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The Politics of Espionage: Nazi Diplomats and Spies in Argentina, 1933-1945

A dissertation presented to the faculty of the College of Arts and Sciences of Ohio University

In partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Doctor of Philosophy

Richard L. McGaha November 2009 2009 Richard L. McGaha. All Rights Reserved.

2 This dissertation titled The Politics of Espionage: Nazi Diplomats and Spies in Argentina, 1933-1945

by RICHARD L. MCGAHA

has been approved for the History Department and the College of Arts and Sciences by

Norman J.W. Goda Professor of History

Benjamin M. Ogles Dean, College of Arts and Sciences

3 ABSTRACT MCGAHA, RICHARD L., Ph.D, November 2009, History The Politics of Espionage: Nazi Diplomats and Spies in Argentina, 1933-1945 (415 pp.) Director of Dissertation: Norman J.W. Goda This dissertation investigates Nazi Germanys diplomacy and intelligencegathering in Argentina from 1933-1945. It does so from three perspectives. This study first explores the rivalries that characterized the bureaucracy in the Third Reich. It argues that those rivalries negatively affected Germanys diplomatic position in Argentina. The actions of the AO in Argentina in the 1930s were indicative of this trend. This created a fear of fifth-column activity among Latin American governments with large German populations. Second, this study explores the rivalry between the Sicherheitsdienst (Security Service, SD) of the Reichssicherheitshauptamt (Reich Security Main Office, RSHA) and Auswrtiges Amt (Foreign Ministry, AA). It argues that the rivalry between these two organizations in Argentina was part of a larger plan on the part of Amt VI, SS Foreign Intelligence to usurp the functions of the AA. Intelligence operations were not

necessarily undertaken to further the foreign policy goals of Nazi Germany, but to further the ambitions of the head of Amt VI, Walter Schellenberg. Third, this dissertation looks at the issue of ideology. Argentina was one of the last countries to break relations with Nazi Germany. This dissertation attempts to answer the question of how much ideology permeated individuals who were not exposed to Nazi

4 ideology on a daily basis. This section attempts to add to recent studies that have argued the importance of ideology in Nazi Germany. In answering these questions, this study mainly relies on the German-language records of the AA held in College Park, MD. It also utilizes interrogation reports of individuals involved in diplomacy and espionage in Argentina, as well as messages decrypted by the British between German spies in Argentina and their superiors in Berlin. This study fits into new examinations of the nexus between intelligence and diplomacy and the role of ideology in the Third Reich.

Approved: _____________________________________________________________ Norman J.W. Goda Professor of History

5 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS No dissertation writes itself, this one included. I would like to thank the

following people and institutions who helped in the research and writing. First, my very long-suffering supervisor, Norman J.W. Goda, who suggested the Nazis and Argentina as a topic of study. Thanks to some timely encouragement on his part this dissertation was finished. His comments and criticisms have made this better than it would have been in anyone elses hands. Second, my friend and mentor Tom Taylor of Seattle University. He has had to listen to more about Nazis in Argentina than any person should. He has been a good friend and I thank him for listening patiently. Next, I would like to thank the staff of the National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, MD. I would especially like to thank Larry Macdonald and Mary Tomic who helped me navigate my way through the myriad record groups that formed the bulk of my research. The staff at The National Archives, Kew went above and beyond the call of duty. The friendliness and efficiency of The National Archives should be a model for archives worldwide. At Ohio University I would like to thank the members of my dissertation committee along with my graduate coordinators, Katherine Jellison and Chester Pach. Finally, I would like to thank my family for their love and support. First, my aunts, Diane McGaha and Shirley Morgan, who always gave me a place to stay when I was doing research. Second, my father, Richard McGaha, who though he has no idea of what I am doing, continues to be supportive knowing only that I am happy doing what I am doing. Next, my wife Kristina who supported me in more ways than I can count. I

6 hope this makes her proud. Finally, my son Ian Gabriel, the light of my life. Throughout the trials and tribulations of writing this dissertation he always reminded me that discussing the merits of different vacuums was far more important than what is in here despite my silly notion to think otherwise. All that is good in here belongs to them; the errors are, of course, my own.

To my son Ian Gabriel, may he see better times than these

8 TABLE OF CONTENTS Page Abstract 3 Acknowledgements.. 4 Introduction.. 9 Chapter 1: Thermanns Arrival and the Crisis of the New Diplomacy 25 Chapter 2: The Patagonia Affair and the Fear of Nazi Fifth Column Activity, 1939..76 Chapter 3: Ad-hoc Diplomacy, 1939-1942113 Chapter 4: The Rise and Fall of the Abwehr in South America, 1941-1943.169 Chapter 5: Sargo and the Creation of an SD Intelligence Network210 Chapter 6: The Illusion of Control.257 Chapter 7: The Case of Osmar Hellmuth...296 Chapter 8: The Jewish Question339 Chapter 9: Aftermath .370 Conclusion.391 References.402

Introduction
[This] is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury... William Shakespeare, Macbeth, V, v, 261 In February 1946 the U.S. government published a document titled Consultation among the American Republics with Respect to the Argentine Situation more commonly known as the Blue Book from the color of its cover.2 It alleged that Argentina

collaborated closely with Nazi intelligence agents during the war and that the government of Argentina and Colonel Juan Domingo Pern were fascist sympathizers. The ostensible reason for publishing the Blue Book was to expose Argentinas lack of cooperation in the defense of the Western Hemisphere and the reasons behind it. The real reason was to thwart Perns presidential ambitions and hopefully replace him with someone more amenable to the U.S.3 These questionable motives have led historians to discount the revelations in the Blue Book. As a result of the Blue Book and news coverage the postwar public viewed Argentina and Latin America as full of fascist sympathizers who gave succor to fleeing Nazis. This perception was underscored by individuals, such as In 1946 Braden

Undersecretaries of State Spruille Braden and Sumner Welles.

characterized Argentina as a hotbed of Nazi and fascist sympathizers.4 Bradens charges were similar to those made by Welles in 1942. The prominence of Braden and Welles

William Shakespeare, Macbeth, in Jessie M. Lander ed. Macbeth (New York: Barnes and Noble Shakespeare, 2007), p. 265. 2 U.S. Department of State, Consultation among the American Republics with Respect to the Argentine Situation (Washington D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1946). 3 See especially Gary Frank, Juan Pern versus Spruille Braden (New York: Rowan & Littlefield, 1982). 4 Ronald C. Newton, The Nazi Menace in Argentina, 1931-1947 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1992), pp. xiii-xiv. Bradens view was colored by the fact that he and Pern loathed each other. For this see Frank, Juan Pern versus Spruille Braden.

10 added gravitas to the charges and influenced public opinion regarding the Nazis and Latin America. This perception continued through the 1980s and was buttressed by fact and fiction. The arrest of Adolf Eichmann by Israeli agents in Argentina in 1960 and his subsequent trial captivated the world.5 This incident seemed to confirm that Argentina and other countries willingly gave asylum to major Nazi war-criminals.6 Popular culture also contributed to the idea of a Nazi resurgence in South America. Novels and movies from the 1960s and 1970s reinforced fears that a secret cabal of Nazi war-criminals were planning for a Fourth Reich. Frederick Forsyths novel The Odessa File mixed fact and fiction in its description of Nazis aiding their brethren in escaping justice. The fact that Eduard Roschmann, one of the main characters was real made the novel more chilling.7 Ira Levins novel The Boys from Brazil also mixed fact and fiction.8 It related how Dr. Josef Mengele, the so-called Angel of Death at Auschwitz, planned to bring about a Fourth Reich through the cloning of a new Hitler. Nazis bent on creating a Fourth Reich were popular topics for movies and books. These included, The Quiller

Memorandum, Marathon Man, The Holcroft Covenant and The Rhinemann Exchange to

Eichmanns arrest and his trial has been the subject of numerous studies. See especially, Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil (New York: Penguin Classics, 2006), David Cesarani, Becoming Eichmann: Rethinking the Life, Crimes, and Trial of a "Desk Murderer" (Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press, 2006) and Hans Safrian, Die Eichmann-Mnner (Vienna: Europaverlag, 1993). 6 War criminals found asylum in numerous countries including Canada, Great Britain, and the U.S. to name a few. See Michael Neufeld, Von Braun: Dreamer of Space, Engineer of War (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2007). Neufeld explores the issue of Von Brauns complicity in the deaths of prisoners who built the V-1 and V-2 rockets. Also, Richard Breitman et. al., U.S. Intelligence and the Nazis (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005). 7 Fredrick Forsyth, The Odessa File (New York: Viking Press, 1972). The antagonist of the novel was Eduard Roschmann the Butcher of Riga who obtained refuge in Argentina in 1948 until he was forced to move to Paraguay in 1977 after West Germany demanded his extradition. 8 Ira Levin, The Boys from Brazil (New York: Random House, 1976).

11 name but a few.9 All of these were popular with audiences. This mixture of truth and fantasy made dispelling notions of Latin America as a hotbed of Nazism difficult. Wherein does the truth lie? This study will examine German diplomacy and intelligence-gathering in Argentina from 1933-1945. It does so from a bilateral

perspective focusing primarily on German actions and Argentine reactions. This study relies primarily on the captured records of the Auswrtiges Amt (German Foreign Ministry usually abbreviated as AA) held in microfilm format at the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) in College Park, MD as part of Record Group (RG) 242. It also utilizes the recently declassified records of The Nazi War Crimes and Japanese Imperial Government Records Interagency Working Group (IWG) located at NARA. These records contain the postwar interrogations of Walter

Schellenberg, head of Amt VI (Department VI) SS Foreign Intelligence, Theodor Paeffgen, Schellenbergs subordinate and head of Amt VI/D SS Foreign Intelligence for the Americas and their subordinates. The IWG reviewed and recommended for release from the records of the FBI, CIA and other agencies numerous files detailing German intelligence activities in Latin America. Interrogations of German diplomats stationed in Argentina from RG 59, the Records of the Department of State and RG 65, Records of the FBI, are also used. These records are an invaluable source for researching German intelligence operations in the Americas.

Robert Ludlum, The Rhinemann Exchange (New York: Doubleday, 1974) and The Holcroft Covenant, paperback ed. (New York: Bantam Books, 1984). The Rhinemann Exchange actually place in Buenos Aires during autumn 1943. More recently, the writer W.E.B. Griffin wrote Secret Honor which takes place in Argentina in 1943. W.E.B. Griffin, Secret Honor (New York: G.P. Putnam and Sons, 2000).

12 Also used are the German messages decoded by British Intelligence (codename: Ultra) between German agents in Latin America and their superiors in Berlin. These messages are located at NARA in College Park, MD and at The National Archives, Kew. Previous studies have not utilized these sources because of their classification. These declassified documents from the U.S. and Great Britain allow historians to place German intelligence operations within the power struggles between Hitlers subordinates. This broader look reveals that intelligence-gathering in the Third Reich was inherently ideological and political. That is, intelligence operations were not necessarily initiated to further the diplomatic aims of Nazi Germany. They were partly the result of

organizations undercutting each other in an attempt to gain the upper-hand in the internecine struggles that characterized the bureaucratic structures of the Third Reich. Most studies of German intelligence and diplomacy have treated the two as separate issues. As this study will argue intelligence and diplomacy were intertwined to the detriment of both. This was not only a hallmark of Nazi Germany, but went back to the Imperial German state in World War I. From 1914-1918, the German embassies in Mexico, Argentina and the U.S. supported German sabotage efforts against the Allies.10 In World War II, the German embassy in Argentina not only supported intelligence activities, but actively participated in the smuggling of strategic materials. Neither of

10

Most prominent is Friedrich Katz, The Secret War in Mexico: Europe, the United States and the Mexican Revolution (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1981). See also Chad Millman, The Detonators: The Secret Plot to Destroy America and the Epic Hunt for Justice (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2006), Jules Witcover, Sabotage at Black Tom: Imperial Germany's Secret War in America, 1914-1917 (Chapel Hill: Algonquin Books, 1989), and Robert Koenig, The Fourth Horseman: One Mans Mission to Wage the Great War in America (New York: Public Affairs Books, 2006), pp. 233-235.

13 these activities could be construed as within diplomatic prerogatives. The reports of the Anti-Argentine Activities Committee, the FBI, and Ultra bear this out. This study of German diplomacy and intelligence-gathering will add to the historiography of Germany relations in Latin America during World War II. The

historiography of Germany relations with Latin America during the Nazi period is thin. The historiography concerning German diplomacy and intelligence operations in Latin America is even more sparse. Most studies of German diplomatic relations with neutral nations during World War II have tended to focus on Europe.11 The notable exception was Japan, which was an ally of Nazi Germany. Older studies that look at Germany and Latin America have tended to be rather broad. They focused on either the period before World War II, the region as a whole, or narrow issues, such as economics and trade.12 Newer studies by Olaf Gaudig, Holger Meding and others have continued this trend.13 While these studies are valuable, their scope limits their treatment of diplomacy or intelligence. Scholarly studies of German intelligence in Latin America consist of three books. While all three are valuable they all have one major shortcoming: the classification of

The literature in this regard is daunting. Two recent and notable books are Christian Leitz, Nazi Germany and Neutral Europe During the Second World War (New York: New York University Press, 2001) and Stanley G. Payne, Franco and Hitler: Spain, Germany and World War II (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008). 12 See Thomas Schoonover, Germany in Central America: Competitive Imperialism, 1821-1929 (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1998), Arnold Ebel, Das Dritte Reich und Argentinien: die diplomatischen Beziehungen unter besonderer Bercksichtigung der Handelspolitik, 1933-1939 (Kln: Bhlau, 1971) and Reiner Pommerin, Das Dritte Reich und Lateinamerika: Die deutsche Politik gegenber Sd- und Mittelamerika (Dsseldorf: Droste Verlag, 1977). 13 Olaf Gaudig and Peter Veit, Der Widerschein des Nazismus: das Bild des Nationalsozialismus in der deutschsprachigen Presse Argentiniens, Brasiliens und Chiles 1932-1945 (Berlin: Wissenschaftlicher Verlag, 1997); Olaf Gaudig and Peter Veit, Hakenkreuz ber Sdamerika : Ideologie, Politik, Militr (Berlin: Wissenschaftlicher Verlag, 2004); Holger Meding ed. Nationalsozialismus und Argentinien: Beziehungen, Einflsse und Nachwirkungen (Frankfurt: Lang, 1995).

11

14 relevant documentation at the times they were written. Stanley Hiltons study of German intelligence in Brazil is one of two monographs that studies German operations in one country in any detail.14 Hiltons work is outstanding but dated. While Hilton was

hampered by the classification of documents, particularly interrogations, FBI reports and Ultra, he ably used the available archival material to produce a sound study. Leslie Rout and John Bratzels study examines German intelligence-gathering and U.S. counterintelligence efforts throughout Latin America.15 Rout and Bratzel faced the same problems Hilton did regarding sources so their focus in mainly on the Abwehr (Armed Forces Intelligence), to the detriment of Amt VI. Utilizing mostly English-language sources, their study is well-constructed and masterfully argued. Their meticulous

examination of the archival record produced tentative conclusions that hold up well in light of the declassification of intelligence documents. Both studies are in many ways fine examples of first-generation intelligence history. Ronald C. Newtons study is more recent. Like Hiltons it also focuses on one country. Newtons study has much to commend it and is in some ways outstanding. It utilized archives in Argentina, the U.S., Great Britain and Germany, but its use of German sources is somewhat superficial. Newton also implied that he began his study by trying to prove a negative. He began with the assumption that there was no Nazi threat to the Western Hemisphere. His scope limited his use of German-language sources. This underutilization of German archival material affected his conclusions. Also, historians of
14

Stanley E. Hilton, Hitler's Secret War in South America, 1939-1945: German Military Espionage and Allied Counterespionage in Brazil (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1981). 15 Leslie B. Rout and John F. Bratzel, The Shadow War: German Espionage and United States Counterespionage in Latin America during World War II (Frederick: University Publications of America, 1986).

15 Latin America in general tend to discount Hitlers global ambitions. They usually cite the inability to find any such plan in the archives as evidence such a threat did not exist.16 This fundamental misunderstanding of how Hitler operated affects their conclusions. Newton was also handicapped by the classification of intelligence material, particularly Ultra, which showed what Allied policymakers knew regarding German actions in Argentina. His study also suffers from what historian Gordon Wood labeled presentism.17 That is, he used present knowledge to work backward instead of examining the evidence from the perspective of its contemporaries. He implied that since the U.S. had been wrong about so much in Latin America, including Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala, Salvador Allende in Chile and others, it must have been wrong in Argentina. Newton argues that U.S. policymakers saw what they wanted to see in Argentina to the detriment of all else. This study rejects that view and shows that U.S. policy-making towards Argentina was based on solid evidence. Journalist Uki Goi has also written two books that study German intelligence in Argentina. Goi is primarily interested in the connections between Pern and German intelligence rather than the larger issues presented here. Gois first book Pern y los

Alemanes (Pern and the Germans/Nazis) examines the wartime contacts between German intelligence and the Argentine government.18 His second book, The Real

16

This was the general consensus of numerous discussions held with Latin American historians at the CALAS Conference in Calgary in October 2006. A study which supports this argument is Norman J.W. Goda, Tomorrow the World: Hitler, Northwest Africa, and the Path Toward America (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1998). 17 Gordon Wood, Presentism in History, in The Purpose of the Past: Reflections on the Uses of History (New York: Penguin Press, 2008), pp. 293-308. 18 Uki Goi, Pern y los Alemanes (Buenos Aires, Sudamericana, 1998).

16 Odessa: Smuggling the Nazis to Perns Argentina, covers mainly the postwar period.19 While both studies use German-language sources, some of Gois interpretations are overdrawn and not supported by the evidence. He is also hampered by an agenda seeking to undermine Pern. ambiguous. At its broadest level this study examines the issue of continuity versus change. Was Hitlers foreign policy simply a continuation of the expansionist policies of Wilhelmine Germany or was it something more radical and new?20 The evidence regarding Argentina is somewhat ambiguous. In the 1930s and the first two years of the war the Auswrtiges Amt (AA) pursued traditional economic policies towards Argentina. Many of these policies dated to the nineteenth century. Following Hitlers assumption of power in 1933 new groups, such as the Auslandsorganisation (AO) and SS, increasingly placed a primacy on ideology to the detriment of practical realities. This is not to argue that the AA was not ideological. However, the AA could subordinate ideology to reality, which the AO and SS were reluctant to do. In that sense, the AA represented continuity and the AO and SS change. Previous studies, such as Hilton and Newton, did not examine how the intelligence-gathering apparatuses of the Third Reich fit within the regime. Describing the actions of a nations intelligence agency without the domestic context only tells half the story. Intelligence agencies are reflections of the society and governments that they
19 20

As will be shown, the evidence against Pern is a bit more

Uki Goi, The Real Odessa: Smuggling the Nazis to Perns Argentina (London; Granta Books, 2002). The classic works on this question are Hans-Ulrich Wehler, The German Empire 1871-1918 (New York: Berg Publishers, 1985) and Fritz Fischer, Griff nach der Weltmacht (Hamburg: Droste Verlag, 1964) and From Kaiserreich to the Third Reich: Elements of Continuity in German History 1871-1945 (London: Unwin Hyman, 1986)

17 serve. This study adds to recent efforts by historians to place the activities of the Abwehr and Amt VI within the political and ideological context of the Third Reich.21 This has broadened our understanding of not only how intelligence agencies operated within an ideological environment, but also how they adapted. Recent studies also reveal the competition between different intelligence-gathering agencies in the Third Reich. In studying the German-language archival material on Argentina, it became apparent that conflict between the AA and other Nazi organizations was endemic. This in turn, affected how German diplomats handled issues that arose. The AA expended an extraordinary amount of time fending off challenges to its authority. The first challenge during the 1930s was from the AO. This was the agency of the Nazi Party that was responsible for Germans abroad. Following the outbreak of the war the SS went to great lengths to try and usurp the functions of the AA. The files of the AA are full of folders detailing SS intrigues in Argentina.22 Another issue that was that Germany lacked any long-term geo-political strategy towards Argentina. The only clue to any coherent policy is a statement Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop made to Otto Reinebeck, head of Politische Abteilung IX which covered the Americas in the AA. Ribbentrop told

Reinebeck that Argentina is the last German bridgehead in the Western Hemisphere, the

21

See the fine study by Katrin Paehler, Espionage, Ideology and Personal Politics: The Making and Unmaking of a Nazi Foreign Intelligence Service (Washington D.C.: American University, Ph.D diss., 2002). Also of interest is the forthcoming dissertation by Alexandra Luce which looks at German intelligence operations in Portugal. I thank her for bringing her study to my attention at the 2008 International Intelligence History Association conference in Hamburg, October 2008. 22 See especially, Abteilung Inland II G: Beauftragen Becker nach Sdamerika, NARA, Record Group 242/Serial T120/Roll 228 and Abteilung Inland II G: Abwehr Angelegenheit Hellmuth, NARA, RG 242/T120/351.

18 maintenance and development of which are of the greatest significance for later on.23 The meaning of this statement is ambiguous. The records of the AA show an agency engaged in reactive diplomacy. That is, the AA was simply dealing with matters as they came up instead of anticipating problems and devising solutions. The lack of any

meaningful and broad look at German foreign policy by the diplomats in the Wilhelmstrasse resulted in periodic crises, such as the so-called Patagonia Plot of 1939. While this study relies mainly on the records of the German foreign ministry, it also utilizes material from U.S. and British archives. The material from the U.S. and British archives consists mainly of interrogations of the principles involved. Interrogations are problematic sources. They can be unreliable since witnesses lie,

obfuscate or cannot remember details.24 In this case, the opposite is generally true. Comparing the interrogations against the archival record show the interrogations are reliable regarding events. The interrogators meticulously went through relevant German documents in preparing for their interrogations. In some cases, where the interrogators thought an individual was lying or needed his memory refreshed the subject under interrogation was shown documents. This showed the subjects that the interrogators knew their facts and that lying was futile. Where the interrogations tend to be less reliable is regarding an individuals personal opinion towards Nazism. Here, most of the subjects interrogated understandably downplayed their allegiance to Hitler. Where

23

Interrogation of Otto Reinebeck, 4 February 1946, NARA, Record Group 59, Records of the Department of State, File 862.20235/4-2646, Argentine Blue Book, p. 7. 24 For a discussion of the methodological problems inherent in using interrogations see Christopher R. Browning, Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland, new edition (New York: Penguin Books, 2001) and Christopher R. Browning, Collected Memories: Holocaust History and Post-War Testimony (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2003).

19 information could not be corroborated I had to make a judgment based on my knowledge of the documents regarding the reliability of the information. Other source materials are FBI investigative reports and decrypted messages. While Newton downplays the reliability of the FBI reports on the whole I have found them to be reliable. This is particularly true after 1942-43 when the FBI managed to obtain reliable sources in the Argentine police and government. A recently declassified history of the SIS is frank regarding the issues the FBI faced in Latin America and Argentina.25 The FBI also had access to decrypted messages between German agents in Argentina and their superiors in Germany. This gave them an invaluable source of information regarding German intentions and actions. The same material was available to State Department policymakers including Secretary of State Cordell Hull and Undersecretaries Sumner Welles and Adolf Berle. While interpretations of this material could be overdrawn and sometimes exaggerated, it was in the main reliable. Interrogations, Ultra material, and the captured documents of the German foreign ministry were the documentary base for the Blue Book. Historians have questioned the reliability of the Blue Book as a historical source. Historian Ronald C. Newton doubts the veracity of the document.26 He implies it was the result of long-standing U.S. ambitions to dominate Latin America and British manipulation of U.S. policymakers. Thus, there was no Nazi menace in the Western Hemisphere. It was simply a figment of imagination. Historians Gary Frank and

25

See History of the SIS, 3 vols., declassified 8/10/04. I am grateful to Larry Valero for bringing this to my attention and providing me with a copy. 26 Ronald C. Newton, The Nazi Menace in Argentina, 1931-1947 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1992).

20 Michael Francis also discuss the Blue Book in their studies of Argentina.27 However, Frank and Francis focus on the narrow topic of U.S.-Argentine relations without extensively using German-language sources. It is this source material that exposes the extent of German activities in Latin America. The Ultra material adds detail to the documentary framework provided by the AAs records. Despite the abundant Ultra material any scholar using this material faces several challenges. The decoded messages are not very detailed which limits their usefulness. The material is also not complete resulting in gaps in coverage. This was mainly due to atmospheric problems which resulted in garbled and missed messages. This was a vexing problem to the Germans as well as the Allies. Also, most detailed reports were sent from Argentina to Germany on ships which meant that very few were intercepted. These reports were destroyed at the end of the war. The loss of these reports limits the historian in understanding the intentions and proposed actions of German intelligence in Argentina. Messages have to be placed within a larger context to discern meaning and intent. Most of the messages were not signed; instead codenames were used, if at all. Some German agents had numerous codenames and aliases. For example, Johannes Siegfried Becker, head of SS Intelligence for Latin America, had 31 different aliases and codenames. The combining of the Abwehr and SD radio networks in late 1942-early 1943 under the Bolivar heading makes it doubly difficult to assign authorship to any one individual. Despite these problems the Ultra material provides valuable insight and detail into the inner-workings of German intelligence.
27

Frank, Juan Pern versus Spruille Braden and Michael J. Francis, The Limits of Hegemony: United States Relations with Argentina and Chile during World War II (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1977).

21 This is also not a comprehensive history of German-Argentine relations during the period of the Third Reich since the records of the AA regarding Argentina from 193337 have been lost. Additionally, Argentina did not play a major role in Hitlers thinking. Because of this it is difficult to draw any general conclusions regarding foreign policy in the Third Reich. Instead, it focuses on three areas: bureaucratic infighting, ideology, and the relationship between intelligence-gathering and diplomacy in the Third Reich. It asserts that even people who were far removed from the Machiavellian intrigues that characterized the bureaucratic structure of the Third Reich were not immune to their consequences. It shows that diplomacy and intelligence were intertwined to an extent previously unexplored. Underpinning all this is the question of ideology. Ideology permeated all aspects of the Third Reich. It was also what drove the SS to undermine the AA. Also presented is the argument that the SS was a parasitic organization that did all it could to undermine and takeover rivals. This buttresses assertions Katrin Paehler made in her study of Walter Schellenberg and the Reichsicherheitshauptamt (Reich Security Main Office or RSHA).28 These arguments are presented in a case-study format. This format allows for a clearer study of the organizations involved. Most events in Argentina took place

concurrently. Using each chapter as a mini-case-study allows for more depth and a smoother narrative regarding events. The first chapter details German diplomacy from 1933-1938 and the AAs struggle with the AO over foreign policy aims. This struggle resulted from Hitlers penchant for allowing agencies to compete for power. The AAs focus on European events meant that German diplomats in Argentina were forced to deal
28

Paehler, Espionage, Ideology and Personal Politics.

22 with problems with little support or guidance from the Wilhelmstrasse. The second chapter details the so-called Patagonia Plot of 1939. It argues that this crisis was the result of a hostile world climate in 1938-39. Germany contributed to this through its actions in Austria and Czechoslovakia. Suspicion of German actions meant President Getlio Vargas of Brazil and Roberto Ortiz of Argentina were willing to believe information implicating Germans in plots to overthrow their governments. This chapter asserts that the document which alleged Germany had ambitions to take over the Patagonia region of Argentina was forged. However, it achieved its purpose of harming Germanys diplomatic and economic position in Latin America and drawing suspicion on Germans residing there. Chapter three details German diplomacy from 1939-1942 and shows how the lack of any long-range policy hampered German diplomacy towards Argentina. Chapter four chronicles the actions of the German naval attach Kapitan zur See Dietrich Niebuhr and his intelligence network in Latin America. It argues that the German embassy was a hotbed of intelligence-gathering activities aided and abetted by the diplomatic staff. Ultimately, this cooperation would cost Ambassador Thermann his posting when he was declared persona non grata in December 1941. The evidence argues that the claims of the Anti-Argentine Activities Committee should be taken seriously, despite the fact that the commission resulted from domestic power struggles in Argentina. Also examined are Amt VIs attempts to establish an intelligence network in Latin America. Chapter five details Hauptsturmfhrer Johannes Siegfried Beckers failure to establish an SS intelligence network in Argentina during 1940-41 and his return to Germany in late 1941. It argues that Amt VI as early as 1940-41 attempted to

23 marginalize the AA only to fail. Chapter six chronicles Beckers return to Argentina in 1943. It shows how Becker managed to obtain control of the Abwehrs intelligence networks and utilize them for the SD. This chapter also examines Beckers dealings with pro-Nazi elements in the governments of Argentina, Paraguay, Brazil and Bolivia and the attempt to create an anti-U.S. bloc of states friendly to Nazi Germany. The extent of German involvement with prominent figures in the governments of Argentina, Paraguay, Brazil and Bolivia are examined here for the first time. The chief of the Paraguayan Air Force, Major Pablo Stagni, was specifically identified as a German agent with the codename Hermann.29 Additionally, historians, such as Cole Blasier, have suspected German involvement in the Bolivian coup of December 1943 which overthrew President Enrique Pearanda and installed a pro-German government.30 Blasier was unable to confirm his suspicions because of the classification of records. Chapter seven looks at the Hellmuth Affair of 1943. This ill-fated venture between the Argentine government and SD highlights the increasing struggle between the AA and Amt VI for control of foreign policy in 1943. It argues that Osmar Hellmuths mission for the Argentine and German governments was the second major attempt that year to wrest control of foreign policy from Ribbentrop and the AA. It also looks at how the AA and SS were willing to place the blame for the failure of Hellmuths mission on the Abwehr whereupon it was absorbed into the SS. Chapter eight examines the

diplomatic dealings between Nazi Germany and Argentina regarding the Jewish
29

See History of the SIS, Volume 3: Accomplishments Mexico-Venezuela, declassified 8/10/04, pp. 529-530 and Argentina to Berlin, 28 February 1943, NARA, RG 226, Records of the OSS, OSS Communications Office Records, Ultra Decrypts, Entry 188. 30 Cole Blasier, The United States, Germany, and the Bolivian Revolutionaries (1941-1946), The Hispanic American Historical Review, 52/1, (February 1972): 26-54.

24 Question. Even regarding subjects, such as the Jewish Question, where consensus on the murder of the Jews had ostensibly been achieved at the Wannsee Conference of January 1942, there was still friction. The AA was in the position of having to defend Argentinas Jews from the SS and the Argentine government. The epilogue details the incarceration of German agents and Beckers efforts to continue his network. It also chronicles Argentine attempts to sanitize the confessions of German agents in their custody. This attempt by Pern and others to construct a seemingly innocuous account of German intelligence activities was meant to minimize Argentine involvement with Nazi Germany. In one sense it succeeded since the interrogations of Becker and his henchmen were carefully crafted. In the absence of corroborating evidence they have been accepted by historians as reliable.31 This study offers new perspectives on German intelligence and diplomacy in Latin America. The opening of records allows for a fresh look at German actions and how they fit into broader interpretations of Nazi Germany. This in turn adds to our understanding of how agencies operated in the Hobbesian world of Nazi politics. For those who agree or disagree with the conclusions presented here I hope they take comfort in the words of St. Augustine, I think I have now discharged my obligationin writing this large work. Let those who think I have said too little, or those who think I have said too much forgive me; and let those who think I have said just enough join me in giving thanks32

Rout & Bratzel in particular are accepting of Beckers statement to the Argentine Federal Police. In their defense, the classification of material made any critical study of Beckers statement difficult. 32 St. Augustine, The City of God, ed. and trans. Marcus Dods (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1841), p. 545.

31

25

Chapter 1 Thermanns Arrival and the Crisis of the New Diplomacy


The beginning is easy; what happens next is much harder. Anonymous On January 30, 1933 Adolf Hitler was appointed Chancellor of the German Reich by President Paul von Hindenburg. Hitlers ascent to the Chancellorship and his

subsequent seizure of power heralded a new era in diplomacy. Recognizing this Gerhard L. Weinberg titled the first volume of his study on Nazi foreign policy A Diplomatic Revolution in Europe, 1933-1936.33 In some ways, the emphasis should be placed on in Europe since Hitler was very continental in his outlook. He did not understand the world outside Europe and had little interest in such matters. Hitlers view of the world beyond European shores was based primarily on the novels of Karl May and his viewing of movies which shaped his opinions of various countries.34 As Hermann Rauschning, former president of the Danzig Senate and NSDAP member who broke with the Nazis, points out Hitler was a poseur who pontificated on many subjects sketching images of countries which usually bore no relation to reality.35

Gerhard L. Weinberg, The Foreign Policy of Hitlers Germany: Diplomatic Revolution in Europe, 19331936, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1970). 34 See especially Gerhard L. Weinberg, Hitlers Image of the United States, in World in the Balance: Behind the Scenes of World War II, (Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 1981), pp. 53-74. 35 Hermann Rauschning, Hitler Speaks: A Series of Political Conversations on His Real Aims (London: Thornton Butterworth Ltd., 1940). Rauschning is a controversial source, whose reliability has been questioned by several historians. Ian Kershaw defends Rauschning stating, there is nothing in it [Rauschnings book] which is not consonant with what is otherwise known of Hitlers character and opinions. Ian Kershaw, The Nazi Dictatorship: Problems and Perspectives of Interpretation, 4th ed. (London: Arnold, 2000), p. 156. For other interpretations of Rauschnings reliability as a source, see Theodor Schieder, Hermann Rauschnings "Gesprche mit Hitler" als Geschichtsquelle (Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag, 1972). For an alternative view, see Martin Broszat, Enthllung? Die Rauschning-

33

26 Hitler had no knowledge of Latin America and no interest in the region stating that Latin America was part of the U.S. sphere of influence. However, his comments on Latin America in Mein Kampf were limited to one paragraph. He commented on the inferior racial mixture of its peoples and contrasted them with the racial makeup of North Americans. North America, whose population consists in by far the largest part of Germanic elements who mixed but little with the lower coloured peoples, shows a different humanity and culture from Central and South America, where the predominantly Latin immigrants often mixed with the aborigines on a large scale.36 Hitler openly admired the Monroe Doctrine and wanted something similar for Germany in Europe.37 In the 1930s German relations with Latin America as a whole, and Argentina in particular, were primarily economic and military. For the most part, German policies were a continuation of those that had taken place in the Wilhelmine and Weimar eras.38 While Hitler focused his attention on Europe, he left Latin American policy to his underlings. If Hitlers guiding hand can be seen as the hallmark of Germanys European policy, then it was conspicuously absent in Latin America. It was not only Hitler who treated Latin America with indifference. It was a backwater for the Auswrtiges Amt

Kontroverse in Nach Hitler: der schwierige Umgang mit unserer Geschichte, eds. Hermann Graml und Klaus- Dietmar Henke (Munich: Oldenbourg, 1987), pp. 249-251. 36 Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf , introduction by D.C. Watt, trans. Ralph Mannheim (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1971), p. 260. 37 Jrgen Mller, Hitler, Lateinamerika und die Weltherrschaft, Ibero-Amerikansiches Archiv, 18, 1/2, (1992), 89-90. 38 Ronald C. Newton, German Buenos Aires, 1900-1933: Social Change and Cultural Crisis (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1977), Ronald C. Newton, The Nazi Menace in Argentina, 1931-1947 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1992), Arnold Ebel, Das Dritte Reich und Argentinien: die diplomatischen Beziehungen unter besonderer Bercksichtigung der Handelspolitik, 1933-1939 (Kln: Bhlau, 1971), Elizabeth B. White, German Influence in the Argentine Army, 1900-1945 (London; Taylor and Francis, 1991) and Jrgen Schaefer, Deutsche Militrhilfe an Sdamerika; Militr-und Rstungsinteressen in Argentinien, Bolivien und Chile vor 1914 (Dsseldorf: Droste, 1974).

27 (AA) which showed a lack of enthusiasm regarding policy towards the region. In their post-war interrogations which are supported by the documentary record, Edmund Freiherr von Thermann and Erich Otto Meynen, respectively ambassador and charg d affairs at the German embassy in Buenos Aires, complained of the lack of any coherent policy regarding Argentina.39 This lack of policy and the indifference of Nazi leaders caused many problems for German diplomats in Latin America. This chapter aims to examine German diplomacy towards Argentina from 1933-1938. It will argue that the lack of a coherent policy along with bureaucratic infighting hampered Germanys efforts to construct an effective relationship with Argentina. As a result, German relations with Argentina progressively worsened during the 1930s. In some ways there is a certain irony in this disinterest given the large German population in Latin America.40 Hitlers regime ostensibly went to great lengths to appeal to ethnic German peoples residing outside of Germanys borders. In his so-called

Second Book Hitler pontificated at length on the injustice that Germans in Austria, the South Tyrol and elsewhere in Europe should be separated from their ethnic kin.41 This focus on Germans living in Europe and lack of interest in Germans living in Latin America could buttress the argument that Hitlers views were more geopolitical than ethnic.

Final Interrogation Report of Edmund Freiherr von Thermann, 11 July 1945, National Archives and Records Administration (hereafter NARA), Record Group 59 (hereafter RG), Records of the Department of State, 862.20235/7-1145, Argentine Blue Book (hereafter ABB), Box 6736 and Memorandum, re: Erich Otto Meynen, The National Archives, Kew (hereafter TNA), KV 3/81. 40 By the 1930s the largest German populations in Latin America were in Brazil, Argentina and Chile. They numbered approximately 1,000,000, 500,000 and 250,000 respectively. 41 See Gerhard Weinberg ed., Hitlers Second Book, Krista Smith trans. (New York: Enigma Books, 2003).

39

28 While the AA was ostensibly responsible for foreign policy in the Third Reich it found many competitors, especially in the area of Germandom abroad. Before Hitlers seizure of power in 1933, Germans abroad were represented by a variety of groups with their own areas of interest. For example, educational contacts were handled by the Deutsche Akademie (German Academy) in Munich and the Deutsches Auslandsinstitut (German Foreign Institute) in Stuttgart. The most powerful and influential group was the Verein fr das Deutschtum im Ausland (Association for Germans Abroad or VDA). It was founded in 1881 and originally called the Deutscher Schulverein. While its focus was on education, it also handled general social and cultural matters.42 Following the Nazi takeover in 1933, the Auslands-Abteilung (Foreign Department), which dealt with Germans abroad for the Nazi Party, was renamed the Auslands-Organisation (AO). It moved quickly to supplant the leadership of groups, such as the VDA. The VDA had worked closely with the AA and its yearly collections from the German communities gave it considerable influence both financially and politically. However, the AO pushed the VDA aside and quickly found itself at odds with the AA over its activities which negatively affected Germanys position in many foreign countries. The AO was used by Rudolf Hess, deputy Fhrer of the NSDAP and Joseph Goebbels, Minister of Propaganda, as a way to coordinate the AA. They attempted to replace the traditional diplomats with loyal Nazis. In this endeavor, Hitler was with them in spirit. He had contempt for the diplomats at the Wilhelmstrasse, telling associates that they were inept bureaucrats. However, Hitler also realized that he needed the

42

Ronald Smelser, The Sudeten Problem, 1933-1938: Volkstumspolitik and the Formulation of Nazi Foreign Policy (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1975), p. 16.

29 experienced personnel of the German diplomatic service to move his foreign policy aims forward. As long as the diplomats were useful then their position was secure. However, the AO and other organizations encroached upon areas previously under the purview of the AA. Coordinating Germans abroad into supporting the Nazi regime was one such issue. Hess was a powerful patron and formidable adversary for the AA. He believed in the AOs mission remarking, the greatest mistake of the former regime was its refusal to keep up ties of blood which connect Germans in their homeland with Germans abroad.43 Remarks such as these fit with the Nazi world-view which was obsessed with protecting Germans at home and abroad from the perceived threat of world Jewry. Thus, the AO was on the frontlines of a worldwide struggle against Jewish influence and control. Ernst Bohle, head of the AO, was given a powerful tool in his struggle with the AA. The Law to Safeguard the Unity of the Party and State (Gesetz zur Sicherstellung der Einheit von Partei und Staat) was passed by the Reichstag on 1 December 1933. It made the NSDAP the only legal authority in Germany and bound the party and state together. Whereas before this law was passed the AO had only represented party

members, it now ostensibly represented all Germans residing abroad. Bohle argued that the AA could not represent Germany abroad effectively and positively in the National Socialist sense. He proposed the creation of a ministry to represent and organize Germandom abroad so it could serve Hitlers new order. His ambitions were quashed

43

Donald McKale, The Swastika Outside Germany (Kent, OH: The Kent State University Press, 1977), pp. 3-7.

30 when he realized that Hitler had no intention of replacing the AA with the AO.44 Instead he concentrated on consolidating his control over areas where AO activity was already taking place. Latin America was one area where early Nazi party activity occurred. In some ways this activity was natural since German communities in Latin America had been exposed to dictatorships led by charismatic individuals that superficially resembled Hitlers movement.45 Living under these dictatorships created some sympathy for Nazism among the Volksdeutsch (ethnic German) population in Latin America.46 This population was quite large with over 800,000 ethnic Germans in Brazil, 500,000 in Argentina and 250,000 in Chile. In early 1930 Nazism arrived in Argentina imported by seamen from the Hamburg-Sd and Hapag-Lloyd shipping lines. Nazi party workers in Hamburg had recruited the merchant seaman for two purposes: to spread the Nazi movement among German-speaking communitys world-wide and procure funds for the party. The success in recruiting seaman owed much to Gregor Strasser, one of Hitlers early followers, who was killed in the Night of the Long Knives in June 1934. Strasser fought to improve conditions for shipboard workers and provided help for seaman in foreign ports. The sailors treatment by the AO was in stark contrast to the customary dismissal they received from German diplomats. The success of Strassers efforts, carried on by his

44 45

Smelser, The Sudeten Problem, pp. 27-28. Heinz Sanke ed., Der deutsche Faschismus in Lateinamerika, 1933-1943 (Berlin: Humboldt-Universitt, 1966), p. 22. 46 McKale, The Swastika Outside Germany, p. 22.

31 successors, can be gauged by the membership of seaman in the AO. By 1938 25,000 of the 55,000 AO members were merchant seaman.47 In 1931 the German community in Buenos Aires was invited to attend Nazi rallies onboard ships docked in the harbor.48 On April 7, 1931 the Argentine Ortsgruppe (Local Group) of the AO was founded with an initial membership of 59 members.49 It was at this ceremony that the swastika was first displayed publicly in Argentina. In July the local Nazi party held another rally where the speakers publicly harangued Chancellor Heinrich Brning and President Paul von Hindenburg. When the republican leaning Germanlanguage newspaper Argentinisches Tageblatt published a disparaging editorial about the AO the Deputy Head of the Landesgruppe, Rudolf Seyd, challenged Ernst Alemann, the papers editor, to a duel. On 9 August Germans who supported the Weimar government held their own rally where they loudly denounced the Nazis.50 A rally in November attracted over 800 people, another in January 1932 in conjunction with other nationalist groups attracted over 5,000 participants. By September 1932, the party had expanded outside Buenos Aires to seven other locations and recorded 278 members in its rolls.51 Affiliates were also formed in Brazil and Paraguay. Despite this apparent success the Landesgruppe went through a period of turnover in its leadership. In 1932 Seyd

disappeared and was replaced by Eckard Neumann who was replaced at the end of the year by Rudolf Gerndt, editor of the German-language newspaper Deutsche La-Plata
47

Hans-Adolf Jacobsen, Nationalsozialistische Aussenpolitik, 1933-1938 (Frankfurt am Main: Alfred Metzner Verlag, 1968), pp. 90-107. 48 The German community in Argentina numbered approximately 150,000 with the majority residing in Buenos Aires. The figure is from Alton Frye, Nazi Germany and the American Hemisphere, 1933-1941 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1967), p. 65. 49 Newton, The Nazi Menace, p. 38. 50 Ibid, pp. 38-39. 51 McKale, The Swastika Outside Germany, p. 23.

32 Zeitung. In early 1933 Gerndt was succeeded by Dr. Gottfried Brandt, a businessman who owned a pharmaceutical distributorship. Brandt stayed as head until 1935 when he was expelled from the party and the Landesgruppe for unknown reasons.52 However, for the AO Latin America remained a backwater. By January 1933 membership for the Landesgruppe Argentina was 156.53 Like Hitler, Bohle had little interest in Latin America. As Max Paul Friedman notes the Nazi and AO attitude towards Latin America was one of neglect.54 Bohle could not speak Spanish or remember the names of Latin American diplomats in Berlin, and took to calling them all Excellency. Reichsdeutsche (German citizens) who visited Berlin from Latin America offended Bohle by congregating at the South American Club and speaking Spanish among themselves. Bohle complained that Reichsdeutsche who immigrated to Latin America tended to take on a very different outlook than was generally considered fitting for good Teutons they became much more lively and lighthearted, and often assumed a rather Latin attitude toward life which made them rather hard to handle at times.55 The official task of the AO in Argentina was to try to convert Germans living abroad to the Nazi doctrine. However, Ambassador Thermann held a low opinion of AO activity. He felt its leadership was of a low caliber and that

Newton, The Nazi Menace, p. 41. Parteimitgleider, Stand 30.6.1937, Bro des Chefs der AO, NARA, Record Group 242, National Archives Collection of Foreign Records Seized, Inter-filmed Records of the Foreign Ministry and Reich Chancellery, Serial T-120, Roll 78, Frames 60145-60148 (hereafter RG/Serial/Roll/Frame Number), Jacobsen, Nationalsozialistische Aussenpolitik, pp. 661-664, McKale, The Swastika Outside of Germany, p. 41. 54 Max Paul Friedman, Nazis and Good Neighbors: The United States Campaign against the Germans of Latin America in World War II (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003), p. 46. 55 Interrogation of Ernst Bohle, 5-8 September 1945, State Department Special Interrogation Mission (Dewitt C. Poole Mission), RG 59/M679/1/12 and 20-1. Also quoted in Friedman, Nazis and Good Neighbors, p. 46.
53

52

33 individuals selected for its leadership positions were selected based on party affiliations. Thermanns opinion was shared by the AA where the AO never really achieved any influence and Bohle was excluded from Hitlers inner-circle of advisors.56 Thermanns time in Argentina was marked by controversy and conflict between the AA and AO. He had to deal with most of these problems by himself given the Wilhelmstrasses lack of interest in Argentina. This indifference is supported by the paucity of evidence in the documentary record which suggests that the AA was content to let Thermann deal with problems that cropped up. Despite ups and downs during his time in Buenos Aires, Thermann retained the confidence of two foreign ministers, Constantin von Neurath and Joachim von Ribbentrop, and stayed on station for close to a decade, when ambassadors in places such as the U.S., Soviet Union, and England were replaced regularly. Thermanns problems began even before his arrival. In January 1933,

Hindenburg approved the appointment of Heinrich Ritter von Kaufmann-Asser as the new head of mission in Argentina. Kaufmann was an experienced diplomat who spoke good Spanish and had served in postings from Vienna to Santiago. His pro-business approach quickly won him the approval of German businessmen in Buenos Aires. On April 9, 1933 the Law for the Reform of the Civil Service was passed which barred Jews from the civil service. On 9 May the Argentinisches Tageblatt reported not only the passing of the law, but that Kaufmann, who had been in his post less than a month, was to be fired from his post due to Jewish ancestors. To add insult Kaufmann was required to

Final Interrogation Report of Edmund Freiherr von Thermann, 11 July 1945, NARA, RG 59, 862.20235/7-1145, ABB, Box 6736, p. 2 and McKale, The Swastika Outside of Germany, pp. 45-49.

56

34 remain at his post and keep quiet until a replacement could be found. The German business community in Argentina was outraged at Kaufmanns dismissal. His successor, Edmund Freiherr von Thermann, complained of the complications it caused for him.57 It was not an auspicious start. Thermann was a career diplomat who came from a wealthy family. His career included postings in Paris, Madrid, Brussels, and Washington, D.C. His posting prior to Argentina was in Danzig where he was consul-general for almost nine years. Thermann described that posting as difficult since Danzig was a contentious issue in the Weimar Republic. Following the Versailles Treaty it was declared a Free City and put under the control of the League of Nations to give Poland access to a seaport on the Baltic. During his time there Thermann had several confrontations with local Nazis who, he claimed, made life difficult for him and the Foreign Ministry. However, in March 1933, on his own initiative, he supported the Nazis during a dispute with the Danzig government. As Herbert Levine points out, Thermann and the AA managed to

coordinate themselves quickly to Hitlers government.58 While there was common ground between Hitler and the Auswrtiges Amt regarding the rejection of the Versailles Treaty the AA did not fully accept all of Hitlers doctrines at first. However, they
57

Newton, The Nazi Menace, pp. 41-42 and Klaus to Spaeth, Memorandum re: Von Thermann Interrogation, 5 December 1945, NARA, RG 59, File 862.20235/12-545, ABB, Box 6736, p. 11. Arnold Ebel was told by the West German Foreign Office that Kaufmann was dismissed for political reasons. Arnold Ebel, Das Dritte Reich und Argentinien: die diplomatischen Beziehungen unter besonderer Bercksichtigung der Handelspolitik, 1933-1939 (Kln: Bhlau, 1971), p. 101. 58 Herbert S. Levine, Hitlers Free City: A History of the Nazi Party in Danzig, 1925-1939 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1973), p. 101, Gerhard L. Weinberg, The Foreign Policy of Hitlers Germany: A Diplomatic Revolution in Europe, 1933-1936, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1970), p. 61 and Paul Seabury, The Wilhelmstrasse: A Study of German Diplomats Under the Nazi Regime (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1954). Seabury argues that the Auswrtiges Amt was coordinated to Nazism by 1938, but the evidence suggests that it was much earlier. Staatssekretrs von Blow confirmed Thermann was acting without orders from Berlin. See Blow Memorandum, 24 March 1933, RG 242/T120/2373/E 190912-13 quoted in Weinberg, A Diplomatic Revolution, p. 61, note 13.

35 quickly adapted themselves to the new regime and its racist views. Given this it is not surprising that Thermann was later able to foist Germanys problems off on Jews and Jewish circles, instead of the actions of Germany. Thermanns actions following his arrival in Buenos Aires and his comments in official correspondence give lie to characterizations of him as an opportunist rather than a man of conviction. In 1933 he joined the Nazi Party and later the SS. He later explained away his SS membership stating that he enjoyed horse-riding and belonged to a club composed mainly of Junkers. It was through them that he became socially involved with the mounted SS and it was his friend Werner Lorenz, future Polizeifhrer of Hamburg and then head of the Volksdeutsche Mittelstelle (Vomi), who offered to induct him as an honorary member of the SS before Thermann left Danzig in November 1932.59 In July 1933 Staatssekretr (State Secretary) Bernhard von Blow of the AA recommended Thermann to replace Kaufmann in Buenos Aires. Blows

recommendation was approved and Thermann was promoted to Minister First Class. Prior to leaving for Argentina Thermann paid a formal visit to Bohle, perhaps to express his willingness to cooperate with the AO. Over the next several years Bohle and the AO would become the bane of Thermanns existence. Relations were smooth for the

moment. Thermann arrived in Buenos Aires wearing his full SS uniform. Bohle stated that he made an excellent impression and later commented to Hess that, our entire work overseas would be substantially simpler if all Reich representatives took such a positive

59

For a discussion of Lorenz and the Vomi see Valdis O. Lumans, Himmler's Auxiliaries: The Volksdeutsche Mittelstelle and the German National Minorities of Europe, 1933-1945 (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1993).

36 attitude toward the new state as Herr von Thermann.60 His postwar interrogators noted that Thermann gives the impression of being an opportunist rather than a man of ideological principles, and that Baron von Thermann was .... in many ways dominated by his wife, a woman of ruthless personal ambition, considerable intelligence, and obviously unscrupulous character.61 While this suggests that Thermanns devotion to the cause should be taken with a grain of salt he went about his duties enthusiastically and energetically. When Thermann arrived in Argentina on 10 December 1933, he had to deal with the Kaufmann affair and Germanys withdrawal from the League of Nations in October. Argentina was particularly unhappy about the latter since Buenos Aires had vigorously protested Germanys exclusion in the early 1920s and sponsored its entrance in 1926. Thermann did not help matters when he struck up a friendship with retired General Juan Bautista Molina, Argentine military attach in Berlin, who was an ardent admirer of Hitler and fascism. Thermanns friendship with Molina caused some embarrassment to him and the Argentine government.62 Ever the opportunist, Thermann (perhaps at his wifes instigation) set about showing his devotion to the new regime. At the dock he gave Hitlers personal greeting to the crowd who greeted his arrival and then led them in singing Deutschland ber Alles and the Horst-Wessel-Lied.63

Newton, The Nazi Menace, p. 42 and McKale, The Swastika Outside of Germany, p. 66. Memorandum, Murphy to Secretary of State, Subject: Interrogation of Edmund Freiherr von Thermann, 20 June 1945, NARA, RG 59, 862.20235/6-1645, ABB, Box 6736, p. 1 and Final Interrogation Report of Edmund Freiherr von Thermann, 11 July 1945, NARA, RG 59, 862.20235/71145, ABB, Box 6736, p. 3. 62 Interrogation of Edmund von Thermann, 10 May 1945, RG 59, ABB, Miscellaneous Affidavits and Interrogation Reports, Box 26, Entry 1088, p. 6. 63 Newton, The Nazi Menace, p. 43.
61

60

37 After taking up his office, Thermann attempted to ingratiate himself with the German community. On 15 December he appeared at the year-end ceremonies of the Goethe School in Buenos Aires. Despite the fact that most of the students were

Argentine, Thermann demanded the school hall be decorated with Nazi banners and pictures of Hitler and led the students in singing German patriotic songs and giving the Hitler salute. The reaction to this display is unknown, but it could not have been overly positive since Thermann believed that no segment of the Argentine public was ever openly pro-German.64 On 17 December he attended the Nazi Partys solstice festival. At each of these events Thermann appeared in his full SS uniform to the delight of local Nazis who believed that he would support them energetically and uncritically. However, Thermann soon found himself locked in a struggle between the AO and other Nazi organizations who felt he was not vigorous enough in defending them when actions they undertook backfired. Thermanns wife, Vilma Baroness von Thermann, played a prominent role in promoting him and German interests in Argentina. Like her husband she attempted to take an active role in the German community there. One of her first acts was to visit the Nazi womens associations in and around Buenos Aires. There she announced that these groups were the bearers of the National Socialist worldview. In an attempt to co-opt the women outside of these groups, she invited them to teas and receptions at the

Final Interrogation Report of Edmund Freiherr von Thermann, 11 July 1945, NARA, RG 59, 862.20235/7-1145, ABB, Box 6736, p. 3.

64

38 Thermanns residence. These events were popular with the women remarking to one another what Frau Thermann had said to them.65 Thermann and his wife made contradictory impressions in Argentinas diplomatic community. British ambassador Sir Esmond Ovey remarked, Both he and his wife are excellent linguists.I have always found him a pleasant and correct colleague and his wife an agreeable if somewhat exotically attired table companion.66 While attending the Chaco Peace Conference, which formally ended the war between Paraguay and Bolivia in 1938, Spruille Braden, U.S. ambassador to Colombia, stated that Thermann was a nonentity, none too bright, and astutely observed that Frau Thermann was the driving force in their marriage.67 During U.S. President Franklin Roosevelts 1936 visit to Buenos Aires Thermann went to a diplomatic reception for President Roosevelt attired in a black suit with a swastika armband, which did not make a favorable impression. After observing Thermann for a time, Ovey reported that I cannot help feeling that the somewhat blatant propaganda which he is called upon to make would be highly distasteful to anyone not highly devoted to his master.68 Thermann quickly went about trying to undo some of the resentment in the German business community as a result of Kaufmanns dismissal. Why the business community in Buenos Aires protested Kaufmans firing is unknown.
65

Perhaps the

Newton, The Nazi Menace p. 43, Memorandum, Murphy to Secretary of State, Subject: Interrogation of Edmund Freiherr von Thermann, 20 June 1945, NARA, RG 59, 862.20235/6-1645, ABB, Box 6736, p. 2. 66 Esmund Ovey to Foreign Secretary, Head of Foreign Missions, Report for 1937, 2 March 1938, TNA, FO 371/21412, see also Newton, The Nazi Menace, p. 44. 67 On the Chaco Peace Conference see Leslie B. Rout, The Politics of the Chaco Peace Conference, 19351939 (Austin, TX: Institute of Latin American Studies, University of Texas Press, 1970). Memorandum, 3 August 1945, NARA, RG 84, 820.02, Box 65. 68 Esmund Ovey to Foreign Secretary, Head of Foreign Missions, Report for 1937, 2 March 1938, TNA, FO 371/21412.

39 German businessmen in Argentina were not coordinated to the regimes racial policies yet. Every week Thermann lunched at the German Club with leading German While he later disparaged their klieinbrgerlicher

businessman in Buenos Aires.

Horizont (petty bourgeois views) these lunches, along with a general trend toward Argentina in Nazi economic policies, enhanced Thermanns standing.69 His prestige was further enhanced in 1935 when Hitler raised the German mission to embassy status, with Thermann remaining on station as ambassador. The AA had been arguing since 1928 that Germany needed an embassy and ambassador in Argentina as a matter of prestige since the British, French, U.S. and numerous other nations had them. Not only would it bolster Nazi Germanys status, but that of Argentinas as well, since it would acknowledge its aspirations as a great power.70 Thermann also ingratiated himself with powerful figures in the Nazi government. When Thermann visited Hamburg in 1936 to push for the purchase of frozen beef from Argentina, his friend and patron Werner Lorenz greeted him with a band followed by a banquet and ceremonies. Thermann also became close with Heinrich Himmler who he had met while still consul in Danzig. In 1936, Thermanns daughter became engaged to Baron (fnu) von Hadern, Himmlers adjutant and she married him in 1939. Thermann and his wife opposed the marriage since Hadern had no money. Thermann stated that he would have preferred his daughter to marry a diplomat or landowner to have a secure existence. Following Haderns death in Russia in 1943, she married Fritz Darges one of Hitlers adjutants who was dismissed and sent to the Eastern Front in July 1944 for
Memorandum, Murphy to Secretary of State, Subject: Interrogation of Edmund Freiherr von Thermann, 20 June 1945, NARA, RG 59, 862.20235/6-1645, ABB, Box 6736, p. 2. 70 Ebel, Das Dritte Reich und Argentinien, pp. 128-129 and Newton, The Nazi Menace, p. 45.
69

40 laughing as Hitler tried to shoo away a fly.71 Himmler also became a patron to Thermanns son Wolfgang who he suggested should learn Japanese. This would allow him to enter the Reichsicherheitshauptamt (RSHA or Reich Security Main Office) and contribute to its intelligence collaboration with Japan. However, Wolfgang joined the Waffen S.S. instead and was seriously wounded during the French campaign in 1940. He was killed in action in 1944.72 While ambassador Thermann was given some latitude in conducting relations between Nazi Germany and Argentina, he was also given few broad directives regarding policy. Thermanns approach to influencing Argentine society was multi-faceted. He later claimed to U.S. interrogators that he and his wife had a carefully thought out program.73 Thermann sought to appeal to Argentine nationalism and pride concerning political independence, especially from the U.S. He directed German-language

newspapers to attack communism and sought good relations with the Catholic Church. He exploited Argentinas sense of shared kinship with Spain, especially following Francos victory in the Spanish Civil War in 1939.74 Thermann promised that Argentina would profit from increased trade relations with Germany and lessen its economic dependence on Great Britain. By the 1930s Great Britain controlled the majority of Argentine railways and meatpacking plants. Great Britain was the leading foreign

71 72

Ronald Newton spells his name as Darjes, Newton, The Nazi Menace, p. 45. Interrogation of Edmund Freiherr von Thermann by W. Wendell Blancke, 27 September, 8, 10, 16, 20, 23, 24 October, 2, 6 November 1945, NARA, RG 59, 740.00116 EW, ABB, Box 6736. 73 Ibid. 74 This issue is explored by Christian Leitz in his article Nazi Germany and the Luso-Hispanic World Contemporary European History, 12/2, (2003), pp. 183-196.

41 investor in Argentina, so much so that Argentina was considered a part of the empire, albeit informally.75 Thermann also worked to lessen French influence in the cultural field. He

arranged for honorary doctoral degrees from German universities to be conferred on prominent professional men and trumpeted the accomplishments and superiority of German science, art and music. His program called for nursing anti-U.S. sentiments in Argentina and developing confidence in the strength of the German army.76 The U.S. viewed Nazi activities in Latin America with trepidation. U.S. relations with Argentina hit a low in the late 1920s and early 1930s as a result of an embargo placed upon imports of Argentine beef to the U.S. The U.S. claimed the embargo was necessary to prevent the spread of hoof and mouth disease, which the Department of Agriculture claimed was endemic in Argentina. To the Argentines this was more than an economic matter -- it was a matter of pride, with Argentine beef a symbol to nationalists who glorified Argentinas past.77 Another issue was the Smoot-Hawley Tariff of 1930 which virtually excluded most Argentine agricultural products from the U.S. market and caused consternation in Argentina at the U.S. refusal to make an exception.78

See Andrew Porter ed. The Oxford History of the British Empire Volume III: The Nineteenth Century (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001), pp. 122-145, Wm. Roger Louis and Judith Brown eds. The Oxford History of the British Empire Volume IV: The Twentieth Century, (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001), pp. 623-642, Rory Miller, Britain and Latin America in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries (New York: Longman Group, 1993) and Winthrop R. Wright, British-Owned Railways in Argentina: Their Effect on the Growth of Economic Nationalism, 1854-1948 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1975). 76 Final Interrogation Report of Edmund Freiherr von Thermann, 11 July 1945, NARA, RG 59, 862.20235/7-1145, ABB, Box 6736, p. 2. 77 Michael J. Francis, The Limits of Hegemony: United States Relations with Argentina and Chile during World War II (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1977), pp. 48-49. 78 Joseph Tulchin, Argentina and the United States: A Conflicted Relationship (Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1990), p. 51.

75

42 The election of Franklin D. Roosevelt as President of the United States portended the start of a new phase of U.S. relations with Latin America. Roosevelt felt that the past policies of the U.S. which included, the Monroe Doctrine, the Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine and Dollar Diplomacy had failed to change Latin Americas negative opinion of the U.S. Instead, Roosevelt called for a new policy of being a good neighbor and repudiating intervention in Latin America.79 Roosevelt also decided that a trade treaty should be negotiated with Argentina.80 However, he and his Secretary of State Cordell Hull kept a wary eye on German intrigues in Latin America. Hull was worried about the effect that Nazism was having on Latin American nations.81 The most troubling areas, as Hull saw them, were the supposed militarization of German citizens in Latin America, German military missions to Latin American nations and the increase in trade between Argentina and Nazi Germany.82 At the Seventh Inter-American Conference, held in Buenos Aires in 1936, the U.S. attempted to bring Latin America closer to the U.S. The U.S. wanted Latin

Americas states to agree to compulsory consultation should war appear imminent. The U.S. also wanted to create an Inter-American Consultative Committee along with a common neutrality policy in the event of war in the Americas.83 However, the U.S. was opposed by Argentine Foreign Minister Carlos Saaverda Lamas who was committed to
79

The standard work on the Good Neighbor Policy is Bryce Wood, The Making of the Good Neighbor Policy (New York: Columbia University Press, 1962). While Wood concentrates on the Caribbean basin in his study, one gets the broad outlines of Roosevelts policy. 80 Tulchin, Argentina and the United States, p. 57. 81 Here I am presenting Hulls view of the situation since it is his interpretation of these areas which influenced U.S. policy. 82 Cordell Hull, The Memoirs of Cordell Hull, volume I (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1948), p. 496. 83 Robert Dallek, Franklin D. Roosevelt and American Foreign Policy, 1932-1945 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1979), p. 133.

43 the League of Nations and to Argentine supremacy in Latin America. Saaverda Lamas felt that the U.S. proposals were nothing more nor less than a means by which the United States hoped to extend its power and influence over the smaller nations of the hemisphere.84 This worked out well for Germany since it gave it more freedom to pursue its policies towards Latin America. Thermann had some autonomy regarding policy. Issues that arose were handled through the embassy or in the case of extremely important matters, sent to Berlin and handled there on an ad hoc basis.85 In economic matters Thermann deferred to Berlin.86 Thermann later explained, The theory being that once the war was decided in Germanys favor her domination [Thermann surely meant economic] of Latin America would follow without too much effort.87 While trade with Argentina had fallen to historically low levels with the onset of the depression, Hitlers ascension to power brought trade up to previous levels. Between 1880 and 1914 trade grew to the point that Germany was supplying between 11 and 14 percent of total Argentine imports, second to Great Britain.88 By 1914 Argentina was Germanys second largest trading partner outside Europe.89 For

Quoted in Ibid. Final Interrogation Report of Edmund Freiherr von Thermann, 11 July 1945, NARA, RG 59, 862.20235/7-1145, ABB, Box 6736, p. 2. 86 Ibid. For a new view of Nazi economic policy see Adam Tooze, The Wages of Destruction: The Making and Breaking of the Nazi Economy (New York: Viking, 2007). 87 Interrogation of Edmund Freiherr von Thermann by Captain Norbert Bogdahn, NARA, RG 59, 862.20235/5-1845, ABB, Box 6736, p. 10. 88 Great Britain was far and away Argentinas largest trading partner and took in 25% of its exports and supplied 31% of its total imports by 1913. See Andrew Porter ed. The Oxford History of the British Empire Volume III: The Nineteenth Century (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001), pp. 122-145, Wm. Roger Louis and Judith Brown eds. The Oxford History of the British Empire Volume IV: The Twentieth Century (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001), pp. 623-642 and Rory Miller, Britain and Latin America in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries (New York: Longman Group, 1993). 89 Newton, The Nazi Menace, p. 19.
85

84

44 Latin America as a whole, Germany supplied 16.3% of all imports. Conversely, 12.3% of all Latin American exports went to Germany.90 The outbreak of war in August 1914 brought trade to a halt. Following the war one of the first orders of the German business community in Argentina was to rebuild trade with Germany. As early as June 1919 when the Versailles treaty was signed Germany negotiated a two year credit of 100 million gold pesos to purchase Argentine goods.91 By 1920 trade had almost returned to normal and two years later the German Chamber of Commerce announced that Germany had regained its pre-war position in trade with Argentina. German trade with Argentina continued to grow, ironically financed by U.S. money under the Dawes and Young plans.92 In 1929 German sales in Argentina reached their peak at 371 million Reichsmarks, German purchases of Argentine products were 1.76 billion Reichsmarks.93 Germany bought a total of 16.5% of Argentinas total exports. German farmers, especially the large landowners, prevented trade from expanding even more. The Great Depression caused many nations to change trade patterns. Instead of traditional arrangements based on equality of access, most favored nation status, and clearing of accounts, bilateralism and barter were the new systems of commerce. In terms of total trade with Latin America Germany ranked third behind Great Britain and the United States with 10.7% of trade. To protect its position in the world market

Christian Leitz, Nazi Germany and the Luso-Hispanic World, Contemporary European History, 12/2 (2003), p. 185. 91 Newton, German Buenos Aires, p. 70. 92 For discussions of the Dawes and Young Plans see especially: William C. McNeil, American Money and the Weimar Republic: Economics and Politics on the Eve of the Great Depression (New York: Columbia University Press, 1986), Theo Balderston, Economics and Politics in the Weimar Republic (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002), and Knut Borchardt, Perspectives on Modern German Economic History and Policy, trans. Peter Lambert (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1991). 93 Newton, German Buenos Aires, p. 70.

90

45 Argentina adopted the policy of buy from those who buy from us.94 Bilateralism was a way to continue trade without exposing domestic markets to the instability of the world market. However, Germany had not helped its case by protecting its domestic market at the expense of trade. In 1928 under pressure from farmers the German government reduced its tariff-exempt import quota of Argentine beef from 100,000 to 70,000 tons. The following year it was reduced by a further 20,000 tons. This did not sit well with major Argentine meat producers. German businessmen in Argentina attempted to block the legislation, but were unsuccessful; by 1930 total Argentine sales to Germany had declined by half relative to 1928.95 Since Nazi Germany was unable to feed its population from domestic agricultural production it had to turn to overseas markets to make up the shortfall. Argentinas exports were exactly what Nazi Germany desired, especially cereals, wool, cotton, hides, tannin and industrial lubricants. As Germany tried to make up for its shortages in foodstuffs and raw materials world prices were rising which reduced Germanys foreign exchange reserves. In 1934 at the instigation of Reich Minister of Economics Hjalmar Schacht, Germany sought out barter agreements for desired goods. Schacht announced an economic policy for Nazi Germany based on bilateralism along with controls to help preserve Germanys foreign currency reserves. Imports would be controlled; production for export would be encouraged and new trading relations opened with smaller countries in Central and South America. Germany would import more and cheaper raw materials instead of more expensive finished and semi-finished goods. Stockpiling of raw materials

94 95

Ibid, p. 90. Ibid, p. 92.

46 would also be encouraged. Schacht also announced that the Reichsmark could no longer be sold for other foreign currencies, but could only be used to purchase German goods.96 To seek out arrangements and encourage trade with Central and South America Germany announced the creation of the Deutsche Handelsdelegation fr Sdamerika (German Trade Delegation for South America) in July 1934. This trade mission under the direction of Otto Kiep spent seven months visiting nearly every Central and South American nation.97 It concluded several trade agreements with various countries, most prominently Argentina. On 28 September 1934 Kiep signed a balance-clearing

agreement with Argentina which was designed to provide stability for bilateralism. As Christian Leitz points out, trade was re-established on a compensation system with the barter system being central.98 However, such agreements were anathema to Roosevelt and Hull who argued for free and open markets. The agreements were quite complicated but somewhat successful. The Argentine government would make available to importers of German goods foreign exchange at a rate equal to or great than that provided for imports from other countries. The amounts would set at the Reichsmark value of sales of Argentine exports to Germany. The German government agreed to give German importers of Argentine goods an exchange at the most favorable rate. The Germans further agreed that it would give Argentine goods the most favorable and equitable treatment possible. All of this

96 97

Ebel, Das Dritte Reich und Argentinien, pp. 116-117 and Newton, The Nazi Menace, pp. 94-95. Kiep had served as German Consul in Chicago, but was removed probably for not being sufficiently proNazi. He was subsequently executed by the Nazis in 1944 for his participation in the plot to assassinate Hitler. Seabury, The Wilhelmstrasse, p. 30. 98 Christian Leitz, Nazi Foreign Policy, 1933-1941: The Road to Global War (London: Routledge, 2004), p. 117.

47 was to take into account each countrys currency control laws and a complex structure was to govern each nations import quotas. In short, each country would clear its accounts frequently and would only buy as much from the other as it sold to the other.99 When the first year following the signing of the treaty did not achieve the desired results, the agreement was modified in October 1935. Germany agreed to import 25,000 tons of chilled beef following a two year halt to any imports; this was to allow Argentina to liquidate the balance in its favor. This was raised to 54,000 and then 80,000 tons by late 1936. This was shrewd on Germanys part since it allowed Argentina to sell beef which was formerly headed to Great Britain. The Ottawa Conference of 1932 had produced an agreement between Great Britain and her former colonies to grant preferential treatment to members of the Commonwealth regarding trade. Argentina, to its consternation, was excluded despite the high level of trade with Great Britain. Christian Ravndal, U.S. consul in Buenos Aires, pointed out that, Germany now represents an outlet for that part of Argentinas meat production which formerly was sold in Great Britain but which is now excluded because of quantitative restrictions.100 Ravndal also emphasized the importance of beef to Argentine sensibilities and its economy. As a result, by 1936, the German share of trade with Argentina had risen to 9.2%, and then fell to 5.7% of exports.101

Otto Kiep to Staatssekretrs, Berlin, 14 February 1935, Doc. 492, Documents on German Foreign Policy (hereafter DGFP), series C. (1933-1936), volume 6, (Washington D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1949-83), pp. 930-33. See also Newton, The Nazi Menace p. 95. 100 Christian Ravndal, Consul General Buenos Aires to Department of State, Subject: German Compensation Trade with Argentina, 19 February 1937, NARA, RG 59, 635.6231/56, Box 27, pp. 30-31, and Newton, The Nazi Menace p. 98. 101 Ebel, Das Dritte Reich und Argentinien, pp. 143-145.

99

48 However, Germanys increased military demands produced a backlash. Schacht wanted a more balanced approach that attempted to meet the needs of both consumers and the military. Hitler chose the military. The diversion of resources to the military meant that Germany was unable to take in a significant amount of Argentine commodities. Compounding the problem was the inability of Germany to market its goods for export. What Germany was able to import was more expensive due to falling U.S. agricultural production which drove up prices on the world market. This meant that trade balances with Germany were continually in Argentinas favor and were dealt with through makeshift devices such as monthly quotas and other mechanisms. The treaty also provided for three accounts A, C and M. Despite these initiatives trade failed to improve. By 1937 Thermann was

lobbying for a return to the old system which called for an unrestricted clearing of accounts. However, there were problems regarding delivery times and the head of the Wehrmachts economic staff (Wi-R Amt), General Georg Thomas, wanted to use civilian exports to pay for imports of raw materials. Since Germany was not credited with pesos until its goods had actually entered Argentina, slow delivery times meant that imports from Argentina had to be paid for in cash, further reducing Germanys foreign currency reserves. By 1938, German exports of machinery, motors and motor vehicles rose with only the U.S. ahead in terms of total percentages. Most of this growth came at the expense of the U.S. since Germanys trade treaty with Argentina allowed it to export

49 goods at the official exchange rate, while the U.S. was forced to pay the higher free market rate.102 Another area where German sales rose was in arms sales. The Germany

militarys close relationship with the Argentine army, which went back to the 19th century, bore fruit. In Buenos Aires Staudt & Co, Krupp, and Siemens-Schuckert

founded the Compaa Argentina de Comerico (Coarico) to promote German arms sales to Argentina. Staudts Berlin office acted as representatives for German arms makers to the Argentine military purchasing commission based first in Paris and, following the fall of France, in Rome. The Wehrmacht was also forced to accept more Argentine officers for training since it would help promote sales. The Argentine military subsequently purchased a number of Junker Ju-52 transport planes as well as licenses to build twenty Focke-Wulf trainers in Argentina. The Argentine postal service also purchased Junkers planes and contracted Lufthansa to provide mechanics and facilities for servicing the planes. Thermann appeared ignorant of the economic aspects of his duties. He later stated that all economic activities in the embassy were under the control of Commercial Attach Richard Burmeister, who also helped negotiate the Compensation/Clearing Agreement, Heinrich Volberg, head of the AOs economic office in the embassy, and Charge d Affairs Otto Meynen.103 It was Volberg and the AO that would cause Thermann headaches with their machinations and intrigues. Volberg had lived in South America since 1928 and by the

Newton, The Nazi Menace p. 99. Final Interrogation Report of Edmund Freiherr von Thermann, 11 July 1945, NARA, RG 59, 862.20235/7-1145, ABB, Box 6736, p. 4.
103

102

50 late 1930s was manager of Bayers dental department in Buenos Aires.104 Volberg used his position in the embassy to favor acceptable German firms seeking to do business in Argentina. Acceptable in the Nazi lexicon meant Aryan (non-Jewish firms) and those companies whose executives were members of the NSDAP. Volberg and his brethren in other countries pressured German companies to release Jewish employees or face a boycott along the lines of the failed April 1933 boycott of Jewish businesses in Germany. They also blacklisted German firms that were not sufficiently pro-Nazi and forced German businessmen to join the NSDAP. The AOs Foreign Trade Office was

also responsible for vetting employees of German firms who were heading overseas. As Donald McKale points out, if German businesses disapproved of these policies, they did nothing to stop them. Instead they played the AO against the AA when decisions did not go their way.105 Not only was the AO an issue, but the NSDAP had gained a reputation as a rabble-rousing group. Thermann later described his relationship with the AO and

NSDAP as distant since he was not fully acquainted with their activities. The embassy did not fund or control the Landesgruppe which operated in cooperation with the embassy, but was never subordinate to it. The Landesgruppe raised money in two ways. The first was through monthly contributions from its members that Thermann

Preliminary Interrogation Report on Heinrich Volberg, 12 January 1946, PIR/105, RG 59, 862.20235/10-1646, Box 6736. 105 A good example of this was the case of Hans Gast, an employee of the company Gutehoffnungshte in Bogota, Colombia who refused to be vetted by the AO. The AO ordered the company to replace Gast and bring him back to Germany. The company appealed to the AA who managed to keep Gast in Columbia. Memorandum: AO to Gutehoffnungshte, 21 June 1934, Bro des Chefs der AO, NARA, RG 242/T120/357/264971-972, Memorandum: Gutehoffnungshte to AO, 18 August 1934, Bro des Chefs der AO, NARA, RG 242/T-120/357/264969-970, Memorandum: AA to AO, 12 April 1935, Bro des Chefs der AO, NARA, RG 242/T-120/357/264988, cited in McKale, The Swastika Outside Germany, pp. 52-53.

104

51 recollected was 10 pesos each. Half of the money was sent to Berlin with the other half used to help pay salaries, office and other expenses. As head of the AOs economic office Volberg was also in charge of collecting donations for Winterhilf charity. This was a secular charity set up in Germany by the Nazis to help the unemployed. While contributions were voluntary in actuality businesses were forced to pay or else they would be reported to Berlin as insufficiently patriotic with the subsequent loss of government contracts. Volberg fixed the amount each company should pay and was given the power to examine each companys books in order to assess the amount each company should contribute. As Thermann later explained, this gave Volberg the

ability to dominate German-run businesses in Argentina. What the businesses thought of this mafia-style shakedown is unknown, but it is certain they did not appreciate someone examining their books and then demanding a voluntary contribution. The AO also went about coordinating the German community in Argentina along Nazi lines. It reorganized German clubs and worked its way into positions of influence in commercial firms, especially those that had headquarters in Germany. Thermann

complained that the AO interfered with everything in the German community.106 It drove some German doctors who were not particularly pro-Nazi out of German hospitals and replaced directors of German charitable organizations with persons more amenable to the regime. The conflict even reached inside the German embassy. In 1938 the AO attacked Wilhelm Rhmer, the embassy doctor. The AO felt he was negligent in his examinations of Germans who wished to return to Germany for labor or military service.

Final Interrogation Report of Edmund Freiherr von Thermann, 11 July 1945, NARA, RG 59, 862.20235/7-1145, Box 6736, p. 7.

106

52 Rhmer had the added handicap of not being a Nazi Party member. Rhmer threatened to take Alfred Mller, deputy Landesgruppenleiter, and Ludwig Rauenbusch, the party court arbitrator, to court for this attack against his honor. Rhmer also threatened to go to the press thus exposing internal strife within the German community. To defuse the situation Bohle removed the Landesgruppenleiter, Fritz Kster, and replaced him with the more pliable Alfred Mller. He also persuaded Thermann to remove Rhmer, but conflict with the AO continued.107 Thermann later claimed he tried to stop the AOs activities but was unsuccessful. A major annoyance to Thermann and one that would backfire later was the AOs interference in German schools. The AO used the schools to push Nazi propaganda and educate German students about National Socialist aims. What Thermann realized, but the AO did not, was that the schools had become an integral part of the Argentine educational system. This nazification of the Argentine school system did not sit well with some Argentine politicians who subsequently investigated the German-language schools in Argentina.108 Thermann later stated to U.S. interrogators that he spent most of his time counteracting the NSDAPs reputation. This was done he said by financing newspapers and organizations that presented a favorable view of Nazi Germany. The embassy founded or funded several newspapers. Most prominent were Pampero and the Deutsche La Plata Zeitung, which were first subsidized through advertising, then directly by the
107

Ebel, Das Dritte Reich und Argentinien, pp. 335-336, Memorandum, 26 July 1938, Bro des Chefs der AO, NARA, RG 242/T-120/1304/487487-88; Telegram: AO to German Embassy Buenos Aires, 15 September 1938, Bro des Chefs der AO, NARA RG 242/T-120/218/168225; Alton Frye, Nazi Germany and the American Hemisphere, p. 103 and McKale, The Swastika Outside Germany, p. 150. 108 Memorandum: Klaus to Spaeth re. Von Thermann Interrogation, 5 December 1945, NARA, RG 59, 862.20235/12-545, ABB, Box 6736, p. 11. The investigation of the school system and the activities of the Anti-Argentine Activities Committee are discussed in Chapter 3.

53 embassy through Gottfried Sandstede with the active assistance of other officials. Sandstede was an active party member and described as charming, a fluent conversationalist and a foppish dresser. In 1933 Sandstede and his brother Karl were employed by the Antonio Delfino shipping agency, one of the oldest German companies in Argentina established in 1894. Delfino urged Gottfried to open an office of the German State Railways in Buenos Aires. It operated from 1933-1942 when it was shut down. The F.B.I. suspected that the Delfino company and Sandstedes office were a cover for the movement of German agents, funds, and propaganda materials from Europe to South America.109 The funding of Pampero and other papers was subsidized through a Presse Fond under the control of Sandstede and Meynen.110 Members of the embassy staff and other wealthy Germans voluntarily contributed up to 50 % of their salaries. These contributions and Winterhilfe funds were two extortion rackets that allowed German propaganda to function.111 German firms were also encouraged to obtain subscriptions to embassyfinanced newspapers. Volberg stated that Charg dAffaires Erich Otto Meynen asked him to help influence German firms to place advertisements in newspapers and magazines that were pro-German.112 However, funding was sometimes an issue.

Axis Espionage and Propaganda in Latin America, NARA, RG 319, Records of the Army Staff, Records of the Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Military Intelligence Division. Separate Binder 110 Preliminary Interrogation Report on Heinrich Volberg, 12 January 1946, PIR/105, RG 59, 862.20235/10-1646, ABB, Box 6736. Volberg confirms that the embassy made a loan to Pampero to help cover outstanding debts and keep it operating since it was pro-German. 111 Final Interrogation Report of Edmund Freiherr von Thermann, 11 July 1945, NARA, RG 59, 862.20235/7-1145, Box 6736, p. 7 and Memorandum Klaus to Spaeth, re. Von Thermann Interrogation, 5 December 1945, NARA, RG 59, 862.20235/12-545, ABB, Box 6736, p. 4. 112 Preliminary Interrogation Report on Heinrich Volberg, 12 January 1946, PIR/105, RG 59, 862.20235/10-1646, ABB, Box 6736.

109

54 In 1938 Meynen informed the Wilhelmstrasse that the Deutsche La Plata Zeitung was in a state of crisis and needed funds to continue operating. The problem had been ongoing for several years and the situation was now critical with suppliers refusing to supply newsprint thus forcing the paper to discontinue publication. He warned that discontinuing publication would seriously damage the position of the German colony here and prestige of the Third Reich in Argentine circles. Meynen told his superiors that if the financial crisis were known then it could be exploited by Jewish and Masonic circles for their own purposes.113 Despite these problems Thermann kept pushing Nazi propaganda themes and cultivating Argentine society, but as Ronald Newton points outs, the Third Reichs ideological-strategic objectives in Argentina were less well defined than its economic ones.114 While Thermann used his discretion regarding which propaganda themes would produce the greatest results, he later told his interrogators that there was one caveat placed on him by Hitler: National Socialist ideology was not to be spread to the general Argentine population, only to German nationals.115 This assertion is highly dubious in light of Nazi Germanys efforts to influence the Argentine intelligentsia. Germany pursued a two-track strategy regarding cultural policy, which was mixed with economic policy through encouragement of tourism and promotion of German

113 114

Meynen to Foreign Ministry, 10 January 1938, Doc. 595, DGFP, D, v. 2, pp. 819-820. Newton, The Nazi Menace, p. 109. 115 Memorandum Klaus to Spaeth, re. Von Thermann Interrogation, 5 December 1945, NARA, RG 59, 862.20235/12-545, ABB, Box 6736, p. 4. Ronald Smelser in his study of the so-called Sudeten Problem states that Hitler did not want it known that Nazism was an export commodity. However, it is not known if Nazism was to be exported only to Germans or to foreign nationals. See Ronald Smelser, The Sudeten Problem, p. 10.

