“Terrorism, the Skorzeny Syndrome, is flourishing in the modern world, a reminder that Hitler and Nazism are still taking their toll more than three decades after the Third Reich collapsed.”—Glenn B. Infield115
The above quotation is from Infield’s biography of Otto Skorzeny, published in 1981, and the facts are as true today as they were then. Infield writes of the relationship that existed between Skorzeny and Yassir Arafat, for instance, and reminds us how Skorzeny advised the PLO and Al-Fatah from his base in Cairo. Infield knew and interviewed Skorzeny, and his biography of “Hitler’s Commando” is relevant to any contemporary study of the origins of modern terrorism.
What the world has been experiencing since at least 2001 and certainly for years earlier than the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon has been what analysts refer to as “asymmetrical warfare” conducted by “non-state actors.” This is a technique that was developed to perfection by Skorzeny and the other leaders of what we have called ODESSA. The fact that the Western intelligence agencies turned a blind eye to Skorzeny’s activities has contributed to our inability to confront and defeat what we have called Islamist terrorism.
Arms dealing, covert international banking systems, targeted assassinations, terror bombings, the “strategy of tension” as it was described and defined by fascist terrorist Stefano della Chiaie, already existed as part of an underground terror network long before al-Qaeda was born.
After World War II, the American people thought that Nazi Germany had been defeated and the “war” was over; this book demonstrates that it never was. Instead, we were told that Communism was the new threat and we had to pull out all the stops to prevent a Communist takeover of the country. And so our military and our intelligence agencies collaborated with surviving Nazis to go after Communists. We refused to pursue worldwide right wing terror groups and assassins. After all, they were killing Communists and leftists; they were doing us a service. Like Hoover and the Mafia, the CIA refused to believe a Nazi Underground existed even as they collaborated with it (via the Gehlen Organization and the like).
The whole thrust of this book has been that American leaders in business, finance, media, and politics collaborated with Nazis before, during, and after the war. The West’s share in the “blame” for Al-Qaeda, et al, goes back a long way—before Eisenhower—to a cabal of extremist US Army generals and emigre Eastern Europeans who didn’t have much of a problem with Nazism since they feared Communism more. The Church, the Tibetans, the Japanese, the Germans, the Croatians—and the Americans—all felt that Communism was the greater danger, long before WW II. We enlisted war criminals to fight on our side. We appropriated the idea of global jihad from the Nazis and their WW I predecessors. We amped up their plan to weaponize religion and convinced Muslims, who hated each other, to band together to fight Communism. And when Afghanistan was liberated and the Soviet Union was defeated?
September 11, 2001.
Our cynical exploitation of religion has delivered a hideous stream of blowback that threatens the world still.
With the Nazi diaspora, the leaders of the Third Reich who had survived—who were either living underground, or were “denazified” and living freely above ground—constituted a government-in-exile. They remained in contact, reinforced each other’s beliefs, provided logistical support where possible, and kept the faith alive. They became involved in political and military intrigues around the globe, always with the goal of causing an imbalance in global power structures. Motivated by anti-Semitism, they collaborated with Arab leaders and guerrilla organizations in attacks against Israel, even going so far as to develop weapons systems in Egypt. They wrote propaganda against Israel and against Jews in general, repeating the same libels as before. They formed “neo-Nazi” groups in Europe, Latin America, North America, and elsewhere, cultivating a fawning new generation of followers on every continent. They support Holocaust deniers and right-wing extremists everywhere, even when they do not agree on all points. They found official positions within extremist governments in the Middle East and Latin America.
They also constitute an army-in-exile. They trained troops, instructed security forces in interrogation and torture, ran guns. They conspired to assassinate objectionable leaders in various countries, as well as those who betrayed their own network. They developed weapons of mass destruction long before the identical claim was laid at the door of Saddam Hussein.
They are “non-state actors” like Al-Qaeda, with the difference that they recently had a state. They conduct “asymmetric warfare” because they can no longer field battalions made of tanks and planes and submarines—and no longer really need to do so. Using terror as a weapon has proven to be far more effective. They move money silently and unseen through the world’s financial institutions. People like Schacht and Genoud wrote the book.
And they are loosely organized. Individual units possess a certain degree of deniability, something that newer terror groups have copied.
Al-Qaeda, Hamas, Hizbollah, Fatah, Jemaah Islamiyyah, Lashkar- e-Taiba, etc. are all children of ODESSA. The pact between Nazi anti-Semitism and Arab anti-Semitism was made with Hajj Amin al-Husseini all those years ago—and has been renewed every decade since with refinements as necessary to reflect emerging political realities in the aftermath of the fall of the Soviet Union. Skorzeny, al-Husseini, Genoud: one big happy family.
