islam are still closed; it was only through some extraordinary luck that I was able to obtain the documents describing this story. In the United States, it took an act of Congress to pry open the CIA's files on Nazis who survived the war or were suspected of war crimes; perhaps it will take a similar law to get a complete view of U.S. dealings with Islamist groups.

In the meantime, this book fills some of the gaps. One reason for writing it now is that eyewitnesses from this era are passing away. Many collected remarkable personal archives, which are becoming scattered. As it is, most of the people I talked to were in their eighties and nineties. Several have died since. To wait another few years would have meant forfeiting their insight and advice.

These people and the archives tell a story that takes us from Hollywood to Jakarta, Washington to Mecca. But as so often seems to be the case in Germany, the story begins on a World War II battlefield.
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Re: A Mosque in Munich: Nazis, the CIA, and the Rise of the

Postby admin » Wed Jun 10, 2015 9:02 pm


This leaf from an Oriental tree,
Transplanted to my garden's soil,
The secret sense does decree,
For the knowing man to uncoil.
-- from "Gingko Biloba," GOETHE


GARIP SULTAN LAY FLAT in a machine-gun nest, his stomach pressed to the ground. He craned his neck forward, looking out into the grasslands for the enemy. His superiors had ordered him to hold one of the Red Army's forward positions outside the Ukrainian city of Kharkov. It was May 1942, and the Germans were launching a giant counteroffensive. All around him he heard shells roar and panzers rumble. The nineteen-year-old swept his binoculars left and right across the Ukrainian steppes but saw nothing. He felt doomed. [1]

He thought back unhappily to how he had ended up here. Sultan was a minority in Stalin's Soviet Union, a Tatar from the district of Bashkir. Turkic peoples had settled this region when the last great wave of nomadic invaders swept out of Central Asia in the thirteenth century, under Genghis Khan. As Russia expanded, the Tatars had lost their independence, becoming one of the many non-Russian peoples who made up nearly half the vast country's population. Under Soviet rule, oppression of these peoples had increased, especially for those like Sultan's parents who had run small businesses. Soviet cadres called them capitalists and took everything. They nationalized his father's transport business and confiscated the family home. Even their horse was taken. The family, once rich, was able to keep just two pieces of furniture bought during a trip to England: a mirror, now cracked, and a clock, now broken. Before Sultan's father died, he encouraged his son to join the Young Pioneers, then later the young people's organization Komsomol, and eventually the party. This was the only way to survive in Stalin's Soviet Union, the older man had said. Sultan followed his father's advice. He joined Komsomol, attended high school, and had planned to study metallurgy. He tried his best to become a new Soviet man.

Then came June 1941 and the German invasion. The Red Army wasn't yet the formidable fighting machine that would eventually destroy the bulk of Hitler's armies. In the first year of the war it suffered enormous casualties and surrendered huge territories. Every available man was called up and thrown straight into action. Sultan was conscripted and quickly assigned to a ragtag group of non-Russians like himself, miserably equipped and poorly led. They were set to disintegrate upon contact with the enemy.

As his unit took up position outside Kharkov, Sultan keenly felt his status as a minority. When the troops lined up for inspection, the commanding officer, a Russian, asked minorities to step forward. The officer gave four of them, including Sultan, the suicidal task of creeping across the no man's land between the two armies and throwing German-language propaganda toward the enemy lines. According to this quixotic plan, the German soldiers would read the pamphlets, revolt against their officers, and surrender. No one anticipated that the Germans had set up tripwires. Sultan's group was cut to pieces by the ensuing machine-gun fire; Sultan was the only survivor. He hid for two days in the high grasses of the steppe before creeping back to his lines. For his bravery, his commanding officer promised him a medal. But Sultan felt the honor was hollow. His loyalty to the Soviet system, which he had honestly tried to cultivate, was evaporating.

Then his unit was ordered to make ready for the German offensive. Again, Sultan observed the brutality of Stalin's regime. Soviet officers forced prisoners from the gulag labor camps to work in the open, digging anti-tank trenches while facing German fire. One old prisoner, also a Tatar, talked to Sultan during a break. Gaunt and weak, he told Sultan how he had fought in World War I and been captured by the Germans. Life in the German camps had been better than in the czar's army. The prisoners had even fought for the Germans against the Russians. Sultan listened carefully and went back to work. The officers finally selected soldiers to man various positions on the front. Sultan felt that the minorities were selected for the most hopeless placements, but he trudged to his post.

He was lying in a shallow foxhole with another minority soldier, who manned the machine gun. Sultan had nominal command -- he had served in Komsomol. But he had no idea how to stop the tanks with machine guns or what the point was of holding one piece of land at all costs in a fluid, mobile front. Sultan put his binoculars down for a moment and listened carefully. He could hear gunfire getting closer but couldn't see any movement.

Suddenly, a squad of Germans burst through the grass from one side. The gunner swung partway around, but at the same time another group of Germans rushed from the opposite flank. The young Soviets had been surprised; if they fired at one group of Germans, they would be cut down immediately by the other. A hero's death: Sultan's officers expected soldiers to attain it. He had a split second to choose his fate.

"No, don't do it," the German squad leader yelled as his men flung themselves to the ground and took aim. "Don't fire. Surrender!" Sultan hesitated. In his mind flashed images of the gulag slaves and his own family forced from their home; this didn't feel like his war. He raised his hands and the gunner did too. They became prisoners.

"Shoot them," several of the Germans shouted. This often happened; the eastern front was brutal and both sides ignored international protocols for the conduct of war.

As the soldiers debated, an officer walked up, and Sultan sensed an opening. He could speak a bit of German -- he'd learned it in high school -- and decided to give it a try.

"Sir, you are an educated man," Sultan said, addressing the officer. "What did you study?"

Surprised that a Soviet soldier could speak German, the officer smiled and answered: "Law."

"Judges are supposed to show mercy," Sultan said. "Don't kill us."

The officer laughed. He was wearing the Nazi swastika, but he was old-school Prussian. The men were his prisoners, his responsibility. Duty bound, he sent them to the back lines to be processed.


Sultan's surrender formed a small part of the Red Army's colossal collapse. Already, a staggering three million Soviet troops had surrendered to the Germans. Demoralized by Stalin's reign of terror, Soviet soldiers were capitulating wholesale. Many supposed the Nazis couldn't be worse than the communists. Soviet minorities were especially unenthusiastic about the Russian cause. To them, the Soviet Union was nothing more than a more brutal version of the old Russian Empire. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Russia had expanded south and east. By the time the czar was deposed in 1917, almost half the country's population was made up of non-Russians.

The Soviet Union inherited from the czar two large regions where Russians were in the minority: Central Asia and the Caucasus. The former is made up of present-day Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. Back then the region was simply known as Turkestan, a Muslim part of the world whose various peoples spoke Turkic dialects. It encompassed nomadic peoples and great cities like Samarkand and Tashkent. Located far from the fighting, the region held little appeal for the Nazis.

The Caucasus lay closer to Nazi interests. It was the mythic home of the Caucasian people, important in Nazi lore, and a region of impenetrable hills and mysterious legends. Noah, it was supposed, landed here after the Flood. The Greeks saw it as one of the pillars of the world, its mountains holding up the sky and marking the edge of civilization. In geographic terms, the Caucasus Mountains were traditionally seen as a dividing line between Europe and the Middle East.

It was also a region Moscow had never subjugated. The area was demographically complex. The southern Caucasus had three clearly defined sectors: Georgia and Armenia, both Christian, and Muslim Azerbaijan. The north was a different story. It was mostly Muslim and dotted with small but fiercely independent peoples, such as the Dagestanis, Kalmyks, Chechens, and Ossetians.

Nazi ambitions were simple. The cities of Baku, in Azerbaijan, and Grozny, in Chechnya, were then key centers of oil production. Germany had plans to take over the oil fields and use them to fuel the Reich. But unlike many parts of the Soviet Union, the Caucasus was not slated for German colonization. That let the Germans play the role of liberators -- and many locals greeted them as such. Even if the people were skeptical about the intentions of the Nazis, they were glad to see someone stand up to their oppressors.

This local reaction provided a glimpse of the Soviet system's fragility -- something that would become apparent several decades later as the Soviet Union collapsed. In the early 1990s, these largely Muslim regions would shatter into more than a dozen countries. During the war, a similar splintering happened among individuals who felt loyal to their homeland and religion rather than to the Soviet Empire. There were hundreds of thousands of men like Sultan: Tatars, Georgians, Chechens, Kazakhs, Uzbeks. Most of them were Muslims, and many were happy to fight against the Soviet Union.

In time, they would congregate in Munich, a group of bitter anticommunists who would prove valuable to the West. Trained and organized by the Nazis during the war, they would eventually be discovered after the war as potential ammunition in the fight against communism. Islamists too had designs on them: these coreligionists now located in Germany could provide a beachhead to the West. But at this moment, they were a group of men -- boys, really -- unformed and untrained. Sultan was sent to a prisoner-of-war camp designated for educated Soviet prisoners. The Germans were beginning to realize that they possessed a potent weapon.


In October 1941, an Uzbek named Veli Kayum visited a Muslim prisoner-of-war camp in the German province of East Prussia. Conditions there were appalling. Typhus was rampant and most prisoners were near death; all were slowly starving. The men were also in shock because thousands of their comrades had been shot by Nazi liquidation squads. A young Uzbek soldier remembered thinking: "How long does it take to die?"

Kayum appeared with a German major, who shocked the captives by speaking in Uzbek and promising to improve conditions. Then Kayum addressed them.

"I am Uzbek. My name is Veli Kayum-Khan. I was born in Tashkent and came to Germany in 1922 when the Soviet government wanted helpers that could control Turkestan and were sending people to Germany to school. I decided to stay in Germany where we have a political organization formed to liberate Turkestan from Russia. You will hear very soon from me some good news."

Kayum kept his word. Within two weeks, conditions in the camp improved dramatically. Food was suddenly plentiful, and medical care became available. Then the Germans culled the educated prisoners and sent them to a German army camp south of Berlin. There they learned to handle German weapons, breaking down and cleaning rifles, machine guns, and mortars. Most important, emigres like Kayum gave them political training, including history lessons -- a topic about which many of the young Soviets were ignorant. They learned that their homelands had a long, proud history and could rise again if liberated from Soviet rule.

By November 1941, these trainees were reunited with the twelve hundred Soviet Muslims who had stayed behind in the prisoner-of-war camp. Jubilant celebrations followed, tempered with fear: the men began to realize that they were being groomed to fight the Soviets. All of them hated the Soviets, but it was a shock to make such a dramatic change in direction: they now must serve their former enemies, the Germans, and become traitors to Moscow. It was a point of no return.

Another Uzbek spoke to the prisoners, a schoolteacher named Baymirza Hayit. He had also been captured by the Germans and would be their chief officer, a direct liaison with the German high command in Berlin and East Prussia. The soldiers, he said, should think of themselves as an army of liberation.

"You are the foundation of the Eastern Legions," Hayit said. "One day, when the eastern countries are free, you will be the backbone of the homeland."

The men's fear swung back to jubilation. The next month, the Germans gave the soldiers uniforms of the German army, or Wehrmacht. They were identical to standard uniforms except that they lacked epaulettes. Instead, the men got something more powerful than a measure of rank: an arm patch with a stitched outline of the famous Chah-I-Zindeh mosque in Samarkand and the phrase Biz Alla Bilen -- "God with us."

The training was part of a little-known plan called Operation Tiger B. Kayum had put it together in close cooperation with the Wehrmacht's intelligence division, the Abwehr. While believers in Nazi racial theories held every "Asian" or "Slav" to be racially inferior, many Germans were eager to make allies out of the prisoners. The German army had already set up formations of Cossacks, feared horsemen with little love for the Soviets. Tiger B was part of this experiment.

In early 1942, the soldiers were sent to the front west of Stalingrad. They acquitted themselves with distinction, following German tanks into battle and attacking Soviet troops in a pincer movement that garnered hundreds of Soviet prisoners. Tiger B was deemed a success and the idea of predominantly Muslim units was pushed forward.

Other Soviet minorities would also fight for the Germans, but the Muslims were special: their identification with the Soviet Union seemed especially weak. When the first Muslim Soviet prisoners began arriving, the Germans surveyed them. Many didn't identify themselves as Kazakhs, Dagestanis, or members of other ethnic groups, let alone as Soviets. Instead, they simply said, "I am a Muslim." That made them especially interesting to the Germans; here were men fighting for a religion that was diametrically opposed to communism.

The greatest obstacle to understanding the monstrous purpose that lurks behind Project Democracy's bland and edifying label is the continued ignorance on the part of the American public of the real nature of 20th-century totalitarian regimes. Despite the fact that Stalin deliberately helped bring Hitler and the Nazis to power, despite the Nazi-Communist alliance of 1939-41 under the Hitler-Stalin Pact, despite Mussolini's close ties to Moscow, despite the deep affinity between Nazi-fascists and communists demonstrated repeatedly in many countries by mass exchanges of membership between political organizations of the two persuasions, the average American still sees communism and Nazism-fascism as polar opposites. The expression "fascist" exists only as a strongly derogatory but very vague epithet, empty of any precise political content.
-- Project Democracy's Program -- The Fascist Corporate State, by Webster Griffin Tarpley

Two Turkish generals had put forward the idea of Muslim units. Although Turkey was neutral in the war, the generals had traveled to Berlin and lobbied senior German military leaders for better treatment of ethnic Turkish soldiers. The Wehrmacht quickly expanded Tiger B into a regular unit, the 450th Infantry Battalion. It was staffed almost exclusively with Turkic soldiers and officers. Three other legions were soon added.

These were not elite units. Their morale fluctuated wildly; initially high, it fell as the Germans were pushed back from Muslim areas. The troops were also lightly armed. One unit of ninety thousand men had just over four thousand machine guns, three thousand grenade launchers, and three hundred artillery pieces; it entirely lacked tanks and self-propelled guns. Its main tasks were fighting partisans and guarding supply lines.

But the numbers were significant. By the end of 1942, roughly 150,000 Turks, Caucasians, and Cossacks were fighting. Throughout the course of the war, roughly one million Soviet citizens of several faiths and ethnicities served the Germans in the war, most in nonmilitary roles. The best estimate for the Muslim participation is 250,000, with most in military roles.

The preference for Muslims was clear from the start. In March 1942, the Wehrmacht issued an order allowing Soviet minorities to serve in armed units for police and anti-partisan actions. These units were explicitly not allowed to serve at the front or possess heavy weapons. An exception was made for "Turkic peoples." who were trusted enough to fight the Soviets.

Hitler himself backed these policies. He seemed to have a soft spot for Muslims, perhaps because the Austrian-born dictator had dealt with Muslims in the Austro-Hungarian Empire or because Turkey had been one of the Central Powers during World War I, in which he had fought. It was also true that the Muslims occupied few territories that the Germans wanted to colonize. In any case, Hitler explicitly blessed the use of Muslims.