55 products to Argentine tourists to Germany.116 Thermann felt that these tour groups, especially of German-speaking Argentines, would be more sympathetic to importing German products. At the same time, German cultural policy was directed toward

maintaining the strength of the German race. The Germans in some respects were at a decided disadvantage since their participation in politics and society was minimal. Antonio Delfino stated, The Germans are like orphans; they know no one and no one knows them.117 To this end, the Nazis set up groups to show Volksdeutsche (ethnic Germans) and influential Argentines the new Germany. The influencing of Volksdeutsche and influential Argentines was carried out through organizations set up in Germany and Argentina. The main organization in Argentina was the Institucin Cultural Argentino-Germana (ICAG) founded in 1922 to exchange artists and intellectuals. ICAG promoted lectures, films, exhibits and offered German language instruction. The cultural attachs office in the embassy in cooperation with the Ibero-Amerikanisches Institut in Berlin and the Deutsches Akademische Austausch-Dienst (German Academic Exchange Service or DAAD) offered intellectuals and artists the opportunity to see the new Germany. The cultural attachs office also cultivated ties with indigenous organizations such as the Instituto de Estudios Germnicos and other groups to send academics, professionals and students on tours of Germany. The tour groups were received ceremoniously in Germany and were

sponsored by the Sdamerika-Institut, IG Farben and the Ibero-Amerikanisches

Affidavit of Dr. L.S. Pamperien, 27 January 1946, NARA, RG 59, 862.20235/4-2626, ABB, Box 6740, pp. 5-7. 117 Quoted in Ibid, p. 6.

116

56 Institut.118 Certain influential Argentines were given free trips to visit the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. Thermanns wife even entertained Argentine Olympic medal winners with a bizarre Greek Olympic dance which she choreographed herself.119 Despite the time and effort the Nazis expended on impressing Argentine visitors to Germany, there were the occasional gaffes. Some Argentines arrived in Germany to find their hosts had never heard of them. These guests were then shunted off and their stays in Germany

conducted by Propaganda Ministry (ProMi) tour guides.120 Thermann also cultivated the Argentine military and was aided by German military advisors. nineteenth century. German military missions had been in Latin America since the Following the German victory in the Franco-Prussian war and

German unification non-European countries clamored for German advisors to train their militaries.121 In the 1890s Argentina decided to seek outside military assistance to modernize its armed forces. Germany had experience in providing military advisors to foreign governments. It had helped Japan modernize its army during the so-called Meiji Restoration, and aided the armies of the Ottoman Empire and Chile. Germany had an edge in competing for Argentinas attentions since former German officers were already serving in the Argentine Army. One officer, Rudolf von Colditz, headed the

topographical department of the Military Geographical Institute and served as an advisor to the Argentine General Staff. Helping to pave the way for requesting assistance was
Newton, The Nazi Menace, pp. 112-114. Ibid, p. 43. 120 Ibid, p. 114. 121 See especially, Holger H. Herwig and William F. Sater, The Grand Illusion: The Prussianization of the Chilean Army (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1999); Elizabeth B. White, German Influence in the Argentine Army, 1900-1945 (London; Taylor and Francis, 1991); Jrgen Schaefer, Deutsche Militrhilfe an Sdamerika; Militr-und Rstungsinteressen in Argentinien, Bolivien und Chile vor 1914 (Dsseldorf: Droste, 1974).
119 118

57 General Lucio Mansilla who was appointed diplomatic representative in Berlin in 1898. When the question of providing military assistance to Argentina was informally put to Kaiser Wilhelm II, he replied no. However, when the Argentines formally requested German help the following year Wilhelm assented. Wilhelm probably reversed himself for two reasons: First, the AA stressed the positive economic benefits which could result from closer relations with the Argentine military. Second, the previous year Argentina had purchased a substantial number of artillery pieces from Krupp and promised to buy more in the future.122 With the defeat of Germany in 1918 the German military mission to Argentina was terminated from 1918-1923. By 1923 German officers were again advising the Argentine Army. The advisors had officially retired or resigned their commissions, but still had to be approved by the Truppenamt in Berlin. The head of the first post-war mission was Colonel Wilhelm Faupel. Faupel had previously served in Argentina from 1911-14 following a

distinguished career in China and in German Southwest Africa fighting the Hereros. During the war Faupel further distinguished himself by winning Germanys highest military decoration, the Pour le Mrite. Following the war, he formed his own Freikorps and helped re-take Munich from the communists in February-March 1919. However, he was retired when the German army was reduced to 100,000 men under the Versailles Treaty. In 1921 Faupel accepted an invitation from General Jos F. Uriburu, future

122

White, German Influence, pp. 3-4.

58 president of Argentina from 1930-1932, to deliver lectures and stayed in Argentina at Uriburus request.123 In 1923 when the German military mission was re-opened it attracted the attention of the French. When the French military attach in Buenos Aires protested the presence of German advisors he was pointedly told by Uriburu that Argentina had not signed the Versailles treaty and warned France not to meddle in Argentinas internal affairs.124 The Allies did not lodge a protest with the Weimar Government concerning this violation of Article 179 which forbade Germany from having any military missions in foreign countries. Even if they had, official German policy was that the advisors were private citizens acting on their own. Given that the advisors were separated from the German Army, it is quite possible the Allies foresaw the response any protest would bring. While the advisors were nominally responsible to the Argentine military and not officially connected to the Reichswehr, as the German army was known following World War I, they still felt duty bound to support German interests. Like their predecessors, they lobbied Argentina to purchase German arms. While Germany was forbidden to export weapons, it managed to get around this provision as well. Many German armament contractors had set up subsidiaries in other countries such as Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland where weapons could be designed and produced outside the treaty provisions of Versailles. Uriburu and other military officers also believed that

Ibid, p. 36. Interestingly Faupel would be cited by Spruille Braden in article for Atlantic Monthly in 1946, over twenty years after Faupel had left Argentina. See Newton, The Nazi Menace, p. xiii. 124 Ibid, p. 37.

123

59 Germanys defeat was only temporary and that the country would again become a major military power.125 With such a favorable attitude towards the German military, cultivating the Argentine military would not be difficult. Former President Augustn Justo told Thermann in 1933 that he favored giving commands to German trained officers since they seemed to be the most competent. Thermann established relationships by founding the German Riding Club where Argentine officers and their German advisors could ride horses, discuss military affairs, and relax. He and his wife also hosted a lavish dinner party every year for the Argentine War Minister and his aides. This was in keeping with Thermanns sense that he needed to establish friendly relations with Argentinas highest military officers and build up respect for the re-arming German army. To that end Thermann encouraged visits to Germany by Argentine officers. Each group before it departed and after it returned was invited to lunch with Thermann at the embassy. Thermann also arranged trips to Germany for high-ranking officers. He later claimed that he was not successful with every officer. He told his postwar interrogators that Generals Arturo Rawson and Edelmiro Farrell, future War Minister and President after 1943, were inflexibly pro-British. He also stated that most of his relations with Argentine officers were purely social and that he was closest to General Molina with whom he traveled to Argentina, but that their relationship cooled.126 While relations economically and militarily were good, relations with the Catholic Church were initially a source of friction between the two nations, despite Hitlers
White, German Influence, p. 34. Final Interrogation Report of Edmund Freiherr von Thermann, 11 July 1945, NARA, RG 59, 862.20235/7-1145, ABB, Box 6736, pp. 7-8 and Newton, The Nazi Menace, pp. 115.
126 125

60 signing of the Concordat in 1933. Thermann admitted that relations between the embassy and the Catholic Church in Argentina had been strained in the beginning, but by 1937 they remarkably improved. The turnaround was due to the visit of Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, elevated to the papacy in 1939 as Pope Pius XII, who visited Buenos Aires for the Eucharistic Congress in 1937. Pacelli caused a stir when he invited Thermann and his wife to social functions as well as conversing with them in German. Thermann found out that Pacelli was interested in aviation and offered to place a plane at his service for the rest of his stay. Pacelli gratefully accepted and he and Archbishop Coppello of Buenos Aires took a sight-seeing tour in the airplane. Thermann later claimed that this gesture cemented his relationship with Archbishop Coppello, who became a frequent visitor to the German Embassy.127 This claim should be treated skeptically since the following year Thermann reported that the Catholic Church in Argentina was still hostile towards Germany, most likely following the 21 March 1937 publication of Pope Pius XIs encyclical, Mit brennender Sorge, which dealt with the condition of the Catholic Church in Nazi Germany and attacked Nazism as atheistic.128 From his rocky start, the first half of Thermanns tenure was full of conflict. Yet he managed to allay the fears of the German business community in Argentina and trade between the two nations was brisk and profitable for both sides. Most of the problems he dealt with were internal to the German community in Argentina and were thus manageable. However, by 1937, events were beginning to move in a different direction
Final Interrogation Report of Edmund Freiherr von Thermann, 11 July 1945, NARA, RG 59, 862.20235/7-1145, ABB, Box 6736, p. 3. 128 Thermann to Auswrtiges Amt, Political Report, Subject: Anti-German Sentiment in Argentina, 18 May 1938, Doc. 615, DGFP, series D, v. 2, p. 848. See Guenter Lewy, The Catholic Church and Nazi Germany (New York: McGraw Hill, 1964).
127

61 due to policies encouraged by Berlin. Presidents Hiplito Yrigoyen (1928-1930), Jos Uriburu (1930-1932) and Augustn Justo (1932-1938) had endeavored to maintain good relations with Germany during their tenures in office from 1928-1938. However, the election of Roberto Ortiz (1938-1941) to the presidency saw relations noticeably cool. Ortiz was not a Germanophile and shared the misgivings of his ambassador in Berlin, Eduardo Labougle. The new Ministers of War and Navy were particularly hostile towards the German embassy. As a result most generals stopped attending social functions there. Thermann later stated that his good relations with the army ceased when Ortiz became President.129 The Argentine government had observed Nazism since its rise to power and while some in Buenos Aires applauded the relationship between the two countries, others were not so sure. Labougle understood the nature of Nazism and informed his superiors in Buenos Aires of his misgivings. He saw Nazism as more than a political movement and saw that the Nazis anti-semitism was not religiously or politically based, but racial in nature. In a prescient report describing the regimes anti-semitism he stated, Its sole objectis to eliminate from national activity those elements that have conquered high positions but are not of pure Germanic racethese measures are of a radicalism without precedent in the long history of the Reich.130 Labougle was also uneasy at the activities of the AO and reported the presence of Argentine AO members at the Nuremberg rally in 1934. He railed about films which stressed themes concerning the dual nationality of persons born in Argentina. He argued that these films divided the patriotic sentiments of
Final Interrogation Report of Edmund Freiherr von Thermann, 11 July 1945, NARA, RG 59, 862.20235/7-1145, ABB, Box 6736, p. 8. 130 Quoted in Newton, The Nazi Menace, p. 180.
129

62 Argentine citizens of German descent. Despite Nazi protestations of innocence as well as Thermanns postwar assertion that Nazism was not for export, Labougle remained skeptical. He reported that They have told us National Socialism is not a doctrine for export, the realities tell us categorically that means are not lacking to recruit adepts to the newconception of State and Societyit is known that these groups are led from the Reich.131 Inside Argentina, observers were viewing Nazi Party events with trepidation. The AO and Party had made connections with indigenous right-wing organizations. In

September 1934 these groups, with the encouragement of the AO attempted to bomb the offices of the anti-Nazi newspaper Argentinisches Tagesblatt. Later that year a theater showing a movie condemning Nazi anti-semitism was bombed. Bohle was forced to send his assistant for South America, Willi Kohn, to Buenos Aires and tell the Landesgruppe to cease such provocative activities.132 The German Youth Festival held in October 1937 aroused anger when the youths, most of who were born in Argentina, sang Nazi patriotic songs. Observers noted that the same youths did not know the words to the Argentine national anthem. Later the same month the annual Langemarck March was held. The march perpetuated the myth that young German soldiers had gone into battle on 10 November 1914 singing the German national anthem in an unsuccessful attempt to capture the French city of Langemarck. Onlookers were horrified at the columns of marchers and youth goose-stepping to German martial music.

131 132

Ibid, p. 182. McKale, The Swastika Outside Germany, p. 67.

63 The visit of the battle cruiser Schlesien during Christmas 1937 only exacerbated matters. The visit began successfully with the Argentine Naval Ministry placing an airplane at the service of the ships officers. The crew was treated to tours of Buenos Aires. The Nazi Party celebrated the occasion by inviting the sailors to a torchlight memorial service for General Erich Ludendorff who died the same year. During the visit however, several of the ships officers made known their opinions of the Nazi Partys efforts to organize overseas Germans. They opined that it delayed the assimilation of Germans overseas and made enemies, unnecessarily in their view, of the people of South America.133 When Mller, head of the Argentine Landesgruppe, heard of these remarks, he reacted vehemently. Given the state of relations between the embassy and AO he blamed German diplomats for these remarks instead of the fine officers of the Kriegsmarine. Mller sent a letter to Bohle complaining of these remarks. Bohle complained to Meynen telling him that the duty of the embassy was to strengthen the position of the NSDAP overseas with all means and at every opportunity.134 Statements like Bohles alarmed politicians in Argentina. With the arrival of Nazism to their country Argentines saw a threat to their sovereignty. One of main areas of contention was the 203 German primary and secondary schools in the country. In 1935 the Governors of La Pampa and Misiones Provinces complained about Nazi influence in the German schools. Following an inspection by the National Education Council the complaints were dismissed. Following Ortizs inauguration, the government

Ibid, pp. 184-185. Ibid, p. 185. Naval Attach Niebuhr dismissed the incident as a minor one stating that, there were ruffled feelings. Memorandum re: Dietrich Niebuhr, 16 November 1945, RG 65, Records of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, File 64-20041, Box 9, p. 5.
134

133

64 pursued closer regulation of schools. However, the schools simply moved inside the boundaries of Buenos Aires Province. The governor, Manuel Fresco, was a

Germanophile and close to the embassy. He ignored any pressure to closely regulate the schools. By this time the press had picked up on the matter and published stories concerning the state of education in the German-run school system. They reported that students were not taught Spanish and instead learned German. The stories claimed that students had no more than a superficial knowledge of Argentine history, geography, civics, and historical figures. The papers railed about how students were exposed to German nationalist propaganda and that most of the textbooks were published in Germany. Most alarming was the teachers who were hired directly from Germany through the German Education Ministry. One of the conditions of their employment was that they had to be members of the National Socialist Teachers League. Many teachers were also alleged to be Nazi Party members. The stories related that students had to use the Hitler salute and in some schools Mein Kampf was used as a textbook. There was a demand that the government do something. The Argentine Ministries of Justice and Public Education voided the National Education Councils autonomy and announced an investigation. The investigation forced the closure of a number of schools as well as a decree forbidding the use of foreign languages in public schools. The only exceptions to the use of foreign language were for teaching religion and language. The decree also outlawed political indoctrination and the teaching of doctrines that could be construed as racist. The government also legislated

65 that during primary school, Argentine history, civics and geography must be taught by Argentine citizens for a minimum of three and a half hours each day. Though these measures were directed at the German colony in Argentina, some trepidation remained among other schools. The federal minister of education, Dr. Jorge E. Coll, allayed those fears when he remarked at the St. Andrews Scottish School that, Argentine suspicions of the educational and racial activities of immigrants are not directed toward those from Great Britain.135 If events inside Argentina were not complicating efforts enough, events in Europe added to the friction. In March 1938 Hitler completed his Anschluss of Austria, which was greeted enthusiastically by Nazis in Argentina. To maintain the fiction of legality regarding the takeover of Austria Hitler arranged for a plebiscite to ratify the issue to take place 10 April. Citizens of Austria and Germany who were overseas were especially encouraged to vote. In order to avoid violating the sovereignty of Latin American nations balloting would take place on ships in international waters. The Argentine Landesgruppe even contracted with the Great Southern Railway to transport 30,000 people to the port of La Plata so they could vote. Ortiz, no friend of Nazi Germany, refused to allow the vote to take place. To get around his order, the German embassy arranged symbolic lists where Germans and Austrians could put forth their opinion on the plebiscite. On the same day as the plebiscite, the Nazis arranged for a Day of Unity rally at Luna Park, a popular amusement park on the Buenos Aires waterfront. U.S. Vice-Consul William F. Busser attended the rally and reported that 10-20,000 people attended singing Deutschland ber Alles and the Horst Wessel Lied. Charg
135

Newton, The Nazi Menace, p. 188-191.

66 Meynen and Richard Staudt, a wealthy Austrian-Argentine businessman and Austrian Consul since 1932, gave speeches celebrating the event.136 The Argentine government was further upset by counterdemonstrations which took place outside the rally and produced violence and bloodshed. Initially confined to the area outside the rally, the protests by anti-German Argentines soon spread. Protestors burned German flags and threw rocks at German banks and the Instituto Cultural Germano-Argentino. While the Argentine government issued an apology for the violence, Germans, including Thermann, attributed the violence to an anti-German press campaign and Jewish wire-pullers,137 President Ortiz and the Argentine government saw the lists for what they were and were not pleased. The public was also incensed at the apology made to the embassy. Further fuel was added to the fire when the Germans received permission to decorate German clubs and businesses with the swastika flag for Nazi Labor Day celebrations on 1 May. In reaction to the

demonstrations at Luna Park, on 27 April President Ortiz forbade the flying of foreign flags. However, German groups disobeyed and the event proceeded as scheduled. Not surprisingly, given the high level of anti-German sentiment, student demonstrators tore down the flags provoking violence. The German embassy protested and again received a public apology that was ill-received by the Argentine public.138 In Berlin, Ambassador Labougle was directed to ask for an appointment with State Secretary Ernst von Weizscker to voice Argentine displeasure at the violations of

Ibid, p. 186. Comments in Note 4, Thermann to Auswartiges Amt, Political Report, Subject: Anti German Sentiment in Argentina, 18 May 1938, Doc. 615, DGFP, D., v. 2, p. 850. 138 Newton, The Nazi Menace, pp. 187-188.
137

136

67 Argentine sovereignty. One meeting took place on 17 May at the ambassadors residence where Labougle was so apoplectic that Weizscker suggested they have another meeting so that Labougles complaints could be given definite form.139 Labougle called on Weizscker the next day. He stated that until 10 April Argentine public opinion had been sympathetic to Germany, but that the violation of Argentine sovereignty in the form of the plebiscite had changed that. Weizscker said that the whole situation was a

misunderstanding. If a violation did take place, there was no proof. Labougle admitted that there was no evidence of a violation of Argentine law, but the real cause for concern was the matter in which the vote had been carried out and the subsequent rally. Labougle told Weizscker that the rallies were distasteful to the Argentine people and that it smacked of duress and control from an outside country.140 He contrasted the behavior of the Germans with that of the Italians, with whom the Argentines had few difficulties and conducted themselves in a non-threatening manner. The real issue for Argentina was the problem of dual citizenship which the Argentine government felt divided loyalties even among those who were born there. The German embassy would not issue visas to Argentine citizens of German extraction on their Argentine passports. Instead, they would be issued German passports and then given their visas. The

Argentine government felt that this was an intolerable interference in the internal affairs of the country along with the rabble-rousing carried out by unnamed German organizations.

139 140

Memorandum by the State Secretary, 18 May 1938, Doc. 613, DGFP, D, v. 2, pp. 845-846. Ibid, Doc. 614, pp. 847-848.

68 The ambassador hinted that such interference would not be tolerated for long and that Argentina might have to adopt the methods Brazil did, such as forcible integration, to quell potential internal unrest. Weizscker asked Labougle what, if any, friendly

advice he had to prevent any measures from being enacted. The ambassador replied that Germany should dissolve its current organizations and replace them with groups less offensive to Argentina. He warned Weizscker not to hide or camouflage the present NSDAP organization since it could backfire. Instead, if the new groups were set up in an unofficial and apolitical way, then the problem would go away. Despite his abhorrence of Nazi anti-semitism Labougle seemed to desire good relations between the two countries since he offered that his advice was strictly unofficial and that he was expressing his personal thoughts on how Germany could regain the goodwill of the Argentine people.141 Weizscker acknowledged the ambassadors suggestions without accepting them. The plebiscite was held under orders from Hitler with the AO taking responsibility for Germans abroad. If Weizscker had acknowledged Labougles complaint, word would have gone back to the new Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop. Ribbentrop was a slavish follower of Hitler and would have fired Weizscker for such blatant criticism of the Fhrers decision. Additionally, the Auswrtiges Amt was placed in the difficult

position of having to defend a decision it probably knew to be misguided. Given the climate within Nazi Germany it should not be surprising there was no record of criticism

141

Ibid.

69 regarding the plebiscite..142 Criticizing the AO for its behavior was one thing. Criticizing Hitlers decisions to a foreign diplomat was something else entirely. Weizscker could do nothing but defend Germanys position and hope the whole incident blew over. Thermann repeated Labougles assertions in a political report to the Auswrtiges Amt. His explanation for anti-German sentiment was not the actions of the German community. It was elements hostile to us, especially Jews and North American

businessman.143 He felt that the Ortiz administration, especially Foreign Minister Jos Maria Cantilo, was composed of antifascists influenced by the anti-Nazi press. Thermann contrasted the Ortiz government with Justos which had curbed demagogic tendencies along with the previous Foreign Minister, Carlos Saaverda Lamas, who resisted North American pressure. While Thermann placed the blame on the government and anti-Nazi factions in Argentina, he did not absolve the German community of blame. He stated that recent events had had an unfavorable effect on public opinion. Thermann admitted that the opinion lists were in fact an election that had harmed Germanys
See Zachary Shore, What Hitler Knew: The Battle for Information in Nazi Foreign Policy (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), pp. 11-13. Shore describes a climate of fear within the Auswrtiges Amt which included the tapping of telephones and bugs placed in offices. He states that Hermann Grings Forschungsamt produced caution and fear among many While Shores sources are primarily secondary and memoir, there is nothing not in keeping with Gestapo and Security Service methods. It also is in line with Robert Gellatelys study which argues that fear was a necessary element of Nazi control. See Robert Gellately, Backing Hitler: Consent and Coercion in the Nazi Germany (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001). For a somewhat contradictory view, see Eric A. Johnson, Nazi Terror: The Gestapo, Jews, and Ordinary Germans (New York: Basic Books, 2000). Johnson argues that the Gestapo possessed too few members to adequately keep track of people and instead relied on a network of informers to help it carry out its duties. Wilhelm Canaris also felt his office was bugged see Heinz Hhne, Canaris: Hitlers Master Spy, trans. J. Maxwell Brownjohn (New York: Cooper Square Press, 1979) for Canariss suspicions. Staatssekretrs Ernst von Weizscker also felt he was under surveillance. When Sumner Welles visited him in 1940 he noted that Weizscker drew his chair toward the center of the room and motioned to me to do likewise. It was evident thatGerman secret police microphones were installed in the walls. See Sumner Welles, A Time for Decision (New York: Harper, 1944), pp. 99-100 and Paul Seabury, The Wilhelmstrasse: A Study of German Diplomats Under the Nazi Regime (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1954), p. 194, note 21. 143 Thermann to Auswartiges Amt, Political Report, Subject: Anti German Sentiment in Argentina, 18 May 1938, Doc. 615, DGFP, D, v. 2, pp. 848-852.
142

70 position in Argentina and were held over the objection of the embassy. The participation of Argentine citizens made the plebiscite particularly unpalatable to Argentina with general opinion being that it was an unwanted and intolerable interference in Argentine internal affairs. Thermann felt there was a solution to this problem: separating Reichsdeutsche from Volksdeutsche. He argued this could be accomplished by establishing an entirely new organization which would be apolitical and thus acceptable to Argentine sentiments. It would serve as a coordinating agency for all other German societies and remove real and perceived sources of friction. Thermann stated that this had been a goal of his for a long time. He intimated that the various German groups were at odds with each other and caused innumerable problems for the embassy. Removing the Volksdeutsche would be in line with policies carried out in Europe and would allow the embassy to coordinate the competing aims of the numerous German groups in Argentina. However, he did not propose to abandon the Volksdeutsche, instead existing organizations would focus on them. They could be controlled by parsing out money, which Thermann admitted they needed in order to survive. In this way, German goals in Argentina would be under the control of the embassy. Thermann added that any new organization regarding German nationals would, of course, have to be directed entirely along the lines of our Movement.144 While Thermanns suggestions were being considered, events in Argentina were still at a critical stage. The ambassador learned that Ortiz was still considering measures against Germans in Argentina. Thermann felt that this was due to pressure from North
144

Ibid, pp. 850-852.

71 America as well as North American Jewish capital, which was trying to supplant Germany economically in South America. Thermann stated that it was North American Jewish circles and Jews who were manipulating Argentine nationalistic feelings in order to turn Argentina against Germany. Thermann had no suggestions on how to answer this threat except to advise the Auswrtiges Amt that German organizations should lay low and offer no provocations that could exacerbate the situation.145 Thermanns comments echoed those of his master Adolf Hitler who viewed the world through the prism of race.146 Hitler saw countries such as the United States dominated by Jews who controlled money and policy. His vision was shared by his minions, including Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop, who allowed this world view to guide their thoughts and actions. In July Thermann attended a meeting of German ambassadors from Argentina, Brazil, Chile and the Minister to Uruguay. Thermanns report on the meeting continued the pessimism of his previous reports. The ambassadors agreed that the present antiGerman feelings in their respective countries were not transitory problems and were instead long-term. The ambassadors asked Berlin to clarify its goals in South America. The perception that Germany was pursuing power in South America was widespread and must be repudiated.147 The fact that five years after assuming power Hitlers government

Thermann to Auswartiges Amt, Political Report, Subject: Position of the Germans in Argentina, 7 June 1938, Doc. 621, DGFP, D, v. 2, pp. 858-859. 146 Gerhard L. Weinberg, The World through Hitlers Eyes, Germany, Hitler and World War II: Essays in Modern German and World History (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1995), pp. 30-56. and Gerhard L. Weinberg, Hitlers Image of the United States, World in the Balance: Behind the Scenes of World War II (Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 1981), pp. 53-74. 147 Neither Hitler nor Ribbentrop was averse to such pronouncements. In March 1941 Turkey was worried about German troop buildups in Bulgaria. Hitler assured Turkey that the movement of German troops into Bulgaria was not directed against Turkey. Hitler ordered that German troops remain outside a previously

145

72 had no geopolitical policy towards Latin America was astonishing and partially explained German difficulties. The ambassadors offered that Germany strictly confine itself to economic and cultural aims. If only these two areas were pursued, then there was a chance the situation could be salvaged. However, the forthcoming meeting of the

American Republics in Lima seemed to promise more severe measures against Nazi Party organizations in the Americas. Regarding trade policy, the recommendation was that economic agreements be concluded for the next several years, with automatic extensions if they were not canceled. In dealing with the problem of Germandom in Latin America, the ambassadors were unanimous in recommending that German nationals and Volksdeutsche have separate organizations. They suggested that volksdeutsche schools be self-supporting and that smaller schools be closed. The larger schools could be given subsidies from

Winterhilfe funds and those welfare organizations that lost money would have funds replaced directly from the Reich. The ambassadors argued that this would make it harder for the South American governments to protest politically against the use of such funds. Additionally, teachers should be sent to Germany for training, especially those who taught in secondary schools. Most likely so they could be trained to give volksdeutsche students a proper National Socialist education. It is not clear why the Germans would risk running afoul of authorities in Argentina and other countries unless the idea of a racial education was something that appealed to teachers and students.

agreed security zone to allay Turkish fears. See Christian Leitz, Sympathy for the Devil: Neutral Europe and Nazi Germany in World War II (New York: New York University Press, 2001), p. 91.

73 Also discussed were complaints about the quality of propaganda from Germany. It was felt that the majority of material sent to South America was not suited for either the Volksdeutsche or indigenous population. It was suggested that the Cultural Policy Department of the Auswrtiges Amt work with the cultural office of the AO to determine permissible materials. The establishment of sponsored reading rooms for such material would help in the supervision of such materials. However, the embassies should not disseminate political documents. They should be sent directly to interested persons. Mass influence of public opinion would be carried out through the press. They suggested spending more money to counteract the negative press which the ambassadors suspected was being sponsored by the U.S. government. The ambassadors felt that acquiring a large daily newspaper might have the desired effect since threatening to pull advertising from papers deemed unfriendly to German interests was insufficient. The assignment of a full time press attach in Buenos Aires responsible for South America would help solve this problem. However, the ambassadors praised recent AO directives ordering Nazi Party organs in Latin America to show restraint in public.148 The ambassadors asked that the AO clarify that these directives superseded any previous instructions regarding public displays of National Socialism, especially the wearing of uniforms and displaying German flags. It was suggested that closer cooperation between Nazi Party organs and the embassies be undertaken, with the ambassadors taking the lead. With the threat of imminent punitive measures on the horizon, decisive responsibility of the representative

Telegram, Bohle to German Missions in Latin America, 18 May 1938, Bro des Chefs der AO, NARA, RG 242/T-120/225/170914.

148

74 of the Reich must be assured. The meeting showed that German policy towards Latin America in general had no direction. Given the competing organizations, policy had to be coordinated through one organization. Naturally, the ambassadors thought it should be the embassies, in any case, the problems discussed had to be solved and policy clarified. Only in this way could Germanys present difficulties be overcome.149 Surprisingly, the AO in Argentina agreed with the recommendation that Reichsdeutsche and volksdeutsche be separated and laid out their plan for doing so. It also reiterated its earlier position that Nazi Party organizations avoid any activity that could attract negative publicity.150 Thermann attempted to lessen the friction between the two organizations, by suggesting the creation of a cover organization, under the control of the Auswrtiges Amt, which would handle the Reichsdeutsche. Bohle had ordered the Landesgruppe to do the same thing in his May directive, albeit reluctantly. While the Nazi Party representatives objected, for the moment, the problem was sent to Berlin. When Thermann traveled to Berlin in September, one of the main topics of discussion was the Reichsdeutsche/Volksdeutsche issue. He was informed that while the

recommendations reached between him and the AO were approved in principle, his recommendation for a cover organization had been rejected.151 While Bohle recognized the magnitude of the problem facing the AO in South America he was not about to

Aufzeichnung ber die Zusammenkunft der deutschen Missionchefs in Argentinien, Brasilien, Chile, und Uruguay in Montivideo am 28 und 29 Juli 1938, Bro des Chefs der AO, NARA RG 242/T120/218/168208-215 also Thermann to Auswartiges Amt, Enclosure: Memorandum of the Meeting in Montevideo of the Chiefs of Missions in Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Uruguay, July 28 and 29, 1938, 2 August 1938, Doc. 624, DGFP, D, v. 2, pp. 863-867. 150 Memorandum by an Official of the Auslandsorganisation, 24 September 1938, Doc. 626, DGFP, D, v. 2, pp. 869-872. 151 Newton, The Nazi Menace, p. 193.

149

75 abdicate any authority over German citizens overseas. In internal Nazi Party politics, such surrendered control of the AO. Thus, the situation stayed the same. The latter half of the 1930s saw the German position in Argentina erode. The Auswrtiges Amt and the embassy in Argentina desperately tried to staunch the flood of anti-German feelings in Argentina. Thermann recognized that part of the problem

stemmed from the AO and attempted to bring it under foreign ministry control, but was unsuccessful. The meeting of the ambassadors showed that the problem was not confined just to Argentina. It was continent-wide. The main problem was that Germany lacked any geo-political policy regarding Latin America. If a policy could be implemented, then perhaps the situation could be rectified. Instead, groups such as the AO continued to pursue their own goals, which were often at odds with the Wilhelmstrasses. Latin America during this period was relegated to a backwater in German diplomacy, with events in Europe dominating the attention of not only the Auswrtiges Amt, but Hitler as well. This lack of direction from the top contributed to dysfunction in German

diplomacy. While the ambassadors recommendations were not radical, they did require attention. They also required cooperation among the various groups in Argentina, which the AO and other groups were unwilling to give since it would undercut their authority and position. If 1938 was a bad year for the Germans in Argentina, then 1939 would be even worse. Events during that year would even require the attention, however brief, of Adolf Hitler. The Germans were their own worst enemy in Argentina and even when events such as the so-called Patagonia Plot were patent forgeries, the ill-will Germany had fostered would come back to haunt it.

76

Chapter 2 The Patagonia Affair and the Fear of Nazi Fifth Column Activity, 1939
By early 1939 war clouds loomed over Europe. Hitler had completed the

Anschluss of Austria and the Munich conference in October 1938 between Neville Chamberlain, Eduard Daladier, Benito Mussolini and Hitler had averted war for the time being. Adding to the fear of war was Hitlers occupation of Prague on 15 March 1939. On 23 March German troops marched into Memel, a primarily German-speaking area of Lithuania. Additionally, the Spanish Civil War, which had dragged for almost three years with the active assistance of Nazi Germany and Italy was finally winding down. It would end with the fall of Madrid on 30 March.152 Thus, the spring of 1939 was especially tense worldwide. In Latin America, two events provided context for the Patagonia Plot: the May 1938 plot against President Getlio Vargas of Brazil and the crisis over Czechoslovakia which culminated in the Munich conference where the Sudeten area of Czechoslovakia was given to Germany. While the world breathed a sigh of relief following the Munich conference, the methods Hitler used to undermine Austria and Czechoslovakia created unease in many countries, such as Argentina and Brazil, which had large German populations. In 1936, the AO estimated that there were over a million persons of German descent in Latin
For details of German and Italian assistance to Francos Spain, see especially, Antony Beevor, The Battle for Spain: The Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939, revised edition (New York: Penguin Books, 2006) and Stanley G. Payne, Franco and Hitler: Spain, Germany and World War II (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008) chapters 1-3.For Canariss role in helping Franco see Heinz Hhne, Canaris: Hitlers Master Spy, trans. J. Maxwell Brownjohn (New York: Cooper Square Press, 1979). Despite numerous errors see also Robert Whealey, Hitler and Spain: the Nazi Role in the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939 (Lexington: The University of Kentucky Press, 2005).
152

77 America. Brazil was the largest with 800,000, followed by Argentina with 150,000 and 30,000 in Chile with the rest spread throughout the rest of Central and South America.153 This chapter examines the so-called Patagonia Plot and its effect on German-Argentine relations and explores the issue within the context of Latin American fears of Nazi fifthcolumnists undermining the governments in countries where they resided. The affair was especially revealing regarding the Nazi world-view and the idea that a nebulous Jewish conspiracy was behind it. It also shows how the embassy and Auswrtiges Amt viewed the world situation in 1939 and its rivalry with the AO. In 1937 one of the major goals of Nazi foreign policy was to get the support of Argentina, Brazil and Chile for the Anti-Comintern Pact which Germany had recently signed with Japan and Italy. Since the governments of Argentina, Brazil and Chile were vehemently anti-communist the AA felt that their signing of the Anti-Comintern Pact would bind them closer to Germany. Referat Deutschland in the Auswrtiges Amt felt that these were the only other countries of any political importance in Latin America and should be approached. However, the Politische Abteilung (Political Department usually abbreviated as Pol. Abt.) IX of the AA, which covered the Americas, felt that none of the countries would explicitly join. Pol. Abt. IX argued that joining would unnecessarily antagonize the U.S.154 Therefore Karl Ritter, German Ambassador in Brazil, was surprised when in December 1937 the Brazilian government suggested that the German government prepare an anti-Communist exhibit to be shown throughout the country.
Alton Frye, Nazi Germany and the American Hemisphere, 1933-1941 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1967), p. 65. 154 Memorandum by an official of the Foreign Ministry, 30 November 1937, Document 593, Documents on German Foreign Policy, Series D, Volume 5, (Washington D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1953), pp. 815-816 and Frye, Nazi Germany and the American Hemisphere, pp. 101-102.
153

78 Brazil was especially important to Nazi Germany economically. As Carl Clodius of the AAs Economic Policy Department pointed out, From an economic point of view, Brazil was for us by far the most important country in South America.155 Despite the pro-German tilt in Brazilian foreign policy, the government of President Getlio Vargas had watched the events in Europe warily. Vargas looked suspiciously at the large German population in Southern Brazil with its own Germanlanguage schools, clubs and customs. Some Germans in Brazil even refused to learn Portuguese. Like most dictators Vargas was paranoid and decided to eliminate this potential threat by integrating the German-speaking population into Brazilian society. Vargass pressure against the NSDAP, German schools and cultural associations caused alarm in Berlin. As Alton Frye points out, Germany now received a taste of its own medicine as the Vargas regimeintensified its national campaign to insure national unity in Brazil.156 Events became more tense when Ernst Dorsch, the leading Nazi in Rio Grande do Sul, was arrested in February 1938 for anti-government activities. Ritter had a stormy interview with Vargas protesting Dorschs arrest and used a threatening tone with the president. Vargas refused to be cowed and Ritter backed down.157 Ritter blamed the campaign against the Germans of Brazil on Jews, migrs, irate Catholic clericsdisgruntled and disaffected Germans and Austrians.158 Ritter, like Ambassador Thermann, saw the Jews behind all things anti-German. However, the events of May 1938 were to prove almost disastrous for Germanys relations with Latin America and
155

Memorandum by an Official of the Economic Policy Department, 4 October 1938, Doc. 629, DGFP, D, v. 5, pp. 874-875. 156 Frye, Nazi Germany and the American Hemisphere, pp. 102-103. 157 Ibid, p. 102. 158 The Ambassador in Brazil to the Foreign Ministry, 30 March 1938, Doc. 599, DGFP, D, v. 5, p. 824.

79 resulted in the Ritters recall. The events in Brazil in 1938 also provided some of the context for the Patagonia Affair in Argentina. The Intergralista Revolt of May 1938 in Brazil had shaken Vargas and implicated the German embassy in the plot to overthrow his government. The Integralistas were an indigenous organization with an authoritarian bent headed by Plinio Salgado. The

groups chief ideologue, Gustavo Barroso, was an open admirer of the Nazis. During the 1930s he published several anti-Semitic tracts attacking the alleged international Jewish conspiracy.159 The Integralistas originally supported Vargas and felt he was supportive of their ideology. Vargas saw them as challengers to his authority and broke with them. The revolt was poorly planned and quickly quashed.160 Thought the revolt was domestic in nature, the Vargas government had no doubts about the participation of the German embassy and local NSDAP organizations. In April 1938 Vargas had banned all foreign political organizations, giving them one month to dispose of their assets. While this was a powerful motive on the NSDAPs part to participate, there is no evidence it did. While the Nazis hoped the party could exist in another form, the revolt caused Vargas to ban it outright. The Brazilian police also arrested a large number of Nazi party members and ordered others to leave the country immediately.161 Ritter vehemently denied the participation of the embassy or NSDAP in the revolt and demanded that evidence be produced to support the allegations. Even Ribbentrop was uncertain whether Germans were involved and ordered Ritter to conduct an
Gustavo Barroso, The Paulista Synagogue, in Robert M. Levine and John J. Crocitti, eds. The Brazil Reader: History, Culture, Politics (Durham N.C.: Duke University Press, 1999), pp. 182-183. 160 Stanley E. Hilton, Brazil and the Great Powers, 1930-1939: The Politics of Trade Rivalry (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1975), pp. 168-175. 161 Frye, Nazi Germany and the American Hemisphere, p. 104.
159

80 investigation. While Ritter admitted there had been bungling he was convinced no Germans had been involved. He also felt that the Brazilian government had no proof in its possession or they would have produced it.162 Events proved Ritter correct. On 21 May, the Brazilian government announced that it had no evidence linking any German citizens or organizations to the revolt. The statement was ambiguous and State Secretary Ernst von Weizscker demanded that the Brazilian government unequivocally deny any German participation.163 Ambassador Ritter eroded any remaining goodwill with his belligerent attitude. On 24 May he snubbed an invitation from the Brazilian government to attend a formal ball honoring the Chilean Foreign Minister. Given that Germans were under arrest for unfounded accusations Ritter felt it would not be appropriate to attend. He informed the Brazilian Foreign Minister, Oswald Aranha, that the Brazilian embassy in Berlin would not receive similar invitations from the German government. Ritter was not authorized to issue any such instructions. He was reprimanded by Weizscker and ordered to

apologize.164 By September Ritters conduct had become so intolerable that the Brazilian Government asked the AA to recall him. The AA did, but also demanded that Brazil recall its ambassador in Berlin, which it did.165 Suspicion of Germany and its objectives in Latin America spread from Brazil to other countries and created difficulties for the

The State Secretary to the Embassy in Brazil, 16 May 1938, Doc. 609 and The Ambassador in Brazil to the Foreign Ministry, 18 May 1938, Doc. 610, DGFP, D, v. 5, pp. 842-843. 163 Frye, Nazi Germany and the American Hemisphere, p. 105, and Memorandum by the State Secretary, 18 May 1938, Doc. 612, DGFP, D, v. 5, pp. 843-845. 164 The Ambassador in Brazil to the Foreign Ministry, 25 May 1938, Doc. 617, note 7, DGFP, D, v. 5, pp. 853-854. 165 Memorandum by the Director of the Political Department, 21 September 1938, Doc. 625, 30 September 1938 Doc. 627 and The State Secretary to the Embassy in Brazil, 3 October 1938, Doc. 628, DGFP, D, v. 5, pp. 868, 872-874.

162

81 heads of mission. The Eight Pan-American Congress was held in Lima, Peru in The declaration stated its

December 1938 and produced the Declaration of Lima.

opposition to political activities by foreigners and was directed against German minority communities in Latin America.166 The declaration increased the mistrust of German minority communities and Germanys political objectives regarding Latin America. Events in Europe added to the suspicion of Latin American leaders that the Germanspeaking populations residing within their borders were engaged in activities designed to undermine their sovereignty. Latin American governments looked on with dismay at the activities of Konrad Henlein, head of the Sudeten Germans in Czechoslovakia. They, like their European counterparts, believed, correctly, that Henlein was acting as a tool of Hitler.167 The agitation created by the Sudeten community in its struggle with the Czech state only reinforced this view. Hitlers pronouncements in favor of the Sudeten community as well as his belligerent attitude added to Latin American fears that ethnic Germans in their countries were operating under Hitlers control. Additionally, German organizations in Czechoslovakia were funded by the German government. The money was ostensibly to be used for cultural, educational and economic groups. As Gerhard L. Weinberg points out, the money had indirect political implications as well.168 The Germans were also

Frye, Nazi Germany and the American Hemisphere, p. 113. Johann Wolfgang Brgel, Tschechen und Deutsche, 1939-1946 (Munich: Nymphenburger Verlagshandlung, 1974), Radomir Lua, The Transfer of the Sudeten Germans; A Study of Czech-German Relations, 1933-1962 (New York: New York University Press, 1964) and Ronald M. Smelser, The Sudeten Problem, 1933-1938: Volkstumspolitik and the Formulation of Nazi Foreign Policy (Middletown, Conn., Wesleyan University Press, 1975) are books which argue Henleins movement was oriented towards Nazism. 168 Gerhard L. Weinberg, The Foreign Policy of Hitlers Germany: Starting World War II (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980) p. 314.
167

166

82 funding German organizations in Latin America. It would be reasonable to assume that Vargas and Ortiz also saw the political implications of those groups. Hence, their heavyhanded reaction to perceived German threats to their respective countries. Unknown to world leaders was the fact that the Germans in Czechoslovakia were a simply a tool to be used to further Hitlers broader aims.169 Hitler had no overriding interest in their welfare except as it fit into his plans. It is highly unlikely that Hitler would have approved any plans to undermine the Brazilian state. If things went wrong Germany would have not been in a position to protect the German community of Brazil. However, this was not known at the time. Fears of a fifth-column were very real.170 Despite the angst regarding German activities inside Argentina, Ambassador Thermann was optimistic regarding relations between the two countries. However,

events of the previous two years had damaged relations between Germany and Argentina. Instead of placing blame for the situation on the actions of the German government where it belonged, Thermann blamed the press which he stated was supported by anti-German immigrants, Jews and North American economic interests. He claimed they had

misjudged Germanys actions and caused the Argentine government to adopt a mistrustful attitude. Criticisms of the Argentine government by the AO and NSDAP had only exacerbated the situation. Thermann argued that if these groups stopped offending Argentine sensibilities then the situation would improve. He also advised Germany to be

Ibid, p. 317. For a discussion of U.S. fears see Francis MacDonnell, Insidious Foes: The Axis Fifth Column and the American Home Front (Guilford, CT: The Lyons Press, 2004).
170

169

83 sensitive in its relations with the Catholic Church and with commercial circles since they were influenced by Jews and Freemasons.171 Thermann had reason for optimism. The U.S. had also stumbled in its relations with Argentina. Thermann felt that errors on the part of the U.S. had reinforced

resentment of the U.S. in Argentina, particularly among President Roberto Ortiz, and Foreign Minister Jos Mara Cantilo. The main point of contention was an embargo placed on imports of Argentine beef to the U.S. The U.S. argued the embargo was necessary to prevent the spread of hoof and mouth disease, which the U.S. Department of Agriculture claimed was endemic in Argentina. However, there were those who felt the embargo was excessive. Despite this the embargo remained in effect for most of the 1930s. Attempts to circumvent it ran into vocal opposition from U.S. Congressman who were beholden to cattlemen. At the Second Pan-American Conference held in Buenos Aires in 1936 the U.S. wanted the states of Latin America to agree to compulsory consultation should war appear imminent. They also wanted to create an Inter-American Consultative Committee along with a common neutrality policy in the event of war in the Americas.172 The U.S. was opposed by Argentine Foreign Minister Carlos Saaverda Lamas who was committed to the League of Nations and to Argentine supremacy in Latin America. Saaverda Lamas felt that the U.S. proposals were nothing more nor less than a means by which the United States hoped to extend its power and influence over the smaller nations of the
Politische Bericht: Deutsch-argentinische Beziehungen, 24 Februar 1939, Pol. IX, Akten betreffend: Politische Beziehungen Argentiniens zu Deutschland, April 1936-Mai 1939, The National Archives, Kew (hereafter TNA), File: GFM 33810. 172 Robert Dallek, Franklin D. Roosevelt and American Foreign Policy, 1932-1945 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1979), p. 133.
171

84 hemisphere.173 Thermann advised that Germany needed to exploit the situation. Germany, he said, should consider cultivating special economic interests meaning more imports of Argentine beef.174 This would bolster Germanys image with Argentina and help repair some of the damage that had been done to relations between the two countries.175 However, another incident occurred that rattled relations. It revolved

around a report concerning the Patagonia region of Argentina allegedly prepared in the German embassy in Buenos Aires.176 On 20 March 1939 President Ortiz of Argentina was handed a photocopied document outlining an alleged Nazi attempt to annex the southern Argentine region of Patagonia. The document was printed on the stationary of the German Embassy in Buenos Aires and dated 11 January 1937. It carried the signatures of Alfred Mller and Conrad von Schubert, respectively Deputy Landesgruppenleiter of the NSDAP in Argentina and Counselor in the German embassy. It was addressed to Franz Ritter von Epp, head of the Colonial Policy Office of the NSDAP in the Brown House in Munich.177 In the document Mller and Schubert informed Epp that the embassy was collecting information on Argentine military defenses in Patagonia. The German Chamber of Commerce, banks and private firms were also collecting economic information on the area. The document explained that Nazi organizations such as the Volksbund and

Quoted in Ibid. Politische Bericht: Deutsch-argentinische Beziehungen, 24 Februar 1939, Pol. IX, Akten betreffend: Politische Beziehungen Argentiniens zu Deutschland, April 1936-Mai 1939, TNA, GFM 33810. 175 Ibid. 176 The Landesgruppenleiter in Argentina to the Colonial Policy Office of the Reichsleitung of the NSDAP, Doc. 137, C, v. 6, pp. 279-281. 177 For more information on this and Nazi colonial policy in general see Gerhard L. Weinberg, German Colonial Plans and Policies, 1938-1942, in World in the Balance: Behind the Scenes of World War II (Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 1981), pp. 96-136.
174

173

85 German Workers Front (Deutsche Arbeitsfront or DAF) were collecting information on the racial makeup of the population in Patagonia. They were also investigating the future possibilities of colonization on the theoretical supposition that the whole area will become part of the German Lebensraum and economic sphere.178 More disturbing were the names of the companies and banks that supposedly aided in collecting information on the region. The companies named included Lahusen y Cia Ltd. and A.M. Delfino y Cia, two of the oldest German companies in Argentina as well as the Banco Germnico and Banco Aleman Transatlntico, two of the main German banks in Argentina. The report also talked about photographs and maps

provided by certain ministries inside the Argentine government. The ministries named included the National Petroleum Corporation, the National Bank and the War and Navy ministries. The report concluded that Argentina had failed to properly colonize Patagonia and would be unable to do so in the foreseeable future. Thus, it had no legal basis to claim sovereignty over the area.179 On 21 March 1939 Ortiz ordered the authorities to look into this matter. The police detained Heinrich Jrges, the man who had handed over the document, then released him several days later. The incident was kept out of the public eye until 30 March when the newspaper Noticias Grficas, probably at Jrges instigation, published details of the document. The next day the anti-Nazi newspapers Argentinisches Tageblatt

The Landesgruppenleiter in Argentina to the Colonial Policy Office of the Reichsleitung of the NSDAP, DGFP, Doc. 137, C, v. 6, p. 280. 179 Ibid, p. 281.

178

86 and Ultima Edicin published their own stories concerning the document.180 The same day Alfred Mller was taken into custody for questioning by Argentine police and held at Buenos Aires police headquarters. The following day prominent members of the German community in Argentina were brought in for questioning. They included, Eduardo

Delfino, head of A.M. Delfino y Cia, Ricardo Leute of the Banco Germnico, Carlos Schmitts of the German Chamber of Commerce and Carlos Fleischer, head of the DAF in Argentina. Fleischer had a particularly rough time since he had to explain away how and why DAF dues were being deducted illegally from employees at the metal-fabricating firm of Klckner without their permission and in violation of Argentine labor laws.181 President Ortiz appointed a special judge to oversee the investigation. The judge in turn appointed a special attorney to conduct the actual investigation. As soon as the story broke in the Argentine press Meynen informed the AA. In response to the AAs inquiry about the incident, the AO stated that no written or verbal correspondence concerning Patagonia ever occurred. Additionally, a subordinate of Mllers named Stoehrmann, who had arrived recently from Argentina, was interviewed by the AA. He adamantly denied that any discussions regarding Patagonia ever took place within the Landesgruppe Argentina. State Secretary Ernst von Weizscker and Ernst Woermann,

Verffentlichung geflschten Botschaftsberichts, 5 April 1939, BNA, GFM 33810. This file contains memorandum from Politische Abteilung IX, which covered the Americas for the Auswrtiges Amt. The original file is Pol. Abt. 9, Patagonien Affaire, March-May 1939, Volumes 1 and 2. There were two other files Bro des Staatssekretrs, Akten betreffend Patagonia, Jan 1937-August 1939 and Bro des Chefs der AO, Argentinien, Fall Mller, 1937-1940, vol. 75. 181 Newton, The Nazi Menace, p. 196. For the questioning of German businessmen see Verffentlichung geflschten Botschaftsberichts, 5 April 1939, TNA, GFM 33810.

180

87 head of the Politische Abteilung (Political Department) in the AA, quickly concluded that the document published in the Argentine papers was an awkward falsification.182 The AA also investigated Heinrich Jrges background. It seemed that he had worked for Joseph Goebbels Propaganda Ministry and then left Germany where he went to work for the Landesgruppe in Chile. He then disappeared and turned up in Argentina where it was suspected he was working for Otto Strassers so-called Black Front.183 Otto Strasser was the brother of Gregor Strasser, both of whom were early supporters of Hitler. After Gregor was killed in the Night of the Long Knives in 1934, Otto fled Germany fearing for his own life and became an opponent of Hitler. Weizscker and Woermann suspected the document was a crude forgery designed to undermine Germanys position in Argentina and turn public opinion there against Germany. The fear was that the Argentine government would ban the Landesgruppe, as had happened in Brazil. Weizscker instructed Woermann to work with the AO to prevent this.

Woermann instructed the German embassy in Buenos Aires to inform the Argentine government that the passage of any decree banning the Landesgruppe would adversely affect German-Argentine relations. The embassy in Buenos Aires was also told to sound out the Italian government about working together to prevent a ban from occurring.184 Weizscker informed the embassy in Buenos Aires that the document in question was indeed a forgery. He wanted Erich Otto Meynen, the embassys Charg d Affairs, to communicate this in the strongest terms to the Argentine government. Weizscker also

182

Betr. Argentinische Presseverffentlichungen ber eine angeblich beabsichtigte Anektierung Patagoniens durch Deutschland 4 April 1939, TNA, GFM 33945. 183 Ibid. 184 Ibid.

88 instructed Meynen to demand the punishment of Jrges and anyone who assisted him in spreading lies. Meynen was to tell the Argentine government that while the Argentine government could not prevent the spread of such accusations, any action taken on the basis of those accusations would contradict any sense of justice on the part of Argentina. Meynen was also told by Weizscker to communicate that any action taken against Mller would hurt relations between Germany and Argentina. The Argentine

ambassador in Berlin was also to be called in and told of Germanys views regarding this matter.185 In short, the AA had decided that the best defense was a good offense, particularly after the events of the preceding year. Meynen had anticipated some of the instructions he received from Berlin. On 31 March following Mllers arrest he immediately sent a communiqu to the Argentine Foreign Ministry denouncing the document as a forgery. He stated that its purpose was

to slander the good name of the German diplomats of the Reich. He also offered evidence that the document was a forgery. Meynen asserted that the letterhead on the document had never been used by the embassy currently or in the past. Additionally, Schubert had no authority to sign such a document; he would have to get permission to sign it. Also, Schuberts title on the document was printed as Legationsrat (Legation Councilor). Schubert was not a Legationsrat, but a Legations Secretary, a lower rank. This and other evidence presented by Meynen argue that the documents were crude forgeries.

185

Draft Telegramm, Nr. 91 5 April 1939, TNA, GFM 33945.

89 Meynen asked that the Argentine Foreign Ministry inform him of what recourse the embassy had regarding legal action against the newspapers.186 The same day Meynen sent a letter to Foreign Minister Jos Mara Cantilo repeating his claims. He added that the document did not represent the views of the German government. Meynen sharply protested the publication of the document by the press. He politely inquired when the Argentine government would conduct an investigation of this affair. Meynen felt that any investigation would absolve the embassy and the German community. He further asked if the Argentine authorities would pursue any legal action against the newspapers. In any case, he would pass a copy of his previous communiqu as well as this one to the press for publication.187 On 5 April the police raided the NSDAP offices located on the fourth floor of the Banco Germnico building and the offices of other German associations in Buenos Aires. The authorities also obtained a court order to have safe deposit boxes belonging to German organizations opened. Across Buenos Aires and Argentina the police raided German bars, clubs and organizations and carted away large quantities of documents. Meynen believed that the AO and NSDAP had brought this turn of events upon themselves. He reported to Berlin that, I have learned that material has beenseized from which can be determined the role played by party units in the work of organizing local Germans and aligning them to the purposes of the Reich. Possibly a lot of material

186 187

Anlage 2, Verffentlichung geflschten Botschaftsberichts, 5 April 1939, TNA, GFM 33810. Anlage 3, Verffentlichung geflschten Botschaftsberichts, 5 April 1939, TNA, GFM 33810.

90 will come to light that will be taken critically in the local liberal democratic atmosphere.188 On 6 April in Berlin Under-State Secretary Woermann met with Ambassador Eduardo Labougle and told him that the AA had found no evidence that the document in question was authentic. He suggested that Argentina drop the matter. Labougle told Woermann that only an Argentine investigation could clear up this matter and satisfy public opinion.189 Labougle stated in his report to Buenos Aires that the main issue was the conduct of German organizations in Argentina. Argentine public opinion had turned against Germany following the demonstrations of the previous year. While Labougle agreed that there was a problem regarding Patagonia, he stated that Argentina, could not tolerate for long the way in which the NSDAP carries out its activitiesTodays immigrant associations are different from earlier ones: [to them] the Party is the State and the State is the Party. He also alluded to the tense international situation and Germanys bellicose foreign policy. He was particularly concerned that the AO and NSDAP would undermine Argentina internally, as had been done in Austria and Czechoslovakia. He wrote that the groups might undertake special actions in the initial moments of a conflagrationIn Austria, the Sudetenland, Memel, Slovakia and Bohemia-Moravia, the way was prepared efficiently by these groups.190 Labougle made a connection between German actions elsewhere and the potential for such action in Argentina. On 6 April during his home leave Thermann was asked by the AA to prepare a report on German-Argentine relations. His report was a hodge-podge of insight and
188 189

Telegramm, Nr. 1056 12 April 1939, TNA, GFM 3337. Newton, The Nazi Menace, p. 200. 190 Newton, The Nazi Menace, p. 201.

91 superficiality with racial characterizations. Thermann began with a general outline of Argentine geography and demography. He stated that Argentina had always encouraged immigration, but that it was the second generation which presented problems since they felt themselves to be more Argentine than part of their parents heritage. However, since Argentina did not provide care or aid to immigrants, German associations could counteract this disturbing trend. Not surprisingly, Thermann stated that Argentina

preferred Germanic elements as immigrants, but that Argentina feared strong German support for citizens of German descent, given previous demonstrations. Thermann stated that while the Argentine government watched the NSDAP closely, it did not prevent the party from carrying out its activities. In contrast, the Italian Fascio and Spanish Falange were looked on more benignly since their activities were culturally closer to Argentinas. The previous eighteen months, said Thermann, had seen a change in the attitude of the Argentine government. Thermann attributed this to

Jewish-Marxist influences within the Argentine parliament who were stirring up agitation against the NSDAP. Like Labougle, Thermann recognized that Germany bore some responsibility for this change in attitude and cited the Argentine reaction towards the Langemarck march of 1 November 1937 as one example. Argentine newspapers which had previously ignored the NSDAP now protested energetically. Measures passed at the Lima Conference of 1938 were felt to be directed at Nazi Party activities and the resolutions which were passed gave the Argentine government the authority to intervene if they saw fit.

92 Thermann said that Germany should not retaliate against Argentine citizens in Germany. This recommendation was not out of any squeamishness concerning such measures, but simply due to the fact that there were no Argentine citizens in Germany prominent enough for the Argentine government to take any interest in their fate. He further recommended that Argentina and Germany conduct thorough investigations so that the parties behind the Patagonia document could be punished. His next

recommendation got to the heart of the matter, given his previous travails with the AO over the preceding six years. Thermann argued that Germany yield to Argentine

demands that the AO and NSDAP become purely non-political associations. Such was consistent with Labougles recommendation to Weizscker on 17 May 1938. It would further have the effect of neutralizing two very powerful opponents. Unsaid was that fact that if these recommendations had been followed in Brazil the troubles there over any perceived German involvement in the Integralista Revolt might have been avoided. Furthermore, Germany should restrict any political publications in Spanish since they invited accusations of Nazi infiltration. Germany should also strictly observe Argentine regulations regarding German schools in Argentina, especially since the German greeting (Nazi salute) had been banned by Argentine authorities and had been a major concern of Vargas in Brazil. Thermann and Meynen were laying the blame for the current situation squarely on the doorstep of the AO and NSDAP. Thermann concluded that the situation could be substantially relieved by appropriate (emphasis mine) negotiations.191

Aufzeichnung ber die deutsch-argentinischen Beziehungen, 6 April 1939, TNA, GFM 3337, also National Archives and Records Administration, National Archives Collection of Foreign Records Seized,

191

93 The embassy took the lead and initiated an investigation. By 15 April Meynen had completed it and submitted the results to the Argentine police. He hoped the

investigation would aid Mllers defense. Meynen presented twenty-one points that showed the document in question was a forgery.192 At the same time he sought to clarify Mllers diplomatic status, which Germany claimed he had and Argentina rejected.193 At a meeting with Foreign Minister Cantilo, Meynen fibbed claiming that Mller was very close to Hitler and that Meynen could lose his job if he were not released.194 Meynens arguments were unpersuasive and Mller continued to languish in jail awaiting the results of the investigation. Given that his evidence of the documents authenticity and his pleas to the Argentine Foreign Ministry were rejected Meynen tried a different tactic and released Jrgess German police file to the public in the hopes of discrediting Jrges. This tactic almost backfired when anti-Nazi elements pointed out that despite Jrgess criminal record he had served as a secretary to Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels. At the same time, the Argentine police uncovered evidence that Jrges had written Thermann the previous year offering to cease his anti-Nazi activities if Thermann would give permission for his wifes ashes to be buried in Germany.195 Thermann had refused the request. By the end of April the situation was becoming intolerable for the AA. They just wanted the Patagonia Affair finished. To this end Weizscker arranged another meeting

Inter-filmed Records of the Foreign Ministry and Reich Chancellery, Bro des Staatssekretrs, Record Group 242/Serial T-120/Roll 25/Frames 26616-26620. 192 Bericht, 15 April 1939, TNA, GFM 33810. 193 There was no controversy at all surrounding Schuberts status. 194 Charles Dodd to Lord Halifax, 4 July 1939, TNA, FO371/22757. 195 For the letter see, Jrges to Thermann, 15 Aug 1938, TNA, GFM 33810.

94 with Labougle. Weizscker told him that the document was a forgery and he could not understand why the Argentine government could not accept this. He reiterated that Jrges was a criminal who had served time in prison for forgery and that he was probably in the service of North American interests.196 Weizscker expressed impatience with the Argentine press and compared it with the restraint shown in the German press regarding this matter. He explained that Mllers lawyer was going to demand his immediate release, even if it required bail. If this demand were refused then there could be retaliation regarding Argentines residing in Germany. This was in direct contrast to Thermanns recommendations earlier in the month. Weizscker also demanded that the Argentine government publicly admit that the document was false and that Mllers arrest had been a mistake. He accused the

Argentine government of hiding behind judicial proceedings so that it would not have to admit its mistake. When Labougle objected that the judicial process would have to be completed, Weizscker responded that judicial proceedings could easily be manipulated or even terminated. He further informed the ambassador that Germany wanted Jrges punished for disturbing German-Argentine relations. difficulty. Labougle also related another

The Landesgruppe in Argentina refused to acknowledge Argentine

jurisdiction. As a result Mller had no legal counsel. This meant that no hearing could be held until he had obtained a lawyer. Weizscker expressed surprise and

Aufzeichnung fr eine Rcksprache mit dem Argentinischen Botschafter wegen der Dokumentenflschung, 24 April 1939, TNA, GFM 33945.

196

95 disappointment at this news, but repeated that the documents in question were false and that this incident could come to a positive conclusion.197 Weizscker informed Meynen that he should retain counsel for Mller and have the attorney petition the court to release Mller on bail. Meynen was also to repeat Weizsckers threat of retaliation while stating that Germany expected an acquittal of Mller. However, Meynen and Thermann understood that Argentina would not be

bullied and that negotiations were the only way to secure a favorable outcome. Along with this threat Weizscker told Meynen to conduct discussions with the appropriate Argentine authorities regarding the status of the NSDAP and the German community in Argentina. It seems certain the events of the previous year in Brazil were on

Weizsckers mind when he issued these instructions. Weizsckers image as a cool, confident diplomat is tarnished by the record he left. His alternating attempts to threaten, cajole, and appear reasonable show a clumsy diplomat unable to come to grips with his antagonist. Gauleiter Ernst Bohle, head of the AO, added to the tension with a bombastic speech in Leipzig. He told that crowd that, The present-day German Reich is unwilling to stand by with folded arms while its totally guiltless citizens are persecuted. Foreigners must realize that each and every German citizen stands under the protection of a world power, one which will not tolerate that peaceable Germans living overseas should be

Telegramm, Pol. IX 658, 25 April 1939, TNA, GFM 33945, for his part Labougle reported that he and Weizscker both raised their voices, none of which is mentioned in Weizsckers Memorandum of Conversation. For this see Newton, The Nazi Menace, p. 202.

197

96 mistreated simply because they wish, as honorable men, to be National Socialists.198 However, events soon began to overtake the strident calls of Weizscker and Bohle. On 4 May, Dr. Miguel Jantus, the judge placed in charge of the investigation by President Ortiz, ordered Mllers release. In his summary of the case Dr. Victor J. Paolucci Cornejo stated that the evidence seized in the raids of German bars, clubs and associations was insufficient to prove the charges leveled. Not only was Jrgess

testimony contradictory, but given that the document in question was a photocopy and not the original, no proof existed that a crime had been committed according to Argentine law. On 20 June the Federal Appeals Court upheld Dr. Jantuss findings and acquitted Mller of any wrongdoing. The court also recommended that Jrges be charged with perjury and harming relations between Argentina and a foreign government.199 If the German community and government felt that Mllers release was a cause for celebration then their enthusiasm was misplaced. Dr. Paolucci Cornejos decision found that while Mller was not guilty of any wrongdoing, Mller had admitted that the leadership of the Argentine Landesgruppe was not elected locally, but appointed by the AO in Germany. Also, the rules which governed the AO originated in Germany, along with directives that discriminated against Argentine citizens and denied them membership. In promulgating such directives, the Nazi Party had shown contempt for Argentine culture, intelligence and respectability. Nazi Party rules which proscribed racially mixed marriages were deemed insulting and illegal. Cornejo also found that the NSDAP had monitored teachers in German-language schools in Argentina to make sure

198 199

Quoted in Newton, The Nazi Menace, p. 202. Ibid, pp. 202-203.

97 their curriculum was in line with National Socialist doctrine. He also alleged that the Nazi Party had pressured children with dual German/Argentine citizenship to return to Germany to perform military or labor service. He charged that Germany undermined the concept of jus soli by pressuring German parents to register their childrens births at the German embassy in order to assure they received German citizenship and that the Germans held the contrary principle of jus sanguinis.200 In Cornejos judgment the NSDAP and AO were undermining a fundamental principle of Argentine citizenship. Cornejo also accused the Nazi Party and its organizations of being criminal organizations that used threats and intimidation to ensure compliance. For example, he dismissed the DAFs claim to represent German workers, arguing that the workers were covered under Argentine law. He noted that while Jews and non-Germans were forced to pay dues to the DAF they were denied membership and that threats to relatives in Germany were used to keep people quiet. In short, the NSDAP was not trying to assimilate Germans into Argentine society. Instead, they constructed their own

community within Argentina with its own laws, rules and regulations. Cornejo charged that this was contrary to the Constitution of 1853 which encouraged European immigration with the expectation that immigrants would assimilate into Argentina.201 On 15 May President Ortiz received Paolucci Cornejos report and responded with a sweeping decree similar to Brazilian President Getlio Vargas. Ortiz ordered that henceforth all immigrant associations had to register with the police or face dissolution. They were not to use any flags or symbols of foreign origin and their rules and statues
Jus Soli held that a persons citizenship was determined by their place of birth. Jus Sanguinis holds that citizenship can be extended to an individual with an ancestor who is a citizen of that state. 201 Newton, The Nazi Menace pp. 203-204.
200

98 had to be published in Spanish. They further had to demonstrate that they had organized because of the will of the local community and that their leaders were residents who were democratically elected. The decree also stated that immigrant associations could not publicly proclaim any stance regarding politics in another country or use threats or rewards to gain members. Furthermore all immigrant associations had to be self-

supporting apart from a nominal amount approved by the authorities for charitable purposes. While the Argentine government denied the decree was directed at Germans specifically, the Argentine Foreign Ministry privately told the British ambassador, Esmund Ovey, that it was aimed directly at the NSDAP.202 The reaction within the German community was muted with no sense of the outrage following Mllers arrest and the outbreak of the Patagonia affair. community to accept the Argentine decree. 203 On 25 June 1939 Hitler held an audience with Ambassador Labougle to discuss recent events in Argentina. Hitler was at his most charming and gracious during the forty-five minute meeting on which he rambled from topic to topic. He told Labougle that Germany had not forgotten Argentinas neutrality and friendship during the First World War. Knowing that war was going to break out soon, he cryptically stated that he hoped Argentina would stay neutral and that neutrality could be the basis of a closer relationship. Labougle assured Hitler that despite attempts to bring Argentina into the First World War on the side of Germanys opponents, Argentina had protected German interests including refusing to hand over to the Allies almost 100,000 tons of German
202

Meynen urged leaders in the German

Newton, The Nazi Menace, pp. 204-205 and Charles Dodd to Foreign Office, 22 May 1939, TNA, FO 371/22714. 203 Telegramm, 10 July 1939, TNA, GFM 33810.

99 shipping interned in Argentina. He also mentioned the unsuccessful attempt of the U.S. to bind Argentina closer to the U.S. during the recent Eighth Pan-American Conference. Labougle noted Argentinas rejection of a U.S. sponsored statement that attempted to unite the countries of the American hemisphere against any perceived threat from Europe. He reassured Hitler that Argentina wanted to keep its foreign policy

independent. Labougle then addressed the world situation observing that it seemed to have calmed down, but he noted that concerns lingered. Hitler then proceeded to dominate the conversation pontificating on the current world situation. Hitler told Labougle that the Polish situation would have to be taken care of. However, if difficulties should arise then he expected that the Netherlands, Belgium, Yugoslavia and other countries to remain neutral. This was desirable since they could aid Germany through equal and favorable trade, which did not have anything to do with politics. Hitler then entered into a long diatribe against the U.S. perhaps sensing that he could play on Argentinas antiAmericanism and gain sympathy with Labougle. He railed against the commercial policies of the U.S. which Hitler felt the U.S. was trying to force on Germany (and perhaps Argentina as well?). Germany naturally rejected this. Hitler told Labougle that the U.S. was the worst-governed country in the world. All one had to do was look at the unemployment, in contrast to Germany where Hitler had brought full employment. Hitler accused Roosevelt of wanting war at the instigation of the Jews, who controlled industry and the press. He dismissed as ridiculous the claims of the American Jewish press that he wanted to conquer Canada or occupy

100 Patagonia. In Spain, the Luftwaffe faced pilots from England, America, France and Soviet Union and had still maintained air superiority. He regarded England as a paper tiger with its little fleet and meager air force. While he could see no reason for a conflict with England, Germany would continue to demand the return of her former colonies seized during the First World War. He concluded by telling Labougle that he naturally wanted peace since he had drawn up plans for the rebuilding of Berlin. In 10 years Hitler related Berlin would be a beautiful city and that such construction could only take place in peacetime. However he noted that peace depended on the German people getting what they were entitled to.204 What Labougle thought of this conversation is not known. There was also a surprising lack of candor on Hitlers part as well as a refusal to address outstanding issues between Germany and Argentina. Instead, Hitler dominated the conversation. He told Labougle that Argentinas friendship with Germany was

dependent upon Argentina continuing its policy of neutrality and disinterest in European politics. Were Hitlers remarks an expression of his desires or were they Given his lack of

recommendations given to Hitler by his diplomatic advisors?

knowledge concerning Latin America, Hitler probably saw the merits of a benevolently neutral Argentina and agreed with the Wilhelmstrasse that pushing for neutrality was the best course of action. Indeed, Germanys policy following the outbreak of the war would be to promote Argentine friendship and neutrality. Prior to Hitlers meeting with Labougle, a meeting of Thermann and the other ambassadors in Latin America was held in Berlin on 12 June to discuss the events of the
Nachtrglicihe kurze Inhaltsangabe ber die Unterredung des Fhrers mit dem Argentinischer Botschafter Labougle bei dessen Verabscheidung im Fhrerban in Mnchen am 25 Juni 1939, 13 bis 13,45 Uhr, 25 June 1939, TNA, GFM 3337.
204

101 past year. Unlike Hitlers meeting with Labougle this one dealt with substantive issues. While Thermann lambasted the Argentine press for their anti-German sentiments, he argued that it was the AO which bore most of the blame for this unfortunate series of events. Thermann recognized that the competing interests of the AO, NSDAP and AA along with no clear delineation of responsibility exacerbated the situation. He suggested that Germany adopt the Italian model where the senior diplomat in each country held overall responsibility for the groups and associations in that country. To the AOs consternation he recommended that responsibility for ethnic Germans be given over to the Volksdeutsche Mittelstelle headed by his old friend Werner Lorenz.205 Despite the AOs unease at Thermanns suggestions agreements were reached. First, the Landesgruppe in Argentina would be dissolved and replaced with a new organization called the Federacin de Crculos Argentinos de Benificencia y Cultura Alemanas (Argentine Federation for German Culture and Charity). While this seemed to be a major concession on the part of the AO, the reality was that Ortizs decree had made this inevitable. If the AO was to survive in Argentina, it had to go along.

Additionally, the AO was to engage in cultural and charity work only and not engage in political activity. The issue of military and labor service in Germany by German citizens residing in Argentina would be handled in the embassy through the creation of a new office called the German Racial Community Administrative Section. The NSDAP was forbidden from interfering in matters handled by this office, but the head of this section

First Meeting of the Latin American Conference in the Foreign Ministry, Berlin, 12 June 1939, Doc. 509, DGFP, D, v. 6, pp. 700-707.

205

102 would inform the NSDAPs liaison orally of any developments within the German community.206 In August, Ribbentrops staff held a meeting delineating the ambassadors authority in their respective countries, with the AO pointedly excluded. From this point on the AA was to take the lead in any and all official foreign policy matters. In regard to issues such as the press, propaganda and economic matters, the chief of mission would take charge. In countries such as Brazil, where the NSDAP was already banned, the ambassadors and the head of the NSDAP for that country were to consult on how best to continue their activities without prejudicing the foreign policy objectives of the AA. It is interesting that Ribbentrop and the AA were willing to incur the wrath of Vargas, especially in a country deemed so important to Germany. Ribbentrop was also unwilling to clarify any other outstanding issues between the NSDAP and AA given that his attention in late August was directed at concluding the impending non-aggression pact with the Soviet Union.207 The AO however was not going to surrender its prerogatives so easily to the AA. Bohle now made Mllers appointment as head of the Landesgruppe official. Thermann was forced to deal with his nemesis from the preceding years except now Mller had the backing of Bohle. Bohle instructed Mller that German schools in Argentina were to be kept open and he was to block any attempt by Argentine authorities to close them.208 This was not as difficult as it sounded, even given Ortizs decree. In July, Dr. Pedro Ledesma, head of the Consejo Nacional de Educacin (National Education Council), told
206 207

Telegramm Nr. 168, 21 June 1939, TNA, GFM 33810. Memorandum 17 August 1939, DGFP, Doc. 103, D, v. 7, pp. 111-112. 208 Newton, The Nazi Menace, p. 214.

103 a visiting German delegation that he had no intention of closing any German schools. He told the delegation that the inspectors were ordered to interpret the decree liberally and he said that portraits of Hitler could remain in the schools administrative offices.209 Whether Bohle knew this or not is unclear. The end result was that Bohle frustrated any attempt to bring organization to a chaotic situation. On 27 June, following Mllers release, Meynen submitted his report on the Patagonia Affair. He partially blamed the general tension in world politics, which

Germanys enemies used to their advantage. Brazilian President Getlio Vargass decree of the previous year banning the NSDAP in Brazil added to the tension and gave the impression that ethnic Germans were subverting their host countries. Adding to this was a resolution from the Lima Conference of 1938 directed against foreigners in South American countries. The events in Brazil confirmed President Ortizs suspicions when Jrges presented him with the forged document. Meynen argued that President Ortiz had never been pro-German and that the disclosure of the document had allowed him to pacify radical anti-German elements in the government. The disclosure of the document allowed Ortiz to overcome any potential resistance from the army or police since Meynen claimed Ortiz was not very popular with these organizations. Ordering an investigation also bolstered his popularity among the general citizenry since the events of the previous year had tarnished Germanys image in Argentina. While the general world situation and internal politics certainly played a role in how the affair came about, Meynen noted the presence of foreign influences as well. To him it was obvious that Ortiz was under pressure from outside influences to clamp down
209

Telgramm, Nr. 237 12 July 1939, BNA, GFM 33810.

104 on the NSDAP in Argentina. Meynen blamed Jewish capitalist interests from North America and England. Meynen rationalized that suppressing the NSDAP would bolster the Jewish position in South America at the expense of Germanys. Meynen saw the British Secret Intelligence Service as the instrument of the Jewish capitalist interests. From his point of view, the British were primarily responsible for this affair. Jrges was simply a tool of the British and anti-German opposition. Meynen felt that Ortizs

secretary Dr. Luis Alberto Barberis had too much influence over Ortiz. Since Barberis admitted to having Jewish friends, the conclusion was obvious. However, not everyone in the government was anti-German. Meynen noted that from the beginning of the affair Foreign Minister Cantilo was quite uncomfortable with it. Indeed, Cantilo and Undersecretary of State Dr. Gache did everything possible to bring about a speedy conclusion to the affair lest it adversely affect German-Argentine relations. Also, the Ministers of Public Works, Finance and Agriculture expressed their disapproval of Ortizs attitude and felt he had let himself be pulled into the affair. Considering the extensive propaganda employed by the North Americans, English and French against Germany, Meynen was pleased with the outcome. While Ortizs decree of 15 May was a blow, the fact that the NSDAP remained in Argentina, albeit under another name, was to be considered a victory. It was particularly satisfying that Mller was exonerated with no taint on his honor, as well as the news that Jrges would stand trial for his misdeeds. However, Meynen cautioned that Jrgess conviction was not a foregone conclusion since he was still protected by powerful and influential friends. Meynen especially commended the German communitys handling of the affair. He

105 stated that the German business community recognized from the start that the affair was designed to damage Germanys economic interests in Argentina and that the German business community supported the embassy. The German business community also helped retain Dr. Justo Bergad Mjica, a prominent attorney as Mllers counsel. The business communitys unequivocal support of Mller was instrumental in counteracting foreign influences. While the anti-German attitude of the press was noted, Meynen argued that serious newspapers such as La Prensa and Nacon had taken a reserved attitude, with the result that the anti-German press became more muted. Overall Meynen concluded that the affair had been one hundred percent favorable for us. Despite their opponents painful setback, Germanys enemies were awaiting their next opportunity to deal another blow. Falsified documents might again be employed to discredit German interests in the region. For that reason, Germany should be on guard in case it had to deal with another crisis, perhaps in a different form.210 However, Mllers release was not the end of the affair. It would drag on towards the end of the year, playing out in surreal fashion. Before and after the affair Jrges wrote letters to officials in Germany as well as to Thermann. In one letter Jrges claimed credit for initiating the Patagonia Affair and that his actions caused the members of the NSDAP in Argentina to be muzzled and handcuffed. He hinted at a clue to his real motives when he stated that, After the petty intrigues that have been going on here for so many years I felt obligated to show these

Politischer Bericht: Patagonienangelegenheit, Abschluss Prozess Mller, Rckblick, Auswirkungen, 27 June 1939, TNA, GFM 33810.

210

106 opportunisticparty comrades what an old-guard Nazi can do.211 Given Thermann and Meynens experiences with the AO and Nazi Party in Argentina, it would not be surprising if Jrges became caught up in a petty rivalry inside these organizations and came out on the losing end. On 8 October following his arrest and awaiting trial on perjury charges, Jrges sent a threatening letter to Ambassador Thermann. He reminded Thermann of his August 1938 letter and again offered to stop his anti-Nazi agitation if the Party would leave him alone and make right the wrongs it had inflicted on him since 1933. He reminded Thermann of the consequences of ignoring him [the Patagonia Affair]. If Thermann and the Party did not reply he menacingly noted that, it will be my pleasure to ensurethat Argentina becomes the first South American country to break diplomatic relations with Germany. He further threatened that if this occurred Argentina would, place functionaries and party members behind barbed wire, suppress party publications and halt the activities of German businesses. Thermann was given until 14 October to reply. Instead Thermann handed the letter to Foreign Minister Cantilo and an investigation begun into possible extortion on Jrgess part.212 Jrges was undeterred. In November he offered to sell the Germans the originals of the Patagonia document, as soon as the British permitted him to do so. The Auswrtiges Amt was interested since it believed the British were behind the plot, per Meynens report of 27 June.213 It is unknown whether or

211

Quoted in Arnold Ebel, Das Dritte Reich und Argentinien: die diplomatischen Beziehungen unter besonderer Bercksichtigung der Handelspolitik, 1933-1939 (Kln: Bhlau, 1971), p. 416 and Newton, The Nazi Menace, p. 206. 212 Newton, The Nazi Menace, p. 206. 213 Newton, The Nazi Menace, p. 206.

107 not Jrges sold the document to the Germans, but it does raise interesting questions of who was responsible for the Patagonia Affair. There is also some controversy about the authenticity of this document. Gerhard Weinberg asserts that the document is authentic. He bases the argument for authenticity on the fact that it was published in the Documents on German Foreign Policy. He also uses Alton Fryes study Nazi Germany and the American Hemisphere, 1933-1941 to bolster his case. However, Frye hedges his judgment using the qualifier alleged in describing the Patagonia Affair.214 Reiner Pommerin and Ronald Newton categorically claim the document is a forgery.215 The present evidence suggests that the document was a forgery. Nowhere in the Auswrtiges Amts internal correspondence or the documents of other nations is there evidence that the document originated within the German embassy in Buenos Aires. Indeed, from the beginning of the affair Weizscker and Woermann agreed that the document was false. If it were authentic then a mention of it would appear somewhere in the files so that a reasonable response could be crafted. While it is possible that the embassy did draft the document at the request of Epp, such an explanation is also unlikely. Any competent diplomat, and there is no evidence to suggest that Schubert was incompetent, would have recognized the potential explosiveness if the document became public. Around the time the document became public Germany was concluding a lucrative agreement with Argentina where Germany
214

Frye, Nazi Germany and the American Hemisphere, 1933-1941 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1967), pp. 122-23. 215 See Gerhard Weinberg, A World at Arms: A Global History of World War II, 2nd edition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), for the document see The Landesgruppenleiter in Argentina to the Colonial Policy Office of the Reichsleitung of the NSDAP, Doc. 137, C, v. 6, pp. 279-281. For Pommerin and Newton see: Reiner Pommerin, Das Dritte Reich und Lateinamerika, 1939-1942 (Dsseldorf: Droste, 1977) pp. 65-67, and Newton, The Nazi Menace, chapter 12.

108 would supply railway equipment including freight cars and locomotives in exchange for Argentine wheat and wool. It is reasonable to assume that this deal was not secret and the derailing of such a deal would have had negative consequences for the guilty party.216 Alternately, the document could have been a theoretical think piece to justify the existence of the Colonial Policy Office. Again, such an explanation is unlikely since negatively affecting relations between Germany and Argentina would have been a high stakes gamble. If this had been the case the Colonial Policy Office probably would have explained that it was simply a theoretical document, not a suggestion for future policy. Such an explanation would have made the AA aware of the intent of the document and help defuse the situation. Given that Hitler ultimately became involved any hint of a cover-up would have damaged the Colonial Policy Offices standing with Hitler. Additionally, the AA would have demanded that someone be punished given the severity of the crisis. None of this is even suggested in the internal correspondence between the German embassy in Buenos Aires and the AA. All parties involved agree that the document was a forgery, and the records of four different countries would seem to bear out this conclusion. Jrgess responsibility remains murky. The evidence suggests that he was acting alone and was not in the employ of British intelligence. Apart from hints including Meynens assertion that the fingerprints of the British intelligence service acting at the behest of Jewish capitalist interests was the culprit and Jrgess letter stating that he could sell the Germans the Patagonia document as soon as the British permitted him to

The deal was cancelled in October 1939 when Germany concluded that they could not spare the railway equipment. See Newton, The Nazi Menace, p. 199.

216

109 do so, there is no direct evidence linking British intelligence to Jrges. Jrges was a convicted forger and a proven liar, notwithstanding the fact he held a position as Goebbels secretary. That fact proves nothing except that the Nazis had no qualms about employing criminals as long as they were useful.217 It is also highly doubtful whether British intelligence would have undertaken such a risky operation without informing the Foreign Office.218 The risk of exposure was too high and even the British themselves believed the documents were false. In its own investigation the British embassy concluded that, there is no public gossip about any organized attempt at penetration in the Southern territory such as would throw light on the authenticity of the document.219 Soon after the affair became public the British embassy in Washington, D.C. met with Lawrence Duggan, head of the American Republics section in the State Department to discuss the Patagonia affair. The report stated that Duggan implied the document was false, but useful since it undermined Germanys position.220 Charles Dodd, Charg dAffaires in the British embassy in Buenos Aires, stated to Lord Halifax that I think that whatever Jrges motive, the partisans of democracy owe him some gratitude.221 This suggests that the British were as much in the dark concerning the affair as everyone else. Newtons elaborate theory concerning the provenance of the documents is well-researched and meticulously documented, but it seems wrong. Newton gives too much credit to the British Secret
217

The list of convicted criminals who held high positions in the Nazi regime is long and extensive including Hitler and Hess. 218 Personal email correspondence between the author and Professor John R. Ferris, University of Calgary, 25 July 2007. 219 Esmund Ovey to Halifax, 28 April 1939, TNA, FO 371/22756. 220 Mallet to Balfour, 29 April 1939, TNA, FO 371/22756. 221 Dodd to Halifax, 4 July 1939, TNA, FO 371/22757.