Emboldened by the defeat of the Red Army in Afghanistan, aided and abetted by CIA, the militant forces of that remote yet deadly landscape turned their attention on the West. Repudiating Western decadence and liberalism, the Taliban enforced strict and even idiosyncratic interpretations of syariah law. Proponents of the Third Way, the Taliban were equally disgusted with Soviet atheism and Communism, and with American materialism and liberalism. Yet, they won the war against the Soviet invasion using asymmetric warfare. They were not able to field armored divisions, but had to wage a long and exhausting guerrilla war against helicopter gunships, tanks, and rockets.
Asymmetric warfare is usually defined as the conflict between two, dramatically unequal, forces. The war of the United States in Vietnam is given as one example, where the vastly superior (in terms of economy, numbers, and military strength) US forces fought the guerrilla forces represented by the Viet Cong, and the regular North Vietnamese forces represented by the Viet Minh. Often the Israeli- Palestinian conflict is given as another example, with the army and air force of the Israeli military opposed to the various guerrilla factions represented by the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), plus those of Hamas and Hizbollah.
In most, if not all cases, of asymmetric warfare of the last hundred years or so, it has often been that of a powerful western country embroiled in a conflict with numerically and economically weaker non-state actors, which the current problem with Al-Qaeda and ISIL seems to represent. In these cases, the non-state actors are fighting for their own territory, language, ethnic identity, etc., often against a colonial or former colonial power, such as England, France, the Netherlands, Spain, etc.
There is one type of asymmetric warfare that is usually not recognized or included in studies of this phenomenon, however: it is when a powerful state loses its power yet continues to fight the forces that defeated it, using the same means as non-state actors— such as terrorism and assassination. There is to my knowledge only one such example in the modern world, and that is Nazi Germany.
As pointed out in studies of terrorism and asymmetric warfare, nationalist and ethno-nationalist groups are those most likely to engage in this type of protracted and violent conflict. That is not to say that leftist, “internationalist” groups do not, and have not, also been involved in asymmetric warfare; of course they have. The number of violent incidents involving leftist groups is actually larger than those perpetrated by nationalist groups; however the number of fatalities is substantially greater in those incidents perpetrated by the nationalists and ethno-nationalist, anti-colonial groups.
Nationalism is a hallmark of the type of terrorism we have come to experience in the post-World War Two period. It was actually given a form and an agenda by the Nazis who created the Werewolf concept: a stay-behind guerrilla force that would use asymmetric tactics to wage war against the Allies. This was an example of a state that refused to cease hostilities even after defeat.
Another type of asymmetric actor is the religious ideologue. As has been pointed out in studies of terrorism—especially since the events of September 11, 2001—this new type of adversary may not be identified with a single ethnicity or geographic territory. Even though the origins of the violent religious terrorist may be found in the post-colonial period, the nature of the conflict has changed considerably since then.
What many fail to realize is that the ideology of the Nazi Party— particularly as refined by the SS—was essentially a spiritual ideology. I have made the point elsewhere that the Nazi Party was a cult. To try to understand it as a purely political entity (in a modern, American context) is to make a grave mistake.
The Nazi network that was formed in the last days of the war and which has existed, in one form or another in the seventy years since then, is comprised of both a nationalist and a religious agenda. The Nazi Party has its origins in esoteric Aryanism, such as represented by the writings of Guido von List and Lanz von Liebenfels, as well as occultist groups such as the Armanenschaft, the Germanenorden, and the Thule Gesellschaft. These groups combined racist ideology with spiritual, mystical ideas and practices, some of which were adapted from more mainstream esoteric groups such as the Theosophical Society and the writings of its founder, Helena Blavatsky. The Social Darwinism that is one of the hallmarks of the Nazi regime is the “outer court” of the spiritual Darwinism that is clearly elucidated in Blavatsky’s works. What this means is that Nazism is just as much a spiritual philosophy as it is a political one.
Thus the basic components of the non-state actor in asymmetric warfare are present in the Nazi Underground (what we have been calling ODESSA). The terrorist acts perpetrated by this Underground are precisely those of the modern non-state actors with which we have all become familiar. The motivation for ODESSA runs parallel to that of “Islamist” terror organizations: a spiritual viewpoint that both organizations wish to impose on the world through the medium of terrorism, assassinations, and the like. Both ideologies are exclusive rather than inclusive; both are anti-Semitic; both are anti-American and deplore what they see as Western “decadence.” (One could make a very good case that Hitler’s objection to modern art, modern music and modern culture in general is virtually identical to the point of view of Islamist critics concerning the same.)
In addition—and this may be more important than it seems at first glance—many members of the SS and the Wehrmacht converted to Islam after the war, and found employment and residence in Muslim countries. In some cases, they actively supported Arab regimes in their opposition to the State of Israel by providing technical expertise, engineers, and training in interrogation, espionage, and related arts of war.