Later Hitler took Dr. Stein up the Danube to visit his mystic teacher, a rustic woodcutter and herbalist named Hans Lodz "who retained in his peasant's blood the last traces of the atavistic clairvoyance of the ancient Germanic tribes" and who "resembled a mischievous yet malevolent dwarf from the pages of Grimm's Fairy Tales or an illustration from a book on ancient Germanic folklore". 16 The men took a swim in the river at which Dr. Stein noticed that Hitler had only one testicle.

It was Lodz, Dr. Stein learned, who had prepared for Hitler a peyote concoction that afforded him psychedelic insight into his past lives. The peyote itself had come from Pretzche, who had lived for a time in the German colony in Mexico. Hitler had hoped that his former existences, viewed in his drug trance, would include an early incarnation as a powerful Teutonic ruler, but it was not to be.

Instead his psychedelic perception revealed non Eschenbach's Parzival to have been prophetic of events that would take place a thousand years after it was written, i.e. in the present. And it showed Hitler to have been the historical personage behind the evil sorcerer Klingsor, the very spirit of the anti-Christ and the villain of Parzival.

According to Dr. Stein's work, Klingsor was in fact Landulf II of Capua, the traitorous confidant of the Holy Roman Emperor who betrayed Christianity to the Moslem invaders of Italy and Spain.

Armed with the knowledge of his black spiritual ancestry, Ravenscroft writes, Hitler moved to Germany, joined the Bavarian Army, survived the hellish trench warfare on the western front, won the Iron Cross, second class, and got discharged in Munich where he encountered the men who were to invent National Socialism.

Virtually every study of Hitler's time in Munich mentions the Thule Society as superficially a kind of Elk's Club of German mythology which met often and openly at a fancy metropolitan hotel and for a time counted Hitler as a member. Behind the scenes, however the society seems to have been considerably more sinister.

Robert Payne whose excellent Hitler biography contains no occult explanations, describes the Thule Society as the center of the right wing opposition to the brief Bavarian postwar socialist coup under the Jewish intellectual Kurt Eisner.

The reaction set in swiftly, as the extreme right gathered its forces. The headquarters of the reaction was the Hotel Vierjahreszeiten, where several floors were given over to the Thule Society, ostensibly a literary club devoted to the study of Nordic culture but in fact a secret political organization devoted to violent anti-Semitism and rule by an aristocratic elite. The name of the organization derived from ultima Thule, the unknown northern land believed to be the original home of the German race.

The symbol of the Thule Society was a swastika with a dagger enclosed in laurel leaves.

Most of the occult historians of the era believe the Thule Society operated on a deeper level still, a level headed by a mysterious figure called Dietrich Eckart. Goodrick-Clarke calls Eckart Hitler's mentor in the early days of the Nazi Party, along with Rudolf Hess and Alfred Rosenberg. 18

According to Ravenscroft [Spear of Destiny], Eckart, like Hitler, first achieved transcendence through psychedelic drugs. Research on peyote by the German pharmacologist Ludwig Lewin had been published in 1886, leading to widespread popular experimentation. Later a heroin addict, in earlier days Eckart used peyote in the practice on neopagan magic in Berlin. He came to believe that he, too was the reincarnation of a ninth century character. In his case it was Bernard of Barcelona, a notorious betrayer of Christianity to the Arabs and a black magician who used thaumaturgy to hold off Carolingian armies in Spain.

Ravenscroft writes 'there can be little doubt' that both Crowley and Eckart conducted deep studies of the Arabian astrological magic performed by Klingsor's real life counterpart, Landulf II. It was to Sicily -- then a Moslem stronghold -- that Landulf fled after his traitorous links to Islam were disclosed. And it was in a dark tower in the mountains of the southwest corner of that island that his evil soul festered with additional bitterness over his castration by the relatives of a noblewoman he had raped. There he practiced sadistic satanism of a nature that foreshadowed the horrors of Nazi concentration camps.

-- "The Controversy of the Occult Reich," by John Roemer

]"I consider only the Mohammedans to be safe. All the others I consider unsafe." Hitler said during a talk at military headquarters in 1942. He warned the military leadership to be careful in setting up military units of subjected peoples but allowed for an exception: "I don't see any risk if one actually sets up pure Mohammedan units."

Soon, the SS wanted non-German troops, too. When the 450th and other units were grouped into a division in 1943, the SS took it over, renaming it the East Turkestani Armed Formation. The unit fought partisans in Ukraine, Greece, and Italy. It won infamy for helping put down the Warsaw city uprising in 1944.


Soon after Sultan was sent from the front to a prisoner-of-war camp, an inspection team from Berlin paid a visit. It was headed by Heinz Unglaube, a German lawyer with a love of Tatar language and culture. Unglaube had been recruited into the army, but officials recognized that his knowledge was more valuable elsewhere. He was sent to a new bureau, the Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories, or Ostministerium, and put in charge of the Tatar liaison office.

Sultan immediately impressed Unglaube. Here was a youngster, not even twenty-one years old, who spoke German and hated the Soviets. He would make a good ally. Unglaube pulled Sultan out of the line for a chat. He asked the usual questions: how he had learned German and what he thought of the Russians. Sultan decided to showcase his German by telling a bit of family history.

"I learned German because a distant relative is related to a German."

"Interesting," Unglaube said.

Sultan sensed the German's indifference but plunged on.

"One of my mother's distant relatives married a German woman who had served as a nurse in World War 1. She had tended to my relative. They fell in love and got married."


"The German nurse had an unusual name."

"Which was?" Unglaube said, his ears perking up.

"Von Mende."

It was the name of Unglaube's boss. Sultan was now slated for something better than a low-level position in a Muslim unit. He was quickly put on a train to Berlin. His destination: the Ostministerium and an appointment with Gerhard van Mende, the architect of Nazi Germany's use of Muslims.



1. This book is a work of history, based on interviews and documents. Unless explicitly noted in the text, sources are listed in the notes at the back of the book.
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Re: A Mosque in Munich: Nazis, the CIA, and the Rise of the

Postby admin » Wed Jun 10, 2015 9:03 pm


IN THE NINETEENTH and early twentieth centuries, German thinkers helped define the modern world. The country had only united in 1871 and never had much of a colonial empire. But its intellectuals made up for that, their minds ranging from one end of the globe to the other. Theories and ideas conquered countries, rewriting local histories and putting a German imprimatur on parts of the globe where few Germans had traveled. For example, in the nineteenth century, Alexander von Humboldt led expeditions to Latin America, describing that region scientifically for the first time and laying the foundation for the disciplines of physical geography and meteorology.

German scholars were especially fascinated by the Orient -- the huge swath of the world that stretched from Turkey to Japan. Today few use the word Orient because it lumps together places and peoples with little in common other than being located east of Europe. But back then, the word fired the imagination. When a German geographer coined the term Silk Road to describe the ancient trade route through Central Asia, German explorers launched expeditions to prove its existence. Archaeologists joined in, plundering Buddhist pilgrimage sites to stock Berlin's Museum of Mankind. Eventually, political ambitions followed. In the early twentieth century' Kaiser Wilhelm II tried to extend German influence into the region, dressing up like a sultan for a widely publicized visit to Constantinople and Damascus. During World War I, a German diplomat convinced the Ottoman caliph -- nominally the supreme religious leader of the Muslim world -- to declare holy war against the Allied powers. Some historians consider this the first modern use of jihad.

Underpinning it all was German scholarship, then a model for the rest of the world. The country's great minds probed many aspects of the East; Ignaz Goldziher wrote one of the first histories of Islamic traditions, and Theodor Noldeke penned a history of the Koran that posited theses about its secular origins, which today are still considered cutting-edge (and taboo in many parts of the Muslim world). In the 1930s, a new scholar was poised to enter this pantheon: Gerhard von Mende.


Von Mende was physically unremarkable, even slightly odd-looking. At five foot eight, he was of average height for the time, but in photos he appears gaunt, at just 140 pounds. His hair was light blond and his eyes blue -- desirable traits during an era that highly valued "Aryan purity." Yet his teeth were crooked and his face round and puffy. Most striking was a minor genetic defect. His right eye wasn't able to track and his left eye sometimes overcompensated, so he seemed to look in two directions at once. Like a sphinx, he appeared to be fixed on his subject yet staring off into the distance.

Von Mende was born on Christmas Day, 1904, into the influential German minority in Riga, Latvia, descendants of the German knights and merchants who had settled along the Baltic coast in the Middle Ages, controlling trade and intellectual life there until the twentieth century. Like many ethnic minorities, he had the old-fashioned graces of someone cut off from the home country. He was fastidiously polite, listened carefully to what people said, and dressed conservatively -- in three-piece suits that seemed more English than German. Military brush cuts or rakish Fuhrer-style parts were not to his liking. He kept his hair short but combed straight back from his hairline, a habit that remained as constant as his manners. People inevitably described him as gut geflegt -- well kempt.

"He was a tall man, thin and stood upright." recalls Ehrenfried Schutte, a former colleague in the Ostministerium. "He was a real gentleman, quietly spoken but very effective."

Von Mende was incredibly driven, a diligent worker, but part of his success came from energetic socializing. He was always willing to go out and, in good Baltic style, knock back a few vodkas with his colleagues. He was an intense networker, equally at ease in the highest intellectual circles and with the staff driver. His early life experiences had made him comfortable with people from all walks of life, and a series of traumas had toughened him, making him determined to succeed.

When von Mende was fourteen, just after Germany's collapse in World War I, Russian Bolsheviks shot his father, a local businessman. Along with many other Baltic Germans, his family fled to Germany. But the old country turned out to be hardly better than Latvia; the kaiser's empire had disintegrated into chaos and hyperinflation, and von Mende's family fell many social rungs. His mother supported them by working as a secretary and a private tutor to children of the nobility, while von Mende attended trade schools, thanks to the aid of Baltic-German solidarity groups that helped ethnic Germans fleeing that region.

As a young man he toiled as a sailor, a coal miner, and an assembly-line worker. He later worked for four years as an apprentice in a Hanseatic trading firm. In 1927, with enough money in his pocket to afford an education, he quit his job and entered Berlin University. He was already twenty-three, four years older than most first-year students. But that would not prevent his startling rise to the top of German academia.

At the time, Berlin was the world center of Russian studies. The historian Otto Hoetzsch turned the University of Berlin into a mag- net for gifted academics, including the young American diplomat George F. Kennan -- the future author of the theory of containment. Bolsheviks traveled regularly to the city, mixing with emigres and immigrants and adding an edge of controversy to the world of academics. Von Mende concentrated on contemporary Russian studies and economics. In just six years he obtained his doctorate, summa cum laude. Already fluent in Russian, Swedish, and Latvian, he dazzled with his almost intuitive ability to pick up new languages. During his studies he mastered Turkish, including the different Turkic dialects spoken in the Soviet Union, as well as Arabic, French, and English. A few years later, when he met his future wife, a Norwegian, he learned her language too, tricking passengers on the ferry to Oslo into thinking he was a native.

Marrying Karo Espeseth was something of a risk for the upwardly mobile von Mende. She was well educated and could be charming, but she wasn't a safe choice. She had an independent, emotional streak and thought of herself as an artist. Espeseth had come to Germany in the late 1920S on a cultural pilgrimage, where she had been inspired by the postwar outburst of creativity in art and thought. Bauhaus architecture, expressionist painting, and new interpretations of history seemed to offer a way out of the dead-end path of nationalism. After she returned to Oslo, psychoanalysis, another invention of the German-speaking world, inspired her to write an avant-garde novel about the damage caused by war. Sores That Still Bleed concerns a German World War I veteran who pours out his soul to a young Norwegian exchange student. He beats her and, at her insistence, has sex with her. The book caused a scandal in Norway, where Espeseth was accused of sullying the young nation's honor.

Stung, she fled back to Germany. She landed a job accompanying a group of French students and academics as they toured the Rhineland. Their German guide was von Mende, who was making money on the side while writing his dissertation. The couple fell in love, and Espeseth followed von Mende back to Berlin and eventually Breslau, where he continued his studies. After a some what stormy courtship -- her moodiness sometimes drove him away -- they eventually married, with Espeseth serving first as his conscience and later his unconditional supporter, scribe, and adviser.

While Espeseth's writing career languished, von Mende's flourished. He got his Ph.D. in 1933, writing a book that explained the Soviet Union's intricate ethnic makeup. Three years later, he published his most influential work: The National Struggle of the Turkic Peoples of Russia: A Contribution to the Nationalities' Question in Soviet Russia.

The book's thesis was explosive: that the Soviet Union's non- Russian minorities formed a bloc of disgruntled, unassimilated citizens. It was the first non-Russian language book to describe the growing political consciousness of these peoples. Von Mende saw the main conflict as between the "Turks" (modern-day Uzbeks, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, and Tatars) and the Bolshevik state. But he warned that without outside help the Turkic peoples would not achieve independence: "Because of the strict political unity of the Soviet Union, the concentration of its power, and the economic links of all its parts, a change in the position of the Turkic ethnic groups can only be expected when the Soviet Union is confronted with a severe shock. Then it will become clear if the Soviet policy of separation has achieved its goal -- the splintering of the Turkic peoples into several unviable tiny nations."

His conclusion was prophetic -- both for the coming war and the decades after. As he surmised, these groups would gain independence only after a "severe shock" -- the Soviet Union's collapse -- and not by their own efforts. Also farsighted was von Mende's questioning of these potential states' viability -- think of the region's current dysfunctional dictatorships, which are kept afloat by oil and gas revenues.

Had he continued as a scholar in this field, this achievement could have helped von Mende become one of the world's authorities on Soviet and Central Asian politics. But instead, he followed another path. By the time the Nazis took power in 1933, von Mende had begun to dabble in politics. That same year, he had joined the SA, Hitler's storm troopers. Espeseth wrote in her memoirs that he did this because he wanted political backing in Germany in case the Soviets attacked him for studying a sensitive topic. They had already turned down his request for a visa on the grounds that he was a spy, not a real academic.

On the other hand, perhaps he acted out of opportunism. Despite his courtly manners, von Mende had suffered hardship and seen his family destroyed by the Soviets. The Nazis were eager to build a new German empire in lands occupied by the Soviets. Von Mende was one of the world's few experts on the Soviets' Achilles' heel. He may have seen the Nazi movement as a potentially powerful patron and wanted to join.

At that time, joining the Nazis wasn't all that easy; by 1933 the party had put a stop on new members -- an effort to keep out people who just wanted to climb onto the bandwagon. People interested in joining the movement often chose the SA (the Sturmabteilung, or Storm Division). Although it was famous for its storm troopers -- working-class bully boys who led pogroms and attacks on enemies -- many others signed up too. As the Nazis rose to power, membership in the SA mushroomed, from 60,000 in 1930 to 200,000 in 1933.

Three years later, von Mende quit the SA. Family lore has it that Espeseth made him quit before she would marry him. Indeed they married in 1936, after he had done so. In his resumes, von Mende writes that he left the SA because new teaching duties left no time for political activity. But the SA's star was soon to fall, and von Mende may simply have realized that he had chosen the wrong fascist club. Shortly after von Mende joined, Hitler got rid of the SA leader Ernst Rahm in a bloody coup -- the Night of the Long Knives. The SA quickly lost influence.