110 Service. Their primary focus was imperial, especially the Middle East and Asia. Simply put, they were not as good as the Germans or their contemporaries believed. However, the affair does illustrate how German diplomacy operated in crisis mode. Meynen and Thermanns reports are, for the most part, examples of clear and cogent analysis. They recognized that while the document was false, Germanys prior actions in Argentina and Brazil made it highly unlikely that Berlin would be given the benefit of the doubt. They were aided in the fact that Jrges was a convicted criminal and proven liar. Jrges inability to keep his story straight undoubtedly bolstered Germanys case that the document was forged and the alleged Patagonia Affair a sham. Weizsckers actions are interesting. The record shows him pulling out all the stops in order to convince the Argentines that the document was false. The threat of retaliation he made to Ambassador Labougle is revealing in that Weizscker is usually portrayed as the consummate professional diplomat calm, cool and collected.222 It could be that Weizscker was genuinely upset or under enormous pressure given the tense international situation. However, the next day he instructed Meynen to pass along his threat to the Argentine Foreign Minister. Thermanns report is interesting in that it shows how little the Auswrtiges Amt knew about Argentina. Thermanns references concerning Argentine preferences on immigration seem to suggest that he was co-opted by Nazi ideology. Why else point out that Argentina preferred immigrants of Germanic background? Most telling is his

comment regarding Marxist-Jewish influences within the Argentine parliament. If


See especially Gerhard L. Weinberg, The Foreign Policy of Hitlers Germany: Starting World War II 1937-1939 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980) and Michael Bloch, Ribbentrop (London: Abacus Books, 1993).
222

111 Thermann did not believe in Marxist-Jewish influences then he could have left it out or used a different description. However he chose to use Marxist-Jewish. It would seem that Thermann himself believed Hitlers theories regarding a Jewish conspiracy. Suggesting that the AO and NSDAP were responsible for the situation in Argentina also shows how deep the antipathy was between the embassy in Buenos Aires, the AO and NSDAP in Argentina. His policy of cautious acceptance of Argentine restrictions shows that he was a realist and understood the situation in Argentina. His suggestion that the situation could be alleviated by appropriate negotiations argues that the Auswrtiges Amt should take the lead in these negotiations with the AO and NSDAP subordinated to the embassy. Just as revealing is Meynens blaming of Jewish capitalist interests for the Patagonia Affair. Meynens racist characterizations argue that even outside of Nazi Germany, the Foreign Office was becoming coordinated with Hitlers regime. Taking his earlier 1936 comments and combining them with others gives lie to Thermanns characterization of Meynen as a Nazi out of necessity.223 Instead Meynen was willing to believe Nazi propaganda regarding a non-existent Jewish threat and put that in messages to his superiors. This suggests that the level of indoctrination even among career diplomats was deeper and took place earlier than previously believed. It would seem that Thermanns comments about Meynen were simply a cover and that he was protecting someone who he respected and admired. Whatever the case, Meynens image is tarnished by the archival record. The outbreak of the war in September 1939 would
Interrogation of Edmund von Thermann, 27 September, 8, 10, 16, 20, 23, 24 October, 2, 6, November 1945, RG 59, State Department Special Interrogation Mission, ABB, Miscellaneous Affidavits and Interrogation Reports, Box 26, Entry 1088, p. 11 and Newton, The Nazi Menace, p. 200.
223

112 put Meynen and Thermann to the test since they would have to deal with new organizations that were important to the war effort, the Abwehr and SD. The Auswrtiges Amts battles with the AO would pale in comparison to the one it would wage against Himmlers SS for control of foreign policy.

113

Chapter 3 Ad-hoc Diplomacy, 1939-1942


The outbreak of the Second World War placed Argentina in a tenuous position vis--vis Europe. Despite his pro-Allied sympathies President Ortiz followed his

countrys previous policy of neutrality during the First World War. President Hipolito Yrigoyen, Argentinas president during the First World War, declared the country neutral in 1914. Argentinas declaration of neutrality fit in well with German foreign policy since Germany needed Argentine products. Argentine business interests also supported neutrality in anticipation of the same windfall it had received twenty years earlier.224 While Argentina had no problem selling its goods to both sides, it was always mindful of its position. Germany was supportive since it believed that Argentina could influence the policies of other Latin American nations.225 However, Thermann was cautious. He told the AA that the anti-British attitude of the Argentine military and others should not be estimated too highly to our advantage, for it appears to be much more an expression of selfish national interests than a sign of solidarity with Germany.226 This chapter examines German diplomacy in Argentina from 1939-1942. German diplomacy in Argentina from 1939-1942 lurched from crisis to crisis. The lack of any

Ronald C. Newton, The Nazi Menace in Argentina, 1933-1947 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1992), pp. 222-223. 225 Memorandum by Reinhold Freytag, 7 September 1939, Doc. 86, Documents on German Foreign Policy (hereafter DGFP), series D. (1937-1945), volume 8, (Washington D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1949-83), p. 97 and The Embassy in Argentina to the Foreign Ministry, 28 September 1939, Doc. 150, Ibid, p. 250. 226 Politische Bericht, 10 December 1939, Politische Abteilung IX: Politische Beziehungen Argentiniens zu Deutschland, Band 2, National Archives and Records Administration (hereafter NARA), Record Group 242/Serial T-120/Roll 1322/Frames 512023-26. See also Elizabeth White, German Influence in the Argentine Army, 1900-1945 (London: Taylor and Francis, 1991), p. 117.

224

114 geopolitical strategy hampered Germanys ability to conduct a meaningful foreign policy. Instead, German policy tended to be reactive, not proactive. Germany anticipated quick victories over France and Great Britain, as a result Germany focused on economic affairs in its relations with Latin America. While the U.S. and Britain pressured Argentina to side with them, the Germans supported Argentinas neutrality, promising generous trade deals once the war was over. There were also contacts between influential Argentine citizens and high-level German policy-makers regarding Argentinas place in Germanys new world order. However, German meddling in Argentine domestic politics

strengthened suspicions regarding German motives. Most of these problems were due to inept guidance from Berlin and a general sense that the war would be over quickly. Once Germany was victorious, it was believed in Berlin, any outstanding issues could be worked out. In September 1939 following Germanys invasion of Poland, Argentine Foreign Minister Jos Mara Cantilo called for inter-American consultations and agreed to a meeting to be held in Panama the following month. The most note-worthy resolution Argentina endorsed at the conference was the creation of a three hundred mile neutrality zone around the Americas.227 When the German embassy protested, Foreign Minister Cantilo told Ambassador Thermann, neutrality is not indifference; it does not mean nonparticipation. Germany knew it needed to tread lightly given previous mishaps. Because of President Ortizs pro-Allied bent Argentina continued to recognize the Polish

227

Joseph Tulchin, Argentina and the United States: A Conflicted Relationship (New York: Twayne Publishers, 1990), p. 66.

115 government much to Germanys consternation.228 Charg Meynen reported the existence of the foolish but accepted notion that expansionist ambition would make Germany a territorial and general threat to South America after the victorious conclusion of the war. There is a general failure to understand Germanys policy. He presciently noted that Overall sentiment is at present anti-German for ideological reasons and as a result of enemy propaganda, but Argentina will remain neutral as long as possible because of material considerations.229 Meynen prudently left out the appeal of the German ambassadors in South America from July 1938 that Germany clearly state its goals there.230 The evidence suggests that Germany failed to heed the call of its ambassadors and had to deal with the problems resulting from this omission. Thermann attempted to neutralize anti-German sentiment by proposing that Germany respect the neutrality zone and ban sabotage by German intelligence services.231 The Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (OKW or Military High Command) acceded to the AAs request, removing a possible threat to continued German-Argentine relations.232

The Ambassador in Argentina to the Foreign Ministry, 3 May 1940, Doc. 194, DGFP, D, 9, p 280. Politische Bericht: Deutsch-argentinische Beziehungen, 27 September 1939, Bro des Staatssekretrs: Argentinien Band 1, National Archives and Records Administration, Record Group 242/Serial T-120/Roll 25/Frame 26622. 230 See Aufzeichnung ber die Zusammenkunft der deutschen Missionchefs in Argentinien, Brasilien, Chile, und Uruguay in Montivideo am 28 und 29 Juli 1938, Bro des Chefs der AO, NARA RG 242/T120/218/168208-215 also Thermann to Auswartiges Amt, Enclosure: Memorandum of the Meeting in Montevideo of the Chiefs of Missions in Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Uruguay, July 28 and 29, 1938, 2 August 1938, Doc. 624, DGFP, D, 2, pp. 863-867. 231 The Foreign Ministry to the Foreign Department of the High Command of the Wehrmacht, 22 May 1940, Doc. 301, DGFP, D, IX, p. 414. 232 The High Command of the Wehrmacht to the Foreign Ministry, 18 June 1940, Doc. 483, DGFP, D, IX, p. 616.
229

228

116 President Ortiz attempted to pursue a pro-Allied strategy, but he had to tread carefully given the pro-Axis sympathies of the military.233 While a minority in the military admired German prowess, there was a general belief among Argentine officers that Britains defeat would be to Argentinas economic advantage. Great Britains defeat would force it to give up its business interests in Argentina. Pro-German extremists in the army sought to exploit anti-British sentiment and orient Argentina economically towards the Axis. In December 1939 the Battle of the River Plate was fought between the German pocket battleship Graf Spee and three British cruisers. Following the battle Foreign Minister Cantilo realized the uselessness of the exclusion zone since there was no means of enforcement. The U.S. Navy was focused on the Pacific and Great Britain was focused on Germany and its holdings in the Far East. On 19 April 1940 Cantilo proposed privately to U.S. Ambassador Norman Armour that the nations of the Americas abandon neutrality and embrace non-belligerency. However, non-belligerence was not recognized in international law. It was invented by Benito Mussolini in September 1939 to declare his support for Germany without formally entering the war.234 Cantilo saw the possibilities inherent in such a policy and argued it would give countries of the American hemisphere greater flexibility. When Cantilo publicly suggested non-belligerency on 12 May, Germany and the Argentine military reacted vigorously. For its part, the Argentine military pressured Ortiz to reconsider Cantilos proposal. Thermann reported to Berlin that Ortiz was strongly influenced by intelligence received shortly before from his

233

Tulchin, Argentina and the United States, p. 64 and The Ambassador in Argentina to the Foreign Ministry, 3 May 1940, Doc. 194, DGFP, D, 9, p 280. 234 Stanley G. Payne, Franco and Hitler: Spain, Germany and World War II (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008), p. 63.

117 special Army advisor that the Army was 90 percent pro-German and that the War and Navy ministers condemned Cantilos policy.235 On 14 May Weizscker asked the Argentine Ambassador in Berlin, Ricardo Olivera, to call on him to discuss the situation. Weizscker demanded to know why Argentina was abandoning its policy of strict neutrality, especially in light of its conduct in World War One, which had contributed to current German-Argentine friendship. Olivera stated that the issue was academic and not directed against Germany. Besides, the ambassador said, Italy had declared itself to be a non-belligerent.236 In Argentina, proGerman elements of the military interpreted Ortizs proposal differently. The military felt that Ortiz and Cantilo were trying to drag them into the war. In Buenos Aires rumors abounded of a coup against Ortiz involving the German embassy. However, there is no evidence to support this.237 On 18 May Ortiz, probably under pressure from the German government and the military, distanced himself from Cantilos proposal and stated that he had no intention of involving Argentina in the war.238 This neutralized Cantilos nonbelligerency proposal and the attempt was abandoned. Despite the lack of evidence regarding a coup, Meynen later reported that pro-German officers were being forced out by the pro-Allied War Minister.239

Thermann to Berlin, 15 May 1940, Bro des Staatssekretrs: Argentinien, Band 1, NARA, RG242/ T120/Roll 207/156202 and 156204. The U.S. embassy also reported the same thing. See Robert A. Potash, The Army and Politics in Argentina 1928-1945: Yrigoyen to Pern (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1969), p. 121. 236 Memorandum by the State Secretary, 14 May 1940, Doc. 247, DGFP, D, 9, pp. 344-345. 237 Interestingly Newton reports that the German embassy sounded out contacts in the Argentine military about the possibility of a coup, but provides no source for his suspicion. See Newton, The Nazi Menace p. 227. 238 Potash, The Army and Politics in Argentina, p. 120. 239 Meynen to Berlin, 8 June, 1940, Bro des Staatssekretrs: Argentinien, Band 1, RG242/T120/207/156240.

235

118 Whatever goodwill Germany had in the Ortiz government evaporated in the wake of the Uruguay affair. On 27 May the Argentine freighter Uruguay bound for Antwerp was stopped and sunk off the Spanish coast by a U-boat.240 Following the abortive attempt to declare non-belligerency the Argentine press denounced the sinking and demanded a break in relations. Similar incidents had occurred during the First World War when a U-boat sank the Argentine freighters Toro in June 1917 and Oriana in July 1918. A minor scandal further resulted when the cables of the German Minister Karl Graf von Luxburg were published in July 1918. In the cables Luxburg described Foreign Minister Honrio Pueyrredn as a notorious ass and an anglophile.241 Unlike its Wilhelmine counterpart, the Nazi Foreign Office was not willing to placate Argentina. Foreign Minister Ribbentrop ordered Thermann to deny German responsibility for the sinking with great emphasis.242 The bulk of Thermanns instructions consisted of condemning the Argentine presss attacks on Germany, intimating that they were the result of English and American wire-pullers. The only attempt by Ribbentrop to mollify Argentine sensibilities came when he promised to conduct a full investigation of the Uruguay sinking. However, the promise of an investigation was not enough to defuse the crisis. A meeting on 10 June 1940 between Weizscker and Olivera failed to resolve the issue. Olivera referred to the incidents in the First World War and the favorable outcome for German-Argentine relations. He regretted that the present German government was unwilling to take similar action to resolve the issue. Though Weizscker expressed
240 241

Newton, The Nazi Menace p. 227. Tulchin, Argentina and the United States, p. 37. 242 The Foreign Minster to the State Secretary, 1 June 1940, Doc. 365, DGFP, D, 9, p. 493.

119 familiarity with the events of 1917 and 1918 he refused to offer any concessions, and repeated the promise of a full investigation.243 Oddly, the following year Germany entered into negotiations concerning the chartering of German and Dutch ships by the Argentine government. In December 1941 Argentina even proposed buying three

German ships to make good losses suffered during the Battle of the Atlantic. However, the negotiations ultimately went nowhere.244 Why Germany did not mollify Argentina immediately following the sinking of the freighter is unknown. It would have defused a delicate situation. The threat of a break in relations was serious enough that Thermann considered closing the embassy and sending the diplomats back to Germany.245 It seems obvious that as a result of its victories over Norway, the Low Countries and France, Germany became more defensive regarding any criticism of its actions. Argentinas proposal to abandon strict neutrality along with suspicions that the German embassy had supported a coup attempt sowed the seeds of mistrust. The Uruguay incident only added to this. An objective analysis of the German submarine campaign by either the AA or Kriegsmarine could have foreseen the possibility that neutral ships could be accidentally sunk. There was precedent from the First World War. Any study by either the AA or Kriegsmarine could then have proposed guidelines for dealing with these situations. However, Germany was simply reacting to events. Its attitude towards Argentina was a reflection of the lack of any long-term

Memorandum by the State Secretary, 10 June 1940, Doc. 412, DGFP, D, 9, pp. 543-547. Memorandums 12 July 1941 and 19 December 1941, Handakten Clodius, NARA, RG 242/T120/178/86802 & 86960. 245 Newton, The Nazi Menace p. 228.
244

243

120 geopolitical strategy and short-sightedness on the part of senior military leaders and policy-makers. The diplomatic situation between Argentina and Germany soon went from bad to worse because of domestic politics within Argentina. On 17 June Ambassador Thermann reported that: Argentine Chamber of Deputies took up 14 June urgent motion for issuance of an order for immediate removal from Argentine Army of officers of belligerent powers. Motion affects only German military advisors; no other belligerent country officers present. War Minister took no position whatsoever against this; rather, Inspector General suggested that adoption of motion desired by Governmentmilitary mission activities terminated 15 June.246 Robert Potash argues that this was a reflection of the tumultuous state of relations between the Argentine military and civilian government.247 When looking at the larger picture the evidence suggests there were also foreign policy considerations. Given the events of the preceding month, German actions certainly played a major role in the termination of the German military mission. Thermann attempted to stabilize the situation and proposed a multi-step program to improve German-Argentine relations. He suggested that Italy enter the war and

Germany issue a public statement that it had no territorial ambitions in South America. He called for the NSDAP to tone down its activities and suggested that support for the embassy-financed newspapers Pampero and Razn, be increased. Economically,

Germany would benefit if Argentina believed it would profit from a German victory. Thermann argued that offering future economic incentives and increased trade would be

Thermann to Berlin, 17 June 1940, Bro des Staatssekretrs: Argentinien Band 1, NARA, RG 242/T120/207/156258. Also quoted in Potash, The Army and Politics in Argentina, p. 124 247 Potash, The Army and Politics in Argentina, pp. 123-124.

246

121 to Germanys advantage. To this end he proposed bribing influential Argentines.

Weizscker agreed and gave Thermann half a million pesos to win influential Argentines.248 This bribery was not without precedent. Germany did the same thing in the First World War. In 1918 the French discovered that a German-controlled bank, the Banco Alemn Transatlntico, had made loans to high Argentine officials, including the minister of foreign relations, Honrio Pueyrredn. As historian David Sheinin points out, it seemed [in 1918] that the Argentine government was in the pocket of German bankers.249 It could be argued that the bankers made these loans to protect Germanys economic position in Argentina. However, bribes could also have been employed to make sure Argentine lawmakers followed a pro-German line. recommendations were approved. Thermann was also authorized by Emil Wiehl, head of the Economic Policy Department in the AA, to enter into negotiations for the purchase and storage of Argentine commodities. Wiehl suggested paying subsidies to existing companies in Argentina since it would be cheaper than founding new ones. By the end of the year the program ran into difficulties when the embassy was unable to find enough cover companies to store the goods.250 Thermann probably knew his recommendations would be accepted since he had been laying the groundwork in the preceding weeks. On 22 June 1940 he reported that attention has been directed for weeks by me and members of
248

All of Thermanns

Thermann to Berlin, 8 June 1940, Handakten Clodius, NARA, RG 242/T-120/178/86301 and Weizscker to Buenos Aires, 14 June 1940, Ibid, Frame 86315. See also Newton, The Nazi Menace pp. 228-229. 249 David Sheinin, Argentina and the United States: An Alliance Contained (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2006), pp. 84-85. 250 Thermann was also authorized to purchase RM 2-3 million worth of goods for storage. See Memorandum by the Head of Political Division IX, 18 June 1940, Doc. 482, DGFP, D, 9, pp. 614-616.

122 the embassy to the great possibilities for trade with Germany after the war; in this connection it has been suggested that it would be advantageous for Argentina to approach us with proposals as soon as possible.251 The Argentines reacted enthusiastically to Thermanns proposals. Argentina was also reassessing the state of its military. In June 1940 the Ortiz government submitted a bill to the Chamber of Deputies requesting one billion pesos so the army could acquire modern weapons and build more military bases in Argentina. The previous month the government had sent two officers to New York to purchase military hardware from the U.S. As Elizabeth White points out, this along with Ortizs bill suggests that Argentina intended to cooperate with the U.S. regarding hemispheric defense. There are several reasons to doubt that contention. One reason was Germanys victories over France and the Low Countries, which made a strong impression in leading Argentine circles. As a result Argentina pulled back from its overtures to the U.S. Another was U.S. heavyhandedness in attempting to impose its own conception of hemispheric defense with little input from South America nations. This, along with U.S. plans to build air bases in Uruguay offended Argentine sensibilities. Argentina had traditionally viewed the La Plata region as within its own sphere of influence and U.S. plans only confirmed the worst about U.S. motives in the minds of leading government officials in Argentina. Moreover, the U.S. was only willing to sell outdated weaponry, not the modern equipment Argentina desired.252

251 252

The Ambassador in Argentina to the State Secretary, 22 June 1940, Doc. 534, DGFP, D, 9, p. 689. White, German Influence in the Argentine Army, p. 121.

123 While the U.S. tried to convince Argentina to throw its lot in with the Allies, Germany announced in May it would sell modern surplus war equipment in September or October 1940. This appealed to the Argentine military since it had long-standing ties with Germany and German arms manufacturers. Germany made any potential deal more attractive when it stated that it would sell the arms under a barter arrangement. When the Argentine military was faced with the choice of obsolete weapons with numerous conditions attached or practically unfettered access to modern weaponry, the choice was clear. In July, the Argentine government sent a special committee to tour German arms works.253 On 10 October in a meeting with Weizscker, Ambassador Olivera asked to discuss with Wiehl postwar economic relations between the two countries. During his meeting with Wiehl Olivera stated that with a German victory, Germany would take Britains economic place in Argentina. While Wiehl noted that Olivera was probably not speaking officially, his remarks were in line with Argentine overtures to Germany.254 On 11 October 1940 Germany also dispatched an engineer to Argentina to help build a powder factory for munitions.255 By the end of the year negotiations slowed to a crawl since Germany was preparing for the invasion of the Soviet Union and needed all of its weaponry. It continued to encourage Argentina in its quest for weapons, even though it failed to deliver.256 Argentinas desire for weapons and Germanys failure to deliver them were one facet of the ill-fated Hellmuth mission in 1943 discussed later in this study.
253 254

Ibid, p. 122. Olivera kept pushing this theme. The following year he told Wiehl that Germany should have the strongest possible political and economic interest in Argentina. See Memorandum of Conversation, 22 July 1941, Handakten Wiehl, NARA, RG 242/T-120/269/199267. 255 Memorandum of Weizscker, 10 October 1940, Handakten Wiehl, NARA, RG 242/T120/269/199335, and Wiehl Memorandum, 11 October 1940, Ibid, Frame 199337. 256 White, German Influence in the Argentine Army, p. 122.

124 Even with these trade negotiations Germany was haunted by past mistakes. In May 1940 Thermann reported that rumors of a so-called fifth column and German designs on territory in South America were rampant. He advised that an official

statement by a person of authority would help limit the damage these rumors were causing. At the Havana foreign ministers meeting in July 1940 the nations of Latin America pledged to suppress activities directed, assisted, or abetted by foreign governmentswhich tend to subvert the domestic institutions or to foment disorder in the internal political life of the Americas.257 On 21 June the Secretary General of the Foreign Ministry, Dr. L.S. Casteneiras, told Ambassador Thermann that Argentina was committed to the principle of freedom of action. Thermann was not convinced and intimated that any declarations could be nullified if Germany mollified Argentina.258 What the government of Argentina did was one thing. Argentine public perception was another. In November Thermann and the other German ambassadors in Latin America again called for an official statement from an authoritative German source denying any German interest in territorial conquests in South America. The lack of such a statement was causing nervousness and gave anti-Nazi elements in the press fodder for their propaganda. The ambassadors stressed that Brazil and Argentina were especially

important since they exercised influence over the smaller nations of Latin America.259 Despite these problems Germany soon gained a valuable ally. President Ortiz had been ill with diabetes since the 1930s. By July 1940 his condition had deteriorated to the
Elery C. Stowell, The Havana Conference and Inter-American Cooperation, The American Journal of International Law, 16/1 (January 1941), p 127 and Rout and Bratzel, The Shadow War, pp. 30-31. 258 The Ambassador in Argentina to the Foreign Ministry, 21 June 1940, Doc. 519, DGFP, D, IX, p. 660. 259 The Ambassador in Argentina to the Foreign Ministry, 18 May 1940, Doc. 269, DGFP, D, 9, p. 371; Thermann to AA, 30 November 1940, Handakten Clodius, NARA, RG 242/T-120/178/86484.
257

125 point where he named Vice-President Ramn Castillo as Acting President. Castillo shared none of Ortizs antipathy to Nazi Germany and was a staunch conservative.260 Thermann reported that Castillo intended to replace current ministers with ones more receptive to his policies. Most prominently mentioned was Thermanns old companion, Juan Bautista Molina, who was pro-Nazi. Given the tumultuous state of Argentine politics Thermann was hesitant to make definite predictions.261 Unlike Ortiz, Castillo and his government were benignly indifferent to German activities in their country. As historian Ronald Newton points out, undoubtedly the half million pesos helped.262 Despite the Ortiz governments ambivalence over German activities there was an air of insecurity surrounding German relations with Argentina. Attacks on Germany in the Argentine press continued and Thermann believed relations were deteriorating. In a March 1940 meeting with Castillo he pointed out that any further impairment of relations would harm Argentina economically. Thermann intimated that future great economic opportunities awaited Argentina when Germany was victorious. Only by improving treatment of Germans and limiting attacks on Germany and Hitler in the press could conditions improve. In an earlier meeting Minister of Justice Guillermo Rothe

sympathized with Thermanns concerns about the anti-Nazi stories in the Argentine press. Rothe related to Thermann that he planned to propose a law to curb such abuses. Castillo supported Rothes proposed law. While Thermann expressed his approval of
260 261

Potash, The Army and Politics in Argentina, pp. 128. Thermann to Berlin, 20 July 1940, Bro des Staatssekretrs: Argentinien Band 1, NARA, RG 242/T120/207/156283. War Minister General Carlos Marquez was ultimately replaced by General Juan Tonazzi and the new Navy Minister was Admiral Mario Fincati, who later offered assistance to the SD in return for its help in setting up an Argentine intelligence service. See Sargo (Becker) to Berlin, 12 May 1943, NARA, RG 226, Records of the OSS, OSS Communications Office Records, Ultra Decrypts. 262 Newton, The Nazi Menace p. 229.

126 such measures, he also protested the fact that Heinrich Jrges, the instigator of the Patagonia Plot, had not been brought to justice. Castillo stated that the Interior Ministry would begin proceedings against Jrges and that he supported this. Thermann felt

satisfied by his interview with Castillo and hoped relations would improve as a result.263 Ribbentrop was not satisfied and sent instructions to Thermann to try and influence Argentine policy more effectively. Perhaps the half million pesos sent the previous year to win influential Argentines needed to be augmented with more money. Thermann was to found a society and attract important Argentine politicians, parliamentarians, and businessmen as members. Ostensibly, the society would be

concerned with imports and exports of German-Argentine goods on the broadest possible basis. Thermann replied that such an undertaking would require 380,000 pesos (approximately $130,000.00) and requested authorization to expend the funds.264 Whether the money was transferred to Thermann is unknown. Given the amount of money involved and the fact that no archival record of any such society has been found, it is logical to assume that the money was to be used to bribe influential Argentines and orient them towards Germany. When viewed against the pervasive corruption in the Third Reich as well as Hitlers bribery of his generals, it should not be surprising that

The Ambassador in Argentina to the Foreign Ministry 6 March 1941, Doc. 128, DGFP, D, 12, pp. 228-229. 264 The Ambassador in Argentina to the Foreign Ministry, 9 April 1941, Doc. 298, DGFP, D, 12, p. 496. The telegram notes that it is for Ribbentrop personally, this suggests that more than the founding of a society was involved. In his postwar interrogation Thermann stated that Ribbentrop had ordered him to found a society. However, his 9 April message shows him asking, not vice versa. His explanation regarding the society leaves much to be desired, especially since he could provide no documentary evidence to support his assertions. See Interrogation of Dr. Edmund Freiherr von Thermann, 27 September, 8, 10, 16, 20, 23, 24 October, 2, 6, November 1945, NARA, RG 59, Argentine Blue Book, Miscellaneous Affidavits and Interrogations, Entry 1088, Box 26, p. 5.

263

127 Germany would attempt the same thing in other countries.265 Whatever Castillos attitude toward Germany was, it was not shared by his political opponents in the Argentine Chamber of Deputies. The Argentine Chamber of Deputies look on with dismay as the Castillo government drew closer to Nazi Germany. On 19 June 1941 the chamber authorized the founding of an Investigatory Commission on Anti-Argentine Activities under the leadership of Deputy Ral Damonte Taborda. The commission was largely composed of Castillos political opponents and used information supplied by the U.S. and British.266 There has been some controversy surrounding Tabordas committee and its reports. Historians Ronald Newton, Leslie Rout and John Bratzel have cast some doubts on the veracity of the committees reports. Rout and Bratzel state that the evidence produced by the committee was stretched to fit preconceived notions, but served as a powerful propaganda tool to use against Nazi Germany.267 Newton is more critical, implying that the committee was a tool of the British and Americans insofar as they supplied Taborda with information he used against Thermann and others.268 While Newton rightfully sees the committee as a tool of Castillos political opponents, his skepticism of its findings is problematic. Thermann was involved in many activities which the committee did not uncover. His smuggling of diamonds and other valuable minerals were hardly

265

Regarding Hitlers bribery of his generals see especially, Norman J.W. Goda, Black Marks: Hitler's Bribery of His Senior Officers during World War II, The Journal of Modern History, Vol. 72, No. 2, (June 2000), pp. 413-452. 266 Memorandum, 15 September 1941, Bureau of Inter-American Affairs Memorandums, NARA, RG 59, Box 17 and TNA, Kew, FO 371/25712. 267 Rout and Bratzel, The Shadow War, p. 323. 268 Newton, The Nazi Menace, p. 235.

128 compatible with his diplomatic status along with the assistance of the embassy in aiding members of the Graf Spee in their escape from South America. Thermann was also cognizant of the activities of German intelligence agencies in Argentina. It stretches the imagination that Thermann knew of smuggling efforts, but did not know of intelligence-gathering efforts. Following SD intrigues in Romania

Ribbentrop issued an order on 19 June 1941 stating that all ambassadors should know about and approve any intelligence activities in their areas of responsibility.269 The order was the result of SD support for Horia Sima and the Iron Guard trying to overthrow Marshall Ion Antonescu of Romania in January 1941. The SS supported the coup attempt after Antonescu expressed his displeasure at the economic disruption caused by the Iron Guards pogroms against Romanian Jews. When Antonescu attempted to rein in the Iron Guard, it revolted. The SD and SS initially supported the Iron Guard, but backed away when Hitler placed German troops at Antonescus disposal. However, the SS helped Horia Sima and others to escape to Germany. Such a revolt was not in keeping with Hitlers or Ribbentrops foreign policy goals. They needed Antonescus support for the upcoming invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941. Himmler was suitably

chastened by the lack of support from Hitler and ordered his SD men in Romania to spirit away Horia Sima and others who were behind the coup. The end result was an order from Ribbentrop issued on 19 June 1941. The order stated that ambassadors were to be made aware of any and all (emphasis mine) intelligence operations in their area of responsibility. It also forbade any employee of the AA to act as an agent for the SD

Ribbentrop Order, 19 June 1941, Bro des Staatssekretrs: Argentinien Band 2, NARA RG 242/T120/366/291266.

269

129 without the knowledge and permission of Ribbentrop. For its part, the SD ignored the order when it could.270 Thermann was also aware that the SD, in the person of Johannes Siegfried Becker, had initiated intelligence operations in Latin America.271 Thermanns bribery of prominent Argentine officials could hardly be defined as within diplomatic prerogatives. The files of the German Foreign Ministry provide abundant evidence that German embassies throughout South America were centers for numerous activities that violated the neutrality of their host countries. Given the voluminous documentation detailing Germanys disregard for Argentine neutrality, Newtons criticisms of the commission are in many ways irrelevant. While account should be taken of the domestic implications of the committee along with the sources of information it used to reach its conclusions, they are not reason enough to disregard its conclusions. President Castillo attempted to thwart the commission at every turn, but the commission persevered.272 Thermann reported the commissions formation as well as the fact that it was investigating German citizens and associations for unauthorized political activity.273 The Investigatory Commission also embarked on a series of raids. The most serious occurred on 24 July when three German diplomatic bags enroute to Argentina were seized from a Pan American Airlines plane in Peru. Inside the bags a shortwave transmitter was found.
270

The Commission was actively assisted by the U.S. State

For the events in Romania see Radu Ioanid, The Holocaust in Romania: The Destruction of Jews and Gypsies under the Antonescu Regime, 1940-1944 (Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 2000), pp. 43-61. See also Ribbentrop Order, 19 June 1941, Bro des Staatssekretrs, NARA RG242/T120/366/291266. 271 For Beckers activities and his connection to various embassies throughout South America, see chapter five. 272 Newton, The Nazi Menace, p. 232. 273 Thermann to Berlin, 20 June 1941, Bro des Staatssekretrs: Argentinien Band 2, NARA, RG 242/T120/207/156543 and Thermann to Berlin, 2 July 1941, Ibid, frames 156548-549.

130 Department which kept the bags in Lima, Peru for three weeks until Argentine authorities could take custody of them. After Thermann protested the seizure of the bags Castillos government decried the commissions breach of diplomatic protocol and intimated the bags would be returned.274 On 31 July the Commission seized German propaganda material that arrived on the Japanese ship Nan Maru.275 The most provocative action took place on 22 August when Federal Judge Ramn F. Vasquez ordered the arrest of thirtysix Germans who held leadership positions in the outlawed German Workers Front and other organizations. The charges were holding membership in illicit organizations and misappropriation of funds.276 The arrests incensed the AA who felt that the U.S. and British were behind Taborda and his commission. On 25 and 27 August Ambassador Olivera was called in for a severe dressing down by Weizscker and Woermann.277 Weizscker castigated Olivera about past intrigues against Germans in Argentina, specifically the Patagonia affair. While

Argentine conduct had previously been exemplary, it seemed to Weizscker that the Patagonia affair had changed the complexion of German-Argentine relations. Weizscker intimated that the affair could have been avoided if the promptings of malevolent, non-Argentine (the U.S. and Great Britain) elements had not been followed.278 Having laid the groundwork he moved on to the present situation.

Thermann to Berlin, 26 July 1941, Bro des Staatssekretrs: Argentinien Band 2, NARA, RG 242/T120/207/156572-73 and Ovey to Foreign Office, 29 July 1941, TNA, FO 371/25711. 275 Rout and Bratzel, The Shadow War, pp. 322-324 and Newton, The Nazi Menace, p. 234. 276 Thermann to Berlin, 22 August 1941, Bro des Staatssekretrs: Argentinien Band 2, NARA, RG 242/T120/207/156684 and Thermann to Berlin, 23 August 1941, Bro des Staatssekretrs: Argentinien Band 2, NARA, RG 242/T120/207/156686. 277 Memorandum by Director of the Political Department, 25 August 1941, Bro des Staatssekretrs: Argentinien Band 2, NARA, RG 242/T120/207/156693-94. 278 Memorandum by the State Secretary, 27 August 1941, Doc. 251, DGFP, D, 13, p. 401.

274

131 Weizscker criticized Tabordas commission and protested the seizure of Germanys diplomatic pouch. Weizscker also protested the arrest of the thirty-six Germans, along with the commissions attacks on the German school system in Buenos Aires. Olivera meekly accepted the dressing down.279 Not having received any specific instructions to the contrary Olivera could do nothing to counter Weizsckers points. Between August and November 1941 the commission published five reports. The first, published on 29 August, described the hierarchical nature of German organizations in Argentina as well as the coercive methods used by those organizations to elicit funds from the German community. The report accurately described how German firms were forced to open their financial records to the embassy. Those that refused were threatened with the loss of lucrative contracts once Germany won the war. The report also alleged that those funds were used by the embassy for propaganda and other illegal endeavors. On 5 September the second report detailed the expenses of the German embassy. It alleged that from 1 July 1940 to 30 June 1941 the German embassy spent over 6 million pesos (approximately U.S. $2 million) on operating expenses. Comparatively these

expenses were seven times the amount the British spent and twelve times the U.S. during the same period. The third report examined German propaganda, the Transocean news agency and the Pampero newspaper. The fourth looked at German-language schools and recommended that control over them be tightened.280 The final report of 28 November

279 280

Ibid, pp. 401-402. Argentine angst over the German-language schools is discussed in chapter one.

132 re-examined the Unin Alemana de Gremios and determined it was simply the outlawed German Workers Front (DAF) in another name.281 At the end of August, the commission attempted to call the German embassys press attach, Gottfried Sandstede, to testify. Sandstede and the embassy refused The

claiming that as a member of the embassy he enjoyed diplomatic immunity.

commission rejected Sanstedes claims stating it was not calling on him to testify as a press attach but in his capacity as an employee of the Antonio Delfino Company. Sandstede again refused and the commission appealed to the Argentine Foreign Ministry to force him to testify. The Foreign Ministry stalled for time and before it could act Sandstede fled the country and returned to Germany.282 On 3 September the first calls for Thermanns recall were voiced in the Argentine Chamber of Deputies. Thermann queried the AA as to its reaction to his recall. Ribbentrop replied that a premature recall of Thermann under pressure from Argentina was out of the question.283 On 1 September 1941 Germany arrested eleven Argentine citizens in Paris in retaliation for the arrest of Germans in Argentina.284 On 4 September Woermann received Olivera for a discussion concerning the arrested Argentines. Woermann did not admit to the ambassador that the arrests were a reprisal for the arrest of Germans in Argentina,
Interpellation of the Minister of the Interior Regarding Anti-Argentine Activities, 19 June 1941, NARA, RG 84, 820.02, Box 96; Second Report of the Special Committee of the Argentine Chamber of Deputies Investigating Anti-Argentine Activities, 5 September 1941, Ibid; Investigating Committee of Anti-Argentine Activities, 28 November 1941, NARA, RG 226, Records of the OSS Research and Analysis Branch: Intelligence Reports, Box 42, Document 9797. 282 Newton, The Nazi Menace, p. 234. 283 The Ambassador in Argentina to the Foreign Ministry, 3 September 1941, Doc. 274, DGFP, D, 13, pp. 443-444. 284 Deputy Director of the Legal Department to the Embassy in Paris, no date (probably late August), Bro UnterStaatssekretrs: Argentinien I, NARA, RG 242/T-120/198/165014-15, See also Memorandum by the Director of the Political Department, 4 September 1941, Doc. 279, DGFP, D, 13, pp. 451-52 note 1.
281

133 instead stating that they were under suspicion of having acted against the security of the state.285 While Olivera was willing to acknowledge the point, he told Woermann that the possibility of reprisals had to be considered. When asked when the Argentines would be released, Woermann replied that each case had to be examined and treated individually and that the decision would be made by the competent authorities according to objective principles.286 Woermann stated that Olivera understood the situation but considered it sensible to believe Woermanns explanation. In his memorandum of conversation Woermann acknowledged that the arrests were reprisals. In many ways this situation illustrates Nazi Germanys attitude even towards those who viewed Germany favorably. With Western Europe mostly under its control and the war in the Soviet Union seemingly finished it seems Nazi Germany felt no need to placate anyone. Following the publication of the commissions second report, acting President Castillo was feeling pressure from his political opponents and the press. He felt that Thermanns voluntary recall would ameliorate the situation. Thermann passed along Castillos request to Berlin stating that his tour of duty in Argentina was exceptionally long and that a transfer would be seen as quite normal.287 Thermann stated that his recall would prevent further problems for himself and German interests in Argentina. Also, it would look better from a public relations standpoint since he would be accorded every honor upon his departure. However, in Nazi Germany, as in most dictatorships,

Memorandum by the Director of the Political Department, 4 September 1941, Doc. 279, DGFP, D, 13, pp. 451-52. 286 Ibid. 287 Thermann to Berlin, 9 September 1941, Bro des Staatssekretrs: Argentinien Band 2, NARA, RG 242/T120/207/156732-33 and The Ambassador in Argentina to the Foreign Ministry, 9 September 1941, Doc. 293, DGFP, D, 13, pp. 469-70.

285

134 image could be an overriding, even irrational concern.288 A good example is the German obsession with the Charlie Chaplin film The Great Dictator. Between December 1940 and February 1941 the AA and Thermann both protested to the Argentine government regarding the showing of this movie since it was a thinly veiled satire of Hitler. On 10 September Olivera presented Weizscker with a note verbale from his government suggesting that Thermann be recalled in order to forestall a debate in the Chamber of Deputies to declare him persona non grata. Weizscker expressed surprise at the

suggestion and rejected it outright.289 On 13 September Woermann informed Thermann he would not be recalled in response to any Argentine pressure.290 The embassy did not sit and wait for the commissions recommendations. Along with taking hostages, the embassies in Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro began looking into Damonte Tabordas background. Taborda had a checkered past and burning

ambition. Before being elected to the Chamber of Deputies he had worked as a teacher, lawyer, activist and journalist. He was elected a deputy in 1938 and attempted to find a cause that would catapult him onto the national stage. His ambition proved too much even for those assisting him. In March 1942, Robert Hadow of the British Embassy wrote that neither himself nor U.S. Ambassador Norman Armour was, impressed by self-seeking climbers as Damonte Taborda, whose championing of the Allied cause does

See especially Ian Kershaw, The "Hitler Myth": Image and Reality in the Third Reich (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001). For the documents on The Great Dictator see Bro des Staatssekretrs: Argentinien Band I, NARA, RG 242/T120/207/156443-452 and 458 for Weizscker and Thermanns protests. 289 Memorandum of the State Secretary, 10 September 1941, Bro UnterStaatssekretrs: Argentinien I, NARA, RG 242/T-120/198/164953-54. 290 The Director of the Political Department to the Embassy in Buenos Aires, 13 September 1941, Bro UnterStaatssekretrs: Argentinien I, NARA, RG 242/T-120/198/164930.

288

135 not conceal gnawing ambition.291 In some ways criticism of his ambition was the least of Tabordas worries. In the fall of 1941 he visited the United States where he had an interview with Eleanor Roosevelt and gave lectures at Harvard University and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Unfortunately, it was the Cadillac that he brought to Buenos Aires from the U.S. which caused the most conversation.292 Another source of speculation was Tabordas sexual escapades in the 1930s. The German embassy claimed that Taborda had been involved in white-slavery in Argentina and charged with corrupting a minor, but that the evidence had been destroyed. There was also a rumor circulating in Buenos Aires that he was involved in white-slavery in Brazil and that the documentation was contained in Tabordas police file held in Rio de Janeiro.293 The efforts of the German embassy in 1941 to obtain a Brazilian police dossier on Taborda failed and the allegations were never proven. The issue became moot when Taborda resigned his chairmanship in June 1942 under a cloud of suspicion. Despite the attempts to smear Taborda by the middle of September 1941 pressure from the Argentine Chamber of Deputies on Thermann was intense. On 15 September Taborda stood up in the Chamber and demanded that Thermann be expelled. Castillo attempted to stop the expulsion, perhaps to shore up his shaky domestic position, by having Foreign Minister Ruz-Guiaz defend Thermann on the floor of the chamber. The evidence against Thermann was overwhelming in the eyes of the chamber. It voted 79-1 that he had exceeded his diplomatic functions. They called on Castillo to declare
291 292

Hadow to Minister of Information, 2 March 1942, TNA, FO 371/30322 Newton, The Nazi Menace, p. 235. 293 Thermann to Berlin, 27 October 1941, Bro des Staatssekretrs: Argentinien Band 2, NARA, RG 242/T120/25/26641, Meynen to Berlin, 18 July 1942, Ibid, frame 27032 and Newton, The Nazi Menace, pp. 235-36.

136 Thermann persona non grata and expel him from the country. Weizscker again called in Olivera for a stern dressing down. Castillo and Ruz-Guiaz told the chamber they needed time to investigate the committees allegations. Castillos cabinet also told

Castillo that he either needed to have Thermann recalled to Germany or resign. Castillo managed to weather this storm, but by December the pressure was increasing. The Chamber was clamoring for Thermanns removal, and anti-German public

demonstrations had started.294 Tabordas committee had ostensibly achieved its goal of exposing Nazi infiltration into Argentina. What the committee exposed was really only the tip of the iceberg. Nowhere in the reports released by the committee was there a discussion or revelation concerning German intelligence-gathering activities in Argentina. The activities of the embassy were much more pernicious than the committee realized. The German embassy in Buenos Aires was the control center for intelligence operations that stretched across most of South America.295 Oddly, at the peak of this crisis Ribbentrop thought it was an ideal time to discuss Thermanns removal. On 1 December he informed Thermann that he should begin discussions concerning his recall from Buenos Aires. The basis for discussion was a 22 October conversation between Meynen and the Foreign Ministry. Both Meynen and the AA agreed to accept the Argentine proposal made in September offering the simultaneous recall of Thermann and Olivera. It was felt that this would calm emotions in Germany and Argentina.296 Ribbentrop consented to the Argentine proposal, but

Newton, The Nazi Menace, p. 236. This is discussed in chapter four. 296 Meynen to Berlin, 22 October 1941, Bro des Staatssekretrs: Argentinien Band 2, NARA, RG 242/T120/207/165226-227.
295

294

137 wanted it announced simultaneously with no comment by either government to avoid aggravating the situation.297 When Thermann announced Ribbentrops proposal on 2 December he reported that Ruz-Guiaz appeared relieved and anticipated no difficulties recalling Olivera.298 Complicating matters was the 12 December declaration of war by Germany on the U.S. Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and Germanys declaration of war, the U.S. called for a conference to take place in Brazil in January 1942. Germany was concerned that U.S. pressure would force Argentina to abandon its policy of neutrality. In a telephone conversation with Weizscker, Thermann suggested having Foreign Minister Ruz-Guiaz publicly announce his recall. Thermann felt this would relieve some of the U.S. pressure on Argentina.299 Despite his telegram of 1 December Ribbentrop vacillated and wanted to avoid the perception that Germany had succumbed to Argentine pressure and appear weak in the eyes of the world.300 Castillo eased Ribbentrops fears when he acknowledged on 12 December that a state of war existed between the U.S., Italy, and Germany. He had previously issued a decree on 9 December which referred to the Japanese violation of U.S. territory and branded it as aggression. The 12 December announcement did not refer to the German and Italian declarations of war as aggression and stated that they were not a threat to South America. Castillo also reaffirmed Argentinas policy of neutrality.301 On 15

The Foreign Minister to the Embassy in Argentina, 1 December 1941, Doc. 528, DGFP, D, 13, pp. 912-914. 298 Thermann to Berlin, 2 December 1941, Bro UnterStaatssekretrs: Argentinien 2, NARA, RG 242/T120/198/165222. 299 Memorandum, 11 December 1941, Bro des Staatssekretrs: Argentinien Band 2, NARA, RG 242/T120/207/156844. 300 Weizscker to Buenos Aires, 12 December 1941, Ibid, frame 156845. 301 Thermann to Berlin, 15 December 1941, Bro des Staatssekretrs, Argentinien Band 2, NARA, RG 242/T120/207/156852-53 and Potash, The Army and Politics in Argentina, p. 164.

297

138 December Thermann had an audience with President Castillo. Castillo told Thermann that Argentina had no intention of abandoning its neutral position vis--vis the belligerents. Argentina would resist any attempt to give up its sovereignty regarding declarations of war or the breaking of relations with any country. Castillo related that the maintenance or breaking of diplomatic relations with any other country remained the decision of each individual country.302 Later in the month, unnamed persons in Castillos entourage assured Thermann that Germany could take comfort from Argentinas actions at previous pan-American conferences. Argentina had not allowed itself to become bound to any agreements, particularly at the Lima Conference in December 1938. Argentina would go to Rio with the intention of pushing the concepts of freedom of action regarding continental defense and mutual assistance.303 Thermanns telegrams and Castillos pronouncements had the desired effect and Ribbentrop agreed to Thermanns proposal regarding his recall to Germany. The Argentines also accepted Ribbentrops proposal. On 29 December Germany and Argentina simultaneously announced the recall of their respective ambassadors.304 Thermann departed Buenos Aires in February 1942 and returned to Germany to a less than enthusiastic reception. Ribbentrop was abrupt and cool in his audience with him and Hitler did not grant him an interview. Thermann was placed on a reduced salary and apart from an inspection trip to Russia and received no

302

Thermann to AA, 15 December 1941, Bro des Staatssekretrs, Argentinien Band 2, NARA, RG 242/T-120/207/156855. 303 Thermann to AA, 31 December 1941, Bro des Staatssekretrs, Argentinien Band 2, NARA, RG 242/T-120/25/26652-26654. 304 Potash, The Army and Politics in Argentina, p. 164.

139 real responsibilities.305 It seems even his friends and patrons could not erase whatever stigma was placed on Thermann during his service in Argentina. In some ways, Thermann and the German embassy were guilty as charged, in others Thermann took the blame for activities carried out by the AO and other organizations over which he and other ambassadors had no control. In the end,

Thermanns punishment fit the crime, even if he had been guilty of more serious offenses. With Thermanns departure the embassy was left in the hands of Charg Erich Otto Meynen. Meynen was very capable with extensive experience in Central and South America. He would head the embassy until Argentina broke diplomatic relations with Germany in January 1944. The problems facing Meynen in the years ahead would tax even the most capable of diplomats. He had not only to conduct normal diplomatic business, but also monitor the activities of naval attach Niebuhr and Johannes Siegfried Becker, head of SD Foreign Intelligence in Latin America. Despite intense political and domestic pressure from anti-Nazi elements in Argentina Castillo did not break relations with Nazi Germany over the activities of the embassy. Domestic political considerations played a role since Castillo, who had a weak powerbase at that time, would not want to be seen as caving in to outside pressure and alienate his right-wing and conservative supporters. The role of the Argentine army,
305

Newton, The Nazi Menace, p. 236. The same thing happened to the military attach to the U.S. General Friedrich von Btticher on his return to Germany in 1942. If one is to accept Alfred Becks argument, the treatment of Btticher is indicative of his ambivalence towards Hitler and the Nazi regime. However, Thermanns dispatches to Berlin show a diligent servant attempting to serve his government. His anti-Semitic remarks contained in his messages along with his crude racial descriptions show someone who understood the nature of the leader he served and accepted its ideas. See Alfred M. Beck, Hitler's Ambivalent Attach: Lt. Gen. Friedrich Von Btticher in America, 1933-1941, (Dulles, VA: Potomac Books, 2006). In his postwar interrogation Thermann stated that his problems with the NSDAP and AO were the reason for Ribbentrops cool reception. See Interrogation of Edmund von Thermann, 10 May 1945, RG 59, ABB, Miscellaneous Affidavits and Interrogation Reports, Entry 1088, Box 26, p. 1.

140 which was powerful politically, and had close ties to Germany, was certainly a factor. Castillo saw that the army desired continued neutrality, albeit with a pro-German slant. Since Castillo was pro-German and also desired neutrality, continuing his policy of proGerman neutrality would not be much of a concession. Another reason could be that

Germany was supporting Argentinas policy of neutrality unlike the U.S. which wanted Argentina to break relations and pursue former president Ortizs pro-Allied policies. Also, Germany was willing to grant Argentina generous trade agreements with no quid pro quo. The U.S. would not do the same since Argentinas primary exports competed with its products. In the forthcoming years, Meynen would have to manage a series of crises including Niebuhrs expulsion in January 1943 and the ill-fated Hellmuth affair later the same year. Meynen would operate under the same constraints Thermann did, inept guidance from Berlin, bureaucratic infighting between various governmental organizations and Germanys inevitable defeat. In many ways, Germany had managed to avoid a break in relations despite its many missteps. Whether Castillos refusal to break relations with Germany was due to German diplomatic skill or Argentinas tilt towards Nazi Germany is open to debate. In the coming years however Argentina would draw closer and closer to Nazi Germany. Following the Japanese attack on the U.S. at Pearl Harbor and Germanys declaration of war on the U.S., the countries bordering the Caribbean, including Mexico, almost immediately sided with the U.S. Other South American nations waited to see what would happen at the Rio Conference scheduled for January 1942. Despite

Thermanns audience with President Castillo, Germany was particularly worried about

141 what Argentina, Brazil and Chile would do at the Rio conference. Thermann assured Berlin that Argentina intended to maintain its neutrality. On 8 January 1942, Argentine Ambassador Ricardo Olivera paid a farewell visit on Woermann. Olivera, seconding Thermann, assured Woermann that he expected the position of the ABC (Argentina, Brazil and Chile) states at the Rio Conference to be favorable to Germany.306 Oliveras statement was confirmed, at least regarding Argentina, when a confidential source in the Vice Presidents office disclosed to Meynen Castillos instructions to the Rio delegation: Under no circumstances were they to abandon Argentinas position regarding its sovereignty and neutrality.307 However U.S. pressure on Argentina at the Rio Conference was intense, so much so that Argentine Foreign Minister Enrique Ruz Guiaz offered to contact Buenos Aires and request new instructions.308 On 13 January in an audience with Meynen Castillo told the charg of his instructions to the Rio Delegation. Castillo assured Meynen he would not be dissuaded from Argentinas policy of neutrality.309 On 23 January, Ruz Guiaz, under instructions from Castillo, announced in Rio that Argentina would reject any resolution calling for a break in diplomatic relations with Germany, Italy or Japan.310 Following the Rio Conference Meynen was informed by Ruz Guiaz and Carlos Torriani, director of economic affairs in the Argentine Foreign Ministry that, Argentine adherence to the Rio
Woermann Memorandum, 8 January 1942, Bro des Staatssekretrs, Argentinien Band 2, NARA, RG 242/T-120/25/26660. 307 Meynen to AA, 11 January 1942, Bro des Staatssekretrs, Argentinien Band 2, NARA, RG 242/T120/25/26662. 308 Leslie B. Rout and John F. Bratzel, The Shadow War: German Espionage and United States Counterespionage in Latin America during World War II (Frederick MD: University Publications of America, 1986), p. 173. 309 Meynen to AA, 13 January 1942, Bro des Staatssekretrs, Argentinien Band 2, NARA, RG 242/T120/25/26663. 310 Rout and Bratzel, The Shadow War, p. 173.
306

142 resolutions was a theoretical and opportunistic act only.311 Given these statements, Germany could breathe easier regarding its diplomatic relations with Argentina. Brazil would not be so accommodating. Its decision to break relations with Nazi Germany and side with the Allies caused fear and consternation in Buenos Aires. Throughout the Rio Conference Brazilian President Getlio Vargas kept his own council on whether to remain neutral or side with either the U.S. or Nazi Germany. Under intense pressure from the U.S. and his Foreign Minister, Oswald Aranha, on 28 January 1942 Vargas announced his decision to break relations with Nazi Germany. Why did Vargas take this fateful step? There were two reasons. First, Aranha told Vargas that he had promised U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt in early January 1942 that Brazil would break relations with the Axis. Aranha argued that he had given his word and that retracting his pledge could have fateful consequences. Second, the U.S.

promised massive amounts of modern military equipment ultimately worth U.S. $200 million.312 Argentina looked on with dismay at this turn of events. The Argentine military felt that the U.S. decision to supply Brazil with so much weaponry upset the balance of power in the Southern Hemisphere. Despite its position, Argentina naively believed that the U.S. would supply it with weaponry as well. The previous November the Argentines had dispatched a military and naval commission to the U.S. to discuss weapons purchases and Argentinas role in

United States Department of State, Consultation among the American Republics with Respect to the Argentine Situation (Washington D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1946), pp. 45-46. Ronald Newton casts doubt on this statement calling it extraordinary. While no evidence for this statement has been found, it is consistent with Argentine assurances to Germany regarding its position. See Ronald C. Newton, The Nazi Menace in Argentina, 1931-1947 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1992), p. 238. 312 Rout and Bratzel, The Shadow War, pp. 173-174.

311

143 hemispheric defense. Felipe Espil, Argentine ambassador in the U.S., assured

Washington that Buenos Aires planned to fully cooperate in defending the hemisphere. Argentinas refusal to break relations with the Axis following the Rio Conference was seen by the U.S. as contrary to that statement. The State Department refused to give Argentina any weapons unless it changed its position regarding relations with Nazi Germany and Italy. As a result the talks between Argentina and the U.S. regarding weapons purchases and Argentinas role in hemispheric defense were suspended on 20 March 1942. In June the Argentine commission returned to Buenos Aires empty-

handed.313 The U.S. had hoped the denial of weapons would bring about a change in Argentine policy. The State Department argued that the denial of weapons would deeply concern the Argentine military and bring about the desired result. Instead, Argentina turned to Germany in an attempt to restore military parity between Argentina and Brazil. In February and March 1942, the first overtures were made by private Argentine citizens who claimed to be in contact with persons in the Argentine government. They asked whether Germany could supply airplanes and other military equipment to Argentina. Meynen understood these feelers to be tentative and unofficial, but felt an official request would soon follow. On 27 February and 24 March 1942, he asked for precautionary instructions as to whether Germany, in case of official Argentine steps directed to the embassy in this regard, would be willing and able to deliver such

313

Robert A. Potash, The Army & Politics in Argentina, 1928-1945: Yrigoyen to Pern (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1969), pp. 168-169.

144 material.314 Given the massive losses the German army had suffered in Russia, Germany could not spare any equipment for Argentina. By February 1942 the German army had suffered over a million casualties out of the 3.5 million who began the invasion on 22 June 1941. It also had lost more than a third of its tanks and vehicles along with numerous artillery and anti-tank weaponry. In addition to these losses Germany was also supplying weapons to its Hungarian and Rumanian allies.315 Meynen was told to reply that any official request would be communicated to Berlin.316 In July, General Domingo Martnez, Police Chief of Buenos Aires, made another unofficial request for weapons on behalf of Castillo. Martnez explained to Meynen that Castillo and the Argentine army were worried about U.S. weapon shipments to Brazil. Castillo felt that the U.S. would issue an ultimatum to Argentina about breaking relations with Germany. Martnez

assured Meynen that Castillo would resist any such ultimatum, including joining the Axis if necessary.317 While Argentina had a geography which favored a defensive war along with a German trained officer corps, it was short of modern weaponry. Martnez asked Meynen the type and quantity of weaponry Germany was prepared to supply to Argentina and said that Argentina had the necessary funds to pay for any weapons supplied by Germany. He
Meynen to AA, 27 February and 24 March 1942, Bro des Staatssekretrs, Argentinien Band 2, NARA, RG 242/T-120/25/26748 and 26790-92. Also quoted in Potash, The Army & Politics in Argentina, p. 170. 315 For a discussion of the losses in Russia and later North Africa see Robert Citino, Death of the Wehrmacht: The German Campaigns of 1942 (Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 2007). 316 As Potash points out, Berlins reply is not in the microfilmed records, but the AAs reply to Meynen was contained in a memorandum prepared by Emil Wiehl, deputy in the Economics Policy Department in the AA. See Wiehl Memorandum, 28 August 1942, Bro des Staatssekretrs, Argentinien Band 2, NARA, RG 242/T-120/26/27255. 317 Potash notes that Martinez did this with the knowledge and consent of Castillo, but without the knowledge of War Minister Tonazzi, who was felt by Castillo to be pro-Allied. See Potash, The Army & Politics in Argentina, p. 170.
314

145 revealed Argentinas vulnerable military situation and stated that, even one full cargo containing the most important items would bring essential help to Argentina.318 Looming over all this was the British blockade of Germany which forestalled attempts to supply weapons directly to Argentina. Spain provided a possible solution to the vexing problem of the blockade. Spain was officially non-belligerent since June 1940, the Spanish leader Franco provided Germany with valuable strategic materials including wolfram, which was vital in making high-grade steel and armor-piercing shells. Franco was also a virulent anti-communist who supported the Falange in raising the so-called Blue Division to fight on the Eastern Front against the Soviet Union.319 In May a Spanish trade delegation under Count Eduardo Aunos arrived in Buenos Aires to negotiate a trade agreement between Spain and Argentina. Aunos told Meynen that Martnez had also approached him about

possible arms purchases.320 By mid-August 1942 a trade agreement between the two nations was almost complete. The agreement contained secret protocols whereby Spain would provide weaponry including tanks, modern aircraft, heavy artillery and modern anti-tank guns to Argentina. General Pedro Ramrez was to travel to Spain with Aunos and work out the details of the arms negotiations. However, the agreement was

contingent on Germany replacing the arms Spain provided to Argentina.321

318

Meynen to AA, 27 July 1942, Bro des Staatssekretrs, Argentinien Band 2, NARA, RG 242/T120/26/27170-171. Potash, The Army & Politics in Argentina, pp. 170-171. 319 Stanley G. Payne, Franco and Hitler: Spain, Germany and World War II (New Haven, Yale University Press, 2008) and Paul Preston, Franco (New York: Basic Books, 1994). 320 Meynen to AA, 27 July 1942, Bro des Staatssekretrs, Argentinien Band 2, NARA, RG 242/T120/26/27171-72. 321 Meynen to AA, 16 August 1942, Bro des Staatssekretrs, Argentinien Band 2, NARA, RG 242/T120/26/27212.

146 Franco had been disappointed by Germanys failure to supply arms to Spain since 1940. The Germans had continually made vague promises of weapons in return for Franco entering the war, which Franco constantly promised to do. The Germans were also pessimistic about the poor state of Spains armed forces. Whatever Francos motives in pursuing an arms deal with Argentina, the Germans, who were engaged in Operation Blue, an operation designed to capture the oil-rich region of the Caucasus and hopefully force the Soviet Union to surrender, on the Eastern Front, would be unable to provide them. Germany simply had no weaponry to spare for either Spain or Argentina.322 However, Germany was prepared to string Argentina along and play on its fears of invasion from Brazil and the U.S. As it would happen, Argentine paranoia and events with Brazil played into Germanys hands. On 22 August 1942 Brazil declared war on Nazi Germany. Since the U.S. was supplying Brazil with weaponry Argentina was worried about the balance of power now that Brazil was firmly in the Allied camp. The official response of the Castillo government was to declare Brazil a nonbelligerent instead of a combatant; this would allow Argentina to continue normal economic and diplomatic relations. International law stated that neutrals had to treat belligerents in a conflict exactly the same with regards to trade. However, declaring Brazil a non-belligerent meant that Argentina could have freedom to pursue any diplomatic or economic policies it felt to be in its national interest. Despite its declaration concerning Brazil the Argentines were fearful. Castillo was paranoid regarding possible U.S. action in the La Plata region. He

322

For details regarding Spanish arms negotiations with Nazi Germany see, Payne, Franco and Hitler and Preston, Franco. Preston does an excellent job of showing how Franco admired both Hitler and Mussolini.

147 felt that the U.S. might use the pretext of a German threat to South America to occupy parts of Argentina and cut off her supply of oil from Venezuela and Mexico.323 Thus, it was imperative for Argentina to acquire weapons. Despite the inquiries made to Meynen, the Argentine government had not officially made a request for German arms. As Robert Potash points out, the lack of an official request was done deliberately to keep Argentinas request for weapons secret from pro-Allied officials in the government who might report them to Allied intelligence. Even the agreement with Spain was deemed unofficial since no formal negotiations had taken place.324 The entry of Brazil into the war lent urgency to Argentinas desire for armaments. The same day Brazil declared war the Argentine government made a formal inquiry into obtaining weapons from Germany and Italy. Naval attach Niebuhr was asked by the Argentine Navy Ministry if Germany could sell submarines, airplanes, anti-aircraft guns and other weaponry. Given Germanys massive military commitments, German

policymakers and military leaders were in a quandary about how to respond.325 Argentina and Spain must have expected a positive answer since Martnez and Count Aunos worked out payment and transportation plans once the weapons were acquired. It was decided that Spain would supply the weapons to Argentina and Germany would replace those supplied. Spain would pay Germany through deliveries of Spanish goods and raw

materials. Argentina would then replace Spanish goods exported to Germany.326


323

Meynen to AA, 16 August 1942, Bro des Staatssekretrs, Argentinien Band 2, NARA, RG 242/T120/26/27212. 324 Potash, The Army & Politics in Argentina, p. 172. 325 See Notiz fr den Fhrer, 31 August 1942, Bro des Staatssekretrs, Argentinien Band 2, NARA, RG 242/T-120/26/27264-27265. 326 Meynen to AA, 5 September 1942, Bro des Staatssekretrs, Argentinien Band 2, NARA, RG 242/T120/26/27297-27298, also Potash, The Army & Politics in Argentina, pp. 172-173.

148 Given the complexity of the deal Count Aunos and the AA agreed that further details needed to be worked out. Argentina, like Spain, was disappointed in Germanys response. It seems that Hitler had not given any answer to Argentine requests for weapons so the AA and OKW took a conservative approach. They told Niebuhr not to promise any weapons deliveries, but only that the request was being considered. In October Count Aunos sailed for Spain expecting General Ramrez and a representative of the Argentine navy to arrive the following month to begin negotiations.327 Ramrezs trip was cancelled when Germany was slow in answering. Instead of giving a definite answer the OKW advised the AA to string Argentina along until the war situation improved.328 In some ways this was sound advice since Castillo, by clinging to his policy of neutrality, had backed himself into a corner. Since he had formally approached Germany for weapons he could not easily turn to the U.S. This would require him to make an aboutface on a policy he urgently desired. The AA and the German embassy made sure that Castillos room for maneuver was severely restricted. Castillos power base was among nationalist groups who desired neutrality. The German embassy manipulated this support by financing and supporting a manifesto, allegedly signed by one million Argentines and presented to Castillo in September. The manifesto declared its support for the foreign policy carried out by Castillo and Foreign Minister Ruiz-Guiaz following the Rio Conference.
327

If the number of signatures

See Meynen to AA, 7 September 1942, Bro des Staatssekretrs, Argentinien Band 2, NARA, RG 242/T-120/26/27302, Aufzeichnung betreffend Waffenlieferung an Argentinien, 21 September 1942, Ibid, Frames 27353-27354, Meynen to AA, 21 September 1942, Ibid, Frame 27351 and Potash, The Army & Politics in Argentina, p 173. 328 Aufzeichnung ber Stand der Errterrungen betreffend Waffenlieferungen an Argentinien, 3 November 1942, Bro des Staatssekretrs, Argentinien Band 2, NARA, RG 242/T-120/26/27476-27477. Potash, The Army & Politics in Argentina, p 173.

149 collected was accurate it either represented fraud on a massive scale or massive support for the governments policies.329 What was not known to the participants was the involvement of the German embassy. Meynen reported that the manifesto had been carried out by the embassy financed with money from the press and information funds in the German embassy. The project took several months to carry out with the assistance of the military, local politicians and the church. Meynen could justifiably say with pride that the manifesto was the most far-reaching propaganda action ever carried out by the embassy.330 The extent of German propaganda can be measured by its expenditures. From June-December 1942 the German embassy spent $166,000 on propaganda most of which subsidized the German-language newspaper Pampero. Meynen requested a

further $124,000 to use from January-March 1943 for propaganda purposes.331 Along with German propaganda, pro-German Argentine citizens began a series of contacts with high-ranking German officials. The most prominent was Juan Carlos Goyeneche (codename: Locatelli).332 Goyeneche was a well-connected Catholic nationalist whose family was involved in politics in Uruguay and Argentina. Goyeneches grandfather had served as president of Uruguay and his father had been the mayor of Buenos Aires before the war. Thus, Goyeneche was well-connected in the La
The number of registered voters in Argentina was estimated at this time to be approximately three million. See Potash, The Army & Politics in Argentina, pp. 175-176. 330 Meynen to AA, 6 September 1942, Bro des Staatssekretrs, Argentinien Band 2, NARA, RG 242/T120/26/27300, Potash, The Army & Politics in Argentina, p. 176. 331 Newton, The Nazi Menace, p. 240. Newton uses the Magic decrypts for these figures. 332 Notes on the Interrogation of Theodor Paeffgen, 4 February 1946, NARA, RG 59, ABB, Box 6740, p. 6. The U.S. knew almost from the beginning of Goyeneches trip to Europe and kept watch on him throughout his stay. See Juan Carlos Goyeneche, April-December 1942, NARA, RG 59, Buenos Aires Confidential Files, File 820.02, Box 6738, this file has various memoranda from April-December 1942 detailing the activities of Goyeneche in Spain. See also Blancke to Spaeth, Subject: Juan Carlos Goyeneche, 18 January 1946, NARA, RG 59, ABB, Box 6740, Cabot to Secretary of State, 8 February 1946, NARA, RG 59, Buenos Aires Embassy Confidential Files, 862.20235/2-846, Box 6738.
329

150 Plata region. He arrived in Madrid in April 1942 as the cultural attach in the Argentine embassy. His appointment was ostensibly at the invitation of Francos so-called

Hispanic Council which sought solidarity between Spain and Latin America. Uki Goi and Ronald Newton claim Goyeneche was on a secret mission for Foreign Minister Ruiz-Guiaz and his assistant Mario Amadeo.333 In his postwar interrogation Walter Schellenberg described Amadeo as pro-German and someone who provided information to Amt VI using Goyeneche as an intermediary.334 Along with Amadeo, Goyeneche was also close to the Argentine Ambassador to Spain, Adrin Escobar, and consul, Aquilino Lpez. Like Amadeo, Escobar and Lpez were German agents who informed the SD in Paris of their dealings with Spanish and Allied diplomats.335 One reason Escobar collaborated with the SD was that he was seeking German support to succeed Castillo. Escobar told Standartenfhrer Helmut Knochen, head of the SD in Paris, that he was pro-German and if and when he should become a big shot in Argentina, he wanted this understood.336 What Goyeneches mission was is
333

Uki Goi, The Real Odessa: Smuggling the Nazis to Perns Argentina (London: Granta Books, 2002), p. 3. Newton, The Nazi Menace, p. 240. Newton claims he was acting as the representative of Castillo and Adrin Escobar, Argentine ambassador to Spain. The Argentine government publicly stated on several occasions that Goyeneche was not an accredited diplomat, but simply a private citizen. While this was probably true in a literal sense, the evidence suggests he was pursuing high-level contacts in Nazi Germany. For the Argentine denials regarding Goyeneche see Juan Carlos Goyeneche, April-December 1942, NARA, RG 59, Buenos Aires Confidential Files, File 820.02, Box 6738. See also Michael Phayer, Pius XII, The Holocaust and the Cold War (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2008), pp. 178-180. It should be noted that Phayer relies on Goi for his evidence. 334 Affidavit of Walter Schellenberg, 6 February 1946, NARA, RG 59, ABB, Box 6740, p. 4. 335 Notes on the Interrogation of Walter Schellenberg, 6 February 1946, NARA, RG 59, ABB, Box 6740, p. 5. Blancke to Spaeth, Subject: Enclosing Testimony of Helmut Herbert Knochen, 21 February 1946, NARA, RG 59, ABB, Box 6740, p. 4, Goi, The Real Odessa, p. 5. Knochen was also a war criminal who was involved in the deportation of French Jews to Auschwitz. When asked about Goyeneche the interrogator, W. Wendell Blancke, noted a very long pause on Knochens part and was forced to remind Knochen who Goyeneche was. Blancke also had to remind Knochen that this interrogation was not part of any alleged war crimes on Knochens part, whereupon he became a bit more cooperative. 336 Notes on the Interrogation of Walter Schellenberg, 6 February 1946, NARA, RG 59, ABB, Box 6740, p. 5.

151 still unclear. Goi, Newton and others have speculated that Goyeneche was to broker a compromise peace between Germany and the Western Allies with Argentina and the Vatican acting as intermediaries.337 The 1942 peace initiative is one of murkier episodes of the war and raises some important questions. This initiative supported by Schellenberg, and possibly Himmler, was designed to split the Western alliance. If Schellenberg could negotiate a peace and spilt the antiHitler alliance he hoped to turn Amt VI into a new foreign ministry with himself as foreign minister.338 Schellenberg planned to use the Vatican and Argentina as his intermediaries. Argentina and the Vatican had desired to broker a peace between

Germany and the Western Allies as early as 1941. In July 1941, Argentine Foreign Minister Dr. Enrique Ruiz-Guiaz told Ambassador Thermann of his offer to mediate a peace agreement between Germany and Great Britain. With the defeat of the Soviet Union seemingly on the horizon Dr. Ruiz-Guiaz felt that a magnanimous peace towards Great Britain would offer Germany great economic prospects. Thermann

averred stating that he did not have authorization to pursue any such discussions. He would have to await instructions. Ribbentrop refused to entertain such notions given how well the war was progressing in the Soviet Union. However, he told Thermann that he should continue to cultivate Dr. Ruiz-Guiazs friendly attitude towards Germany.339

Goi details Ruiz-Guiazs attempts to broker a peace between the belligerents with Argentina and the Vatican as intermediaries. However Goi does not elaborate on whether or not this was Goyeneches mission to Madrid. Goi, The Real Odessa, chapter 1. 338 For a discussion of Schellenbergs peace efforts see: Katrin Paehler, Espionage, Ideology and Personal Politics: The Making and Unmaking of a Nazi Foreign Intelligence Service (Washington D.C.: American University, Ph.D diss., 2002), chapter 10. 339 The Ambassador in Argentina to the Foreign Ministry, 5 July 1941, Doc. 73, DGFP, D, 13, pp. 86-88 and The Foreign Minister to the Embassy in Argentina, 16 July 1941, Doc. 112, DGFP, D, 13, p. 142.

337

152 Thermann felt that Ruiz-Guiazs motives were not a desire for peace as such; he thought Ruiz-Guiaz wanted a Nobel Peace Prize.340 Ruiz-Guiaz was not deterred and hoped that Argentina could act as a mediator. Sometime between July 1941 and January 1942 Goyeneche was made privy to RuizGuiazs desire for peace. Ruiz-Guiaz may have been confident he could succeed; however, Goyeneche was not so sure. On 25 January 1942 he wrote a letter to the Argentine foreign minister cautioning him that U.S. diplomatic pressure on Argentina to break relations with Nazi Germany might endanger the possibility of a world peace being signed in Buenos Aires in the near future.341 Ruiz-Guiaz probably felt that with Vatican backing he could overcome any U.S. pressure. He was certain that the Vatican and pro-Axis elements in Spain, Portugal and Italy would support his efforts. Between July 1941 and March 1942 Argentine diplomats in Spain, Portugal and Switzerland were approached by unnamed individuals who wanted Argentina to act as an intermediary for a negotiated peace with the U.S. and Great Britain. In July 1941 the papal nuncio in Switzerland had informed the Argentine representative in Berne that following Germanys defeat of the Soviet Union Hitler would begin peace negotiations with the Western Allies and that Argentina would play a role. Whether this was at the instigation of Pope Pius XII, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Luigi Maglione or other high-ranking officials in the Vatican is unknown. At approximately the same time unnamed persons allegedly representing Spain and Portugal requested that the Argentine

Interrogation of Dr. Edmund Freiherr von Thermann, 27 September, 8, 10, 16, 20, 23, 24 October, 2, 6, November 1945, NARA, RG 59, ABB, Miscellaneous Affidavits and Interrogations, Entry 1088, Box 26, p. 5. 341 Quoted in Goi, The Real Odessa, p. 3.

340

153 ambassador in Vichy inquire about Argentina acting as a mediator in a negotiated settlement that had the support of the Vatican. According to Uki Goi, the Argentine embassy in Berlin was also approached by an important Italian person who suggested Chile and Argentina act as mediators in a negotiated settlement.342 While Argentinas motives seem clear, this begs the question of why the Vatican would become involved in such a scheme. After all, it was Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, now Pope Pius XII, who had contributed to Pius XIs encyclical Mit brennender Sorge, which attacked Nazism as atheistic. As Michael Phayer argues, Pius XII was a staunch anti-communist. This dated from 1919 when he was held hostage in Munich by communist revolutionaries who had taken over the city.343 Piuss assistant, Monsignor Domenico Tardini, told the U.S. diplomat Harold Tittmann that Nazism and communism were both dangers to Europe. If both Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union were defeated then Europe would have peace, but if the Soviet Union prevailed Europe would face a disaster since communism was inherently hostile to Christianity.344 Thus, Pius XII felt that Germany was the lesser of two evils; after all he had negotiated a Concordat with Hitler in 1933 affirming the position of the Catholic Church in Germany. He had negotiated no such agreement with Stalin. In the Popes mind Germany would serve as a bulwark to keep the communists at bay and preserve a Christian Europe. Countries such as Spain, Portugal, Argentina or Chile would serve as perfect intermediaries for any peace settlement between Germany
Goi, The Real Odessa, p. 4. All of Gois assertions about Argentina acting as a mediator come from the archives of the Argentine Foreign Ministry. 343 For an account of Pius XIIs early years and formative influences see Phayer, Pius XII, The Holocaust and the Cold War. 344 Ibid, p. 39.
342

154 and the West since they were staunchly Catholic and fiercely anti-communist. By mid1942 with Germany seemingly on the verge of victory over the Soviet Union, the time seemed propitious to begin negotiations. Juan Carlos Goyeneche eventually became the intermediary between Argentina, Nazi Germany and the Vatican. Following his arrival in April 1942 Goyeneche was kept busy meeting various officials in Spain and German-occupied Europe. In May he traveled to France with Escobar and Lpez to meet with Pierre Laval. Laval was the pro-German Prime Minister of Vichy, which was of the area of France not occupied by the German following their victory over France in June 1940. The three then traveled onto Biarritz where they were joined by Ricardo Olivera, newly appointed Argentine ambassador to Vichy. In Biarritz the four met with Knochen who was asked to arrange a trip to Berlin for Escobar.345 Escobars reasons for travelling to Berlin are unknown. In his postwar interrogation Knochen simply stated that Escobar asked him to arrange the trip but Knochens interrogators never followed up on why Escobar wanted to go. In July Escobar requested permission for he and Goyeneche to travel to France a second time and then to the Vatican for an audience with Pope Pius XII. While the issues to be discussed have not been fully revealed, they were sensitive. Ruiz-Guiaz told Escobar to make sure the meeting with Pius XII was strictly private. Escobar and Goyeneche departed on 12 August for their meeting. Despite Ruiz-Guiazs

instructions, details regarding the meeting at the Vatican were leaked to the press. El Tiempo de Bogot, a Colombian newspaper, reported that Escobar had held a long meeting with Pius XII who was receptive to Argentina acting as a mediator for a possible
345

Interrogation of Helmut Herbert Knochen, 21 February 1946, NARA, RG 59, ABB, Box 6740, p. 4.

155 peace settlement between Germany, the U.S. and Great Britain.346 Subsequent meetings were held between the Argentine ambassador to the Vatican, Secretary of State Maglione, and the Pope to reaffirm Argentinas commitment to act as a mediator between Germany and the Western powers.347 The meetings between Escobar, Goyeneche and the Vatican caught the attention of Walter Schellenberg, head of Amt VI SS Foreign Intelligence. Schellenberg explained to his postwar interrogators that: Escobar was a man who was very strongly oriented towards Europe and he had a high estimation of Germany. I would like to contrast him with the military faction in Argentina politically he was not one-sided. He believed that under the influence of the Vatican, Latin America in conjunction with Spain and Portugal should create a new political sphere of influence. It was his idea to unite all the Roman Catholics. It was the Hispanidad.348 Schellenberg thought that, Escobar had good connections with the Vatican and I intended above all to make use of him in this direction in putting out a feeler for a compromise peace.349 Whatever Schellenbergs motives, his desire for peace should be treated skeptically. More than likely Schellenberg was positioning the SD and Amt VI to replace the AA in foreign policy matters. However, Escobar was transferred to a new posting as Argentine ambassador to Brazil.350 That left Goyeneche as intermediary between

Goi, The Real Odessa, pp. 6 and 350, note 20. Goi, The Real Odessa, pp. 6-7. 348 Affidavit of Walter Schellenberg, 6 February 1946, NARA, RG 59, ABB, Box 6740, p. 4. Karl Arnold stated that Goyeneche shared Escobars ideals. See Interrogation Report of Karl Gustav Arnold 9, 11, 12, 17 September; 15,16, 18,21,24, 29, 31 October; 5, 8 12 November 1946, NARA, RG 65, Records of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, File 64-24854-Sec. 1, Box 17, p. 38. 349 Affidavit of Walter Schellenberg, 6 February 1946, NARA, RG 59, ABB, Box 6740, p. 4. 350 The SD had dealings with Escobar and Goyeneche into 1943. Amt VI seemed to be unsure of how much influence both men had, as well as their reliability. In May, they asked Becker his opinion of Goyeneche and Escobar. In June 1943 Escobar, now ambassador to Brazil, contacted Knochen in Paris and
347

346

156 Argentina and Nazi Germany. Goyeneche was used since Castillo and other pro-German members of the Argentine government did not trust their diplomatic corps, especially the charg d affairs in Berlin, Luis Luti.351 Goyeneche explained to Otto Reinebeck, head of Pol. Abt. IX in the AA, which was responsible for the Americas, that Luti was not sufficiently pro-Nazi.352 While Luti was anti-German, the Argentine naval attach, Commander Eduardo Ceballos, was a close collaborator. Ceballos was also intimately involved in the ill-advised Hellmuth affair of 1943 and passed information to Karl Arnold, head of Amt VI in Spain.353 Ceballos also allowed the SD to use the Argentine diplomatic pouch to send reports to and from Amt VI personnel in Argentina.354 Goyeneche went to Berlin in October 1942. He then traveled in the company of Gottfried Sandstede to visit the Spanish Blue Division on the Eastern Front. When Goyeneche returned to Germany he called on Reinebeck. In his postwar interrogation Reinebeck stated that Goyeneche wished to meet with Foreign Minister Ribbentrop and with Hitler.355 Goyeneche requested the meetings with Hitler and Ribbentrop at the behest of Castillo and Ruiz-Guiaz. On 16 November the German embassy in Buenos Aires requested that the AA agree to a meeting between Goyeneche and Ribbentrop. The request came from Ruiz-Guiaz through Amadeo. The meeting was ostensibly to

asked him what help Germany could give him in the presidential election. Becker stated that Goyeneche was acceptable and advised caution with Escobar. See Argentina to Berlin, 18 May, 9 June, and 4 July 1943, RG 226, Records of the OSS, OSS Communication Office Records, Ultra Decrypts. 351 Affidavit of Otto Reinebeck, 24 January 1946, NARA, RG 59, ABB, Box 6740, p. 4. 352 Ibid and Interrogation of Theodor Paeffgen, 1 October 1945, RG 59, M679, Roll 3, Frame 950. 353 Affidavit of Theodor Paeffgen, 4 February 1946, RG 59, ABB, Box 6740, p. 6. For his part Arnold stated that Ceballos never worked for the SD in any official capacity. See Interrogation Report of Karl Gustav Arnold 9, 11, 12, 17 September; 15, 16, 18, 21, 24, 29, 31 October; 5, 8, 12 November 1946, NARA, RG 65, File 64-24854-Sec. 1, Box 17, p. 40. 354 Affidavit of Walter Schellenberg, 6 February 1946, RG 59, ABB, Box 6740, p. 2. 355 Affidavit of Otto Reinebeck, 24 January 1946, NARA, RG 59, ABB, Box 6740, p. 3. It does not seem that Goyeneche met with Hitler however the evidence on this point is contradictory.

157 discuss various cultural, political and economic matters important to Argentina. Goyeneche was to report the results of his meetings to Castillo, Ruiz-Guiaz and leaders in the nationalist movement in Argentina.356 Reinbeck arranged the meeting which was held on 30 November 1942 at Ribbentrops estate in Westphalia, with Sandstede acting as interpreter. The meeting covered various topics and lasted for several hours.357 Goyeneche told Ribbentrop that he had come to see for himself the situation in Europe and learn the opinion of the German, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese governments regarding Argentina. Goyeneche would then relay their answers to Castillo and leaders in the Argentine nationalist movement, especially the military. Goyeneche wanted to address three points: 1. Following Germanys conquest of Russia and its attainment of autarky, will Germany still be interested in trade with Argentina? 2. Will Germany recognize Argentinas right to the Falkland Islands? 3. Given that Argentina has a natural affinity with Europe and considers itself economically, racially, and culturally European what is the German opinion regarding Spain serving as a bridge in helping Argentina adjust to the new European order? Goyeneche also sought German support for a nationalist candidate (possibly Escobar) in Argentine presidential elections scheduled for 1943. If Germany would not give such support, then would Germany consider supporting a coup to maintain President Castillo in office? Goyeneche stated that this was especially important given the life and death

Pochhammer to AA, 16 November 1942, Bro des Staatssekretrs, Argentinien Band 2, NARA, RG 242/T-120/26/27496. 357 For transcripts of the meeting see, Aufzeichnung des Wissenschaftlichen Hilfsarbeiter Brandau, Betrifft: Unterredung des Herrn Reichsaussenministers mit dem Argentinier Juan Carlos Goyeneche am 30 November 1942 im Gut Westfalen, 7 December 1942, Document No. 264, Akten zur Deutschen Auswrtigen Politik, Serie E, Band IV, 1 Oktober bis 31 Dezember 1942 (Gttingen: Vandenhoeck & Rupprecht, 1975), pp. 464-472 and Blancke to Cummings, Full Translation of Ribbentrop-Goyeneche Conversation, 17 July 1945, RG 59, ABB, Miscellaneous Affidavits and Interrogation Reports, Box 23, Entry 1088.

