The Nazis Next Door: How America Became a Safe Haven for Hitler’s Men By Eric Lichtblau

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122614_mishmash_bookIf you’re feeling chilly these winter nights, grab a copy of Eric Lichtblau’s new book and get your blood boiling.

In the first half, Lichtblau describes how, as Jews still languished in DP camps, even some of the worst Nazis and collaborators began new lives in the United States — imported by the Army to work on rocket programs, allowed in with biographies sanitized by the CIA or simply let in by
indifferent or ignorant immigration workers.

The Army knew the truth about SS Maj. Wernher von Braun and about Arthur Rudolph, who ran the factory that worked thousands of slave laborers to death making von Braun’s V-2 rockets. Other Nazis falsely claimed innocuous wartime work or anti-Nazi beliefs or gave truthful statements of ardent opposition to communism. Often, the last seemed to suffice.

“The true number of [Nazi] fugitives may never be known, but the number of postwar immigrants with clear ties to the Nazis likely surpassed 10,000,” Lichtblau says.

The second half of Lichtblau’s book is somewhat more calming: After hearings by U.S. Reps. Elizabeth Holtzman and Joshua Eilberg shamed the government, Congress forced the Justice
Department to create the well-known Office of Special Investigations (OSI) in 1979.

Not all of “The Nazis Next Door” is new, but even things once familiar no longer are so, and Lichtblau does a nice job of painting the larger picture while focusing on six notorious individuals and neither dodging nor dwelling on unpleasant details.

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