In any case, this experience left von Mende politically vulnerable. Soon after his second book was published he was offered a job as an adjunct professor at Berlin University. This appointment was immediately opposed by a colorful but dangerous man, Oskar Ritter von Niedermayer, a soldier and adventurer who had tried to foment jihad against the British in World War I. He now headed the university's Institute of Military Geography and Politics and was seen as loyal to the government.

Von Niedermayer bitterly objected to von Mende on two grounds. One was standard for academic battles in any era: that von Mende was a poor scholar. The other was dangerous in Nazi Germany: that von Mende had the wrong political outlook. Von Mende had a "group" of strange supporters and was unreliable, von Niedermayer wrote in 1937, in a letter opposing the appointment. "Out of this there should, according to my view, be an according judgment of his ideology." The "group" von Niedermayer referred to could have been the SA. More damaging was questioning his ideology. To get ahead at a university in Nazi Germany you had to follow the party line.

Whether as a result of this attack or simply out of opportunism, von Mende now completely embraced Nazi ideology. His letters show that he was constantly writing to anticommunist groups or Nazi party organizations engaged in anticommunist propaganda. He began to write book reviews for Nazi publications and advised an elite Nazi school, the Adolf-Hitler-Schule in Sonthofen, on hiring decisions. Important for his later work, he kept in regular contact with Georg Leibbrandt, the head of the Nazis' external affairs office.

Espeseth wrote in her autobiography that she didn't like the Nazis and asked von Mende if they could oppose them. Von Mende said no; he knew from his work studying the Soviet regime that the individual stood no chance against a totalitarian system. They would have to conform.

Not surprisingly, anti-Semitism began to play an increasing role in his works. In 1938, he was asked to edit a brochure published by the Anti-Komintern that described "the exceptional Jewification of the communist apparatus in the Soviet Union." He also dutifully replied to queries from the education ministry about a Jewish colleague, suggesting where the officials could look to find more documentation on him.

This political work was reflected in his third book, The Peoples of the Soviet Union. It contained no new ideas and seemed more of a cheat sheet for Nazi ideologues. The title page featured a series of slogans highlighting his main points: "The Great Non-Russian Peoples in the USSR Seek Their Own Statehood!" and "Since 1917 the National Consciousness of the Great Non-Russian Peoples in the USSR Has Awakened!"

The book was rife with anti-Semitism. In a series of crude character sketches depicting the Soviet Union's ethnic groups, the book included one chapter entitled "The Jews." In it, von Mende surveyed their wide-ranging geographic distribution. Then, in turgid, inflammatory prose, he wrote: "Bolshevism has given a push to the expansion of those Jewish circles, which reject all alliances except for a blood-defined cliquish confederacy. Through an unparalleled desire for and exercise of power, it destroys and damages in its sphere of influence any organic cohesion, especially any unity of peoples.

"It seems that the main danger of Judaism for other peoples lies in the fact that it is a unit not comparable to a nation, but in its unity it surpasses the unity of some nations ... The Jew cannot be put back in the circle of his people, because it doesn't exist, so he has all the possibilities of an opportunist: he is a Jew and at the same time demands recognition as a Russian, Englishman, or something else."

Unexplored in this torrent of prose was a point von Mende probably would not want to acknowledge: his reason for hating Jews was exactly his reason for embracing Soviet Muslims. He rejected Jews because of their extra-national links, yet he advocated the use of Soviet Muslims precisely because of their lack of allegiance to the Soviet state. But von Mende's book was not a work of analysis: it was meant to lay to rest any questions about his political reliability. It did so, but it also helped destroy his postwar academic career, setting the course of his life for the next twenty-five years.

When World War II began later in 1939, von Mende ratcheted up his political work. After France fell in 1940 and the Nazis prepared to invade the Soviet Union, he helped the Nazis by organizing emigres in Berlin to write reports on the Soviet Union. The reports went straight to von Mende's old contact in the Nazis' Foreign Office, Georg Leibbrandt.

In November 1941, von Mende obtained the coveted rank of full professor. But by then he was no longer an academic. Four months earlier, on June 22, Hitler had invaded the Soviet Union. That same day, von Mende had begun working for the Ostministerium, where he developed plans for harnessing Islam, a strategy that would last long after the Nazi defeat.
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Re: A Mosque in Munich: Nazis, the CIA, and the Rise of the

Postby admin » Wed Jun 10, 2015 9:03 pm


EVER SINCE THE mid-eighteenth century, Berlin's Tiergarten has been the city's green center, an elegant swath of lakes, fields, and woods connecting its western suburbs with its political and cultural heart in the east. Even the Nazi architect Albert Speer, whose megalomaniacal plan to turn Berlin into "Germania" -- the new capital for the thousand-year Reich -- planned only minor changes. He envisioned transforming its southern border into a lush diplomatic district.

The land near the Tiergarten was expensive, but Speer could rely on the Nazis' Aryanization policies for cheap real estate. In 1938, for example, one of Berlin's most famous Jewish families, the Mendelssohn-Bartholdys (the family of Felix Mendelssohn, counted among the great German composers) fled and sold their property for the fire-sale price of 170,000 reichsmarks. Speer had a new piece of land. The plot was small, so the government awarded it to a minor European power, the kingdom of Yugoslavia.

The city tore down the Mendelssohn-Bartholdy house and commissioned the architect Werner March to build the Yugoslavian embassy. March's most famous work is Berlin's Olympic Stadium complex in Berlin's western suburbs. The stadium's rough-hewn stone, severe lines, and imposing entrance make it a landmark of the Nazi era. March put similar touches on the new embassy. Its gray travertine walls invoked severe solidity, and its small windows and black grilles were reminiscent of an Italian palazzo. The new embassy opened in 1939, but two years later, Hitler invaded Yugoslavia and the Nazis confiscated the embassy. They handed it over to a new government agency: the Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories, or the Ostministerium.

The Ostministerium's mission was crucial to Hitler's vision. Everything in the war until then -- the conquest of western Europe, the pummeling of Britain, and the battles in North Africa -- had been means to an end. Hitler's dream was to create a giant land empire for Germany, one that would expand eastward into Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, and Russia. Hitler liked to call Russia "Germany's India" -- a vast continent of a country with seemingly inexhaustible resources. Everything up to the Urals would be under German control. Germany would reorganize political boundaries and the conquered territories' ethnic groups. The rest of Russia would be left for later. The Ostministerium was to oversee this massive transformation. It was conceived of in April 1941, when Germany was drawing up invasion plans. In theory, the German army was to have little to do with the conquered lands. As quickly as possible, it was to turn their administration over to the Ostministerium.

Control of the Ostministerium was given to an old friend of Hitler's, Alfred Rosenberg. Rosenberg was a Baltic German who went to Germany after World War I and quickly joined the fledgling National Socialists. He even led the movement when Hitler was briefly sent to prison after a failed coup in 1923. But Rosenberg was illsuited to bureaucratic infighting. He was slowly shunted aside, referred to derisively as "the philosopher." He edited the Nazi party newspaper and wrote an apology for racism, The Myth of the Twentieth Century. Tellingly, when the Nazis took power in 1933, he was given no ministry to run. Instead, he continued to lead the Nazis' foreign policy office.

Rosenberg, however, had definite ideas about the new territories. As a Baltic German, he sympathized with the non-Russians in the Soviet Union. As early as 1927 he wrote that dealings with the Soviets must take "into account the strong separatist movement in the Ukraine and the Caucasus." He planned to use his ministry to create a buffer of countries around the remainder of the Soviet Union. That would mean at least nominal independence for Ukraine, Belarus, the Baltic states, the Caucasus, and Turkestan.

He began to staff his new ministry. It included a political section to oversee various geographic areas, such as Ukraine, the Caucasus, and the Baltic states. A panoply of other departments were to look after culture, the press, youth, women, health, law, finance, agriculture, lumber -- every aspect of the new empire.

Rosenberg scoured the Nazi party apparatus and other ministries for promising staff. He commanded a seemingly powerful organization and should have attracted top talent. But few were interested. Power rested in Nazi institutions like the SS and not in government ministries. In addition, Rosenberg's plans ran counter to many of Hitler's own ideas. Hitler wanted to enslave many of the peoples with whom Rosenberg wanted to create alliances. What talent he did attract would soon be sidelined, victims of political infighting and their master's impotence. Von Mende was an exception.


Von Mende now lived in the well-to-do district near Charlottenburg Palace, the Prussian kings' old summer residence. The commute to the ministry took about half an hour by streetcar, much easier than crossing to eastern Berlin where the university was located. The von Mende family had grown to four, with the birth of a daughter and a son.

Von Mende was given control of the ministry's Caucasus division, reporting to his old contact in the Nazi party, Georg Leibbrandt. Von Mende recruited a group of men who had been in exile for years. Most were part of an anti-Soviet movement called Prometheus -- named for the mythological hero who championed humanity by defying the god Zeus. It was founded in 1925 by men who had hoped the destruction of the czarist empire would free their peoples from Russian rule. When that didn't happen, the Prometheans published and agitated against Moscow from Warsaw and then Paris. By the 1930S, the group was being backed by French, Polish, British, and German intelligence. The German conquest of France brought the group completely under German control.

Von Mende had known and cultivated some of these men even before he worked for the Ostministerium. After the war, Prometheans such as Mikhail Kedia of Georgia and Ali Kantemir of Turkestan would play major roles in von Mende's entanglement with the United States. Kantemir would also become a key player in the Munich mosque.

One man would top them all in importance during and after the war: Veli Kayum, the political activist who had addressed the Muslim soldiers, including Sultan, in the camp. Kayum was initially unimportant in the Promethean movement but soon emerged as the most prominent Central Asian exile following the death of Mustafa Chokay, who had headed a short-lived rebel government in Tashkent. To further consolidate his position, Kayum added the honorific suffix Khan to his name. The Germans were delighted with Kayum's rise in influence because he had been helping the Nazis since the 1930s. They considered him loyal and trustworthy. They embraced the same vision: to build Turkic-Muslim armies that would fight the Soviets.

Von Mende was a civilian, but as the war progressed he was seen as essential to the Nazis' military success. In 1943, the SSchiefHeinrich Himmler engineered the ouster of Leibbrandt, von Mende's boss in the Ostministerium. Himmler installed one of his loyalists, hoping to gain control of the rival ministry. But von Mende emerged from the shakeup unscathed. Indeed, he got a promotion -- advancing from head of the Ostministerium's Caucasus division to head of the "Foreign Peoples" division -- essentially overseeing the Ostministerium's entire policy toward Soviet minorities. The reason? Von Mende had hit upon an ingenious way of motivating the Soviet minorities, one that would echo into the postwar years.


Sultan arrived in Berlin just as von Mende's plans were taking shape. In 1942, von Mende set up "liaison offices" to give the soldiers some representation in the Nazi hierarchy. The liaison offices were soon heavily engaged in political work. In early 1942, the Ostministerium and the Wehrmacht launched an ad campaign in the Crimea, asking for Tatar recruits. The results were sensational. About 200,000 Tatars lived in the Crimea, and about 10,000 of them had been drafted into the Red Army. But a stunning 20,000 volunteered -- basically the entire male population of ages eighteen through thirty-five who weren't already fighting for the Soviets. The Germans could not have enlisted more if they had used conscription.

Such success depended on convincing soldiers in the field that these liaison offices were indeed quasi governments in exile. The offices held out the hope of independence to the various non- Russian ethnic groups, even if the Nazis had little intent of actually ceding it to them. The West Germans and the CIA would duplicate the structure and staffing of the liaison offices after the war in their attempts to organize Muslims.

Sultan joined the Tatar liaison office as a propagandist. The office ran a radio station, a dance troupe, and a theater, as well as newspapers crucial to the effort. Except for one aimed at Georgians and another at Armenians, the rest of the papers, including New Word, The Volunteer, and The Holy War, were published with Muslim soldiers in mind. Many, such as National Turkestan, New Turkestan, and Sultan's newspaper, Idel'-Ural (or Volga-Ural), were aimed specifically at the Turkic soldiers. Sultan later ran the German-Tatar Newspaper.

Sultan's newspaper was overseen by the Wehrmacht's propaganda office, which supplied most of the information. Many of the articles were taken directly from Nazi newspapers, such as the People's Observer and The Attack. Often, they included anti-Semitic statements. Idel'-Ural, for example, claimed in one issue that Jewish labor bosses had exploited honest, hardworking union members in Western societies -- a standard anti-Semitic stereotype.

A few years later, when the war was over, Sultan set down his thoughts in a lengthy memoir. The high percentage of "German" topics in the papers, Sultan wrote, was a mistake. Not because repeating Nazi propaganda was morally dubious, but on practical grounds: the Tatar legionnaires saw little difference between Nazi and Soviet propaganda. The publications would have been more effective, he wrote, if they had been more objective.

Not all the Soviet minorities were worried about such tactical issues. Some saw a deeper ethical problem in fighting for the Nazis. The most famous was Musa Galil, a prominent poet. He served in a performance troupe but used the freedom of movement it allowed to build anti-Nazi cells among the Tatars. He was betrayed and hanged at the notorious Moabit prison in Berlin.

The Germans had a hard time finding qualified men to run the liaison offices. The head of the Tatar group was widely seen as an incompetent drunk. Sultan was considered for the top post, but he was still legally a minor (at the time, that meant under twenty-one years of age) and therefore rejected. The committees lurched along, without real power yet demonstrating how religion and even the faint hope of realizing a national identity could motivate people -- a valuable lesson that others would apply years later.


At a 1942 conference held at a villa on Lake Wannsee in a Berlin suburb, plans for the Holocaust took shape. Although the murder of Jews began earlier, the meeting brought the full might of the bureaucratic, totalitarian state into alignment against them. Key ministers and Nazi officials attended. The meeting lasted just ninety minutes, but its message was clear: the state would now coordinate efforts in a single, awful focus.

The Ostministerium was represented at the conference; von Mende's boss and pre-war contact in the Nazi party, Leibbrandt, at tended on behalf of the ministry. Its officials had called for a definition of who counted as a Jew, so the Germans could properly prepare the eastern territory for German settlers by eliminating Jews and other undesirables.

Nine days later, the Ostministerium held the first of a series of meetings to iron out legal details stemming from the Wannsee conference. Although the Nuremberg race laws precisely specified who was to be considered a Jew, the situation in the east presented complications: poor record keeping made tracing a person's origins more difficult, but the Nazis desired to kill quickly without careful deliberation. Many wanted a flexible guideline that would allow officials on the ground to kill as they saw fit. Von Mende was one of a dozen midlevel bureaucrats who participated in the meeting. The minutes do not set down any of his comments. Surviving Ostministerium records show no effort on von Mende's part to use his power to slow down the process or raise objections. And he certainly knew of the genocide against the Jews by January 1942.