356

158 struggle between Argentina and the U.S. which threatens the existence of the nation. Goyeneche also wanted an official German statement that Germany had no territorial ambitions in South America. He explained this would counteract U.S. propaganda and feature prominently in his pro-German propaganda program.358 Ribbentrop was verbose in his answers. He first stated that he was glad to hear that Argentina recognized that the current situation was a battle that would determine the fate of all civilization for centuriesWe know that international Jewry, on the one hand behind the capitalistic mask and on the other behind the Bolshevist, pursues its end.359 Ribbentrop then went on to answer Goyeneches queries. In answering the first question Ribbentrop replied, If Argentina maintains its present stand, she will profit greatly over the countries which have not taken such a stand. We could take everything that Argentina produced no matter how much it might be. question Ribbentrop told Goyeneche: England is our enemyGibraltar is truly a grotesque example in this story, for certainly nobody can question that it lies on the Iberian Peninsula. Likewise, the Falklands are at least nearer Argentina than to England. Therefore we have great sympathy for the justifiable Argentine interest. But, I believe that, unless Argentina takes care, it may be that the United States will take over these islands. On the issue of Spain constituting a bridge between Argentina and Europe Ribbentrop stated: The establishment of her cultural and spiritual relationship with Europe is in the first rank of Argentine duties. We shall in any case constantly promote the existing unity between Spain and Argentina.360 Regarding the second

Ibid and Affidavit of Otto Reinebeck, 24 January 1946, NARA, RG 59, ABB, Box 6740, p. 3. Unterredung des Herrn Reichsaussenministers mit dem Argentinier Juan Carlos Goyeneche 7 December 1942, No. 264, E, IV, p. 465. 360 Ibid, pp. 470-472 and Goi, The Real Odessa, pp. 8-9.
359

358

159 The rest of the interview consisted of a long anti-semitic diatribe delivered by Ribbentrop. Given Goyeneches racial views, as well as Argentinas reactions towards its Jewish citizens in Nazi-occupied Europe, Ribbentrops diatribe was understandable. At the conclusion of their meeting Ribbentrop presented to Goyeneche a photograph of himself with a personal dedication.361 While Ribbentrops private views of Goyeneche are unknown, Goyeneche was unimpressed with Ribbentrop and found him distasteful.362 He wrote Amadeo that, As an individual he [Ribbentrop] causes a bad impression, pedantic and close-minded. He later told Karl Arnold that Ribbentrop had left a bad taste in his mouth and had not allowed Goyeneche to say more than a half a dozen sentences.363 Whatever Goyeneches opinion of Ribbentrop, he obtained permission from the Foreign Minister to use the German diplomatic code to send the results of his meeting back to Buenos Aires. Reinebeck encoded the message and sent it to Meynen in Buenos Aires who passed it onto persons in the Argentine government.364 Even though Ribbentrop was cooperative Goyeneche found another willing partner in Ribbentrops rivals, Walter Schellenberg and Heinrich Himmler.

Affidavit of Otto Reinebeck, 24 January 1946, NARA, RG 59, ABB, Box 6740, p. 5. See Michael Bloch, Ribbentrop (London: Abacus Books, 2003). 363 Interrogation Report of Karl Gustav Arnold, 9, 11, 12, 17 September; 15,16, 18,21,24, 29, 31 October; 5, 8 12 November 1946, NARA, RG 65, File 64-24854-Sec. 1, Box 17, p. 38 and Goi, The Real Odessa, p. 9. 364 Reinebeck confirms that Goyeneche asked to use the German diplomatic code. He states that Goyeneche wanted to use it to send the information to Colonel Enrique P. Gonzlez who would give it to Juan Pern. However, at this time Gonzlez and Pern were not involved in the government. This could either be a misstatement on Reinebecks part or there was a later meeting between Goyeneche and Ribbentrop following the coup of 4 June 1943. Reinebeck also contradicts himself, stating in his 24 January 1946 affidavit that the messages were to be sent to Gonzlez for Pern. In his 4 February 1946 affidavit he states the messages were to be given to Commander Eduardo Aumann and passed onto Amadeo. See Affidavit of Otto Reinebeck, 24 January 1946, NARA, RG 59, ABB, Box 6740, p. 3 and Affidavit of Otto Reinebeck, 4 February 1946, NARA, RG 59, ABB, Box 6740, p. 5. Goi accepts Reinebecks 4 February assertion uncritically. See Goi, The Real Odessa, p. 11.
362

361

160 Following his meeting with Ribbentrop, Goyeneche made the acquaintance of Theodor Paeffgen, head of Amt VI/D 4, a sub-office of Amt VI responsible for intelligence operations in North and South America and the Iberian Peninsula. Goyeneche was then introduced to Schellenberg who had various talks with him. Schellenberg then arranged for Goyeneche to have an audience with Himmler at the latters headquarters on the Eastern Front sometime in December 1942. The purpose of the meeting is somewhat contradictory in the documentary record. Goyeneche reported that the meeting was a general conversation, with both Himmler and himself being very cautious. Schellenberg avoided specifics and told his postwar interrogators that Himmler showed only his best side and would only engage in discussions concerning political matters.365 Given Goyeneches previous conversation with Pius XII about Argentina mediating a peace between Germany and the Western Powers, it is likely such a settlement was a topic of conversation. For his part Goyeneche scolded Himmler about Nazi church policy. Goyeneche told Himmler that he needed to be aware that Catholicism and Latin America were linked. If Germany failed to protect the Catholics of Europe, then South America would be lost as well. Schellenberg later stated that Himmler listened attentively and allowed Goyeneche to complete his line of argument. Instead of entering into a debate with Goyeneche Himmler skillfully turned the discussion toward common points of agreement, mainly their shared antipathy to Bolshevism. It is not known if Goyeneche broached the idea of a coup to Paeffgen, Schellenberg, or Himmler as he did with
Affidavit of Walter Schellenberg, 6 February 1946, NARA, RG 59, ABB, Box 6740, pp. 4-5, Affidavit of Theodor Paeffgen, 4 February 1946, RG 59, ABB, Box 6740, p. 5, Goi, The Real Odessa, p. 13.
365

161 Ribbentrop. He did discuss a link to the Vatican. What this link would entail is

unknown. Perhaps it was part of Schellenbergs desire to split the Western Alliance. Goyeneche later told Amadeo that Himmler was very interested to hear that I would be seeing the Pope and expressly asked me to inform the Pope that I found him to be a very approachable person, especially in religious matters. While these matters were probably discussed, there were other possible reasons for the meeting. In his postwar interrogation Paeffgen stated the real purpose of seeking contact with Escobar, Amadeo and Goyeneche, was to obtain intelligence regarding the U.S., in addition to getting reliable South American political information. For his part Karl Arnold stated that the purpose of Goyeneches visit with Ribbentrop and Himmler was to reconcile Hitlerism with Catholicism.366 Goyeneche left Germany for Spain in late 1942 or early 1943 to prepare for a second meeting in Rome with the Pope and Mussolini. While in Madrid he met with Francos brother in law, Ramn Serrano Suer. The meeting was ostensibly to discuss his upcoming meetings with Mussolini and Pius XII. Goyeneche arrived in Rome in March 1943. He held several meetings with Cardinal Giovanni Montini, the future Pope Paul VI, and two meetings with Pius XII. Whether he passed on Himmlers message or reiterated Schellenbergs and Himmlers desire for peace is unknown. The vagueness of the participants description of the Himmler/Goyeneche meeting begs several questions. Schellenberg told his postwar interrogators that his desire for a separate peace with the U.S. and Great Britain dated to the late summer of
Notes on the Interrogation of Walter Schellenberg, 6 February 1946, NARA, RG 59,ABB, Box 6740, p. 6, Notes on the Interrogation of Theodor Paeffgen, 4 February 1946, NARA, RG 59, ABB, Box 6740, p. 6, Interrogation Report of Karl Gustav Arnold, 9, 11, 12, 17 September; 15,16, 18,21,24, 29, 31 October; 5, 8 12 November 1946, NARA, RG 65, File 65-24854-Sec. 1, Box 17, p. 38, and Goi, The Real Odessa, p. 13.
366

162 1942. Schellenberg claimed that in August 1942 he held a meeting with Himmler at the latters headquarters on the Eastern Front where he broached the idea of a separate peace. A separate peace would serve two purposes: first, it would allow Germany to concentrate its military power against the Soviet Union and facilitate the ousting of Foreign Minister Ribbentrop. Ribbentrop was a bitter rival of Himmler and Schellenberg. Certainly Schellenberg, and possibly Himmler, felt that Ribbentrop was the main obstacle to any peace initiative. Schellenberg related that while Himmler was initially resistant to the idea he gave Schellenberg tentative approval.367 Schellenberg told his postwar interrogators that Himmler promised to try and convince Hitler that Ribbentrop had to be removed. However, Himmler was also very careful in approving Schellenbergs proposals. In his memoir and postwar interrogation Schellenberg claimed that Himmler told him if you make a serious error in your preparations I will drop you like a hot coal.368 Had Himmler decided in the summer of 1942 that Germany could lose the war and the only way to salvage any hope of victory lay in Schellenbergs scheme? If Himmler had decided this then it certainly ran counter to Germanys perceived military situation in the summer of 1942. At the time the meeting took place German forces had pushed deep into the southern region of the Soviet Union and stood poised to capture Stalingrad and the oil-rich region of the Caucasus. In North Africa, Rommel had taken Tobruk and pushed the British back into Egypt where
367 368

Paehler, Espionage, Ideology and Personal Politics, pp. 412-413. Walter Schellenberg, The Labyrinth: Memoirs of Walter Schellenberg, Hitlers Chief of Counterintelligence , trans. Louis Hagen (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1956; reprint, Cambridge MA: Da Capo Press, 2000), p. 315 and Final Report on the Case of Walter Schellenberg, NARA, RG 319, Individual Records Repository (IRR), XE 001725, Walter Schellenberg, Folders 7 & 8. Quoted in Paehler, Espionage, Ideology and Personal Politics, p. 413. Paehler notes there is no independent confirmation of the meeting, even Himmlers very detailed appointment book does not note the meeting.

163 he stood poised to capture the Suez Canal.369 Germany was seemingly on the edge of victory: Why pursue any peace negotiations at that moment? If one accepts Schellenbergs account, the question of why Himmler would risk sticking is neck out begs an answer. Ribbentrop was still in a strong position with Hitler and it was by no means certain that ousting him was a foregone conclusion. While removing Ribbentrop would have increased Himmlers and Schellenbergs power, Hitlers reaction was another story. How would Hitler have reacted to any such

proposal? Hitler believed in victory over his enemies even in the face of evidence to the contrary.370 Hitlers reaction to any proposal to split the alliance that possibly rested on Germany giving up any of its conquests would have been unknown. Himmler was also one of Hitlers most devoted followers. Why would he (literally) risk his neck supporting Schellenbergs iffy proposition? There is also the question of Himmlers meeting with Goyeneche in December 1942. Schellenbergs and Goyeneches accounts of the meeting raise several questions. What was really discussed in the meeting between Goyeneche and Himmler? It stretches the imagination that Himmler would have agreed to a meeting with an unofficial Argentine envoy simply to be chastised about Nazi views on Catholicism. Such an outcome would have probably earned Schellenberg a tongue-lashing from the extremely busy Reichsfhrer, not to mention a rebuke for wasting Himmlers time on such a trivial matter. Himmler knew that Goyeneche was going to meet Pius XII did he know about

369 370

For the German victories in 1942 see Citino, Death of the Wehrmacht. The best biography on Hitler remains the two-volume study by Ian Kershaw. For his analysis of Hitlers views on Germanys victory in the war see Ian Kershaw, Hitler: 1936-1945 Nemesis (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 2000).

164 Goyeneches first meeting with the Pope? If he was aware of the first meeting, did he know that the topic of a separate peace with the Western Allies was discussed? As historian David Alvarez points out the Germans knew a lot of what was discussed in the Vatican.371 If Himmler knew the details of the meeting his reaction is unknown. Also, why would Himmler need Goyeneche to give the Pope assurances that Himmler was very approachable, especially in religious matters?372 Surely Himmler had other people to do that for him. The purpose of Himmlers meeting with Goyeneche remains murky. Schellenbergs timeline of his scheme to split the Western Alliance fits with the available evidence. However, Schellenberg is far from a reliable witness and Goyeneches account is too general to be helpful. Was ousting Ribbentrop the point of Schellenbergs scheme? In Schellenbergs view it was a necessary precondition. Were Goyeneches two meetings with the Pope undertaken at the behest of Schellenberg? What was Himmlers role in Schellenbergs plans? If Schellenbergs account about his meeting with Himmler in the summer of 1942 is true, it raises questions about Himmlers views of Hitler and his loyalty to the Fhrer. Of course, the possibility that Goyeneches and Schellenbergs accounts of the meeting between Himmler and Goyeneche are true has to be considered. However, the questions raised above argue that such might not be the case. What is certain is the AA was unhappy about Goyeneches conversation with Himmler. On 4 January 1943 Schellenberg gave Martin Luther, head of Abteilung Deutschland, the SDs analysis of Goyeneches conversation with Ribbentrop.
371

For this see David Alvarez and Robert Graham S.J., Nothing Sacred: Nazi Espionage against the Vatican (Portland, OR and London: Frank Cass, 1997). 372 Goi, The Real Odessa, p. 13

165 Schellenberg also made recommendations for follow-up action.373 Luther sent Schellenbergs memorandum to Ribbentrop who was not pleased at Schellenbergs brazenness. He ordered Woermann to draft a reply to the SD stating the AA was aware of the issues Goyeneche related and told the SD not to meddle in AA business.374 Foreshadowing future events, Reinebeck later claimed to his postwar interrogators that Ribbentrop told him SD intrigues would ruin Germanys relationship with Argentina.375 Following Thermanns departure, the U.S. entry into the war and military reverses on the Eastern Front, German relations with Argentina seemed relatively secure. U.S. aid to Brazil had forced Argentina to turn to Nazi Germany for weapons. Castillo had continually assured Germany that it would not break relations. Goyeneches contacts with high-level officials in Nazi Germany augured well for the future. However, there were reasons for worry. Germanys inability to supply weapons to Argentina continued to be a source of contention between the two nations. Additionally, Goyeneches

conversations with Himmler were the beginning of SS attempts to supplant the AA as the primary instrument of Nazi foreign policy. While Ribbentrop apparently understood the threat the SS posed, for the moment he was unable to act. Ribbentrop had more

immediate concerns regarding Argentina. However, the lack of any long-range strategic policy again came to the fore. In late November AA requested Meynen make

recommendations to bolster Castillo and Argentine neutrality.

Schellenberg to Luther, 4 January 1943, Politisches Archiv Auswrtiges Amt, Berlin, Inland II G: Sdamerika: SD-Meldungen aus Sdamerika. 374 Woermann to Schellenberg, 13 January 1943, Ibid. 375 Interrogation of Otto Reinebeck, 4 February 1946, RG 59, 862.20235/4-2646, ABB, Box 6740, p. 10 and Newton, The Nazi Menace, p. 241.

373

166 On 3 December 1942 Meynen recommended that Germany adopt the following measures to support Castillo and his policy. First, Germany should supply practical help to the Argentine military. Second, assure Argentina that it would respect its merchant shipping and ships flying the Argentine flag. Third, provide financial support to

Robustiano Patrn Costas the presidential candidate Castillo anointed as his successor. Fourth, strengthen Chilean neutrality through economic offers. Continued Chilean

neutrality would bolster Argentinas neutrality. Economically, Germany should enter into negotiations to buy Argentine products. Despite being unable to export the products, an agreement would show Argentina that it was important to Germany economically. The Wehrmacht should issue statements trumpeting German military superiority. This would convince Argentina that Germany will win the war and counteract U.S. and British propaganda. The embassy would also increase its support to pro-German newspapers. This press campaign would include supporting Castillos chosen successor. This support would counteract U.S. backing for former president Justo who was expected to run against Castillos candidate. Meynen noted that funds were badly needed to carry out the propaganda campaign. He concluded by telling the AA that Argentina had to be

convinced that Germany would eventually win the war.376 Most of Meynens recommendations were not new. In 1939 Thermann and the other German ambassadors in Latin America had made similar recommendations.377
376

Meynen to AA, 3 December 1942, Bro des Staatssekretrs, Argentinien, Band 2, NARA RG 242/T120/26/27543-27544. 377 See Aufzeichnung ber die Zusammenkunft der deutschen Missionchefs in Argentinien, Brasilien, Chile, und Uruguay in Montivideo am 28 und 29 Juli 1938, Bro des Chefs der AO, NARA RG 242/T120/218/168208-215 also Thermann to Auswartiges Amt, Enclosure: Memorandum of the Meeting in Montevideo of the Chiefs of Missions in Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Uruguay, July 28 and 29, 1938, 2 August 1938, Doc. 624, DGFP, D, v. 2, pp. 863-867.

167 Most of the issues Meynen covered could have been anticipated by a comprehensive review of Germanys foreign policy towards Argentina. It appears that no such review was conducted or even recommended. The fact that the same recommendations had been made for over three years without being implemented is inexplicable. While Germanys main foci were the war in Russia, the Atlantic and North Africa it did consider Argentina important. Ribbentrops statements to Reinebeck illustrated the importance Nazi

Germany placed on continued Argentine neutrality. In his postwar interrogation Reinebeck stated that Ribbentrop told him Argentina is the last German bridgehead in the Western Hemisphere, the maintenance and development of which are of the greatest significance for later on.378 While the meaning of this statement is open to interpretation, the archival record is clear. German diplomacy towards Argentina was conducted on a reactive ad hoc basis. Whether this was through incompetent guidance, neglect, or design is not clear. One explanation for his statement to Reinebeck is that Ribbentrop felt that Germany would win the war and any long-term problems could then be solved. Ribbentrop also could have discerned Hitlers wishes in one of his many conversations with him and saw himself as working towards the Fhrer.379 Perhaps Hitler saw Argentina as a future ally or as a base for operations against the Western Hemisphere once the war in the East was won.380 Since Hitler had not formulated clear plans regarding future goals in the Western Hemisphere, this forestalled any long-term planning on the AAs part. The fact
Interrogation of Otto Reinebeck, 4 February 1946, RG 59, 862.20235/4-2646, ABB, p. 7. For a discussion of this concept see Ian Kershaw, The Hitler Myth: Image and Reality in the Third Reich (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001). 380 See Norman J.W. Goda, Tomorrow the World: Hitler, Northwest Africa and the Path Toward America (College Station: Texas A&M Press, 1998).
379 378

168 that German diplomats in Latin America sent the AA the same recommendations over and over illustrates the myopia or incompetence of the AA. Additionally, Thermann was never queried as to his opinion regarding German-Argentine relations. His experiences in Argentina would have been an invaluable contribution to any prospective policy. The fact that Castillo did not break relations with Nazi Germany is somewhat remarkable. Argentina was probably convinced Germany would win the war and enrich it through lucrative trade deals. Castillo and Ruiz-Guiaz also stood to gain

international prestige if they could mediate a peace agreement between Germany, the U.S. and Great Britain. 1942 also saw the SS hunger for more and more control over foreign and domestic affairs in Nazi Germany. Ribbentrop realized that SS meddling in foreign policy would be disastrous. Himmlers meeting with Goyeneche and

Schellenbergs impertinence towards the AA foreshadowed a full assault by Schellenberg on Ribbentrop and the AA. Himmler and Schellenbergs support of Martin Luther against Ribbentrop in February 1943 and the Hellmuth affair of October 1943 were serious attempts by the SS to remove Ribbentrop and replace the AA as the lead agency in Nazi foreign policy.

169

Chapter 4 The Rise and Fall of the Abwehr in South America, 1941-1943

Hitler viewed neutrality with disdain. Such was exemplified by his complete disregard for the neutrality of Denmark, Norway, Holland, Luxembourg and Belgium. In contrast, his subordinates were very pragmatic. While they had no hesitation about using neutral territory to aid their masters expansionistic policies and help Germany attain her goal of world domination, they were mindful of Argentinas neutrality. In some ways, this respect for Argentinas neutrality was reminiscent of Germanys policies during the First World War when Argentina was a center for German intelligence operations. German spy networks at that time were controlled through the German embassy in Buenos Aires under the direction of German Minister Count Karl von Luxburg, then later the German Naval Attach Augustus Moller.381 This setup was similar to that being run by the German Embassy in the U.S. during the First World War where intelligence and sabotage activities were headed by the German military attach and future Chancellor Franz von Papen.382 This pattern of directing intelligence activities under the protection of diplomatic immunity was repeated during the Second World War.383

Joseph S. Tulchin, The Origins of Misunderstanding: United States-Argentine Relations, 1900-1940, in Argentina between the Great Powers, 1919-1946, ed. Guido di Tella and D. Cameron Watt (Oxford: Macmillan, 1989), p. 42. 382 See Chad Millman, The Detonators: The Secret Plot to Destroy America and the Epic Hunt for Justice (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2006). Millman used the extensive records of the GermanAmerican Mixed Claims Commission as the basis for his book and many of the principles who were involved with the Mixed Claims Commission would deal with Germany or German espionage in World War II, such as John J. McCloy and J. Edgar Hoover. Cordell Hull would be briefed on the GermanAmerican Mixed Claims Commission as well, which probably influenced later decisions he would make

381

170 Abwehr intelligence and smuggling activities in Latin America were under the control of naval attach Kapitan zur See (Captain) Dietrich Niebuhr (codename: Diego). His activities are shrouded in more secrecy than those of the German

diplomatic mission. Exploring the diplomatic side of German actions in Argentina is relatively easy given the voluminous records of the German Foreign Office. Niebuhrs activities are more difficult to follow since he consistently lied during his postwar interrogations. One interrogator noted that, I got the feeling that he [Niebuhr] was really laughing at usGetting information you want out of him was like pulling teeth384 The loss and destruction of most of the Abwehrs records at the end of the war similarly make a detailed reconstruction of Niebuhrs activities difficult. Latin America was not high on the list of priorities facing the Abwehr and SD in the first year of the war. When the Luftwaffe was defeated in the skies over Great Britain in August and September 1940 forcing the postponement of a German invasion, Latin America became a higher priority. The Battle of the Atlantic required intelligence on shipping and Buenos Aires and other Latin American cities were major ports. Niebuhr had to build a network from scratch. That he did so is a testament to his skill and resourcefulness. Unlike the AA and Abwehrs contentious relationship with the SD, Niebuhr and the Abwehr had a generally harmonious relationship with the embassy and AA. Canaris and his subordinates generally deferred to the career diplomats on matters
regarding Argentina. See also Jules Witcover, Sabotage at Black Tom: Imperial Germany's Secret War in America, 1914-1917 (Chapel Hill: Algonquin Books, 1989). 383 The Germans were not the only ones who did this, most of the major belligerents in the Second World War used their embassies to direct intelligence and counter-intelligence operations. 384 Handwritten note attached to Final Interrogation Report of Kapitan zur See Dietrich Niebuhr, (hereafter Niebuhr Interrogation 1), 20 June 1946, National Archives and Records Administration, Record Group 65, Records of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, File 64-20041, Box 9. See also Rout and Bratzel, The Shadow War, p. 330.

171 affecting Germanys relations with other countries unlike the SD who ignored the AA when it could.385 In return, the embassy staff covertly aided operations such as the escape of the crew of the battle cruiser Graf Spee back to Germany. It also provided money for agents and information. Niebuhr set up an intelligence network that provided valuable information to the Kriegsmarine on British ships entering and leaving Buenos Aires harbor. Niebuhrs network provided exactly what his superiors in Germany desired and focused on providing tactical intelligence. As Roberta Ratcliff points out, longer-term, strategic intelligence held less interest for Wehrmacht commanders.386 This description could also apply to the Seekriegsleitung which wanted enemy shipping information for its U-boats. Niebuhr and his organization focused on providing tactical intelligence to the detriment of strategic issues. Such intelligence-gathering harkened back to the First World War, where German spies provided similar information. This chapter investigates German intelligence activities in Argentina from 19391943. This period was the high-water mark for the Abwehr in Latin America. It will also examine the creation of the Bolvar radio network which marked an unusual attempt at cooperation between the AA, Abwehr, and SD. As Gustav Utzinger (aka Wolf Franczok, codename: Luna), creator of Bolvar remarked, It was well known that between 1942 and 1944 there was a jurisdictional fight between Heinrich Himmlers RSHA and the military Abwehr.387 He was probably aware of such a struggle between the SD and AA

Katrin Paehler, Espionage, Ideology and Personal Politics: The Making and Unmaking of a Nazi Foreign Intelligence Service (Washington D.C.: American University, PhD diss., 2002), p. 366. 386 R.A. Ratcliff, Delusions of Intelligence: Enigma, Ultra, and the End of Secure Ciphers (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006), p. 34. 387 Report of Interrogation of Wolf Emil Franczok Alias Gustav Utzinger, July-September 1947, NARA, RG 65, 64-22460-13, Box 14, p. 25. While Franczok was his real name, he was known under the alias of

385

172 as well. This chapter will argue that Argentina benignly allowed naval attach Niebuhr to run his intelligence-gathering network until U.S. pressure forced his removal. It will also show the interconnection between intelligence-gathering activities and diplomacy in the Third Reich and the effect of such activities on German relations with Argentina. Niebuhr had been the German naval attach to Argentina since 1936. He was born on 21 October 1888 in Silesia and entered the German Imperial Navy in 1907. During the First World War he served on U-boats and was the first officer on U-233 which had the distinction on 5 September 1914 of being the first ship to fire a torpedo striking a British vessel. Niebuhr was promoted and slated to command U-45 until an illness caused his transfer to the Office of the Chief of Staff in charge of submarine warfare. In 1919 Niebuhr was discharged from the Navy and married Elisabeth Schubert. While his activities from 1919-1923 are unknown, he claimed to his post-war interrogators that from 1924-1930 he managed a farm for his cousin in Esdorf, Silesia. In 1930, he further stated that he moved to another farm and took classes at the University of Breslau.388 Niebuhrs postwar claims about his activities during this period were false. In 1929 he was hired by the Reichsmarine (as the German Navy was known in the 1920s) to act as its representative in Argentina.389 This appointment might have been at the behest of Captain Wilhelm Canaris who had visited Argentina the previous year, but more likely it came from Kapitan zur See Konrad Patzig. He was an old classmate of Niebuhrs and
Gustav Utzinger, which will be used throughout this study. As for his interrogation and affidavits, both names are used interchangeably and the original title of each will be used. 388 Final Interrogation Report of Kapitan zur See Dietrich Niebuhr, 20 June 1946, NARA, RG 65, 6420041, Box 9, p.2. 389 Elizabeth White, German Influence in the Argentine Army, p. 47.

173 Wilhelm Canaris predecessor as head of the Abwehr. In his postwar interrogation Niebuhr claimed that he only returned to the Navy in 1932 after being asked by two former classmates Gunther Ltjens, future admiral aboard the ill-fated battleship Bismarck, and Patzig. Niebuhr said he was unable to return to active duty right away due to the limitations of the Versailles treaty, so he served as a civilian in the Abwehr but was paid an officers salary. Contradicting his earlier testimony Niebuhr also stated after the war that because of financial difficulties he was unable to continue his studies and took a job as a salesman for the Dutch shipbuilding firm Ingeneur Kontor fr Schiffsbau. Elizabeth White shows that during 1932 his job took him to Spain, Argentina, Portugal and Brazil. This job was a cover for his real activities, including the lobbying of South American governments so that they would buy German ships and equipment. Niebuhr was successful. The Argentine Navy purchased large quantities of equipment from the Dutch subsidiaries of German companies including Zeiss and Siemens. It is also possible Niebuhr helped arrange the travel of Argentine naval officers to Germany so they could be trained on the equipment their government purchased.390 In October 1933 Niebuhr was commissioned as a supplementary officer with the rank of Korvettenkapitan (Lieutenant Commander). In 1936 he was promoted to Frigattenkapitan (Commander) and finally Kapitan zur See in April 1939.391 Niebuhr openly admitted in his postwar interrogation that he had worked for the Abwehr, but he said that this connection lasted only until 1936 when he sought a better

390 391

Ibid. Final Interrogation Report of Kapitan zur See Dietrich Niebuhr, NARA, RG 65, 64-20041, Box 9, p.

3.

174 posting.392 In any event he was appointed naval attach in Argentina owing to his mastery of Spanish. He was also accredited to Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Chile. The outbreak of the war found Niebuhr scrambling to set up a network to provide shipping information to U-boats operating in the Atlantic. Niebuhr knew that setting up

intelligence networks required money and he had a ready supply at hand. He claimed in his postwar interrogation that between 1936 and 1939 Oberkommando der Marine (OKM) Abt A/3 (later Information Abteilung, Seekriegsleitung) sent him approximately 650,000 Reichsmarks in dollars, pounds and Argentine pesos. It was a lot of money in light of Germanys shortage of foreign currency reserves.393 While Niebuhr never fully elaborated on how he was to use the money, he admitted to his interrogators that he used some of the money to pay his agents.394 He was probably being truthful with the exception of substituting OKM Abt A/3 for the Abwehr. It is also possible that the Abwehr sent him the money to use for intelligence purposes if war broke out. Upon the outbreak of the war Niebuhrs first task was to arrange for the departure to Germany of as many merchant ships as possible. Niebuhr was aided in this endeavor by the embassy, Antonio Delfino, and Thilo Martens, North German Lloyd agent for Argentina. Niebuhr claimed the embassy was instructed to give him all possible

assistance and not to interfere. He used 500,000 pesos (approximately $170,000) to help bribe officials and secure passage for the ships. It should be noted that the shipping agents paid the actual expenses for supplies, fuel and equipment. The operation was
392 393

Memorandum, re. Dietrich Niebuhr, NARA, RG 65, 64-20041, Box 9, p. 3. See Adam Tooze, The Wages of Destruction: The Making and Breaking of the Nazi Economy (New York: Viking, 2007). 394 Final Interrogation Report of Kapitan zur See Dietrich Niebuhr, NARA, RG 65, 64-20041, Box 9, p. 6.

175 considered a success since 50% of the shipping managed to make it safely back to Germany. Three ships that were unable to leave were later purchased by the Argentine government when it formed its State Merchant Fleet.395 Niebuhrs skills were tested following the Battle of the River Plate in December 1939. On 13 December 1939 the pocket battleship Graf Spee was forced to put into Montevideo, Uruguay to repair battle damage from its fight with three British cruisers. According to international law combat vessels were only allowed to remain in neutral harbors for seventy-two hours. Hans Langsdorff, captain of the Graf Spee, unable to persuade the Uruguayans to extend the deadline, determined that his ship would be unable to defeat the British ships awaiting his exit from the harbor. On 17 December Langsdorff sailed his ship into international waters and scuttled it. Several days later he committed suicide.396 The German embassy in Buenos Aires asked the Argentine government to accept the internees. The Ortiz government vacillated and claimed it did not have facilities to house the men. While the embassy awaited an answer Niebuhr arranged with his friend Rudolf Hepe to hire Delfino company vessels to bring the surviving one thousand crew members to Argentina. The arrival of the crew members presented the Argentine government with a fait accompli and caused a storm of protest in

395

Interrogation of Captain Dietrich Niebuhr, 25 October, 2 and 6 November 1945, RG 59, State Department Special Interrogation Mission (Dewitt C. Poole Mission), Serial M679, Roll 3, p. 10. Poole had served in the U.S. embassy in Buenos Aires during the war. Following Germanys surrender he was charged with determining the extent of German intelligence activities in Latin America. Despite operating under enormous pressure and time constraints, his teams interrogations are very well done. It is amazing how much they knew before they sat down and interrogated their subjects and were able to get most to talk freely and honestly. 396 See Rout and Bratzel, The Shadow War, p. 332. The battle was much-publicized and written about. A recent search revealed almost 500 books in Spanish, English and German relating to the Graf Spee and the Battle of the River Plate. It is astonishing that a minor skirmish such as this could generate so much scholarship.

176 Argentina. Niebuhr managed to calm the situation by suggesting that the officers and men be housed in German structures such as rest homes and schools. The Argentine government rejected Niebuhrs suggestion and placed the crew in internment camps controlled by the Argentine military. It helped that Niebuhr was generous in handing out bribes to prevent the crewmembers being returned to Uruguay.397 After ensconcing the crew in their internment camps, Niebuhr set about arranging their escape back to Europe. He and his assistants, Lieutenant Franz Mammen and Lieutenant Martin Mller, visited the camps several times and ascertained that the Argentine guards would do little to stop a determined escape effort. Mammen was a merchant marine officer whose ship was interned in Uruguay in November 1939. When the ship was sold to Argentina in March 1940 he moved to Buenos Aires and obtained a job on Niebuhrs staff. Mammens duties were limited to being a cipher clerk and performing general duties. Mller was a timber merchant from Hamburg who was caught in South America when war broke out. He was subsequently attached to

Niebuhrs office where he acted as Niebuhrs assistant. Mller also functioned as Niebuhrs contact with the various agents employed by the attachs office.398 Under Niebuhrs orders he directed missions, made payments to agents and contacted informants. Both men were also commissioned reserve naval officers.399 They stated to their postwar interrogators that their knowledge of intelligence operations was limited. Both men claimed Niebuhr was extremely secretive and the only person he appeared to

Memorandum, re. Dietrich Niebuhr, RG 65, 64-20041, Box 9, p. 8, Rout and Bratzel, The Shadow War, p. 332. 398 Full Report on Brandt et. al., February 28, 1946, NARA, RG 65, 65-56876-1, Box: Targets, pp. 2-3. 399 Interrogation of Brandt et. al., NARA, RG 59, 862.20235/10-1646, Box 6742, p. 2.

397

177 confide in was Charg d Affairs Meynen.400 In January 1940 two other men, Eugen Langer (code name: Eugen) and Wilhelm von Seidlitz (code name: Dicker) helped arrange for some Graf Spee crewmembers to be smuggled back to Germany on Spanish and Portuguese ships leaving various ports in Argentina. Other men were taken to Chile where another member of Niebuhrs network, Friedrich von Schulz-Hausmann, director of North German Lloyds Valparaiso affiliate, arranged for their passage back to Germany via Vladivostok on Japanese flagged ships.401 Like the escape of the merchant ships, the repatriation of the Graf Spee crew was considered a success. Nearly two hundred crewmembers were returned to the Third Reich. Most were officers and technicians who returned to the war in the Atlantic. The cost of the operation was at least seventy thousand dollars.402 In some ways, it was a bargain for the German Navy since it got back trained, battle-tested crewmen. In his postwar interrogation Niebuhr expressed surprise that the Argentine parliament and press had attacked him for aiding the escape of the Graf Spee crew. He stated that no crew member had broken his word of honor or taken advantage of any furlough to escape. Niebuhr emphasized that the sailors were duty-bound to do everything possible to escape. Nevertheless, Niebuhr explained that the sailors had only promised not to escape when on leave and it was only valid for the duration of the leave. Besides, Niebuhr innocently explained, he had not taken part in the escape of the crew members. How could he, when

400 401

Ibid, p. 11. For more information on Schulz-Hausmanns background see NARA, RG 319, GELA, p. 101. 402 Final Interrogation Report of Kapitan zur See Dietrich Niebuhr, NARA, RG 65, 64-20041, Box 9, p. 6 and Sworn Statement of Esteban J. Amorin, 8 May 1947, NARA, RG 65, 64-20041, Box 9, p. 1.

178 he was sitting at his desk in the embassy?403 Thermann and Niebuhr decided in November 1940 to halt the escape of the Graf Spee crew.404 The operations were causing diplomatic problems with other Latin American nations. Niebuhr also headed the effort to smuggle strategic materials from Latin America to Germany. The smuggling of such materials was initially a low priority. However, the British blockade of Germany made the acquisition of minerals such as mica, platinum and industrial diamonds imperative since Germany needed these materials for its war industries. Niebuhr delegated day to day operation of smuggling to Seidlitz. Seidlitz was also a contact person for Johannes Siegfried Becker, head of SD intelligence for South America. Seidlitz recruited two Spaniards, Esteban Jess Amorin and Juan Antonio Prieto, to scour the dock areas of Buenos Aires and find sailors willing to act as couriers. Another recruit was Jos Mella Alfageme, who allegedly worked for Spanish military intelligence. Over the course of his smuggling career Alfageme admitted to smuggling a ton and a half of liver extract to German agents in Spain.405 Liver extract was highly valued since it was thought to improve night vision. While Amorin and Prieto operated out of Buenos Aires, Alfageme set up his base in Rosario, Argentinas second largest

Memorandum, re. Dietrich Niebuhr, NARA, RG 65, 64-20041, Box 9, p. 9 and Interrogation of Captain Dietrich Niebuhr, NARA, RG 59/M679/3, p. 11. 404 Thermann to Berlin, 30 November 1940, Handakten Clodius, NARA, RG 242/T-120/178/86484, also The Embassy in Argentina to the Foreign Ministry, 30 November 1940, Doc. 429, DGFP, D, XI, p. 754. 405 German Espionage in Latin America (hereafter GELA) (Washington D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1946), p. 140, NARA, RG 319, Records of the Army Staff, 1903-2006. Leslie B Rout Jr. and John F. Bratzel, The Shadow War: German Espionage and United States Counterespionage in Latin America during World War II (Frederick, MD: University Publications of America, 1986), p. 333. GELA was published by the FBI following the war for use by various agencies in determining the extent of German espionage in Latin America. It is extremely detailed and its findings are supported by documentary evidence from the German archives and interrogation reports. While its conclusions are a bit overdrawn, in the main it is a reliable source.

403

179 port.406 German agents in Argentina copied their predecessors from World War I and developed a sophisticated communication and smuggling network to Europe. Spanish steamers that put into ports in Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay were used to transmit military and economic reports back to Germany.407 While shipboard smuggling was essential for bulky items, most of the mica, platinum and industrial diamonds were smuggled via the Italian airline LATI which had flights from South America to Europe until January 1942. With the invasion of Russia in June 1941 Germanys need for these materials increased and the Abwehr station in Berlin decided to send an agent dedicated solely to the acquisition of needed materials. The agent, Georg Bcker, was a member of the I-L section (which handled aviation intelligence) in the Berlin Abwehr station. The Abwehr was a large organization with a cumbersome command structure. It consisted of four functional divisions and one administrative division. Abteilung I was the largest. It coordinated operations and forwarded requests for information from other agencies and then sent the answers to the requesting agency. Abteilung II was

responsible for physical sabotage and undermining enemy morale. It was under the command of Colonel, later Major-General, Erwin Lahousen. Abteilung III was

responsible for counter-sabotage, counter-espionage and security and was under the control of Colonel, later Major-General Franz-Eccard von Bentivegni. The

administrative section, Abteilung Z was under the direction of Colonel, later General

See Full Report of Gottfried Julius Brandt, Johann Martin Mller, Wilhelm von Pochhammer, Friedrich Grimm, Franz Mammen, Heinrich Volberg, (hereafter Full Report of Brandt et. al.), February 28, 1946, NARA, RG 65, 65-56876-1, Box: Targets, pp. ii and iv-vi. 407 Sheinin, Searching for Authority, p. 84.

406

180 Hans Oster.408 It performed administrative and finance operations for the respective Abteilungen. It also functioned as a historical archive and records-keeping department.409 There was also a foreign section called Amtsgruppe Ausland, which dealt with the various military attachs throughout the world. Though attachs were nominally under the

control of their respective services they also served as intelligence gathering personnel and forwarded pertinent information to the Abwehr.410 The principle task of the administrative sections was to supervise the units which carried out espionage and sabotage missions on the ground. These units were called Abwehrstellen, commonly abbreviated to Ast. Before the war there were twenty-one Abwehrstellen, one for each military district in Germany. As the German army

conquered more territory this number increased to thirty-three. Each Ast was usually commanded by an army colonel or navy captain and each was organized along the same lines as the headquarters in Berlin with an intelligence, sabotage and counterintelligence section. While the division chiefs in Berlin nominally issued orders and guidelines to the respective Ast, the Ast commanders could go directly to Canaris. Additionally each Ast was responsible for recruiting and training of agents. The Asts responsible for the Western Hemisphere were in Berlin, Hamburg and Brussels. Abwehrstellen also had branch offices called Nebenstellen, abbreviated as Nest. They were organized along the same lines as their parent Abwehrstellen and recruited and directed their own agents.
408

Oster was a participant in numerous plots to overthrow Hitler. He was arrested, tried and sentenced to death by hanging. See Michael Mller, The Life and Death of Hitlers Spymaster, Geoffrey Brooks, trans. (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2007), pp. 257-258. 409 Kahn, Hitlers Spies, 237-238 and Lauran Paine, German Military Intelligence in World War II: The Abwehr (New York: Stein and Day, 1984), pp. 12-13. 410 See Testimony of General Erwin Lahousen, 31 October 1945, NARA, RG 59/ M679/2/945-46. Lahousen describes the relationship between the Abwehr and attachs.

181 Commanded by a lieutenant colonel or commander, the two Nebenstellen concerned with Latin America were Nest Cologne and Nest Bremen.411 Alfred Burmeister, the commercial attach in the embassy in Buenos Aires, was charged with procuring funds for Bcker through Niebuhr.412 However, by the time he reached Buenos Aires in December 1941, Germany was at war with the U.S. and the LATI air route was shut down. The emphasis thus shifted to shipboard smuggling of materials.413 Germanys declaration of war on the U.S. also caused problems for Niebuhrs smuggling network in procuring needed materials. Recognizing Germanys need for platinum and other materials, the U.S. attempted to stop the sale of these minerals to German agents by contracting for the purchase of all legitimate stocks of platinum.414 These contracts drove up the price of platinum on the black market. By June 1942, the price had reached two hundred dollars an ounce. Sellers could charge such a high price since German agents were the only other market for their materials. The rise in prices for strategic materials forced the network to seek funds from Burmeister. On 6 November 1941 Ambassador Thermann reported the departure of a courier, Gustav Kahlmann, traveling with two platinum bars worth 15,874 pesos (approximately $3500.00). The bars had been purchased per instructions of the Auswrtiges Amt to the

Rout Bratzel, The Shadow War, pp. 5-6. Full Report on Brandt et. al., February 28, 1946, NARA, RG 65, 65-56876-1, Box: Targets, pp. iv-vi and Memorandum re; General Friedrich Wolf, 17 October 1945, NARA, RG 84, Records of the Foreign Service Posts of the Department of State, 1788-1964, Buenos Aries Embassy General Reports, File 820.02, box 533, appendix D, p. ix. 413 See Memorandum re: Georg Bcker, NARA, RG 84, 820.02, box 533 and Memorandum re; General Friedrich Wolf, 17 October 1945, NARA, RG 84, 820.02, box 533, appendix D, p. xvii. 414 The U.S. undertook vigorous efforts to stop the purchase of materials by German agents. See Rout and Bratzel, The Shadow War, pp. 334-335.
412

411

182 embassies in Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires.415 The extent of the network can be measured by estimates that placed the value of platinum, mica and industrial diamonds smuggled to Germany from 1941-44 at $1 million.416 Thermann later denied any knowledge of smuggling activities, but the evidence suggests otherwise. When the LATI air route was running it smuggled strategic materials back to Europe from 1940-41.417 Given the difficulty of traveling on LATI with the war in progress, the embassies in Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires had to have aided in the transport of these materials, especially if a courier was used.418 Niebuhr understood that intelligence activities were incompatible with his diplomatic status. To give himself plausible deniability Niebuhr operated through a series of front men who would meet with agents, make payments, and if necessary, take the blame in order to protect him. One of Niebuhrs recruits was Thilo Martens. Martens was the North German Lloyd Agent in Buenos Aires. Kapitan zur See Werner Dietel, head of the German Marine Sonderdienst Auslands, which focused on foreign navy operations, later claimed that Martens had been an agent of the Sonderdienst since at least 1935.419 Martens was in Germany when the war broke out discussing unknown matters with Sonderdienst personnel. Having served in the Navy in World War I, Martens wanted to rejoin the Navy, but Canaris persuaded him to return to Argentina. Canaris assured him that he would be more valuable there.
415 416

Martens returned to Argentina

Thermann to Berlin, 6 November 1941, Handakten Wiehl, RG 242/T-120/269/199292. Rout and Bratzel, The Shadow War, pp. 334 417 Enclosure to Dispatch No. 8342: Smuggling of Strategic Materials Out of Argentina for Enemy Destinations, 25 January 1943, RG 84, 820.02, Box 33, p. 3. 418 Johannes Siegfried Becker is a good example of the difficulty in traveling on LATI in 1940-41, see chapter 5. 419 Preliminary Interrogation Report on Capitan Werner Dietel, Chief of the German Marine Sonderdienst, 19 October 1946, NARA, RG 59, 862.20235/10-1946, Box: Niebuhr, p. 2.

183 through Sweden and the United States and then by airplane to Argentina. He then served as an intermediary between Niebuhr and agents in Brazil and Argentina.420 German businesses in Latin America provided cover for intelligence activities. It was not unusual for shipping agents to be around dock areas where they could report on ships arriving and departing. Businessmen could also travel without arousing suspicion. While businesses were ostensibly rivals, members of the Abwehr and SD acting under business cover could visit counterparts in other countries without drawing suspicion. In his post-war interrogation Hans Haack, an official in the AA Politische Abteilung (Political Department), stated that the Delfino Company was especially helpful in this regard.421 Ottomar Mller, Hans Napp and Friedrich Tadeo von Schulz-Hausmann operated under the guise of businessmen in carrying out their activities.422 The shipping company Transmare set up by the Abwehr as an intelligence front in Argentina was reportedly so successful that the business covered the costs of its agents. The German radio company Telefunken was also active in financing intelligence activities and money it allotted for this was credited to its account in Germany.423 Surely the men running these businesses knew of their employees activities. Gathering and transmitting information is a time-consuming process that would interfere with any legitimate business the company
Ibid and Rout and Bratzel, The Shadow War, p. 232. Though Martens was arrested in 1942 and 1944 in connection with espionage activities on both occasions he was released after a few days. In 1945 Martens visited the Legal Attach at the U.S. embassy in Buenos Aires and denied he ever took part in any intelligence operations. He claimed that he never took part in any activity that aided the German war effort and any activities which may have aided that effort were only done in the normal course of his duties at North German Lloyd. See Memorandum: re Thilo Martens, 5 October 1945, RG 59, 862.20235/10-3045, Box 6736: Becker, pp. 1-5. 421 Affidavit of Hans Haack Regarding Argentine-German Collaboration, 18 January 1946, RG 59, 862.20235/4-2646, ABB, Box 6740, p. 4. 422 Kahn, Hitlers Spies , p. 279. 423 Mader, Hitlers spionagegenerale, 90 also Affidavit of Hedwig Sommer, RG 59, 862.20235/4-2626, ABB, Box 6740, p. 7.
420

184 was conducting. The companies that participated in these activities probably felt that they were doing their patriotic duty, especially from 1939-42 when it appeared Germany would win the war. Niebuhrs first network was in Brazil and codenamed CEL. At the beginning of the war Germans viewed Brazil as the major base of operations. It had a large colony of almost 800,000 ethnic Germans as well as air routes to Europe which facilitated the sending of intelligence reports to Germany.424 The head of CEL was Friedrich Kempter (codename: King). Kempter, a German citizen, had been in South America since 1923 working for various German firms. Kempters recruitment is instructive as it shows the ad hoc nature of Abwehr intelligence operations and shows how the Abwehr was forced to use untrained people who, under normal circumstances, would never have been considered for intelligence work. Kempters recruitment also shows the unorthodox methods the Abwehr employed to find people willing to engage in intelligence work. The outbreak of the war in 1939 found Kempter unemployed. By January 1940 he obtained a position as representative of the Krack-Schwenzer firm. The following month he received a letter from his employer stating that the Swedish firm of Nordisk Durium Aktiebolaget, a credit reporting company with offices in Hamburg, wanted to hire him. Nordisk wanted him to send shipping information and cargo manifests along with other information to a post office box in Hamburg. Kempter later claimed that he had no knowledge of any spy work and that he had no idea what the information was for, but he dutifully gathered it. He later claimed that he was sent a letter telling him that since 1
For a detailed account of German activities in Brazil see, Stanley Hilton, Hitler's Secret War in South America, 1939-1945: German Military Espionage and Allied Counterespionage in Brazil (New York: Ballantine Books, 1982).
424

185 March 1940 he was an agent of the Abwehr working for Ast Hamburgs I-M section, which covered naval matters. Despite his mail-order recruitment, Kempter was industrious and effective so much so that he was eventually decorated with the War Service Cross First Class, with swords.425 Thanks to his success in setting up the CEL network in Brazil, Kempter was ordered to Buenos Aires to attempt the same thing. The new network was codenamed Meldekpfe (MK or Message Center) Argentina. Two agents who Kempter recruited would be problematic for Niebuhr: Ottomar Mller (codename: Otis) and Hans Jakob Napp (codename: Berko). Mller was a fanatical Nazi who broadcast a show called The German Hour on a local radio station. Like Kempter, Mller was solicited through the mail in early 1940 by a Hamburg-based firm, Schmitt and Company, which was operating as a front for Ast Hamburg. The Abwehr could not always recruit the most capable agents. His handlers directed Mller to provide reports on British ships entering and leaving Buenos Aires. Mller must have been diligent, at least in the beginning. Captain Herman Menzel, chief of I-M told Niebuhr that Mller was a trusted V-man (Vertrauensmann or informer) who should work by himself.426 Mllers partner Napp however, was a neer do well who had been convicted of extortion and passing bad checks. He also had the habit of carrying a .38 revolver. Despite Menzels instructions, Mller and Napp eventually came under Niebuhrs authority.427
425 426

Rout and Bratzel, The Shadow War, pp. 126-127. Rout and Bratzel, The Shadow War, p. 127. 427 Franz Mammen, Martin Mller and Wilhelm von Pochhammer state that Ottomar Mller and Napp were only placed under Niebuhrs control after receiving direct orders from Berlin to do so. See Interrogation of Brandt et. al., NARA, RG 59, 862.20235/10-1946, Box 6742, p. ii and NARA, RG 65, 65-56876-1, Box: Targets, p ii. For his part, Niebuhr gave contradictory statements claiming that sometime in 1941 Mller showed up at his office asking him to help set up a communications network so he could pass his

186 Mller and Napps first recruit was Walter Freiwald (codename: Tannin), a Volksdeutsch born in Paraguay and a professional diver, recruited in May 1941. Freiwald was an eager recruit who wanted to place bombs on British ships docked in Buenos Aires harbor. Mller and Napp radioed their superiors in Hamburg that Freiwald had an intimate knowledge of the Buenos Aires harbor floor and asked for your exact opinion before we continue further with this matter. 428 The OKW had forbidden sabotage in the U.S. and South America as of 18 June 1940. In keeping with the ad hoc nature of German policy in South America, the AA failed to inform the embassy of this order.429 What Niebuhr thought of Mller and Napps scheme is unknown. Even plans for sabotage seemed to be ad hoc. When the war broke out in September 1939 the British had expected sabotage to be directed against their ships in Buenos Aires.430 This threat was very real. In May 1939, Niebuhr was briefed on a top secret operation called Operation South Pole. This operation was the creation of Colonel Erwin Lahousen, head of Abwehr Abteilung II. While Abwehr Abteilung I was nominally in charge of sabotage, Lahousens group was separate and directly responsible
reports to Germany. Niebuhr stated he was not impressed and requested instructions and was told that while Mller was an Abwehr agent he should have nothing to do with him. Conversely, he claimed that Mller showed up claiming to be in financial difficulties and wanted a reward for his valuable services to the Reich. Niebuhr alleged that he averred and that three or four months later Mller showed up stating that he was destitute and his wife was ill with tuberculosis. Niebuhr agreed to cable Berlin and stated that he received orders to pay Mller a sum of 700 pesos a month. Niebuhrs story regarding Napp is fairly similar, however Niebuhr never admitted that they worked for him as agents. See Niebuhr Memo, NARA, RG 65, 64-20041, Box 9, p. 5 and Interrogation of Captain Dietrich Niebuhr, RG 59/M679/3, p. 4. 428 Untitled report Special Intelligence Service, Miami Beach, Florida, 26 April 1944, Enclosure 2: South America to Germany 12 May 1941, NARA, RG 165, Box 966: Axis and Subversive Activities, Argentina, n.p. Also in NARA, RG 84, Records of the Foreign Service Posts of the Department of State, Buenos Aires Embassy Confidential Files, 820.02, Box 19 File 18. 429 The High Command of the Wehrmacht to the Foreign Ministry, 18 June 1940, Doc. 483, DGFP, D, 9, p. 616. In a marginal note made on a draft telegram, it was decided not to send a copy of the order to Buenos Aires because of military reasons. 430 See Ovey to Foreign Office, 28 October 1939, TNA, FO 371/22757.

187 to Abwehr headquarters in Berlin. The first two members were Karl Otto Grohl, a German engineer working for the Brazilian government, and Albert Julius von Appen (codename: Apfel), an employee of Hamburg-American shipping line in Valparaiso, Chile. Grohl and Appen traveled to Germany for sabotage training and returned to their respective countries in January 1940. In June 1940 they were joined by Georg Konrad Friedrich Blass (codename: Dr. Brown). Blass had been selected by Lahousen to act as sabotage chief in South America. By November 1940, Blass and his recruits were ready to undertake sabotage operations in South America.431 Niebuhr and Thermann were against undertaking Operation South Pole. They argued that the effects of the sabotage were likely to be minimal compared to the vehement reaction the sabotage would provoke.432 Niebuhr told Lahousen that the Abwehr could either conduct sabotage or collect intelligence, but it could not do both effectively. Despite Niebuhrs objections Appen, now Abwehr chief of operations for Argentina, Chile and Peru, directed Merchant Marine Captain Wilhelm Lange to attack the British merchant ship Gascony in Buenos Aires harbor. On June 10, one of two bombs brought aboard the ship by an Argentine accomplice exploded prematurely. The bomb damaged the ships engines, blew a hole in the hull and killed the person who planted the bombs. Instead of being praised for his actions Lange was subjected to a savage dressing-down from Niebuhr and a reprimand from Blass.433

431 432

Rout and Bratzel, The Shadow War, pp. 449-452. Thermann to Berlin, 30 November 1940, Bro des Staatssekretrs, NARA, RG 242/T-120/178/86484 433 Rout and Bratzel, The Shadow War, pp. 449-451 and Newton, The Nazi Menace, p. 247.

188 Despite Menzels confidence Niebuhr had contempt for Mller and Napp and did nothing to disguise it.434 Mller was ordered by Niebuhr to cease all sabotage and set up a radio network to report on ships movements in Buenos Aires harbor. According to Rout, Bratzel and Newton, there were two problems: Mller had no knowledge about how to operate a radio and he lacked enthusiasm for the more pedestrian task. Still, Mller set about cultivating contacts. Sometime in July 1941 Mller claimed he was offered a new bombsight invented by an Argentine officer and asked if the Abwehr was interested. While the Abwehr was interested it wanted to know more about the device and cautioned Mller that the offer could be made up in order to expose him as a German agent.435 Ultimately, the offer went nowhere. In examining the documentary record it is of interest that the Abwehr managed its agents to a far greater degree than the SD, which, at the start of the war, gave its agents general instructions regarding assignments. Mller and Napps activities are documented on an almost daily basis for a period of over a year. These messages detail not only Mller and Napps activities, but Freiwalds and Niebuhrs.436 Perhaps Mller and Napp needed to be kept under a guiding hand in order to carry out their activities. It is hard to say without the records of the Abwehr, but the archival record shows two conscientious agents attempting to fulfill their superiors orders.

Interrogation of Dietrich Niebuhr, 20 June 1946, CI-FIR/115, NARA, RG 238, Collection of World War II War Crimes Records, 1933 1950, box 7, annex 2, pp. 10-11. 435 Untitled report Special Intelligence Service, Miami Beach, Florida, 26 April 1944, Enclosure 2: South America to Germany 7 & 15 July 1941, NARA, RG 165, Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs, 1860 1952, Box 966: Axis and Subversive Activities, Argentina, n.p. 436 See Untitled report Special Intelligence Service, Miami Beach, Florida, 26 April 1944, Enclosures 18, NARA, RG 165, Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs, 1860 1952, Box 966: Axis and Subversive Activities, Argentina and Enclosures to Espionage Groups I, II and III, no date, NARA, RG 84, Buenos Aires Embassy Confidential File, 820.02, File 18, Box 19.

434

189 Another agent who was part of the Niebuhr organization was Hans Rudolf Leo Harnisch (codenames: Boss, Kopf, and Viereck) who provided economic intelligence for the Abwehr. Like Mller and Napp, Harnisch become infamous for espionage. In terms of evidence Harnischs espionage involvement is more problematic than that of Mller and Napp. Harnisch admitted to espionage in his 1947 interrogation, but he claimed his value was limited. Harnisch was born in Hamburg on July 23, 1898. In 1920, Harnisch immigrated to Argentina and worked for five years as a representative of an import-export firm. In 1925 Harnisch settled permanently in Argentina and became relatively prosperous. In 1936 he joined the steel firm of Bker y CIA (Bker and Company) as a solicitor and in 1939 joined the NSDAP. Harnisch claimed that he only joined the Party in order to overcome a series of difficulties that the Party was creating for him. He later claimed he withdrew his application in 1940. NSDAP records only show him joining on October 1, 1939, but not his withdrawal.437 By 1940 it seemed Harnischs fortunes were taking a turn for the better when he was approached by Richard Staudt a well-known Buenos Aires businessman. Staudt offered him the position of director in Bromberg y CIA which was part of the Staudt consortium. Staudt wanted to reorganize the company as a purely Argentine enterprise and eliminate any German capital in the firm. This was probably to minimize the interference of Mller and the AO in the operation of his business.

437

Report of Interrogation of Hans Rudolf Leo Harnisch (hereafter Harnisch interrogation), JulySeptember 1947, NARA, RG 84, Buenos Aires Political Reports (hereafter BAPR), File 862.20235/103147, Box 102, p. 4. While the Harnisch interrogation is contradictory in places, some of his more controversial assertions regarding Hellmuth, Konnecke and Becker are backed up by Gustav Utzinger in his interrogation. See Affidavit of Wolf Emil Franczok Alias Gustav Utzinger, 17 September 1947, NARA, RG 65, Records of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, File 64-22460-13, Box 14, p. 3.

190 In 1941 Harnisch traveled to Germany on business for Staudt. While in Hamburg preparing to leave Germany Harnisch made the acquaintance of a Dr. Kramer. Kramer had been told about Harnisch by an unnamed business associate. Kramer asked him if he could give him copies of monthly economic reports on Argentina that Harnisch prepared for Bker. Harnisch agreed and Kramer provided him with an address in Cologne where he could send the reports. Kramer claimed to represent several industrial combines, but Harnisch later learned that he worked for the Abwehr. Harnisch returned to South America on June 25, 1941. On the return flight he met Major Ludwig von Bohlen who was going to Chile as the German Air Attach. Harnisch and Bohlen struck up a quick friendship and kept in touch when Bohlen was in Buenos Aires. Upon his return to South America Harnisch provided the requested information, sending it to Berlin via LATI. When the LATI air route was shut down in 1942 Harnisch allegedly stopped sending his reports. For months, he later claimed he heard nothing until Niebuhr called him to the embassy and asked him why he was not sending his reports. Harnisch explained that with the closure of the air route he could not get his information to Germany. Harnisch later claimed that Niebuhr did not press the point possibly because he had recruited Werner Knnecke, Harnischs subordinate at Bker y CIA, to obtain the requested information.438 However, Harnisch continued to frequent the embassy where his relationship with the diplomatic staff was tense. In 1942, Meynen informed the AA that I do not like Harnisch as business manager . [he] does not enjoy our confidence.439

438 439

Ibid, p. 5&15. Newton, The Nazi Menace, p 304.

191 Harnischs alleged refusal to work was no loss to the Niebuhr organization since Knnecke had access to the same information. It consisted of data on the production of chrome, steel and other metals in the U.S. and other countries. When in Harnisch was shown by his postwar military interrogator reports that had allegedly originated with him, he denied that he was the author. Though the material came from his office, he claimed that Knnecke and another member of Niebuhrs organization, Carlos (Charlie) Neiling, had altered the messages and that many were false.440 Like other claims made by Harnisch, these were false. Despite this, Niebuhr managed to make his motley crew function somewhat effectively. The fact that Tabordas committee was unable to discover the existence of Niebuhrs network is either a testament to Niebuhrs diligence and ingenuity or bribery on a massive scale, more than likely both. While the end of 1941 saw the expulsion of the German ambassador, Niebuhrs organization continued to operate unbothered. However, 1942 brought more problems that required Niebuhr to refocus his efforts and rebuild networks shattered by Brazils breaking of diplomatic relations with Germany in February 1942 and its declaration of war on Germany in August 1942. The U.S. looked on with dismay at German efforts to rebuild intelligence networks that were broken up following the Rio Conference. Niebuhr had expended great effort in setting up an intelligence-gathering network in Brazil.
440

This network under Kempters direction had established several radio

Utzinger supported this assertion stating to his interrogators that many of the messages attributed to Harnisch were delivered to him by Knnecke or one of his associates. While this does not prove that Harnisch was not the author of the messages, it makes their provenance more problematic. Report of Interrogation of Wolf Emil Franczok Alias Gustav Utzinger, NARA, RG 65, File 64-22460-13, Box 14, p. 8.

192 networks under what was known as FMK Brazil (Funkmeldekpfe: Radio Reporting Point).441 Through cajolery and bribery at the Rio Conference, the U.S. closed this important intelligence-gathering area. Brazilian authorities quickly arrested the members of Kempters network. U.S. Ambassador Jefferson Caffery also demanded that Brazil arrest German Ambassador Curt Prfer, military attach General Gunther Niedenfhr, and Press Attach Walter von Cossel. Such would have been a serious breach of

diplomatic protocol. Usually when accredited diplomats were accused of espionage they were declared persona non grata and ordered to leave the country. Vargas, under pressure from his Minister of Justice, Francisco Campos, and Chief of Police in the Federal District, Major Felinto Muller, rejected Caffreys request. The AA knew of Caffreys demand since Muller had informed Niedenfhr.442 Caffery with the support of Aranha and Vasco Leito da Cunha, Camposs successor as Minister of Justice, managed to have Muller removed from his post.443 The FBI quickly established a presence in Brazil and proceeded to take the lead in rounding up Kempters operatives. Germany retaliated by targeting Brazilian ships in the Atlantic.444 There is disagreement over the effectiveness of Niebuhrs remaining network in Argentina in 1942 and afterwards. Rout and Bratzel describe the efforts of MK

Argentina as not merely uninspiring, [but] unrelieved mediocrity.445 Ronald Newton

The networks under the control of FMK Brazil included the LIR, CIT, LFS, JOH-RND and others throughout Brazil. See Rout and Bratzel, The Shadow War, chapter 4 and Stanley Hilton, Hitler's Secret War in South America. 442 Rout and Bratzel, The Shadow War, pp. 175. For the messages identifying Muller as an informant see Prfer to AA, Bro des Staatssekretrs, Akten Betreffend: Brasilien, Band 1, NARA, RG 242/T120/223/157294-157295. 443 Ibid, p. 176. 444 Newton, The Nazi Menace, p. 238. 445 Rout and Bratzel, The Shadow War, p. 336.

441

193 goes further stating that Niebuhrs network was a failure since British cryptographers had broken the Enigma code and warned ships in danger.446 Rout and Bratzels assertions are closer to the mark. A memorandum dated 26 May 1943 from Captain A. v. S. Pickhardt, Assistant Director, Intelligence Group, Division of Naval Intelligence, provides information on the sinking of ships sunk by enemy action while sailing to and from Buenos Aires.447 It lists 38 ships sunk in the period between 8 March 1942 and 1 May 1943, for an average of 2 ships a month out of a total of 1168.448 While it is difficult to prove conclusively that Niebuhrs network contributed directly to these sinkings, this memorandum provides evidence that a fair number of ships departing Buenos Aires were attacked. It not a very distinguished record, but it shouldnt be regarded as a failure. The volume of messages leaving Buenos Aires regarding enemy shipping movements bears this out.449 Agents are not responsible for how their intelligence is used. Niebuhr scrambled to fill the void left by the end of his network in Brazil. He had little confidence in Ottomar Mller and Hans Jakob Napp, his erstwhile subordinates in Argentina. Kempter had also lost confidence in Mller and in October 1941 ordered him to turn over his duties to Napp and disassociate himself from MK Argentina. It appears his confidence in Napp was misplaced as well. In January 1942 Kempter ordered Napp to stop sending reports to Brazil and send them directly to Niebuhr. At the same time

Newton, The Nazi Menace, p. 251. Memorandum for Liaison Officer, Subject: Ships sunk sailing to and from Buenos Aires, 26 May 1943, NARA, RG 59, 862.20210/2381, Box 849. I would like to thank John Bratzel for providing me with this document. 448 Figures are from Samuel Eliot Morison, The Battle of the Atlantic, 1939-1943, History of United States Naval Operations in World War II, Volume I (New York: Little Brown & Co., 1947), p. 410. 449 See especially, Records of the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht, Amt Ausland Abwehr, RG 242/T 77/137, this roll contains reports from South America to Abwehr Nebenstelle, Bremen. Most of the reports on this roll contain information on shipping arriving and departing Buenos Aires.
447

446

194 Niebuhr was under pressure from his superiors in Germany to make Argentina a fullfledged FMK.450 He cobbled together a network, but Niebuhr knew he needed a professional to handle transmissions between Argentina and Germany. In July 1942 he found such a person in Gustav Utzinger (real name: Wolf Emil Franczok, codename: Luna). Utzingers path to Argentina was circuitous. He was born in Munich on March 10, 1914. He graduated from Gymnasium in 1932 and then attended Berlin University and the Technische Hchschule from 1932-39 with a one year break in 1935-36 to complete his service in the German Navy. On the outbreak of the war Utzinger was called to active service. He claimed to his postwar interrogators that in 1940 he was released from active duty in order to finish his doctorate in electronics. In fact he served as a technical advisor to the Reichs Minister of Economics, the German Navy and RSHA Amt VI.451 By the summer of 1941 Amt VI was satisfied with Beckers progress in organizing an intelligence network in Argentina and entrusted Utzinger with handling Beckers radio transmissions. Ewald Geppert, Theodor Paeffgens predecessor as head of Amt VI/D which covered the Americas, decided that Utzinger was the man most qualified for that position.452 Utzinger claimed in his postwar interrogation that he was neither a member of the SS or the RSHA.453 But it is highly unlikely the SD would have entrusted such a sensitive

Ibid, p. 250. Utzinger Interrogation, July-September 1947, NARA, RG 65, 64-22460-13, Box 14, p. 2, Report of Interview of Elizabeth Hedwig Weigelmayer Sommer, 5 October 1945, NARA, RG 65, 65-56221, Box 211, p. 19. 452 Ibid. 453 Utzinger Interrogation, July-September 1947, NARA, RG 65, 64-22460-13, Box 14, p. 2.
451

450

195 position to someone outside of the organization. In any event, Utzingers cover was to be as a representative of Telefunken, a German radio firm that allowed Amt VI operatives to use employment as representatives of the company as cover. Telefunken covered the cost of intelligence-gathering operations and was later reimbursed.454 Utzinger departed Berlin in August 1941 for Rome where Eva Markhart, the Telefunken representative and Amt VI operative, made arrangements for his Brazilian visa. Utzinger arrived in Rio de Janeiro in September 1941. He later claimed that he only met Becker briefly.455 This is doubtful since Utzinger and Heinz Lange sent a message to Germany stating they did not want to work with Becker.456 Following Beckers departure, Utzinger devoted his time to cutting and smuggling quartz back to Germany.457 In January 1942 Utzinger made contact with Benno Sobisch, who was part of the Abwehrs CEL network in Brazil. Sobisch wanted Utzinger to help build a power source to reactivate a transmitter used by Friedrich Schlegel, another member of the network.458 The project was abandoned when Brazil broke relations with the Axis. With German intelligence networks smashed and its members arrested, Utzinger needed to
This is confirmed in John Edgar Hoover to James F. Joice Jr., 8 October 1945, NARA, RG 65, 6422460, Box 14, p. 1. The memo was an extract from the interrogation of Eva Markhart who served as the Telefunken representative in Rome related Utzingers arrival there and the fact that he carried a letter of introduction from a Dr. (fnu) Landsberg of the company. Sommer relates she was in contact with a certain Dr. Landsberg at Telefunken as well. See Report of Interview of Elizabeth Hedwig Weigelmayer Sommer, 5 October 1945, NARA, RG 65, 65-56221, Box 211, p. 19. 455 Sommer claims unequivocally that Utzinger was to be part of Beckers network. However, by the time Utzinger arrived in Brazil Becker was on his way back to Germany to confer with Schellenberg, Daufeldt and Geppert. Given the chronology and the expectation that Becker would return relatively quickly to South America (see chapter 4). Utzinger was probably told by Becker to assist the Abwehr network in Brazil until his return. 456 Report of Interview of Hedwig Elisabeth Weigelmayer Sommer, p. 34. Interestingly Utzingers interrogators never followed up on this since they probably knew he was lying about his SD association. 457 Utzinger Interrogation, July-September 1947, NARA, RG 65, 64-22460-13, Box 14, p. 2. 458 Rout and Bratzel, The Shadow War, p. 348. Utzinger claims Sobisch was not a member of the CEL network, but merely did technical work for Friedrich Kempter. See Utzinger Interrogation, JulySeptember 1947, NARA, RG 65, 64-22460-13, Box 14, p. 3.
454

196 leave Brazil. He departed Brazil for Argentina using a forged passport in the name of Juan Manuel Stewart and arrived in Buenos Aires in April 1942. On his arrival he made contact with his superiors in Berlin using the Telefunken radio network in Argentina. Sometime during Utzingers time in Brazil, or his brief sojourn in Argentina, he met Major Pablo Stagni, commander-in-chief of the Paraguayan air force. Stagni felt

Utzinger would be a valuable employee for the Paraguayan Air Force. Stagni knew of Utzingers employment by the SD and still offered him a job.459 Stagni (codename: Hermann) was later identified as a German spy.460 Utzinger later claimed that Telefunken gave him permission to sever his contacts with the company and secure employment with the government of Paraguay.461 More likely, Amt VI gave him permission to enter into Paraguayan service. Utzinger traveled to Asuncin to take up a position as a radio-engineer with the Paraguayan air force. Following a three-month probationary period he was appointed Professor for Radio-communications and Meteorology at the Paraguayan War Academy.462 Paraguay was nominally pro-Allied. President Higinio Mornigo depended on the U.S. supplying the country with economic and military aid.463 Washington also understood that the Paraguays support for the Allies was contingent on the aid the U.S.

In his interrogation Utzinger does not tell when he met Stagni. Rout and Bratzel, The Shadow War, p. 348 notes 162-163. 460 See History of the SIS, Volume 3: Accomplishments Mexico-Venezuela, declassified 8/10/04, pp. 529530. For Stagnis identification as a German agent see Argentina to Berlin, 28 February 1943, NARA, RG 226, Records of the OSS, OSS Communications Office Records, Ultra Decrypts, Box 19. For details of Stagnis cooperation with German intelligence see chapter 6. 461 Utzinger Interrogation, July-September 1947, NARA, RG 65, 64-22460-13, Box 14, p. 3. 462 Utzinger Interrogation, July-September 1947, NARA, RG 65, 64-22460-13, Box 14, p. 3. 463 For this see Michael Grow, Economic Expansion and Great Power Rivalry in Latin America during World War II in Paraguay (Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas Press, 1981), pp. 69-70 and 75-76. Rout and Bratzel, The Shadow War, pp. 348-349.

459

197 provided. The U.S. was also aware of the pro-German sympathies of many Paraguayan military officers. Surely the Americans would not have approved of an active SD agent securing a sensitive position with the Paraguayan armed forces. In July 1942 Utzinger made the first of several trips to Buenos Aires in the company of Stagni. In Argentina he met Niebuhr who asked him for help in setting up a radio network. Niebuhr turned to Utzinger because Mller and Napp were incompetent. In his postwar interrogation Niebuhr said as much. Mller and Napp, he said, used a

childish code that any professional could break.464 But he denied knowing of any intelligence activities carried out by Utzinger and claimed to know only of Utzinger in his capacity as an employee of Telefunken. Niebuhr stated that he had no need of Utzingers services since he had his own Enigma coding machine.465 Utzinger was more forthcoming. Niebuhr, Utzinger told his interrogators, was under intense pressure from his superiors to establish a secure radio connection with Germany. Niebuhr, he continued, knew of the competition between the SD, Abwehr, and AA and the need to keep each organization separate for security reasons. But, as

Utzinger noted he and Niebuhr both understood that if their respective SD and Abwehr networks were to succeed they needed to cooperate regardless of the security risk and competition between their agencies. Both men agreed that they would not inform

superiors in Germany of their cooperation for the moment.466

Interrogation of Captain Dietrich Niebuhr, 10 November 1945, State Department Special Interrogation Mission, NARA, RG 59, Serial M679, Roll 3, Frame 936. 465 Ibid. 466 Affidavit of Wolf Emil Franczok, 17 September 1947, NARA, RG 65, File 64-22460-14, Box 14, p. 2.

464

198 However, Utzinger and Niebuhr subsequently changed their minds. Utzinger proposed to Niebuhr a system whereby the rival intelligence organizations in Berlin would believe that they owned their own radio network. In reality, one transmitter was used utilizing the frequencies and codes of each individual organization. This gave the impression of an extensive radio network. It should be noted that in this instance Utzinger was successful in this scheme. The U.S. believed that the so-called Bolivar network was more extensive than it was.467 Utzinger was not sure that his deception would be believed since there was only one receiving station in Germany reliable enough to handle all the message traffic. He regarded the whole situation as foolish. Utzinger felt that any competent individual would figure out that the messages were all coming from the same transmitter since they went to the same receiver. However, given the technical issues involved as well as the lack of qualified radio operators this was the best that could be done. Another issue was how to finance the joint network. Utzinger and Niebuhr decided that each group, the Embassy, the Abwehr, and the SD, would all pay according to their use of the network. It was agreed that the ratio for expenses would be 7:3:3 respectively. In his postwar interrogation Utzinger stated that he also demanded that the accounting books for the radio organization be kept by an individual unaffiliated with any group.468 A minimum of $60,000 was spent on Bolivar in 1943. Utzinger claimed

See, German Espionage in Latin America (hereafter GELA), NARA, RG 165, Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs, 1860 1952 (Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1946) pp. 153-172. In this report the FBI stated that there were nine different radios operational in Argentina. Utzinger could be proud that his charade at least fooled the FBI and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) which handled radio interception duties. See GELA, p. 153. 468 Utzinger Interrogation, July-September 1947, NARA, RG 65, 64-22460-13, Box 14, p. 5.

467

199 Niebuhr put up all the money to get the network running, with Werner Knnecke of the Abwehr and Johannes Siegfried Becker of the SD contributing later. Niebuhrs and Knneckes shares were paid by the embassy from different accounts under the control of Richard Burmeister, commercial attach in the German embassy.469 Following his expulsion from Argentina Niebuhr told his superiors in Berlin of the arrangement. In March 1943 a conference was held to discuss the particulars. SD and Abwehr

representatives agreed that the arrangement worked out by Utzinger and Niebuhr worked. Paeffgen stated to his postwar interrogators the SD and Abwehr cooperated closely in Argentina.470 Schellenberg agreed noting that such cooperation was unusual.471 In the meantime, the U.S. was concerned with Niebuhrs intelligence activities and the intransigence of the Castillo administration regarding German intelligencegathering activities heightened American worries. In May 1942, U.S. Embassy Consul Clifton P. English told Washington that the embassy was at a loss regarding German agents. In July Foreign Minister Ruiz-Guiaz deflected U.S. ambassador Norman

Armours objections stating that Argentina could take no action unless the U.S. had solid evidence German agents were radioing ships movements and that these reports had led to sinkings.472 While the U.S. had evidence that German agents were sending ship information to Germany, directly linking those reports to lost ships was impossible.

Utzinger Interrogation, July-September 1947, NARA, RG 65, 64-22460-13, Box 14, p. 6 and GELA, p. 138. 470 Interrogation of Dr. Theodor Paeffgen, 19 October 1945, State Department Special Interrogation Mission to Germany, NARA, RG 59, M679, Roll 3, Fr. 944. 471 Interrogation of Walter Schellenberg, 20 November 1945, NARA, RG 263, Records of the Central Intelligence Agency, Name Files: Walter Schellenberg, p. 4. 472 Rout and Bratzel, The Shadow War, p. 338.

469

200 Additionally, producing any such evidence would reveal that the U.S. was intercepting German messages. In October 1942 U.S. Undersecretary of State Sumner Welles gave a speech in Boston accusing Argentina and Chile of harboring German spies. Chilean authorities took action and arrested most of the so-called PYL group.473 Argentina remained obstinate and Ruiz-Guiaz challenged Welles to prove his charges. On 3 November 1942 Ambassador Armour presented Minister of the Interior, Miguel Culaciati with a memorandum titled German Military Espionage in Argentina. Armour felt that RuizGuiaz would disregard any findings in the document and do nothing while Culaciati was felt to be more pro-Allied. The document named thirty-two alleged Abwehr agents and charged that some of them were known leaders in the local Nazi Party. It also alleged that the agents operating in Argentina were responsible for the deaths of hundreds as well as the sinking of numerous ships. However, it only connected the sinking of one ship, the Andalusia Star, to the activities of Niebuhrs network. In fact, the majority of the messages mentioned originated in Chile and Brazil from the PYL and LIR networks respectively.474 But, the document still contained the names of German intelligence agents. Armours faith in Culaciati was justified. On 5 November the Argentine police raided Napps office and found copies of messages detailing ship movements in and out of Buenos Aires harbor. More damning was that the recipient was identified as the

For a good, though superficial introduction to German activities in Chile see: Graeme S. Mount, Chile and the Nazis: From Hitler to Pinochet (Montreal: Black Rose Books, 2001). 474 See Ibid, pp. 339-347 for an extended discussion of the merits of the document as well as its exaggerations and obfuscations.

473

201 attach or Niebuhr. Also found were the names of other individuals connected to Niebuhr. The Argentine police proceeded to arrest Ottomar Mller, Walter Freiwald, Martin Schneider, Lothar von Reichenbach and Helvecio Ortelli all of whom were connected to Niebuhr. They were unable to locate Napp who had been under

surveillance by the FBI Legal attach William Doyle. Doyle suspected that Napp was tipped off by Argentine police shortly before they arrived. He was finally arrested on 18 November by Argentine police with the assistance of Doyle.475 In the custody of Argentine police who possibly used aggressive interrogation methods Napp told all he knew.476 Also arrested were Thilo Martens, Rudolf Hepe and Friedrich Tadeo von Schulz-Hausmann. All denied having anything to do with any intelligence-gathering. The only thing Hepe and Schulz-Hausmann admitted to was being acquainted with Niebuhr.477 The arrests and revelations brought Castillo under increasing pressure from the Argentine Congress. The Anti-Argentine Activities Committee which had caused

Thermanns departure reopened investigations into German activities in Argentina. Between April and December 1942 it published numerous reports. Castillo renewed his opposition to the commissions work, but was under intense U.S. pressure to allow the commission to function. Castillo was particularly angry about U.S. charges that he sabotaged the work of the commission. Persons close to Castillo told Meynen that the
475

Ibid, p. 343 and Meynen to AA, 4 November 1942, Bro des Staatssekretrs, Argentinien, Band 2, NARA RG 242/T-120/26/27478-479, Meynen to AA, 6 November 1942, Ibid, Frame 27482. Meynen reported that the memorandum was given to Ruiz-Guiaz, not Culaciati. 476 Hoover to Berle, Subject: Juan Jacobo Napp, with aliases, 12 May 1943, NARA, RG 59, 862.20235/1159, Box C354. This contains Napp confession to the Argentine police dated 19 November 1942. 477 Rout and Bratzel, The Shadow War, p. 343.

202 president wanted the commission to focus on communist activity as well as that of the U.S.478 By late November Castillos international situation was difficult. Meynen

reported that Castillo believed Sumner Welless speech in Boston and the publication of the U.S. memorandum on espionage were preludes to more coercive methods by the U.S. and England. Argentina was also worried about the Allied invasion of North Africa earlier in the month, since it might force changes in Spanish and Portuguese policies toward the Axis. Despite this, Meynen felt that Castillo was too closely associated with his policy to change it. Meynen also attributed recent government actions against

German agents to Jewish North American Freemasons in the Interior and Finance Ministries and he was not sure how to strengthen Castillos neutrality policy under these circumstances.479 Napps confession, meanwhile, implicated Niebuhr. The anti-German Argentine press reported Napps confession and Niebuhrs involvement with intelligence activities. The press also reported that there were calls in the Argentine Congress for Niebuhr to testify regarding allegations that could cause him to be declared persona non grata. Meynen asked the Argentine Foreign Ministry to ensure the allegations were properly treated in the press and that any unproven allegations be omitted in the newspapers. Given that none of the allegations against Niebuhr had yet been proven approval of Meynens request would have halted all coverage of the affair. In the meantime the

Meynen to AA, 18 November 1942, Bro des Staatssekretrs, Argentinien, Band 2, NARA RG 242/T120/26/27503-504. 479 Meynen to AA, 26 November 1942, Bro des Staatssekretrs, Argentinien, Band 2, NARA RG 242/T120/26/27516-27519.

478

203 Interior Ministry appointed an independent prosecutor to examine allegations concerning German intelligence activities.480 Meynen had no contacts in the Interior Ministry and had to rely on the press for his information. Meynen and the AA felt that the pressure on Castillo was sufficient that he could change his policy on neutrality, though at a high political cost to Castillo. However, Castillo stood steadfast in the onslaught of pressure. On 4 December, Belisario Gache Pirn, a prosecutor appointed by the commission to oversee the case against Napp et al., presented his findings. He laid out his evidence and stated that the defendants had implicated Niebuhr. On 10 December Judge Miguel Jantus stated that the defendants should be held for trial and agreed that Niebuhr was also involved. After reviewing the evidence Attorney General Dr. Juan lvarez requested the Argentine Supreme Court petition the Castillo government to have Niebuhr placed under the courts jurisdiction.481 Since the embassy and the AA were unsure of how the court would rule, they waited. On 22 December the Supreme Court made an announcement on whether Niebuhr could be questioned regarding German intelligence activities in Argentina. Instead of issuing a ruling the court requested that the Castillo government formally ask the German embassy to waive Niebuhrs diplomatic immunity and allow him to be questioned. Once this request had been made the Supreme Court could then rule on the legality of questioning Niebuhr. Woermann cabled Meynen that such a request was out of the question. If any request were made, it should be

Meynen to AA, 27 November 1942, Bro des Staatssekretrs, Argentinien, Band 2, NARA RG 242/T120/26/27522-27523. 481 Meynen to AA, 5 December 1942, Bro des Staatssekretrs, Argentinien, Band 2, NARA RG 242/T120/26/27552 and Rout and Bratzel, The Shadow War, p. 344.

480

204 immediately sent to him so that a formal rejection could be drafted.482 Meynen replied that the Argentine Foreign Ministry had not made a request and suggested waiting.483 On 24 December the Argentines made a formal request that Niebuhr waive his diplomatic immunity and place himself under Argentine jurisdiction.484 Meynen sent a copy of the request to Woermann. He informed him that with the Christmas holidays approaching and the Supreme Court in recess during January it would probably not be able to rule on whether Niebuhr could be questioned until February. Meynen agreed that the request should be rejected, not from lack of respect for the Argentine courts, but based on diplomatic immunity. Germany, Meynen said, should further state that ship movements in harbors were publicly accessible. There was no need to report secretly. Niebuhr would have no interest in secretly transmitting such well known information. And since Buenos Aires was 2000 miles from the war-zone, which covered the Northern Atlantic and Caribbean, any information transmitted would be useless.485 Meynen did not suggest denying the existence of any intelligence network, just that Niebuhr was associated with it. His description of the network as primitive and the problems of transmitting information ring true. They probably reflected Niebuhrs and Meynens opinion of the Mller-Napp ring and the problem of transmitting intelligence over large distances. Despite Meynens hope for a respite, time was running out. On 29 December Ruiz-Guiaz asked for an expedited answer on whether Berlin would waive Niebuhrs
Woermann to Meynen, 22 December 1942, Bro des Staatssekretrs, Argentinien, Band 2, NARA RG 242/T-120/26/27585. 483 Meynen to AA, 23 December 1942, Ibid, Frame 27592. 484 Meynen to AA, 24 December 1942, Ibid, Frames 27593-27594. 485 Meynen to AA, 28 December 1942, Ibid, Frames 27595-27596.
482

205 diplomatic immunity. Meynen stalled stating that an answer before the end of the year would be impossible.486 On 30 December the Argentine charg in Berlin, Luis Luti, called on Woermann and presented Argentinas demand for an answer regarding Niebuhr before 1 January. Luti added his personal view that public opinion might be sympathetic to Niebuhr causing the case to be dismissed, but added that this was only his personal view. Woermann told Luti that an answer before 1 January would be difficult. He had instructed Meynen to relay this to Ruiz-Guiaz.487 Ribbentrop asked Woermann why he did not simply state that waiving Niebuhrs diplomatic immunity was out of the question. Woermann replied that while the

Argentine government was anxious for a decision, it did not want to announce Germanys refusal renouncing Niebuhrs diplomatic immunity either. Thus, any announcement by the Argentine Supreme Court on whether Niebuhr could be questioned would be delayed. If the court went on it holiday without any decision, it would give the Argentine government a month to clear up this matter. Woermann attempted to stall for time and asked Luti If you know of any case where a government has renounced the diplomatic immunity of one of its members? Woermann then answered, I do not. Woermann stated that this exchange avoided giving the Argentine government an official decision before 1 January.488 The Argentine government was not easily put off. On 5 January the Argentine Foreign Ministry again asked Meynen for a decision regarding Niebuhr. They felt that a

486 487

Meynen to AA, 29 December 1942, Ibid, Frame 27597. Woermann Memorandum, 30 December 1942, Ibid, Frames 27599-27600. 488 Woermann Memorandum, 31 December 1942, Ibid, Frames 27602-27603. Woermann told Ribbentrop that his question to Luti and his answer were not recorded in his memorandum of 30 December.

