In giving routine passage to a Senate bill extending for another two years the existence of
the Nazi War Crimes and Japanese Imperial Government Records Interagency Working Group (IWG), senators on Thursday, Feb. 16, provided a
glimpse into some of the information that is emerging from long-secret U.S. government records.
Democratic Senators Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Dianne Feinstein
of California noted that the CIA in the past had refused to turn over any classified documents but now may be willing to do so to the IWG, whose members include "the director of
Museum, the historian of
the Department of
State, the Archivist of the United States, representatives from the CIA, FBI,
Department of Justice, specifically the Office of Special Investigations, the
Defense, and three outside appointees, known as public members, who are Elizabeth Holtzman, Richard
Ben-Veniste, and Thomas Baer," according to extension-sponsor Sen. Mike Dewine (R-Ohio).
Originally created in 1998 at the behest of then Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Rep. Carolyn Maloney, both of New York, the working group has been sorting through government documents and making public "previously classified information about a terrible part of history, the history of Nazi persecution and also the relationship of the U.S. Government
to the Nazi war criminals in the aftermath of World War II and during the Cold War,"
Dewine said to date "over 100 million documents have been screened for possible relevancy, and over 8 million documents have been declassified and used to create a book titled,
U.S. Intelligence and the Nazis.
"This book... now provides us with 15 chapters of insight into the Holocaust and the post-World War II
era—insight into what U.S. Government officials knew and when they knew it," Dewine told his Senate colleagues. "It makes for absolutely fascinating reading. We can be assured that, as more documents are uncovered and as historians have the opportunity to study what has already been
uncovered, there will be more articles published, more interpretation, more understanding of
"For example," Dewine said, "the historians were able to examine a range of documents produced by Gonzalo Montt,
the Chilean consul in Prague during the early 1940s. Montt was a Nazi sympathizer and, as such,
appears to have had significant access to Nazi plans regarding 'the Jewish problem' and how the
regime was planning to address it—and that plan involved moving the Jews into ghettos,
expropriating their assets, and eventually eradicating the Jewish population.
"British intelligence got access to many of Montt's dispatches to his home government and
provided them to the United States as early as March 1942. Under the law, the IWG recommended that
these documents be declassified, and our government agreed. These documents show that certain
officials in our government had some evidence of Nazi intentions toward the Jews at least 6 months
earlier than had previously been known.
"Further, as the authors, themselves, say, these documents show again that for many Americans and Britons inside and outside of government, the central, overriding concern during 1939-1945 was the war,
itself—not the barbaric policies that accompanied it."
Dewine also noted that in a chapter written by Professor Norman J.W. Goda, a professor at Ohio University, "the book details how the German government, in coordination
with a number of U.S. and European banks, worked together to funnel money illegally expropriated
from the accounts of German Jewish nationals back to Germany. Although the details are somewhat
complex, in essence, the German government used these expropriated assets to lure a prior
generation of German immigrants back to Germany from the United States and, essentially, invest in
the German war effort.
"A large U.S. bank was intimately involved in this scheme, and profited greatly from it," Dewine said. "The
scheme was discovered in late 1940 by the FBI, and it began a lengthy investigation. Rather than
shut down the operation, the Bureau surveilled the many participants and eventually did arrest a
large number of them. At some point during the investigation, the bank, itself, did cooperate with
the investigation and was never prosecuted in order to protect FBI and Army intelligence sources.
Until this project began, this story had never fully been exposed."