This behavior doesn't fit von Mende's postwar image. He liked to portray himself then as having been the Soviet minorities' best friend. He was one of the key sources of information for the Harvard historian Alexander Dallin, whose work German Rule in Russia (1956) is one of the classic accounts of the Nazis' occupation. Dallin variously dubs von Mende the "lord protector" and "master protector" of the minorities -- a sort of benevolent figure looking out for these groups' best interests. He never mentions von Mende's pre-war anti-Semitic writings or his participation in the Holocaustrelated meetings -- perhaps Dallin wasn't aware of the documents or was protecting a source.

One of the stories von Mende and the Muslims around him liked to tell after the war concerned the Karainen. Known as the "Tats" or "Mountain Jews" ("Bergjuden"), they were a tribe that had converted to Judaism. Recent scholarship backs von Mende's claims that the Karainen were protected, but his private papers show the extent of his involvement in the Holocaust. After the war, he wrote, "I still think back with some horror at an Orientalist conference in Berlin during the war. I had back then the unpleasant task to send a request to our Orientalists to help out with current questions. I brought a long list of requests that stemmed from practical policy, for example, the history of the Crimea and what were the Karainen (they were supposed to be handled as Jews)." In other words, von Mende had treated the Nazis' request seriously, helping define who would live and die.

That after the war von Mende thought back with "horror" might be seen as a sign of remorse. Or it could have been a recognition that his public participation in the Holocaust helped ruin his academic career, making permanent his turn from academics toward politics and espionage.


As the German army pressed forward in 1942, it reached more densely populated Muslim areas. The Wehrmacht took the North Caucasus in August 1942. When a German general announced that the mosques there would be reopened, the elated citizens hoisted him on their shoulders, tossing him in the air and shouting hurrahs. The German advance was in fact running out of steam -- the Stalingrad debacle was looming -- but for now everything seemed to be working smoothly.

The military victories increased Berlin's interest in the minorities. The Foreign Office tried to take control of the minorities' emigre leaders -- especially those in the Promethean movement. But the Ostministerium ended up victorious. Yon Mende was the main winner, officially gaining responsibility for all Turkic peoples, including those in Central Asia. That meant he was in charge of all the emigres from this region as well as responsible for solving important problems, such as how to use Islam to motivate them to do the Germans' bidding.

Von Mende moved to strengthen the liaison offices. They were mostly staffed with emigres -- in contrast to the new recruits in the Wehrmacht and SS fighting units, who were former Red Army sol diers. He put the emigres on the Ostministerium's payroll and renamed the liaison offices "guiding offices" and then "national committees" -- a semantic move that implied that the emigres would guide the soldiers in the field and the people back home, as if they were nascent governments in exile.

Von Mende then allowed the guiding offices to place staff nominally in charge of the military units, further strengthening the impression that the minorities were running their own show. By 1943 he allowed Azerbaijanis, Volga Tatars, and Turkestanis to stage congresses in order to establish "representative" committees, small parliaments that would give voice to these peoples. The most important among them was the National Turkestani Unity Committee, headed by Kayum.

Kayum was von Mende's personal protege -- and the Muslim leader who most neatly parroted Nazi slogans. He repeatedly expressed his "faith in Germany." criticizing enemies of Germany as enemies of Turkestan. His committee had its own Turkic-language newspaper, Milli Turkistan, in which he blasted "imperialist, democratic, and liberal states" as enemies of Turkestan.

But Kayum's political style alienated people, and it would haunt him in the postwar era. In 1944, a group of Kyrgyz and Kazakhs in the Turkestani Unity Committee clashed with Kayum, appealing to the Ostministerium for its own representation and legions. Kayum retaliated brutally, denouncing the dissidents to the Gestapo. That could have meant the gallows for his opponents, but the Gestapo dropped the case, viewing it as a spat among emigres. As he would so often in the future, von Mende came to the rescue of his protege, organizing a Turkestani congress in Vienna that chose Kayum as its head.


These events took on an aura of unreality: as German armies were pushed back, they lost control of the very territory the Ostministerium was supposed to oversee. Even von Mende's own home was under siege; in 1944 he evacuated his family to the countryside just before their apartment was destroyed in an air raid.

And yet it was exactly at this point that von Mende's work reached a fever pitch. Perhaps it was desperation, or simply the iron logic of von Mende's case: these Muslim men want to fight for us and all we have to do is make some promises. Never mind that the Nazis likely had no intention of fulfilling them; they were happy to let von Mende organize congresses and draw up fanciful plans if it meant that the soldiers would fight just a bit harder to keep the Soviets at bay.

After the war, von Mende would claim that the Soviet Muslims were not particularly religious --perhaps to allay fears that they were religious fanatics. But during the war, von Mende and others did their best to foster an Islamic identity among the soldiers. They did this by getting an endorsement from a top Muslim leader and by setting up Islamic seminaries.

The endorsement came from the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Amin al-Hussaini. Son of a prominent family of clerics, Hussaini inherited the position of Grand Mufti and set about building his power. He saw in the Nazis an ally against the British, who controlled his homeland, Palestine. During the war he escaped from Palestine and made his way to Europe, where he met Hitler, created bitterly anti-Semitic propaganda for the Nazis, and reviewed Muslim troops. After the war he was a staunch opponent of Israel and would come into contact with almost all the groups striving to control Islam in Munich. In 1943, von Mende decided he wanted a religious head for the Crimean Tatars -- to cloak German rule in religious garb. Von Mende sought Hussaini.

"The Islamic world is a whole." von Mende later wrote, explaining his actions. "German action toward the Moslems in the East must be such as not to prejudice Germany's standing among all Islamic peoples."

In other words, Germany could score points in the Muslim world by appointing a mufti for the Crimea. Von Mende and the Grand Mufti met again in July 1944. By then, the Red Army had regained control of the Crimea. Hussaini said that given the situation on the ground, appointing a mufti was pointless. But von Mende pushed forward on other fronts. In June 1944, he and the Islamic scholar Benno Spuler set up mullah schools in Gottingen and Dresden. Spuler was especially ambitious -- he intended to heal the thirteen-hundred- year split between Shia and Sunni Muslims and therefore trained only bi-denominational mullahs for the German army.


None of this saved the Germans. By early 1945, the Ostministerium had been bombed out of its building, and most of its files had been destroyed. Von Mende had one last card to play. Over the previous months, he may have arranged for the Muslim units to be transferred to the western front so that U.S. and British troops would capture them -- falling into Soviet hands would have meant certain death.

Many of the units simply fell apart. Most of the SS division defected to partisans in Czechoslovakia. A Georgian battalion rebelled against the Germans. In February 1945, Turkey declared war on Germany, dealing the Muslims' morale an even more devastating blow. Rosenberg said he would "recognize" the national committees as governments -- even though his ministry was now officially abolished. Even Sultan got his promotion. In early 1945, the Tatars set up a provisional government with Sultan as head of the military department.

But von Mende's efforts did serve an important function, especially for the political use of Islam after the war. Muslim minorities could claim they had been fighting for a quasi government in exile, not for the Nazis. Instead of a messy mixture of motives -- from wanting to escape dreadful prisoner-of-war camps to sheer opportunism -- they could claim the purest of reasons for their actions: national liberation. Forget that the Muslim organizations were essentially German creations meant to keep the troops in the field. The rationale of freeing a people from the Soviet oppressors to govern themselves and freely practice their faith would legitimize the entire effort and provide a blueprint for the Muslims' new friends, the Americans.
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Re: A Mosque in Munich: Nazis, the CIA, and the Rise of the

Postby admin » Wed Jun 10, 2015 9:04 pm



Is it but one living soul,
That in itself has split to two?
Or is it the two do form one whole,
Each chosen part to the other true?


IN THE EARLY 1950s, Munich was a ruined city. During the war it had been far enough from the bomber bases in Britain to escape the worst damage. But it had still been hit hard and the scars were readily visible: the great Odeonsplatz was cratered and the Bavarian royal palaces gutted. Churches and theaters were shells. Survivors lived in camps. More than six thousand people died and fifteen thousand were wounded in the air raids. Bombers dropped more than three million firebombs, destroying half of the city's buildings and almost all of the old city. By the war's end, almost half the pre-war population of 900,000 had fled, while 300,000 of the remaining half million were homeless. For years, housing was at such a premium that three, four, or five families shared one apartment. Doorbells sometimes had signs directing visitors to ring once for the Schmidt family, twice for the Braun family, three times for the Muellers, and so on.

But reconstruction was the demon that possessed the city. By day, women hauled rubble from the bombed-out buildings, while others used small chisels to break apart the bricks for reuse. Construction crews strung light bulbs on wires to light up the wrecks at night. Workers cast bizarre shadows as they scurried among jagged walls, carting debris out and hauling new bricks in. In other areas, the wrecked buildings were simply clear-cut, leaving a blank slate for architects. Rubble was the only constant. Mountains of it ringed the city like druidic monuments. Even into the 1950S, the city sponsored "reconstruction days." when employees were given the day off to clear war wreckage. In one action, seven thousand people hauled away fifteen thousand cubic meters of rubble, supported by the U.S. Army, which lent 264 trucks and 4,000 liters of fuel to the effort. At the end of the day everyone got two sausages, one roll, and one liter of beer.

Almost faster than any other city in Germany, Munich recovered. As early as 1946, the great Jewish-Hungarian conductor Georg Solti was running the Bavarian State Orchestra there. Berlin had been the nation's industrial, scientific, and entrepreneurial capital up until the war, but its businesses deserted the city after the division of Germany left Berlin isolated in the middle of communist East Germany. Huge engineering and industrial conglomerates such as Siemens and financial houses such as Allianz fled to Munich. As reconstruction picked up, local companies began to gain traction. In 1951, the city celebrated as a Munich factory exported a locomotive to India -- an early sign of West Germany's startling economic ascent. The English language even borrowed a word to describe it, Wirtschaftswunder, "economic miracle."

West Germany had been formed in 1949, and its capital was Bonn. But Bonn, as the spy novelist John le Carre put it, was little more than "a small town in Germany." Because of its location and size, Munich was the country's secret capital. The city was just 120 miles from the iron curtain, which ran through the heart of Europe. The U.S. consulate in Munich was reputedly the second largest in the world, behind only Chinas listening post in Hong Kong. For about twenty years after the end of the war, Munich was a front -line city in one of history's great ideological struggles.

Hundreds of thousands of eastern European refugees flooded Munich. Most were ethnic Germans driven off lands annexed by Poland or the Soviet Union, but the city was also a magnet for people representing almost every ethnic group or cause. Most hoped to stay for as little time as possible and immigrate to more stable, prosperous countries. But many lingered. Munich had scores of emigre groups, a swarm that was constantly forming, merging, splitting, and feuding. Murders were as common as the grandiose plans hatched in cafes to retake homelands. Soviet propaganda hated the city, referring to it as diversionnyi tsentr, "center of subversion."

All this made Munich an ideal home for Radio Liberty, which was formed in early 1951 when a group of concerned U.S. citizens got together to do something about the biggest problem of their day -- communism. The United States and Soviet Union were locked in a military stalemate. What was needed was a way to subvert communism from within. The United States was the media center of the world. If a group of media people joined forces, couldn't they use new technologies and advertising-age strategies to beam a message of freedom through the iron curtain? The war could be won without a bomb being dropped. These Americans set up a nongovernmental organization called the American Committee for Liberation. Led by the former Readers Digest editor Eugene Lyons and a group of prominent journalists, the committee founded Radio Liberation, which later would be renamed Radio Liberty. The goal, in their own words, was to make a radio station available to "democratic elements among the emigration from the Soviet Union so that they could talk to their fellow countrymen in the homeland."

Radio Liberty was based at the Oberwiesenfeld Airport on the outskirts of town. It occupied a gray, oblong building that was itself an infamous landmark; there, in 1938, Hitler had greeted the British and French prime ministers when they arrived for the conference that carved up Czechoslovakia, making Munich a synonym for weak diplomatic will. The building had been damaged during the war and then hastily fixed up for the radio staff, which would swell to more than a thousand writers, producers, technicians, accountants, and advisers. In the winter, wind rattled the windows and whistled through the cracked walls. Rubble was piled at one end of the airfield, but German aviation buffs were able to use the remainder of the runway.

"I would look out the window of my corner office to see a plane headed right for me, piloted by some frustrated ex-Luftwaffe ace who would peel off and just miss the corner at the last second." recalled the ex-Radio Liberty official Jim Critchlow.

Most of the expats were, like Critchlow, housed at the Regina- Palast Hotel, which was still in partial ruins. At the end of each hallway was a tightly locked door -- opening it and stepping in would mean falling headlong into a bomb crater. From the street, pedestrians could see a bathtub still hanging from the fourth floor by its pipes. Many of the Americans who worked at Radio Liberty had fought in the war; others had followed it at home as teenagers. For them, the city was rife with reminders of that dark age, as Critchlow remembered it: "We sometimes ate in the American officers' club in the Haus der Deutschen Kunst, a mammoth columned building that Hitler had turned into a shrine of 'non-decadent,' purely Aryan German art. Down the street was a house where the Fuhrer himself had lived. One of the best restaurants in town was the Osteria Italiana on Schellingstrasse, which had been Hitler's favorite and where the waitresses told stories of his visits."

Many U.S. employees at Radio Liberty were young, idealistic people like Critchlow. A radar technician in World War II, Critchlow was working for General Electric in 1950 when he heard that the U.S. government was desperate for Russian speakers. He took advantage of the GI Bill to enroll at Georgetown University, immersing himself in the Russian language. After graduating he took a job with the Atomic Energy Commission, but when a friend said he was going to help found a radio station in Munich, Critchlow jumped. He went to Munich on a one-year contract and stayed for twenty. About a year after joining, Critchlow was taken aside and told something that he had already figured out. Radio Liberty was not run by Soviet emigres. It was not financed by well-meaning Americans. It was a CIA front organization, dedicated to overthrowing the Soviet Union. And it was doing so by recruiting key members of von Mende's Ostministerium team.


When most people think of U.S. Cold War policy toward communism, one word often comes to mind: containment. First defined in 1946 by the diplomat George Kennan, containment was designed to keep communism from spreading by isolating it and taking a stand whenever it threatened to envelop another country. It was seen as a tough policy, contrasting favorably with the appeasement of Hit- 1erin the 1930S. Outright confrontation with the Soviet Union was nearly impossible, but democracies could take a stand to limit its reach. But by the 1950S, however, many Americans were fed up with this cautious policy. Containment, they felt, ran counter to Americans' idealism; communism should be overturned entirely. Other terms began to gain favor, such as liberation and rollback.

The Truman administration began to reflect the new mood. In 1948, Kennan himself wrote an internal position paper backing the idea of covert operations and propaganda. This led the National Security Council to adopt a formal policy that authorized a vast array of covert operations, including "propaganda, economic warfare; preventive direct action, including sabotage, anti-sabotage." Covert action was limited only by the need to ensure plausible deniability and the capacity to conceal U.S. sponsorship. Not all of these actions were meant to be violent. Many fell into the realm of psychological warfare, aimed at the enemy's civilian population.