206 quick answer would avoid hurrying any decision by the court.489 Ribbentrop rejected this and told Otto Reinbeck, recently appointed head of Pol. Abt. IX, that Niebuhr would not be given over to the jurisdiction of the Argentine courts.490 On 9 January Ribbentrop told Meynen via telegram to inform the Argentine Foreign Ministry orally that a waiver of Niebuhrs diplomatic immunity was out of the question. It was a principle of the German diplomatic corps that its members never fall under foreign jurisdiction. Ribbentrop also chastised Meynen for his handling of the situation. Meynen, he said, should have refused the Argentine request from the start and he was now to refrain from any discussions after delivering the message. He told Meynen he was surprised that the Argentine government had even suggested that Niebuhr submit to the jurisdiction of its courts. Never, said Ribbentrop, had any German diplomat submitted themselves to the jurisdiction of a foreign court.491 The tenor of Ribbentrops message indicated he did not approve of the professional diplomats handling of the situation. Though Ribbentrop assumed

Woermann and Meynen were either incompetent or weak-willed, the diplomats understood that time would clear up the matter without a serious breach. Regardless, Meynen delivered Ribbentrops rejection on 9 January and reported that the undersecretary who received his oral message requested a written text. On 11 January 1943 the Argentine government declared that Niebuhr had abused his position and privileges. A note to Meynen asserted that Niebuhrs activities violated Argentine

489 490

Meynen to AA, 5 January 1943, Ibid, Frame 27606. Memorandum, 6 January 1943, Ibid, Frames 27607-27608. 491 Ribbentrop to Meynen, 9 January 1943, Ibid, Frames 27609-27610.

207 neutrality and his continued presence would harm relations between Germany and Argentina. It asked for Niebuhrs dismissal.492 On 12 December, Luti called on Woermann to formally declare Niebuhr persona non grata. Woermann expressed regret that Argentina had resorted to such drastic action on the basis of faulty information. Luti expressed his own regret at the situation and added that he hoped German-Argentine relations would not be damaged. Woermann suggested a face-saving trade-off. Lutis assistant Moss, Woermann said, was antiGerman and had expressed repeated negative opinions of Hitler. He was also a notorious currency speculator in violation of German law. Perhaps Moss could be recalled. Then, Germany could recall Niebuhr without any public airing of charges against either man.493 Woermanns suggestion avoided the perception the Niebuhr was guilty. Simultaneously recalling Moss and Niebuhr would preempt any propaganda by Germanys enemies. Ribbentrop agreed with the proposal in principle, but made modifications. He told Woermann that there was to be no simultaneous recall. Moss was to be declared persona non grata for currency speculation. Woermann was also to repeat that the charges against Niebuhr were unfounded and that Germany was displeased with Argentine policy.494 Woermann told Luti on 13 January that Moss was to be declared persona non grata for currency speculation but said that the declaration should not prevent friendly relations. Luti stated that he did not want to report Mosss possible involvement in currency speculation. Woermann stated that it was his duty to report the reason to his government and could not understand why he would conceal it. Luti
492 493

Meynen to AA, 11 January 1943, Ibid, Frames 27616-27617. Woermann Memorandum, 12 January 1943, Ibid, Frames 27624-27625. 494 Woermann Memorandum, 13 January 1943, Ibid, Frame 27632.

208 remained silent. Woermann felt that Lutis reporting of these charges would only

complicate the situation. Woermann admitted that Moss was probably innocent of the charges since a different member of the embassy was under suspicion for currency speculation. In any event, Niebuhr was ordered to leave Argentina before the second half of February.495 Ribbentrop thought his bullying would strengthen the Argentine government in its dealings with the U.S. Only if we in turn apply pressure, said Ribbentrop, can [U.S. pressure on Argentina] be avoided. Our objective, he continued, is not harshness per se but to make Argentina braver vis--vis the United States.496 Ribbentrops statements show simple incompetence. Woermann and Meynen had counseled caution because both knew time was on their side regarding Niebuhr. Ribbentrop had learned nothing from

Thermanns departure. Ribbentrop believed that the simultaneous recall of Moss and Niebuhr would be no different than the expulsion of both men. It is clear however that Germany continued its short-sighted policies towards Argentina. The possibility that Niebuhrs network could be uncovered was never discussed. Thus, Germany continued to handle its affairs in Argentina in an ad hoc manner. Niebuhrs travails were not over. In order for Niebuhr to travel back to Germany he needed an assurance of safe conduct from the British. The British believed that Niebuhr would be posted to another neutral country to continue his intelligence work. More importantly, Niebuhrs return to Germany could compromise Ultra, since MI-6 believed Niebuhr had learned of British and American code-breaking. The British

495 496

Ibid, Frames 27633-27634. Newton, The Nazi Menace, p. 239.

209 suggested to the FBI that Brazil detain Niebuhr if he stopped in their country during his voyage. Yet Niebuhr was an accredited diplomat. The FBI suggested that the State Department handle the problem.497 The State Department vigorously argued that Niebuhr needed to be granted safe passage as a matter of diplomatic law. By the end of January the British had decided that Niebuhr was no danger to Ultra and he was allowed passage to Germany.498 At the end of the war Niebuhrs name was placed on a list of persons to be detained in order to question them about German intelligence activities in Latin America. Following Germanys surrender in May 1945 Niebuhr was taken into custody by U.S. authorities. The arrest of Niebuhrs associates and his departure shut down the Abwehr networks in Latin America. 1939 to early 1943 was the high-water mark for the Abwehr in Latin America. Johannes Siegfried Beckers initial forays into Latin America would be less than promising. Thermann and Niebuhrs departure left matters in the hands of Meynen and General Friedrich Wolf, Niebuhrs replacement. While Meynen could be assertive, Beckers return left him uninformed regarding any activities by the SD. Wolf was not Niebuhr and seemed content to do the minimum amount of work to get by. This left the SD to help the German effort in Latin America.

Little to Ladd, 25 January 1943 and Carson to Ladd, 26 February 1943, NARA, RG 65, 64-20041Sec. 1, Box 9. Both memoranda refer to Ultra as the ostrich source. 498 Discussions concerning Niebuhrs diplomatic status and decisions on whether or not to detain him are in NARA, RG 65, 64-20041-Sec.1, Box 9.

497

210

Chapter 5 Sargo and the Creation of an SD Intelligence Network


Johannes Siegfried Becker (codename: Sargento, abbreviated as Sargo) was probably the most effective and important agent the SD placed in a foreign country.499 An FBI report from 1946 stated, any attempt to decide who was the most important German agent in the Western Hemisphere during World War II would find Siegfried Becker a leading candidate for the dubious distinction.500 Becker was an effective agent who put together a large network of agents that caused the FBI and OSS sleepless nights and made his superiors in Germany happy with his voluminous and detailed reports.501 However, these events would occur during Beckers second South American sojourn from 1943-45. During his first trip in 1940-41 Becker, unlike the more discreet Niebuhr, caused numerous problems for the German embassies in Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro. This chapter examines the early life and career of Becker, particularly his time in Argentina from 1938-1941. It will look at the men who headed Amt VI and the evolution of the SD into a foreign intelligence service. Also examined are the Auswrtiges Amts attempts to

Beckers codename was confirmed by his superior Theodor Paeffgen. Interrogation of Theodor Paeffgen, 29 December 1945, CI-IIR/40, Record Group 263, Records of the Central Intelligence Agency, Name Files: Theodor Paeffgen, Box 39, p. 12. Becker also had numerous aliases and codenames, in 1944 the FBI knew of 31 that Becker used. For the complete list see Memorandum re: Johannes Siegfried Becker with aliases, 5 August 1944, NARA, RG 65, Records of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, File: 64-27116 Sec.2, Box 19, p. 1. 500 German Espionage in Latin America, (Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1946) NARA, RG 165, Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs, 1860 1952, p. 161. See also, Leslie B. Rout Jr. and John Bratzel, The Shadow War: German Espionage and United States Counterespionage in Latin America during World War II (Frederick: University Publications of America, 1986), p. 353. 501 Between June 1943 and August 1944 Beckers network transmitted 2500 messages back to Germany. Rout and Bratzel, The Shadow War, p. 353.

499

211 control the SD and its operations in Latin America. Directing this effort was Martin Luther, head of Abteilung Deutschland (Domestic Department) in the AA. The AA expended much effort fending off the SD and its efforts to interfere with German foreign policy in Argentina. The destruction of Amt VI/Ds records at the end of the war make reconstructing Beckers activities difficult. However, the AA archives have voluminous files on Becker and his activities in Argentina.502 Between these files and interrogations of members of Beckers network it is possible to trace the contours of Beckers career. Johannes Siegfried Becker was born in Leipzig on 21 October 1912. Following his graduation from Gymnasium he served in a series of commercial apprenticeships with I.L. Graumper and Soehnee in Leipzig.503 In 1931-32, like many Germans during the Great Depression, Becker was unemployed. He joined the Nazi Party and the SA in August 1930 and then the SS in April 1931. His Nazi Party Number was 359, 966 and his SS Number was 9,393, both of which were quite low.504 The Nazi Party would eventually grow to over four million members and the SS over a million. Becker studied at the University of Leipzig from 1931-32 without earning a degree. In his statement to the Argentine Federal Police in 1945 Becker claimed he joined the German Army,
See especially, Abteilung Inland II G: Beauftragen Becker nach Sdamerika, NARA, Record Group 242/Serial T120/Roll 228 and Abteilung Inland II G: Abwehr Angelegenheit Hellmuth, NARA, RG 242/T120/351. 503 The following account of Beckers life is taken from Ronald C. Newton, The Nazi Menace in Argentina, 1931-1947 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1992), pp. 252-3 and Beckers statement to the Federal Police in Argentina, RG 65, 64-27116, pp 1-3. 504 Personalakten Johannes Siegfried Becker, Berlin Document Center Files, SS Officer Files, NARA, RG 242/A3343/051/Frames 57730-31. Most of Beckers Personnel File has been lost therefore it is difficult to trace Beckers activities before 1939. Given that Becker does not mention his SS or Nazi Party membership in his statement along with other inaccuracies his statement to the Federal Police must be treated with extreme caution. Relying on Beckers statement Rout and Bratzel claim that Becker entered the Army in 1933 achieving the rank of 2nd Lieutenant see Rout and Bratzel, The Shadow War, pp. 13-14. David Kahn in Hitlers Spies does not mention Beckers Army service at all; it is likely that Becker was omitting details so as not to further incriminate himself. See David Kahn, Hitlers Spies: German Military Intelligence in World War II (New York: Da Capo Press, 1978), p. 321.
502

212 becoming a military instructor and he was commissioned as a second lieutenant. He also claimed that in April 1935 he left the army and accepted a position with the National Socialist Popular Welfare.505 Nowhere did he reveal his membership in either the Nazi Party or SS. In April 1937 Becker departed Germany to take a job with a German-Argentine firm run by Federico C. Koller. He arrived in Buenos Aires in May 1937. Beckers SS file states that he was promoted to Untersturmfhrer (Second Lieutenant) in April 1937 before he left for Buenos Aires and Obersturmfhrer (First Lieutenant) on January 30, 1938 while in Buenos Aires.506 It is reasonable to assume that Becker was in some sort of active status in order to be promoted, but his status is unclear. In July 1938 Becker returned to Germany for approximately two months on business. Becker told the Argentine Federal Police that during his stay in Germany he was appointed the manager of his firm, replacing Koller. He also secured a position as a representative for various German firms in Buenos Aires.507 Historian Ronald Newton has asserted that Beckers job may have been a cover for intelligence activity.508 One clue to Beckers activities from 1937-1939 is in the interrogation of Karl Arnold, representative of the shipping agency Norddeutscher-Lloyd
In his statement to the Argentine Federal Police Becker claims that he entered the Army in 1933 serving in the Germania Division as a second lieutenant until 1935. At no point in his statement does Becker say that he was a member of the S.S. or Nazi Party before 1940. See Hoover to Lyons, 10-5-45, Memorandum Subject: Johannes Siegfried Becker, NARA, RG 59 Records of the Department of State; see also, Hoover to James P. Joice, Memorandum Subject; Johannes Siegfried Becker, 7 November 1945, NARA, RG 65 Records of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, File 64-27116-Sec. 5. Given the rivalry between the SS and the Army it is highly doubtful that served in both the SS and the Army. Beckers activities before 1939 must remain in the realm of conjecture. See also Rout and Bratzel The Shadow War, pp. 13-14 and Newton, The Nazi Menace, p. 252-3 506 Personalakten Johannes Siegfried Becker, NARA, RG 242/A3343/051/57730. 507 Johannes Siegfried Becker Statement to the Federal Police in Argentina, NARA, RG 65, 64-27116, p.4. 508 Ibid.
505

213 and future head of Amt VI activities in Spain. Arnold, in his postwar interrogation, made the mysterious comment that Becker recruited German-Argentine craftsman for training in Germany.509 Another clue comes from documents belonging to Becker that fell into British hands in 1945. Among these documents are two letters, the first dated 30 January 1938 promoting Becker to Obersturmfhrer. The other, dated 23 December 1939,

accredits Becker as a representative of the German Consulate. It states that Becker is in charge of giving legal advice to the 2nd Commander of the Cruiser Admiral Graf Spee Naval Captain Kay in his communications in Spanish, in the character of interpreter.510 This is strong circumstantial evidence that Becker was either working for Amt VI before the war broke out, or performing in some official capacity. In his postwar interrogation Thermann related that Becker called on him shortly following his arrival. Becker told Thermann he was responsible for arranging instruction in woodcarving between Argentine and German craftsman. Thermann stated that he did not believe Becker and he related Beckers story to the commercial attach Richard Burmeister who was equally non-plussed.511 In all probability Becker was an observer for the SD. As Katrin Paehler points out, observers were members of the SS and SD, but worked outside of the SD itself, usually in the civil service or in the professions. They received training from the SS and fell under its judicial authority. While they were not employed full time by the

Interrogation Report of Karl Gustav Arnold, NARA, RG 65, Box 17, File 65-24854-Sec. 1, p. 8. Francis Crosby to J. Edgar Hoover, 22 November 1944, NARA, RG 65, 64-27116. The dating of the memo is confusing since during this period Becker claimed to be traveling back to Berlin. Either he returned to Berlin earlier than previously believed, or later than previously believed. The memo could also have been prepared for Becker when he returned to Argentina, either way it is a very telling piece of evidence. 511 Interrogation of Dr. Edmund Freiherr von Thermann, 27 September, 8, 10, 16, 20, 23, 24 October and 2, 6 November 1945, NARA, RG 59, Argentine Blue Book, Miscellaneous Affidavits and Interrogation Reports, Entry 1088, Box 26, p. 32.
510

509

214 SD or SS they were expected to wear their SS uniform, most likely while at headquarters.512 But again, Beckers status with the SS was unclear. Adding to the confusion is a memorandum concerning Becker prepared for the AA. It discusses Beckers background and his work in Argentina from 1937-40. There is no mention that Becker was ever employed by any German intelligence agency or was even a member of the SS during this period. It simply states that he was employed in South America as a businessman and does not mention Becker performing any duties on behalf of the Graf Spee internees.513 This is surprising since the Graf Spee operation was conducted with the cooperation of the embassy. If Becker had been employed by

German intelligence it should have been mentioned. It is possible that Amt VI did not fully inform the AA of Beckers background.514 While problems with sources account for an unclear and confusing picture of Beckers activities in the 1930s, his subsequent activities showed how intelligent and shrewd Becker was. Becker claimed that when World War II broke out on 1 September 1939 he went to the German embassy in Buenos Aires to try and return to Germany. Becker was certainly in Argentina in late October 1939 since he was arrested for a traffic violation by the Buenos Aires Police on 26 October.515 In light of the evidence later found by the British and FBI, it is probable that Becker stayed in Argentina until early 1940. He also learned that the embassy was unable to help him. While the embassy could not help him
512

Katrin Paehler, Espionage, Ideology and Personal Politics: The Making and Unmaking of a Nazi Foreign Intelligence Service (Washington D.C.: American University, Ph.D diss., 2002), p. 211. 513 Memorandum D II 77/40, author unknown, 19 August 1940, Abteilung Inland II G: Beauftragen Becker nach Sdamerika, NARA RG 242/T120/228/224998. 514 On the rivalry between the German Foreign Ministry and SD see Paehler, Espionage, Ideology and Personal Politics. 515 Memorandum re: Johannes Siegfried Becker, 5 August 1944, NARA, RG65, 64-27116-56.

215 return to Germany, it provided him with a passport dated 30 November 1939. It is not clear why. Becker used his own considerable skills to return to Europe.516 His adventures in returning to Europe were similar to those of Wilhelm Canaris during World War I.517 Becker paid a crewman $100 to stow away aboard the Portuguese flagged ship Gunene bound for Lisbon. He was discovered two days out of port, but he managed to convince the ships officers to let him stay. Becker later stated that the captain did not believe his story, but allowed Becker to stay nonetheless so long as he performed duties as a crewmember.518 The captain entered Becker into the ships logbook under the name Clemente Perez, the alias on a passport Becker carried.519 Beckers false passport raises suspicions of his claim to have been an ordinary businessman. It also raises the question of where he obtained the false identity. Becker evaded British passport controls at the island of Madeira by secretly disembarking the ship and appearing at the local German Consuls office. He asked the consul to hide him for the fifteen days the Gunene would be in port, but the consul refused. Becker returned to the Gunene where he was interrogated by Portuguese port authorities with British officials present. He repeated the same story he told to the captain of the Gunene, but was not sure that he was believed. Becker felt that when the ship left Portuguese waters he would be removed forcibly by the British. Therefore, he decided to try a different tack. According to his later statement he had himself moved in the custody of port officials to the Italian ship Conte Grande. Left unsaid was whether
Memorandum re: Johannes Siegfried Becker, 5 August 1944, NARA, RG 65, 64-27116-56. Heinz Hhne, Canaris: Hitlers Master Spy, trans. J. Maxwell Brownjohn (New York: Cooper Square Press, 1979), pp. 33-35. 518 Johannes Siegfried Becker Statement to the Federal Police in Argentina, RG 65, 64-27116 519 Ibid.
517 516

216 the British knew he was being transferred. When the Conte Grande arrived in the Canary Islands, Becker jumped ship and was able to secure passage on a small Spanish ship headed to the port of Las Palmas, also in the Canaries, where he again presented himself to the German consul. The consul issued Becker a passport in his real name and Becker left Las Palmas by airplane the following week.520 Who paid for the airplane ticket is unknown. Becker arrived in Madrid and made his way to Rome later claiming he was almost broke when he arrived there. He went to the German Embassy to request help in getting back to Germany. He informed the embassys civil attach, probably a member of the SD, how he had returned. Becker later stated that he was supplied with a credit of five thousand lire and was told that when he arrived in Berlin he should report to the Sicherheitsdienst (Security Service or SD) of the Reichsicherheitshauptamt (Reich Security Main Office or RSHA).521 Since Becker was telling his story to the Argentine Federal Police, his statements must be used with caution. The Sicherheitsdienst was part of the SS. Himmler had been concerned about infiltration of the Nazi Party since 1927 when he ordered all SS men to report any suspicious activity.522 By the summer of 1931 Himmler created an intelligence position for his staff and recruited Reinhard Heydrich, a cashiered naval officer, to fill it.523 In June 1932 this intelligence service was named the Sicherheitsdienst. Heydrich recruited
520 521

Ibid. Johannes Siegfried Becker Statement to the Federal Police in Argentina, NARA, RG 65, 64-27116. 522 George C. Browder, Hitlers Enforcers: The Gestapo and the SS Security Service in the Nazi Revolution (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996), p. 105. See also Paehler Espionage, Ideology and Personal Politics especially Chapter 3. 523 Ibid and Kahn, Hitlers Spies, p. 56 also see Shlomo Aronson, Reinhard Heydrich und die Frhgeschichte von Gestapo und SD (Stuttgart: Deutsche Verlaganstalt, 1971), p. 208.

217 subordinates who built networks at the local level. An organ of the Nazi Party rather than the state, the SD had no budget and was dependent on whatever funds Heydrich or Himmler could provide. Its headquarters was minimal consisting of six poorly paid members who spent their time cutting articles out of newspapers and filing them.524 One of the SDs early problems was a lack of a clear mandate. Such was

especially pronounced after the Nazi seizure of power in 1933. The upside for the SD was that it could broaden its own area of competence.525 In November 1933 the SD became its own independent office in the SS structure and named the Sicherheitsamt (Security Office). Heydrich was appointed its chief. The SD was now composed of six departments and two independent desks. Department I took care of organizational and personnel matters. Department II was concerned with pay, finances and supplies. Department IV handled

Department III focused on domestic political information.

Counterespionage and Foreign Inquiry. Department V dealt with the Freemasons. One of the independent desks dealt with the press and the other provided technical and organizational support.526 Department IV, of basic importance for the present study, handled many different areas and consisted of six sections. Section One managed Foreign Intelligence while Section Two dealt with Jews, pacifists, emigrants while collecting intelligence on antiNazi propaganda. Section Three handled espionage and immigrants. Section Four dealt with counterespionage and Section Five watched armaments issues. Section Six worked

Browder, Hitlers Enforcers, pp. 109, 112. Paehler, Espionage, Ideology and Personal Politics, pp. 49-50. 526 Browder, Hitlers Enforcers, pp. 119, 252-253 and Paehler, Espionage, Ideology and Personal Politics, p. 50.
525

524

218 on economic matters and issues of corruption.527 Given that Department IV had sections dealing with foreign intelligence and counterespionage, there was a considerable amount of overlap between the SD and Abwehr which generated friction between the two. In 1934 the role of the SD was redefined and an official decree made the SD the sole intelligence service of the Nazi Party. Other such intelligence services were to be abolished and their duties and/or personnel transferred to the SD.528 In January 1935, the SD was elevated to a SD-Hauptamt (Main Office) status. During a further reorganization Department IV was renamed Office III, with one section dealing with countering espionage and foreign intelligence services operating in Germany. Even though the SD, Abwehr and AA were battling for control over intelligence-gathering operations, Heydrich, like Ribbentrop, was not very interested in intelligence matters. According to Walter Schellenberg, head of Amt VI SS Foreign Intelligence, Heydrich concerned himself with home affairs and possessed no great knowledge [of] foreign countries.529 In September 1939 the SD and police organizations were merged to create the RSHA (Reichsicherheitshauptamt) under the control of Heydrich. Following this reorganization Heydrich appointed Heinz Jost to head Amt VI, now the SS Foreign Intelligence. When Jost was placed in charge the problems facing Amt VI were numerous. David Kahn states that the task before Jost was heartbreakingly difficult even in peace: creating an espionage organization to spy in belligerent countries.530

Paehler, Espionage, Ideology and Personal Politics, p. 51. Aronson, Reinhard Heydrich, p. 196 and Paehler, Espionage, Ideology and Personal Politics, pp. 5354. 529 Final Report on the Case of Walter Schellenberg, NARA, RG 319, IRR, XE 001725, Folders 7 and 8. See also Paehler, Espionage, Ideology and Personal Politics, p. 254. 530 Kahn, Hitlers Spies, p. 253.
528

527

219 Josts main problem was to find qualified personnel to fill available positions. There were few who possessed the necessary language skills or were reliably informed about the countries they monitored. A report on Amt VI/D states all such were

essentially [sic] qualifications for any person who sought to conduct intelligence operations against these countries.531 When Jost took over Amt VI he was only able to find two officers who had suitable qualifications. Josts tenure was described by his successor Schellenberg as rank dilettantism and this assessment was seconded by the post-war examiners of Amt VI.532 Jost took a lackadaisical approach to running Amt VI, working only a few hours a day and allowing his subordinate to work with minimal supervision.533 But Josts subordinates were just as lackadaisical as he. Latin America originally came under the purview of Amt VI/E which also had responsibility for Italy and Spain. Its first head was Hans Daufeldt who served from 1939-1941. Daufeldt was born in 1908 in Kappeln and studied economics at the

University of Kiel. He joined the NSDAP in 1932, and then the SS. He attended an SS police school and was eventually assigned to the RSHA. Since he spoke English and had studied in London in 1936-37 this supposedly made him useful to Amt VI.534 In truth, Daufeldt was unqualified for his position; he was described as weak inefficient and incompetent.535 In his postwar interrogation Daufeldt claimed that he lacked the

Counter Intelligence War Room, Situation Report No, 9, Amt VI of the RSHA Gruppe VI D, NARA, RG 319, IRR, XE 002303, p. 4. Amt VI C was placed under Amt VI D in another reorganization under Schellenberg in 1941. 532 Ibid, p. 6. 533 Paehler, Espionage, Ideology and Personal Politics, p. 245. 534 Reinhard R. Doerries, Hitlers Last Chief of Foreign Intelligence: Allied Interrogations of Walter Schellenberg (New York: Routledge, 2003), p. 343 n. 108. 535 Counter Intelligence War Room, Situation Report No, 9, Amt VI of the RSHA Gruppe VI D, NARA, RG 319, IRR, XE 002303, pp. 5-6.

531

220 training and education for the position.536 In January 1941 responsibility for Latin America along with Scandinavia, the United States and Great Britain was passed to Amt VI/D with Daufeldt still in charge. The Latin American Desk of Amt VI/D was designated D/4 and its first head was Ewald Geppert. Geppert, like Jost, was not held in much esteem by his subordinates. Karl Arnold, head of SS intelligence in Spain, noted that Geppert was lame due to a leg injury, which caused him to spend considerable time away from the office. But, Geppert was ambitious. Arnold and Hedwig Sommer, a secretary in Amt VI, thought he was a gangster and misanthrope who had no scruples about making promises of any sort.537 Despite his personal shortcomings Gepperts tenure was marked by some success. He managed to recruit Heinz Lange and Johannes Siegfried Becker for service in South America. Geppert also managed to infiltrate the Brazilian Embassy in Berlin with Toni Kurfrst. Kurfrst had been a longtime employee of the embassy and was the He was able to secure copies of all the reports the Brazilian

ambassadors valet.

ambassador sent back to Rio de Janeiro.538 From these reports the SD learned that the ambassador was a sworn enemy of Nazi Germany. It was also reported that during air raids he became delirious with joy, even running into his garden and flashing a lantern to help. In 1941 Geppert was transferred to Amt VI/F, the documents and forgery

Interrogation Report of Hans Daufeldt, 29 Dec 1945, NARA, RG 263, Records of the Central Intelligence Agency, Name Files: Theodor Paeffgen, Box 39. 537 Arnold Interrogation, p. 12 and Sommer Interrogation, p. 10. 538 Interrogation of Theodor Paeffgen, 29 December 1945, NARA, RG 263, Name Files: Theodor Paeffgen, Box 39, p. 4.

536

221 section.539 He may have been transferred because he was not a Schellenberg man. He was replaced with Ernst Schambacher, who lasted in the post for a short time due to health problems. Schambachers replacement was Obersturmbahnfhrer Dr. Theodor Paeffgen, who took up his position in August 1942 and stayed until the end of the war. Paeffgen was born on 12 June 1910 in Cologne. He graduated from the

Staatliches Gymnasium in 1928 and then studied law at the Universities of Geneva, Bordeaux and Edinburgh from 1928-1936. After earning his final law degree he applied for the German diplomatic service in 1937 and 1938 with no success. He then entered the SD Hauptamt in 1938. His first assignment was in Amt I/II under Schellenberg. He was transferred to the SD Bureau in Metz, France in July 1940 following the defeat of France where he wrote reports on the political situation in Lorraine. He also played a prominent role in expelling French civilians from Lorraine who did not want to become German citizens. He was recalled to Berlin in June 1941 where he compiled reports from the Einsatzgruppen operating in the USSR. Paeffgen subsequently served for a time in East Prussia and then transferred to Bialystok combating partisans. In August 1942 he went back to Berlin to take up a position in Amt VI/D.540 In his postwar interrogation Paeffgen was described as having no qualifications for intelligence work. His interrogator noted that Under a political system that put a premium on the absence of critical faculties Paeffgen was slated for success. The report conceded that he had a smattering of languages, a fair knowledge of geography, but

Arnold Interrogation, NARA, RG 65, 64-24854-Sec. 1, p. 12; See also Interrogation of Hedwig Elizabeth Weigelmayer Sommer, 5 October 1945, NARA, RG 65, 65-56221, p. 10. Sommer states he was transferred due to lack of success. 540 Paeffgen Interrogation, p. 4.

539

222 that he had never heard of Houston, Texas.541 Hedwig Sommer stated that Paeffgen was a decent man who was basically an intelligent person, and generally successful in his position. She related that he exercised firm control over his subordinates and was a hard and conscientious worker. But she admitted that she had very little contact with Paeffgen during her time at Amt VI.542 Paeffgen, it would seem, was appointed to his position because of his personal loyalty to Schellenberg. The fact that Paeffgen was the best candidate for the position shows the paucity of qualified personnel available. Whatever Paeffgens faults, Schellenberg thought very highly of him stating later that he was my most important collaborator for South America He enjoyed my full confidence. He kept me currently informed regarding the most important results of the secret service work in South America.543 Gepperts successor as the head of Amt VI D/4, which covered the Americas, was Hauptsturmfhrer Kurt Gross.544 In a department full of incompetent, corrupt officials, it would not be an exaggeration to say that Kurt Gross was among the worst. Karl Arnold had met Gross in 1931 when both were in Argentina and both joined the Nazi Party. Arnold later described Gross as a fanatical Nazi who contributed a lot of time and money to the Party. In 1934 Gross returned to Germany working as a deckhand on a tramp steamer due to lack of funds. Back in Germany Gross joined the SS and was then posted to Spain during the Spanish Civil War. During that conflict he served in the counterIbid, p. 3. Sommer Interrogation, p. 10. 543 Affidavit of Walter Schellenberg, 6 February 1946, NARA, RG 59, 862.20235/4-2646, Argentine Blue Book (hereafter ABB), Box 25. 544 Kurt Gross was unable to be located at the end of the war and not interrogated. See Byrnes (Department of State) to Buenos Aires, 3 June 1946, NARA RG 65, 65-56627. Hedwig Sommer claims that Johannes Siegfried Becker headed Amt VI D/4 for a period following Gepperts removal see Sommer Interrogation, p. 21.
542 541

223 intelligence branch of the Condor Legion and was decorated for his work. Upon his return to Germany he was assigned to the Gestapo at Kehl am Rhein and then transferred to Amt VI which posted him to Biarritz. Gross was recalled after having a brawl with a German general and assigned back to the Gestapo.545 Arnold related that over time Gross became ever more cynical and disillusioned with National Socialism and that he wanted to extract as much material gain from his position as he could. He badgered his subordinates abroad for luxury goods such as cognac, cigarettes, coffee and silk stockings. Arnold was allowed to send home three kilograms per week through the diplomatic pouch, and tried to send as much as possible to his wife and parents. But Grosss demands took up a large portion of the allotment. Additionally, every time Arnold was ordered to Berlin for consultations, the order was accompanied by a long shopping list of items Gross wanted. Gross also appropriated the majority of presents Arnold sent back to Berlin for the employees of D/4. This habit soon came to be called Grosera.546 It is interesting that Jost was removed for alleged corruption while Gross was allowed to strong-arm his subordinates into supplying him with hard-to-find items. Gross was also completely amoral when it came to politics. He told Hedwig Sommer that had he not become a National Socialist, he would have become a Communist.547 Gross had two other failings. First, he was not a good judge of men. Arnold described him as capable and intelligent with a good feel for intrigue but his failure to

Personalakten Kurt Gross, Berlin Document Center Files, SS Officer Files, NARA, RG 242/A3343/051/57730. Arnold Interrogation, NARA, RG 65, 64-24854-Sec. 1, p. 13. 546 Ibid. 547 Sommer Interrogation, p. 11.

545

224 properly judge men resulted in him picking a series of incompetents and knaves to carry out his missions abroad.548 He also had the habit of making threats against the lives of agents whose work displeased him. Arnold related that Gross once ordered him to murder three of his own agents in Spain. Not only did Arnold refuse, but he told Gross not to be childish andthat only if he received a letter from Schellenberg himself would he even contemplate compliance with such a ridiculous order. Arnold placed the blame for incompetent and dishonest agents squarely on Gross shoulders since Gross was the one who sent them abroad in the first place.549 Despite his shortcomings Gross was proactive, visualizing plans and submitting them to Paeffgen and Schellenberg for approval. Most plans were approved, which showed the high regard in which he was held by Schellenberg and Paeffgen. However, Gross was overzealous and as a result he clashed with Paeffgen. Once, Gross questioned Paeffgens authority and Paeffgen threatened him with a combat posting. Gross quickly retracted his statements.550 Even given all Grosss faults, Hedwig Sommer concluded that he was suited for intelligence work because of his interest in it and the fact that, at least superficially, he was a good National Socialist.551 Grosss second in command was Untersturmfhrer Robert Grosse. Grosses main value was his blind devotion to Gross and his willingness to carry out orders without question. He and Gross were previously stationed together in the Gestapo at Kehl am Rhein. Grosse also served as a member of the Border Patrol at Singen on Lake

548 549

Arnold Interrogation, NARA, RG 65, 64-24854-Sec. 1, p. 13. Arnold Interrogation, NARA, RG 65, 64-24854-Sec. 1, p. 14. 550 Sommer Interrogation, p. 11. 551 Ibid, p. 12.

225 Constance. He had no experience traveling abroad, spoke no foreign languages and lacked other qualities that would make him successful. He still had a high opinion of himself. Like Paeffgen, Grosse was chosen due to loyalty rather than any

qualification.552 Given the lack of success or lack of loyalty to Heydrich, Amt VI under Jost came under intense scrutiny. Jost attempted to buttress his position telling Heydrich that you will recognize from this that even Amt VI fulfills its responsibility and duty and that it is surely worth the support by other offices and departments But Jost failed to take any responsibility upon himself, stating that Amt VIs perceived failures were due to a lack of funding and cooperation with other agencies. As Katrin Paehler points out, Any

institution that needs to stress that work is actually done is clearly in dire straits.553 By 1941 Jost had ceased to have any control of Amt VI and Schellenberg maneuvered to remove him. Irregularities with Amt VI finances triggered an investigation that

connected Jost to embezzled money. Jost was removed and Schellenberg himself was appointed acting Amtschef.554 His appointment was confirmed on 22 June 1941. When Becker arrived in Berlin sometime in early 1940 he expected to be recommissioned in the army. Instead he was allegedly recruited into the SD by Major Hermann Rossner who wanted Becker to return to South America and set up an

Ibid, pp. 12-13. Quoted in Paehler, Espionage, Ideology and Personal Politics, p. 241. 554 Paehler points out that Jost had generated ill will in the RSHA including Heydrich and Heinrich Mller, head of the Gestapo. Wilhelm Httl, head of Amt VI in Vienna office stated that Heydrich had wanted to get rid of Jost as early as 1940 and had Schellenberg do the deed. Whatever the case, it seemed that the general consensus regarding Jost was that he was incompetent and lazy. See Paehler, Espionage, Ideology and Personal Politics, p. 246.
553

552

226 intelligence gathering and espionage network.555 After a brief period of training at RSHA headquarters Becker was named SD chief in southern South America. As Newton points out nothing could be more indicative of the SDs unpreparedness for South American operations.556 While criteria for recruiting agents early in the war were vague, they were clearly based on ideological assumptions. A handbook from 1944 described the

qualifications those persons engaged in intelligence activities should have. It stressed the importance of their activities with regards to Hitler. The handbook implied that being a member of SS Foreign Intelligence was the highest calling a true German could aspire to. Only the best of the best, it said, were selected as intelligence officers. Only officers with the purest blood, who were true believers in Nazi ideology, could perform the tasks that needed to be done. As an early member of the SS Becker had his genealogy checked back to 1750 to ensure racial purity along with the SS blood group tattoo under his arm.557 The ideal intelligence officer was described as one who had: Absolute loyalty and obedience to the Fhrer, courage and determination, toughness and endurance, fanatical devotion to the profession, iron self-discipline, an ice-cool mind and judgment, adaptability and capacity for understanding, lightning-fast understanding of a situation and ruthless execution, the best comrade among comrades and subordinates, full of energy and always with a positive attitude towards the outside.558
In her interrogation Hedwig Sommer states that Becker was recruited to work for the SD by SS Untersturmfhrer Ewald Geppert, head of Amt VI D/4 until June 1942. See Report of Interview of Hedwig Elizabeth Weigelmayer Sommer, NARA, RG 65, Box 211, File 65-56221, p. 15. Karl Arnold in his interrogation confirms Beckers statement that Rossner recruited him. He states that Rossner headed Amt VI B until 1941 with Geppert heading VI B/4 see Interrogation Report of Karl Arnold, NARA, RG 65, 65-24854-Sec. 1, p. 14. 556 Newton, The Nazi Menace p. 253. There is some disagreement regarding this since Hedwig Sommer states that Becker and Lange received no training since that practice had not been initiated yet. Report of Interview of Hedwig Elizabeth Weigelmayer Sommer, NARA, RG 65, Box 211, File 65-56221, p. 15. 557 Heinz Hhne, The Order of the Deaths Head: The Story of Hitlers SS, trans. Richard Barry (New York: Ballantine Books, 1971), p. 162. Enlisted men in the SS had their genealogy checked back to 1800. 558 This statement is taken from Handbuch des Meldedienstes, Bd. 1 Vom Meldewesen, 888/44 gKdos, Reichssicherheitshauptamt-Amt VI AR, 95, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, 14.016 M, 409, and quoted in Paehler, Espionage, Ideology and Personal Politics, p. 214.
555

227

In some ways Becker fell short of this ideal, but he had been a member of the SS for almost a decade, which ostensibly made him reliable. During his training Becker was introduced to Heinz Lange, another SD agent who was going to South America. Lange had lived in Asuncin, Paraguay from 1931-39 working for a maritime firm. He had been a member of the Nazi Party but was expelled in 1928 for unexplained antiparty activity. When he returned to Germany in 1939 he carried copies of the electrical plans for the National Bank of Argentina. It is presumably because of this that Langes past was forgiven and Rossner was allowed to recruit him.559 Becker and Lange were told that upon their arrival in Buenos Aires, they were to make contact with Wilhelm von Seidlitz (aka Guillermo Otto Alberto von Seidlitz), a businessman employed by the Antonio Delfino Company, and Gottfried Sanstede, Press Attach in the German Embassy in Buenos Aires. Becker and Lange were also to contact Sanstedes brother, Carlos Enrique Sanstede who was also employed at Delfino.560 Becker and Langes instructions were to: recruit collaborators and extend to neighboring countries the network Lange was supposedly creating in Argentina. Second, to collect information on a variety of matters including the political and social atmosphere of South American countries in their reaction to the war; commerce between Germanys enemies and neutrals; the Latin American response to German propaganda; enemy technical advances; British and U.S. influence in Latin American politics; communism; the consequences to German firms being included on Allied blacklists; the situation of German communities; and possible interallied conflict. Third, they were to set up a courier system between Argentina and Germany. They were also ordered to avoid contact with German diplomatic missions and leave military intelligence to the Abwehr.561

559 560

Rout and Bratzel, The Shadow War, p. 13. Johannes Siegfried Becker Statement to the Federal Police in Argentina, NARA, RG 65, 64-27116. 561 Ibid, pp. 253-4. See also Rout and Bratzel, The Shadow War, pp. 13-15.

228 The last issue was in keeping with agreements that had been reached between Reinhard Heydrich and Admiral Wilhelm Canaris five years earlier. On 17 January 1935 a meeting was convened to delineate responsibility between the Gestapo and the Abwehr. Canaris and an aide represented the Abwehr while the Gestapo was represented by Heydrich, Dr. Werner Best and Dr. Gnther Patschowski. Jost was also in attendance.562 Agreement was quickly reached that established the respective role of each organization with regard to counterespionage. It delineated the functions of the Abwehr as follows: 1. Military espionage and counterespionage. 2. Intelligence work in the Reichswehr and in Reichswehr owned areas. 3. Supervision and implementation of all regulations enacted as safeguards against espionage 4. Control and supervision regarding enrollment in the Wehrmacht. 5. Direction and determination of policy in all matters relating to national defense. The signatories also stated, Other intelligence services are not recognized and must be suppressed by all available means.563 As Katrin Paehler points out, the SD ended up with the better part of the bargain.564 The agreement also required the Abwehr to share information and assist the Gestapo, thus facilitating the latters expansion.565 The net result was that the SD was recognized by the Abwehr as an official intelligencegathering department in Nazi Germany with responsibility for foreign political intelligence gathering. Becker and Lange were each given $8,000 to help carry out their instructions. As travel to South America was difficult, Rossner decided to have Becker appointed as a
562

Kahn, Hitlers Spies, p. 231, Hhne, Canaris, p. 177 and Katrin Paehler, Espionage, Ideology and Personal Politics, p. 63. 563 Ibid. 564 Paehler, Espionage, Ideology and Personal Politics, p. 66. 565 Ibid.

229 diplomatic courier. The SD coordinated its activities with Abteilung Deutschland in the AA. Abteilung Deutschland was under the control of Martin Franz Julius Luther, a tenacious bureaucratic infighter. Abteilung Deutschland had existed in the Weimar

Republic under the name Referat Deutschland. In its original incarnation it acted as a liaison between the Foreign Ministry and the various political parties in the Reichstag.566 As Heinz Trtzschler von Falkenstein, a member of Politische Abteilung II (Pol. II) related during his interrogation, Referat Deutschland picked up the odds and ends of various activities in the Auswrtiges Amt.567 Luther also had another important duty. His office was in charge of approving travel abroad of all persons on party and state business. Ribbentrop also placed all contacts abroad by German organizations under Luthers control. Thus the SD had to deal with Luther and the Foreign Ministry if they wanted to send Becker to South America as a diplomatic courier. Additionally, in October 1939 the AA and SD had concluded an agreement delineating the relationship between the two organizations.568 The AA acknowledged that Amt VI could collect political information abroad and report directly to their RSHA superiors in Berlin. The AA also agreed, within limits, to ignore any illegal activities that Amt VI undertook. In

Interrogation of Heinz Trtzschler von Falkenstein, Poole Mission, NARA RG59/ M679/Roll 3/ Fr. 1275. 567 Ibid. 568 Peter Black, Ernst Kaltenbrunner: Ideological Soldier of the Third Reich (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984), p. 179 and Paehler, Espionage, Ideology and Personal Politics, p. 362. Following Amt VI support for a coup by the Iron Guard in Romania in January 1941 Ribbentrop had another agreement drawn up dealing with the role of RSHA representatives abroad. Any acts of sabotage had to be approved by Ribbentrop. See Paehler, Espionage, Ideology and Personal Politics, p. 364.

566

230 turn, Amt VI would send any intelligence gathered to Abteilung Deutschland for evaluation and approval.569 On 27 May 1940 the SD asked to have Becker appointed a diplomatic courier.570 The SD asked that Becker go to Buenos Aires on LATI, the Italian airline, which still had trans-Atlantic service to South America. In 1945 the FBI received information from the OSS stating that when Becker was in Rome awaiting transport to South America he left a box in his room. The box allegedly contained a bacterium which was to be used to infect meat being shipped from Argentina to Great Britain, making it inedible. It appears that this allegation was unproven since no corroboration for it was found 571 Scholarly studies of German efforts to manufacture biological weapons are contradictory. In their study of chemical and biological warfare Robert Harris and Jeremy Paxman state that the Germany did not begin a serious biological warfare program until July 1943. They conclude that German biological warfare efforts were literally years behindthe Allies.572 In contrast, Tom Bower states that an SA general, Kurt Blome, had once asked

Paehler, Espionage, Ideology and Personal Politics, p. 363. Memo Amt VI E 3 to D II Werner Picot, 27 May 1940, Beauftragen Becker nach Sdamerika, NARA, RG 242/T120/308/224991. 571 The OSS obtained the information from two top-ranking SD men in Rome whose names are identified only as Subjects A and B. See J. George Gately (OSS) to C. Darwin Marron (FBI), Subject: Siegfried Becker and Biersack, 28 September 1945, NARA, RG 65, 64-27116-Sec. 5, Box 20 and Hoover to Joice, Subject: Johannes Siegfried Becker, 7 November 1945, NARA, RG 65, 64-27116-Sec. 5, Box 20. However author Robert Koenig states categorically that the Germans waged germ warfare in Argentina during World War I. See Robert Koenig, The Fourth Horseman: One Mans Mission to Wage the Great War in America (New York: Public Affairs Books, 2006), pp. 233-235. This is in contrast to the sordid record of their ally the Japanese and its notorious Unit 731. For information on Unit 731 see Daniel Barenblatt, A Plague upon Humanity: The Secret Genocide of Axis Japan's Germ Warfare Operation (New York: Harper Collins, 2004) and Tien-Wei Wu ed., The Journal of Studies of Japanese Aggression Against China - Special Edition for Unit 731: Japan's Biological Warfare against China (Society for Studies of Japanese Aggression, 1995). 572 Robert Harris and Jeremy Paxman, A Higher Form of Killing: The Secret History of Chemical and Biological Warfare (New York: Random House, 2002), p. 87.
570

569

231 Himmler for funds to finance a medical institute where experimental vaccines could be tested on concentration camp inmates.573 Becker was to leave from Rome on 30 May 1940 with 55 kg of luggage. No details of why Becker was traveling to South America were given. Amt VIs request stated that no details for a return trip can be given since he [Becker] might be in Argentina for a long period of time.574 The SD also asked the AA for assistance in obtaining a transit visa through Brazil and an entrance visa for Argentina.575 Given that Becker was leaving in three days, the AA moved quickly to obtain the necessary documentation apparently satisfied with the vague explanations as well as the lack of a return date. Becker left Rome on 30 May and arrived in Rio de Janeiro on 2 June 1940 traveling onto Buenos Aires on 5 June. Beckers troubles began when he arrived in Buenos Aires.576 On leaving Rome Becker had listed two suitcases on his baggage manifest, but when he arrived at the embassy in Buenos Aires he was in possession of one trunk. When the baggage manifest was checked the discrepancy was discovered. Baffled, Ambassador Thermann had Becker open the trunk. Thermann was shocked to find it filled with explosives. Thermann ordered Becker to dispose of the explosives by

Tom Bower, The Paperclip Conspiracy: The Hunt for Nazi Scientists (Boston: Little, Brown, 1987), p. 254. 574 Memo Amt VI E 3 to D II Werner Picot, 27 May 1940, Beauftragen Becker nach Sdamerika, NARA, RG 242/T120/308/224991. 575 Memo Amt VI B/4 to Picot, 27 May 1940, Beauftragen Becker nach Sdamerika, NARA, RG 242/T120/308/224992. 576 Prfer to Picot, 2 June 1940, Beauftragen Becker nach Sdamerika, NARA RG 242/T120/228/224993 and Thermann to Picot, 6 June 1940, Ibid, Frame 224994.

573

232 dumping them in the river.577 Thermann also related to his postwar interrogators that Becker also refused to state his reason for his presence in Argentina. Becker admitted only to membership in the SS.578 Perhaps he thought his SS membership would give him more credibility with Thermann, who was also a member of the organization. Thermann had reason to be leery of sabotage. The situation in Argentina was tense following the sinking of an Argentine flagged ship S.S. Uruguay by a German submarine. An angry Thermann wrote Berlin regarding Beckers cargo.579 According to Thermann, Becker told him he was called for a message at the airport in Rome and was able to gain access to the baggage area and make the switch. Thermann did not think the AA or the embassy in Rome were aware of Beckers duplicity and demanded an investigation. Amt VI conducted an investigation and sent a report to D II.580 Office D II, under the control of Rolf Pusch, was responsible for liaisons between the SS and AA. Amt VI informed the AA that documents were altered and the two suitcases listed were switched with the trunk. Hedwig Sommer later confirmed that Becker was ordered by Geppert to undertake sabotage which would injure the British.581 However, Amt VI stated that Becker on behalf of the RSHA had received instructions not to undertake any

Newton, The Nazi Menace, p. 254. Newtons account was taken from Thermanns postwar interrogation. See Interrogation of Dr. Edmund Freiherr von Thermann, 27 September, 8, 10, 16, 20, 23, 24 October and 2, 6 November 1945, NARA, RG 59, Argentine Blue Book, Miscellaneous Affidavits and Interrogation Reports, Entry 1088, Box 26, p. 32. Thermanns account is supported by the file of Inland II Geheim, Beauftragen Becker nach Sdamerika. 578 Interrogation of Dr. Edmund Freiherr von Thermann, NARA, RG 59, Argentine Blue Book, Entry 1088, Box 26, p. 32. 579 Thermann to AA, 18 June 1940, Beauftragen Becker nach Sdamerika, NARA, RG 242/T120/228/224996. 580 Amt VI author unknown to D II, Serial No. D II 77/40, July 1940, Beauftragen Becker nach Sdamerika, NARA, RG 242/T120/228/224997. 581 Director FBI to Legal Attach Rio de Janeiro, Subject: Elizabeth Hedwig Sommer, 25 November 1946, NARA, RG 65, 65-56279, p. 1.

577

233 operations. Amt VI holds the view that any action should be undertaken only with the cooperation of the Auswrtiges Amt.582 This explanation and show of humility was apparently accepted by D II and Luther. Luther added that, Independent action by Becker or other persons is not to be expected.583 It could also be that Luther and D II were aware of the explosives, as another memo dated 19 August 1940 states, the arrangement was that the suitcases were to be used for different purposes only on the specific direction of the Chief of the Security Police and SD [Heydrich] in agreement with the Foreign Ministry.584 Luther was probably reassuring Weizscker and Ribbentrop that the SD and Amt VI would not undertake any act of sabotage that could be traced back to Germany. Luther concluded stating this direction should be strictly followed in light of messages coming out of Buenos Aires so that unpleasant surprises do not occur.585 In light of these comments, it seems Luther was walking a fine line between angering Ribbentrop and satisfying the SD, but his admonishment to the SD is clear. No sabotage was to be undertaken by the SD unless approved in advance by the AA. However, if there was no written agreement specifically addressing the issue of sabotage, then there was no way to stop Amt VI from carrying out sabotage.586 Even so, Ribbentrops order of 19 June 1941 should have

Amt VI author unknown to D II, Serial No. D II 77/40, July 1940, Beauftragen Becker nach Sdamerika, NARA, RG 242/T120/228/224997. 583 Ibid. 584 Memorandum, author unknown, 19 August 1940, Beauftragen Becker nach Sdamerika, NARA, RG242/T120/228/224998. 585 Ibid. 586 In his postwar interrogation Karl Arnold claimed that Hitler had forbidden sending agents to the Western Hemisphere and that anyone whose espionage activities caused trouble in North America would be shot. See Interrogation Report of Karl Gustav Arnold, 5 December 1946, RG 65, File 64-24854-1, Box 17, p. 10. It is not known if this decree covered South America at all, especially given Operation South Pole etc. None of the documents dealing with the forbidding of espionage state any possible

582

234 cleared up any subsequent knowledge on Thermanns part concerning intelligence activities in his area of responsibility. During the rest of his stay in South America Becker limited his activities to recruiting agents and intelligence gathering. However, Beckers altercation with

Thermann was the first in a string of errors. He contacted his erstwhile subordinate Lange who arrived sometime after Becker did and suggested they pool their money. Lange refused stating he would not give his money to Becker.587 Becker also had little luck recruiting agents. The only person he was able to recruit in Argentina was Wilhelm von Seidlitz, who he had been instructed to contact on arrival. Seidlitzs recruitment brought the total number of SD agents in Latin America to four: Becker, Lange, Wilhelm Hammerschmidt, press attach for the German embassy in Chile, and Seidlitz. It should be noted that Becker was very loosely controlled by his superiors. As Katrin Paehler notes, this was indicative of Josts tenure as head of Amt VI.588 As per his orders Becker became acquainted with Seidlitz, who was employed by the Antonio Delfino shipping agency.589 The Delfino agency had represented German business interests in Buenos Aires since the 1890s and was a very prominent company.590

punishment. This could have been a misunderstanding or exaggeration on Arnolds part. See The High Command of the Wehrmacht to the Foreign Ministry, 18 June 1940, Doc. 483, Documents on German Foreign Policy, Series D, Vol. 9 (Washington D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1983), p. 616 for the order forbidding sabotage in the Americas. The document does not specifically forbid the SD from undertaking sabotage, only the Abwehr. It seems Amt VI had been preparing for sabotage operations even before Becker arrived in Germany in early 1940. See Paehler, Espionage, Ideology and Personal Politics, p. 221 which states that preparations for sabotage operations in South America had been completed by January 1940. 587 Ibid, pp. 353-4. 588 Paehler, Espionage, Ideology and Personal Politics, ch. 6 and Report of Interview of Hedwig Elizabeth Weigelmayer Sommer, NARA, RG 65, File 65-56221, Box 211, p. 16. 589 Ibid. Newton does not give him the honorific von while Rout and Bratzel do. See Rout and Bratzel, The Shadow War, p. 332. 590 Newton, The Nazi Menace, p. 53.

235 Thermann later called Antonio Delfino a great friend, who helped out in many ways.591 Seidlitz was involved in intelligence gathering for either the Abwehr or Amt VI before meeting Becker, but it is unclear if Becker knew. Seidlitz was recruited by either Dietrich Niebuhr, the German naval attach in Buenos Aires, or Gottfried Sandstede, a representative of the German State Railways in Argentina and alleged Gestapo agent.592 He helped Niebuhr with the escape of members of the crew of the pocket battleship Graf Spee before being recruited sometime in 1940.593 According to Beckers later interrogation, Seidlitz tried to involve him in the escape of the Graf Spee crew. Becker claimed this involvement would have violated his instructions, but he did not object to Seidlitzs or Langes involvement. He stated that such was his way of lending moral support to the affair but duly appreciating the importance of the case. He also stated that he might have helped in the escape of a few crewmembers, but that the majority of the repatriations were handled by Niebuhr.594 In July Becker decided to take a trip around South America leaving his new recruit Seidlitz in charge of his fledgling network in Argentina instead of his trained subordinate Lange. According to Arnold, Lange was not very useful in intelligencegathering activities and had no conception of how to put together a coherent intelligence
Interrogation of Dr. Edmund Freiherr von Thermann, NARA, RG 59, Argentine Blue Book, Entry 1088, Box 26. Ernst Bohle confirmed this stating that Delfino was very chummy with the Party. See Ibid, footnote. 592 Rout and Bratzel state Seidlitz was recruited by Niebuhr sometime in the 1930s, interestingly Rout and Bratzel do not mention Sandstede at all, see The Shadow War, p. 332. Newton states he was recruited by Sandstede, who was also an agent for the Gestapo and later Amt VI until August 1941 when he was expelled from Argentina. Newton does acknowledge that Seidlitz worked for Niebuhr as well as Sandstede. The U.S. early in the war used the Gestapo as a catchall phrase for all German agents. See Newton, The Nazi Menace, p. 55. 593 Rout and Bratzel, The Shadow War, pp. 332-3 and Newton, The Nazi Menace, p. 246. 594 Johannes Siegfried Becker Statement to the Federal Police in Argentina, NARA, RG 65, 64-27116, Box 20.
591

236 report.595 But the Argentine police were looking for Becker.596 Why Becker was wanted is unknown, but he was warned by Karl Arnold, future head of Amt VI activities in Spain, who was headed back to Germany from Argentina.597 Becker hurriedly left Argentina and traveled to Rio de Janeiro, Lima, and La Paz, recruiting agents in each city. Additionally, he put together a communication system with Berlin that was

independent of the German embassies. In Rio de Janeiro Becker used his friendship with Dr. Clara Fadda, President of LATI, to convince several pilots for LATI to carry messages to Rome. The pilots agreed to hand them over to Fadda when they arrived in Rome. Becker later explained that Fadda forwarded them to a mail drop in Berlin that he designated. The mail-drop was the firm of Janike-Ortner, operated by an SS man. Arrangements had been made by the SD that all mail sent to this address was exempt from inspection.598 Becker discovered however that this method was time consuming, and that getting a reply was far from certain. And during his trip Becker managed to create more political trouble.599 In Rio de Janeiro he had an affair with the wife of a Brazilian cabinet minister who then became pregnant. The German ambassador in Brazil, Curt Prfer, sent a telegram to Berlin asking that Becker be recalled to Berlin for political reasons [Beckers] return to

Interrogation Report of Karl Gustav Arnold, 5 December 1946, RG 65, File 64-24854-1, Box 17, p. 9. Telegram Thermann to D II, 24 September 1940, Beauftragen Becker nach Sdamerika, NARA, RG 242/T120/228/225002. 597 Ibid, Arnold was recruited by Geppert in October 1940 and went to work for Amt VI as an advisor to its B/4 (Latin America) desk. In 1941 B/4 was renamed D/4 in Schellenbergs reorganization. He was subsequently placed in charge of Amt VI activities in Spain. See Rout and Bratzel, The Shadow War, p. 17. 598 Report of Interview of Hedwig Elisabeth Weigelmayer Sommer, NARA, RG 65, 65-56221, p. 16. 599 Rout and Bratzel, The Shadow War, p. 354.
596

595

237 Germany urgently desired.600 Yet, Becker spent another year in South America

attempting to fulfill his assignment. In October 1940 Becker visited La Pz, Bolivia and Lima, Peru again. He recruited two agents, Helmuth Strehmel in La Pz and Gerston Ganter in Lima.601 Both proved unreliable, they did not submit reports as ordered. Becker also had problems with communications to Berlin despite the LATI connection. In Rio in the fall of 1940 Becker recruited Albrecht Gustav Engels (codename: Alfredo), an Abwehr operative.602 Becker had no qualms about recruiting anyone he felt would help him in his mission, even an agent from the competition. Engels would not be the last Abwehr agent Becker would recruit into his organization. Engels was born into a wealthy family on June 1, 1899. He enlisted in the German Army in 1916, was wounded in 1917 and commissioned a lieutenant in 1918. He was mustered out in 1919 and attended the Technical University of Berlin to study electrical engineering. The hyperinflation of 1923 convinced Engels to seek his fortunes elsewhere and in August 1923 he arrived in Rio de Janeiro. In 1938 he became an officer in the company directorate and subdirector of AEGs Brazilian subsidiary.603 In 1938 he

Telegram Prfer to D II, 10 October 1940, Beauftragen Becker nach Sdamerika, NARA RG 242/T120/228/225003. Rout and Bratzel date Beckers decision for his trip in October 1940, however, given Prfers telegram, along with the biological fact that it takes time for someone to discover they are pregnant, I date Beckers decision back to July 1940. This is one of the pitfalls of relying on interrogations to establish time and date given the fallibility of human memory. See Rout and Bratzel, The Shadow War, p. 354. 601 Ibid. 602 Extract from Report on Albrecht Gustav Engels, 5-16-43, The National Archives, Kew (hereafter TNA) KV 2/89. 603 Rout and Bratzel, The Shadow War, p. 114. Rout and Bratzel do not mention that Engels was recruited by Becker, arguing that he worked for Hermann Bohny, assistant Naval attach in Brazil, and the Abwehr as part of the CEL Radio Network.

600

238 returned to Germany and was recruited into the I-Wi section of Abteilung I in the Abwehr.604 In the fall of 1940 Becker showed up at Engelss office and introduced himself as Fritz Noering. He said he brought greetings from Schernik a friend of Engels in Berlin. After a short conversation Becker told Engels his real name and reason he was in Brazil, which was to enlarge and improve communications between Germany and Brazil. Engels later stated to his interrogators that he had little contact with Becker until the spring of 1941 when Becker supplied him with a machine for producing microdots for reports to Germany. Becker also gave Engels invisible ink to write secret messages, plus instructions on how to use it. Engels later related that Becker was in close contact with Hermann Bohny, the assistant naval attach in Brazil and Niebuhrs subordinate. Engels thus believed that Becker worked for the Abwehr and was a major in the German Army.605 Why Becker felt the need to hide his real affiliation is unclear, but Engels believed his story. According to Engels, Becker was also well supplied with money, probably from Bohny. During the operation of network CEL, Engels received

approximately $112,000 from Becker and Niebuhr to operate his network.606 Engels also helped Bohny establish the radio network codenamed CIT with Beckers assistance. On Beckers instructions he established still another radio network (codename: LIR) with approximately $7,500. Becker also gave a fourth radio network in Rio de Janeiro (codename: HTT) approximately $15,000. Engels also helped Becker

Ibid, p. 115. I-Wi was the economic intelligence section of the Abwehr. Abteilung I was responsible for collecting secret intelligence and was under the direction of Col. Hans Pieckenbrock from 1937-1943. 605 Report on Albrecht Gustav Engels, 16 May 1943, BNA, KV2/89. 606 Memorandum re: Johannes Siegfried Becker, 15 February 1944, NARA, RG 65, 64-27116-32.

604

239 extend his reach to Ecuador where he contacted Hans Biebel, Walter Giesse and Heinrich Loenschner, the main Abwehr agents operating there.607 Whatever Engels believed or told the police later, he acted as Beckers paymaster for the radio rings operating in Brazil and Ecuador from 1940-42. In his interrogation of Engels, Francis Crosby, the F.B.I. legal attach in Argentina, stated that Engels was clever personable and the bestknown and best liked German in Rio de Janeiro. As Rout and Bratzel point out, Engels must have been an outstanding man and outstanding agent to receive such an accolade from an adversary.608 In the fall of 1940, at approximately the same time Becker recruited Engels, he recruited Hans Muth, who was employed as a radio engineer by Siemens-Schuckert in Rio de Janeiro. Becker introduced himself to Muth using the name Clon and he spoke to Muth in Spanish. He told Muth that he was from the German High Command and wanted Muth to construct a radio transmitter capable of sending messages to Germany. Why Becker still felt the need to hide his SS affiliation is unclear. Like Engels, Muth believed his story. Muth built Becker a small transmitter which Becker took. Several months later Muth learned Beckers real name when he encountered him at the German Embassy in Rio de Janeiro. Over the course of his clandestine career Muth constructed approximately six transmitters for the CEL, LIR, and HTT radio networks that operated in Brazil.609 In January 1941 Becker ordered Lange to set up a radio network and recruit agents in Rio de Janeiro, but Lange proved incompetent in carrying out this task. Becker
607 608

Ibid. Rout and Bratzel, The Shadow War, p. 114. 609 Ibid.

240 planned to use Brazil as a base of operations and again placed Seidlitz in charge of SD operations in Argentina while he traveled around South America recruiting agents. Becker did manage to set up radio contact with Berlin, possibly with the assistance of Engels or Muth. He continued to use his courier system for lengthy messages and messages that were not time-sensitive. At first Becker wrote his letters in open text, but as time went on used invisible ink. Eventually he graduated to a cipher system using numbers in groups of ten.610 In June 1941 Amt VI provided Becker with assistance in the person of Alfred Engling. Engling traveled to Brazil by ship and his cover was as an engineer for a German firm. Hedwig Sommer stated that Engling received no training, as this practice had not been initiated yet.611 Engling arrived with an unknown amount of money to help Becker and Lange. Engling remained active until his arrest by the Brazilian police in 1942, which also netted Engels. Becker also obtained the services of a radio operator on the German ship Windhuk, which was at anchor in Sao Paulo harbor.612 continued to send agents to Brazil and South America. The SD

Another agent Carl Ernst

Freiherr von Merck (codename: Rosa) was sent to Brazil as a correspondent for the Vlkischer Beobachter. Sommer later related that Merck worked for Amt VI without the knowledge of the Vlkischer Beobachter and had been recruited by Geppert.613

Report of Interview of Hedwig Elisabeth Weigelmayer Sommer, NARA, RG 65, 65-56221, p. 16. Ibid. 612 When the Windhuk, was interned by Brazilian authorities, the so-called Apfel Sabotage Group hatched a plot to set fire to the ship rather than have it turned over to the U.S. See History of the SIS Division, Vol. 2. Accomplishments, Argentina-Japan, declassified 8/10/04, pp. 302-303. I am grateful to Larry Valero for bringing this report to my attention and generously providing me with a copy. 613 Report of Interview of Hedwig Elisabeth Weigelmayer Sommer, NARA, RG 65, 65-56221, p. 19. In his postwar interrogation, Theodor Paeffgen stated that German press correspondents and press attachs had been forbidden from working for Amt VI, however it seems that like most of its other agreements Amt
611

610

241 In the middle of 1941 Becker went to Santiago, Chile either to recruit more agents or check on existing networks.614 By August 1941 Becker and Lange were penniless and asked SD headquarters for more money. Receiving no satisfactory reply to his requests for money and radios, Becker decided to return to Germany and request assistance in person. Another motive might have caused Beckers return. Engling had sent an

unflattering report on Becker to SD headquarters. It detailed Beckers sexual liaisons and numerous blunders. The report was taken seriously enough that someone from SD headquarters supposedly phoned Becker over an open phone line and demanded his return.615 Becker probably returned on his own initiative.616 Another reason for his return was conflict between him and Ambassadors Thermann and Prfer.617 Unable to obtain a seat on LATI on his own, Becker sheepishly went to Prfer and asked him to obtain credentials as a diplomatic courier and a seat back to Germany. Prfer happily obliged. As Becker journeyed home, Luther was brought up to date on his activities. D II prepared a memo for Luther on Beckers complete with his aborted sabotage attempt. The memo cautioned about anti-Nazi agitation in Argentina and arrests by the Argentinean police of suspected Nazi sympathizers and agents. Sabotage in South

VI got around this rule when it thought it could. For Paeffgens denial see Interrogation Report of Theodor Paeffgen, 29 December 1945, CI-IIR/40, NARA, RG 263, Records of the Central Intelligence Agency, Name Files, Box 39: Theodor Paeffgen, p. 20 and Final Interrogation Report of Theodor Paeffgen, 27 February 1946, CI-FIR/97, NARA, RG 65, Box 183, 65-56036 Sec. 1, p. 20. 614 Memorandum re: Johannes Siegfried Becker, 5 August 1944, NARA, RG65, 64-27116-56. 615 Rout and Bratzel, The Shadow War, p. 354. See also Interrogation of Karl Gustav Arnold, NARA, RG 65, 64-24854-Sec. 1, p. 11. 616 Report of Interview of Hedwig Elisabeth Weigelmayer Sommer, NARA, RG 65, 65-56221, p. 21. 617 Rout and Bratzel, The Shadow War, p. 354, see also Interrogation of Karl Gustav Arnold, NARA, RG 65, 64-24854-Sec. 1, p. 11.

242 America was undesirable.618 The German embassy in Rio issued Becker with another diplomatic passport and exit visa on 12 September 1941. On 14 October Luther agreed to issue Becker courier identification for his return trip to Berlin.619 Becker departed Brazil on 21 October and arrived back in Berlin on 4 November 1941.620 The day after Beckers arrival in Berlin Geppert telephoned D II asking for courier identification and a Portuguese transit visa for Becker. Geppert telephoned in order to speed up the process since it is intended to send Becker back to South America soon.621 Geppert promised to keep the Foreign Ministry informed about when the trip would take place. Becker, Daufeldt, and Schellenberg then went into a series of conferences. Hedwig Sommer later related her impression that Schellenberg and

Daufeldt were very satisfied with Beckers work and were quick to listen to his suggestions.622 It seems Amt VIs previous investigation of Beckers conduct was sufficient for Schellenberg and Daufeldt. While in Berlin, his intelligence networks in Brazil were closed down by the local police. This required a thorough revamping of his networks. Amt VI had envisaged Brazil as Beckers primary base of operations.623 Becker was officially put in charge of all SD operations in South America, thus neutralizing Langes insubordination and clarifying Beckers position once and for all. In
Pusch to Luther, 10 October 1941, Beauftragen Becker nach Sdamerika, NARA, RG 242/T120/228/225006. 619 Luther to Rio de Janeiro Embassy, 14 October 1941, Beauftragen Becker nach Sdamerika, NARA RG 242/T120/228/225007. 620 Memo 5 November 1941, Beauftragen Becker nach Sdamerika, NARA RG 242/T120/228/225008 and Memorandum re: Johannes Siegfried Becker, 5 August 1944, NARA, RG65, 64-27116-56, p. 3. 621 Ibid. 622 Report of Interview of Hedwig Elisabeth Weigelmayer Sommer, p. 21 and Arnold Interrogation, p. 11. 623 Due to atmospheric conditions radio transmission were more effective on a north-south axis rather than an east-west axis. Thus reports from the U.S. and other countries were to be relayed to Brazil for transmission to Germany. See Newton, The Nazi Menace, pp. 440-41, n. 24.
618

243 fact, while Becker was in Berlin Lange and Gustav Utzinger sent a message stating that they did not want to work with Becker any longer. Sommer later stated that this message was not given much consideration by either Daufeldt or Schellenberg.624 It seems Becker was difficult work for. Despite Lange and Utzingers complaints, Schellenberg, Daufeldt and Becker decided that Lange was to be in charge of intelligence operations in Chile, and Utzinger was to control the radio network. Buenos Aires would be the master station and take messages from other networks for transmission to Berlin.625 On 19 November 1941 Daufeldt again requested courier identification for Becker to return to South America since the 5 November request had not been fulfilled.626 Daufeldt also asked the Foreign Ministry to secure transport to South America on LATI, and further informed D II that Becker would return in early December.627 The next day Luther sent a telegram to the Rio embassy informing it of the request and telling them of Beckers return. He requested an immediate reply on whether there is agreement on Beckers return trip.628 This request was in keeping with Ribbentrops order of 19 June 1941 which stated that ambassadors had to give their consent to any intelligence activities.629 The Rio embassy replied that the situation in Brazil was not good, but it did

Report of Interview of Hedwig Elisabeth Weigelmayer Sommer, p. 34. Ibid, p. 21. While Utzingers real name was Wolf Franczok, I have used his alias of Gustav Utzinger since this is how he is referred to in most of the correspondence. Only in his interrogation in 1947 following his repatriation to Germany is he referred to by his given name. 626 Amt VI D was responsible for Scandinavia, Latin America, Great Britain and the United States. Prior to June 1941 Amt VI-B was responsible for these areas and VI-B/4 was the Latin American desk. 627 Daufeldt to Pusch, 19 November 1941, Beauftragen Becker nach Sdamerika, NARA, RG 242/T120/228/225009. 628 Luther to Rio Embassy, 20 November 1941, Beauftragen Becker nach Sdamerika, NARA RG 242/T120/228/225010. 629 Ribbentrop Order, 19 June 1941, NARA RG242/T120/366/291266
625

624

244 not forbid Beckers return. D II asked Amt VI if Becker was still to return on 8 December and to reply as soon as possible.630 However, Becker was not to return to South America on that date. By mid December he was still in Berlin awaiting the identification he needed. Amt VI was impatient and on 16 December 1941 Daufeldt complained to Rolf Pusch, a member of Luthers office. Pusch apologized for the delay, but Daufeldt was not satisfied. The next day Becker and Daufeldt visited Luthers second in command, Werner Picot, and Pusch to inquire about the identification. Becker complained about waiting to get back to Berlin and the delay in sending him back to South America. He believed the delays were because of the complaints lodged against him by Prfer and Thermann. Picot defended Prfer stating that everything which could have been done was done, but that he would check on Beckers allegations. Picot told Becker that the delay was the fault of Amt VI and that D II wished to cooperate fully with the SD.631 On 18 December 1941 D II explained that the fault lay with the SD. In a telephone conversation with Schellenberg on 19 November 1941 Luther discussed the Rio telegram concerning the situation in Brazil. Luther further told Schellenberg that 26 November 1941 was the deadline for requesting identification for Beckers return. A memo of that conversation was prepared and sent to Amt VI. However, it seems that the last sentence regarding the 8 December 1941 return of Becker and the deadline of 26

D II to Amt VI-D/4, 25 November 1941, Beauftragen Becker nach Sdamerika, NARA RG 242/T120/228/225013. 631 Picot Memo, 18 December 1941, Beauftragen Becker nach Sdamerika, NARA RG 242/T120/228/225018.

630

245 November was missing from the memo. D II stated that the failure to issue Becker his identification in time resulted from the absence of this sentence.632 Picot set about securing Beckers identification and tried to come to an accommodation with the SD. Picot referred to Prfers report on Beckers transgressions and charged that Becker was brought back to consult with Berlin concerning these allegations. Picot stated that only after settling the allegations against Becker could discussions begin regarding a return trip to South America. It was important for the AA to address these issues given the sensitive diplomatic situation there. Picot acknowledged that the embassy in Rio had agreed to Beckers return but that the entry of the U.S. into the war against Germany on 12 December had complicated the situation. He stated that he was awaiting a telegram from the Rio embassy regarding the situation there. Instead of owning up to its mistake D II decided to use Beckers transgressions and the situation in South America as reasons for the delay. Picot must have been confident that the matter would be cleared up quickly. He stated that Beckers return to South America was scheduled for 5 January 1942, but that given the short time period for preparing 12 January was more likely.633 Picot also explained the process needed to acquire a Brazilian entry visa, which was the major stumbling block at this point. These visas were given out by the Brazilian authorities only to holders of diplomatic passports. Consequently, Becker had to have one if he were to get a visa. Additionally, a Portuguese transit visa was contingent on

Memo D II, 18 December 1941, Beauftragen Becker nach Sdamerika, NARA RG 242/T120/228/225015. 633 Luther Memo, 18 December 1941, Beauftragen Becker nach Sdamerika, NARA RG 242/T120/228/225019

632

246 Beckers diplomatic status as signified by a diplomatic passport. Picot proposed that Heydrich write to Ribbentrop formally requesting a diplomatic passport for Becker. He felt that a formal request by Heydrich, with Ribbentrops approval, would speed the process. D II was also receiving resistance from the Political Department and

Staatssekretr Weizscker regarding the issuance of the passport since Weizscker knew of Beckers past transgressions. Weizscker was probably acting in what he thought were the best interests of the Political Department and his ambassadors. A formal order from Ribbentrop would clear this bottleneck and solve the problem.634 Luther outlined the situation for Ribbentrop regarding Beckers return to South America. He informed Ribbentrop on who Becker was and the tentative plans for his return. The key part is that Heydrich would formally ask Ribbentrop for a diplomatic passport for Becker and that the AA should give him one unless there were objections from Prfer. Luther emphasized that Heydrich and the SD were very anxious for Becker to return and the short amount of time before Beckers planned departure made a speedy decision essential. Luther suggested that the passport only be made valid for Beckers entry into Brazil where he would surrender it to the ambassador. Becker would then have to travel on a foreign passport.635 A temporary diplomatic passport was Luthers way of protecting the AA against any future actions by Becker that could reflect badly on the AA and Germanys delicate diplomatic situation in South America. This also provided

plausible deniability to the AA since without a diplomatic passport Becker was just another person whose existence could be denied by German diplomats. By involving

634 635

Ibid, frame 225020. Ibid, frame 225021-22.

247 Heydrich, Luther ensured that should Becker negatively affect Germanys diplomatic position in Brazil then blame would be assigned either to Heydrichs subordinates or to Heydrich himself. On 19 December, Heydrich formally asked Ribbentrop to issue Becker a diplomatic passport, stating that the Brazilian government would not issue Becker a visa without it. He informed Ribbentrop that Becker had been reserved a seat on the LATI flight leaving Rome on 5 January 1942 and impressed upon Ribbentrop the urgency of the situation in light of American entry into the war and the fear that air service to South America might be terminated. The neutral nations of South America would provide a staging area for intelligence-gathering activities against the U.S. Heydrich assured Ribbentrop that Becker, most likely at Luthers suggestion, would hand over his diplomatic passport as soon as he reported to the embassy. He further assured

Ribbentrop that Becker would only be in Brazil a few days before moving on.636 Heydrich understood the possible consequences of any adverse actions on Beckers part, hence the assurance of Beckers swift departure. On 22 December 1941 Luther informed the German embassy in Rio of Beckers planned arrival on 12 January 1942. He assured Prfer that Becker would only be in Brazil a few days. He also told Prfer that Becker would report to him on arrival to surrender his diplomatic passport and brief the ambassador on his tasks. Luther

instructed Prfer to acquire a Portuguese transit visa and a Brazilian entry permit for

636

Memo Heydrich to Ribbentrop, 19 December 1941, Beauftragen Becker nach Sdamerika, NARA RG 242/T120/228/225027-28.

248 Becker since he would be traveling as a diplomatic courier. He further asked whether Beckers return was agreeable given the changed diplomatic situation.637 However, events had begun to overtake Beckers planned return. On 18

December the Italian Foreign Ministry announced that air traffic to South America would be suspended and that LATI would only be allowed to fly three of its airplanes back to Europe owing to gasoline shortages. A message from the Political Department informing the other departments of this development was issued and a copy sent to Luther. The SD would have to find another way to get Becker to South America. Prfer, apparently haven given his approval for Beckers return, was told to await the determination of D II and the SD regarding Becker.638 On 23 December 1941 Prfer told Luther that LATIs landing rights in northern Brazil had been suspended and that Beckers return was questionable. LATIs rights had probably been suspended on the orders of Brazilian President Vargas who was deciding on his countrys diplomatic course. Suspending LATIs landing rights would allow Vargas to come to a decision. If Vargas decided to side with Germany and Italy then landing rights could be restored. Prfer was also concerned the Americans and Brazilians might terminate LATIs landing rights in all of Brazil. If Becker somehow managed to get to the first stop in northern Brazil, he would have to travel overland to Rio de Janeiro, a trip of approximately three weeks. Prfer informed Berlin that if Becker were to get to Rio he could then get to Paraguay via Condor Air, a German-controlled airline in

Luther to Prfer, 22 December 1941, Beauftragen Becker nach Sdamerika, NARA, RG 242/T120/228/225023. 638 Memo, author unknown, undated, Beauftragen Becker nach Sdamerika, NARA, RG 242/T120/228/225025.

637

249 Paraguay.639 On 27 December 1941 Picot telephoned Schellenberg to inform him of this development. On 3 January 1942 Picot formally announced the termination of LATIs landing rights and stated SS Hauptsturmfhrer Becker is not able to return to Brazil. The matter [Beckers return to Brazil] is therefore settled.640 Becker remained in Berlin until March 1942.641 Thereafter he spent the majority of his time in Spain setting up a smuggling and communications network using seamen who worked on ships that docked in Spain. Spain was an important conduit for German activities. Like Ortiz of Argentina, the Spanish leader General Francisco Franco declared that Spain would observe the strictest neutrality on 4 September 1939. Unlike

Argentina Spain made it perfectly clear where its sympathies lay. In June 1939, Ramon Serrano Suer, Francos brother-in-law and future minister of foreign affairs, told Italian dictator Benito Mussolini and his foreign minister Galeazzo Ciano Spain will be at the side of the Axis because she will be guided by feeling and reason. A neutral Spain would be destined to a future of poverty and humiliation.642 Spain, unlike Brazil and

Argentina, joined the Anti-Comintern Pact on 27 March 1939. It also allowed its ports to be used to resupply and refuel German submarines.643 From the beginning of the war

Prfer to Foreign Ministry, 23 December 1941, Beauftragen Becker nach Sdamerika, NARA, RG 242/T120/228/225030. 640 Memo of Picot, carbon copied to Schellenberg, 3 January 1942, Beauftragen Becker nach Sdamerika, NARA, RG 242/T120/228/225031. 641 Arnold Interrogation, NARA, RG 65, 64-24854-Sec. 1, p. 13-14. 642 Christian Leitz, Sympathy for the Devil: Neutral Europe and Nazi Germany in World War II (New York: New York University Press, 2001), p. 119. 643 Charles B. Burdick, Moro: the Resupply of German Submarines in Spain 1939-1942, Central European History, Volume 3, (1970), 256-284.

639

250 Spain energetically supported Nazi intelligence efforts and played an active role assisting in the smuggling of materials from Argentina.644 Spain had the largest number of German intelligence personnel outside of German-occupied territory. Walter Schellenberg told his postwar interrogators of Spains importance as a base for intelligence-gathering activities. Germanys embassy was the largest German embassy in the world with over 500 members in Madrid with 180 more scattered throughout its thirty consulates in Spain.645 Germany constructed eleven observation posts along the coast of Southern Spain and Spanish Morocco. In late 1941 nine new posts were constructed along the north coast of Spain and five along the southern coast. This brought the total number of observation posts to twenty-five. All were constructed with Francos approval.646 Spain also assisted Nazi Germany by carrying German diplomatic correspondence and intelligence reports across the Atlantic. For most of the war this correspondence was transported in the Spanish diplomatic pouch. This gave German intelligence agents a somewhat risk-free way to transport intelligence reports.647 Spanish flagged ships were also used to transport escaped crewmembers from the German warship Graf Spee.648 Nazi Germany also attempted to co-opt the Spanish news agency Efe. It was hoped that
See especially, U.S. and Allied Wartime and Postwar Relations and Negotiations with Argentina, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Turkey on Looted Gold and German External Assets and U.S. Concerns About the Fate of the Wartime Ustasha Treasury, Supplement to preliminary study on U.S. and Allied Efforts to Recover and Restore Gold and Other Assets Stolen or Hidden by Germany during World War II, coordinated by Stuart E. Eizenstat (Washington D.C., June 1998) and Christian Leitz, Sympathy for the Devil, pp. 114-143. While Eizenstats report is concerned primarily with postwar issues, it provides valuable background information on the wartime activities of neutral countries in support of Nazi Germany. 645 Stanley G. Payne, Franco and Hitler: Spain, Germany and World War II (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008), p. 115. 646 Ibid. 647 Ibid, p. 117. 648 Ibid, p. 118.
644

251 Efe would act as a conduit for Nazi propaganda in Latin America. The effort came to naught when Vincente Gllego, the head of Efe, refused to be bribed. The Germans asked Gllego be removed as head of Efe and replaced with someone more amenable, but Franco refused.649 However, Franco did allow Nazi Germany to supply funding for Efe to setup more offices in Latin America. Efe also sent four pro-German employees, out of a planned thirty, to Latin America to work for German propaganda and intelligence, but their effectiveness was limited.650 Spains also attempted to set up a joint intelligence service in Latin America with Nazi Germany. The idea was never implemented. While interpretations of Spanish actions in Latin America are sound, there is one argument that is debatable. Stanley Payne claims that Nazi leaders believed Latin

America was sympathetic to Nazi propaganda.651 But Thermanns and Meynens reports claimed that the majority of Argentines were not pro-German.652 While Meynen noted that anti-German feelings were the result of enemy propaganda he stressed another factor: the general failure to understand Germanys policy.653 It could be argued that this was the crux of the problem and anti-German propaganda was aggravating it. This is

supported by Thermanns message of 24 February 1939 in which he stressed that Germany should push anti-U.S. themes to make Argentine public opinion more proGerman.654 This begs the question: If Argentina and Latin America were already

sympathetic to Nazi propaganda, why forcefully push anti-U.S. themes? It would seem
649 650

Ibid, p. 122. Ibid, pp. 122-123. 651 Ibid, p. 122. 652 See chapter 3 for this discussion. 653 Politische Bericht: Deutsch-argentinische Beziehungen, 27 September 1939, Bro des Staatssekretrs: Argentinien Band 1, NARA, RG 242/Serial T-120/Roll 25/Frame 26622. 654 Politische Bericht: Deutsch-argentinische Beziehungen, 24 Februar 1939, Pol. IX, Akten betreffend: Politische Beziehungen Argentiniens zu Deutschland, April 1936-Mai 1939, TNA, File: GFM 33810.

