As students, history is made each day around us – although we often don’t notice or reflect on it. Now we have a chance… The New York Times reported today that ‘NAZI’s were given ‘Safe Haven’ in the US‘. This shocking assertion follows previous reports and histories conducted by the CIA exposing their potential involvement. The article begins…
A secret history of the United States government’s Nazi-hunting operation concludes that American intelligence officials created a “safe haven” in the United States for Nazis and their collaborators after World War II, and it details decades of clashes, often hidden, with other nations over war criminals here and abroad.
This ‘secret history’ is a 600 page report from the Department of Justice titled, ‘Office of Special Investigations: Striving for Accountability in the Aftermath of the Holocaust’ that the New York Times obtained and published on their website today. The Times also published an interactive viewer that compares the full version of the report with a previous edited version. With scrolling side-by-side windows, you can look at what was omitted and why.
To get to the heart of the matter, Chapter 5 of the report, titled, ‘Alleged US Support for NAZI’s Entering the US’, begins with these extremely important questions:
Whether the United States helped persecutors enter the country has implications for our nation in terms of the values it may reflect. Did we knowingly permit major or even minor Nazi persecutors to enter, and if so, what justification was given? At what level within the government was there legal and moral authority to advance such a policy? And have efforts made to conceal such activities from the public in order to advance some perceived higher national good?
These questions have a great deal of weight, especially for high school students learning about the US role in World War 2. The beginning paragraph continues:
OSI did not originally conceive its mission as including the need to answer these questions. But it was inexorably drawn to the issues when subjects argued that they were in the country at the behest, or with the knowledge, of the United States – allegedly in return for information or services supplied to the government during or after the war. OSI learned that some persecutors were indeed knowingly granted entry. America, which prided itself on being a safe haven for the persecuted, became – in some small measure – a safe haven for persecutors as well. Some may view the government’s collaboration with persecutors as a Faustian bargain. Others will see it as a reasonable moral compromise borne of necessity.
These last two sentences form an essential question. Which side do you take?