Communications technology would become a significant means of confronting the communist threat. Just a few years earlier, the Nazis had tried to terrorize the British into surrender by bombing London. But the West had turned the London Blitz to its advantage, in part thanks to radio. The chimes of Big Ben, followed by the defiant words "This Is London Calling." on the BBC, and the rooftop dispatches of Edward R. Murrow on CBS remained inspiring memories to most Americans. Similar media tactics might help lead to victory in the Cold War.

How to get the message across? After the war, Truman had dismantled the main U.S. intelligence agency, the Office of Strategic Services, and closed U.S. propaganda bureaus. After World War I similar steps were taken because then, just as in 1945, many Americans felt that the United States shouldn't be engaged in underhanded actions. But the Cold War changed that. In 1947, in a sharp policy U-turn, the National Security Act created two new institutions: the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Council. The CIA was to collect and analyze secret intelligence, while the NSC was to advise the president on matters relating to national security. Cold War propaganda developed along two tracks: overt and covert. Programs such as the State Department's support of film, radio, art, and exchange programs, and the Voice of America broadcasts were considered overt propaganda because they could be clearly identified as government efforts. Covert operations ranged from secretly funded magazines to anonymous smear campaigns.

As Truman's second term in office was drawing to a close, efforts at psychological warfare were scattered among many agencies, causing confusion. So in 1951, Truman created the Psychological Strategy Board to unify planning and cut through red tape. Its aim was nothing less than the breakup of the Soviet bloc through psychological operations. Covert operations weren't to be limited to the communist world but would include the "free world" as well. Put less euphemistically, the U.S. government would secretly manipulate public opinion at home and in scores of other noncommunist countries.

Truman's efforts were strongly supported by his successor, Dwight D. Eisenhower. As a World War II general, Eisenhower had been a big fan of psychological warfare, routinely ordering that leaflets be dropped from planes before an attack, in hopes of misleading the enemy. While running for president in October 1952, he gave a speech in San Francisco supporting psychological warfare. "Don't be afraid of that term just because it's a five-dollar, five- syllable word," Eisenhower said. "Psychological warfare is the struggle for the minds and wills of men." He invoked the "basic truth" that "humans are spiritual beings; they respond to sentiment and emotions as well as to statistics and logic ... The minds of all men are susceptible to outside influences."

The new administration ramped up psychological warfare. Eisenhower appointed C. D. Jackson, a World War II psychological operations specialist, to a post in the White House, designating him special assistant for psychological warfare. Jackson had worked at the Time magazine empire, where he was the right-hand man to the magazine's founder, Henry Luce, and well known for his staunch anticommunism. Jackson headed the Psychological Strategy Board, which was later renamed the Operations Coordinating Board. This body headed most of the covert propaganda activities in Munich and the Muslim world during the 1950s.

Another boost to psychological warfare came from Eisenhower's National Security Council, which approved an order giving the CIA even more power to manipulate popular opinion. Later, the CIA director William Colby would estimate that up to half the CIA budget at this time went to propaganda, political action, and paramilitary operations. Recently declassified documents show that the U.S. Information Agency alone spent about $50 million per year on covert operations during the 1950s. Overall, the United States spent roughly half a billion dollars per year trying to influence world opinion -- in 1950s dollars -- a vast and unprecedented undertaking. One of the least-understood creations of this era was Radio Liberty's parent organization, Amcomlib.


On January 21, 1951, the American Committee for Freedom for the Peoples of the USSR was incorporated in the state of Delaware. It sounded like the name of a nongovernmental organization -- after all, it was incorporated, with a board of directors and staff -- and giving that impression of course was the idea. But from the start it was a product of U.S. intelligence.

In 1948 Truman's National Security Council passed a memorandum outlining the need for political warfare. The document surveyed recent history, saying the British Empire had survived so long because it understood that very thing. The Kremlin had the "most refined and effective" strategies in history. But the United States, it claimed, had historically been handicapped by a sentimental attachment to fair play. The paper suggested creating "Liberation Committees" and said an "American Committee" should be formed to keep emigre leaders in the public eye.


The group's name would change repeatedly as it struggled to find a title that would define its mission. Later in 1951 it became the American Committee for the Liberation of the Peoples of Russia -- it was bad form to mention the USSR, which some of the group's members considered illegitimate. But the word Russia itself became a problem. It seemed too narrow because it excluded non-Russians, who made up nearly half the country's population. So in 1953 the group changed its name again, to the American Committee for Liberation from Bolshevism. That in turn seemed a bit quaint -- even in the 1950s no one but the hardest-core anticommunist spoke of Bolshevism, a term out of the 1920s and '30s. So the last two words were dropped in 1956, leaving the group with a bizarrely generic name: the American Committee for Liberation. Outsiders often knew it simply as the American Committee -- which gave it a wholesome, patriotic ring. Internally, it was known by the acronym Amcomlib. The term has a delicious jargony mystique, perfect for an era that coined obscure and clipped nomenclature for military and espionage missions. Amcomlib could have been a code word for a parachute operation behind enemy lines.

Over time, Amcomlib would command a large budget and a staff of thousands. Its main duty was to run Radio Liberty. But it had two other important tasks. It operated a supposedly independent think tank, the Institute for the Study of the USSR, which published papers by Amcomlib employees and people close to intelligence agencies. It also had an emigre relations department that recruited agents, mostly in Munich, and sent them around the world on covert propaganda missions. U.S. government involvement was carefully masked. Amcomlib's board misled listeners and supporters in the United States into thinking it was run by emigres and prominent journalists, instead of the CIA. When leaflets were printed, listing radio broadcast times and frequencies, the American role in the endeavor was purposely obfuscated, according to minutes of Amcomlib board meetings.

Perhaps for this reason Radio Liberty never entered the popular imagination as did its better-known sibling, Radio Free Europe. Although both were front operations based in Munich, the two were quite different. Radio Free Europe focused on eastern Europe -- Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and other countries dominated by the Soviet Union -- while Radio Liberty beamed into the Soviet Union itself. Radio Free Europe's parent organization, the National Committee for a Free Europe, solicited funds from ordinary Americans, and high-profile public figures sponsored it. It penetrated public consciousness to such an extent that, decades later, it inspired a hit song of the same name by the rock group R.E.M.

Amcomlib might have been relatively unknown, but it never lacked money. Its exact budget is hard to reconstruct, although some information has escaped the CIA's information blockade. Records show that in 1955 its budget was $2.8 million (roughly $23 million in 2010 terms). It grew to $7.7 million in 1960.

People working for Radio Liberty quickly realized that such funding had to come from somewhere significant. "I doubt that there was a single stoker or sweeper in our building out at Oberwiesenfeld who did not have some inkling of the true state of affairs." said Critchlow, who worked in the radio's programming department.

Critchlow has strongly defended Radio Liberty. In 1995, he wrote a charming memoir called Radio Hole-in-the-Head/Radio Liberty that took its name from the station's bumbling ways -- at least as it was seen by those who doubted its value. He notes that the CIA largely stayed out of the broadcasting side: "If you stop to think about the massive volume of material that goes into a daily broadcast, and the speed with which it must be handled, the instant decisions that must be made, it should be obvious that no agency outside our building could exercise effective control. They had to trust us."

And of course the CIA was clever to do so. Propaganda doesn't have to be false; it is most effective when it is true or as close to the truth as possible. So most employees on the radio side of the operation felt quite comfortable with what they were doing -- spreading information about an awful regime.

It is a tribute to Radio Liberty that it attracted capable people like Critchlow. From the start, the radio station's roster included legitimate journalists such as Edmund Stevens, a Pulitzer Prize winner who was hired to train the staff. The heart of the operation was Boris Schub, a son of Russian emigres. Intellectually brilliant, he inspired his colleagues with his vision of a democratic, free Russia. It was Schub's idea -- and it became a classic CIA strategy -- to use disillusioned leftists to attack the Soviet Union. Schub called it his "left hook."

Radio Liberty developed a strong esprit de corps. Manyemployees still remember their years working there as some of the best of their lives, a time when they got to travel overseas and work with a fascinating group of emigres. Several former Radio Liberty employees have written accounts of life at the station. Like Critchlow, most play down the CIA connection, or skirt it. Critchlow wrote somewhat defensively that "I would demean the many devoted men and women who conscientiously put out the broadcasts if I tried to link them with the shadowy world of intelligence."

This is undoubtedly true. Critchlow and others who worked at Radio Liberty were no stooges. Critchlow became a classic news journalist during his two decades at the broadcasting station. To him the CIA was unimportant -- he contemptuously called the CIA "the boys in the back room."

Yet others saw the experience in a different light. The senior Radio Liberty manager Gene Sosin said he found it odd to lie in the name of broadcasting the truth. In his memoirs, Sosin wrote of going to Cornell University to talk with a professor who was an expert on Soviet education. The professor had traveled to the Soviet Union on a grant from the Human Ecology Fund; later on he learned that the CIA covertly supported the fund. Sosin worried that the professor would think that Radio Liberty too was a CIA project and therefore he might not grant an interview with the station to report on what he had seen -- when, in fact, his giving an interview about the USSR was the whole idea behind the trip. Sosin was there on damage control, to keep the professor in line and to reassure him of the station's independence.

"I could not help seeing the anomaly of working for a medium that was communicating 'THE TRUTH' to the Soviet peoples while we were lying to our own people." Sosin wrote. But Amcomlib had another secret, one that most Americans would have found more unpleasant. That was the issue of its emigre employees.


When the war ended, most of the Soviet soldiers who had served Germany landed in Western prisoner-of-war camps. Many credited von Mende for this, stating that he engineered their deployment west in the waning months of the war. That is impossible to prove from the historical record, but in any case winding up in the camps helped few of them. At the Yalta Conference in 1945, Britain, the Soviet Union, and the United States agreed that all citizens should be repatriated after the war. That seemed harmless then, even a good idea -- most people would naturally want to go home. For the hundreds of thousands of Soviet citizens fighting for the Germans, however, it meant disaster. Most correctly assumed they would be shot immediately or, if lucky, face a long stay in the gulag for their treason.

When the war ended, soldiers in uniform were sent to holding camps, and most were repatriated. But Europe was in a state of near chaos, and Germany was awash with "displaced persons," or DPs. They consisted of the Nazis' slave laborers, concentration camp prisoners, Germans who had fled the Soviet onslaught, and thousands of Soviet citizens who had fought for the Nazis but avoided a prisoner-of-war camp. The Red Cross and German officials estimated that eight million DPs were in Germany by war's end, and most would have to be repatriated. Within a short while, British and U.S. authorities would deliver two million of these people to the Soviet Union in accordance with the Yalta agreement.

But the occupying forces were overwhelmed. For the quick-witted and lucky, the anarchy of the situation meant a chance to start a new life. Muslim soldiers were especially fortunate. For most of the war, Turkey had remained neutral and maintained normal diplomatic and academic exchanges with Germany. A Turkish student union had been formed to represent Turks studying in Germany during the war. Nationalistic and pan-Turkic in their thinking, the students hit upon a simple solution to save their fellow ethnic Turks: declare the soldiers Turkish and issue them student identity papers.

The idea wasn't as far-fetched as it sounds. Most of the soldiers were in their late teens or early twenties. If they had had the presence of mind to ditch their Wehrmacht or SS uniforms and papers before entering the DP camps, no proof existed of their nationality or profession. Their mother tongues were Turkic dialects. With a bit of polish they could pass as Turkish students.

The Turkish student union had been based in Berlin, but when the bombing got too fierce, it moved to the medieval university town of Tubingen in southern Germany. That put the students in close range of the refugee camps, especially in the U.S. sector. Within months, they were issuing Turkish identity papers wholesale. To vary the story and thus throw suspicious officials off their trail, they also claimed that some of the young men were from Xinjiang, China, a western province with a large Turkic minority.

That became Garip Sultan's new homeland. After the war ended, he was sent to a DP camp. There, the students gave him a new first name, Garip, in place of the Russified name he had previously used, Garif. "We became ethnic Turks." Sultan said. "They gave me an identity from Kashgar in Xinjiang. So that's why I survived."

It was a ruse used by many of von Mende's top deputies, including two who would playa key role after the war: the political activist Veli Kayum and the military liaison Baymirza Hayit. They made their way to Czechoslovakia and surrendered to the U.S. Army. They were immediately sent to be debriefed by the army's Counter Intelligence Corps, or CIC, and then to a DP camp. The Turkish student group in Munich vouched for Hayit and Kayum, and the UN did not repatriate them.

Hayit, who later became a historian of the liberation struggles of Central Asians, estimates that eight hundred Muslims from Central Asia avoided capture this way. Other estimates are higher. In the 1950s, one German author wrote that seven hundred Kalmyks lived in West Germany. The Kalmyks were small compared to the other ethnic groups; if one extrapolates proportionally from their numbers, then around ten thousand Soviets of various backgrounds stayed after the war in West Germany. This number is certainly too high, but it's safe to say that several thousand remained.

The ploys of the Turkish students might not have succeeded indefinitely, but it was unnecessary to keep up the subterfuge for long. By late 1945 the repatriations had stopped. General Dwight D. Eisenhower ended the practice after criticisms arose that the men were being sent back home to certain death. Even if they had fought for the Nazis, that made them no worse than millions of Germans, who were not being condemned wholesale to death. Why should the Soviet ethnic minorities be singled out for such punishment? Their desperate situation became impossible to ignore when 230 Turkestani officers, held in a camp outside Munich, committed suicide the night before they were to be returned to the Soviet Union. They doused themselves with benzene and set themselves alight. Only one of the group survived; he was taken to Ankara and died in 1950.

Within months, efforts to repatriate the minorities had reversed into a free-far-all to keep and recruit them. One of von Mende's main leaders in the Ostministerium, the Georgian prince Mikhael Alshibaya, was saved by the CIC. He had already been meeting with CIC officers when one pulled him aside to say that Alshibaya should expect a visit the next day from a Soviet repatriation squad, adding significantly, "You don't have to be there." Alshibaya took the hint and fled to the hills of northern Bavaria for a few days until the Soviet search team had left the area.

Such help became increasingly common. Even in 1945 Western intelligence agencies were suspicious of the Soviets' postwar intentions. They began to pick up agents who could operate in the Soviet Union, coming up with novel ways to find and recruit them.

Charity organizations also got into the act. The Tolstoy Foundation was set up as a cultural group for Russian exiles by the granddaughter of the famous novelist. In postwar Munich, the organization tried to aid refugees, sending employees to the DP camps to sort out their identities and help them immigrate to the United States or start afresh in Germany. But the foundation also appears to have been closely linked to intelligence work, and perhaps was even directly funded by the CIA. Alshibaya's wife worked for the foundation. She says U.S. intelligence subcontracted work out to the foundation. "We did interviews for them." Mrs. Alshibaya said. "We asked people about their background, what they did, and so on." The goal was to recruit the men for covert operations.


In 1952, Garip Sultan was looking for work. He was married and had a permanent West German residency permit. But what would he do for the rest of his life? Now twenty-nine years old, Sultan had matured into a strikingly handsome man, with black hair, an elegant aquiline nose, and a strong chin. He and his wife were thinking of starting a family. He had survived Stalin and Hitler and was ready for a new phase in life. He latched onto anticommunism with a vengeance.