252 that Nazi Germany was expending a lot of time and effort on an issue that was already decided in their favor. While Latin American sympathies may have been up for grabs, Spains were quite clear. The aid Becker received there from pro-German Spaniards made his job easier. One individual Becker befriended was Jose Luschnig, a veteran of the Spanish Blue Division who had lost an arm in Russia. The Blue Division was raised by the Falange Espaola to fight in Russia. It was a way to show their support for an anticommunist crusade. According to Stanley Payne, it was also Francos way of thanking Hitler for his support during the Spanish Civil War.655 Although Luschnig served in the Spanish army, he was an Argentine citizen and held an Argentine passport. Becker later stated that he stole Luschnigs passport and identity papers for himself without Luschnig being aware.656 Sometime in 1942, he later claimed he returned to Berlin where the Argentine Consul extended the expiration date for his passport. While in Berlin he was also given $20,000 and $5,000 worth of Swiss francs. He was also told that the German embassy in Buenos Aires would be holding the equivalent of $284,000 in Argentine pesos to finance his network. Becker later stated that he was ordered not to have contact with the German embassy in Buenos Aires and that he was to use good discretion so as not to compromise his country.657 This was Amt VIs way of telling him not to repeat his earlier sexual indiscretions or his problems with Ambassadors Thermann and Prfer.

655 656

For a discussion of the Blue Division see Payne, Franco and Hitler, chapter 8. While this is possible, more than likely Luschnig was paid for them. 657 Johannes Siegfried Becker Statement to the Federal Police in Argentina, NARA, RG 65, 64-27116, Box 20.

253 Later in 1942 Becker returned to Spain awaiting his opportunity to return to Argentina. Francos support for Germany made it easier to obtain passage on a neutral ship. While in Spain he renewed his acquaintance with Karl Arnold who had been named Amt VI/Ds representative in Spain. One of Arnolds tasks was to set up a reliable courier system between Spain and Argentina. This had been a problem for Amt VI/D after LATI had ceased to operate between South America and Europe in early 1942. Prior to Arnolds arrival, reports were forwarded in an inconsistent manner which resulted in reports being lost or delivered to German consulates which did not know what to do with them. Arnold set up cover as an employee of Compaa General de Lanas and contacted Becker about setting up a reliable communications system. Becker was finally able leave Spain for Argentina in December 1942 stowing away onboard the SS Rita Garca with the assistance of the then first officer Marcelino Diaz (codename: Camus).658 Becker was discovered a few days out to sea, but convinced the captain to let him stay for cash and work as a crewmember for the duration of the voyage to Buenos Aires.659 Becker arrived in Buenos Aires in January 1943 and immediately started to recruit intermediaries. He obtained the services of two Spaniards, Esteban Jesus Amorn and Manolo de Miguel Arrastia who would recruit couriers among

Memorandum re. Marcelino Diaz, 13 June 1946, TNA, KV 2/89. Diaz eventually was promoted to captain of the Rita Garca and continued to work for Becker and Arnold. He was subsequently arrested by the Argentine police in March 1944 in the roundup of German spies following Argentinas break in relations, but was released shortly thereafter for lack of evidence. Following Beckers arrest in 1945 the police acquired more evidence against Diaz, but were unable to re-arrest him. 659 Memorandum re: Johannes Siegfried Becker with aliases, 5 August 1944, NARA, RG 65, 64-27116 Sec.2, Box 19, p. 10.

658

254 seamen in Buenos Aires and Rosario. By March 1943 the courier system was up and running.660 The system was similar to that set up by Niebuhr. Arnold received mail from Berlin through Heinz Singer in the office of the police attach in the embassy. After receiving the material Singer called Arnold, who picked it up. Arnold then let members of his organization know that he had correspondence for Becker. When a courier was available and picked up the envelope Arnold notified Berlin so they could cable Becker and notify him that correspondence was on its way. When a ship carrying material arrived in Buenos Aries, Amorn or Arrastia would go aboard and contact the courier. They would say Saludos de Jos or Saludos de Pepe (Greetings from Jos or Pepe, both cover names for Becker) and then ask Have you brought something from over there? If the couriers were not met in Buenos Aires they had two alternate addresses for exchanges. One was a church where the priest, Padre Luis Fernandez, assisted Becker. Couriers arriving from Buenos Aires would go to Arnolds office to drop their packages there.661 In his postwar interrogation Karl Arnold estimated that there were between fifteen and eighteen Spanish seamen carrying reports between Madrid and Buenos Aires. Most were members of the Falange or had served in the Spanish Blue Division on the eastern front. Becker and Arnold must have been good judges of character since very few of the seamen took money for their services. The Spaniards co-operated because of their anti-

660 661

Arnold Interrogation, NARA, RG 65, 64-24854-Sec. 1, p. 18. Ibid, pp. 18-19.

255 communist views.662 The main fear among the crewmen was arrest by the British at Trinidad or Gibraltar or, if discovered by their employers, losing their jobs. Rumors circulated that the British were hanging couriers who refused to cooperate.
663

The

rumors show how effective British efforts against couriers and smuggling were perceived by the Germans and merchant seamen. Beckers activities in Argentina during 1940-41 were a mixed success. He

recruited agents, but his most successful ones, such as Engels and Seidlitz, had already been recruited by the Abwehr. Most of the agents he recruited on his own, such as Ganter were failures. His major successes were in Brazil where Niebuhr had already set up a burgeoning intelligence-gathering network. Like the Abwehr, the SD spent money to gather useful intelligence. Beckers indiscretions hampered him. Drawing the ire of two ambassadors in different countries is no mean accomplishment. Despite the evidence against him, he was allowed to continue his mission, when common sense dictated the SD should have cut its losses. The fact that the SD did not unload Becker probably speaks to the issue of finding qualified personnel in the SS to carry out intelligencegathering activities, as well as its desperation to have some sort of success vis--vis the Abwehr. Jost, Paeffgen and Schellenberg bemoaned the issue in their postwar

interrogations. From its formation the SD and Amt VI faced twin rivals in the AA and Abwehr. As early as 1936 Canaris and his organization attempted to put a brake on SD attempts to

Ibid, p. 19 and Sommer Interview, NARA, RG 65, 65-56221, p. 2. Sommer stated an impressive number of Spanish crewmembers for the courier system, which was all the more remarkable for the fact that few of them were paid for their efforts 663 Arnold Interrogation, p. 19.

662

256 forge an intelligence service. In October 1939 the AA attempted to delineate the Though agreement was reached, the SD

relationship between itself and the SD.

attempted to set its own agenda regarding what was permissible. How else does one explain the explosives in Beckers luggage? The evidence suggests that Luther was aware of them, but if he was, then why order an investigation? Why not tell Thermann what he told Ribbentrop and Weizscker about the use of the explosives? Given Luthers reputation as a bureaucratic infighter he probably saw this as an opportunity to curb some of the excesses of the SD and give the AA more of a voice in Amt VIs operations. SD intrigues in Romania certainly affected Amt VI operations in Argentina. The record suggests that Beckers instructions, along with operations in Romania, were part of a larger pattern of deceit in an attempt to bypass the AA. However, the AA and Luther were loathe to concede anything to Heydrich, Jost and Schellenberg. Such is borne out by Ribbentrops order of 19 June 1941 which expressly delineated SD responsibility regarding intelligence operations in foreign countries. Amt VI leaders were also well aware that the SD was dependent on AA support for intelligence operations, which gave the AA leverage in any disputes with the Amt VI. Supporting these assertions is the fact that Becker superiors did not punish for any of his transgressions against the AA. Instead, they praised his work and officially made him head of SD intelligence for South America. There was never any serious consideration given to replacing him especially given the dearth of qualified personnel. However, Becker would learn from his mistakes. When he returned to Argentina in January 1943 he attempted to supplant the AA as the primary instrument of Nazi foreign policy. He came very close to succeeding.

257

Chapter 6 The Illusion of Control


In January 1943 Johannes Siegfried Becker returned to Argentina and set about reestablishing contact with agents he previously recruited. Becker returned to a different situation than the one he left in 1941. Thermann had departed and Niebuhr was about to leave. This removed two dominant personalities who could have obstructed his work. This chapter looks at his attempts to create an anti-U.S. Andes bloc with the cooperation of pro-German elements in the Argentine government and the Abwehr. It will argue that Beckers cooperation with the Abwehr was simply a means to an end. Without this cooperation Becker would have had to limit his activities to Argentina. This cooperation facilitated the help Becker and his network received from high-level government officials in the governments of Argentina, Paraguay, and Bolivia. While these contacts superficially admired the Nazis and enthusiastically embraced the support Becker and Argentina gave them; the SD fundamentally misunderstood the nature of Latin American authoritarianism. Despite this misunderstanding, Schellenberg, Paeffgen and Amt VI went forward with their plans. These plans included overthrowing the pro-Allied governments of Paraguay, Brazil and Chile and replacing them with governments more amenable to Nazi Germany. Previously Becker and Amt VI had confined itself to political intelligence gathering. Now it had moved into more ambitious and dangerous territory. If Amt VIs coup plots succeeded, that along with the Hellmuth affair (discussed below) would place it in a powerful position to replace the AA as the primary instrument of Nazi foreign

258 policy. Since none of the nations in the Southern Cone of South America had relations with Nazi Germany, Schellenberg, Paeffgen and Becker did not have to worry about offending the AA. This minimized any potential blowback if their scheme should fail. However, if it succeeded then Schellenberg would be able to achieve his goal of becoming Foreign Minister. Thus, Schellenberg placed the collection of information below his personal ambition. Beckers efforts to obtain information on the U.S. were a failure. He never managed to place an agent inside the U.S. As Richard Breitman points out, Beckers intelligence reports on Allied intentions and capabilities bore little correspondence to reality.664 Despite this, Becker and his agents worried the FBI with their activities. J. Edgar Hoover, head of the FBI, set up the Special Intelligence Service to specifically combat German intelligence activities in Latin America. Additionally, FBI legal attachs were assigned to every U.S. embassy in Central and South America. The FBI diverted manpower that could have been used elsewhere. Becker arrived in Buenos Aires on 2 January 1943. Following his arrival Becker told the Argentine Federal Police in 1945 that he reestablished contact with Wilhelm von Seidlitz. Seidlitz brought Becker up to date on the wayward members of his network. Seidlitz told Becker that Heinz Lange was in Mendoza attempting to return to Chile and continue his work there. He also told Becker of Niebuhrs and Utzingers arrangement regarding the radio facilities. This arrangement left Utzinger in charge of all incoming and outgoing radio traffic from the Abwehr and SD networks. It also divided the cost of

Richard Breitman, Nazi Intelligence: The Abwehr and SD Foreign Intelligence, in Richard Breitman et.al., U.S. Intelligence and the Nazis (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005), p. 106.

664

259 supporting the network between the German embassy in Buenos Aires, Abwehr, and SD. Becker contacted Utzinger, Lange and other members of his network. He asserted his authority as head of SD operations for South America. Becker told Lange to return to Chile and set-up another network. He promised Lange that he would receive help once operations in Argentina were running smoothly. Becker was vague regarding money for Langes operation and only gave him $500. As Leslie Rout and John Bratzel point out, apparently the insubordination of 1940 had not been forgotten.665 It was through Utzinger that Becker obtained an introduction to Hans Harnisch.666 Harnisch was the head of the Abwehrs Nest Cologne in South America. Harnisch claimed in his postwar interrogation that he met Becker only once when Becker visited his business office. He further claimed that he never had anything resembling a

partnership or working arrangement with either the SD chief [Becker] or the German embassy prior to the Hellmuth affair. But these statements were false.667 What was discussed between Becker and Harnisch is unknown, but decrypted German messages (Ultra) make it almost certain Harnisch agreed to collaborate with Becker. Harnisch also

Ibid, p. 17 and Leslie Rout Jr. and John Bratzel, The Shadow War: German Espionage and United States Counterespionage in Latin America during World War II (Fredrick, MD: University Publications of America, 1986), p. 356. 666 Hoover to Lyons, Subject: Johannes Siegfried Becker, 5 September 1945, NARA, RG 165, File: Johannes Siegfried Becker, Box 967, p. 17. 667 Report of Interrogation of Hans Rudolf Leo Harnisch (hereafter Harnisch interrogation), JulySeptember 1947, NARA, RG 84, Records of the Foreign Service Posts of the Department of State, Buenos Aires Political Reports (hereafter BAPR), File 862.20235/10-3147, Box 102, pp. 13-14. While it is not known when exactly Harnisch met Becker, there is strong evidence that Harnisch and Becker were cooperating. The FBI had put wiretaps on the German embassy in Buenos Aires. On 8 April 1943, the FBI reported that Becker had called Harnisch at the embassy to set up the delivery of two photographs. They also talked about Beckers vacation and the fact that Becker chided Harnisch over the fact he received no mail from him, Memorandum re: Johannes Siegfried Becker with aliases, 5 August 1944, NARA, RG 65, 64-27116 Sec.2, Box 19, p. 33. For the wiretap transcript see, Memorandum, Re: Technical Surveillance, 11 May 1943, NARA, RG 65, 64-21889-Sec. 1, Box 6, no page number. This document also shows Harnisch had an office in the German embassy.

665

260 appointed his business partner Carlos Enrique Neiling (codename: Charlie) as liaison between himself and Becker.668 That there was some sort of cooperation is attested to by the later interrogations of Schellenberg and Paeffgen, and by Ultra decrypts. Both Schellenberg and Paeffgen stated in postwar interrogations that the SD and Abwehr in Argentina cooperated. Schellenberg admitted that such cooperation was

unusual.669 On 26 January, Becker informed his superiors of his cooperation with Harnisch and gave an update on the status of his organization. He stated that Harnisch would represent the Abwehr and at the same time supervise political reporting.670 Given Harnischs contacts in the Argentine government, this was a wise move. What Gross, Paeffgen and Schellenberg thought of this cooperation is unknown. The SD was generally suspicious in cooperating with its rival. These suspicions were probably made known to Becker. On 2-3 February he told Amt VI: Have expected suspicion. Because there is no possibility of lengthy explanation. I assure upon my word of honor of the following: As is considered the place of SS leader I worked here exclusively in our interests. I will never lose sight of that. The contrary of your suspicion is the caseKln [Harnischs Nest Cologne network] is completely in our handsGreat difficulties and enormous expenses of our work on a large scale demand this coordination of the matter of which we have absolute control. We request therefore, regardless of appearances, your complete confidence in us as unconditional agents of our SS true to our slogan.671 Beckers protestations of loyalty were, however reluctantly, accepted by his superiors. This ushered in an unprecedented period of cooperation between the Abwehr and SD.
668 669

Rout and Bratzel, The Shadow War, p. 358. Interrogation of Dr. Theodor Paeffgen, 19 October 1945, NARA, RG 59, M679, Roll 3, Frame 944 and Interrogation of Walter Schellenberg, 24 November 1945, NARA, RG 263, Records of the Central Intelligence Agency, Name Files: Walter Schellenberg, p. 4. 670 Argentina to Berlin, 26 January 1943, NARA, RG 226, Records of the OSS, OSS Communication Office Records, Ultra Decrypts, Entry 188. 671 Argentina to Berlin, 2-3 February 1943, Ibid.

261 This cooperation would last until February 1944 when the SD and AA laid the blame for Argentinas breaking relations with Germany on the Abwehr. Prior to Niebuhrs departure the attach had a meeting with Becker. Both men agreed that General Friedrich Wolf, the newly appointed military attach following Niebuhrs expulsion, would have no contact with Becker. Becker reported that OKW (possibly Wolf) does not know me at all. The chief representative of OKW has completely subordinated himself to me because he has already been ordered to do so by RSHA in Berlin. Niebuhr asked me to attach him to our plants [networks?]. For that purpose he places everything he has at our disposal.672 This message suggests that neither Niebuhr nor Becker had much confidence in Wolfs abilities. Niebuhr probably assented to Beckers request since Harnisch would represent the interests of the Abwehr. Becker also requested that OKW and OKM (Oberkommando der Marine/Naval High Command) not be informed of his cooperation with Harnisch.673 It was one thing to cooperate with the embassy and Abwehr regarding Bolivar, the codename of the radio network. It was another to allow the Abwehr to encroach on the SDs areas of

responsibility. Becker suspected the Abwehr would take the same dim view that Gross, Paeffgen and Schellenberg had regarding cooperation. By not informing the high

command structures Becker and the SD could simply present the Abwehr with a fait accompli at a later date. And Harnischs superior (first name unknown) Kramer

apparently had no problem with Harnisch working on political matters as long as he continued performing his primary duties. By the end of February 1943 Becker managed
672

Ibid. RSHA might have been garbled in transmission and Becker meant either the Attach Abteilung in the AA or the Abwehr. 673 Ibid.

262 to gain a measure of control over the Bolivar radio net, obtain the cooperation of the Abwehr network and marginalize Wolf. Amt VI had good reason to be satisfied with Beckers performance. If Beckers cooperation with Harnisch needed to be kept secret, then Bolivar was one area where permission was needed. When Niebuhr returned to Germany he informed his superiors of his cooperation regarding Bolivar. This cooperation was even more important since on 30 December 1942 the Argentine government limited the German embassy to the dispatch of one hundred coded word groups per day.674 This limited the ability of German intelligence to report on events using the embassy code. It also made the Bolivar network more important since it was now the primary means of communicating with Germany. On 16 March 1943 a conference was held between the Abwehr and SD to discuss the particulars regarding cooperation. Amt VI informed Utzinger and Becker that both organizations had approved Niebuhrs proposal. However, there were areas of concern. Amt VI wanted to make sure that the Abwehr could not read any messages intended for the SD. They cautioned Utzinger about making absolutely sure his messages used the correct cipher to avoid possible compromises. They told Becker that he should take care in his dealings with the Abwehr. Under no circumstances should he do anything to compromise the collaborative effort between the two organizations. Amt VI also told Becker not to allow the Abwehr inside his organization. In their opinion the Abwehr was much too light-minded in their work.675 Amt VI also congratulated Becker on taking over leadership of all intelligence-gathering activities. They hoped that Becker would work to
Rout and Bratzel, The Shadow War, p. 345. Berlin to Argentina, 12 May 1943, NARA, RG 226, Records of the OSS, OSS Communication Office Records, Ultra Decrypts, Entry 188.
675 674

263 retain his control.676 Paeffgen, Gross and Schellenberg were well aware of the magnitude of Beckers accomplishment. While the Abwehr was aware of these events it could do little except hope Harnisch kept his allegiance to Canariss organization. While

Harnischs actions alarmed, or should have alarmed, those in Canariss organization with responsibility for Latin America they allowed him to cooperate with Becker as long as he fulfilled his main duty, economic reporting. However, Harnischs political reporting was causing problems between the SD and Abwehr. The Abwehr was alarmed by his focus on political reporting. Kramer, Harnischs superior, warned him to stay in the background so he and his network would not be compromised. Kramer told Harnisch that he needed to concentrate on his primary purpose: economic reporting. Eventually, the Abwehr or SD complained about the

blurring of responsibility between the two organizations. As a result it was decided to reemphasize Beckers and Harnischs areas of responsibility. Berlin stressed that

Harnisch was responsible for economic information. He was forbidden from transmitting any reports of political and military character or indeed, anything collected by the SD. Becker was reminded that he was responsible for important political reports. Becker and Harnisch were admonished that their reports needed to be more detailed because nothing can be done with 3 lines of text. Both were reminded of their duties and Berlin insisted upon prompt answer to our assigned tasks and inquiries, because otherwise your presence there is aimless.677 However, Harnisch continued plotting with Becker.

Berlin to Argentina, 18/19 May 1943, Ibid. The meeting took place on 16 March, but its results were not transmitted to Utzinger and Becker until 18/19 May. 677 Berlin to Argentina, 30 July 1943, Ibid. It is unclear who the message was meant for since no names were used. It also carried the codename of Inca at the top which was a codename for Utzinger.

676

264 Kramer grew irritated with Harnisch and had to constantly remind him what his main task was.678 The brevity of reports was an ongoing issue and produced a crisis in Beckers network. In August, Harnisch was again admonished over the vagueness of his

reports.679 He was told to provide more detail and told that the radio was a means for extensive reporting. Utzinger argued against longer messages. In March, he had been warned by Argentine police about radio direction finders being used to try and locate his position. As a result, he had to abandon a radio broadcasting site.680 Utzinger understood that overly lengthy messages would compromise his networks transmitting sites. Evidently his superiors in Berlin were not sympathetic to these problems. Berlin told Harnisch that Becker would not want him to be influenced by Luna [Utzinger] in regard to the brevity of radio reporting. Evidently Utzinger had been told the same thing. While Utzinger was willing to take risks, he was not willing to tempt arrest through the incompetence of others. On 19 August he requested permission to return to Germany and active military service.681 Gross and Paeffgen were dumbstruck by Utzingers request. They attempted to mollify him by telling him how valuable his service was. He was told that his employment in Argentina as head of the radio network was indispensible and his request was refused. However, Paeffgen and Gross suspected something was wrong

Germany to Argentina, 21 July 1943 & Berlin to Argentina, 23 October 1943, show Kramer chastising Harnisch for not furnishing economic reports. Also TNA, KV 2/1487. 679 Berlin to Argentina, 23 August 1943, NARA, RG 226, Records of the OSS, OSS Communication Office Records, Ultra Decrypts, Entry 188. 680 Rout and Bratzel, The Shadow War, p. 362. 681 Argentina to Berlin, 19 August 1943, NARA, RG 226, Records of the OSS, OSS Communication Office Records, Ultra Decrypts, Entry 188.

678

265 and asked Utzinger if there were any problems regarding his work.682 In 1941 Utzinger and Lange had requested that they no longer work with Becker.683 Presumably Paeffgen and Gross knew of this, hence their suspicion that old problems had reemerged. On 28 August Utzinger told Paeffgen and Gross that all was well. He stated that his request came from the desire to participate in action which the Navy had denied him.684 Most likely Becker and Harnisch learned of Utzingers discontent and quickly set about placating him. Despite the potential discord, Becker needed both Utzinger and Harnisch. Becker especially needed Harnisch. Harnisch provided Becker with access to top levels of the Argentine government.685 Harnisch was friends with two officers who became influential following Castillos removal, Captain Eduardo Aumann (codenames: Moreno and Heini), chief of the presidential chancellery in Castillos government, and Major Mario Bernard. Harnischs friendship with Aumann and Bernard contradicts Osmar Hellmuths later assertions to the British that Harnisch told him he had no contacts inside the government following the 4 June coup.686 Both Aumann and Bernard also occupied prominent positions after the overthrow of Castillo on 4 June. Following the coup Aumann was assigned to the Argentine Foreign Ministry and Bernard became the private secretary to Minister of War Edelmiro Farrell.687 Aumann and Bernard were also members of the G.O.U. (Colonels Lodge). The G.O.U. was composed of mid-level staff

Berlin to Argentina, 26 August 1943, Ibid. See chapter 5. 684 Argentina to Berlin, 28 August 1943, NARA, RG 226, Records of the OSS, OSS Communication Office Records, Ultra Decrypts, Entry 188. 685 Affidavit of Hedwig Sommer, 4 March 1946, NARA, RG 59, 862.2035/4-4646, ABB, Box 6740, p. 3. 686 Report on the Case of Osmar Alberto Hellmuth, NARA, RG 65, File 64-27116-EBF 51, Box 19, p. 5. 687 Robert Potash, The Army and Politics in Argentina 1928-1945: Yrigoyen to Pern (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1969), pp. 208-209; Affidavit of Theodor Paeffgen, 4 February 1946, NARA, RG 59, 862.20235/4-2646, ABB, Box 6740, p. 7.
683

682

266 officers in the Argentine army. Members were nationalist in outlook. Most had trained in Italy or Germany. They looked to fascist Italy, Nazi Germany, and Francos Spain for inspiration on how to restructure Argentine politics and society. They wanted to end civilian rule and impose a military regime.688 Not all officers in the G.O.U. were inclined towards fascism. However, by 1943 the pro-German faction of the G.O.U. held the upper-hand because of German victories in Western Europe and Russia. In Berlin, the SD received assistance from Commander Eduardo Ceballos, Argentine naval attach, who was pro-German. He facilitated cooperation between the SD and Argentine military. Schellenberg stated to his postwar interrogators that Ceballos allowed German agents to use Argentine diplomatic courier facilities in sending secret material to Berlin.689 Harnisch and Aumann began intriguing early in 1943. One of the main topics of conversation was cooperation between the German intelligence services and Argentina. By May the discussions had reached the point where Harnisch and Becker had to inform their superiors. Becker reported that Harnisch had established a relationship with Aumann.690 The contact with Aumann was for the furthering of mutual interests. Allegedly, Aumann offered to provide SD agents with jobs in the Argentine secret service as cover for their activities. Hedwig Sommer recalled that Gross exclaimed Aumann was a marvelous worker.691 Becker related that Naval Minister

As Robert Potash points out there is considerable controversy regarding its origins and especially Perns role in the organization. There are also various interpretations as to what G.O.U. stood for. For this discussion see, Potash, The Army and Politics in Argentina, pp. 184-190. 689 Affidavit of Walter Schellenberg, 6 February 1946, NARA, RG 59, 862.20235/4-4646, ABB, Box 6740, p. 2. 690 Sargo to Berlin, 12 May 1943, NARA, RG 226, Records of the OSS, OSS Communications Office Records, Ultra Decrypts, Entry 188. 691 Affidavit of Hedwig Sommer, 4 March 1946, NARA, RG 59, 862.2035/4-4646, ABB, Box 6740, p. 2.

688

267 Mario Fincatti (codename: Defetsa) was also prepared to lend assistance to the SD.692 In his postwar interrogation Paeffgen recalled that his impression was that Argentina would provide protection for German agents. He stated that this was not formally codified, but only implied.693 The gist of the proposal was that SD agents would receive information about the U.S., England, and Brazil from Argentina. In return, the SD would give Argentina information on European events. It was likely not a formal agreement, but Schellenberg, Paeffgen and Sommer acknowledged in their postwar interrogations that some sort of agreement had been reached. Schellenberg stated that the agreement specified Germany would share intelligence with Argentina. Sommer related that Gross hoped the

agreement would produce hot stuff from the Argentines.694 Paeffgen denied the SD would furnish Argentina with any information on Europe. He called any such proposal ridiculous and that the SD would never have committed itself to any such endeavor.695 Fincatti also inquired if Germany would accept 16 Argentine personnel for military and economic training in Germany. Reinebeck stated after the war that the SD did nothing with the proposal since it would have interfered with the Foreign Offices
Sargo to Berlin, 12 May 1943, NARA, RG 226, Records of the OSS, OSS Communications Office Records, Ultra Decrypts, Entry 188. Fincattis codename could have been misspelled as noted by the translation. Reinebeck stated to his postwar interrogators that he believed the SD had approved the negotiations. 693 Notes on the Interrogation of Theodor Paeffgen, 4 February 1946, NARA, RG 59, 862.20235/4-2646, ABB, Box 6740, p. 8. Reinebeck stated that he understood the protection of Beckers network to have been explicit. Affidavit of Otto Reinebeck, 4 Feb 46, NARA RG 59, 862.20235, ABB, p. 8. 694 Notes on the Interrogation of Theodor Paeffgen, 4 February 1946, NARA, RG 59, 862.20235/4-2646, ABB, Box 6740, p. 7. 695 Notes on the Interrogation of Theodor Paeffgen, 4 February 1946, NARA, RG 59, 862.20235/4-2646, ABB, Box 6740, p. 8, Affidavit of Walter Schellenberg, 6 February 1946, NARA, RG 59, 862.20235/44646, ABB, Box 6740, p. 2 and Notes on the Interrogation of Walter Schellenberg, 6 February 1946, NARA, RG 59, 862.20235/4-4646, ABB, Box 6740, p. 3. W. Wendell Blancke, Schellenberg and Paeffgens interrogator, doubted whether there was a specific agreement to furnish information. Both Paeffgen and Schellenberg were vague on that point.
692

268 control of foreign policy. He further said that the AA opposed the contacts between the SD and Argentine government. Reinebeck was clear that the AA demanded the SD limit its activity in Argentina and not in get in contact with individual statesman.696 After the war Harnisch claimed that the offer was a fabrication of Beckers and Werner Knneckes. Knnecke was the son of Harnischs employer as well as the son-in-law of Ludwig Freude. He was unscrupulous and had no problem acting as paymaster for Beckers organization while at the same time passing information to the U.S. Sometime in 1944 he went to the U.S. embassy in Buenos Aires and offered information on German activities. In return, the U.S. would remove two of his families companies from the black list. This would allow them to do business with the Allies and other Latin American nations.697 Harnisch stated he was friends with Aumann and had never heard of any such proposal.698 Either Aumann did not tell him, Becker had another subordinate make the deal, or Harnisch was lying. Most likely the latter was true. However,

Paeffgen and Harnischs categorical denials of any intelligence-sharing agreement are telling. Given the conflicting evidence, the following explanation is probable. There was an informal agreement reached between Becker, Harnisch, Aumann, and Fincatti. Becker passed this on to Gross, who immediately approved it and hoped Schellenberg and Paeffgen would go along.
696 697

Schellenbergs approval would have been needed to

Affidavit of Otto Reinebeck, 4 Feb 46, NARA RG 59, 862.20235, ABB, Box 6740, pp. 7-8. Ronald C. Newton, The Nazi Menace in Argentina, 1931-1947 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1991), pp. 258-259. Knnecke had such a poor reputation as a neer do well that Harnischs postwar interrogator readily accepted Harnischs assertions that Knnecke was the primary scoundrel in the Hellmuth affair. See, Affidavit of Hans Harnisch, 9 September 1947, NARA, RG 84, BAPR, File 862.20235/10-3147, Box 102, pp. 1-2. 698 Harnisch Interrogation, Ibid, p. 2.

269 consummate any deal, especially a deal involving intelligence-sharing. When he learned of the deal Paeffgen went to Schellenberg and argued against entering into any such agreement with the Argentines. Instead they agreed to provide the Argentines with material from OKW and propaganda broadcasts and present it as authentic intelligence.699 Following the 4 June 1943 coup which overthrew President Ramn Castillo Becker and the SD were in a position to assist Argentina in its chief foreign policy goal. According to Paeffgen, Reinebeck and Schellenberg, that goal, was the creation of a bloc of South American states who opposed the U.S.700 Whatever the foreign policy desires of the Argentine military, the coup was the result of the military being unhappy with the choice of Robustiano Patrn Costas as Castillos successor. However, the evidence suggests that foreign policy considerations played a role in the coup. The so-called Andes bloc was to be created by overthrowing the current governments of Paraguay, Brazil, and Bolivia. According to Reinebeck this would created a closer political union between those countries and Argentina.701 Becker had his own ambitions and enthusiastically supported the endeavor. As Rout and Bratzel point out, Becker believed

Paeffgen suggested this as a possibility in his interrogation on 4 February 1946. Given SD doubledealings with anyone who came into contact with it, Paeffgens suggestion rings true. He probably did not want to admit that the SD had hoodwinked the Argentines since it would conflict with his attempts to present himself as an honest individual in a difficult job. See Notes on the Interrogation of Theodor Paeffgen, 4 February 1946, NARA, RG 59, 862.20235/4-2646, ABB, Box 6740, p. 8. The fact that Becker acted on his own initiative should not be discounted. Becker was very clever and could have deceived the Argentines on his own. However, that would not account for Paeffgens hypothesis that Becker was passing information of no value to the Argentines. How would he know this was the case if he rejected any deal? 700 Notes on Interrogation of Theodor Paeffgen, 18 January 1946, Ibid, p. 1, Affidavit of Otto Reinebeck, 24 January 1946, Ibid, p. 9 and Notes on the Interrogation of Walter Schellenberg, 6 February 1946, Ibid, p. 2. 701 Affidavit of Otto Reinebeck, 24 January 1946, NARA, RG 59, 862.20235/4-2646, ABB, Box 6740, p. 9. Potash dates Argentine involvement in the Bolivian coup from October 1943, but new evidence from the Ultra decrypts points to much earlier.

699

270 his organization to be incomplete so long as it was limited to Argentina.702 Following his assumption of control Becker set about realizing his plans. Harnisch and Utzinger placed their high-level connections in Paraguay at the disposal of Becker. His first contact was with Pablo Stagni, chief of staff of the Paraguayan air force, who was introduced to Becker by either Harnisch or Utzinger. The question is: why Stagni and others would cooperate with the SD? Historian Michael Grow in his study of Paraguay during World War II suggests there was an ideological kinship between Latin American authoritarians and Nazi Germany.703 The U.S. particularly felt that Nazi Germany would manipulate this socalled kinship and create a bloc of anti-U.S. states which would facilitate German expansion in Latin America. Prior to the war Germany had cultivated authoritarian nationalists in Latin America through propaganda and bribery. In Paraguay the

authoritarian nationalists were represented by the Febrerista Party and the Frente de Guerra (Military Front/War Front). The Febreristas were followers of Colonel Rafael Franco who had ruled Paraguay in 1936-37 before being overthrown. They were a party which favored a National-Socialist/Falangist ideology.704 At the same time right-wing officers in the Paraguayan armed forces formed the Frente de Guerra. The Frente de Guerra was a secret lodge of military officers who were militant, authoritarian and nationalistic. In 1940 Higinio Mornigo (codename: Moro) assumed the presidency of

Rout and Bratzel, The Shadow War, p. 356. Michael Grow, The Good Neighbor Policy and Authoritarianism in Paraguay: United States Economic Expansion and Great Power Rivalry in Latin America during World War II (Lawrence, KS: The Regents Press of Kansas, 1981), p. 3. 704 See Paul H. Lewis, The Politics of Exile: Paraguay's Febrerista Party (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1968). I would like to thank Michael Grow for bringing this book to my attention.
703

702

271 Paraguay. His most staunch supporters were members of the Frente de Guerra,

including Stagni.705 Mornigo was no liberal democrat. His supporters in the Frente de Guerra openly advocated for a permanent military dictatorship in Paraguay. They charged that the liberal system of government has been the principal cause of the political anarchy, of the economic misery, and the material backwardness of the Nation.706 Mornigo supported such statements. He would give the Paraguayan people a new civic mentality based on the ideas of duty and responsibility. The ranking place of national interest over the selfish and sordid interest of individuals constitutes a fundamental political principle of the Paraguayan Nationalist Revolution. The revolutions motto would be Discipline, Hierarchy, Order.707 Mornigos statements caused the U.S. and Nazi Germany to fundamentally misunderstand the nature of Latin American authoritarianism. Both

nations believed the government of Paraguay was totalitarian when it was authoritarian along the lines of Francos Spain or Vargass Brazil. Given the Frente de Guerras antipathy towards liberal democracy it should be no surprise that its members along with other members of the Paraguayan armed services had no affinity for the Allies. Roosevelt and Churchills Atlantic Charter which called for democracy and freedom was antithetical to their beliefs. Like their military

counterparts in other South American countries, most Paraguayan military officers were admirers of the German military. Other members of Mornigos government were proAxis as well. Captain Rolando degli Uberti, director of the national police academy, was
705 706

Grow, The Good Neighbor Policy and Authoritarianism in Paraguay, p. 61. Quoted in Ibid, p. 62. 707 Ibid, p. 63.

272 active in the Italian Fascist party. The head of the secret police, Marcos Fuster, was friends with leading Nazi agents. Additionally, Fuster and Uberti were members of a secret Nazi group, the Ring of Sacrifice. None went as far as Colonel Mutshuito

Villasboa, chief of the national police force. He was so pro-Axis he named his son Adolfo Hirohito.708 In his statement to the Argentine police Becker admitted knowing Stagni, Villasboa, and Benitez Vera, Chief of Paraguayan Cavalry.709 At a meeting held in early 1942 to discuss who Paraguay would support, Germany or the United States, General Juan Ayala pronounced himself one hundred percent sympathetic to the Axis cause. The foreign minister, Luis Argaa, allegedly responded that Ayalas views: expressed the sentiments of those presentThe Axis powers know full well what Paraguays real sentiments are and will take that into consideration when they finally triumph. But in the meanwhile it is imperative that Paraguay play along with the United States for urgent reasons of national self-interest.710 Argaa was not above helping those he believed in. According to Hedwig Sommer, Argaa had passed information on the U.S. to Johnny Hartmuth, a member of Beckers organization in Paraguay, who passed it on to Becker.711 Mornigo supported his followers by refusing to recognize the U.S.s proclaimed list and the British black list. Both were meant to stop the business dealings of Axis firms in Latin America. Theoretically, the nations of Latin America who supported the U.S. at the Rio Conference

Ibid, p. 65. Hoover to Lyons, Subject: Johannes Siegfried Becker, 5 September 1945, NARA, RG 65, File: Johannes Siegfried Becker, Box 967, p. 17. 710 Grow, The Good Neighbor Policy and Authoritarianism in Paraguay, p. 70. 711 Report of Interview of Elizabeth Hedwig Weigelmayer Sommer, 25 January 1946, NARA, RG 65, 65-56221, Box 211, p. 26. Sommer did not remember the date this occurred. She recollected it happened following a trip to the U.S. by Argaa and that Hartmuth was given a considerable amount of information.
709

708

273 agreed to adhere to the lists. Mornigo also continued to do business with German firms in Paraguay much to the consternation of the U.S. American protests were brusquely rejected as interfering in Paraguays internal affairs. Nazi sympathizers in Mornigos secret police and the German-owned telephone company also tapped the phones of the U.S. and British embassies. Stagni and his cohorts also helped Germany smuggle

strategic materials to Argentina for transport to Germany.712 The evidence suggests that Harnisch, Aumann, and Becker had established contact with Stagni as early as January 1943. Stagni sent Becker reports on events in Paraguay which Becker relayed to Berlin.713 By late February Becker reported that Stagni was completely in our camp and that Aumann had also established contact with him through military airmail.714 In his postwar interrogation Harnisch freely admitted he had close relations with the Paraguayan military. He claimed that the government of Paraguay had been a business client of Bker y CIA for many years. During a meeting with Aumann at Harnischs home two Paraguayan officers mentioned Stagnis name. Harnisch claimed these officers told him and Aumann that Stagni was a close confidant of Paraguayan President Mornigo. They stated Stagni wanted to establish closer ties between Paraguay and Argentina. Later, when Aumann brought the issue to Argentine President Castillo, he rejected the overture. Harnisch claimed Castillo distrusted the Paraguayans. Aumann persisted and eventually received Castillos approval for a Harnisch told his postwar interrogators that

meeting between Aumann and Stagni.


712 713

Grow, The Good Neighbor Policy and Authoritarianism in Paraguay, p. 99. Berlin to Argentina, 24 January 1943, NARA, RG 226, Records of the OSS, OSS Communication Office Records, Ultra Decrypts, Entry 188. It is unclear if these were relayed through Harnisch or Utzinger. 714 Argentina to Berlin, 28 February 1943, Ibid.

274 Castillo invited him to accompany Aumann to the meeting and discuss economic issues.715 The meeting took place sometime in April 1943. Harnisch alleged that the participants only discussed economic and cultural relations between the two countries. He omitted that the discussions were initiated by Becker.716 He also omitted the fact that a military alliance between Argentina and Paraguay was discussed. Stagni proposed a trip by Mornigo to Argentina which would take place following Mornigos tour of South America and trip to the U.S. Harnisch claimed Stagni also wanted his old friend Utzinger to install a transmitting station for the purpose of facilitating discussions between Buenos Aires and Asuncin. It seems no concrete decisions were reached at the meeting since Amt VI told Becker in early May that It is hoped that Hermann (Stagni) connection is bringing (will bring?) good results.717 On 14 May, Aumann and Harnisch traveled to Paraguay on an Argentine military aircraft to meet Stagni.718 The meeting was a success. A report of the meeting related that Paraguay and Argentina had agreed to support each other in the event of war, as well as agreeing to the other points Harnisch mentioned to his interrogators. Harnisch stated that Mornigo and Castillo agreed in principle with the results of the meeting.719 Amt VI suggested to Becker that he discuss with Stagni the possibility of Paraguay establishing a
Harnisch interrogation, July-September 1947, NARA, RG 84, BAPR, File 862.20235/10-3147, Box 102, p. 11, Affidavit of Hans Harnisch, 9 September 1947, Ibid, pp. 1-2. 716 Argentina to Berlin, 5 June 1943, NARA, RG 226, Records of the OSS, OSS Communication Office Records, Ultra Decrypts, Entry 188. 717 Berlin to Argentina, 9 May 1943, Ibid. 718 Argentina to Berlin, 22 May 1943, Ibid. Reinebeck stated that he knew of at least one trip Aumann had taken to Paraguay with an SD agent. Affidavit of Otto Reinebeck, 4 Feb 46, NARA, RG 59, 862.20235, ABB, Box 6740, p. 9. 719 Argentina to Berlin, 5 June 1943, NARA, RG 226, Records of the OSS, OSS Communication Office Records, Ultra Decrypts, Entry 188.
715

275 diplomatic presence in Portugal. This would allow Germany to expand its presence in Portugal and counteract U.S. and British influence. It would also give Becker more ports for his courier network instead of relying solely on Spain.720 It is unknown whether this conversation occurred or not. Also unknown is whether Castillo and Mornigo knew of German involvement in the negotiations. Given Castillos and Mornigos close

relationships with their subordinates, it would be surprising if they did not. By July Aumanns negotiations were complete. At a meeting with President Ramrez of Argentina (codename: Hoden), Harnisch, Lt. Col. Gonzlez, Ramrezs secretary, Maj. Bernard and Capt. Francisco Filippi, it was confirmed Paraguay would come to Argentinas assistance in case of war.721 In late July Harnisch held another meeting with Ramrez. Harnisch crowed about how his Argentine contacts had

established close contacts with nationalist groups in Chile, Bolivia, Paraguay and Brazil. He admonished his superiors for their timidity stating that they misunderstood present conditions in Argentina. He also told Kramer to pass his reports along to the SD and AA.722 Stagni was also assisting the SD in obtaining information from the U.S.723 In September or October a plan was conceived to send an agent to the U.S. This agent would take an introductory letter from Stagni to, Colonel (fnu) Santiviago, the Paraguayan military attach in Washington. Santiviago was described as a

Germanophile.724 Presumably the agent or Santiviago would collect information and

720 721

Berlin to Argentina, 25 June 1943, Ibid. Argentina to Berlin, 7 July 1943, Ibid. 722 Argentina to Berlin, 24 July 1943, Ibid. 723 Argentina to Berlin, 23 August 1943, Ibid. 724 Argentina to Berlin, 14 October 1943, Ibid.

276 transmit it to Paraguay where it would be given to the SD. However, there is a paucity of information regarding the details or outcome of this venture. By 1944, the cooperation from Mornigo became noticeably cooler. It was

becoming clear to most people in South America that if Germany did not lose the war, neither would it win. In June 1944 Becker met with an aide to Colonel Rafael Franco to discuss a possible coup against Mornigo. Becker wanted to determine the ideological motives of the revolution and assess its chances for success. The aide had received instructions in Montevideo to help prepare for a revolution in Asuncin. The aide told Becker that the army in the Chaco area of Paraguay, along with the majority of the Paraguayan population was for Franco. Becker determined that Francos political

platform was nationalist in character. He also determined that Francos rebellion had little chance of success. However, he would maintain contact for intelligence purposes without involving Stagni since he did not want to endanger such a valuable asset.725 From this assessment of Franco, it appears Becker began to understand what Schellenberg, Paeffgen and Gross did not, namely that Latin American authoritarianism was not fascism. The archival record is clear regarding the cooperation of high-ranking Paraguayan officials with the SD. It shows the SD was able to facilitate these contacts and use them to their advantage through the ideological kinship of high-ranking members of the Paraguayan military and government. The record also shows how Argentinas and Paraguays foreign policy goals fit in neatly with German goals. Even though Mornigo would not be overthrown, the SD continued its efforts in Brazil and Bolivia.

725

Argentina to Berlin, 10 June 1944, Ibid.

277 In Brazil, the Integralistas were an anti-semitic, anti-democratic party hostile to the U.S., Great Britain and France. Following their aborted coup in 1938, Plnio Salgado, the leader of the Integralistas, was exiled to Lisbon. The AA maintained contact with Salgado in Lisbon since they felt he would be influential in Brazilian politics following the war. Sometime in 1941 Erich Schrder, the SD police attach in the German

embassy in Lisbon, was introduced to Salgado. Schrder told his postwar interrogators that Salgado wanted to make contact with high officials in Berlin.726 On a trip back to Berlin Schrder told Schellenberg about Salgados request. In his postwar interrogation Schellenberg claimed credit for the contact with Salgado stating it was achieved with the help of the Portuguese police. He appointed Sturmbannfhrer Adolf Nassenstein as his contact with Salgado.727 Schellenberg subsequently soured on Salgado. He told his postwar interrogators that Salgado was not worth a damn from an intelligence viewpoint; he was interested only in intriguing to get back into power.728 Schellenberg however was clever enough to realize that the more help he provided the more control he would ostensibly have over Salgado if he came to power in Brazil. After the war Paeffgen told his interrogators that he believed Salgado would have participated in the Andes bloc if he had come to power.729 Whatever Schellenbergs misgivings about Salgado, he charged Becker with establishing contact with him before leaving for Argentina. Sometime in 1942 a meeting between Salgado and Becker took
726

Stanley Hilton, Hitler's Secret War in South America, 1939-1945: German Military Espionage and Allied Counterespionage in Brazil (New York: Ballantine Books, 1982), 266. 727 Affidavit of Walter Schellenberg, 6 February 1946, NARA, RG 59, 862.20235/4-4646, ABB, Box 6740, p. 4. 728 Notes on the Interrogation of Walter Schellenberg, 6 February 1946, Ibid, p. 4. 729 Affidavit of Theodor Paeffgen, 4 February 1946, NARA, RG 59, 862.20235/4-2646, ABB, Box 6740, p. 4.

278 place in Spain. According to Hedwig Sommer Becker concluded an agreement between Amt VI and Salgado. The agreement stipulated Germany would provide Salgado with financial support and in return he would supply information on Brazil to Amt VI. Salgado would also make contact with his sympathizers in Brazil who would prevent or delay the embarkation of the Fora Expeditionria Brasileira (Brazilian Expeditionary Force or FEB) to Europe.730 The FEB consisted of an infantry division and fighter squadron. With the invasion of North Africa in November 1942, northwest Brazil

decreased in strategic importance. Vargas saw the FEB as a way for continued U.S. aid. The FEB eventually numbered 25,000 troops and fought in Italy from September 1944 to May 1945.731 Salgado also offered to place his secret courier service at the disposal of the SD.732 Despite this cooperation Schellenberg and Paeffgen were smart enough not to rely solely on Salgado. Two prominent members of the Integralistas, Jayr Tavares and Major Jaime Ferreira da Silva were exiled in Buenos Aires. Sometime in 1943 Becker

established contact with the two men. Aware of the antipathy between Salgado, Tavares and Ferreira da Silva, Becker stated that he would deal only with Tavares and Ferreira da Silva. Becker told Gross that it was safer for him and his network to be in contact with the Integralistas in Buenos rather than Salgado in Lisbon. He told Gross that Tavares

Affidavit of Hedwig Sommer, 28 February 1946, NARA, RG 59, 862.2035/4-4646, ABB, Box 6740, pp. 7-8 731 Joseph Smith, Brazil: Benefits of Cooperation, in Thomas M. Leonard and John F. Bratzel eds., Latin America during World War II (New York: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2007), pp. 144-161. 732 Affidavit of Hedwig Sommer, 28 February 1946, NARA, RG 59, 862.2035/4-4646, ABB, Box 6740, pp. 7-8 and German Espionage in Latin America (hereafter GELA) (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1946), p. 178, NARA, RG 319, Records of the Army Staff, Records of the Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Military Intelligence Division. The source material for this section of GELA is undoubtedly Ultra given the account is similar to the one here.

730

279 distrusted Salgado and felt he was not active enough in attempting to remove Vargas. He also placed Ferreira da Silva in contact with Pern and Gonzales. A meeting between the three men was arranged and took place on 17 January 1944. The discussion centered on cooperation between Argentina and Integralistas. Becker reported that Pern, president of the National Labor Department, characterized the Argentine revolution as continental, with the first fruit in Bolivia. Plans for a second meeting were cancelled after the first meeting became known to the U.S. and Brazil.733 Thus, Germanys plans for Brazil came to naught. Becker and the SD would have more luck in Bolivia. Like other nations in Latin America Bolivia had long-standing, deep-seated ties with Germany. German nationals controlled local airlines in Bolivia and many Bolivian elites were educated in local German schools.734 Like its counterparts in Chile, Paraguay and Argentina, the Bolivian military had been trained by German military missions. These ties were so close that a German general, Hans von Kundt, served as commanderin-chief of the Bolivian army during the first year of the Chaco War between Paraguay and Bolivia (1932-1935). Many military officers and civilian elites were sympathetic to Nazism. They saw Hitlers methods as a solution to the corruption and divisions in Bolivian society. There was also an element of racism since these methods would be directed at the majority of the population which was composed of illiterate Indians.735

Ibid and Argentina to Berlin, 17 January 1944, NARA, RG 226, Records of the OSS, OSS Communication Office Records, Ultra Decrypts, Entry 188. 734 Cole Blasier, The United States, Germany, and the Bolivian Revolutionaries (1941-1946), The Hispanic American Historical Review, 52/1, (February 1972): 27. Blasiers article is outstanding. He understood that many of the records he needed to reach definite conclusions, including interrogations and the records of German intelligence, were still classified. However, he only draws definite conclusions based on hard documentary evidence. 735 Ibid, p. 28.

733

280 This racism was not directed at removing or eliminating these Indians, rather it was used to keep darker-skinned Indians from achieving any social mobility. In 1939 the presidency was seized by Germn Busch. Busch was an unpopular president who sought to purify and rejuvenate his country. His program was similar to Mornigos in Paraguay. It included the end of democracy and the establishment of a permanent dictatorship. To achieve his goals Busch sought German assistance. On 9 April 1939 he held an audience with the German Minister to Bolivia, Ernst Wendler. Busch told Wendler that he wanted German support to establish order and authority in the state through a complete change in the system and the transition to a totalitarian state.736 Wendler enthusiastically embraced Buschs proposals and set about planning economic collaboration and the formation of an anti-communist bloc composed of Argentina, Bolivia and Peru.737 Wendler also passed along Buschs request for advisors to help assist with constitutional, administrative, financial, economic, social and educational questions. State Secretary Ernst von Weizscker was not as enthusiastic. He told Wendler that he needed to be more reserved and ordered him to cease giving advice to Busch.738 At the time Weizscker was dealing with events in Europe, as well as the Patagonia Plot in Argentina, so he waited two weeks before replying to Wendler in any detail. He told Wendler that overt German support for any transition to a totalitarian form of government in Bolivia would probably harm relations between the two countries.
Wendler to AA, 9 April 1939, Bro des Staatssekretrs: Bolivien, NARA, RG 242/T-120/179/141600 and Ibid, p. 28. 737 Wendler to AA, 11 April 1939, Bro des Staatssekretrs, Bolivien, NARA, RG 242/T120/179/141601. 738 Weizscker to Wendler, 13 April 1939, Ibid, Frame 141602.
736

281 Weizscker told Wendler that the question of advisors could be discussed later after the change in government systems had taken place. He also ordered Wendler not to address any future cables to Hitler.739 As historian Cole Blasier points out the exchange between Wendler and Busch was indicative of Germanys limited capacity to meet Bolivias needs.740 Weizscker was also mindful of the events in Brazil in 1938 and those in Argentina which were occurring. Weizscker did not rule out the possibility of

assistance, only that such support not be conspicuous. It should only occur following the imposition of a totalitarian form of government. In 1941 Germany was forced to deal with yet another forgery meant to harm relations between Nazi Germany and Latin American states. On 18 July, the American Minister to Bolivia, Douglas Jenkins, gave the Bolivian Foreign Minister Alberto Ostria Gutirrez a letter purportedly from the Bolivian military attach in Berlin, Major Elas Belmonte (codename: Bernasconi) to Wendler. Belmonte was an influential officer who had participated in the military coups of the 1930s. He also served as Minister of Government during Buschs rule.741 The letter stated that a coup had been planned for the middle of July to overthrow the government of President Enrique Pearanda (19401943) and strike our blow to liberate my poor country from a weak government of completely capitalistic tendencies.742 In his postwar interrogation Schellenberg admitted that a coup had been planned. However, he probably confused dates and remembered the

Weizscker to Wendler, 22 April 1939, Ibid, Frames 141605-141606. Blasier, The United States, Germany, and the Bolivian Revolutionaries, p. 29. 741 Ibid, p. 32. 742 R.A. Humphreys, Latin America and the Second World War, Volume One 1939-1942 (London: Athlone, 1981), p. 130.
740

739

282 December 1943 coup in Bolivia.743 The Bolivian government acted quickly instituting a state of siege on 19 July. It also declared Wendler persona non grata and ordered him to leave Bolivia as soon as possible. Wendler moved to Santiago until the issue was resolved. Belmonte was dismissed from the army for treason. Like the Patagonia Plot of 1939 in Argentina, the AA adamantly denied the letter was authentic. On 20-21 July Wendler told the AA that The charges against the legation are pure fabrications. He denied knowing Belmonte and stated he had never received any letter or message from any Bolivian, locally or abroad.744 Woermann was not sure and cabled Wendler to inquire if there was any evidence to support the charges against him. He ordered Wendler to conduct an investigation and report his findings.745 On 27 July Wendler denied knowing about or assisting in any coup against the current Bolivian government. Wendler stated that the denunciations against him were the result of the United States and Jewish and political migrs.746 Woermann then questioned Belmonte regarding the letter. Belmonte claimed the letter was an obvious

falsification. Following his investigation Woermann concluded that neither Wendler nor Belmonte was involved in any attempt to overthrow the government of Bolivia.747 The

While Becker had been to Bolivia and other countries during 1941, there is no evidence he or Nazi Germany was involved in any sort of plan to overthrow the Bolivian government. He did add that the December 1943 coup was carried out with the cooperation of the Argentine government. Following his dismissal Belmonte kept in close contact with Amt VI and was a regular visitor to its offices. See Affidavit of Walter Schellenberg, 2 February 1946, NARA RG 59, 862.20235/4-2646, Box 6740, p. 3. 744 Wendler to AA, 20-21 July 1941, Bro des Staatssekretrs, Bolivien, NARA, RG 242/T120/179/140898-99 & 141644. 745 Woermann to Wendler, 24 July 1941, Ibid, Frame 141660. 746 Wendler to Ribbentrop, 27 July 1941, Ibid, Frame 141672. 747 Woermann Memorandum, 26 July 1941, Ibid, Frames 140876-140880.

743

283 AA denounced the letter as a forgery and held a press conference with Belmonte.748 Given the accusations in Argentina, along with the consistent rumors that Germany was seeking control over Latin America, the AAs denials rang hollow. The letter was indeed a forgery. It was fabricated by H. Montgomery Hyde of the British Security

Coordination, with the assistance of the FBI.749 However, the damage had been done. Wendler returned to Germany and Belmonte remained in Berlin, enjoying close contact with the Amt VI and the AA. Belmontes relations with both organizations were quite close. In 1942 the

Cultural Political Department of the AA financed and published Belmontes version of Mein Kampf titled Neustra Revolucion. In it, he opined about the nationalistic history of Bolivia along with plans for the future.750 He also broadcast a radio show in Spanish on Reichsrundfunk (German Radio), a division of Joseph Goebbels Propaganda Ministry. In addition he was probably paid to provide political intelligence on Bolivia.751 Belmontes personality was grating. Hedwig Sommer stated that she rather disliked Belmonte and that Gross treated Belmonte as a nuisanceto be humored because of his

The Director of the News Service and Press Department to Various Missions, 27 July 1941, Doc. 158, Documents on German Foreign Policy, Series D, Volume 13, (Washington D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1949-1983), pp. 224-225. 749 H. Montgomery Hyde, The Quiet Canadian: The Secret Service Story Of Sir William Stephenson (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1962), pp. 139-140 and Humphreys, Latin America and the Second World War, p. 131. 750 Affidavit of Otto Reinebeck, 4 February 46, NARA, RG 59, 862.20235, ABB, Box 6740, p. 18. Affidavit of Otto Reinebeck, 4 February 46, NARA, RG 59, 862.20235, ABB, Box 6740, p. 10. 751 Interrogation of Walter Schellenberg, 24 November 1945, NARA, RG 263, Records of the Central Intelligence Agency, Name Files: Walter Schellenberg, p. 2. Schellenbergs testimony that Belmonte was paid is directly contradicted by Paeffgens. Paeffgen stated that such money would only have been paid for political reports and that Belmonte had not written any such reports. See Interrogation of Dr. Theodor Paeffgen, 19 October 1945, NARA, RG 59, M679/3/944.

748

284 connections.752 It was his connections that kept him in the good graces of Paeffgen and Gross. It is unclear when plans to overthrow Pearanda began, but Belmonte had the support of members of Pearandas government. Belmontes most prominent supporters were Senator Victor Paz Estenssoro and Dionisio Foianini Banzer (codename: Heriberto and Geco), who had served as Buschs Minister of Mines and Petroleum. Paz Estenssoro was a founding father of the Movimiento Nacionalista Revolucionario (M.N.R.). The M.N.R. was extremely nationalistic, anti-U.S. and pro-German. It was described by one historian as national-socialist in its politics.753 Paz Estenssoro

eventually allied himself with a secret lodge called Razn de Patria (RADEPA). It was composed of idealistic officers who had served in the Chaco War, including Major Gualberto Villaroel (codename: Laura) who assumed the presidency following the 20 December 1943 coup. This alliance should not be surprising since RADEPA and the M.N.R. shared similar political views. The earliest evidence of a plot against Pearanda was June 22, 1942 in Buenos Aires. On that day Foianini had an interview with Meynen to discuss overthrowing Pearanda. He asked for German support and told Meynen that Belmonte should not lead the government. Since Belmonte was in Berlin he would be unable to lead any revolt against Pearanda. There was also the question of Belmonte being charged with treason for his alleged role in the Wendler affair. Instead of Belmonte a more acceptable candidate would be General Angel Rodriguez (codename: Alfredo), Bolivian military
Affidavit of Hedwig Sommer, 4 March 1946, NARA, RG 59, 862.2035/4-4646, ABB, Box 6740, p. 4. R.A. Humphreys, Latin America and the Second World War, Volume Two 1942-1945 (London: Athlone, 1982), p. 88.
753 752

285 attach in Santiago. Foianini stated that Rodriguez was a hero of the Chaco war and had participated in the peace talks to end the war. Rodriguez enjoyed a good reputation. Following the war he had been offered the presidency and turned it down. He also had refused to hold any high position in government for the past seven years. This partly contributed to his posting to Santiago. Foianini told Meynen that Rodriguez was interested but Belmonte would have to approve his appointment. Foianinis statement to Meynen about Belmonte shows that Belmonte was still very influential despite having been exiled. Foianini told Meynen that a coup against Pearanda could take place as early as August. Following the coup the government would re-orient its foreign policy along the lines of Argentina and Chile and declare neutrality. If Belmonte balked at supporting Rodriguez, Foianini intimated that Germany should pressure Belmonte into supporting Rodriguez since he would give them a neutral Bolivia with a foreign policy similar to Argentina and Chile. As for Belmonte he would be allowed to return as soon as the general political situation permits. In the meantime he would be offered a posting as military attach to Madrid until he could return to Bolivia. Not surprisingly Meynen was cool to the idea. He told the AA that given Latin American indiscretions Germanys participation could not be kept secret and suggested it refrain from involvement.754 It seems the AA took Meynens advice, but the SD did not.

Meynen to AA, 22 June 1942, Auswrtiges Amt Politische Archiv, Inland IIG Sdamerika: SDMeldungen aus Sdamerika. I would like to thank Katrin Paehler for making this file available to me. Cole Blasier interprets the document and Belmontes actions in Berlin differently; however he did not have access to the still classified interrogations of Schellenberg et. al. For Blasiers interpretation see The United States, Germany, and the Bolivian Revolutionaries, p. 48.

754

286 By May 1943 Belmonte was pressuring Amt VI to allow him to get rid of Pearanda. Paeffgen and Gross asked Becker to assess the outcome of a coup and whether or not the SD should continue working with Belmonte.755 Belmonte also wanted to return to Bolivia, but Pearanda opposed this. Foianini reported that Pearanda Pearanda

offered Belmonte any diplomatic post he desired in a foreign country.

promised Belmonte he would be completely rehabilitated following the war.756 Pearanda must have seen Belmonte as a significant threat to offer him complete rehabilitation and the diplomatic post of his choice. Belmonte probably knew his coup attempt had a good chance of success. In June, Becker told Amt VI that Belmonte should nominate a candidate for the presidential elections in Bolivia scheduled for December 1943. Becker also noted that he did not inform Meynen of his machinations in Bolivia.757 Given that Bolivia had declared war on the Axis on 7 April 1943 Bolivia was no longer the provenance of the AA. Therefore the AA did not need to know of Beckers plans. At the same time planning for a coup must have been in progress. Belmonte asked his half-brother Ruben Sardon Pabon to pass on a message to Foianini. Pabon was residing in Bilbao and acted as an intermediary between Belmonte and Foianini. Belmonte requested that Foianini suspend the current plans for a coup in order to have in hand projects which could go wrong.758 What is meant by this is unclear. At the same time Harnisch reported that he had put his Argentine contacts and Belmontes coBerlin to Argentina, 9 May 1943, NARA, RG 226, Records of the OSS, OSS Communication Office Records, Ultra Decrypts, Entry 188. For a quick summary of the following account see, GELA, pp. 182183, NARA, RG 319, Records of the Army Staff, Records of the Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff, G2, Military Intelligence Division. 756 Argentina to Berlin, 22 May 1943, Ibid. 757 Argentina to Berlin, 19 June 1943, Ibid. 758 Berlin to Argentina, 14 July 1943, NARA, RG 226, Records of the OSS, OSS Communication Office Records, Ultra Decrypts, Entry 188.
755

287 conspirators together and that negotiations were ongoing. Paz Estenssoro and General Rodriguez were scheduled to arrive in Buenos Aires to discuss plans. Rodriguez was waiting for Belmontes answer regarding his support so that planning could proceed.759 Rodriguez arrived in Buenos Aires on 18 July to attend a conference with Harnisch, Ramrez, and other leading members of the Argentine government.760 At the conference Ramrez promised economic aid if the new Bolivian government would join the Andes bloc. He asked Paz Estenssoro about a timeline for the change in government. Paz Estenssoro replied that it would take place between September and December. Ramrez told him that this was too late. Rodriguez told him that he and Paz Estenssoro would see what they could do to speed up preparations.761 Rodriguez departed Buenos Aires on 29 July having achieved an agreement with Ramrez.762 Whatever agreement was reached it probably did not include a prominent role for Belmonte in the new government. Belmonte told Foianini that if his presence would endanger the new government he would give up all future political aspirations. He said that he would collaborate willingly in the new government provided always that they concur in political principles, which I will plan in a work which I will send soon. Paeffgen and Gross must have been worried about loose tongues since Belmonte told Foianini that it is imperative not to implicate Germany by the friendly service with you do for us.763 Belmonte soon had second thoughts about Rodriguez and told Foianini not to rush the revolution. Belmonte feared that Rodriguez did not have sufficient support
759 760

Argentina to Berlin, 14 July 1943, Ibid. Berlin to Argentina, 8 August 1943, Ibid. Argentina to Berlin, 14 July 1943, Ibid and Argentina to Berlin, 22 July 1943, Ibid. 761 Argentina to Berlin, 24 July 1943, Ibid. 762 Argentina to Berlin, 5 August 1943, Ibid. 763 Berlin to Argentina, 8 August 1943, Ibid.

288 among army officers to keep the coup a secret. He was aware that if he remained in Berlin he would lose out on any prominent position in a new government. Belmonte told Foianini that he would try to return to Bolivia to lead the movement.764 Belmonte suggested that Foianini spread the news that he was withdrawing from politics. This would disarm their opponents and give Belmontes supporters time to act. Foianini told Belmonte that he could count on the full support of Argentina when he took up residence there.765 There were other issues that needed to be resolved before their plans could proceed. Through its own code-breaking operation Amt VI learned that Polish intelligence managed to place an agent named Paciokowski with Ruben Sardon in Bilbao. Amt VI informed Foianini that Paciokowski knew all of the details regarding Sardons mission in Bilbao and that Polish intelligence had gained access to his correspondence and code. They asked Foianini to get in contact with Sardon and find out how much Paciokowski knew of the negotiations between Bolivia, Argentina and Germany. They also suggested that Sardon tell the Paciokowski that Belmonte was withdrawing from politics, had no interest in overthrowing Pearanda, and had broken off negotiations. As soon as the Pole passed along this information he was to be killed as soon as it was safe to do so. Amt VI wanted the killing to serve as a warning about restricting

information.766 It appears Foianini and his co-conspirators were squeamish about murder. Foianini told Amt VI that Paciokowski actually knew little of their plans and it was
764 765

Berlin to Argentina, 10 August 1943, Ibid. Argentina to Berlin, 15 August 1943, Ibid. 766 Berlin to Argentina, 20 August 1943, Ibid.

289 subsequently decided not to eliminate Paciokowski. Foianini planned to use Paciokowski to feed the Allies false information. At some point Paciokowski was to be lured to Argentina. In Argentina Foianini was to give him a letter ostensibly from Sardon which allegedly renounced Belmontes political ambition and his dissatisfaction with his treatment by the Germans. Once they were sure Paciokowski had passed the information on he would be denounced to the Argentine police. Since Ramrez and his government were deeply involved in the plot to overthrow Pearanda it would be in their interests to arrest Paciokowski, thus neutralizing the threat.767 Given the reputation of the Argentine police, it would not have been surprising if Paciokowski disappeared died in custody or died while trying to escape. Belmonte recommended passing the false information orally since he felt it was inadvisable to write a fake letter in Sardons name.768 However, a letter had been prepared, read to Paciokowski and then destroyed.769 For the moment the danger of exposure had been averted. Instead of being killed Paciokowski remained free. Interestingly, the following year Belmonte attempted to use Foianinis contacts with the Pole to discredit him.770 The other issue was money. Foianini told Belmonte that he was having difficulty raising money to support the coup. He estimated that he needed approximately $70,000 to carry out his plan. Foianini told him that he refused financing from either Becker or the Argentines and that he could raise the money by selling some property. He requested

767 768

Argentina to Berlin, 27 August 1943, Ibid. Berlin to Argentina, 3 September 1943, Ibid. 769 Argentina to Berlin, 8 September 1943, Ibid. 770 Berlin to Argentina, 5 & 9 August 1944, Ibid.

290 Belmontes opinion regarding funding.771 While Paeffgen and Gross were willing to provide the support of their intelligence networks, money was more difficult. Belmonte told Foianini not to worry about money. He told him that his cooperation with

sympathetic army officers was sufficient and that they would carry out the plans for patriotic reasons.772 In the meantime Pearanda had learned of Rodriguezs participation in planning the coup. Given Rodriguezs stature in the Bolivian military Pearanda could not remove him. Instead, he offered Rodriguez the ambassadorship to Panama. Belmonte advised Rodriguez to accept the position in principle, but not to go to Panama. Rodriguez would travel to La Paz to find out Pearandas intentions along with the intentions of the military and political parties in relation to a coup.773 Foianini informed Belmonte that Rodriguez would officially decline the offer and make the final preparations for the coup. Before Rodriguezs departure for La Paz Foianini would give him his final instructions.774 Belmontes other conspirator Paz Estenssoro submitted a proposal in the Bolivian parliament to allow Belmonte to return. The measure was defeated 43 to 39.775 On 3 December Rodriguez arrived in La Paz. Foianini reported that preparations for the coup were well underway and it would take place within 60 days. Foianini, Paz

Estenssoro and Rodriguez also requested that German radio and press communiqus be correctly phrased to implicate the U.S. The communiqus should state that Pearanda and his supporters be denounced as paid agents of the U.S. who want Bolivia to be a U.S.
771 772

Argentina to Berlin, 14 August 1943, Ibid. Berlin to Argentina, 3 September 1943, Ibid. 773 Berlin to Argentina, 30 September 1943, Ibid. 774 Argentina to Berlin, 13 November 1943, Ibid. 775 Argentina to Berlin, 28 November 1943, Ibid.

291 colony.776 This was brilliant on their part. Given the anti-American sentiments in Bolivia such a message would arouse the masses. Then the new government could proceed with Belmontes political program which was nationalist in orientation. On 20 December 1943 Pearanda was overthrown and Villaroel installed as president. If the elevation of Villaroel as President of Bolivia was a surprise to Amt VI, it is not reflected in the surviving archival record. This is surprising since the decrypted Ultra messages specifically state that Rodriguez was to become president. Villaroels name does not appear in any correspondence between South America and Germany concerning the coup. Perhaps Villaroel was a compromise candidate between competing factions or he obtained the position through political maneuvering among his fellow conspirators. The lack of response is somewhat baffling. However, Villaroel was a member of RADEPA and thus ideologically inclined towards Belmontes political views. The U.S. reacted quickly and refused recognition of the new government. Through Ultra, U.S. Secretary of State Cordell Hull and the State Department knew of Paz Estenssoros and Foianinis involvement with German intelligence. Hull intimated as much when he cryptically stated whether outside influence unfriendly to the Allied cause played any part in the coup.777 The U.S. turned up the pressure when Hull explicitly stated that the M.N.R. was pro-Nazi and that Paz Estenssoro was known to have contact with Nazi groups in Germany and Argentina. Villaroel removed two

M.N.R. ministers, Augusto Cspedes and Carlos Montenegro, in the hopes of achieving recognition. However, Hull would accept nothing less than the removal of all M.N.R.

776 777

Argentina to Berlin, 3 December 1943, Ibid. Blasier, The United States, Germany, and the Bolivian Revolutionaries, p. 40.

292 members from Villaroels government. Villaroels Foreign Minister, Jos Tamayo, sought to stave off U.S. pressure by completing the Andes bloc but Chile balked. As a result Tamayo was forced to resign in March 1944.778 The reaction of the U.S. surprised Belmonte and Amt VI. On 31 December, Belmonte cautioned Villaroel to make sure the pro-German sympathies of the government were carefully guarded until such a time in which great transformations would be possible.779 Realizing the danger U.S. pressure meant to Bolivia he further cautioned Villaroel about making RAPEDAs sympathies public. Belmonte felt that the pressure was enough to cause Villaroels government to fall. In that event, RAPEDA must remain in control of the army no matter the situation. If Villaroel lost control then RAPEDA must ensure that the Ministry of War and Chief of the General Staff remain in its hands. Then RAPEDA could take power when the moment was right.780 Belmonte also sent Villaroel a copy of his book Justificativos de Neustra rebellion.781 In it, he outlined the political program Villaroel and RAPEDA implement as soon as the timing was right.782 Belmonte also requested money for Villaroel. Amt VI approved payment for an undisclosed amount from the Banco Aleman to the Villaroel government.783 Again fearing he would lose out on any influence he had in Villaroels government Belmonte lobbied to return to Bolivia. Schellenberg confirmed this to his postwar interrogators.
778 779

He stated that Belmonte wanted to use Beckers smuggling

Ibid, pp. 42 & 46-47. Berlin to Argentina, 2 January 1944, NARA, RG 226, Records of the OSS, OSS Communication Office Records, Ultra Decrypts, Entry 188. 780 Berlin to Argentina, 4 January 1944, Ibid. 781 Elias Belmonte Pabon, Justificativos de Neustra rebellion (Berlin: unknown publisher, 1942). 782 Berlin to Argentina, 5 January 1944, NARA, RG 226, Records of the OSS, OSS Communication Office Records, Ultra Decrypts, Entry 188. 783 Berlin to Argentina, 7 January 1944, Ibid.

293 network to return to Bolivia and traveled to Spain to discuss this with Karl Arnold.784 If his return was not desired Belmonte requested Villaroel appoint him as military attach in Madrid. Belmonte also asked that his brother Ruben be placed in charge of a legation or consulate as thanks for his work.785 In early April 1944 Villaroel acquiesced to Hulls demand and removed the three remaining M.N.R. members, Paz Estenssoro, Rafael Otazo and Walter Guevara Arze, from the government. When recognition was slow in coming Villaroel detained and expelled German nationals from the country and sent them to the U.S. for internment.786 The U.S. also threatened to expose Argentine intrigues and its cooperation with German agents in fomenting the rebellion in Bolivia. This combined with the failure of the Hellmuth affair caused Argentina to break relations with Nazi Germany in January 1944. Despite all he had done Belmontes status with Villaroel was questionable. In response to his demands he be made the military attach in Lisbon, Villaroel was vague. Becker informed Amt VI that no decision on Belmonte would be made until elections for president, scheduled for 2 July 1944, were held. By May, Belmonte was frustrated at Villaroels policies. He wanted to return to Bolivia, but was prevented from doing so by Pearanda. Belmonte chastised Villaroel for taking military youth into the government without asking his advice. Belmonte noted that he would have disapproved any such

Interrogation of Walter Schellenberg, 24 November 1945, NARA, RG 263, Name Files: Walter Schellenberg, p. 2. 785 Berlin to Argentina, 11 February 1944, NARA, RG 226, Records of the OSS, OSS Communication Office Records, Ultra Decrypts, Entry 188. 786 Blasier, The United States, Germany, and the Bolivian Revolutionaries, p. 43. For the internment of Germans from Latin America in the U.S. see Max Paul Friedman, Nazis and Good Neighbors: The United States Campaign against the Germans of Latin America in World War II (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003). Friedman concentrates on Central America and the northern half of South America and is quite critical of the U.S.

784

294 request.787 It was clear to Belmonte and Amt VI that they had lost control of events in Bolivia. Amt VI informed Becker that neither it nor Belmonte agreed with Villaroels decisions. Belmonte also feared the consequences should Foianinis contacts with

Becker become known. Given that his usefulness was at an end Amt VI distanced itself from Belmonte. It also suspected he was intriguing with the AA against the SD.788 SD contacts with pro-Nazi elements in Paraguay, Brazil and Bolivia began with promise but collapsed under U.S. pressure, acrimony and mistrust. The archival record shows that Nazi ideology played a major role in German subversion of governments in the Southern cone. While groups such as the Ring of Sacrifice, Razn de Patria, and the G.O.U. were pro-Fascist, there is still a question of how strong that ideology was. Schellenberg admitted to his interrogators that he felt the Bolivian revolution was oriented in the same direction as National Socialism.789 Whether this was true or not is open to interpretation. Schellenbergs statement shows Amt VI was willing to believe whatever fit its preconceived notions regarding ideology. The groups in Paraguay,

Bolivia and Argentina were certainly willing to solicit support from the SD when it appeared Germany might win the war. However, when the outcome of the war was in doubt, they shed their national-socialist tendencies and reverted to pure nationalism. The fact that they turned to nationalism rather quickly suggests their admiration of Nazi

Berlin to Argentina, 23 May 1944, NARA, RG 226, Records of the OSS, OSS Communication Office Records, Ultra Decrypts, Entry 188. 788 Berlin to Argentina, 23 May 1944, Ibid. 789 Interrogation of Walter Schellenberg, 24 November 1945, NARA, RG 263, Name Files: Walter Schellenberg, p. 2.

787

295 Germany was somewhat superficial. There is also the question of how much anti-U.S. sentiments played in their beliefs. Certainly, the AA was almost as ideological as the SD. Wendlers enthusiastic support in 1939 of Buschs proposal to push Bolivia along totalitarian lines bears this out. What is also interesting is that Weizscker was not opposed to a national-socialist Bolivian government, only that German involvement with it be kept secret. Additionally, Wendlers attempts to blame his problems on the Jews echo Meynen and Thermann. While the AA was minimally involved in the SDs intrigues in Paraguay, Brazil and Bolivia, it was involved in Argentina. At the same time Becker and Harnisch were helping the Ramrez government form the Andes bloc they were also involved in planning the so-called Hellmuth Affair. This along with machinations in Bolivia finally caused Argentina to break relations with Nazi Germany.

296

Chapter 7 The Case of Osmar Hellmuth


On 30 October 1943, a 35 year old Argentine national named Osmar Hellmuth was detained by British authorities shortly after midnight at Port-of-Spain, Trinidad. Hellmuth was scheduled to travel to Barcelona and then to Berlin.790 Hellmuth was in possession of an Argentine diplomatic passport and was accredited as a consul for the Argentine consulate in Barcelona. He vigorously protested his detention, but the next day Hellmuth was whisked to Bermuda by plane and then transported on the cruiser HMS Ajax to England arriving on 12 November. Hellmuths name was not unknown to the British authorities who, in a bit of exaggeration, identified him in 1942 as one of the principal agents of the German Secret Police in Buenos Aires.791 While this is a bit of hyperbole on the part of the British, Osmar Hellmuth was well connected in Argentine society. Hellmuths mission is one of more complex and controversial episodes of the Second World War. It highlights the rivalry between the SD and AA for control of foreign policy. It shows the extent to which the SD interfered with German diplomacy towards Argentina. This was an ongoing problem that Ribbentrop and the Foreign Office had been fighting with the SD since the beginning of the war. This rivalry was as contentious in Argentina as it was in Berlin. This chapter argues that the Hellmuth affair was an attempt by the SD to supplant the AA as the primary instrument of Nazi foreign
790

Ladd to Hoover, 16 December 43, National Archives and Records Administration (hereafter NARA) Record Group 65, Records of the Federal Bureau of Investigations, File 64-27116, Box 18. 791 Report on the Case of Osmar Alberto Hellmuth, NARA, RG 65, File 64-27116-EBF 51, Box 19.

297 policy. Martin Luther, head of Abteilung Deutschland, with the help of the SS had tried and failed to remove Ribbentrop in February 1943.792 The Hellmuth affair was an extension of that effort. It afforded the SS an opportunity to shape German policy towards Argentina, without the interference of the AA. It also shows the connivance between high-ranking Argentine government officials and members of the SD in Argentina. Osmar Hellmuth was born in Buenos Aires in 1908. His father was a

Volksdeutsche and his mother a criollo from a family that had settled in Argentina in the 1840s. Hellmuth completed his schooling and through the influence of an uncle was granted an appointment to the Argentine naval academy. While he passed the entrance exam he flunked out after two years when he failed to pass the mathematics exam. In 1927 Hellmuth first met Hans Harnisch the man who made him infamous. They crossed paths on several occasions before he was recruited for his fateful mission.793 Hellmuth moved from job to job in subsequent years eventually becoming an insurance salesman. He became affluent enough that he joined the Hispano-Argentine Rowing Club, the Canottieri Italiani and the exclusive Argentine Yacht Club as well as the German Club in Calle Crdoba. He also owned a car and could take vacations to exotic locales in Brazil and elsewhere in South America.794

See Katrin Paehler, Espionage, Ideology and Personal Politics: The Making and Unmaking of a Nazi Foreign Intelligence Service (Washington D.C.: American University, Ph.D. diss, 2002), chapter IX. 793 Chronology in the Case of Hellmuth. NARA, RG 65, File 64-27116-EBF 51, Box 19, Appendix IV. Also, See Report of Interrogation of Hans Rudolf Leo Harnisch (Hereafter Harnisch Interrogation), JulySeptember 1947, NARA, RG 84, Records of Foreign Service Posts, Buenos Aires Political Reports (hereafter BAPR), File 862.20235/10-3147, Box 102, p. 9. 794 Chronology in the Case of Hellmuth. NARA, RG 65, File 64-27116-EBF 51, Box 19, Appendix IV.

792

298 Hellmuth told his interrogators that he only took a casual interest in the war, but did admit to socializing with prominent Nazis in Buenos Aires and elsewhere. He claimed that his association with this group caused problems with his employers. He stated that in 1940 he had to leave his job at the Franco-Argentina Company and joined the firm of Sud-America Maritima Y Terrestre, an English company, because local Nazis spread rumors about him. Hellmuth said that the rumors were the result of him and his friends speaking Spanish on the premises of the German Club where this was frowned upon.795 The rumors persisted until 1942 when Hellmuth learned his former boss, Dr. Humberto Terracini, was spreading more rumors about him. Hellmuth managed to

squelch these stories, but only with considerable difficulty. However, some rumors seemed to be true. The FBI subsequently reported that Hellmuth had participated in helping Graf Spee internees to escape back to Germany. It is unknown if Hellmuth participated. His business partner Charlie Neiling did participate and it would be highly unlikely Hellmuth knew nothing of his activities.796 1942 proved to be a fateful year for Hellmuth. During Easter week of that year Hellmuth and a friend took a business trip to Neuqun in Southern Argentina. On the train he and a friend met General Pedro Ramrez. Ramrez was commander of the Argentine Armys Cavalry Brigade and traveling on an inspection trip. Hellmuth became quick friends with the general and was invited to join his group. He also became acquainted with three of Ramirezs subordinates, Captain Francisco Filippi, Major Mario
Hellmuth claimed he did not speak German well and took lessons in German and English in the 1930s. See Newton, The Nazi Menace p. 292. 796 Axis Espionage and Propaganda in Latin America, NARA, RG 319, Records of the Army Staff, Records of the Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Military Intelligence Division, p. 51. Newton, Nazi Menace, p. 292.
795

299 Bernard and Lieutenant Colonel Enrique Gonzlez (codename: Boss). All three would hold prominent positions in the Argentine government following the coup of 4 June 1943.797 Coincidentally, these men were also acquainted with Harnisch. Hellmuths trip to Germany ostensibly revolved around an oil tanker Argentina had purchased and was languishing in Sweden, unable to sail. The tanker Buenos Aires had been ordered in 1939 from Gtawerken Shipbuilders in Gothenburg Sweden in 1939. The tanker was purchased by an unknown company in Argentina in 1942 but was unable to leave since it had not been granted safe passage by the German Navy or the British. The AA wanted it released since it would alleviate Argentinas oil problems. The

German Navy refused since the British had refused to grant similar passage to neutral ships from other countries. The German embassy in Buenos Aires argued that Argentina needed the fuel, but this failed to convince the German Navy to release the ship.798 The German Navy could not have failed to appreciate that the tanker could be requisitioned for the Pan American Tanker Pool, which the U.S. controlled. Thus releasing the tanker could aid their enemies.799 The Argentines were desperate for fuel. The U.S. had blocked Argentinas oil purchases along with an attempt to charter Spanish-flag tankers.800 In February 1943 the U.S. told the Argentines it would not allow the tanker to leave Sweden unless the Argentines made it available to the Pan-American Tanker Pool.
797

The Argentine

Hellmuth Interrogation, NARA RG 65, 64-27116-EBF-51, Box 19, p.2 and Rout and Bratzel, The Shadow War, p. 390. See also Camp 020 Report, 4 February 1944, The National Archives, Kew (hereafter TNA), KV2/1723. 798 Meynen to Auswrtiges Amt, 2 June 43, NARA, RG 242/T120/762/356254-55. 799 Newton, The Nazi Menace, p. 294. 800 Buenos Aires Chancery to FO, 9 Jan 1942, 12 Jan, 15 Mar and 19 Apr 1943, TNA, FO371/33537, and Newton, The Nazi Menace, p. 294.

300 Government dithered until Castillos removal in June. The new government then tried to bluff the Allies and relieve some of the diplomatic pressure.801 On 21 June, Admiral Segundo V. Storni, new foreign minister of the junta that had taken power on 4 June, informed British Ambassador David Kelly that if the Germans did not release the tanker Argentina would break diplomatic relations.802 Storni was being disingenuous. Harnisch informed the Abwehr that a break in relations would not happen for five months if then and then a break is to be expected only after previous understanding with us.803 He stated that direct contact with the president established. Atmosphere excellent.804 General Friedrich Wolf, the German military attach in Argentina, told his postwar interrogators that as far as Germany was concerned the matter of the tanker had been settled. He suspected that the release of the tanker was simply a cover for another mission.805 Wolfs suspicions were correct. Hellmuth claimed that in March 1943 he renewed his acquaintance with Harnisch at a dinner held at the Argentine Yacht Club. According to Hellmuth they met on several more occasions over the next few months. It was at one of these meetings that Hellmuth claimed he was introduced to Harnischs friend Aumann.806 Harnisch told his postwar interrogators that sometime following the revolution of 4 June he was approached by Bernard, who was the Adjutant to the Minister of War Edelmiro Farrell. Bernard

lamented the failure of Argentina to get needed material from the U.S. and suggested
801 802

Buenos Aires Chancery to FO, 10 February 1943, TNA, FO371/33537. Kelly to FO, 21 June 43, TNA, FO371/33507. No record of any ultimatum is in the German records. 803 Boss 8 to Berlin, 19 June 1943, NARA, RG 226, Records of the OSS, OSS Communications Office Records, Ultra Decrypts. All of the O.S.S. messages are also in BNA, KV2/1724. 804 Boss 13 to Berlin, 19 June 1943, Ibid. 805 Second Progress Report in the Case of General Friedrich Wolf June 15, 1945, TNA, KV3/80, p. 25. 806 Hellmuth Interrogation, NARA RG 65, 64-27116-EBF-51, Box 19, p. 5.