I believe this provides an important perspective into the current terrorist phenomenon, as it shows a continuity of purpose combined with tactical and operational methods that have their origin in the murky world of the first days of the Cold War—when a cynical manipulation of religion using non-state actors took place under the aegis of a decades-long and often poorly thought-out campaign of state-sponsored anti-Communism.
During the course of many years of research (from about 1968– present) into the origins of religious violence I have come into personal contact with both the PLO and Jemaah Islamiyyah (JI), as well as with North American racialist and white supremacist groups such as the National Renaissance Party (NRP) and the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) among others, as well as with the South American Nazi sanctuary and nexus for Operation Condor, Colonia Dignidad in Chile. I lived in Malaysia for seven years, in an apartment that was only a few blocks from where the 9/11 attacks were originally discussed, and in Indonesia where I met Abu Bakr Ba’asyir, the architect of the Bali Bombings in 2002, and founder of JI.
I have also been on intimate terms with a number of conventional and non-conventional religious organizations spanning various forms of Judaism, Christianity and Islam as well as Buddhism, the religious of India, Afro-Caribbean religions, and modern so called “New Age” movements such as Wicca, Satanism, and the secret societies of Western Europe and America. I believe it is this unique perspective on both religion and politics that informs my thesis that the choices we made as a country in the immediate post-war period have resulted in the current state of affairs where terrorism, “Islamism,” and other forms of asymmetric conflict are concerned.
To quote Infield again:
It has become evident during recent years that major wars in the nuclear age will be fewer than those in the past but individual and group terrorism will increase steadily. Skorzeny and his commandos during the Third Reich and Skorzeny and his ODESSA members during the postwar years were leaders in modern day terroristic tactics. Skorzeny’s followers and students adhere to his teachings today.116
It was Skorzeny and his colleagues in ODESSA who, as early as 1950 and the outbreak of the Korean War, proposed forming a bloc of non-aligned nations in Asia, Africa, and Latin America to stand up to America and Russia: exactly the same position taken by Sukarno five years later. The position of the Islamist theoreticians of today is not dissimilar: the difference is that the Soviet Union has already fallen.
While China may develop into a threat, Uzbek and other activists in western China are creating another Muslim front with the intention of destabilizing that regime. Seen as both Communist and Capitalist, China could be an interesting adversary for the Third Way position of contemporary Nazism. China is at least as nationalist as its former enemy, Japan.
As for Japan itself, it has recovered remarkably since the devastation of the Second World War and two atomic bombs. Japan and Germany are economic powerhouses. Even though Japan has been struggling in recent years, it is still one of the most prosperous nations in the world.
As for Germany, it has developed exactly as planned so long ago. It is reunited and the leader of the European Union, easily its most powerful and influential member. It is true that growing numbers of immigrants from Eastern Europe and especially Muslim immigrants from Turkey, the Balkans, and North Africa, are providing an environment where questions concerning German identity and responsibility are being raised. But as German cities have been rebuilt, industrial growth is strong, and memories of the war are fading with each new generation, it is doubtful whether any serious soul-searching will occur. With tensions rising in Europe over the fate of Ukraine and the Russian annexation of Crimea, it may be that the world will look to Germany again to provide the buffer between a newly-aroused Russia and the much more vulnerable nations of Eastern and Southern Europe.
It is doubtful whether the world will once again be confronted with jack-booted storm troopers wearing swastika armbands, singing the Horst Wessel song; but that does not mean that Nazism has disappeared. It has merely changed uniforms and moved to a different theater of operations. I do not wish to deprive the Islamic groups of agency in their present conflict with the West, but it is important to emphasize that they were as manipulated and exploited by the
Germans in two World Wars as they had been by the colonial powers. The concept of global jihad was foreign to Islam until created by a German spy—of Jewish ancestry, no less—with a view towards using Muslims as proxy soldiers in Germany’s fight with the Allied forces of England, France, and Russia. And when the Cold War began, they were manipulated once again: this time by American intelligence efforts to weaponize Islam against the Soviet Union.
To continue the struggle against the Western world that was begun by Westerners themselves for motives that had nothing to do with Islam or with genuine jihad is to cooperate in Western strategies that only will result in the destruction of more Muslim lives and the desolation of more Arab lands.
This is especially true with regards to Palestine. The Palestinians themselves must realize that no assistance is coming their way from the vastly wealthier and populous Arab world. The devastation of Gaza and the ongoing occupation of the West Bank is the legacy of decades of Arab indecision and manipulation. It is obviously far more beneficial to have the Palestinians live in squalor and die in refugee camps than to have the Arab nations work together to create a more productive solution. The Arab leaders have long since realized that the Nazi and Zen ideals of heroic death on the battlefield are dated notions, suicidal and non-productive, that can only end in annihilation. Yet they tolerate and even encourage the raging anti-Semitism of Hitler, Goebbels, and von Leers because it directs Palestinian anger towards Israel (and the United States), and away from the Arab leaders themselves who have found themselves in an increasingly vulnerable situation since the revolts of the Arab Spring.