In the 1940s, Sultan had joined the Scottish League for European Freedom. Backed by Britain's foreign intelligence agency, MI6, the league tried to line up members of Soviet minority groups such as the Tatars to combat the Soviet Union. It led to a more durable organization, which Sultan also joined, called the Anti -Bolshevik Bloc of Nations. Both were largely the creation of British intelligence services and rife with von Mende's ex-Ostministerium collaborators. Now Sultan was looking for something that paid a real salary but would allow him to keep fighting communism. He found what looked like a perfect fit: Radio Liberty.

One reason Sultan found it easy to choose Radio Liberty is that he already knew most of its employees. The station was organized into "desks." each with a specific nationality -- Russian and non- Russian. Programming concepts and guidelines were developed in New York, but the desks in Munich had autonomy to pick topics to cover and people to interview. This is not in itself unusual for broadcasters. The non -Russian desks, however, duplicated the Ostministerium's nationality committees in many ways, hiring similar personnel and even using Nazi ethnic terms such as Idel-Ural to refer to Tatars from the Volga River region.

The people on the desks had almost all worked for von Mende in the Ostministerium. Besides Sultan, other top-level Ostministerium employees included Aman Berdimurat and Veli Zunnun on the radio's Turkestani desk, Hussein Ikhran on the Uzbek desk, and Edige Kirimal on the Tatar desk. The Ostministerium stalwart Abdul Fatalibey ran the Azerbaijani desk. A year after Radio Liberty went on the air, Fatalibey didn't show up for work one day. Police eventually found his body, bound with wire and mutilated, in the apartment of another Azerbaijani, who had fled to East Germany. Next to Fatalibey was a sign inscribed with the warning TRAITORS TO THE MOTHERLAND. (Not long after, the body of an employee of the Belarussian desk was found in the Isar River. Police never established a motive, but radio employees assumed the Soviets were responsible for both deaths.)

Intelligence hires usually are vetted to ensure their personal histories contain nothing compromising, but that requirement was apparently waived for the emigres. Radio Liberty relied so heavily on Nazi collaborators that the station would have closed without them. One estimate put the proportion of Radio Liberty employees who had worked for the Nazis at 75 to 80 percent.

"At RL we had a special problem: the tendency of many in the audience to view our emigre staffs as traitors to their homelands." Critchlow wrote in his memoirs, adding that "for Americans of my generation, many of us World War II veterans, there was initially something distasteful about having to associate with people who had worn German uniforms, whether or not they had committed war crimes. Yet there were scores of such people in our building in Oberwiesenfeld."

There was a way of dealing with this discomfort. Typically, the American would have a proper sit-down talk with his ex-Nazi colleague, who would give assurances that he had had no choice but to serve the Reich, or -- perhaps in a fit of candor -- that he had been young and foolish. These former Nazis never claimed to believe the anti-Semitic propaganda they had produced or been fed. Everyone had been a victim. Then the two coworkers would go out for a drink, their friendship reestablished.
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Re: A Mosque in Munich: Nazis, the CIA, and the Rise of the

Postby admin » Wed Jun 10, 2015 9:04 pm


But from the vantage point of history, the parallels between Amcomlib and the Ostministerium appear striking and belie this distancing from the Nazi past. The ex-Soviets working for Radio Liberty were not ordinary soldiers or even officers who had joined the Wehrmacht or the SS out of desperation. Most of the foot soldiers who had served the Nazis had been repatriated. Those who remained had been cultivated by the Nazis to work in the Ostministerium and had thus become a political elite. Many, like Sultan, had been in charge of propaganda -- which in the Nazi era meant heavy doses of anti-Semitic and racist language.

Employing such people was more than a moral problem. The Soviets were aware of their backgrounds and had an easy time discrediting Radio Liberty staffers with the charge of being not only CIA employees but also former Nazi collaborators. The government regularly lured Radio Liberty employees back to Moscow -- by holding family members hostage, for example. In exchange for amnesty, these ex-employees had to name which of their former colleagues had worked for the Nazis.

Thus the Muslims at Radio Liberty were ultimately ineffective. When they were sent on covert propaganda missions abroad, the Soviets could easily discredit them as Nazi stooges. They also lacked credibility as religiously observant Muslims, since they'd had almost no religious education in the Soviet Union or Nazi Germany. When the United States tried to use them to communicate propaganda, critics would say their Nazi past had disqualified them. Their failure had significant repercussions for the future of Islam in Europe; the United States would eventually look for more credible Muslims among radical groups.


Before the radio station started to broadcast, Amcomlib officers decided it would be credible only if backed by emigres. This would create the impression that a broad coalition had formed against the Soviet Union and was broadcasting news back home. As one Amcomlib employee put it, "Our goal was to provide the myth that Amcomlib was made up of emigre groups and not the CIA. That's why the emigre groups were so important."

But the emigres were not united. They were divided along ethnic lines -- roughly, the Russians on one side and on the other the non -Russians: Ukrainians, Georgians, Armenians, Turkestanis, and many others. To force a marriage, Amcomlib set up a "Coordinating Center" in Munich in January 1951 and put the emigres on its payroll. But for two years the U.S.efforts went nowhere. Amcomlib was trying to broker the kind of deal that had eluded the Nazis. They too had tried to force emigre Russians and non -Russians to work together, but had failed. The Americans controlled the groups' purse strings but couldn't make any headway. One Amcomlib re port put it this way: "Whether this analogy is justified or not, we seem to be wrestling today with the same problems and emigre personalities which shaped up within the German Government between 1941 and 1945 in its war with the Soviet Union."

When Eisenhower took office, one of his top aides received a scathing letter from an official at Radio Free Europe, saying Amcomlib had been "an almost complete failure," bogged down in arcane disputes. It hadn't even started broadcasting and instead spent lavishly on the emigres, trying to iron out their differences. Amcomlib officials defended themselves, saying they needed a united front in order to give the radio station credibility.

In desperation, Amcomlib brought in a veteran State Department officer, Isaac "Ike" Patch. Patch had served in Moscow and Prague until the communist government expelled him. One contemporary described him as "a tall, shrewd string bean with a deceptively mild appearance and manner." But Patch's task was hopeless.

"It was the Muslims against the Slavs, the Russians," Patch recalled. The Muslims, Patch said, felt the Russians were chauvinists. "They [the Muslims] were so interested in independence. That was their emphasis. Not the big picture" -- meaning the fight against communism that so interested the Americans.

Amcomlib made a last-ditch effort to forge a consensus at the Tegernsee, a lake resort south of Munich. It was a disaster. Then someone had a new idea: if the Americans were having the same problems the Germans had faced ten years earlier, it might make sense to ask Germans from that era for help. So Patch and other Amcomlib officials turned to an old friend of U.S. intelligence, Gerhard von Mende.


On November 2, 1944, the CIA's forerunner, the Office of Strategic Services, sent an agent code-named "Ruppert" across the front lines near the French town of Gerardmer. Ruppert had an unusual mission and was equipped accordingly. His job wasn't to ferret out intelligence, such as discovering any last-gasp offensive the Germans might have in store. Instead, he was there to plan for the postwar era. A key goal was to induce top-ranking Nazis to defect. So instead of carrying a wireless transmitter or another device to send back urgent messages, Ruppert traveled light, armed only with $10,000 in bribes, including louis d'or coins slipped into his shoes.

Ruppert made straight for Berlin. He spent five and a half months there, posing as a Nazi security service officer and talking to Nazi party members. Then, his mission accomplished, he left for Switzerland. He hadn't discovered any postwar Nazi resistance plots, nor had he enticed any top Nazis to defect. But he had recruited a group of people who would at once repulse and fascinate his American employers: Nazis eager to fight the Soviet Union. Ruppert's top recruit was von Mende, who was especially prized because U.S. intelligence believed he had tight ties with the German army's Abwehr intelligence unit.

After Ruppert left, von Mende made his way to Switzerland too. In her memoirs, von Mende's wife stated that he was hoping to meet Carl Burckhardt, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, and get his help to save the Soviet soldiers involved with the Ostministerium. According to Red Cross files, one of von Mende's men indeed arrived in Geneva in late 1944, which meshes with Ruppert's activities in Berlin. But Red Cross files show that no meeting took place. By the time von Mende arrived at the Swiss border in May, the war was basically over and he was turned back. He and three Georgians from the Ostministerium were sent to a U.S. prisoner camp in the Austrian town of Hochst.

It was there that U.S. troops found them. The Germans immediately asked to be put in touch with the ass, and in fact, they were talking to an OSS man -- this may have been arranged in advance by Ruppert. "I am sure that in spite of everything, the group knows that it is OSS who is interested in them," the OSS officer wrote in his report. "They are very clever, highly cultured ... They are only too willing to talk and too willing to work."

It was the start of several courtships between von Mende and U.S. intelligence that would take place over the next fifteen years. At this point, the U.S. goal was to capture intact von Mende's emigre network. From the Americans' point of view, they could constitute a turnkey operation to penetrate the Soviet Union. Von Mende and his men were sent to a suburb of Frankfurt, where a special ass counter-intelligence unit, X-2, handled his case. Von Mende wrote for days on end. He and the three Georgians authored twenty-three reports, including opinions on conditions in Soviet Russia, the role of minorities in the Soviet Union, Nazi indoctrination methods, and descriptions of the various ministries in Berlin.

The X-2 officers were impressed but had some doubts. Von Mende seemed too pushy, too much a man with his own agenda -- virulent anticommunism that bordered on fanaticism. The Americans shared the anticommunist perspective but also recognized that the Nazis had failed miserably in the East. Von Mende claimed to be different -- he criticized his superiors in the Ostministerium -- but his American handlers weren't sure. In detailed sketches, the OSS men described him as a moody prima donna: "Personal description: 5 ft 8; about 140 lbs, slender, light blond hair, light blue eyes, light complexion, one tooth in lower jaw protruding noticeably, courteous, moody, gives impression of fairly young, relatively insignificant person; obviously very clever and seems to lead."

And in another description Mende is depicted as "without doubt a man of exceptional intelligence and an outstanding linguist, it is hard to speak of him as a person who 'kept his personal integrity and cleanliness to the last.' While there is little doubt that Mende would work for the Americans ... there is also little doubt that he would be an untrustworthy contact unless the Americans would agree to swallow fully his ideology and approach to the handling of the USSR problem."

Still, his interrogators bought -- or at least were willing to tolerate -- his story that he hadn't been a real Nazi. He never admitted to membership in the SA so was released with a document certifying that he hadn't joined a Nazi-affiliated party or political organization and had opposed the Nazis' foreign policy. Von Mende went home and began his new life as a freelance intelligence operative.


"My husband has a group of gentlemen, who has worked with him during the war and these gentlemen are also experts for different east-European questions. This group consists of some German gentlemen, chiefly 'Baltic-deutsche:" So began a long letter by Karo Espeseth in November 1945, written on behalf of her husband. Her English might have been imperfect, but her meaning was clear: von Mende had assembled the old Baltic-German leadership from the Ostministerium and was looking for work. Later in the typewritten letter, she wrote that many other emigres could help out too. The group could constitute a sort of academic research service. "This cooperation could take place in a scientific institute and this institute should be at the disposal of the British Empire."

The letter was one of several that von Mende and Espeseth wrote after he returned from the U.S. interrogation camp. He was fortunate to find his family safe in the western zone of occupation. As the war ended, they had been living north of Berlin in the hometown of Heinz Unglaube, von Mende's employee at the Ostministerium who handled the Tatars. But as the Red Army surged through Germany, von Mende arranged for the family to travel west toward British lines.

Reunited with his family, von Mende had to figure out what to do for a living. Berlin University was under Soviet control and the Ostministerium was no more. But he was fascinated by education. In his letters, he warned Allied officials that with Nazism discredited, German youth was susceptible to the new all-embracing ideology of communism. He proposed some sort of youth education project that he and his men could run. He even wrote to the famous British historian Arnold Toynbee asking for help. But to no avail.

Academia did not seem an option. He did work briefly at a university right after the war but was not offered a full-time position. It's impossible to know precisely why: clearly he had published groundbreaking work and still had the position of a full, tenured professorship. And at this time many people with Nazi backgrounds were being rehired. But whatever impression he may have given to the ass, von Mende's career had indeed been tied to the Nazis. Even before working in the Ostministerium he had been an enthusiastic Nazi -- not in the narrow sense of being a formal party member, but in his efforts to fit into the party program and embrace its ideology. He had written nasty anti-Semitic tracts. He also participated in the academic quackery of defining who was a Jew. His family said he had taken a liking to politics; it might be more accurate to say that his politics had destroyed his academic career.

In any case, he was soon in direct contact with the British. In October 1945, he wrote to a "Major Morrison." complaining that employees of the Ostministerium were facing discrimination. At the end of the six-page letter, in which he lauded his former colleagues as "European, thinking people." he attached a treasure trove: a who's who of von Mende's Ostministerium network. The names included Kayum, Alshibaya, and two dozen more, many of whom were still stuck in Allied interrogation camps.

The information must have interested the British intensely. Many of the men von Mende listed had been Prometheans -- the early group of emigres who opposed the Soviets. Back then, the British had worried that the Soviets and Nazis would form an alliance and had contemplated parachuting Prometheans into the Caucasus to blow up Soviet petroleum installations in order to deprive the Germans of oil. That region was still strategically important, and von Mende knew the emigres better than anyone else.

By1946 von Mende was living a privileged existence. When many Germans were literally starving, he had an automobile. His family also had a horse, a maid, and a house -- all of this, of course, with no official source of income. As early as 1946, von Mende had spread his operations to the U.S. zone of occupation. According to a U.S. counter-intelligence report of 1947, von Mende drove down to Munich to visit his old Georgian colleague from the Ostministerium, Prince Alshibaya, presumably to recruit him for the British. Later that year, Alshibaya drove up to Hamburg and came back with four hundred imported cigarettes, three bottles of cognac, packages of chocolate, and three boxes of cigars. He could sell these goods on the black market to support his lavish lifestyle, which included a car and a mistress.

In the late 1940s, the newly formed CIA decided to take another look at von Mende. He was given a code name - a cruel one, really: "Capriform." "having a goat's shape." Then he was brought down to Munich for extensive interviews. The CIA got the university in Munich to agree to give him a job, and von Mende expressed an eagerness to work for the more prosperous U.S. side.

Around this time, the United States and Great Britain were keen to use the emigres for covert operations inside the USSR. It was still the era of rollback -- the more muscular counterpoint to containment that valued adventures like the famous Nazi Operation Zeppelin, of 1942, when some of von Mende's emigres were parachuted into the Soviet Union with radios and maps. They were to scout out the land and assess the potential for sabotage or political organization. These forays were sometimes successful but often ended in disaster, as the secret agents were caught soon after landing. But to Allied intelligence agencies at the start of the Cold War, they seemed like an instant solution to the West's almost complete lack of agents in the Soviet Union.

Von Mende, however, knew that these projects typically failed. He favored another approach: collecting information and engaging in covert propaganda. The Americans weren't interested. The project was shelved -- temporarily.