301 Harnisch participate in a meeting with Lieutenant Colonel Enrique Gonzlez, who was the presidential secretary in the new government.807 Hellmuth claimed that it was he who put Harnisch in contact with Lt. Col. Gonzlez since Harnisch claimed not to know anyone in the new government.808 According to Ultra Harnisch had been in touch with Gonzlez earlier than March. Hellmuth was either mistaken regarding the date or he was lying. Despite this contradictory testimony both men claimed to have high-level contacts in the new government. Hellmuths assertion contrasts with General Friedrich Wolfs description of him as an innocent abroad, badly informed and very trusting.809 Hellmuth further offered that Harnisch did a great deal of bragging about his relationship with Walter Schellenberg, head of Amt VI, SD Foreign Intelligence, and other influential people in the Nazi Party as well as the embassy. As Rout and Bratzel state, these claims did not seem improbable. In February 1943 Harnisch had allegedly secured the release of some Swedish newsprint which Nazi Germany had refused to grant an export license for.
810

Whatever the case, at the beginning of July 1943 a conference was held with Harnisch, General Ramrez, Lt. Col. Gonzlez, Maj. Bernard and Capt. Filippi in attendance.811 Why Hellmuth was not invited is unknown since he knew all of the principals. Ramrez stated that on 27 June Norman Armour, U.S. ambassador to

Affidavit of Hans Harnisch, 9 September 1947, NARA, RG 84, BAPR, File 862.20235/10-3147, Box 102, p. 1. 808 Hellmuth Interrogation, NARA RG 65, 64-27116-EBF-51, Box 19, p. 5. 809 Camp 020 Interim Report on the Case of General Friedrich Wolf, no date, NARA, RG 59, ABB, Miscellaneous Intelligence Reports and Affidavits, Box 26, Entry 1088, Appendix C, p, vii. 810 Report on the Case of Osmar Alberto Hellmuth, NARA, RG 65, File 64-27116-EBF 51, Box 19, p. 5 and Rout and Bratzel, The Shadow War, p. 391. 811 Argentina to Berlin, 7 July 1943, NARA, RG 226, Records of the OSS, OSS Ultra Decrypts, Entry 188.

807

302 Argentina, with the support of the Brazilian Ambassador, had met with him demanding that Argentina break relations with Nazi Germany before 15 August.812 Ramrez tried to stall until he could find a way to resolve this issue. He was angry and concerned at Armours demand.813 Ramrez interpreted it as a threat of war and wanted some way of restoring the balance of power with Brazil. While Ramrez was skeptical of Argentinas ability to stop a Brazilian attack, he counted on the support of Paraguay, Chile, Bolivia and possibly Peru if an attack were to occur. What Argentina needed was weapons. The only place to secure those weapons was from the Axis powers. Ramrez wanted the tanker released and for Germany to ship arms to Argentina to fend off a possible attack by the U.S. and Brazil. At the meeting Harnisch was told of Argentinas military needs. How Argentina would pay was not mentioned, but the Argentine naval attach in Berlin had access to 700,000 RM in an account for military purchases.814 Ramrez also assured Harnisch that he would deal with Allied agents in Argentina and keep them from interfering with any activity.815 Filippi would be the intermediary. In his postwar interrogation, Harnisch claimed his participation had been minimal and that Hellmuth was the principle.816 This could have been true. In his interrogation Hellmuth related details about meetings to

Argentina to Berlin, 7 July 1943, NARA, RG 226, Records of the OSS, OSS Ultra Decrypts, Entry 188. Newton, The Nazi Menace, p. 297. 814 Newton, The Nazi Menace, p. 297. 815 Affidavit of Otto Reinebeck, 4 February 1946, NARA RG 59, 862.20235, ABB, Box 6740, p. 9. Paeffgen recalled that his impression was that Argentina would provide protection for German agents. He stated that this was impression was not formally codified, but simply implied. Notes on the Interrogation of Theodor Paeffgen, 4 February 1946, NARA, RG 59, 862.20235/4-2646, ABB, Box 6740, p. 8. 816 Affidavit of Hans Harnisch, 9 September 1947, NARA, RG 84, BAPR, File 862.20235/10-3147, Box 102, p. 1. In his postwar interrogation Schellenberg stated that contact with Ramrez and others was made through Hellmuth. Interrogation of Walter Schellenberg, 24 November 1945, NARA, RG 263, Records of the Central Intelligence Agency, Name Files: Walter Schellenberg, p. 3.
813

812

303 which he claimed not to have attended. What is certain is that Harnisch was deeply involved. Either Harnisch thoroughly briefed him on the discussions that were held or Hellmuth was a participant. Argentina had been concerned about the balance of power following the Rio Conference and Brazils entry into the war on the side of the Allies. In July 1942, General Domingo Martinez, chief of police of Buenos Aires Province, had relayed a proposal to Meynen concerning an arms deal. Martinez stated that Argentina could obtain German arms by smuggling them through Spain and Sweden or using blockade runners. Spain would provide the necessary weaponry and Germany would replace them.817 While General Ramrez had been scheduled to go to Spain to conduct the necessary negotiations, nothing came of them. The only weapons Argentina received were some antiaircraft guns and optical equipment that arrived in early 1943.818 Harnisch requested military support for Argentina and gave the first indications of Hellmuths mission.819 The reply is illustrative of how little Berlin knew of activities in Argentina.820 They wanted to know who Gonzlez, Philippi and Bernard were. Berlin expressed concern that these contacts would become known to the Argentine Chamber of Deputies and expose German infiltration. They also requested that Harnisch or Becker

See chapter 3 for details. Steengracht to Sonnleithner, 27 Jan 44, Angelegenheit Hellmuth, NARA RG 242/T120/351/259848. See also Affidavit of Otto Reinebeck, 24 Jan 46, NARA RG 59, ABB, Box 6740, p. 10. Angelegenheit Hellmuth contains all correspondence from the SD and AA dealing with the Hellmuth affair. For details regarding earlier overtures on the arms deal see chapter three. 819 Argentina to Berlin, 14 July 1943, NARA, RG 226, Records of the OSS, OSS Ultra Decrypts, Entry 188. 820 In some cases I have used the generic Berlin as the author of some messages. Given that Harnisch was cooperating with both the SD and Abwehr, it is difficult to establish authorship of some messages. Additionally, the code-breakers used Berlin as the authorship of most messages making their origin more difficult.
818

817

304 furnish a detailed report of the readiness of the Argentine military. Berlin further told them to transmit the report using his radio network and not to rely on the Argentines since in Berlin general representative (the Argentine charg Luis Luti) hates ERICH FISCHER a codename for Nazi Germany. They cautioned Becker and Harnisch that the negotiations should not in any way endanger their organizations if there was a change of government.821 What is interesting is neither Paeffgen, Gross nor the Abwehr questioned the wisdom of such a deal, only that it be kept secret. No questions were asked regarding the embassys opinion or any objections it might have raised. If any discussions did take place, then they were either lost or destroyed at the wars end. Becker replied with the requested information on Gonzlez, Philippi and Bernhard. He informed Gross and Paeffgen that neither he nor Utzinger was known to the Argentine government. Only Harnisch (and possibly Hellmuth) was known. If a break in relations or change in government did occur then he would be in danger. Becker and his organization would be safe.822 Like a master chess-player Becker was not above sacrificing those he saw as pawns in pursuit of his goals. Also, Harnisch was an Abwehr agent and Becker could have offered him as a sacrificial lamb without rebuke since Harnisch was not a member of the SS. However, Amt VI was unsure of Beckers reports. Amt VI informed Becker that it believed Argentina would soon break relations with Germany and was concerned about the intelligence network that had been built up. He told him to maintain the network at any cost and not to become too involved in any dealings since it could accelerate any
Berlin to Argentina, 17 July 1943, NARA, RG 226, Records of the OSS, OSS Ultra Decrypts, Entry 188. 822 Argentina to Berlin, 22 July 1943, Ibid.
821

305 decisions made by the Argentine government. Paeffgen and Gross were worried that the overtures Ramrez and his government were making could be provocations designed to provide a reason for breaking relations.823 The SD was encroaching on territory previously the provenance of the Abwehr and AA. Harnisch met again with Ramrez in mid-July which, he claimed to his postwar interrogators, was merely social.824 However business was discussed since a record was sent to the SD. It was reported that Ramrez was still an energetic supporter of collaborating with Germany to obtain armaments. Harnisch stated that the president decided to use his son in law, Captain Lerche, as a gobetween and confidant.825 Harnisch further offered that an agent would be arriving in Germany soon and that details would follow. He admonished Berlin for its caution arguing that they misunderstood the situation in Argentina. He told the Abwehr that they should inform the SD and AA of this fact. Harnisch also claimed that Meynen knew and approved of his machinations, which seemed to be partly true.826 Ramrez was a cagey politician and was not content to bet his countrys future on Harnisch, Becker and the SD. In July 1943 Ramrez also met with Meynen to discuss arms purchases. Meynen consented to pursuing negotiations with Argentina through Colonel Santillana, military attach in Berlin. What Meynen did not know was that Santillana was in the pay of Amt VI. He provided them with political information in
Berlin to Argentina, 20 July 1943, Ibid. Affidavit of Hans Harnisch, 9 September 1947, NARA, RG 84, BAPR, File 862.20235/10-3147, Box 102, p. 2. 825 Boss 33 to Berlin, 24 July 1943, NARA, RG 226, Records of the OSS, OSS Ultra Decrypts, Entry 188. 826 Ibid. See also Affidavit of Otto Reinebeck, 4 February 1946, NARA RG 59, 862.20235, ABB, Box 6740, p. 9. Reinebeck confirms that he and the Foreign Office were told of the conditions inside Argentina. However, Reinebeck seemed to doubt the information, or doubted it at the time. Reinebeck also talked about the Argentine governments cooperation with Nazi Germany and its protection of German agents in Argentina.
824 823

306 return for luxury items.827 In August, Meynen and Wolf met with the War Minister, Edelmiro Farrell, and Interior Minister, Alberto Gilbert, to inquire about progress. They were informed that Santillana was not being used since it was felt that he was not sufficiently pro-German. Instead, Colonel Carlos Alberto Vlez, newly appointed

military attach to Madrid, was to conduct negotiations in Berlin. It seems that Vlez had been Stornis candidate. According to Otto Reinebeck, Vlez was also nominated by Ludwig Freude, a wealthy German-Argentine businessman who was close to Meynen and the embassy.828 With Stornis resignation in August, Ramrez turned to Becker and Harnisch to secure the needed weapons and the interned tanker. Becker reported that Ramrez informed Meynen of his contacts with Harnisch and that Meynen approved of the negotiations taking place between the SD and the Argentine government.829 Given Meynen and Wolfs subsequent behavior Beckers assertion is highly doubtful. More than likely, Meynen knew an arms deal was to take place but thought that the embassy would maintain the lead. Both Schellenberg and Reinebeck were aware that the Argentines were playing off Amt VI and the AA against one another. In his postwar interrogation Schellenberg stated that Becker reported the Argentine government used two channels in promoting its relationship with Germany. The SD was to be used to secure weapons and the AA used

Interrogation of Walter Schellenberg, 24 November 1945, NARA, RG 263, Name Files: Walter Schellenberg, p. 2. 828 Affidavit of Otto Reinebeck, 24 January 1946, NARA RG 59, ABB, Box 6740, p. 6 829 Second Progress Report in the Case of General Friedrich Wolf, 15 June 45, TNA, KV3/80, p. 25. Affidavit of Otto Reinebeck, 4 February 1946, NARA RG 59, ABB, Box 6740, p.7. Wolf claims he and Meynen were left in the dark regarding the Hellmuth mission after August. Reinebeck also claims that the meeting took place in August, but I have not been able to corroborate this. For Beckers report see Argentina to Berlin, 24 July 1943, NARA, RG 226, Records of the OSS, OSS Ultra Decrypts, Entry 188.

827

307 to demonstrate Argentinas commitment to neutrality.830 Reinebeck confirmed Schellenbergs statement, but his answer to his interrogators implied the AA only became aware of Argentine double-dealing following Hellmuths arrest.831 While the AA was disquieted by the situation Schellenberg was content to allow the Argentines to pursue their aims through both organizations. He saw opportunity where the AA saw danger. Schellenberg was determined to bring the AA under his control. Even though he was forced to back away from supporting Luther in February, the Hellmuth affair gave him another chance to unseat Ribbentrop. Schellenberg realized the consequences of failure and played a high-stakes game. For him, this was not about German relations with Argentina; it was about controlling foreign policy. Success meant removing his rival Ribbentrop and having Amt VI assume the AAs duties. Wolf and Meynen were aware something was amiss. Following his meeting with Ramrez, Harnisch claimed that he was summoned to the German embassy where he was told to abstain from any further contacts with the Argentine government. Harnisch stated that if he disobeyed this order certain consequences awaited him and his family in Germany.832 Wolf partly corroborated Harnischs assertions. He told his interrogators that he had met Hellmuth at a dinner party and gathered that he was going to Europe. It was not until an official of the Argentine government told him that Hellmuth was going to Germany that he and Meynen realized something was wrong. While Wolf and

Meynen were puzzling out the reason for Hellmuths trip, they learned that Harnisch was

Affidavit of Walter Schellenberg, 6 February 1946, NARA, RG 59, ABB, Box 6740, p. 5. Affidavit of Otto Reinebeck, 4 February 1946, NARA RG 59, ABB, Box 6740, p. 6. 832 Affidavit of Hans Harnisch, 9 September 1947, NARA, RG 84, BAPR, File 862.20235/10-3147, Box 102, p. 2.
831

830

308 telling people that he a special representative of the German government. Wolf stated that Hellmuths mission was confirmed by Freude, yet they still did not know the details. It was at this point that Wolf claimed he warned Harnisch off, telling him that he was undermining the position of the embassy and exposing himself too much. Wolf later told Meynen of the conversation after Wolf learned Harnisch had told his co-conspirators of the warning using Wolfs name. Meynen then informed the Wilhelmstrasse of

Harnischs indiscretion as well as Harnischs claim of being a special representative of the German government.833 Harnisch later claimed he took Wolfs warning seriously and decided to take a vacation with his wife.834 The AA warned the SD not to meddle in diplomatic affairs. In late July the SD informed Harnisch and Becker that they should practice the greatest reserve in their dealings with the Argentine government. They further told them that In the interest of maintaining your personal collaboration we therefore request adoption of role restricted to that of cool observer as much as possible.835 It would seem that Amt VI was as much in the dark concerning the Hellmuth mission at this point as the Foreign Ministry was. While neither knew the particulars, the AA did not want anything to jeopardize Nazi Germanys relations with Argentina. As Wolf points out, the embassy did not pursue the matter since it is difficult to oppose something you know nothing about. Becker

interpreted his order liberally, seizing on the phrase as much as possible to go ahead

Second Progress Report in the Case of General Friedrich Wolf, 15 June 45, TNA KV3/80, p. 25. Affidavit of Hans Harnisch, 9 September 1947, NARA, RG 84, BAPR, File 862.20235/10-3147, Box 102, p. 2. 835 Berlin to Argentina, 20 July 1943, NARA, RG 226, Records of the OSS, OSS Ultra Decrypts, Entry 188.
834

833

309 with the operation since he had already secured contact with prominent members of the Argentine government. Hellmuth claimed that he waited all of August for Ramrez to approve his appointment. By September events gathered momentum. In his interrogation to the British, Hellmuth claimed that Gonzlez told him that the Argentines were not inclined to trust Harnisch too much. Gonzlez told Hellmuth that Harnisch would have to prove himself first. It was at that moment that Hellmuth claimed he realized the importance of his mission. If it succeeded then Harnisch would be in a very powerful position vis--vis the Argentine government.836 If Harnisch took a vacation as he claimed, it appears that he returned to Buenos Aires during the first week of September.837 Harnisch stated that upon his return he was surprised to find that Hellmuth had taken up with Becker who Hellmuth allegedly met through Wilhelm Seidlitz, a member of Beckers organization. It was at this point he learned that Hellmuth had been named consul to Barcelona and entrusted with undertaking negotiations regarding the arms deal and the tanker. Harnisch claimed that the original developments precluded any possibility of Becker selecting Hellmuth for the mission.838 Harnisch was lying he was involved all along. In late September Hellmuth claimed he was called to a meeting with the new foreign minister Gilbert who told him that Ramrez was impatient with any delays. Since regular diplomatic channels were too slow Ramrez decided to dispense with them. Gilbert proposed to send Hellmuth to Germany to meet with the SD and resolve the

Report on the Case of Osmar Alberto Hellmuth, NARA, RG 65, File 64-27116-EBF 51, Box 19, p. 7. It is only on September 9, 1943 that messages from Harnisch resume a gap of more than a month. 838 Affidavit of Hans Harnisch, 9 September 1947, NARA, RG 84, BAPR, File 862.20235/10-3147, Box 102, pp. 2 and 4.
837

836

310 tanker issue and other matters under discussion. Gilbert informed Hellmuth that

Harnisch had promised that he would see Hitler as soon as he arrived and that a decision regarding the tanker would be given soon after his arrival in Berlin. The foreign minister also informed Hellmuth that he would be given a consular post in Germany. After Hellmuth expressed concern about Allied bombing in Germany, Barcelona was chosen instead. His salary was to be 900 pesos a month for six months, his transit paid for and he would be provided with 5,000 pesos for expenses. On 24 September 1943 the

Argentine government issued Osmar Hellmuth with diplomatic passport 0151.839 However, there was a complication that would have repercussions all around. Gilbert informed Hellmuth that he had spoken to Wolf and Meynen regarding his mission. Gilbert stated that Meynen assured him that Hellmuth was an acceptable person for the mission and that the matter would be settled.840 However, the evidence suggests that Gilbert was either lying or under a very mistaken impression. Meynen and the AA wanted Vlez to undertake the mission, not Hellmuth. Since there is no confirmation of this meeting other than Hellmuths statement, Gilberts assertions are doubtful. Somehow Meynen and Wolf learned of the mission and at the last moment attempted to stop Hellmuths mission or make sure their objections were on the record in case Hellmuths mission failed. It was at this point Hellmuth claimed that he learned Harnisch was only an intermediary. In a meeting at Harnischs house he learned of Becker and his position in the SD. Becker instructed Hellmuth that when he arrived in Spain he was to go to the
See Report on the Case of Osmar Alberto Hellmuth, NARA, RG 65, File 64-27116-EBF 51, Box 19, p. 7. Newton, The Nazi Menace, p 301. 840 Ibid.
839

311 Hotel Carlton in Bilbao where contact would be made with an SD agent. The agent would approach him and say Greetings from Seor Siegfried Becker and Hellmuth would reply Ah yes! The Hauptsturmfhrer!841 Becker told Hellmuth that if the rendezvous did not take place he should go to the German embassy in Madrid and ask for the police attach. He would then travel onto Berlin where Schellenberg would supposedly meet him and arrange meetings with Himmler and Hitler.842 As the date of his departure approached Hellmuth began to learn of the rift between the embassy and his SD sponsors. Hellmuth told his interrogators that he learned some disturbing news at a dinner attended by Hellmuth, Gilbert, Gonzlez and the newly appointed military attach, Colonel Vlez. Gilbert asked Hellmuth if he knew what was going on among the Germans? Gilbert told Hellmuth that Freude, who claimed to be a personal friend of Hitlers, had offered to solve the tanker issue through Colonel Vlez. Not only that, he also claimed Meynen wanted to send Vlez instead of Hellmuth. Hellmuth claimed that Gilbert was not happy with this last minute change and intended to ignore it. When Hellmuth saw Harnisch later, he asked him about Freudes intentions and supposed influence. Harnisch said that somehow the embassy, where Freude was always hanging about, had learned of Hellmuths mission. Harnisch told Hellmuth that Freude wanted to get the credit for something brought about by others. Freude and Harnisch had known

Report on the Case of Osmar Alberto Hellmuth, NARA, RG 65, File 64-27116-EBF 51, Box 19, p. 7. Also, South America to Germany, 10-7-43, NARA RG 65, File 64-27116-77, Box 18. Other decrypts of messages concerning the Hellmuth Affair are contained in a memorandum from Ladd to Hoover dated 16 December 43. 842 Report on the Case of Osmar Alberto Hellmuth, NARA, RG 65, File 64-27116-EBF 51, Box 19, pp. 8-9.

841

312 each other since 1925 and their relationship was contentious. Harnischs relationship with Meynen was tense as well. Given the antipathy between the three, it was obvious to Harnisch. Meynen was encouraging Freude to discredit Hellmuth and Harnisch and showing how unpatriotic and obstructive he really was.843 While this statement rings of truth, the question is: If the embassy already knew of the mission as Becker had claimed, why wait until the last minute to derail it? It would seem that Wolf and Meynen knew something was going on, but not the details. When they found out, they exerted every effort to stop Hellmuths mission. Hellmuths trip was booked on the Cabo de Hornos, where two of his traveling companions would be Prince Schumburg-Lippe, and Freiherr Wilhelm von Schn, respectively German consul and ambassador in Chile, who were returning to Germany. According to Reinebeck, Prince Schumburg-Lippe and Schn were asked by Freude to make sure that Hellmuth did not receive any sort of audience upon his arrival in Berlin.844 Becker learned of this duplicity from William Wieland, secretary in the AO Landesgruppe in Argentina. Wieland claimed to his postwar interrogators that he learned of the mission through Freude who held a very low opinion of Harnisch. Freude

intimated to Wieland that Harnisch could be the one sabotaging the mission. In any case Hellmuth was totally unsuited for the mission. Wieland told Becker that Meynen, Schn, and Wolf were opposed to the mission. Also, the mission had become common

knowledge among the diplomats transiting through Buenos Aires which increased the risk of exposure. Wieland claimed that Freude asked him to explain the situation to

843 844

Report on the Case of Osmar Alberto Hellmuth, NARA, RG 65, File 64-27116-EBF 51, Box 19, p. 9. Affidavit of Otto Reinebeck, 4 Feb 46, NARA RG 59, ABB, Box 6740, p. 11.

313 Schumburg-Lippe and have him watch Hellmuth on the voyage to Spain.845 Becker was worried. He feared that if the Argentine government found out about the leak and Freudes role with the embassy, it could affect the SDs position in Argentina. He informed Paeffgen and Gross that he had avoided any discussion of this issue with the embassy, contrary to earlier assertions that the embassy knew of this.846 However Harnisch told Berlin he had kept the embassy informed via Wolf.847 Surprisingly, no one caught these contradictions, or they were ignored. Hellmuth had a final meeting with Becker and Harnisch prior to his departure.848 Becker showed Hellmuth a letter being prepared that described him has having the full confidence of the Argentine Government and of the Harnisch/Becker Group. Hellmuth was also to inform Berlin of Meynens reprehensible conduct and explain the obstruction of the embassy regarding his mission. Becker informed Hellmuth that his authority could result in an agreement being reached between Argentina and Germany regarding the eventual exchange of information. Hellmuth was encouraged to remove Luis Luti, the insufficiently pro-German Argentine charge dAffaires in Berlin, and place Commander Ceballos, the Argentine naval attach in Berlin, in charge. Hellmuth also

had a last minute meeting with Gonzlez who confirmed that Hellmuth was to deal with Ceballos not Luti. He further informed Hellmuth that he would pass any new instructions through the Argentine embassy in Madrid. Gonzlez asked that Hellmuth obtain some
845

Interrogation of William Wieland, 22 March 1946, NARA, RG 59, ABB, Box 26, p. 6, see also South America to Germany, 7 October 1943, NARA RG 65, File 64-27116-77, Box 18. 846 Argentina to Berlin, 7 and 8 October 1943, NARA, RG 226, Records of the OSS, OSS Ultra Decrypts, Entry 188. 847 Argentina to Berlin, 17 October 1943, TNA, KV2/1487. 848 Hellmuth was unclear about the dates of his meetings with Becker, stating only that they took place a week before his departure.

314 publications on air warfare and a machine for removing hairs from the nose.849 He also gave Hellmuth a letter of introduction to Ceballos, which described Hellmuths mission in very discreet terms. Hellmuth was also given Admiral Sueyros visiting card and asked to convey greetings to a friend of the Admirals in Barcelona. Upon completion of his mission to Germany Hellmuth was instructed to report to the Consulate in Barcelona, but with no real intention of taking up his nominal position there.850 Meynen continued frantically to try and stop Hellmuths mission in the days leading to his departure. He spoke to Schn and asked him to watch Hellmuth while on the ship and once he was back in Berlin to report his objections to the AA.851 Meynen also called on Vice-President General Edelmiro Farrell and Gilbert at the Foreign Ministry to protest Hellmuths mission.852 He pointed out to Farrell that Hellmuth was entirely unsuited for the mission and hinted ominously that Hellmuth might be an agent for the U.S. though he could provide no proof of this fact. Perhaps it is indicative of how desperate Meynen and the AA were to stop Hellmuths mission. Meynen expressed regret that Vlez was not charged with this mission since he enjoyed the full confidence of the embassy. Farrell feigned ignorance and told Meynen that he needed to confer with Ramrez. Meynen told Farrell that speaking with Gonzlez would probably be better. Instead of conferring with Ramrez, Gilbert turned to his subordinate Juan Domingo Pern who decided that a compromise was in order.

Report on the Case of Osmar Alberto Hellmuth, NARA, RG 65, 64-27116-EBF-51, Box 19, p. 12. Ibid. 851 Affidavit of Freiherr Wilhelm Albrecht von Schn, 24 January 1946, NARA, RG 59, 862.20235/42646, ABB, Box 6740, pp. 3-4. 852 Meynen to AA, 30 September 1943, Angelegenheit Hellmuth, NARA, RG 242/T-120/351/259818819.
850

849

315 Pern summoned Hellmuth to his office and gave him a piece of cardboard that had been cut in half. One half would be placed in an envelope that had Hellmuths name on it. The envelope, along with the required documentation to complete the arms deal would then be placed in the diplomatic pouch and sent to Madrid ahead of Hellmuth. The other half would bear the name of Colonel Vlez on the envelope. When they both arrived in Madrid and presented their respective halves of the card, the contents of the diplomatic pouch would be given to them.853 A conference was also scheduled to be held on 30 Oct almost a month following Hellmuths departure. If Meynen accepted this date, he either did not know when Hellmuth was scheduled to leave, or more likely, decided to try a different way to sabotage Hellmuths mission. What is clear is that the Argentinas patience had ended regarding the embassys promises. Meynen and Niebuhr had strung Argentina along for almost three years regarding an arms deal. In some ways, the AA was as much responsible for the Hellmuth mission as the SD since they had created the conditions which made it possible. Harnisch and Becker were not sure what Meynen was up to, but they were afraid that he would wreck everything with his constant meddling and intriguing.854 Bernard informed Harnisch of the meeting between Farrell and Meynen.855 Following his meeting with Farrell, Meynen outlined his objections to the Hellmuth mission. In the first, he informed Berlin that Vlez was the negotiator for the arms deal and that the AA give
853

Major Andrew Fuller to Colonel Walton Cox, Memo, Re. Osmar Alberto Hellmuth, 14 February 1944, NARA, RG 319, Records of the Army Staff, Records of the Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff, G2, Intelligence Records of the Investigative Records Repository (hereafter IRR), Personal Name File X8370813 Osmar A. Hellmuth, Box 80B, p. 3. 854 Argentina to Berlin, 30 October 1943, NARA, RG 226, OSS Ultra Decrypts, Entry 188. See also TNA, KV2/1487. 855 Argentina to Germany, 30 October 1943, TNA, KV2/1487.

316 Vlez the greatest possible receptivity, as perhaps of decisive importance for the maintenance of neutrality. He described Hellmuth as someone who bragged about being an intimate friend of the Fhrers and the latters personal representative here Meynen stated that Hellmuth further claimed that thanks to his connections in Germany he will be able to resolve the arms delivery and tanker Buenos Aires affairs within four days of arrival and will be received personally by the Fhrer. Meynen further cast doubt on Hellmuth stating that he served our enemies, which I hope is improbable and for which in any case no evidence is present. He also stated that the Argentines themselves had doubts about Hellmuths loyalty, which was not true.856 Freude had also learned of the meeting between Harnisch and Bernard. He passed this information on to Meynen. Freude told Meynen that Harnisch and the SD were undermining the position of the embassy. An unnamed Argentine government official claimed that Harnisch had told Bernard that the SD was the real representative of the German government in Argentina and that the embassy was a completely insignificant institution. The official then inquired whether the embassy continued to be Germanys official representative in Argentina. Harnischs answer is unknown, but the fact that the question was even asked was telling. Meynen demanded those in Berlin responsible for this transgression be reprimanded.857 Reinebeck stated that SD meddling in foreign affairs had been a thorn in the Auswrtiges Amts flesh for a long time. Despite repeated warnings to the SD this meddling continued and Reinebeck suggested to Ribbentrop that

Meynen to AA, 30 September 1943, Geiger to Paeffgen, 26 October 1943 & Reinebeck to Wagner 23 October 1943, Angelegenheit Hellmuth, NARA, RG 242/T-120/351/259818-823, and Newton, The Nazi Menace p. 306-307. 857 Berlin to Argentina, 3 November 1943, TNA, KV2/1724.

856

317 he express his extraordinary dissatisfaction with the Hellmuth affair to the RSHA in a particularly impressive manner.858 While Ronald Newton sees Meynens objections as treachery more than likely Meynen and Wolf were protecting their areas of responsibility. The SD had gone behind their back in violation of agreements. The professional

diplomats of the AA were smart enough to anticipate the fallout if Hellmuths mission failed. However, Becker would argue that the Hellmuth mission was in fact within assigned directives.859 The SD informed Becker of Meynens messages to Berlin. Berlin told him that he and his organization were to present a united front with the embassy regarding foreign policy even if the embassy members behaved negatively.860 Becker defended himself. He told Amt VI that Hellmuth was their representative and that Meynen and the embassy had been informed of this fact. Becker claimed that Meynen had agreed on Hellmuth as their intermediary and that Meynen had gone behind their back and attempted to sabotage the mission.861 Of course Becker and Harnisch claimed earlier that neither had informed the embassy of Hellmuths mission. Again, this contradiction was not caught or ignored. Left unasked was the question: If Meynen knew and approved of Hellmuth and his mission, why sabotage it? Becker denounced Freude in the strongest terms using language that would have resonated in Berlin. Becker stated that Freudes machinations were underhanded and that he and his Jewish partner were known to the government. Becker decried Freude and

858 859

Affidavit of Otto Reinebeck, 4 Feb 1946, NARA, RG 59, 862.20235, ABB, 6740, pp. 11-12. Argentina to Berlin, 1 November 1944, NARA, RG 226, OSS Ultra Decrypts, Entry 188. 860 Berlin to Argentina, 3 November 1943, TNA, KV2/1724. 861 Argentina to Berlin, 1 November 1944, NARA, RG 226, OSS Ultra Decrypts, Entry 188.

318 Meynens assertions that Hellmuth could possibly be a spy. He reiterated that Hellmuth enjoyed the complete confidence of the Argentine government and stated that Hellmuth carried letters from Gonzlez and Sueyro, but a letter from Ramrez to Hitler was withheld for security reasons. The embassy was excluded from any part of the mission because the Argentine government demanded the greatest security.862 Gross agreed and told Becker not to have any dealings with the embassy regarding Hellmuth.863 Becker described Hellmuths plans and security procedures in detail. This allowed the

Americans and British to lay a trap for Hellmuth. It also gave them leverage when he was captured. The message also exposed the connivance of high-ranking members of the Argentine government. The Americans and British would use this to their advantage once the plot became known.864 Hellmuth departed Buenos Aires on 2 October 1943 aboard the ship Cabo de Hornos. The ship stopped at Montevideo with engine trouble until October 11 and then headed to Rio de Janeiro where Hellmuth disembarked and contacted friends.865 Hellmuths activities in Rio were monitored by the U.S. naval attach and Brazilian police who noted that Hellmuth was contacted by the Argentine military attach and the Spanish ambassador. He also visited Emilio Schupp & Co., a firm suspected of dealing

Germany to South America, 26 October 1943, NARA, RG 65, 64-27116-77, Box 18. Germany to Argentina, 23 October 1943, TNA, KV2/1724. 864 South American to Germany, 7 October 1943, NARA, RG 65, 64-27116-77, Box 18. Harnisch later told Berlin not to send any messages except for administrative ones through the embassy. See Argentina to Germany, 17 October 1943, and South America to Germany, 30 October 1943, NARA, RG 226, OSS Ultra Decrypts, Entry 188. 865 Meynen reported to Berlin that Hellmuth had met German agents in both ports Meynen to AA, 24 January 1944, Angelegenheit Hellmuth, NARA, RG 242/T120/351/25952. This could be another attempt by Meynen to cast doubt on Hellmuths mission, since no record of Hellmuth making contact with German agents could be found.
863

862

319 in contraband materials.866 On board the ship Hellmuth did not associate with the

German diplomats, but spent most of his time with the diplomatic courier Alfredo Cipriano Pons and his family. Hellmuth claimed that he and Vlez got along well, but Schn stated that Hellmuth and Vlez avoided each other.867 The ship arrived in Port of Spain on 29 October and Hellmuth was removed from the ship despite the protests of the diplomats on board. However, it seems Hellmuth managed to get off a telegram to Gonzlez stating that the he was being detained and begging Gonzlez to intervene.868 Drio Quiroga, the Argentine Consul in Trinidad, also attempted to send a telegram on 30 October concerning Hellmuths detention, but this was held up by the British until 4 November and arrived in Buenos Aires the same day.869 When the Ajax docked in the Azores, Hellmuth requested to see a consul, which was denied.870 The British understood the potential fallout from Hellmuths detention and prepared accordingly. They hoped that Hellmuth would reveal all he knew under

interrogation since the reasons for Hellmuths detention had been provided by Ultra. If Hellmuth did not spill his guts, then the British feared there could be a larger fallout that
Facts Known About Osmar Alberto Hellmuth from Our Sources, TNA, KV 2/1722. Report on the Case of Osmar Alberto Hellmuth, NARA, RG 65, 64-27116-EBF-51, Box 19, p. 12, Affidavit of Freiherr Wilhelm Albrecht von Schn, 24 Jan 1946, NARA, RG 59, ABB, Box 6740, p. 8. 868 Rout and Bratzel, The Shadow War, p. 398. Rout and Bratzel found the telegram in the Argentine archives. The telegram is dated 8 November over a week after Hellmuth was detained. They are rightfully skeptical that Hellmuth sent it, but Gonzlez might not have told anyone in an attempt at damage control. Conversely, it could have been a plant by the British to show the Argentines that they had Hellmuth and as a warning of future fallout of which the Argentine government could not have been ignorant. The British could have also held up the telegram as they did with the Argentine Consuls. In their first protest to the British on 15 November the Argentine Ambassador to London intimated that an Argentine diplomat being posted to Lisbon, Edgardo Prez Quesada had sent a telegram from Trinidad informing Buenos Aires of Hellmuths detention. There is no record of such a telegram from Trinidad only Quesadas telegram from Spain which arrived in Buenos Aires on 17 November. See Foreign Office to Buenos Aires, 17 November 1943, TNA, KV 2/1722 and Rout and Bratzel, op cit. 869 See Noakes to unknown recipient, 25 November 1943, BNA, KV 2/1722. 870 Memo re. Osmar Hellmuth, Captain S.H. Noakes to unknown recipient, 25 November 1943, TNA, KV 2/1722.
867 866

320 could affect Allied relations. British Intelligence wanted to make sure that Hellmuth could be put in Camp 020 for interrogation, that the Foreign Office would support that decision and refuse to release Hellmuth in the face of Argentine protests.871 If Hellmuth were put in Camp 020 it was understood that he would not be allowed any visitors or access to the Argentine Embassy and that he would be kept there for the duration of the war.872 Hellmuth arrived at Portsmouth on 12 November and was transferred to Camp 020 for interrogation. When he arrived Hellmuth was described as possessed, almost arrogant.873 In the meantime his interrogators searched his papers for some evidence that could be used against him and could justify his detention. The only thing they found was Harnischs letter asking Hellmuth to provide precision instruments. Hellmuth was left to stew for a few days and then called before his interrogators. Hellmuth was made to stand in front of his interrogators where they informed him that they were speaking with the full authority of the British government. They informed him that he was a prisoner of the British Secret Service and that he was being held under a warrant signed by the Home Secretary alleging the smuggling of contraband in war. Argentinas neutrality and the reason for his detention. The interrogators did a good job of impressing on Hellmuth the gravity of his situation. They told Hellmuth that they knew all about his activities and that it was no This was a violation of

Liddell to unknown recipient, 7 November 1943 and unknown author to Loxley (Foreign Office), 7 November 1943, TNA, KV 2/1722. 872 Stamp to unknown recipient, 3 November 1943, TNA, KV 2/1722. 873 Oliver Hoare ed., Camp 020: MI5 and the Nazi Spies (London: Public Record Office, 2000), p. 267. This is a reprint of Lt. Col. Stephens history of Camp 020 originally titled A Digest of Ham. The original is in TNA KV 4/13, KV 4/14 and KV 4/15.

871

321 accident that the cruiser Ajax had ferried him to England since it was one of the ships that had sunk the Graf Spee in 1939. The interrogators informed Hellmuth that it pleased them that the great ship [Ajax] has struck a blow at the unreal Argentine Republic controlled by this General Ramrez. Hellmuth was told that Ramrez had been informed of his arrest and had done nothing to secure his release. Instead they cowered afraid of exposure, betraying him and told him of the futility of attempting to contact his embassy.874 The interrogators alternately sympathized and bullied Hellmuth telling him, I am somewhat sorry for him. He has been sold by his President. He has been sold by the German Secret Service.875 He was called a fool for engaging in matters that he knew little or nothing about and that he was groveling to the Germans with gifts in his hand.876 They told him that he was being held incommunicado and that he would have no access to his embassy. He was told that he would be interrogated and that if he did not reveal all he knew then he would suffer. It was implied that he could be hanged for his activities if he did not cooperate. If he did cooperate this would be taken into consideration in determining his fate. Hellmuth was then sent back to his cell and told that his fate lay in his own hands.877

Memorandum on Osmar Alberto Hellmuth, 18 December 1943, NARA, RG 65, 64-27116. Newton argues that Hellmuth talked freely following his detention; this is contradicted by his interrogation reports. Hellmuth, to his credit, did all he could to mislead his interrogators until faced with the fact that his interrogators knew everything. See Newton, The Nazi Menace p. 287. For other summaries of Hellmuths interrogation see Report on the Case of Osmar Alberto Hellmuth, RG65, 64-27116-EBF-51 and Hellmuths files in The National Archives, Kew, KV 2/1722 and 1723. Inexplicably one file concerning Hellmuth and Ernesto Hoppe is still unavailable to researchers. 875 Report on the Case of Osmar Alberto Hellmuth, RG65, 64-27116-EBF-51. 876 This was revealed in South America to Germany, 10 October 1943, NARA, RG 65, 64-27116. 877 Report on the Case of Osmar Alberto Hellmuth, RG65, 64-27116-EBF-51.

874

322 Hellmuths interrogations began the next day and he vainly attempted to throw off his interrogators and minimize his involvement. Hellmuth portrayed himself as a pawn in a power struggle between competing factions in Argentina. He described himself as a patriot simply interested in having done my duty without prejudicing anybody.878 Hellmuth declared himself the victim of a plot and the Argentine government as not wishing to harm Great Britain at all. The acquisition of the precision instruments was done as a favor for Harnisch and that he was morally bound to obtain those instruments for him. Hellmuth pleaded that he was an Argentine citizen and that he was not an enemy of Germany or Great Britain, but simply a neutral citizen doing his patriotic duty. As for the seven trunks of foodstuffs he carried, they were given to him by Harnisch, he was to keep half and the other half was to go to Harnischs mother in Germany. He

reiterated that he was the victim of political intrigue intimating that it was Meynen and Freude who betrayed him. Hellmuth claimed that his mission involved the tanker and nothing more. He knew nothing about any arms deals, but stated that if the tanker issue was dealt with successfully then Vlez would place himself at Hellmuths disposal and he would introduce Vlez to the proper people and complete the arms transaction. However the deck was stacked against him. Ultra decrypts revealed that the British and Americans knew all about Hellmuths mission and the machinations between the competing German factions. But the interrogators were not ready to reveal all they knew. Instead they bided

Ibid. The British were remarkably well informed about the S.D./Foreign Ministry rivalry thanks to Ultra. See Hart to unknown recipient, 9 November 1943, TNA, KV 2/1722.

878

323 their time and forced Hellmuth to reveal all he knew. For the moment, the interrogators continued their friendly method of interrogation. Hellmuth was next questioned about his knowledge of the SD of which he feigned ignorance. His interrogators returned to the particulars of his mission, deliberately

mixing up topics to keep him off balance. When they showed him evidence that they knew of his mission Hellmuth stated that he was in fact traveling to Germany on a secret mission involving the Argentine government and prominent Germans in Argentina.879 Hellmuth admitted that when he landed in Bilbao he was to be approached by an individual who would say, Greetings from Seor Siegfried Becker Hellmuth would reply, Yes, the Hauptsturmfhrer.880 He agreed that the man he was meeting was in all likelihood a member of the SD from Madrid, exposing yet another lie on Hellmuths part. If the contact failed to materialize Hellmuth was to go to the German Embassy in Madrid where travel would be arranged for him. Hellmuth next tried to throw his interrogators off by mixing the truth and lies. He stated that his actual mission concerned the Wehrmacht. Hellmuth said that most of his contact had been with Wolf and that he had also [italics mine] been instructed to contact the SD but, probably correctly, maintained he knew little about the organization. Hellmuth further stated that he would meet with someone named Schellenberg who would put him in contact with Himmler and probably Hitler. He maintained that his primary mission concerned the tanker Buenos Aires; then he was to negotiate an arms

879 880

Report on the Case of Osmar Alberto Hellmuth, RG65, 64-27116-EBF-51. Ibid. This was exposed to the interrogators in a long message sent to Germany, see note 48.

324 deal between Germany and Argentina and finally as a personal favor to Harnisch attempt to obtain certain precision instruments which would benefit his country. While providing the general outlines of his mission, details were not forthcoming. His interrogators let him know that he needed to provide more. They were particularly interested in his contacts with the SD and their relationship to his mission. Hellmuth protested that he had told them all he knew, but vaguely alluded to a trump card that former President Castillo had been reluctant to use, but now was being played with Hellmuth as the principle. His interrogators continued to press him for information regarding the SD in Buenos Aires. Hellmuth averred, and provided inconsequential details regarding Harnisch, Heinrich Volberg and Ludwig Freude. In fact, Hellmuth posited that it was Freude who had betrayed him given their dislike of each other.881 When asked about any meetings with Becker, Hellmuth lied and said that he had never met the man. At this point his interrogators ratcheted up the pressure telling him, The time that could be spared for these friendly interrogations was nearly at an end and that unless he produced the information which he knew we required in the course of the next few days, his treatment in this camp must necessarily deteriorate.882 In short, if Hellmuth did not tell all he knew then torture was the next option.883 At his next interrogation Hellmuth admitted that he had met Becker who was first introduced to him as the assistant of Col. Wolf. It was only in a subsequent meeting
881

Ibid. In his interrogation Hellmuth refers to Volberg as Vollenberg. See also Sworn Statement of Theodor Paeffgen, 29 December 1945, NARA, RG 59, 862.20235/4-2646. Paeffgen also fingers Freude as the one who betrayed the mission. 882 Report on the Case of Osmar Alberto Hellmuth, RG65, 64-27116-EBF-51. 883 This was in fact an idle threat since Stephens the commandant of Camp 020 did not believe in physical torture, stating, Violence is taboo, for not only does it produce answers to please, but it lowers the standard of information. Hoare ed., Camp 020: MI5 and the Nazi Spies, p. 19.

325 that Hellmuth learned he was a Hauptsturmfhrer and member of the SD. Hellmuths recollection of the topics discussed at his meetings with Becker and Harnisch are corroborated by Ultra. Meynen was to be denounced for his interference and Hellmuth was to ask for his removal. Hellmuth was to explain to Schellenberg that any suppression of German groups was forced on the Argentine government by public opinion, reinforcing Becker and Harnischs messages to Berlin. Hellmuth admitted that he had the full confidence of not only the Argentine government, but of Harnisch and Becker as well. His mission was as follows: 1. The release of the tanker by the German authorities. 2. The removal of the Argentine Charg d Affaires was to be a quid pro quo in connection with the tanker and that he was to give assurances to Schellenberg that he would be transferred. 3. To conclude an arms deal, but details on shipment were to be worked out later. 4. To press for the transfer of Meynen, but he did not have the authority to suggest a replacement. 5. To submit a report on the situation in Argentina. While Hellmuth admitted that he received instructions from Ramrez and Gonzlez, he categorically refused to implicate them in any dealings with the SD maintaining his loyalty to his country.884 According to his interrogators Hellmuth had the frustrating habit of not giving direct answers to questions continually using the adverb probablemente. When he didnt use that word, he would resort to it is logical to
884

Report on the Case of Osmar Alberto Hellmuth, RG65, 64-27116-EBF-51.

326 suppose. This drove his interrogators mad and he was eventually forbidden from using either term in Camp 020.885 Hellmuth was not the innocent abroad described by Rout and Bratzel nor the sinister figure portrayed by Newton.886 He was someone in over his head and a pawn in a game with very high stakes. However, his covering for Becker raises questions about how much he really knew and the depth of his involvement. Despite Quirogas telegram of 4 November describing Hellmuths detention, nothing was heard from the Argentine Government until 15 November. Miguel Carcano, the Argentine Ambassador in London called on Sir Alexander Cadogan, Permanent Under-Secretary of Foreign Affairs, to inquire the reasons for Hellmuths detention along with the reasons for the delay in transmitting Quirogas and Quesadas telegrams.887 Cadogan cagily replied that the Foreign Office knew nothing about the affair.888 The Foreign Office informed Ambassador Kelly in Buenos Aires that if the Argentine Government made a protest regarding Hellmuths detention they were to tell them that using a diplomat for subversive activities was an excellent example of the injury Argentina inflicted upon the Allied cause by her failure to break relations with the Axis. The British decided that the best defense was a good offense.889 On the German/Argentine side, they had known of Hellmuths arrest since 5 November. Becker reported that Gonzlez and Pern had told him of Hellmuths arrest

Hoare ed., Camp 020: MI5 and the Nazi Spies, p. 269. The British did not think Hellmuth was being disingenuous, but simply had a vague Argentine nature. 886 See Rout and Bratzel, The Shadow War, p. 397 and Newton, The Nazi Menace, pp. 285-314. 887 Foreign Office to Buenos Aires, 17 November 1943, TNA, KV 2/1722 888 Rout and Bratzel, The Shadow War, p. 399. 889 Liddell to unknown recipient, 7 November 1943 and Foreign Office to Buenos Aires, 16 November 1943, TNA, KV 2/1722.

885

327 which they learned from the Argentine ambassador in Caracas, Venezuela.890 Becker rushed to confirm this information and obtained it from Colonel Brinkmann, Chief of Staff of the First Division and head of the G.O.U.891 On 14 November Gilbert sent a telegram to England demanding that they release Hellmuth and explain their insolent attitude.892 Berlin had requested a report on 5 November asking for exact details on Hellmuths knowledge of the German organization and personnel in Argentina so they could negotiate with him. On 19 November they again requested the report noting ominously of possible consequences.893 Gross and Paeffgen started to panic since on the next day they sent two messages asking Becker if Hellmuths arrest endangered the organization at all.894 Gonzlez and Gilbert saw that their scheme going down in flames and needed a triumph, any triumph, in order to salvage this diplomatic disaster. The Argentines wanted to try and salvage the mission by sending another emissary to Germany! They informed Becker that the release of the tanker would be very

advantageous for future relations. Becker also noted a cooler attitude by the Argentines toward him and his organization.895 On the 25 November following Hellmuths interrogation the British dropped their bombshell on Argentina. Cadogan called in Carcano and told him that Hellmuth was indeed a British prisoner. When Carcano pressed Cadogan on Hellmuths condition and

Argentina to Berlin, 6 November 1943, NARA RG 226, O.S.S. Ultra Decrypts, Entry 188. South America to Germany, 7 November 1943, NARA, RG 65, 64-27116. 892 Rout and Bratzel, The Shadow War, p. 399. 893 Germany to South America, 5 November 1943, NARA, RG 65, 64-27116, and Berlin to Argentina, 19 November 1943, NARA RG 226, O.S.S. Ultra Decrypts, Entry 188. 894 Germany to Argentina, 20 November 1943 and Germany to Argentina, 20 November 1943, BNA, KV2/1724. 895 Argentina to Berlin, 20 November 1943, NARA, RG 226, O.S.S. Ultra Decrypts, Entry 188.
891

890

328 his location, Cadogan demurred.896 Becker was informed that the Argentine Government would not press for the continuation of Hellmuths mission, but would be satisfied with his release and return to Buenos Aires.897 On 10 December Anthony Eden, British Foreign Secretary, summoned Carcano to deny that his government had delayed Quirogas cables from Trinidad. While he refused to disclose Hellmuths location or his condition he stated that he believed Hellmuth was the secret representative of a subversive German organization in Argentina. Eden also sowed the seeds of mistrust amongst the Germans in Argentina by stating that Hellmuth had been betrayed by a prominent member of the German colony in Buenos Aires.898 Carcano, shocked by these revelations, cabled Buenos Aires for instructions.899 On 17 December Gilbert audaciously proposed that the British release Hellmuth and turn over to the Argentine government any evidence that Hellmuth was a German spy. The Argentines would then be inclined to cancel Hellmuths appointment and make him available for interrogation later. Not surprisingly, the proposal was summarily rejected by the British.900 On 26 December the Argentines made another offer: The British would release Hellmuth from his detention, but he would have to remain in England. Argentina would discover that Hellmuth was indeed a Germany spy, his diplomatic credentials would be cancelled and Argentina would agree to Hellmuths return to British custody.901 Again the British rejected this offer. What is interesting is
896 897

Rout and Bratzel, The Shadow War, p. 399. Argentina to Berlin, 4 December 1943, NARA, RG 226, O.S.S. Ultra Decrypts, Entry 188. 898 Rout and Bratzel, The Shadow War, p. 399. 899 Ibid, p. 440, note, 109. 900 Rout and Bratzel, The Shadow War, p. 400. 901 J.V. Perowne, Minutes, AS126/4/2, 5 January, 1944, TNA, FO 371/37666 see also Argentina to Berlin, 4 December 1943, NARA, RG 226, O.S.S. Ultra Decrypts, Entry 188.

329 how informed the German intelligence services were about the negotiations between the British and Argentine governments concerning Hellmuth. Harnisch attempted to mollify Berlin with news that Ramirez and Sueyro had assigned Aumann as a liaison officer to him and that Aumann had been appointed Chief of the Navys information service.902 Thus, the Argentines were attempting to construct an intelligence service with the cooperation Becker per their supposed previous agreement. Berlin however was not mollified and informed them Hellmuth was

apparently betrayed. In their postwar interrogations Schellenberg and Paeffgen blamed the failure of Hellmuths mission on Freude. Though Argentina and Germany knew only the vaguest details of Hellmuths incarceration and relations between the two were still generally good. However, Becker did not panic. On 10 December Harnisch informed Berlin that the incident concerns neither me nor the Green [Abwehr] organization. I am still considered confidential agent by the government. Harnisch told Berlin that Ceballos was transporting a report in the Argentine diplomatic bag which would clarify their understanding of the nature and extent of his organization in Argentina.903 Harnisch and Becker were kept well informed of events as they unfolded. However, events began to drastically turn against Harnisch and Becker. On 23 December Harnisch was called to a meeting with Bernard and Gonzlez. They denounced Meynen and Freude, blaming them for Hellmuths capture and vowed that those responsible would be dealt with. The real reason for the meeting was to inform

902 903

Argentina to Berlin, 11 December 1943, NARA, RG 226, O.S.S. Ultra Decrypts, Entry 188. Argentina to Berlin, 10 December 1943, Ibid.

330 Harnisch that the fallout from the Hellmuth affair required drastic steps (i.e. a break in relations) and that Harnisch should stay out of sight. Gonzlez assured Harnisch that he would be protected.904 Harnisch gathered up his Enigma machine and any other

incriminating evidence and deposited them with Wolfs assistant, Lt. Martin Mller. Harnischs caution was justified since he would not maintain his freedom for long.905 On 15 January 1944 Meynen met with a member of the Argentine foreign ministry and shown documents implicating Hellmuth and Harnisch as German agents. Meynen

considered it possible that only now were Ramrez and his confederates regretting their involvement. In his opinion the Argentines would be happy if the Germans eliminated both men.906 The next day Harnisch was secretly arrested but no incriminating evidence was found. Also arrested were Mller, Franz Mammen, Friedrich Grimm, Franz

Schumann, who were working in the embassy and Wilhelm Seidlitz and his associates. On 26 January General Ramrez expressed feigned indignation that Hellmuth was a spy. He also railed about the systematic espionage activity going on in Argentina and that he would abandon Argentinas previous position and break diplomatic relations with Nazi Germany.907 There would be many casualties resulting from the Hellmuth affair. Not the least was Gonzlez and Gilbert, who were forced to resign on 15 February. On the 24th Ramrez delegated power to Farrell and resigned on 9 March.908

Affidavit of Hans Harnisch, 9 September 1947, NARA, RG 84, BAPR, File 862.20235/10-3147, Box 102, p. 3. Reinebeck Interrogation, 4 February 1946, RG 59, 862.20235/4-2646, ABB. Reinebeck states that Harnisch also received assurance from Ramirez, Sueyro and Pern that he would be protected. 905 Harnisch claimed later that he turned in his equipment only as a precaution. NARA, RG 242/T120/366/291163. 906 Buenos Aires to Berlin, 15 January 1944, NARA, RG 226, O.S.S. Ultra Decrypts, Entry 188. 907 Rout and Bratzel, The Shadow War, p. 403. 908 The ostensible reason for Ramrezs resignation was that he had failed to inform his cabinet (in reality Farrell and Pern) of his intention to break relations with Germany. Newton, The Nazi Menace. p. 309.

904

331 Pern and Farrell were not the only ones angered at the events of the previous months. On 14 January 1944 Jaime Fernandez Mansilla, a member of Manuel Frescos nationalists, appeared at the U.S. embassy in Buenos Aires to inform them of a threat against the embassy and its personnel. Fresco was governor of Buenos Aires Province from 1934-1939 when he was removed by the Ortiz government. According to Newton he was an ardent admirer of Italian fascism and allegedly close to the German embassy.909 There had been previous threats against the embassy and ambassador Armour, including one to tar and feather him. Mansilla told Francis Crosby, the FBIs legal attach that nationalists in Argentina had prepared a bomb which Mansilla was to place in the embassy chancery. The next day Mansilla appeared at the embassy with the bomb which was taken by Crosby and other embassy personnel to a secluded spot and disarmed. Mansilla claimed that he was going to place the bomb at the instigation of Cipriano Pons Lezica, who managed Frescos organization, and a German captain named Schiller who had allegedly arrived in Argentina by submarine in December.910 The matter was eventually turned over to the Argentine police who were told of Frescos, Cipriano Pons and Schillers alleged involvement. Instead of following up, the Argentine police subsequently dismissed the matter as attempted blackmail on the part of Mansilla and dropped the matter.911

See Newton, The Nazi Menace, p. 119. It is unknown if Cipriano Pons Lezica was related to Alfredo Cipriano Pons, the diplomatic courier on the Cabo des Hornes. 911 Crosby to Reed, 18 January 1943, Memorandum, re: Cipriano Pons Lezica, 21 January 1944, Hugh Millard to Hull, 22 January 1944, Hugh Millard to Hull, 29 January 1944, NARA, RG 84, Buenos Aires Embassy Confidential File, 820.02, Box 51.
910

909

332 In Berlin, Hellmuths detention created a firestorm of recriminations among the SD and AA. On 29 October Schellenberg told Wagner, head of Abteilung Inland II, about Freudes conversation with Wieland. Schellenberg was particularly angry that Freude told Wieland that Hellmuth was unreliable. Schellenberg intimated that Freude and the embassy interfered in the legitimate activities of the SD.912 Following Hellmuths arrest Reinebeck held several conferences concerning with Paeffgen. Reinebeck

impressed upon Paeffgen the inability to support Argentina with the materials it desired. Germany could scarcely fulfill her own war needs. Reinebeck stated that Paeffgen agreed with his interpretation of events, but that the Hellmuth mission had been forced upon the SD by the Argentines. However, that was not the issue: the issue was the SD sending its own Argentine representative to Germany. In a surprising statement Paeffgen admitted that the current problems could have been avoided had the SD asked the AA to weigh in on the foreign policy repercussions of Hellmuths mission.913 Paeffgen told Reinebeck that since they could not fulfill Argentinas demands, they should give the impression that they were doing what they could so as not to endanger the intelligence networks and the close and confidential cooperation with the Argentine government.914 While Paeffgen had a point, his admission to Reinebeck concerning the armaments purchase is revealing. Either he deluded himself into thinking that in December 1943 following the disasters at Stalingrad, Kursk and North Africa that Germany would still be able to supply arms or he realized the SD had been caught in blatant violation of

Schellenberg to Wagner, 29 October 1943, Abteilung Gruppe Inland II G, Akten betreffend: Angelegenheit Hellmuth, TNA, GFM 33398. 913 Reinebeck Memorandum, 5 November 1943, 5 November 1943, Ibid. 914 Affidavit of Otto Reinebeck, 4 Feb 1946, NARA, RG 59, 862.20235, ABB, Box 6740, pp. 11-12.

912

333 numerous agreements and decided to put the best face possible on it. Given the evidence, the latter is more likely. Paeffgen promised to tell the agents in Argentina that they should distance themselves in case the current government was replaced with one less amenable to German designs. Reinebeck stated that this request was a bit late since he later learned that the SD was cooperating too closely with the Argentine government to distance themselves.915 Reinebecks meetings with Paeffgen must have had some effect since Becker and Harnisch were told that there is good collaboration here with Foreign Office, which recognizes your activity absolutely, but that any interference in politics must be completely avoided. However, they averred that often this is not easy. In such cases the embassy must maintain the lead. They were admonished to play the role of mediator and that Meynen had been told to calm down. This information was not to be given to the embassy and should be used to guide future actions.916 Despite Paeffgens promises, the AA was worried. Reinebeck realized the

implications should Hellmuth tell all he knew. He also accepted that the mission had been betrayed to Allied intelligence agents by unknown persons. Reinebeck was

concerned it would increase tensions between Argentina, the U.S. and Great Britain to the detriment of German-Argentine relations. If any incriminating documents or a

confession from Hellmuth went into Allied hands, then Argentina would be forced to

Betrifft: Festnahme eines Argentinischen Marineoffiziers in Trinidad, 17 November 1943, Abteilung Gruppe Inland II G, Akten betreffend: Angelegenheit Hellmuth, TNA, GFM 33398. 916 Berlin to Argentina, 1 November 1943, NARA, RG 226, OSS Ultra Decrypts, Entry 188.

915

334 abandon its current policy.917 Schellenberg tried to placate the AA and told them that Becker and Harnisch had informed him that any incriminating documents had been passed to Quiroga from Hellmuth in Trinidad. He stated that the Argentine government placed great emphasis on the release of the tanker. Releasing it would contribute to closer relations between Argentina and Germany.918 Schellenberg was apparently suffered from myopia if he believed the situation could be salvaged. While it would reinforce Amt VIs connections to the Ramrez government, the AA would be marginalized. Apparently Paeffgen and Schellenberg were unable to grasp the larger implications of Hellmuths arrest. By January the situation was unfolding as the AA feared. Following the break with Argentina an investigation was ordered, possibly by Hitler, into who was responsible. Gustav Steengracht von Moyland, Weizsckers replacement as

Staatssekretr in the AA, placed the blame directly on the SD. He told Franz von Sonnleithner, the AAs representative at Hitlers headquarters, that the SD had deceived the AA about the existence of Hellmuths mission. After the AA had learned about Hellmuth, the SD ignored AA warnings to limit its interference in politics. He did aver somewhat and acknowledged that Harnisch was an Abwehr agent and deeply involved. Thus, the Abwehr could be at fault as well. In Steengrachts opinion the fundamental question was whether the Hellmuth affair took place at the instigation of the Argentines or German agents. Steengracht requested that the SD and Abwehr turn over all relevant documentation so this question could be answered. He also chastised the SD for using a
Betrifft: Festnahme eines Argentinischen Marineoffiziers in Trinidad, 17 November 1943, Abteilung Gruppe Inland II G, Akten betreffend: Angelegenheit Hellmuth, TNA, GFM 33398. 918 Schellenberg to AA, 2 December 1943, Ibid.
917

335 dubious character like Hellmuth for such a delicate mission. It was probably through Hellmuth that the mission was compromised.919 Interestingly, in his report to Hitler Ribbentrop downplayed the SDs role in the affair. He placed the blame for Argentinas break in relations on the Abwehr. Given Harnischs role in planning and executing the mission, the conclusion was obvious.920 Ribbentrop was also seeing the larger picture. At the same time the Hellmuth affair was taking place the Abwehr found itself in the center of a perfect storm. The Abwehr existence had been tenuous since 1943 when members of an antiHitler group in the Abwehr were arrested by the Gestapo. The Wehrmacht was barely able to contain the damage and keep the Abwehr as a separate intelligence organization. In early 1944 another group of anti-Hitler plotters was arrested including another member of the Abwehr. Additionally, an Abwehr agent in Turkey, Kurt Vermehren, and his wife defected to the Allies. Ernst Kaltenbrunner, Heydrichs replacement as head of the RSHA, reported that Vermehren had worked as a double-agent for some time. The issue that decided the fate of the Abwehr happened in Spain. Similar to the situation in Argentina, the AA had argued that acts of sabotage in Spain would be detrimental to relations between the nations. Despite strict orders prohibiting sabotage in Spain, the Abwehr placed a bomb on a British ship carrying oranges. When Hitler learned of the bombing, he flew into a rage and decided to dissolve the Abwehr.921 Ribbentrop was certainly aware of what was going on. It is possible he conversed with Himmler about the situation and they decided the time was ripe to remove Canaris
919 920

Steengracht to Sonnleithner, 27 January 1944, Ibid. Notiz fr dem Fhrer, 30 January 1944, Ibid. 921 Paehler, Espionage, Ideology and Personal Politics, pp. 294-295.

336 and his meddlesome organization. Perhaps Ribbentrop even managed to convince

himself that the Abwehr was solely to blame for the failure of Hellmuths mission. He was certainly in tune with Hitlers desires. How else could such an incompetent person have survived almost six years of intrigues against him by various organizations? Ribbentrop was also well aware that should he try to blame the SS for its failure, they could point to Harnisch, an Abwehr agent, and produce evidence that he was the main instigator. While Becker was not farsighted enough to see the endgame of his

collaboration with Harnisch and the Abwehr he had placed the SD in a win-win situation. If the mission succeeded then the SD could take the credit, if it failed it had a ready scapegoat at hand. After the Abwehr had been dissolved Ribbentrop turned his attention back to the SD. In his postwar interrogation, Wagner stated that several months following the break in relations with Argentina Ribbentrop sent a strongly worded letter to Himmler. Ribbentrop accused the SD of being the direct cause of the break. He stated that since he had not received any reports on Argentina from the SD, its activities were not worth the risk to relations between Germany and Argentina. Ribbentrop told Himmler that in the future all SD activity in foreign countries should be communicated to the AA. Otherwise, he could no longer assume responsibility for the AA and German foreign policy.922 The evidence suggests that it was only later that Ribbentrop learned the true extent of SD involvement, but by then it was too late. Given that the Abwehr had been given full responsibility for the Hellmuth affair, he could hardly turn around and place

922

Affidavit of Horst Wagner, 20 January 1946, RG 59, 862.20235/4-2626, ABB, Box 6740.

337 the blame on the SS. He could make sure that there was a written record supporting the AA should the SS embark on another ill-advised venture. The Hellmuth affair fully demonstrated the lengths to which the SD would go to usurp power from the Auswrtiges Amt. Beckers willingness to sacrifice Harnisch is indeed telling if he was a highly important agent, why would he sacrifice him if events turned against them? As for Hellmuth himself, his involvement is much deeper than what he claimed. His covering for Becker and trying to throw his interrogators off is not the sign of an innocent abroad. It is sign of someone deeply involved and who is interested in protecting himself and his superiors. His refusal to implicate Ramrez, Gonzlez and Gilbert could be construed as patriotic but his refusal to name Becker until forced suggests something else. He freely implicated Harnisch, Wolf, Freude, and others in the embassy and Abwehr groups, but held off implicating Becker until he had no choice. It is possible that Becker and Hellmuth agreed on a story to tell if he was caught. He was to implicate everyone except Becker and it is only when Hellmuth realized the British knew everything that he gave up Becker. Why he protected Becker until forced to reveal his name is a question with no firm answer and must remain conjecture. What is not in question is the role the Argentine government played in Hellmuths mission. The multiple messages from German agents along with the interrogation reports of Walter Schellenberg, Theodor Paeffgen and others betray their involvement. While it is possible Becker overstated his contacts within the government, the evidence indicates otherwise. The Hellmuth affair was a desperate gamble on the part of desperate

government that felt it had no choice. While Juan Perns role in the affair is obscured it

338 is almost certain he played some role in it. Hellmuth confirmed Perns involvement regarding the arms dossier he and Vlez were to take to Germany.923 The fallout from Hellmuth also brought down some of the major figures in the junta ruling Argentina, the reaction in Berlin brought down Canaris and the Abwehr.

923

Hellmuth Interrogation, RG 319, X8370183.

339

Chapter 8 The Jewish Question


In 1946 Walter Schellenberg, head of Amt VI SD Foreign Intelligence, was asked his opinion concerning Argentinas extremely friendly relationship with Nazi Germany. Politically speaking, he replied, the reason was that one could see a government based upon a world view similar to ours.924 However, Schellenberg was a cagey prisoner who obfuscated when he could and he wanted to present himself in the best possible light. Historians have noted Schellenbergs attempts to give his interrogators information he thought they wanted.925 Given the methodological problems inherent in using interrogations: Wherein does the truth lie? The abundance of evidence from the AAs archives makes it possible to answer this question with a degree of certainty.926 This chapter examines the relationship between Nazi Germany and Argentina regarding the Jewish Question. It will argue that despite numerous opportunities to save its Jewish citizens in Europe Argentina left them to their fate. This issue will be explored within the context of the SS and Auswrtiges Amt rivalry over the fate of Jews of neutral citizenship in Europe.
Interrogation of Walter Schellenberg, 6 February 1946, NARA, RG 59, 862.20235/4-2646, Argentine Blue Book (hereafter ABB), Box 6740, p. 2 and Uki Goi, The Real Odessa: Smuggling the Nazis to Perns Argentina (London: Granta, 2002) p. 17. 925 See, Katrin Paehler, Espionage, Ideology and Personal Politics: The Making and Unmaking of a Nazi Foreign Intelligence Service (Washington D.C.: American University, PhD diss., 2002) and Notes on the Interrogation of Walter Schellenberg, no date (probably 6 February), RG 59, 862.20235/4-2646, ABB, Box 6740. 926 There are two files from Inland II/G Judenfrage in Argentinien, 1938-1944 British National Archives, Kew (hereafter BNA), GFM 332450 and a smaller one Juden in Argentinien, 1943, BNA, GFM 332517. For the secondary literature Haim Avnis, Argentina and the Jews: A History of Jewish Immigration, trans. Gila Brand (Tuscaloosa, Alabama: The University of Alabama Press, 1991) and Goi, The Real Odessa are two of the best discussions of this issue despite Gois argument being overdrawn and too focused on his agenda against Pern.
924

340 Argentina, like other countries around the world, experienced its share of antisemitism in the 20th century. By the 1920s Argentinas immigration policy was not as strict as the U.S. and other countries, but was directed at criminals, revolutionaries and other vague categories. This immigration policy was the result of strident anti-

communism on the part of the Argentine government. The only restriction directed at any particular group was the restriction on Gypsies.927 However, the onset of the Great Depression produced a wave of Catholic-Hispanic nationalism in Argentina and calls for more restrictive immigration policies from the right. Like its European counterparts, the right in Argentina, increasingly equated Bolshevism, Marxism and liberalism with Jews. As David Rock points out, Jews [in Argentina] became identified with the hidden instigators of the various movements that the right rejected.928 When Hitler came to power in January 1933, his anti-Jewish policies were overwhelmingly supported by the Argentine right. The right-wing press in Argentina published articles attacking members of the Socialist party such as Enrique Dickmann who were Jews. Like the Nazis who claimed Jews could never be fully German, the Argentine right claimed that Jews could never be fully Argentine. Journals such as Criterio, which was an unofficial, but highly influential, mouthpiece of the Catholic Church in Argentina, espoused a militant Catholicism. They denounced labor unions, democracy, egalitarianism, materialism,

science, the emancipation of women, socialism and Marxism. All of these issues were equated with the Jews.

927 928

Avni, Argentina and the Jews, p. 104. David Rock, Antecedents of the Argentine Right, The Argentine Right: Its History and Intellectual Origins, 1910 to the Present, Sandra McGee Deutsch and Ronald H. Dolkart eds. (Wilmington, DE: Scholarly Resources Inc., 1993), p. 9.

341 The political right also argued for a greater role for the Catholic Church in Argentina.929 It was given a greater role in education with unsettling results. One study of the Catholic educational system in Argentina has found numerous examples of antisemitism in textbooks used to educate young children.930 The National Council on Education also undertook a campaign to remove Jewish professors and teachers from public schools and universities.931 While Argentine and Nazi anti-semitism superficially resembled each other, there was one important difference. The Argentine right drew on the Catholic Church for inspiration unlike the Nazis who rejected Christianity.932 While Argentine anti-semites wanted Jews removed from public life, they stopped short of Nazi racial views. They argued immigrants (including Jews) should assimilate. Ronald

Newton argues that the Argentine right modeled itself on Francos Spain and Mussolinis Italy instead of Nazi Germany.933 The publication of Mit brennender Sorge in March 1937 only increased the divide between Argentine and Nazi anti-Semitism. This encyclical by Pope Pius XI dealt with the condition of the Catholic Church in Nazi Germany and attacked Nazism as atheistic. During the 1930s the Nazis were bent on making all Jews leave Germany. The problem was: Where would they go? While immigration by Jews to Argentina was not
Dolkart, The Right in the Dcada Infame, in Deutsch and Dolkart eds., The Argentine Right, pp. 8081. 930 Graciela Ben-Dror, Catholic Teachings about Jews in Spain Compared with Argentina during the Holocaust Era, 1933-1945, Kirchliche Zeitgeschichte, 16/1, (2003), pp. 92-112. 931 Ronald C. Newton, The Nazi Menace in Argentina, 1931-1947 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1992), pp. 134-135. 932 Ronald H. Dolkart, The Right in the Dcada Infame, in Deutsch and Dolkart eds., The Argentine Right, pp. 79-80. For the Nazi views on Christianity see, John S. Conway, The Nazi Persecution of the Churches 1933-45 (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1968) and Gunther Lewy, The Catholic Church and Nazi Germany (London: McGraw-Hill, 1964). A contrary view is provided by Richard Steigmann-Gall, The Holy Reich: Nazi Conceptions of Christianity, 1919-1945 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004). 933 Newton, The Nazi Menace, p. 134.
929

342 specifically forbidden by the Argentine government, neither was it encouraged. In

Europe and North America, the situations were similar. Jews fleeing Nazi Germany needed a place to immigrate, but their options were limited. France and the Netherlands took in some, along with Great Britain. Great Britain had also restricted immigration to Palestine in the White Paper of 1939 which further reduced the number of places Jews could go. However, the U.S. and Canada adamantly tried to keep as many Jews out as they could. In passing more restrictive immigration laws Argentina was in step with a wider world opinion among governments that wanted the Jewish problem to disappear.934 In 1934, the Argentine government passed a law to close loopholes that had previously existed in the immigration laws. The law established quotas similar to those passed in the United States. The U.S. law stated that immigrants let in from any country depended on the proportion of settlers from that country at the beginning of the 20th century.935 However, the problem of settling Jews forced out of Germany needed to be solved. In 1935 the League of Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, James G. McDonald, visited Argentina in hopes of finding a permanent home for thirty thousand refugees from Nazi Germany, including numerous Jews. The Argentines offered only vague assurances regarding Jews. They were more receptive when McDonald pointed

The literature on this topic is vast and I have listed several of the major works. For the U.S. see David S. Wyman, Paper Walls: America and the Refugee Crisis, 1938-1941 (Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 1968) and David S. Wyman, The Abandonment of the Jews: America and the Holocaust, 1941-1945 (New York: Pantheon Books, 1984). For Great Britain see: Louise London, Whitehall and the Jews, 1933-1948: British Immigration policy, Jewish Refugees, and the Holocaust (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000). For The Netherlands see Emmy Werner, A Conspiracy Of Decency: The Rescue Of The Danish Jews During World War II (New York: Basic Books, 2004). 935 Gordon Thomas and Max Morgan Witts, The Voyage of the Damned (Old Saybrook, CT: Konecky & Konecky, 1974), p. 17 and Avni, Argentina and the Jews, p. 100.

934

343 out to Dr. Domingo Brebbia, the deputy minister of agriculture, that there were a large number of Catholics among the refugees.936 Argentina eventually demurred on the question of immigration for two reasons. First, nationalism was running high with the effects of the Great Depression still being felt. It was felt that new immigrants would only add to Argentinas unemployment problems. Building on this, the right argued that liberalizing immigration would bring in undesirables despite the law passed the previous year. While officials in the Argentine Catholic Church told McDonald that Jews had a right to settle in Argentina, the Catholic press was vehemently opposed. Father Gustavo Franceschi, the editor of Criterio and notorious anti-semite, called on the Argentine Congress to further tighten immigration restrictions, especially for Jews. While he declared, I do not support neo-German racism or Nazi theories in any form, he continued espousing anti-semitic diatribes at every opportunity.937 Another Catholic priest, Virgilio Filippo, went further and declared that Karl Marx was the socialist manifesto of the Jew.938 Adding to anti-Jewish sentiment was the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in July 1936. The Spanish Civil War produced large numbers of refugees, some of whom were communists and wanted to immigrate. Argentina reacted by further restricting immigration and promulgated a law on 17 October 1936 that denied entry to any person, liable to pose a danger to the physical or moral health of our population or conspire against the stability of the institutions created by the National Constitution.939

936 937

Avni, Argentina and the Jews, pp. 133-134. Ibid, pp. 134-135. 938 Dolkart, The Right in the Dcada Infame, The Argentine Right, eds. Deutsch and Dolkart, p. 81. 939 Avni, Argentina and the Jews, pp. 139-140.

344 Argentinas foreign minister, Carlos Saaverda Lamas, also concluded immigration pacts with Switzerland, Denmark and the Netherlands the following year. While ultimately insignificant, Saaverda Lamas was proud of these agreements stating that Argentina wanted immigrants from the Nordic countries since they were especially appropriate.940 Haim Avni argues that while these agreements indicated that Argentina was receptive to non-Catholic immigrants in general, there was an underlying bias against Jews in particular.941 While the laws and agreements did not specifically mention Jews, it should be remembered that the Nazis, the Argentine right, and those in power in Argentina, tended to equate Jews and Communists. The election of Roberto Ortiz was greeted with optimism by those who hoped Argentina would allow more Jewish immigration. These hopes were dashed at the vian Conference on refugee issues held in vian, France in July 1938. The conference had been called by U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt to discuss the German and Austrian refugee problem. On 6 July, the first day of the conference, Argentinas ambassador to France, Toms Le Breton, announced that Argentina had absorbed more Jews per capita than the U.S. and other Latin American nations. Le Breton argued that Argentina could not take in any more refugees. Most of the refugees, Le Breton claimed, were urban dwellers or industrial workers. Since Argentina was an agricultural nation, it could not use them. How he knew the social status of these workers is unknown and the meaning of his statement was ambiguous. He implied that the conference was impinging upon Argentinas sovereignty by attempting to dictate which nations should take in refugees.

940 941

Ibid, p. 140. Ibid.

345 Le Breton defiantly announced to the conference that Argentina retained the right to make its own immigration laws.942 During the conference Argentina forcefully asserted its sovereignty regarding immigration issues. Argentina had no interest in participating constructively at the conference, since it was working on revisions to its immigration laws before the conference convened. On 12 July Argentine Foreign Minister, Jos Mara Cantilo, signed a decree titled Directive 11 tightening Argentinas immigration laws still further. The same day the Argentine

delegation informed the conference of the new law. The law stated that all future immigrants would have to have a special landing permit issued by the Central Immigration Office in Buenos Aires. The permit would only be issued if the Ministry of Foreign Relations, Ministry of Agriculture and Interior Ministry agreed that the individuals wanting entry were desirable immigrants.943 Argentina feared an influx of refugees fleeing Nazi persecution and decided to close any loopholes in existing immigration laws. This was the second revision in four years regarding immigration statutes. Consuls were ordered to deny any visas, even tourist and transit visas, to any person deemed as having abandoned their country of residence. The consuls were also instructed to provide detailed personal data on each person desiring entry to Argentina and their opinion regarding the suitability of those persons to immigrate. If the person had relatives in Argentina they had to be residents for at least two years and had to bear the cost for processing the paperwork and resettling their relatives. An addendum to the law, Directive 8972, closed the exemption granted to first-class passengers arriving in

942 943

Ibid, p. 143. Ibid, p. 141 and Goi, The Real Odessa, chapter 3.

346 Argentina. Previously first-class passengers were exempt from visa requirements since it was believed that immigrants only traveled second or third-class. Just in case there should be a soft-hearted consul the directive stated that the consuls suitability for their post would be tied to the rigor in which they applied Directive 11.944 Consuls were informed of Directive 11 on 12 July, but the Directive was not made public until 30 July. Though Directive 11 was not due to go into effect until 1 October consuls were secretly instructed once the law was signed to act immediately to enforce strictly all the selection procedures to prevent the flow of immigration to our land from becoming disorderly and preemptive of the plans being finalized by the government.945 The Argentine Ministry of Foreign Affairs had foreseen its consulates becoming inundated by refugees seeking asylum prior to the public deadline of 1 October. Even this did not stop the flood of applications and Argentina took the unusual step of closing its consulates doors to the public. Criterio hailed the measure as A fine immigration policy! ... for such a worthy government.946 Uki Goi in his book, The Real Odessa, stated that the law was aimed directly at Jews and that it was the equivalent of a death warrant.947 This sweeping statement implied that Argentina was responsible for the deaths of millions of Jews in not allowing them to immigrate to Argentina. However, Jews were not specifically mentioned in Directive 11. Goi also ignores the fact that many countries around the world refused to accept refugees, Jewish or not. Britain and the United States were two countries that
Avni, Argentina and the Jews, p. 144 and Goi, The Real Odessa, p. 29. Avni, Argentina and the Jews, p. 148. 946 Ibid. 947 Goi, The Real Odessa, p. 28. His only corroboration that Directive 11 was directed toward Jews is the statements of his grandfather.
945 944

347 restricted immigration to their territories.948 Goi tenuously connects the law to a

statement made by Reinhard Heydrich on 20 January 1942 at the Wannsee Conference.949 At the conference Heydrich stated that since immigration of Jews was no longer viable Hitler had decided on a Final Solution to the Jewish Question. Left unsaid was the fact that immigration was no longer viable because Nazi Germany was at war. Gois

statement assumes that in 1938 the leaders of countries could somehow look into the future and see genocide as the end result of Nazi policy. Nazi Germany pursued

immigration as policy until 1941 and Hitler himself did not decide on the Final Solution until the summer or fall of 1941.950 How did the Germans view Argentine anti-semitism? As early as 1936 the German embassy in Buenos Aires tracked Jewish refugees in Argentina. A report

prepared by Ambassador Edmund von Thermann dated 1 August 1936 discussed Jewish refugees in Argentina and reported how German employees were discriminated against, even by German firms. Thermann used the example of Jew named Hans Richard

Mendelsohn who arrived in Buenos Aires on 19 June 1936 and was employed by Thyssen Lametal on a one year contract. Thermann complained that Mendelsohn was being paid 300 pesos a month while a German employee who had been employed there

948

For the U.S. see: Wyman, Paper Walls and Wyman, The Abandonment of the Jews. For Great Britain see: London, Whitehall and the Jews. 949 Ibid, pp. 28-29. 950 For discussions concerning the timing of Hitlers decision for the Holocaust see Christopher R. Browning and Jrgen Matthaus, The Origins of the Final Solution: The Evolution of Nazi Jewish Policy, September 1939-March 1942 (Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 2004) and Christopher R. Browning, Fateful Months: Essays on the Emergence of the Final Solution, Revised ed. (Chicago: Holmes & Meier, 1991). For a contrary view see Christian Gerlach, "The Wannsee Conference, the Fate of German Jews, and Hitler's Decision in Principle to Exterminate All European Jews," Journal of Modern History, 70/4, (1998): 759-812. Browning argues for a decision in mid to late summer 1941 while Gerlach argues for the late fall of 1941.

348 for years and had two children only received 250 pesos a month. Thermann also

complained about a dental technician who was denied a job in favor of a Jewish worker.951 One can infer that the Jewish question was of concern to the Auswrtiges Amt even in countries outside of Europe. In November 1937 the AA asked the embassies in Buenos Aires, Santiago and Caracas for input regarding Jewish immigration in South America. The February 1938 report stated that Argentina was very slow to recognize the Jewish danger. It estimated that there were approximately 500,000 Jews in Argentina with 400,000 residing in Buenos Aires comprising 5% of the total population. The report noted that this total did not include mischlinge (persons who had one or two Jewish grandparents) so the total could be higher.952 Thermann told the AA not to expect any action for the foreseeable future on Jewish immigration unless it involved communists. The Argentine government had resisted any mass action against the Jews and he did not expect their attitude to change. However the Argentine government did pass a law earlier in the year controlling immigration by communists and anarchists, which the right equated with Jews. Given his connections with the Argentine right, it is probable Thermann knew and understood that the law was directed against Jews. So while the Argentine government could not

Aufnahme juedischer Fluechtlinge in Argentinien, 1 August 1936, Po. 36, Argentinien, Die Judenfrage, Band 1, August 1936-March 1943, NARA, RG 242, Serial T-120, Roll 2679, Frames E411924E411925 (hereafter RG/Serial/Roll No./Frame). The same file is also in The National Archives, Kew (hereafter TNA), File GFM 332450. 952 Mischlinge were a racial category created by the Nazis to include those who were not fully Jewish (i.e. two Jewish parents).

951

349 politically act against Jews in particular, it could act against communists, which was virtually the same thing in their minds.953 On 10 January 1939 the German Embassy in Buenos Aires sent the AA a report titled Die Judenfrage in Argentinien.954 The lengthy, detailed report discussed Jewish immigration to Argentina and its historical antecedents going back to King Phillip II of Spain. It also discussed the numbers of Jews who immigrated to Argentina using the most recently available statistics from 1936. The German embassy estimated that in 1937 Jews in Argentina numbered 700,000 inhabitants (they overestimated by 200-300,000) out of a total population of 15 million, with the majority (400,000) living in Buenos Aires province.955 Of this a total of 131,000 lived in Buenos Aires proper comprising 5.87% of the population. The detail of the report is remarkable listing the number of Jews living in each major city and area of Argentina and breaking those number down further into Sephardic and Ashkenazi categories.956 In the section detailing the history of antisemitism in Argentina Thermann noted the stance of the Catholic Church from 19301933 describing it as benevolently neutral. While the church had disapproved of Germanys measures against the Jews, he argued it was slowly drifting into line. However, he was pessimistic about the future of anti-Jewish measures since Argentina can easily change its attitude overnight.957 Interestingly there is no comment or analysis of Directive 11.