In 1949, West Germany was created out of the three zones that the United States, Britain, and France had occupied after the war ended. West Germany was not fully sovereign -- the three powers still stationed large numbers of troops on its soil, and its foreign policy was circumscribed, mainly by U.S. objectives. With the slow emergence of West Germany as a country in its own right, however, von Mende could slowly extract himself from working for foreigners. He began to line up agencies and offices in the West German government that might pay him to bring his vision to fruition: to re-create as much of the Ostministerium as possible -- to hire back onto a German payroll those of his former colleagues whom the Americans hadn't already taken. Over time, he became directly employed by Bonn.

Von Mende may have been motivated by a humanitarian drive -- giving work to some down-at-the-heel foreigners exiled far from home. But as always with von Mende, his charity was hard to separate from his ambition. He liked the Soviet minorities and they liked him. He needed them and they needed him. As in the Ostministerium, he became -- depending on how charitably you choose to view von Mende -- either their advocate or their puppet master. Von Mende's Ostministerium colleagues credited him with generously using his power to help. He wrote a series of what the Germans called "Persil certificates." Persil is Germany's best-known laundry detergent; a letter from the right person could wash away Nazi stains. He also helped Soviet minorities receive an education. Von Mende mentored Sultan, who studied law at Hamburg University. "He helped a lot of the people from the national committees." Sultan said. "We were grateful."

After Sultan went to Amcomlib, von Mende relied heavily on two emigres: Hayit and Kayum. Hayit had been the bridge between the Ostministerium's national committees and the Wehrmacht, with a reputation for being a straight and true military man. After the war, he would be von Mende's most important colleague. Von Mende hired Hayit to gather intelligence on emigres and write pamphlets. Later, von Mende would send him overseas on covert missions. The two also shared a touching friendship.

"Without you I would be in Germany an island in a dead sea." Hayit wrote in one letter to von Mende while on a trip to Lon don. Hayit's letters, usually in cramped handwriting that flowed in wavy lines along the page, were always full of solicitous questions about von Mende's health, his wife, and his children. Although von Mende was never as openly affectionate, his tireless efforts on Hayit's part are clearly evident. Despite his long years in Germany, Hayit's German was always poor and it was von Mende who ghostwrote his papers and even his memos, turning Hayit's rocky prose into the smoothest bureaucratese or formal academic prose.

Hayit had always been interested in history, and after the war von Mende helped him obtain a Ph.D. from the University of Munster and write books on Turkestani history. In 1956, Hayit published Turkestan in the Twentieth Century, which was reviewed in academic journals and judged as an important, if subjective, view of the regions struggles against Russia. Throughout his life, Hayit continued to publish prolifically on Turkestan.

During the war and after, Veli Kayum cut a less appealing figure. After the war, he rebuilt his Ostministerium national committee, naming it the National Turkestani Unity Committee. Most of the prominent Central Asians who had worked for von Mende joined. But Kayum's Nazi service had tainted him. In 1951, the influential left-wing U.S. magazine New Leader carried a two-part series called "Allies We Don't Need." which nicely laid out how emigres who had once worked for the Nazis were now heading groups backed by the former Allies. The first installment criticized the National Alliance of Russian Solidarists, known by its Russian acronym, NTS, for having allied itself with the Ostministerium and promoted anti-semitism. The second was a direct challenge to Western intelligence agencies' machinations in West Germany. It featured a picture of the Ostministerium boss Alfred Rosenberg, with the caption "His memory lingers." It dissected the ABN, or Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations. The article took the ABN to task for its racist, anti-Russian statements (one ABN paper had said Russians had never been able to form "an order of society worthy of human beings") and then ticked off the ABN's ex-Ostministerium "minions." including Kayum. After the article appeared, von Mende immediately sent a letter to an ABN official, asking if he thought Kayum should reply. He also chided the group for using such inflammatory language and mused that the New Leader must have been informed "by a man who worked for U.S. intelligence." The allegation isn't implausible because Amcomlib and von Mende were competing for the same men to staff their versions of a revived Ostministerium.

Von Mende would often get angry at Kayum for his indiscretions and bottomless appetite for money, but he remained a loyal employer. Von Mende paid Kayum 3,600 deutsche marks as an annual salary. The only activity that Kayum engaged in was sending bits of gossip about the emigres to von Mende; judging from the extant records of von Mende's offices, Kayum never wrote serious reports or analyses. Von Mende also tried to subsidize Kayum's newspaper, Milli Turkistan, "in recognition of his earlier services for Germany" -- one can only suppose this refers to his work in the Ostministerium.

Rounding out von Mende's team was a German, Walter Schenk, who functioned as von Mende's deputy. Schenk had not worked in the Ostministerium, but von Mende knew him from the war, when he headed the Lemberg office of the Nazis' Sicherheitsdienst, or Security Service, where one of his responsibilities was Desk IIIB, which oversaw Poles, Ukrainians, and Jews. Lemberg (known between the wars by its Polish name, Lvov, and today by its Ukrainian name, Lviv) was at the time in eastern Poland, meaning Schenk was at the epicenter of the Holocaust. Schenk had quit university to join the Nazis, making him even less employable than von Mende after the war. He put in long hours helping von Mende design his evolving organization.

Like his counterparts in Amcomlib, von Mende was constantly changing his office's name until he found something suitable. He finally settled on a dual name: Research Service Eastern Europe and Bureau for Homeland-less Foreigners. The latter was ostensibly to help foreigners facing various problems, and the former was a quasi-academic research office for government agencies in need of information. As von Mende tried to get established, he moved around the countryside, working in small towns in the British sector: Detmold, Uelzen, and Brackwede. He settled in Dusseldorf, which became the center of West Germany's efforts to harness the Soviet minorities and, in time, Islam.


An elegant city on the Rhine, Dusseldorf was the capital of West Germany's economic powerhouse, the state of North Rhine- Westphalia. Just a tram ride from Cologne, this ancient city had grown in importance as the neighboring Ruhr Valley became, in the nineteenth century, Europe's industrial sector: a string of grimy mining and steel towns. Dusseldorf was its parlor: the region's banking and fashion capital, as well as its center of commerce.

Von Mende took a grand office facing the Rhine. In this region, the Rhine does not resemble the tourist destination farther upstream, where the river is lined with faux-medieval castles and picturesque small towns. Here it is flat and deep, a commercial waterway filled with big barges and low-slung river craft plying the route to the Ruhr and back. A broad waterfront park with a double row of chestnut trees shielded von Mende from this scene. From his window he could look out onto trees and a horse path. Behind it, a vast field dotted with bushes and linden trees ran down to the river's edge.

His offices were financed by various West German agencies. The government's interest was to keep tabs on the roughly 220,000 stateless foreigners left in West Germany as a result of the war. Money initially came from the Federal Office for Protection of the Constitution -- West Germany's domestic intelligence agency aimed at keeping track of extremists. Later, the bureau's Bavarian branch paid von Mende an extra five thousand marks per month to keep an eye on the emigres in Munich and dubbed his offices its "Northern Office." It was tasked with evaluating Munich's emigre population. He eventually added money from the Foreign Office and would collaborate closely with West Germany's refugee ministry. Von Mende's intelligence enterprise was located on the ground floor. His family took a spacious apartment upstairs. That allowed him time to see his family, and for his wife, Karo, to help out with office affairs.

As before, Karo helped her husband write letters in English. For all his facility in languages, von Mende never felt confident in the new international language and relied on his wife to correspond with the outside world. It was an odd turn of events for the linguistically gifted von Mende, as if his intellectual development had stopped once he joined the Nazis. For many of his visitors, his language limitations were no problem. Amcomlib officials, many of whom were fluent in German, visited him regularly. One such meeting took place in 1954 when Amcomlib's political coordinator, Ike Patch, was desperate to solve the problem of his feuding minorities. Also at the meeting was Robert F. Kelley, a retired diplomat who had taken over Amcomlib's Munich operations as his final posting, and Professor Ballis of another major Amcomlib front organization in Munich, the Institute for the Study of the USSR.

Kelley and Patch told von Mende how disappointed they were at their inability to build a united front of Russians and non-Russians. In an account of the meeting von Mende wrote for his files, he slyly noted that he knew of these troubles already, thanks to a "V-man" in Munich. In German V-Mann is short for Vertrauungsmann, "confidence man" -- in this case a person inside the U.S. organization sending reports to von Mende.

Patch asked von Mende for advice. Von Mende said Amcomlib's political organization had to be stronger. Radio Liberty, he noted, had "desks" representing each of the major nationalities. They were in charge of broadcasting in that language but also played a political role. Like the Ostministeriums national committees, Radio Liberty's broadcast services were quasi governments in exile -- after all, the personnel structure was almost identical to the Ostministeriurn's. This was good, he said, but they had to be more effective -- not in how they ran the radio but in their political work. Kelley agreed, according to van Mende's account. Kelley, he wrote, "considers it necessary to create a political background for Radio Liberation as for the Institute."

The key, von Mende said, was to improve the staffing of these desks and give the employees a higher profile. They had to link up better with other emigre groups around the world. Van Mende pointed to the Azerbaijani section, headed by Ismail Akber, Mecid Musazade, and Fatalibey (who would soon be murdered). That section, he said approvingly, "had a certain political authority" but could be strengthened. He knew that Akber was planning a trip to Turkey and suggested that Amcomlib pay for it so he could beef up the department by bringing in more Azerbaijani emigres living there. Patch agreed.

Van Mende was able to give a tip to Professor Ballis of the institute. Ballis had hired one of van Mende's old proteges, Edige Kirimal, to write a report on the Crimean Tatars during the war. Von Mende noted dryly that Kirimal had already written a similar report for "the British"; the Americans, he advised Ballis, could save money if they ran such projects by von Mende -- implicitly acknowledging that he knew what British intelligence had commissioned and could get copies to Ballis, saving him the expense of ordering new reports. It was, of course, a convenient way for von Mende to learn what the CIA was up to.

A year later, in 1955, Ike Patch organized a big dinner at his home in Munich. He was still getting nowhere in his efforts to unite the non-Russians and Russians. Patch made it a social occasion. He invited von Mende and his wife, Karo, down to Munich for dinner with him and his wife, who would also be joined by the U.S. consul general, E. Alan Lightner Jr., and another married couple from the consulate. Van Mende, though, was not in the mood for socializing. He wanted to talk about a common problem: how to use the emigres more effectively.

The basic conundrum, von Mende said, is that if the emigres couldn't assimilate, they wouldn't find jobs and would end up as permanent outsiders in West German society. But if they became truly integrated into the local culture, they would lose their usefulness to Western countries, whose anticommunist propaganda had to depict suffering emigres rather than well-adjusted immigrants. Von Mende was worried that mishandling the refugees would "do damage to emigre morale and western psychological warfare efforts." as Lightner wrote in his account of the meeting. The key point, von Mende urged, was to support the Soviet minorities -- and forget about the Russians. Patch, who had spent two years trying to unite the two factions, could not conceive of alienating the Russians. Von Mende, though, took the old Ostministerium view: the minorities were the Soviets' Achilles' heel. If it really wanted to damage the Soviet Union, the United States should use them more forcefully.

Von Mende had a problem convincing the Americans to take his advice: he was dealing with Russophiles. Kelley and his men came at the problem as Russian speakers with long experience and fascination with that country. Intellectually, they knew of course that the Soviet Union was made up of many minorities. But in their hearts they didn't want to abandon the Russians. Others in Amcomlib, however, were embracing von Mende's position. They saw the Soviet minorities -- especially the Muslims -- as key tools in attacking the Soviet Union. The idea wasn't just to use them to influence Muslims in the Soviet Union, but throughout the vast Muslim world.
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Re: A Mosque in Munich: Nazis, the CIA, and the Rise of the

Postby admin » Wed Jun 10, 2015 9:05 pm


ONE OF THE FIVE pillars of Islam is the Hajj, the once-in-a-lifetime pilgrimage to Mecca that every Muslim is encouraged to undertake, financial means and health permitting. Devotees make their way to the holy city to see where their religion was founded and ritually relive the prophet Muhammad's struggle to bring the word of God to humanity. Reinforced in faith, the pious traveler returns home, inspiring others in the community to follow God's word.

For some pilgrims, the 1954 Hajj was a bit different. Armed with ripe tomatoes and strong lungs, two CIA-sponsored Muslims turned Mecca into the site of a Cold War showdown. Two eager young men, Rusi Nasar and Hamid Raschid, had followed the now-familiar path to the West: born in the Soviet Union and captured by the Germans, they collaborated with the Nazis and finally were recruited by U.S. intelligence. Their target: Soviet hajjis, who, they claimed, were engaged in spreading propaganda. Sponsored by Amcomlib, Nasar and Raschid flew to Jeddah, the Saudi Arabian city closest to Mecca. They claimed to be Turks, got seats on a bus carrying twenty-one Soviet pilgrims to Mecca, and began their work, talking to the Soviet Muslims and trying to sow seeds of doubt about their homeland. When that didn't work, they tailed their prey in Mecca, heckling them.

"You're no pilgrims; you're communist propagandists!" the American propagandists shouted. "You serve the Moscow atheists!"

Nasar and Raschid recruited local Muslims to help out. They pasted anti-Soviet posters on the walls and harassed the Soviet pilgrims at every turn. Once, they threw tomatoes at them on the streets of the holy city. Perhaps due to the Americans' work, Saudi Arabia's King Saud turned down the Soviets' request for an audience. The Soviets did get one chance to talk about the situation of Islam in the Soviet Union to a gathering of pilgrims. But as they spoke in Meccas Grand Mosque, Raschid challenged them, asking how they could condone the Soviet Union's persecution of Muslims. One Soviet replied that the persecuted had been punished by God. Standing not far from the Kaaba, a small stone building that contains the Black Stone, said to have been given by the angel Gabriel to Abraham, Raschid bitterly criticized him.

"Haven't you a drop of shame left that you can say such things in front of the holy Kaaba itself, old as you are, with one foot in the grave, soon to stand in the presence of God?"

Nasar and Raschid's foray was portrayed in the West as part of a spontaneous uprising of disgust at the Soviet Union -- two Muslim refugees poking their finger in the Soviet Goliath's eye. That was the story that ran in Time magazine and the New York Times. However, their fake Hajj was part of an aggressive U.S. policy to counter the Soviet Union in a new battleground: the third world.


By the mid-1950s,the Cold War had reached a stalemate in Europe. As the East German uprising of 1953 and the Hungarian uprising of 1956 showed, the Soviets were determined to keep control of their satellites, and the West was unable to do more than protest. Both sides had tried aggressive policies -- the Soviets had squeezed West Berlin by cutting ground transport, while the United States had encouraged the Hungarian uprising. Europe, which would be the site of communism's collapse in 1989, remained the fault line during the Cold War. But for many of the intervening years the real action took place elsewhere.

In fact, the third world was arguably the Cold War's most important battleground. Incredibly bloody wars were fought there, not in Europe, and propagandists on both sides aimed their messages there. While both the U.S. allies and the Soviets continued to beam programs into each other's airspace, only in the third world did Cold War propagandists actually stand a chance of scoring meaningful points.

This part of the world has been referred to by different names: the developing world, the third world, or simply the South -- because most of its countries lay in the Southern Hemisphere. Some would later consider the term "third world" pejorative, as if third-world countries had finished third in some sort of global competition. But its original meaning is simpler and more useful. As coined by the French demographer Alfred Sauvy, the name was meant to distinguish certain sectors of the globe from those directly caught up in the duel between the "first world" -- the United States and its allies -- and the "second world" -- the Soviet Union and its satellites. Sauvy defined the third world as a vast area, encompassing most of Asia, Latin America, and Africa. The common denominator: in the 1950s most were in the early stages of industrialization and, excluding Latin America, most were emerging from colonialism. A handful of European powers -- especially the British and French -- had controlled these regions. Now these ancient European empires were collapsing and their territories acquiring independence. Every year, a few new countries were added to the family of nations.

The superpowers were eager to win over these countries as allies. Both the West and the Soviet Union wanted new trading partners and sources of raw materials. Although at the time many of these countries were poor, their strategic importance wasn't overlooked; think of how different the modern world would be if economic powerhouses such as South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand had become communist instead of pillars of the global trading system. And even those that remained poor could vote in the United Nations. The United States and the USSR (along with Britain, China, and France) had veto power in the Security Council, but the two superpowers needed votes to pass resolutions. Although many Americans today disparage the UN, it was a fresher, more idealistic institution during the early Cold War. Effective or not, it was the only global forum for the showdown between Moscow and Washington.

The United States was badly handicapped in this new battle. During World War II, it had shown contempt for European colonialism. Most American thinkers assumed that Europe's colonies would gain independence after the war and that the United States would benefit -- after all, it was founded by rebels fighting British colonialism. Who could sympathize more with newly independent countries than the United States?

What actually happened was different. Worried that the newly independent countries were going communist, the United States began to aid the colonial powers. After the French setback in 1954 at Dien Bien Phu, the United States sent France weapons to rebuild its colonial army. And in the Middle East, U.S. oil firms seemed to be picking up where the old colonial powers had left off. Egged on by critics in the Soviet Union, many new countries began to call the United States the new colonizer.

Both superpowers decided to strengthen their position by using Islam as a weapon. In the United States, Cold War interest in Islam predated the Eisenhower administration. Under Truman, U.S. intelligence reportedly was on the lookout for a charismatic figure who could rally Muslims in an anticommunist crusade. Truman's Psychological Strategy Board drew up a program for the Middle East that was adopted in February 1953, shortly after Eisenhower's inauguration. "No consideration of the traditional Arab mind is possible without taking into consideration the all-pervading influence of the Muslim faith on Arab thinking." the report stated. It went on to warn that -- contrary to received wisdom in the West -- Islam was not a natural barrier to communism. Many reformers who took power in these countries put economics before religion; that weakened the role of faith and made the region vulnerable to communism. Von Mende and his group also figured prominently in early U.S. analyses of Islam's potential. In April 1951, the CIA received a report from an informant at a major U.S. university stating that von Mende had collected key Muslims and was setting up a think tank of sorts. His efforts to rebuild the Ostministerium team were being noticed. The tightly spaced three-page report was a sign that Americans were starting to think about how to make use of Islam.

The Eisenhower administration boosted these efforts. Its overall view was that the Truman administration hadn't been aggressive or focused enough. Even as the Psychological Strategy Board was adopting the new program on the Middle East in early 1953, one of Eisenhower's chief psychological warfare strategists, Edward P. Lilly, drew up a memorandum called "The Religious Factor." It called for the United States to harness its spiritual advantage and use religion more explicitly. Lilly described the great religious revival going on in the Muslim world. For the past few decades, Muslim thinkers had been trying to figure out how to harness their religion to save their countries from colonialism and subservience to the West. Groups like the Muslim Brotherhood promised national salvation by hewing tightly to the Koran. Lilly compared it to the great Wesleyan Christian revival in eighteenth-century England. Later in 1953, he asked his staff to evaluate the feasibility of helping out with Saudi Arabia's annual Hajj; because of logistical problems, that year thousands of Muslims were left stranded and couldn't reach Mecca. In the future, could the U.S. Air Force fly them in? Lilly's adviser shot down the idea. "While the desirability of uniting the Christian world and Islam to maintain freedom of worship, etc., etc., is obvious, I do not feel that this project would help very much," the official wrote. It would be seen as "a deliberate coldblooded attempt by the infidel to organize Islam [that] would, I think, fall flat on its face and would be recognized as a bald psychological gimmick."

Yet officials remained fascinated with the idea of using religion as a weapon. In 1954, "The Religious Factor" was sent to the National Security Council. The NSC had just passed a landmark document, widely known as Paper 162/2, that called for massive retaliation against the Soviet Union. This document is often seen solely in terms of its implications for nuclear war, justifying obliteration of the enemy. But it also called for "mobilizing the spiritual and moral resources necessary to meet the Soviet threat."

The State Department, the CIA, and the U.S. Information Agency were called to action. But how ought they to proceed? The Soviet Union had upwards of thirty million Muslim citizens. For years the Soviets had worked at rooting out religion, closing mosques and persecuting those who practiced their faith; this was one reason why the Germans had an easy time recruiting Muslims to the Wehrmacht and the SS during World War II. But by the 1950s, the Soviets had reversed course, at least superficially. Mosques were reopened and imams trained. As Nasar discovered when he was in Saudi Arabia, Soviet officials had been sending Muslims on the Hajj to score points with the Muslim world. As home to ancient and important Muslim communities in Central Asia, the Soviet Union wanted to show that its Muslims were well treated and enjoyed religious freedom.

The United States had no such reservoir of Muslims. Its only such population of significant size was the Nation of Islam, but this group was at odds with the government, and its members were unlikely to find much common ground with Eisenhower and U.S. intelligence officials. And even if an alliance could be struck, involving the Nation of Islam would probably have been counterproductive; many mainstream Muslims blanched at what they saw as its heretical teachings (for example, that God manifested himself in 1930 to the group's founder; traditional Islam holds that God's final revelation was through the prophet Muhammad). The United States would have to look elsewhere for help.


For decades, Bandung had been known simply as an Indonesian resort town, a cool mountain retreat where Dutch plantation owners had built luxurious clubhouses and hotels as an escape from the tropical heat. But after a seven-day conference in 1955, it became a symbol for the third world's central role in the global Cold War.

The conference was held in the former Concordia Society, the most exclusive club that Dutch settlers had built in the wealthy colony. A grand art deco building in the center of town, it featured Italian marble floors, a great oaken bar, and crystal chandeliers. It had restaurants, meeting rooms, and a vast common area where the colony's European bosses met to socialize and discuss business. Now the two-acre complex was given over to colonialism's subject peoples. The Afro-Asian Conference -- which became known as the Bandung Conference -- gave third-world leaders a chance to get to know one another and find common ground. Organized and hosted by Indonesia, along with several major decolonized countries, including India, Ceylon, Egypt, Burma, and Pakistan, it was the birthplace of the Non- Aligned Movement, a group of countries that did not want to be subsumed into the Soviet or the U.S. camp. Washington saw the movement differently: a group of countries soft on communism that could be used by Moscow. China (at that point still a close Soviet ally) sent its suave premier, Zhou Enlai. In Washington, developments at the Bandung Conference were characterized as a Manichaean battle, and some of the most populous nations in the world were at stake.

Even before the conference started, the National Security Council jumped into action. In January 1955, its Operations Coordinating Board set up a Bandung working group made up of the CIA, the U.S. Information Agency, the State Department, and other offices "to place the Communist Bloc countries represented at the conference psychologically on the defensive." A few days later, the board issued a report, presenting the conference in the starkest of terms: "The Afro-Asian Conference, with Chinese Communist participation, will present the grimly amusing aspect of a spectacle of world communism holding itself up as the protagonist of local nationalist movements and anti-colonialism. Unless this plan is exposed and turned against them, the Communists will succeed in moving another step toward their goal of world domination."

Officially, President Eisenhower would send his best wishes to the delegates. Behind the scenes, however, the United States, which was not invited, would use proxies to distribute covert propaganda. The Soviet weak point was identified: Islam. As one Eisenhower administration official put it, the United States would use it to engage in "some 'Machiavellian'" engineering at Bandung: "I wonder if some of our friends at Bandung might not also have prepared in their briefcases an expose of the East's [Russia's] 'colonial' practices in its governing of the Moslem peoples of the fictitious states of Uzbek and Turkestan. I am given to understand ... that we have some devastating literature on how the Russians punished these 'uncooperative' peoples during and immediately after the war by removing thousands of persons from their homes to new lands and by exterminations en masse."

Indeed, "devastating literature" had been prepared. And once again it was Amcomlib's Rusi Nasar who saved the day. A year after playing the role of pilgrim, Nasar traded in his robes for a journalist's press card, landing an accreditation with the New York Herald Tribune in Bandung. During the conference, the U.S. embassy in Jakarta cabled back information on Nasar, saying he was working for the newspaper "this week" -- implying that the job was short-term, perhaps a cover -- and also claimed to be representing the National Turkestani Unity Committee, which was the most influential of the emigre groups speaking on behalf of Soviet Muslims. It was also funded and closely monitored by von Mende, one of whose paid agents, Veli Kayum, headed it. In the cable, the State Department officer said he wouldn't bother sending the material that Nasar was distributing at the conference because he assumed Washington already had seen it -- implying at least familiarity with, if not a prior vetting of, Nasar's work.

The Soviets weren't fooled. The Soviet newspaper Trud (Labor) attacked Nasar "as a U.S. agent sent from West Germany to demand independent Turkestan and attack Soviet nationality policy, thus providing US 'representatives' at conference basis for 'slanderous anti-Soviet fabrications.'"

But the Munich Muslims landed some punches. In addition to Nasar's attacks, Kayum also sent an appeal on behalf of the National Turkestani Unity Committee. Kayum grandly called the committee the "supreme organ for the liberation of the Turkestanian [sic] people." which had been "authorized" by Turkestanis back home to speak for them. The three-page appeal made numerous factual statements about the conquest of Turkestan by the Russians/Soviets and the Chinese. The communists had carved up this region into pseudo-nation-states -- in an attempt to divide and rule. Nasar's paper called for a commission to investigate the area's lack of religious freedom.

Nasar's role in the Muslim propaganda war was at times opaque. Although he appeared in the media during the Hajj and the Bandung episode, he disappeared from public view afterward. He would reappear only after the fall of the Soviet Union as an Aksakal, or community leader, of Uzbeks living in the United States. When I interviewed him in 2006, he was eighty-nine years old but spry, intelligent, and lively. He easily recalled events from half a century earlier, his nimble mind sorting through people and places.

Born in 1916 in the Uzbek district of Namangan, Nasar had direct experience of Soviet brutality. His family had been deported to Ukraine in an effort to remove the region's intelligentsia. When the war started, he avoided service and hid with a Ukrainian family. After the Germans overran the region, he heard that the great Turkic leader Mustafa Chokay was trying to unite Turkic peoples and form a government in exile. He found out that Chokay had died of typhus while inspecting a German prisoner-of-war camp. Still, Nasar joined a Turkic unit and fought for the Germans. He was wounded twice and sent to officer training school in the German province of Lothringen (now the French province of Lorraine). Nasar was later attached to the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht, the German army's supreme command, and during the last days of the war managed to escape to Austria and then Bavaria. He was sheltered by a farmer for a couple of months until the Yalta repatriations subsided. In 1946, he served as a representative to the Anti- Bolshevik Bloc of Nations but declined an offer from his old friend Baymirza Hayit to leave the U.S. sector for the British sector and work for the National Turkestani Unity Committee. In the early 1950S he was recruited by the legendary CIA spymaster Archibald Roosevelt Jr. to go to the United States. When I suggested that he had worked -- even just indirectly -- for the CIA, he bristled. He said he had engaged in "strategic studies" for the Pentagon but never worked in covert propaganda. In fact, he was derisive of Amcomlib.

"I had no respect for them." Nasar told me. "They were pro- Russian. They didn't care about the minorities."

Many people I talked to in the course of researching this book have come to think of themselves as nationalist leaders who kept the flame of independence burning during the dark days of Soviet rule. Nasar, for example, was now a respected Uzbek leader, an elder. The fact that some of his work was done in the service of another nation, for its goals, doesn't fit this image. Nasar said Amcomlib tried to recruit him several times; the Amcomlib trustee Isaac Don Levine promised him a "big villa and a car" in Munich if he joined. But he says he scorned the group. Once when visiting Munich he discovered that an Uzbek he knew from the war, Amin Burdimurat, worked for Radio Liberty. Burdimurat said he couldn't broadcast what he wanted because of Amcomlib's pro-Russian slant. Nasar lambasted Burdimurat. "I said, You idiots, why are you working for this organization?"

Nasar might have looked down on Amcomlib, but evidence suggests he worked for it. In their articles about Nasar's Hajj in 1954, both the New York Times and Time magazine reported he had been sent by Amcomlib (which was depicted as a private organization). Minutes of Amcomlib board meetings show that group members viewed Nasar as a key to their covert propaganda strategy, calling him a "damn good man, useful in several operations of the American Committee." They also tried to get him a full-time job.

Whatever Nasar's allegiances or fate, at the Bandung Conference, the use of Soviet Muslim exiles who had congregated in Munich constituted a US. coup. Even the White House was ecstatic. During the April 29 cabinet meeting Secretary of State John Foster Dulles said everyone had initially assumed the communists would dominate Bandung. In the end, US. efforts had paid off, and the tables had turned. "Secretary Dulles considered it quite significant that [the Chinese premier] Chou [Enlai] made no attempt to defend the USSR at the conference -- even though the Soviet Union came under intense criticism on 'colonialism' charges."


Washington wasn't alone in recognizing Bandung's importance. Most of the major players from Munich appeared there, from leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood to freelance intelligence operators like the US. novelist Ahmad Kamal. Of the Munich cast, only von Mende wasn't present. But his people were, and they sent him detailed analyses of the conference and its participants. Even though Bandung went better than expected for the West, von Mende was growing worried. The United States seemed to be trying to poach his organizations. Nasar, for example, had showed up at Bandung claiming to represent the National Turkestani Unity Committee. Von Mende had sent Kayum to the US. consulate in Munich to find out why Nasar had claimed to represent Kayum's group. Kayum told the Americans that he knew that Nasar was on their payroll. The Americans were shocked that von Mende knew their financial arrangement with Nasar and brought it up a few weeks later during a meeting with von Mende.

"Prof. von Mende said that last year Nasar had also been at Mecca and had indicated there that he was sent by the Americans, that he was known to have received 600 dollars from the CIA representative in the US. Embassy at Jeddah. Prof. von Mende said that he was telling us this because he felt that it was against US. interests to have this kind of an operation bungled."

Von Mende probably didn't care if the operations were bungled. It was who the Americans were recruiting that rankled him. The two Western allies were headed for a clash that would open the door to a third force.
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