(fnu) Rdiger to unknown recipients, 16 February 1938, NARA, RG 242/T-120/2679/E411927E411929. 954 Die Judenfrage in Argentinien, 10 January 1939, NARA, RG 242/T-120/2679/E411930-E411957. 955 Die Judenfrage in Argentinien, 10 January 1939, RG 242/T-120/2679/E411939. 956 Ibid, Frames E411940-E411941. 957 Ibid, Frame E411957.

953

350 German consuls in other nations also provided information on the Jewish Question during this period. A good example of this was the consul general for South Africa, Emil Wiehl. He reported extensively on the role of Jews in public life in South Africa. As Robert Citino points out, there is extensive documentation on this topic in the AAs files and that discussions of Jews in South Africa dominate the German diplomatic files on South Africa from 1936-1939.958 In May 1936 Wiehl authored a report on Jewish immigration in South Africa. Wiehl, like Thermann, documented the increase in Jewish immigration and noted the anti-semitic attitudes of the German-language press. Wiehl went further than Thermann providing South African officials with copies of Nazi anti-Jewish legislation, such as the Law for the Restoration of the Civil Service (Gesetz zur Wiederherstellung des Berufsbeamtentums) and the Law on Admission to the Legal Practice (Gesetz ber die Zulassung zur Rechtsanwaltschaft). Like Thermann, he viewed the anti-German press as Jewish controlled since in the Nazi world-view it was only Jews or those under Jewish control who opposed Nazi racial policies.959 Emil Wiehl in South Africa provides good corroboration regarding the attitudes of the AA towards the Jewish Question. In discussing the anti-semitic attitudes of the AA Thermann and Wiehl are instructive. Both men had left Germany at the beginning of the Nazi seizure of power, which would suggest they would be less influenced by the pervasive anti-semitism of the Nazis. However, Wiehls and Thermanns comments regarding Jews are excellent

evidence that anti-semitic attitudes were pervasive in the AA.


Robert Citino, Germany and the Union of South Africa in the Nazi Period (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1991), p. 61. 959 Thermann to Auswartiges Amt, Political Report, Subject: Anti German Sentiment in Argentina, 18 May 1938, Doc. 615, DGFP, series D. (1937-1945), volume 2, (Washington D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1949-83), pp. 848-852.
958

351 In Argentina Directive 11 produced an unintended consequence, namely corruption on a massive scale. In November 1939 Foreign Minister Cantilo issued a directive to all Argentine consuls instructing them not to send any immigration applications to Buenos Aires. Cantilo also reiterated his previous instructions that

immigrants were not even to receive tourist visas. Cantilos directive was in response to allegations that consuls were selling visas in direct violation of his orders.960 In his report on the Jewish question Thermann noted the rampant corruption of the courts and police in matters involving Jews. He alleged that Jews could bribe any official with the exception of the president.961 Goi argues that the selling of visas became systematic on the part of some consuls and that the going price for an Argentine visa in Hamburg was RM 5,000. Some ambassadors, such as Eduardo Labougle, apparently had a difficult time convincing their subordinates to follow Directive 11 to the letter. Others turned a blind eye to their subordinates extorting money from people desperately seeking asylum.962 Corruption was so rampant it became commonplace. In 1943 the U.S. embassy in Buenos Aires knew that Argentine diplomatic personnel were selling visas for approximately 1,000 pesos while their colleagues at the Argentine Foreign Ministry got larger amounts. A 6 February 1943 report from the U.S. embassy titled Extortion Practices of the Axis Governments noted that Among consular officers in Europe such

960

Goi, The Real Odessa, p. 32. Goi argues that this was directed solely at Jews. However, Jews were not the only group fleeing Nazi Germany. While Directive 11 certainly included Jews, they were not specifically mentioned or it would have been noted. 961 Die Judenfrage in Argentinien, 10 January 1939, RG 242/T-120/2679/E411955. 962 Goi, The Real Odessa, pp. 32-35 and Avni, Argentina and the Jews, p. 167. Goi uses the example of his grandfather Santos Goi who was Argentine consul in La Paz, Bolivia and apparently incorruptible. Goi is also sympathetic to Labougle while Avni implies he could have done more to help the Jews given his criticism of Nazism and open support of the Allies.

352 graft was the rule rather than the exception.963 The British ambassador to Argentina, Sir David Kelly, also noted corruption regarding illegal border-crossers and those who overstayed their tourist visas. This traffic, Kelly wrote, which has enriched many with influence in Argentine political circles from the Presidents immediate entourage to lesser officials in the Ministry of Agriculture, the police and port authorities, has helped those only whose relatives were ready and able to pay bribes varying from $1,000 to $5,000.964 Despite its corruption and exclusionary immigration policies, Argentina was in a more powerful position than it either realized or acknowledged. It was the only country in Central and South America which maintained full diplomatic relations with Nazi Germany for most of the war. Nazi Germany needed Argentina, not only as a base to launch intelligence-gathering operations, but also to safeguard its economic interests in the region.965 As Joachim von Ribbentrop told Otto Reinbeck, head of Pol. IX from 194245, Argentina is the last German bridgehead in the Western Hemisphere, the maintenance and development of which are of the greatest significance later on.966 This gave Argentina leverage to help Jewish refugees especially in 1942-43 when the killing was at its height. Instead, consuls used their positions to line their pockets or Argentinas government refused to help.

Extortion Practices of the Axis Governments, 6 February 1943, NARA, Record Group 59, Records of the Department of State, Buenos Aires Embassy Confidential File, Box 5609 and Goi, The Real Odessa, p. 36. 964 Kelly to FO, 19 April 1943, TNA, FO 371/3670 and Avni, Argentina and the Jews, p. 157. 965 Avni, Argentina and the Jews, p. 159. 966 Affidavit of Otto Reinebeck, 4 February 1946, NARA RG 59, 862.20235, ABB, Box 6740, p. 7.

963

353 There seemed to be moments of decency on the part of Argentinas government. Under pressure from Jewish groups in Argentina Vice-President Ramn Castillo signed an order on 27 July 1940 allowing very limited immigration. The order allowed consuls in belligerent nations to allow temporary visits by children under fourteen if their parents, guardians or a recognized committee applied on their behalf. The only problem with the decree is that it required the cooperation of foreign consuls in Buenos Aires. Thermann refused to help so any Jewish children in Germany were effectively stranded. This could not have escaped the notice of Argentine government officials in Buenos Aires given Germanys increasingly restrictive immigration policies regarding Jews. The emptiness of this gesture is illustrated in the fact that the Jewish Colonization Association only applied on behalf of twenty German Jewish children in England in 1941.967 From this one can infer that Castillo or his subordinates knew, or should have known, of the obstacles regarding Jewish immigration from Germany and he signed the order to appease public opinion. In August 1941 the British government asked Argentina to allow 20 GermanJewish children to join their relatives in Argentina. Toms Le Breton, now Argentine ambassador to Great Britain, refused. Lord Winterton, a friend of Le Bretons and head of Britains delegation to the vian Conference, attempted to get Le Breton to reverse his decision. Not only did Le Breton refuse, he surprised his friend and colleague with his comments. Le Breton charged that the vast majority of the refugees [to Argentina] were Jews and that there were already too many Jews in the Argentine, their number having increased by immigration very largely during the past two or three years. Le Breton
967

Avni, Argentina and the Jews, p. 154.

354 stated that much of this immigration was illegal and inexplicably argued that the permanent resident Jewish population was much alarmed at the increase in the general Jewish population, because they fear that it may create a serious amount of antisemitism. Winterton attempted to explain that the persons in question were minors who would be taken care of by their relatives. Le Breton argued that these were exactly the people whom the Argentine government did not want to have in the country, as they would eventually grow up and would help to increase the Jewish population by propagation. He then added that he would only grant visas to them if we (the British) were prepared to have them sterilized before they went there. Winterton replied that this was out of the question and quite beyond our powers to effect.968 statements would have found approval with the Nazis. If Le Bretons attitude was not bad enough, Argentinas immigration policies were enforced with renewed vigor. In October 1941 the ship SS Cabo des Hornos returned to Europe after stopping in Buenos Aires. Onboard were 106 passengers, eighty-six of them Jewish, who were refused entry to Argentina. All of the passengers
Memorandum of Conversation with Toms Le Breton, 5 August 1941, BNA, FO/371/29210; Avni, Argentina and the Jews, pp. 168-169; Goi, The Real Odessa, pp. 35-36; Ronald C. Newton, The Nazi Menace in Argentina, 1931-1947 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1992), p. 153. Newtons study is in some ways a masterful study utilizing numerous archives in Argentina, the U.S. and Great Britain. However, he tends to be selective in his use of documents. For example, in the conversation between Winterton and Le Breton he leaves out the passage regarding sterilization of the Jewish children. Newton also inserts a passage concerning Jewish monopolization of certain industries and that Jewish girls should not be allowed to enter Argentina since they might become prostitutes or worse mothers. The latter passage does not appear in the original document. His selective use of quotations downplays Le Bretons anti-semitism and implies that the Jewish community in Argentina did not want any more immigration, which was certainly not the case. In discussing Argentine anti-semitism he also does not utilize any files on the Jewish Question from the following departments: Inland II/G Judenfrage in Argentinien, 19381944, TNA, GFM/ 332450, Juden in Argentinien, 1943, BNA, GFM 332517, and Abt. Pol. IX PO 36 Argentinien Judenfrage, NARA RG 242/T-120/2679/411922-965. These files were readily available in Berlin where he conducted some of his research or in Britain and the U.S. He utilized the files from Abteilung Inland in chapter 16 on Osmar Hellmuth. His omission of these files concerning the Jewish question is inexplicable.
968

Le Bretons

355 held visas from Brazil and other countries which were declared invalid by Argentine immigration officials. No reason was given and on its face was inexplicable. Brazil eventually allowed the non-Jewish passengers to land. The U.S. put pressure on the Dutch government in exile to allow the Jewish passengers to disembark in the Dutch Antilles.969 On 31 October 1941 Heinrich Himmler banned Jewish emigration from Germany and German occupied territories. The reasons stated were the war and possibilities in the East. Replacing immigration was evacuation of Jews to the East in accordance with the prior approval of the Fhrer.970 Evacuation equaled death. By the end of 1941 the first death camp at Chelmno in Poland was in operation. In the spring of 1942, the other death camps at Belzec, Treblinka, Sobibor, and the massive industrial/death camp at Auschwitz were open and running. The first victims were Polish Jews held in ghettos in Ldz, Lwow and Lublin by July 1942 deportations from the Netherlands, France and other Western European countries were underway.971 Hitler and Himmler had given Heydrich carte blanche in July 1941 to effect a final solution to the Jewish Question, which, in theory, meant all Jews. For Jews of neutral citizenship residing in Germany and German occupied territories the reality was different.

Avni, Argentina and the Jews, p. 157. Argentina was not the only nation to deny Jewish immigrants the right to land. On 13 May 1939 the Cuban government denied entry to 937 Jews on the liner SS St. Louis whereupon they were sent back to Germany. See, Thomas and Witts, The Voyage of the Damned. 970 Robert S. Wistrich, Hitler and the Holocaust (New York: The Modern Library, 2001), p. 103. 971 The literature on the Holocaust is vast and varied in quality. For the technical and bureaucratic aspects of the Final Solution along with a breakdown by country see Raul Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Jews, 3 vols., revised and expanded edition, (New York: Holmes & Meier, 1985). For questions of timing see Browning note 30 above. For France see Michael Marrus and Robert Paxton, Vichy France and the Jews (New York: Basic Books, 1981).

969

356 Nazi Germany had put in place a policy to exchange Jews from Britain, the U.S., Latin America and the British dominions for Germans in Palestine or the U.S.972 Hitler felt that these Germans would be good settlers for the conquered areas of the Soviet Union. While the SS was the lead agency for solving the Jewish Question, the AA demanded it approve any measures against foreign Jews. The AA also approved of the idea of exchanging foreign Jews for German citizens. For this reason that Jews of neutral countries should be kept alive. Ribbentrop stated that Germany could not afford to offend neutral countries, such as Argentina or Spain, which provided material support and bases of operations for German intelligence. However, Himmler and Eichmann wanted German-occupied Europe free of Jews. Thousands of Jews from various neutral countries were in Germany, and Germanoccupied Europe. The question of what to do with them was a thorny issue. Neutral countries such as Sweden, Spain, Switzerland, and Turkey took an interest in the fate of their Jewish nationals. Nazi Germany could not afford to offend these nations too much since they supplied vital raw materials and outlets for foreign currency. Sweden provided iron ore, Spain supplied wolfram and Switzerland had banking facilities which provided Germany with much needed hard currency. As Richard Breitman points out, Himmler was not averse to sparing some Jews if Germany could get something for doing so such as earning money.973 However, his subordinates such as Adolf Eichmann, head of Amt IV B/4 which handled Jewish affairs for the RSHA, were not so magnanimous even when

Raul Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Jews, Vol. II, p. 445. Himmler to Ribbentrop, (day unknown) Jan 1943, NARA, RG 242/T-175/R 65/25806-43 quoted in Richard Breitman, Official Secrets: What the Nazis Planned, What the British and Americans Knew (New York: Hill and Wang, 1998), p. 169.
973

972

357 it came to Jews from neutral countries. Ironically, it was Ribbentrop and the AA which fought the SS over the fate of Argentinas Jews in Europe, even in the face of Argentine indifference. The fate of these Jews was a small skirmish in a larger battle between Himmlers SS and Ribbentrops AA. Argentina proved not to be so accommodating. In August 1942 U.S. relief personnel working in Vichy France attempted to save one thousand Jewish children. The relief personnel asked the U.S. government to take in the Jewish children along with five thousand orphans. They also requested that several Latin American countries, including Argentina, take in some of the refugees. Germany also wanted the Latin American Jews in Vichy gone. On 12 September the Germans told neutral representatives that it had until 31 January 1943 to evacuate its Jewish citizens from German-occupied territory. If they failed to remove them they would be subject to deportation.974 On 2 November Jewish groups in Argentina petitioned President Castillo to admit the children, promising to support them and cover any and all expenses related to their repatriation. The same day the British government approached Argentine

ambassador Miguel ngel Crcano and asked him to help. Stories of massive atrocities against Jews had become public in Great Britain and the British government was receiving pressure from prominent individuals, such as the Archbishop of Canterbury, to do something. Sensing the public mood Crcano recommended to his government that it acquiesce. On 20 November Castillo ordered that Argentine consuls vet all children under fourteen to ascertain whether or not they met Argentinas health requirements. One thousand children who met the requirements were to be selected and allowed to
Stanford J. Shaw, Turkey and the Holocaust: Turkeys Role in Rescuing Turkish and European Jewry from Nazi Persecution, 1933-1945 (New York: New York University Press, 1993), pp. 149-150. Shaw quotes from a document signed by Luther dated 19 September 1942.
974

358 immigrate to Argentina. The German subsidized newspaper Pampero and the right-wing paper El Crisol in Buenos Aires shrieked about the deal involving the Jewish children. In editorials the papers stated that the children would be the vanguard of Judaism that would enslave true Argentines.975 However, events had overtaken this initiative. On 3

November the Germans occupied Vichy in response to allied landings in North Africa. While the offer to accept the children was probably genuine, it was overtaken by events. By January 1943, the Final Solution was well underway at the killing centers in Poland. It was at this point that Argentinas Jews became a point of contention between the SS and AA. Ribbentrop and the AA were concerned about Argentinas neutrality and decided to give Argentina another opportunity to remove its Jews from Europe. The same month Ricardo Olivera, the Argentine ambassador to Vichy France, was asked by the Germans to open discussions concerning the repatriation of fifteen Argentine Jews in France. The Germans told Olivera that Argentine Jews were free to go if Olivera

arranged their travel out of Europe. Understanding the difficulties of travelling out of war torn Europe, they gave Olivera three months to make arrangements. The extension resulted from difficulties other neutrals were having in evacuating their Jewish citizens. The main sticking point was securing transit visas from countries over which the Germans had no direct control.976 In February the AA stated its position concerning Argentine Jews in Europe. Ribbentrop stated that It is desirable that all Argentine citizens belonging to the Jewish race leave German territoriesThe Foreign Ministry would consider it as an act of special courtesy if the Argentine embassy would cause all

975 976

Avni, Argentina and the Jews, p. 160. Shaw, Turkey and the Holocaust, p. 150. The countries were Croatia, Rumania, Serbia and Bulgaria.

359 Argentine Jews to return to their homeland.977 Olivera let the matter languish and hoped it would go away.978 By March Olivera had not replied to the AAs offer and it turned to the Argentine embassy in Berlin. Instead of enthusiastically offering to rescue his countrymen, Charg Irigoyen was reticent. This confused the AA which concluded that in Buenos Aires there was absolutely no understanding on this matter. Despite Argentine intransigence, Germany did not want to be seen as unnecessarily antagonizing Argentina lest it reverse its policy on neutrality. With this in mind, Eichmann was told to leave all Jews from neutral countries alone for the time being.979 For its part, the AA kept trying to get Argentina to repatriate its Jewish citizens. On 29 April the AA asked Irigoyen if he could arrange travel out of Europe for six Argentine Jews residing in Salonika, Greece. Eberhardt von Thadden, Luthers replacement in Abteilung Deutschland, told Irigoyen that it was inconceivable that they be allowed to remain when the rest of Greece had been cleansed of all Jews. He inquired if seven Argentine Jews in the Netherlands as well as an unspecified number in Belgium could be repatriated as well? Von Thadden mentioned that Germany had exercised great caution in dealing with Argentinas Jews and were prepared to assist in their departure provided it was done quickly.980 Again, nothing was done. The Germans were baffled

Ribbentrop Memorandum, 26 February 1943, Inland II A/B, NARA RG 242/T-120/4352/211028211034; Goi, The Real Odessa, pp. 46-47. 978 Schleier to Luther, 28 January 1943, Inland II A/B, NARA, RG 242/T-120/4352/211035, Avni, Argentina and the Jews, p. 165, and Goi, The Real Odessa, pp. 46-47. 979 Referat D III to Amt IV B/4, March 1943, Inland II A/B, NARA, RG 242/T-120/4352/211078; Goi, The Real Odessa, pp. 46-47 and Avni, Argentina and the Jews, p. 164. 980 Von Thadden, Memorandum of Conversation, 29 April 1943, Inland II A/B, NARA, RG 242/T120/4352/211079.

977

360 by Argentinas attitude regarding the Jews. The Argentines also had a good idea of how Germany was solving the Jewish Question. A partially decoded message from the Argentine Minister in Sofia, Bulgaria illustrates this point. On 5 June 1943, the minister sent a message to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in Buenos Aires. The minister asked that two Argentine Jewish couples, possibly with children, residing in Sofia be repatriated. The garbled message stated, The situation of [? Jews] of every nationality including Argentine is [? tragic] as they are [? Now] threatened with deportation to Poland [in spite of efforts] made by the Legations [? against these new] measures. As Stephen Tyas points out, the message illustrates that neutral diplomats in Europe understood that deportation to Poland was the equivalent of a death sentence.981 The message revealed that Himmlers three month time-limit for Jews of neutral countries to leave Europe had expired and that Eichmann was willing to deport them. It also showed that Eichmann was determined to deal with all Jews of neutral countries despite the efforts of the AA and foreign legations throughout Europe. The attitude of Irigoyen in Berlin and Olivera in France were certainly a factor in Eichmanns attitude towards neutral Jews. While previously Olivera and Irigoyen had simply stalled, soon Irigoyen would personally threaten the lives of fifty-nine Jews residing in Poland. In 1943 the largest concentration of Argentine Jews was in Krakw, Poland.982 By July, fifty-nine Argentine Jews were still left in the decimated ghetto. Eichmann wanted to deport the Jews to the East and liquidate the ghetto. He sent documents for
Stephen Tyas, Adolf Eichmann: New Information from British Signals Intelligence, in David Bankier ed. Secret Intelligence and the Holocaust (New York: Enigma Books, 2006), p. 233. The original message is in Sofia to Buenos Aires, 1 June 1943, TNA, HW 12/289. 982 Ribbentrop Memorandum, 26 February 1943, Inland II Geheim, Juden in Argentinien, NARA RG 242/T-120/4352/211028.
981

361 sixteen of them to Berlin for verification. Eichmanns patience was at an end. On 5 July he told the AA that the final deadline for neutral Jews was extended to 3 August, whereupon Germany would deal with them (the method was left unsaid). Eichmann added that Von Thadden should, put aside any possible scruples in the interest of finally solving the Jewish Problem since in this matter the Reich has met the foreign governments halfway in the most generous manner.983 Von Thadden asked Irigoyen to come and verify that these people were indeed Argentine citizens. According to von Thadden, Irigoyen looked at the documents and declared them forgeries. In a coldblooded statement, Irigoyen told him that the Argentine embassy has of course no interest in the bearers of these fake documents.984 With a few words Irigoyen condemned the Argentine Jews in Krakw to death. If the minister in Sofia knew what deportation meant, then Irigoyen was probably aware as well. In an ironic turn of events Irigoyen and eleven other Argentine diplomats were honored in 2001 by the Argentine Foreign Ministry for rescuing Jews during the war.985 However, there were some, such as Charg dAffaires, Luis Luti, who understood German policy toward the Jews and were willing to help. In February 1943 Luti Luti

petitioned Ribbentrop to exempt Argentinas Jews from Jewish rations.

understood what Jewish rations meant. He described it to Buenos Aires as the near total suppression of food. Ribbentrop wanted to mollify Argentina and agreed to Lutis

Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Jews, p. 447 and Shaw, Turkey and the Holocaust, p. 152. Memorandum of Conversation, 29 July 1943, Inland II A/B, NARA RG 242/T-120/4352/211078; Avni, Argentina and the Jews, p. 165 and Goi, The Real Odessa, p. 47. 985 Homage To A Hero Who Left 100 Jews to Their Own Devices, 10 May 2005, http://www.raoulwallenberg.net/?en/holocaust/argentina/homage-quot-hero-quot-left-100.2332.htm, accessed 26 June 2008. Following protests by Jewish groups, the plaque was removed.
984

983

362 request. He told the SS that This arrangement, which is a complete diversion from legal regulations, has been made only to please the Argentine embassy.986 Himmler and Eichmann ignored Ribbentrops requests concerning Argentine Jews. In March Ribbentrop appealed to the SS to exempt Argentinas Jews from Nazi Germanys anti-semitic policies.987 Ribbentrop was determined to support Argentinas neutrality even if it meant sparing a small number of Jews. However, Ribbentrop and the AA soon had to deal with a new government in Argentina. On 4 June 1943 Castillo was overthrown in a coup by the Argentine military and replaced by General Pedro Pablo Ramrez.988 Despite the change in government, the military junta seemed amenable to honoring the Ortiz governments request regarding the Jewish children in Vichy. On 24 June the Argentine government formally requested that one thousand Jewish children in various concentration camps throughout Europe be freed. Soon thereafter another request was made, both of which the Germans ignored. The reason for the German request was that Nazi Germany had received other requests to free Jewish children, most notably from the British through Swiss intermediaries who wanted the children to go to Palestine. Since most of them concerned immigration to Palestine, Ribbentrop ordered that they be dealt with as a unit. Hitler was sensitive to Arab anti-semitism and pro-German

sentiments; these had to be taken into consideration before any decision was made. The AA acted quickly and made its decision on 21 July 1943. Ribbentrop and the AA rejected any deal involving immigration to Palestine. The Nazis considered Palestine
Von Thadden to Amt IV B/4, 2 February 1943, NARA, RG 242/T-120/2679/E411958; Goi, The Real Odessa, pp. 47-48. 987 Dr. Ganow to Reinebeck, 12 March 1943, NARA, RG 242/T-120/2679/E411961-411965; 988 Robert A. Potash, The Army& Politics in Argentina 1928-1945: Yrigoyen to Pern (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1969), chapter 7.
986

363 to be Arab territory, the government of the Reich cannot lend a hand in allowing a people as noble and courageous as the Arabs to be forced from their homeland, Palestine, by the Jews.989 The Nazis offered to release the children only if the British allowed them to settle in Great Britain proper. In their warped worldview the Nazis figured that settling more Jews in Great Britain would increase anti-semitism there. A similar offer was made to Argentina. The children would have to settle in Argentina and not be allowed to settle in Palestine. In return, Argentina would ask the Allies to allow Reichsdeutschen

(German citizens) and Volksdeutschen (ethnic Germans) in Latin America who wanted to return to Germany to be allowed to do so. The AA also reminded the SS that the Jewish children not be deported to the East since they would be needed to exchange. At the end of October Himmler approved the AAs proposal. 990 While Argentina made the request to accept the Jewish children in June, by September it had again changed its mind, at least regarding some Jews. In September Olivera cabled the Ministry of Foreign Affairs asking whether he should continue efforts to arrange exit visas for Jews. The ministry replied no. It was up to individual Jews to secure the visas for themselves.991 Since there is no record of why the Argentine Ministry of Foreign Affairs refused to allow a small number of Argentine Jews in France to emigrate, but was willing to accept a thousand Jewish children, the original offer could have been a sham. The Argentine government was sensitive to internal and external

989

Wagner Memorandum, 21 July 1943, Inland II A/B, NARA RG 242/T-120/4352/210721; Avni, Argentina and the Jews, p. 163. 990 Avni, Argentina and the Jews, p. 163. 991 Goi, The Real Odessa, p. 48.

364 pressures regarding Jewish issues and could have made the offer to mollify public opinions inside and outside Argentina. In January 1944 Ribbentrop once again offered to let Argentine Jews in Europe leave. Argentina was close to breaking relations with Nazi Germany as a result of the Hellmuth Affair and SD support for a coup in Bolivia. Ribbentrops offer was

inexplicable given the past actions of the Argentine government regarding its Jewish citizens. Perhaps he deluded himself into thinking that somehow Argentine attitudes would change or it was a measure of his desperation to maintain diplomatic relations with Argentina. Most likely, the answer is both. Sometime in January he formally extended another invitation to Argentina to removes its Jewish citizens in the Netherlands from Europe.992 However, Himmler had ordered the arrest of all Jews from neutral countries including Argentina. Ribbentrop redoubled his efforts to prevent this and the head of Abteilung Inland, Eberhardt von Thadden, phoned the SS asking that Argentine Jews be excluded from this order. On 26 January 1944 Argentina formally broke diplomatic relations with Nazi Germany. Hitler was outraged and demanded an investigation.

Taking advantage of this Ernst Kaltenbrunner, head of the RSHA, ordered that all Jews from neutral countries, including Argentina, be arrested. All Jews and Jewesses of Argentine citizenship are to be arrested at once. The assets of the arrested must be secured. These Jews must be taken immediately, under guard, to Bergen-Belsen

Von Thadden to unknown recipients, January 1944, Betreff: Juden in Niederlanden, Inland II A/B, NARA, RG 242/T-120/2679/E411969.

992

365 internment camp.993 Von Thadden made sure they were given courteous treatment while they were there.994 The Nazis used Bergen-Belsen concentration camp as a collection point for Jews of neutral citizenship, such as Spanish Jews, who were awaiting news of their status. Unlike Argentina, by the second half of 1943 Spain had begun to take an interest in the fate of its Jews. However, Franco did not want to these Jews to take up permanent residence in Spain. The Spanish government was also cognizant of its international image. The Spanish consul in Greece, Sebastin Romero Radigales, informed Madrid that its behavior towards Spanish Jews was creating a negative opinion among governments who had aided their own Jews. As a result on 4 August 1943 Madrid decided on a compromise solution. Spain would repatriate all Spanish Jews from

German-occupied Europe, but only 25 at a time. They would be allowed into Spain only for transit to another country. No new group would be allowed in until the previous group had left Spanish soil. Under German pressure the number in each group was increased to 150.995 As unsatisfactory as Spains response to its Jews was, Argentina continued to express indifference. Despite this total lack of concern for its Jews Ribbentrop feared that Argentina would retaliate against German citizens in Argentina as well as extensive the German business assets located there. Ribbentrops office telephoned the RHSA inquiring whether Himmler would waive the internment of Argentine Jews or treat them
Quoted in Goi, The Real Odessa, pp. 48-49. Von Thadden memorandum, 4 February 1944, Betr. Internierung argentinischen Juden, Inland II A/B, NARA, RG 242/T-120/2679/E411974. 995 Stanley G. Payne, Franco and Hitler: Spain, Germany and World War II (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008), pp. 226-227.
994 993

366 the same as Jews of other South American nations. His office also reminded the RSHA that 80,000 German citizens were in Argentina and the possibility of retaliation against them had to be considered.996 The Aryanization of Argentine property also became an issue. One such

discussion concerning Aryanization revolved around a group of industrial manufacturing companies called ETAM located throughout France and Belgium and under the ownership of Max Lindemann. Lindemann was a German Jew who acquired Argentine citizenship in 1936. The German authorities in Paris wanted to know if they could seize the properties despite Lindemans Argentine citizenship. The discussion of whether or not ETAM could be seized revolved around whether or not Lindemann was considered a German Jew or Argentine Jew. This discussion had been ongoing since May 1943. While the military and economic authorities wanted to seize the company von Thadden told them that while the Belgian subsidiaries of ETAM could be seized, the French component should be left alone.997 The break in relations with Argentina lent new urgency to the seizure of ETAM. On 15 February the German authorities in Paris again requested permission to seize ETAM in light of the new situation.998 Ribbentrop again recommended against this fearing retaliation against German companies in Argentina.

Wagner to RSHA, 4 February 1944, Vortragsnotiz zur telefonischen Durchgabe nach Westfalen, Inland II A/B, NARA, RG 242/T-120/2679/E411975. See also two other memorandum on this issue dated 5 February 1944 in Inland II A/B, NARA, RG 242/T-120/2679/E411976-E411977. 997 See the series of messages between Paris, Brussels and Berlin 27 May 1943, 8 June 1943 and 10 July 1943 in Betrifft: Arisierung der franzsischen Etam-Gesellschaften, Inland II A/B, NARA, RG 242/T120/2679/E411979-E411984. 998 Der Delegierte der Reichsregierung fr Wirtschafts und Finanzfragen bei der Franzsischen Regierung to AA, 15 February 1944, Betr. Arisierung der franzsischen Etam-gesellschaften, Inland II A/B, NARA, RG 242/T-120/2679/E411987.

996

367 On 4 March von Thadden estimated there were a total of one hundred Argentine Jews in Europe. Fifty-one were identified by name and arrested. He received no reply from Greece or Italy regarding Argentine Jews in those countries. Thus, the number of Argentine Jews under arrest could rise above fifty-one. Overall, Von Thadden was pessimistic that their release could be secured. He suggested Nazi Germany make one last offer to Argentina regarding its Jewish citizens. Given that Argentine diplomats were still in Europe awaiting repatriation, he suggested using Swedish and Swiss intermediaries to present the offer. Argentine interests in Germany following the break were handled through the Swedes and German interests in Buenos Aires were taken care of by the Swiss. Von Thadden noted that other countries had repatriated their Jews and that the process had gone well. According to von Thadden Argentina was the only state which had failed to take custody of its Jews.999 There has been ongoing controversy concerning the rescue of Jews from the Holocaust.1000 While the rescue of Polish, Dutch, French and other Jews in Nazi-

occupied Europe was problematic, rescuing Jews of neutral countries is less so. The archival record is clear that Germany was fully prepared to release the Jews of neutral countries. As von Thadden stated, other neutrals had repatriated their Jews, with

Argentina being the lone holdout. Neutrals, such as Spain, Sweden and Turkey went to great lengths to protect their Jewish citizens. In the case of Spain Franco only acted
999

1000

von Thadden Memorandum, 4 March 1944, Inland II A/B, NARA, RG 242/T-120/2679/E411972. The scholarship on this topic is extensive and contentious. Several major works are: W.D. Rubenstein, The Myth of Rescue: Why the Democracies Could Not Have Saved More Jews from the Nazis (New York: Routledge, 1999), Shlomo Aronson, Hitler, the Allies and the Jews (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004), David S. Wyman, The Abandonment of the Jews: America and the Holocaust, 1941-1945 (New York: Pantheon Press, 1984) and Yehuda Bauer, Jews for Sale?: Nazi-Jewish Negotiations, 19331945 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1996).

368 when it was apparent that Germany would not win the war.1001 By contrast, Sweden and Turkey actively intervened to protect their Jewish citizens and other neutral Jews.1002 Sweden and Turkey both allowed Jews to immigrate to their countries. Sweden also went further than most countries in protecting Jews. It gave refuge to the Jews of Denmark when they were threatened with deportation.1003 Individual Swedes also

actively participated in rescuing Jews from the Holocaust. The most prominent of these was Raoul Wallenberg who, with the consent of his government, gave thousands of visas and passports to Hungarian Jews. The AA found itself in the unusual position of protecting Jews when state policy dictated they should be put to death. This brought it into conflict with the SS. The AA recognized that there were larger issues that needed to be considered regarding Jews from neutral countries. Adolf Eichmann and the SS held a myopic world-view that dictated the Jews had to be removed. While it is certain the AA did not care about Jews in general even a hardcore anti-semite like Ribbentrop could subordinate ideology to foreign policy considerations. This was the crux of the matter. Controlling policies and areas of responsibility were important issues to Nazi leaders. Conceding the slightest control over an issue was anathema. While the record shows that Himmler could be pragmatic regarding neutral Jews, he made sure that the AA understood the SS was the lead agency regarding the Jewish Question. Even where there was agreement on the overall general

1001

Stanley G. Payne, Franco and Hitler: Spain, Germany, and World War II (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008), chapters 12 and 13. 1002 Paul A. Levine, From Indifference to Activism: Swedish Diplomacy and the Holocaust 1938-44, 2nd Rev. ed. (Uppsala: Almquiest & Wiksell Intl, 1998) and Shaw, Turkey and the Holocaust. 1003 Emmy Werner, A Conspiracy Of Decency: The Rescue Of The Danish Jews During World War II (New York: Basic Books, 2004).

369 policy, minor points regarding that policy could produce tension. This is evident in the argument over Argentinas Jews. Argentina could have protected its Jewish citizens in Europe if it desired. Instead, the archival record reveals indifference and hostility to the fate of Argentine Jews. Argentina was given ample opportunity by Nazi Germany to repatriate its Jewish citizens in Europe. Every effort Argentina made to protect Jews was overtaken by events. Whether this was by accident or design is difficult to discern. The timing of Argentinas efforts points to the latter but the evidence is vague. Its refusal to act on German offers is a shameful episode. Argentine intransigence even confused the AA which normally allowed the SS to take the lead in Jewish matters. This was no mean accomplishment. Despite rejecting Nazi racial views, the archival record shows Argentine anti-semitism at its worst. In some ways the differences between the views of Argentina and Germany is immaterial. The indifference of Olivera and the hostility of Irigoyen almost produced the same result, the death of its Jewish citizens at the hands of the Nazis. Ironically, it was only the efforts of Ribbentrop and the AA which saved Argentinas Jews from certain death.

370

Chapter 9 Aftermath
By January 1944 the worst fears of the AA and SD had been realized. Following Harnischs arrest the embassy and SD made preparations should Argentina break relations. On 18 January, the AA instructed the embassy in Buenos Aires to give Bolivar 150,000 RM.1004 This payment was probably made to keep the money from being seized if Argentina broke relations. Harnisch and Beckers superiors were also wondering if Harnischs arrest was connected to Hellmuth and Ludwig Freude, the wealthy German-Argentine businessman. Schellenberg believed that the failure of the Hellmuth mission was due to Freudes treachery. He told his postwar interrogators that Freude worked for Ribbentrops Information Bureau (Informationstelle III, the so-called Henke Dienst named after its head Andor Henke). In Schellenbergs opinion, Freude betrayed Hellmuth and probably Harnisch so Freudes choice Vlez could be used instead. Andor Henke denied to his postwar interrogators that Freude had ever worked for the AA or Information Bureau III since it had no collaborators in North or South America. He stated that he had never heard of Freude, but posited that he may have worked the Ribbentrop Bureau (Dienststelle Ribbentrop) which had some personnel in Latin America and other places.1005 On 24 January Becker and Meynen confirmed

1004

Berlin to Argentina, 18 January 1944, NARA, RG 226, Records of the OSS, OSS Communication Office Records, Ultra Decrypts, Entry 188. 1005 Memorandum: Interrogations of Walter Schellenberg, Theodor Paeffgen, Dietrich Niebuhr and Andor Henke regarding the Argentina Project, 8 January 1946, pp. 4-5 and Affidavit of Walter Schellenberg, 16 December 1945, NARA, RG 59, 862.20235/4-2646, ABB, Box 6740.

371 Schellenbergs suspicions by stating that Harnischs arrest was connected with Hellmuths.1006 Becker naturally blamed Freude. When Ramrez decided to break relations, he made the announcement through the press. Paeffgen asked Becker to confirm the announcement and whether he still had contact with Gonzlez and other members of the government. Becker had supposedly separated himself from Harnischs organization for security purposes. Believing

Beckers fib, Paeffgen wanted operations against Brazil, Paraguay, Chile and other countries to continue. He asked Becker to transmit a report on the internal situation in Argentina and whether operations could continue.1007 The tone of this message indicated that while Paeffgen was concerned over recent developments, he was not overly worried. He understood that Argentina had limited room for maneuver lest it expose its own cooperation with German agents along with its support of the Bolivian revolution. Becker replied that while the Hellmuth affair was the reason publicly announced for the break in relations, the real reason was U.S. and British pressure on Argentina. He told Paeffgen that Pern and other members of the G.O.U. were against the break in relations. They were angry that Ramrez had unilaterally decided on the course of action without consulting them. Presciently, Becker reported that changes in the government must be anticipated. However, he was reluctant to predict what those changes were. Becker also told Paeffgen that while more members of Harnischs network had been arrested, his network was unaffected.1008 Technically, this was true. The Becker and

1006

Argentina to Berlin, 24 January 1944, and Buenos Aires to Berlin, 24 January 1944, NARA, RG 226, Records of the OSS, OSS Communication Office Records, Ultra Decrypts, Entry 188. 1007 Berlin to Argentina, 26 January 1944, Ibid. 1008 Argentina to Berlin, 28 January 1944, Ibid.

372 Harnisch networks had never been officially consolidated despite their close working relationship. Beckers reports must have indicated the situation in Argentina was still favorable for Becker and his organization. Schellenberg told his postwar interrogators that it was Beckers connections with Ramrez and his subordinates that allowed him to keep his network in operation. Schellenberg believed that it was Pern and Farrell who were primarily responsible for the continued operation of the SD intelligence networks. Schellenberg stated that Becker reported that Pern and Vice-President Farrell were receptive to the idea of re-establishing relations between Argentina and Germany. From Beckers reports Amt VI deduced that Pern stood on the bedrock of National Socialism and that on the basis of his political orientation, Pern was always ready to effect a collaboration with Germany.1009 Schellenberg and Paeffgen had confidence that Pern and his henchman would protect their intelligence networks at all costs. One key piece of evidence was the creation of Argentinas counterespionage unit, the Coordinacin Federal, on 9 January 1944. Its first commander was Ramrezs son-in-law, Major Francisco Filippi. While it did arrest members of the German intelligence services, it went after the FBI/SIS with a vengeance. On 11 January the Coordinacin Federal began to arrest agents and

informants who worked for the U.S. and British embassies. The situation was so dire that Francis Crosby, the FBIs legal attach in the embassy, had to organize the escape of his agents and informants to Uruguay. Between February and June 1944 the Coordinacin

1009

Affidavit of Walter Schellenberg, 6 February 1946, NARA, RG 59, 862.20235/4-2646, ABB, Box 6740, p. 6. There is some doubt regarding the reliability of this statement since Schellenbergs interrogator admitted that he steered the information was suggested by him and that Schellenberg quickly picked up on what they wanted him to say. He added that they should not press him for details.

373 Federal arrested thirty-six agents employed by the military attachs office and SIS. Crosby and embassy also suspected that Filippis men were opening unaccompanied U.S. diplomatic pouches. Crosbys situation became so tenuous that in November 1944

Hoover ordered him to return to the U.S. lest he be arrested.1010 Becker and Utzinger still remained free. With Becker and Utzinger free and the FBIs legal attach forced to leave the country, the situation in Argentina must have looked favorable to the SD. By the middle of February Amt VI had decided that Bolivar would become Germanys ambassadorial representative in Argentina. Paeffgen informed Becker that he continue to assist Argentina with its plans to create an Andes bloc. He also told Becker that should any members of his organization be arrested he should work to prevent their surrender to Great Britain and the U.S. This included Harnisch as well since he knew too much to allow him to fall into the hands of either country.1011 At almost the same time the State Department was queried by the U.S. Justice Department about whether Harnisch and others in Argentine custody could be brought to the U.S. for questioning and internment. Ambassador Armour replied that he was convinced Argentine authorities would respond negatively to any such request.1012 This was an interesting coincidence since there is no record Ambassador Armour ever asked the opinion of Argentine

Leslie B. Rout Jr. and John Bratzel, The Shadow War: German Espionage and United States Counterespionage in Latin America during World War II (Frederick: University Publications of America, 1986), pp. 408-409. 1011 Berlin to Argentina, 14 February 1944, NARA, RG 226, Records of the OSS, OSS Communication Office Records, Ultra Decrypts, Entry 188. 1012 The Acting Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Argentina, 14 February 1944 and The Ambassador in Argentina to the Secretary of State, 15 February 1944, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1944 (hereafter, FRUS), Vol. VII: The American Republics (Washington D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1967), pp. 385-386.

1010

374 government officials regarding such a question. There are several explanations for this coincidence. First, Armour asked unofficially and word got back to Becker who passed it to Paeffgen. Second, there was a leak in the U.S. embassy or State Department. Third, Paeffgen and Gross were clever enough to anticipate the U.S. would attempt to remove Harnisch and his confederates. Most likely Paeffgen knew of the hundreds of Germans who been deported from other parts of Latin America as suspected spies and sent to the U.S. Paeffgen probably assumed the U.S. would attempt the same thing in Argentina.1013 After Paeffgen had confirmed Bolivar as Germanys ambassadorial representative in Argentina, this information was probably passed along to the Argentine authorities. Becker probably used this to show his Argentine contacts that his previous statements designating the SD as Germanys official representative in Argentina were true. However, his statements might have gone too far. Sometime in March Amt VI was informed by an unknown individual that Becker and his organization were gossiping like old women. They told Becker that for the last time we forbid any compromising of German embassy thereIn the Hellmuth matter you have to abstain from any criticism of German embassy.1014 This was prudent advice. Even though the Abwehr had been incorporated into the SD in February 1944, the AA was still trying to lay the blame for the Hellmuth fiasco at the SDs door with the outcome uncertain. If Argentina reestablished relations with Germany then the AA would take the lead. Paeffgen and

1013

For a discussion of this see, Max Paul Friedman, Nazis and Good Neighbors: The United States Campaign against the Germans of Latin America in World War II (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003). 1014 Berlin to Argentina, 21 March 1944, Ibid.

375 Schellenberg probably wanted to make sure there would be no reason for the AA to marginalize the SD should this occur. Amt VI was so confident the situation could be salvaged that it went ahead with plans to send Becker money, men and pharmaceuticals to sell for funds. The value of the money and pharmaceuticals together has been estimated at approximately $350,000.1015 However, the German navy was unwilling to risk a U-boat to transport the men and money. The freighter Santa Barbara was used instead. The Santa Barbara was

originally part of the Abwehrs fleet of vessels used to smuggle men and equipment. With the Abwehrs abolition the vessels came under the control of the SD. The vessel was commanded by Hans Garbers and had several successful missions ferrying agents and equipment to South Africa, Angola and Brazil.1016 For this mission the vessel was to carry two men, Walter Burckhardt (real name: Waldemar Boettger, codename: Cobija) and Alphonse Chantrain (real name: Josef Schrll, codename: Valiente). Burckhardt had previously lived in South America for twenty years and spoke fluent Spanish. Chantrain was a native of Luxembourg and spoke fluent English.1017 According to Ronald Newton, Chantrain was a crook and first-class swindler. He had also lived an adventurous life. Chantrain served for a time in the Belgian merchant marine and in 1933 joined the French Foreign Legion. Following his discharge in 1938 he allegedly joined Amt VI working as a spy in France. He was arrested by French
1015

Using FBI documents Rout and Bratzel state that Burckhardt and Chantrain had $60-100,000 mostly in English pound notes and that pharmaceuticals were worth approximately $238,000. Rout and Bratzel, The Shadow War, p. 415. 1016 Ronald C. Newton, The Nazi Menace in Argentina, 1931-1947 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1992), pp. 260-261. 1017 Hedwig Sommer gives Burckhardts name as Hansen, see Report of Interview of Hedwig Elizabeth Weigelmayer Sommer, NARA, RG 65, Box 211, File 65-56221, pp. 28-29.

376 police in February 1940, tried and sentenced to death, but his sentence was commuted to life in prison. Following Germanys victory over France, Chantrain was released from jail where he allegedly led a quiet life until Kurt Gross offered him the opportunity to go to Argentina.1018 As the case of Heinz Lange and others show, the SD had no qualms about recruiting persons of dubious character, provided they were ideologically reliable. If Chantrain had previously worked for Amt VI, then he had proved himself. There are two different versions as to the purpose Burckhardts and Chantrains mission. Hedwig Sommer told her postwar interrogators that both men were to deliver the money and drugs to Becker and then make their way north. Burckhardt was supposed to settle in Mexico and set up an intelligence-gathering network there. Chantrain would travel to the U.S. and attempt to obtain employment in a war plant. Chantrain would pass any information onto Burckhardt who would relay it to Germany. The two would also recruit agents and attempt to establish a network covering the U.S. and Central America.1019 According to Paeffgen, Becker had been pleading for trained men to replace those who were arrested. He also stated that Burckhardt was also to replace Becker who had presence was too well-known. Both men were to assist Utzinger in reinvigorating the Bolivar network.1020 The ship left Bordeaux, France on 16 April 1944. After a 75 day voyage, they landed at Punta Mogotes, Argentina on the night of 2-3 July. The money and

pharmaceuticals were turned over to Gustav Utzinger for his use and were seized the

1018 1019

Newton, The Nazi Menace, p. 261. Ibid. 1020 Interrogation of Theodor Paeffgen, 19 October 1945, 19 October 1945, NARA, RG 59, M679, Roll 3, Frames 945-946.

377 following month when Burckhardt, Chantrain and Utzinger were arrested. Following their arrest all three languished in jail until repatriated to Germany in 1947 with Harnisch and other members of German intelligence. Some of the seized money was later divided among officers of the Coordinacin Federal. According to Rout and Bratzel, the

pharmaceuticals were sold by the Coordinacin Federal in early 1945 for $36,200.1021 The money to fund Bolivar soon became a source of contention between Utzinger and Becker. The Santa Barbara returned to Europe with Heinz Lange, Felipe Imhoff, and Werner Sievers, all members of Beckers organization. According to Rout and Bratzel, Lange had become tired of Beckers shabby treatment, which was related to his and Beckers falling out in 1940. Given that he had previously requested in 1941 that he no longer wanted to work with Becker, Rout and Bratzels claim is plausible. With the police on his trail, Lange radioed that he wanted to return to Germany and join a combat unit. Langes request was approved and he, Imhoff and Sievers returned to Europe.

Instead of being sent to a combat unit Lange was assigned to work as Grosss assistant in Amt VI D/4. While the SD had been optimistic regarding its networks following the break in relations, by mid-1944 those hopes were soon dashed. By August, most

members of Beckers and Harnischs networks were under arrest, with the notable exception of Becker who remained free until April 1945. The question of Harnisch and the other arrested men was a particularly vexing one. While Becker reported on 24 January that Harnisch was being treated decently, the

1021

Rout and Bratzel, The Shadow War, p. 421 and Report of Interrogation of Wolf Emil Franczok Alias Gustav Utzinger, July-September 1947, NARA, RG 65, 64-22460-13, Box 14, p. 15.

378 opposite was occurring.1022 Harnisch told his postwar interrogators that following his arrest he was placed in solitary confinement. This was because he had made a

declaration that not only implicated Becker and Utzinger, but also prominent figures in the Argentine government. Harnisch was angry at his arrest, particularly following the promises of protection Ramrez had made to him in July. As a result, he was given little food or water and awakened every ten minutes. After almost three days of this treatment, a prison doctor examined Harnisch and halted the vigorous interrogation. Harnisch stated that he was removed to another prison where he was treated correctly and accorded every comfort.1023 Herbert Jurmann was not so lucky. According to Utzinger, Jurmann was a caretaker on a farm where a transmitter was located and knew little about Bolivar.1024 However, that did not stop the Argentine police who used electric prodding irons to elicit information. On 18 February Jurmann committed suicide by throwing himself out of a window.1025 Interestingly, Schellenberg claimed to his postwar interrogators that Becker had reported that three German agents had committed suicide. When his interrogator pointed out the discrepancy, Schellenberg

Argentina to Berlin, 24 January 1944, NARA, RG 226, Records of the OSS, OSS Communication Office Records, Ultra Decrypts, Entry 188. 1023 See Affidavit of Hans Rudolf Leo Harnisch, 15 August 1947, NARA, RG 84, BAPR, 862.20235/103147, Box 102, pp. 1-2. The techniques used on Harnisch are eerily similar to those currently used by the CIA and other intelligence organizations at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and in Abu Ghraib Prison in Iraq. For Abu Ghraib see the book by investigative journalist Seymour Hersh, Chain of Command: The Road from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib (New York: Harper Collins, 2004) and the collection of documents at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-sv/world/iraq/abughraib/timeline.html, accessed 30 August 2008. For Guantanamo see, The Schmidt Report, Investigations into FBI Allegations of Detainee Abuse at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba Detention Facility, published 9 June 2005, http://www.cfr.org/publication/9804/schmidt_report.html. 1024 When Becker reported the suicide, he stated that Jurmann was a candidate for admission to the SS and recommended him for the Iron Cross, first class. See Argentina to Berlin, 22 March 1944, NARA, RG 226, Records of the OSS, OSS Communication Office Records, Ultra Decrypts, Entry 188. 1025 Affidavit of Wolf Emil Franczok, alias Gustav Utzinger, 24 October 1947, NARA, RG 65, 64-2246013, Box 14, p. 1.

1022

379 stated that it was possible that Becker was trying to magnify his troubles in order to impress his superiors with the dangers of his mission.1026 Berlin replied that Jurmanns sacrifice filled them with high esteem. They also approved a previous request by Becker that numerous members of his and Harnischs groups be decorated with the War Service Cross, first and second class.1027 Whether Becker thought these decorations would strengthen the resolve of the remaining members of his network is unknown. By this time Utzinger was becoming disgruntled again. Following Jurmanns suicide, Becker had requested to return to Germany. Berlin replied that this was

impossible at the present time. With Becker in hiding, they stated that liaison-agent with the Jurmann spirit is to be used meanwhile to unburden Luna (Utzinger) who will now be in complete charge until SARGO (Becker) returns. They did not rule out Beckers return at a later date and told Utzinger they were looking for a worthy substitute. Utzinger replied that he and other members of the group did not need the tinsel (decorations). He stated further that There is here no longer any rush to

collaborate for such a career as Jurmann hadSo much the more true loyalty has a right to recognition.1028 Utzinger probably interpreted Beckers request to leave as the proverbial rat deserting the sinking ship. By being placed in charge Utzinger probably saw himself being offered up as a scapegoat, similar to Harnisch. Jurmanns suicide was the straw that broke the camels back. Berlin apparently ignored Utzingers

1026

Notes on the Interrogation of Walter Schellenberg, 6 February 1946, NARA, RG 59, 862.20235/42646, Argentine Blue Book, Box 6740, p. 8. No such message was sent; Becker simply reported Jurmanns suicide. 1027 Argentina to Berlin, 22 March 1944 and Berlin to Argentina, 26 March 1944, NARA, RG 226, Records of the OSS, OSS Communication Office Records, Ultra Decrypts, Entry 188. 1028 Berlin to Argentina, 29 March 1944 and Argentina to Berlin, 9 April 1944, Ibid.

380 disgruntlement again and instead awarded, him, Becker, and other members of their network the Iron Crosses, first and second class, probably in an attempt to placate them.1029 Harnisch, Utzinger and the other prisoners knowledge of Argentine complicity with German agents remained a problem. Given the deep involvement of Ramrez, Gonzlez, Pern and others in cooperating with German agents, something had to be done to conceal Argentine involvement with Nazi Germany. Utzinger told his postwar interrogators that following his arrest in August 1944 Pern paid a visit to the prison where he was being held. According to Utzinger, Pern told Major Oscar Contal, the new head of the Coordinacin Federal, how to proceed with getting statements from Utzinger and the other prisoners. Pern allegedly told Contal that under no

circumstances were any contacts between Ramrez, Gonzlez, and other political and military personalities to be mentioned. Two days after Perns visit Utzinger stated he was called into Contals office. Utzinger told his postwar interrogators that Contal explained Perns instructions in detail and made him promise not to mention specific individuals in any statement he made. These included Ramrez, Gonzlez, Pablo Stagni, Dionisio Foianini, and Victor Paz Estenssoro among others.1030 Interestingly, Utzingers interrogator never followed up on why Contal explained the situation in detail, including mentioning Pern. He also never followed up on why Utzinger entered into a

gentlemans agreement with Contal. Contal could have simply told him what he wanted without a long-winded explanation. Given the treatment meted out earlier to
For a list of the awards and their recipients see Berlin to Argentina, 28 April 1944, Ibid. Report of Interrogation of Wolf Emil Franczok, alias Gustav Utzinger, July-September 1947, NARA, RG 65, 64-22460-13, Box 14, p. 13.
1030 1029

381 Harnisch and Jurmann, Utzinger would have been under no illusions as to what awaited him should he refuse to cooperate. This suggests that Contal and Utzinger had more than a passing relationship. Contal further informed Utzinger that he should inform his fellow prisoners about what was expected of them. If they cooperated and abided by Perns request they would be well treated. Utzinger stated that Contal gave him a list of points which were not to be discussed in any statement made by the prisoners. These were: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. Contacts with Argentine or South American personalities or military people. Contacts with intelligence groups. Monetary connections. Contact with German firms. Landing of agents. Chemicals and microdot photography. Contents of wireless messages. Transmitting experiments, wave-lengths, codes.1031

Utzinger claimed that over the next several months, the prisoners were made to give statements which were continually re-touched until they said what the Argentines wanted them to say. Despite this apparent success, one person remained free: Johannes Siegfried Becker. Following Utzingers arrest Becker dyed his hair and moustache and moved constantly to avoid the Argentine police. Becker also took up with Heinz Langes former mistress, Melitta Tietz. Evidently, Becker supplied her with money for food and rent. She told her neighbors that she and her husband lived in their various apartments. However, since none of her neighbors ever saw her husband one of them eventually

1031

Ibid.

382 grew suspicious and informed the police. On 16 April 1945, Becker was arrested.1032 According to Utzinger, Becker was particularly angry at being caught. When asked to provide a statement, Utzinger told his postwar interrogators that Becker was extremely forthcoming. Utzinger alleged that Beckers first statement was over 300 pages long. This was reduced to 100 after Becker was persuaded to censor his testimony. This forced the other prisoners to rework their testimony so that they reflected Beckers version of events.1033 Becker also apparently made his peace with Ludwig Freude. The

recriminations from this reconciliation between Becker and Freude were one reason relations between Harnisch and Becker became strained. Utzinger had never thought very highly of Freude. In a meeting with the German military attach to Argentine General Friedrich Wolf in mid-1943, Wolf had suggested Freude as a suitable person to be the intermediary for Bolivar. Utzinger objected and told him that Freude was an opportunistic pig (Konvenienzschwein). Word of this apparently got back to Freude and their relationship was strained.1034 Freudes relationship with Meynen and the embassy and his subsequent friendship with Becker and Pern remain enigmatic. Becker blamed Freude for the failure of the Hellmuth mission. Beckers assertions were accepted by Schellenberg and Paeffgen, who also blamed Freude for the missions failure. In December 1943 Gonzlez had vowed revenge on Freude for his suspected treachery. Following the creation of the Coordinacin Federal Gonzlez ordered Filippi to arrest Freude. However, Freude had
Memorandum, re. Johannes Siegfried Becker, 18 January 1946, NARA, RG 165, Office of Director of Intelligence, G-2, Box 967, pp. 43-44. 1033 Report of Interrogation of Wolf Emil Franczok, alias Gustav Utzinger, July-September 1947, NARA, RG 65, 64-22460-13, Box 14, p. 14. 1034 Ibid, p. 7.
1032

383 powerful friends including General Juan Pistarini, Minister of Public Works. Pistarini threatened to resign if Freude was arrested. As a result, the order was countermanded. Apparently, Pistarini brought Freude and Pern together as well.1035 Pern probably recognized that it would be better to have Freude as a friend rather than an enemy. Pern quickly proved his loyalty to Freude by ordering Contal to bring Freudes son-in-law, Werner Knnecke to his office. Knnecke had been in custody since 29 August 1944 in the same roundup that netted Utzinger, Burckhardt and Chantrain. In Perns office Knnecke was asked about his connections with German intelligence. Knnecke denied that he had any such connections. Apparently satisfied with this

answer Pern ordered Contal to release him. Contal refused and kept him in custody. In early 1945 when Contal was away from his post Pern managed to obtain his release.1036 Utzinger told his postwar interrogators that sometime after April 1945 Becker and Freude reconciled. He stated that during their time in prison Becker received regular visits from Freude and others connected with Pern. Despite this reconciliation Becker, Harnisch, Utzinger and other members of German intelligence languished in jail until June 1946. Freude was also a target of the U.S. On 6 September 1945 almost four months after the end of the war in Europe, U.S. ambassador Spruille Braden requested a meeting with the Argentine Foreign Minister, Juan J. Cooke. Braden told Cooke that he wanted Freude arrested, interrogated and deported to Germany or the U.S. for his involvement with German intelligence. Cooke assented to Bradens request, but quickly realized this was easier said than done. On 19 September Cooke told Braden that Freude had too

1035 1036

Rout and Bratzel, The Shadow War, p. 420. Ibid, pp. 420-421.

384 many influential friends to be either arrested or deported. When Freude learned of Bradens demand he acted quickly to prevent any deportation proceedings. On 21

September he petitioned the Argentine courts to allow him to take the oath of citizenship. Freude claimed to have filed for citizenship in 1935 and wanted to complete the process. The U.S. and British informed the judge that Freude had obtained a German passport and taken an oath of allegiance to Nazi Germany on 20 November 1937. The judge rejected Freudes request. The judge stated that by waiting for more than a decade to take the oath of citizenship Freude had demonstrated contempt for the nation. He also cited Executive decree No. 6005 of 27 November 1943. This decree suspended granting naturalization until the war was over. Freude appealed the judges decision to a higher court.1037 Freudes efforts to avoid deportation were almost thwarted the following month. In October 1945 Pern had become embroiled in a power struggle and was removed from office. Perns opponents issued an arrest warrant and a deportation order for Pern. According to Rout and Bratzel, Freude offered Pern a place to hide and allegedly managed to have his deportation order destroyed. Pern repaid this show of support by having the appeals court overturn the lower courts decision and approve Freudes petition of citizenship. According to Newton, the appeals court concluded that Freude had merely neglected to complete the formalities and take the oath. It was simply a regrettable oversight. There was widespread suspicion that Pern had pressured the courts into approving Freudes application. An investigation was ordered and the results

1037

Rout and Bratzel, The Shadow War, p. 422 and Newton, The Nazi Menace, p. 370.

385 were predictable. In October 1946, the government announced that the investigation had cleared Freude.1038 Following his return to power, Pern declared himself a candidate for the presidential elections scheduled for 24 February 1946. Just before the election the U.S. released Consultation among the American Republics with Respect to the Argentine Situation more commonly known as the Blue Book.1039 It contained sensational charges against Pern and other members of the ruling junta who had taken power on 4 June 1943. The Blue Book was a blatant attempt by the U.S. to influence the Argentine presidential elections. Because of the motives behind it the Blue Book was dismissed by most Latin American governments as propaganda.1040 The attempt was unsuccessful and on 24 February Pern became Argentinas president-elect. Freudes son Rodolfo accompanied Pern during the campaign and was appointed his presidential secretary in April 1946. In May, the elder Freude threw an ostentatious birthday party for Perns wife, Eva. Freude had acquired a powerful patron who protected him from deportation. However, there was still the issue of Becker, Utzinger and the other German spies languishing in Argentine jails. Beckers friendship with Freude finally began to pay off. In June 1946 Freude went to the jail where Becker, Utzinger and the others were being held. According to Utzinger, Freude offered to provide financial help to those in jail. Utzinger was not
1038 1039

Rout and Bratzel, The Shadow War, p. p. 422-423 and Newton, The Nazi Menace, p. 370. U.S. Department of State, Consultation among the American Republics with Respect to the Argentine Situation (Washington D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1946). The U.S. ambassador to Argentina, Spruille Braden had a contentious relationship with Pern. On one notable occasion Braden and Pern engaged in a shouting match. For Bradens version of this meeting see, Spruille Braden, Diplomats and Demagogues: The Memoirs of Spruille Braden (New Rochelle, NY: Arlington House, 1971), pp. 328-329. Braden stated that he and Pern were going at it like a couple of small boys 1040 For this see Gary Frank, Juan Pern versus Spruille Braden (New York: Rowan & Littlefield, 1982).

386 included in this offer because of the enmity between him and Freude. Utzinger felt that Freude wanted to take away his financial independence to make him more amenable.1041 In his interrogation Harnisch made no mention of a financial offer from Freude. Perhaps he was excluded as well. Whatever the case Harnisch and Utzinger were released in June. Becker was released later in the month. Following his release, Utzinger petitioned the Argentine courts to return the money seized from him at the time of his arrest.1042 The seized money became another source of contention between Utzinger and Becker. Utzinger told his postwar interrogators that he had met Becker by chance at the offices of the Coordinacin Federal following their release. Utzinger claimed that

Becker told him he was going to attempt to have the 172,000 pesos that was seized returned to him. Becker stated that after legal expense etc. there was only about 60,000 pesos left. Utzinger told him that many members of the organization were indigent and asked for an account of the money. He claimed that Becker then stated he only had 4,000 pesos left. Becker claimed that the rest of the money had gone to bribes and unexplained expenses. Utzinger believed that Becker claimed the lower amount to relieve him of all obligations.1043 Utzinger and Harnisch soon had another, more pressing, issue to worry about. Ludwig Freude was about to have his revenge on both men.

Report of Interrogation of Wolf Emil Franczok, alias Gustav Utzinger, July-September 1947, NARA, RG 65, 64-22460-13, Box 14, p. 20. 1042 Affidavit of Wolf Emil Franczok, alias Gustav Utzinger, 10 September 1947, NARA, RG 65, 6422460-13, Box 14, pp. 2-3. 1043 Ibid, p. 3. Utzinger made a long moral statement about Becker enriching himself at the expense of others. While Utzinger had numerous problems with Becker in past, it would appear he simply wanted his share of the money.

1041

387 Throughout 1945 and 1946 the U.S was pressuring Argentina to deport any German nationals who had been involved in intelligence-gathering. On 15 November 1946 Pern signed Executive Decree No. 18480/946. This decree stated that fifty-three individuals who had been arrested in the roundups of 1944 were now subject to arrest and deportation.1044 Both Utzinger and Harnisch claimed that they were warned in advance of the decree and told to go into hiding. According to Newton, Rodolfo Freude had a hand in drawing up the list of those to be deported.1045 If true, then his father certainly had a hand as well. Given the long-standing enmity between Harnisch, Utzinger and Freude, it was not surprising to either man that they were slated to be arrested and deported. Utzinger and Harnisch went into hiding. Harnisch claimed that he intended to turn himself in but was convinced to go into hiding by Rodolfo Freudes secretary, Eduardo Bravo Casares. Casares informed Harnisch that he would only have to remain in hiding until U.S. pressure to deport him had slackened. Harnisch stated that he was under the impression he was doing the government a favor given Casaress position. More than likely Freude and his father were making sure that should Harnisch need to be sacrificed he was in a readily accessible place. Harnisch suspected that this was the case following a conversation with Casares who informed him that Rodolfo Freude had ordered his arrest.1046 Certainly, the situation favored just such an approach. Freude would be rid of a long-time antagonist and Perns government could point to Harnischs

1044 1045

Rout and Bratzel, The Shadow War, p. 426. Newton, The Nazi Menace, p. 371. 1046 Affidavit of Hans Rudolf Leo Harnisch, 15 August 1947, RG 84, BAPR, 862.20235/10-3147, Box 102, p. 1.

388 deportation as sign of their cooperation. On 4 February 1947 Harnisch was arrested by the Coordinacin Federal and slated for deportation. Utzinger went into hiding as well, but was not offered the use of a house. Instead, he decided to strike out on his own. Following the warning to flee he went underground with his mistress, Anna Assmann, and neighbor Albert Treusch, a minor member of Bolivar. Between November 1946 and February 1947, they moved around in an attempt to avoid the police. In March, he was betrayed by an unknown German national, but managed to avoid arrest. He and Assmann then moved to the mountains relying on friendly villagers to give them shelter. On 1 April 1947 with his funds down to 30 pesos and tired of running Utzinger turned himself in to the police.1047 Like Harnisch, Utzinger was jailed and scheduled for deportation. Excluded from the deportation order was Johannes Siegfried Becker. On 22 May 1947 Utzinger, Harnisch and six other men were placed aboard the Ro Teuco and deported to Germany. Once there all three were immediately arrested and placed into the Wannsee Internment camp. Between July and September Harnisch and Utzinger were extensively interrogated by the Americans regarding their activities. Both men downplayed their roles though Utzinger was more forthcoming than Harnisch. Harnisch admitted involvement, but claimed it was minimal. A comparison of

Harnischs and Utzingers interrogations suggests that both men made sure that their stories matched on major points. Both men placed the blame for their predicament on the

Report of Interrogation of Wolf Emil Franczok, alias Gustav Utzinger, July-September 1947, NARA, RG 65, 64-22460-13, Box 14, pp. 22-23.

1047

389 shoulders of Becker and Freude. Harnischs interrogator swallowed his story almost completely and stated: If Hans Harnisch is looked upon as having been an unsatisfactory source of information on Argentina, it should be considered that possibly too much was expected of him. His name has become almost legendaryHarnischs patrons Gonzlez and other identified with the Ramrez regimealso came to grief, and Harnisch was made a whipping boy.1048 In many ways, this could serve as a fitting epitaph to German attempts to construct an effective intelligence-gathering network in Latin America. In some ways it is surprising Harnisch and Utzinger were interrogated by the Americans at all. By 1947 Pern was comfortably ensconced in the Argentine

presidential palace, where he would stay until his overthrow in 1955. During his time Pern made the Argentine nation wealthy for a time by selling its beef at high prices to feed war-torn Europe. As the wartime alliance between the Allied powers broke down, the world moved towards the Cold War. Both the U.S. and Argentina recognized the new political landscape.1049 Pern was an ardent anti-communist who began to align

Argentina with the U.S. Both countries tried to move beyond the antagonism of the war years. Argentina and the U.S. both began to allow former Nazis and war-criminals to settle in their respective nations.1050 It is the secrecy of surrounding the U.S. and Argentine legacy of using former Nazis and war-criminals to further their own ends that fostered the lies and exaggerations that were prominent in the publics perception of
1048

Report of Interrogation of Hans Rudolf Leo Harnisch, July-September 1947, RG 84, BAPR, 862.20235/10-3147, Box 102, p. 30. 1049 See Leslie Bethell and Ian Roxborough eds., Latin America between the Second World War and Cold War, 1944-1948 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997) and David Rock ed., Latin America in the 1940s: War and Postwar Transitions (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994). 1050 Most recent and prominent are Uki Goi, The Real Odessa: Smuggling the Nazis to Perns Argentina (London: Granta, 2002) and Richard Breitman et. al., U.S. Intelligence and the Nazis (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005).

390 Latin America following the war. Like most lies, those surrounding the Nazis and Argentina do have some basis in fact. However, with the passing of time and secrecy surrounding German actions in Argentina those facts have been distorted beyond all recognition. It is the authors hope that this study has set the record straight on some level

391

Conclusion

It may be said that I fear too much. Surely, considering the state we stand in, I think it less dangerous to fear too much than too little. Sir Francis Walsingham1051 Over the course of six years, the Germans spent over a million dollars and expended numerous man-hours in pursuit of a fantasy. The fact that German intelligence and the AA succeeded to the extent they did was more of a testament to the cooperation they received from sympathetic members of various Latin American governments than of any skill on their parts. Despite long-standing ties in Latin America Nazi policy-makers fundamentally misunderstood why Argentina favored Nazi Germany. They equated antiAmericanism with being pro-German. From the beginning of Hitlers reign in 1933 German diplomacy towards Argentina was lacking in design and execution. There was no long-range policy drawn up in the Wilhelmstrasse to address this deficiency. Additionally, Argentina was on the periphery of German diplomacy. Unlike Great

Britain, Hitler had little interest in Latin America. Even though Argentina was an important supplier of vital raw materials the diplomatic staff in Berlin took little notice and had little involvement in policy. Thermanns lamentations about the lack of any coherent policy and the documentary record supporting his statements are powerful evidence. The bureaucratic infighting in the 1930s between the AO and AA contributed substantially to the friction between Germany and Argentina. Hitlers unwillingness to
1051

Quoted in Stephen Budiansky, Her Majestys Spymaster: Elizabeth I, Sir Francis Walsingham, and the Birth of Modern Espionage (New York: Viking, 2005), p. 27.

392 intervene in this struggle meant that German diplomacy would suffer. The events

between 1937 and 1939 serve to illustrate this point. Despite its best efforts, the AA was unable to bring the AO to heel. All AO could do was offer assurances that its actions were not hostile in the face of evidence to the contrary. This explains why forgeries such as the Patagonia document and the Wendler forgery in Bolivia were accepted as genuine. Following the outbreak of the war, a new enemy in the form of Heinrich Himmlers SS appeared. Its continual attempts to undermine the AA were detrimental in the long-run. Even when circumstances appeared to be in working in its favor, events were being directed by forces outside the control of either Argentina or Germany. The U.S. and Great Britain used Ultra as a tool to try and turn Argentina away from Nazi Germany. However, the U.S. was not the innocent it appeared. Like Germany, the U.S. fundamentally misunderstood Argentinas fervent desire to maintain neutrality. This was one reason why Argentina turned to Germany for weapons. Unlike Argentina, the U.S. had a greater appreciation for the threat Nazi Germany posed. As early as 1941 the British and Americans were aware of the atrocities committed against Jews in Europe. Britain was also well aware that the U.S. was positioning itself economically in Latin America with the intention of supplanting the British. The records of the British Foreign Office are full of memoranda addressing this subject. The U.S. continued to pressure Argentina into the post-war period to close and confiscate German-owned businesses.1052 The U.S. was convinced as early as 1937-38 that Germany posed a threat to the Western Hemisphere.
1052

These fears were reinforced after Germany undermined the

Ronald Newton ably discusses the economic aspects of U.S. and British policy regarding Argentina. Ronald C. Newton, The Nazi Menace in Argentina, 1933-1947 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1992).

393 governments of Austria and Czechoslovakia. German agitation and demonstrations in Argentina and Brazil paralleled those in Europe. Additionally, the Germans in these and other countries never really assimilated into the general population. They had their own German-language schools, associations and clubs where they congregated. If one accepts Newtons contention that the U.S. deluded itself into believing there was a threat, then one also has to accept that Getlio Vargas of Brazil and Roberto Ortiz of Argentina were deluded as well. Both men took serious measures to contain a group of people they viewed as a threat to their nations sovereignty. Whether German intrigues posed a significant threat to either country is, in some ways, moot. Given German actions in Europe regarding Austria and Czechoslovakia, neither Vargas nor Ortiz could allow the NSDAP and other German organizations to become a threat. It was this view of German actions that allowed Vargas to believe Germans in Brazil had participated in a coup against him. German actions in Argentina also

confirmed Ortizs suspicions that the German community was conspiring against his government. Ortizs fears figured prominently in the so-called Patagonia Plot of 1939. In some ways, the fact that the Patagonia document was a forgery was immaterial. It confirmed Ortizs suspicions and that was enough for him to accept it at face value. History is replete with instances of individuals who have done the same. For example, Hitler believed the Allies would land at the Pas de Calais instead of Normandy.1053 More

1053

See especially, Thaddeus Holt, The Deceivers: Allied Military Deception in the Second World War (London: Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 2004).

394 recently, this charge has been leveled at U.S. President George W. Bush regarding the intelligence surrounding the case for the invasion of Iraq.1054 Amt VIs views of Argentina allowed Schellenberg, Paeffgen and their subordinates to believe what they wanted to believe about Argentine cooperation. Thermanns warnings regarding Argentine beliefs reflected the reality of the situation. He understood that pro-German sentiments in Latin America were more the product of anti-Americanism than any sympathy towards Nazism. That is not to say that some prominent figures were not pro-Nazi. There were elements of Nazism and Fascism that attracted military officers and politicians. However, they were nationalists first and ideological sympathizers second. When it became obvious Germany was going to lose the war these governments had no qualms about cutting their ties. The AA understood the situation, but their policy of prudence was continually undermined by the AO and SD. Through Ultra, the U.S. and British were well aware of these divisions and used them to their advantage. This was particularly true in the Hellmuth affair. This caused the AA and SD to blame each other for the break in relations, with the ultimate casualty being the Abwehr. With its extensive examination of the records of the German Foreign Ministry, this study hopes to start a new paradigm regarding Argentinas actions during the war and U.S. policy towards Argentina. Previous studies, most prominently, Randall Bennett Woods and Alfred P. Vannucci have argued that U.S. policy towards Argentina during
1054

There is little scholarly literature on this subject mainly due to the classification of material. Most of the books on this subject are polemical with little to no value. However, two books by journalists Bob Woodward and Ron Suskind seem to be the most balanced. See Bob Woodward, State of Denial: Bush at War, Part III (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2006) and Ron Suskind, The One Percent Doctrine: Deep Inside Americas Pursuit of Its Enemies Since 9/11 (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2006).

395 World War II was the result of confused policymaking and rivalries between policymakers.1055 Both arguments were based extensively on the records of the U.S. State Department and have influenced subsequent scholarship regarding U.S.-Argentine relations. There is abundant material that shows U.S. policy was based on sound

evidence. While their interpretation of evidence could be overdrawn or exaggerated, it was reliable. Regarding major points of German policy, the Ultra material, the Germanlanguage records of the AA and postwar interrogations support each other. The evidence presented here argues against Ronald Newtons interpretation of U.S. actions. The declassified Ultra material reveals extensive cooperation between prominent governmental officials in Argentina, Paraguay, Brazil and Bolivia. This evidence was also available to U.S. and British policymakers as well and probably influenced their actions. The material on German and Argentine complicity in the Bolivian coup has never been revealed before. While historians of Bolivia, such as Cole Blasier, Kenneth Lehman and Waltraud Morales, had suspected involvement, the proof was lacking at the time their studies were completed.1056 The declassified Ultra material should allow historians to reexamine U.S. reactions to the Bolivian coup of December 1943. The Ultra material also forms the documentary base for Consultation among the American

Randall Bennett Woods, The Roosevelt Foreign Policy Establishment and the Good Neighbor: The United States and Argentina, 1941-1945 (Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas Regents Press, 1979) and Albert P. Vannucci, United States-Argentine Relations from 1943-1948: A Case in Confused Foreign Policy Making (New York: New School, Ph.D diss., 1978). 1056 Cole Blasier, The United States, Germany, and the Bolivian Revolutionaries (1941-1946), The Hispanic American Historical Review, 52/1, (February 1972) Kenneth D Lehman, Bolivia and the United States: A Limited Partnership (Athens, GA: The University of Georgia Press, 1999) and Waltraud Morales, A Brief History of Bolivia (New York: Facts on File, Inc., 2003).

1055

396 Republics with Respect to the Argentine Situation, the so-called Blue Book.1057 Historians have viewed the Blue Book skeptically, seeing it as a product of U.S. imperialism in Latin America. This, along with the lack of sources made a compelling case. However, a comparison of the records of the AA, the Ultra material and postwar interrogation argues that the Blue Book should be taken seriously as a historical source, despite some overdrawn conclusions regarding the ideological bent of Pern and his confederates. The question of ideology is somewhat vexing. Without a doubt, Thermann, Meynen, Becker and others were inclined towards Nazism. Thermann and Meynen had oriented themselves to the Nazi regime, as early as 1933 in Thermanns case and as early as 1936 for Meynen. Becker had joined the NSDAP in 1930 and SS in 1931 and the evidence suggests he had worked for Amt VI as early as 1938. There is little doubt about where Beckers sympathies lay. The same goes for Schellenberg and Paeffgen. Katrin Paehlers study of Schellenberg and Amt VI shows that Schellenberg was an ardent Nazi despite his postwar statements to the contrary.1058 The evidence and arguments presented in this study support her conclusions that Amt VI was first and foremost an ideological organization. The ideology of the German community in Argentina is more problematic. The research of Holger Meding and others argues that Nazi ideology was not very deep.1059
1057

U.S. Department of State, Consultation among the American Republics with Respect to the Argentine Situation (Washington D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1946). 1058 Katrin Paehler, Espionage, Ideology and Personal Politics: The Making and Unmaking of a Nazi Foreign Intelligence Service (Washington D.C.: American University, Ph.D diss., 2002), 1059 Olaf Gaudig and Peter Veit, Der Widerschein des Nazismus : das Bild des Nationalsozialismus in der deutschsprachigen Presse Argentiniens, Brasiliens und Chiles 1932-1945 (Berlin: Wissenschaftlicher Verlag, 1997); Olaf Gaudig and Peter Veit, Hakenkreuz ber Sdamerika : Ideologie, Politik, Militr

397 While this may be true, in some ways it is immaterial. German intelligence received extensive support from prominent members of the German-Argentine community. The assistance Niebuhr, Becker and Utzinger received from Antonio Delfino, Ludwig Freude is borne out in the archival record. Looking at it from that perspective, it did not matter whether the masses were sympathetic to Nazism. As long as those with money and influence assisted Nazi Germany, that was enough for the time being. Without the assistance of Delfino, Freude and others, Niebuhr and Becker would have had a much harder time funding their operations. Once Germany won the war then the rest could be coordinated. The ideological bent of Latin American military officers and politicians is also problematic. Certainly, Ramn Castillo was pro-German, but there is no evidence he was pro-Nazi. The same cannot be said for the members of the Argentine military who overthrew him particularly Juan Domingo Pern. The Blue Book states unequivocally that Pern was at best a Nazi sympathizer. There is evidence to support this view. Perns name is prominently mentioned in numerous messages between Argentina and Berlin. Based on Beckers reports Schellenberg and Paeffgen believed that Pern was sympathetic to Nazism. Schellenbergs postwar interrogators asked him a hypothetical question: If you were still maintaining Department VI and Pern were head of the Argentine government would you consider him a most favorable possibility from your point of view? Schellenberg replied, Yes. When he was asked Would you consider

(Berlin: Wissenschaftlicher Verlag, 2004); Holger Meding ed. Nationalsozialismus und Argentinien: Beziehungen, Einflsse und Nachwirkungen (Frankfurt: Lang, 1995).

398 that he would double-cross you? Schellenberg stated, Not according to his original aims. Otherwise he would have had to undergo a change in the meantime.1060 The interrogations of not only Schellenberg, but Paeffgen, Harnisch and Utzinger mention Pern as playing a major role in supporting and protecting their operations. The Ultra decrypts corroborate their statements. However, Pern was a nationalist first, however much he admired certain aspects of Italian fascism and Nazism. The Argentine government only turned to Germany for weapons after the U.S. refused to provide them. Ramirez, Gonzlez and Pern understood there would a quid pro quo for providing the weapons they needed. This is one of many instances where Amt VI fundamentally misunderstood Argentine motives. Following the failure of the Hellmuth mission certain individuals were rounded up by the Argentine police, but Becker and Utzinger remained free. Ramirez and Pern probably understood that they could not expose the full extent of German intelligence operations in Argentina lest they be accused of either incompetence or collaboration. Thus, the need for Becker and Utzinger to remain free for a time until U.S. pressure on Argentina slackened. They also manipulated the

interrogations of Utzinger, Harnisch and others to reflect the story they wanted told. However compelling the evidence against Pern is, it is based on second and third-hand accounts. There is no direct evidence linking Pern to German intelligence. Despite the lack of direct evidence against Pern, the fact remains that the Argentines collaborated willingly with German intelligence.

Interrogation of Walter Schellenberg, 6 February 1946, NARA, RG 59, 862.20235/4-2646, Argentine Blue Book, Box 6740, p. 2 and Uki Goi, The Real Odessa: Smuggling the Nazis to Perns Argentina (London: Granta, 2002) p. 17.

1060

399 The creation of the so-called Andes bloc and Argentinas response to the Holocaust raises the question of ideology. The evidence suggests that the Andes bloc was more anti-U.S. than pro-German. Schellenberg, Paeffgen and Gross were willing to overlook this in pursuit of larger goals. They also fundamentally misread the nature of Latin American authoritarianism. While groups such as the Frente de Guerra in

Paraguay and Razn de Patria in Bolivia were inclined to fascism, that did not make them fascist. Their ideology was more akin to Francos and Mussolinis rather than Hitlers. They were authoritarian nationalists first and ideologues second. The Argentine governments response to the Holocaust is certainly one of the more sordid episodes in its history. Charg Luis Luti and others had continually informed their government of what deportation meant. Argentina was in a very powerful position to save its Jews, much more than other countries in some cases. Even when the Nazis offered to assist

Argentina in repatriating its Jews, instead of accepting the offer, the record is one of obfuscation and obstruction. From that perspective, it did not matter if Argentina shared Nazi Germanys views of the Jews. The end result would be the same: deportation and death. Regarding German aims in Argentina and Latin America, the evidence is more clear-cut. Germanys aims rested on the policies of the past. Argentina would have probably assumed the role it traditionally played in the world economy: exporter of raw materials and importer of finished goods. German diplomatic policy from 1939-1942 stressed trade agreements that would commence once Germany had won the war. However, there is another possibility. Norman J.W. Godas study of Hitlers global

400 ambitions argues that there was going to be a battle for supremacy of the Atlantic world between Germany and the U.S.1061 If Germany emerged victorious, Argentina could have either become a vassal state or ally, along the lines of Hungary or Romania. Germany could also have attempted to conquer Argentina by force. In the absence of solid

information, this must remain speculative. Godas study is powerful evidence that this theory could have become reality. The success or failure of German intelligence is a bit more nebulous since these are vague terms. If success is defined as Germany acquiring solid, reliable, information on U.S. capabilities and intentions, then it can be said definitively that German intelligence failed in its task. German intelligence activities did cause the U.S. to devote extensive resources to combating German influence and intelligence-gathering in Latin America. If this was an aim of Amt VI and the Abwehr, then they succeeded. By 1944, the F.B.I. had over three hundred agents in Latin America guarding against potential German actions.1062 This does not count the numerous members of the Military Intelligence Division of the U.S. Army, Naval Intelligence and military attachs who kept track of German agents. This was a massive effort to quell any potential threats to Latin American countries and U.S. interests. The U.S. had the resources to devote to such an endeavor without compromising security elsewhere. Historians who judge U.S. actions towards Argentina harshly should keep several things in mind. First, Nazi Germany was directly or indirectly responsible for the deaths of over 40 million people. This includes three million German soldiers who fell on the
1061

Norman J.W. Goda, Tomorrow the World: Hitler, Northwest Africa and the Path Toward America (College Station: Texas A&M Press, 1998). 1062 History of the SIS, 3 vols. declassified 8/10/04.

401 various battlefields in Europe, the Atlantic and North Africa. It also includes almost 200,000 of its own citizens who were deemed life unworthy of life and put to death in the so-called euthanasia program. Also, almost 100,000 German Jews perished in the various death camps the Nazis constructed throughout Europe.1063 By 1943, the Argentine government certainly knew of the Holocaust yet it drew even closer to Nazi Germany. When judging U.S. policy towards Argentina during World War II historians would do well to keep in this chapters epigraph in mind. The alternative is too horrible to contemplate.

1063

For these figures see, Raul Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Jews, 3 vols., revised and expanded edition, (New York: Holmes & Meier, 1985), and Henry Friedlander, The Origins of Nazi Genocide: From Euthanasia to the Final Solution (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1995).

402

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Electronic Resources
http://www.cfr.org/publication/9804/schmidt_report.html.

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