Palestinian suicide bombers, however, have looked towards Hitler and Hajj Amin al-Husseini as avatars of the New Islam, of the desire to create a caliphate that will stretch from Jerusalem and Mecca all the way to Southeast Asia. To Kuala Lumpur, and Jakarta.
And, yes, even to Sumbawa.
We are still fighting World War One, and we will continue to fight it. We are redrawing the world map once again in lines of blood and steel. America should be at the forefront of the fight to end these conflicts, but our moral leadership has been called into question again and again. We made mistakes at the end of World War Two: we sided with the colonial powers when we should have made common cause with the indigenous peoples of the Middle East, Africa, and Asia who looked to us as their natural allies. We enlisted the aid of Nazis and Nazi war criminals to accelerate our space program and to field espionage agents against the Soviet Union. We allowed dedicated and committed anti-Semites with a history of violence and bloodshed against civilian populations to run freely in the developing nations, training torturers and assassins.
We acted out of fear; we co-opted our values, trading them for greater security.
This, too, is the Hitler Legacy. We thought we could control the Devil that was the Nazi Party and the SS, using them to protect ourselves against Russia. We used the strategies developed by the Germans in two world wars to coerce and cajole Muslim believers to declare a holy war—a holy war that would one day be aimed at us.
We lived up to the charges made against us by the Islamists— that we were without faith, bereft of spirituality, obsessed with materialism, cold enough to the summons of the soul that we could contemplate weaponizing religion: seeing it as just one more tool, one more element in our ever growing arsenal of destruction. We could urge Muslims and Buddhists to risk their lives in attacks against our enemies, willing to fight to the last drop of their blood, using their faith—and clumsy, awkward protestations of our own— as the motivation for deadly, violent action when we had no moral, no legitimate right at all, to demand this of them.
Is it any wonder, then, that the blowback was so severe, the hatred so concentrated?
The networks still exist, transforming softly from time to time, changing with every new political development on the world stage. There are names in the address book of ODESSA chief Hans- Ulrich Rudel of people who are still alive as this is being written: people scattered all over the world, devotees, true believers, carrying the torch in a virtual Nuremberg Rally, feeling more and more comfortable by the day.
New groups are being formed, new leaders chosen from among the faithful. Xenophobia is at an all-time high in Europe and increasingly in America. The Internet has provided new and improved means of communication. Arab systems of money transfer such as hawala are used to defeat the strictures of the international banking system, made more severe after the events of 2001. The hysteria we used to feel about secret Communists has been replaced by hysteria over terrorism. We lost our way, briefly, in the 1950s over Communism; and innocent people were ruined, reputations destroyed. Now again we are equally paranoid to the extent that TSA agents pat down the elderly and infants in strollers. We are increasingly made to disrobe before we can board a plane, and we are thankful because this means we will be safer.
But, if we want to, we can walk across the border into Canada or Mexico.
As the political life of every country becomes more and more polarized between “right” and “left,” the men of ODESSA can only laugh at our discomfort. When the Berlin Wall came down many thought that the world had become a safer place. They did not realize that this was only phase one of the overall plan, the one that might have been hatched in Strasbourg in 1944 at the Maison Rouge Hotel. Or not. But it was the plan.
And when the Soviet Union fell, many patted themselves on the back thinking that history was at an end, that all serious conflict was over, except maybe for a little clean-up here and there. Nothing to worry about. Our side won.
On the sixth of June, 1948 Savitri Devi—the woman historian Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke called “Hitler’s Priestess”—met the venerable old Swedish explorer Sven Hedin. Distraught over the destruction of the Reich and the executions at Nuremberg, she asked him:
“And I’d like to know, can we have any hope?”
He said, “Why do you say, ‘Can we have any hope?’ Do you have no hope?”
She then replied, “Those of Nuremberg, they have killed them.”
Sven Hedin said, “Don’t fear. Germany has more such men.”
“Yes, but when will they appear?”
“They’ll appear in time.”
“What about the Fuhrer? Is he dead or alive?”
“Whether he’s dead or alive, he’s eternal.”117
115 Glenn B. Infield, Skorzeny: Hitler’s Commando, New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1981, p. 238.
116 Infield, p. 237.
117 Abridged from Savitri Devi, And Time Rolls On: The Savitri Devi Interviews, R.G. Fowler, editor. Counter-Currents Publishing, 2013, p. 54.
Reprinted with permission from Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC. and Nicolas-Hays/Ibis Press, The Hitler Legacy: The Nazi Cult in Diaspora: How it was Organized, How it was Funded, and Why it Remains a Threat to Global Security in the Age of Terrorism by Peter Levenda is available wherever books or ebooks are sold or directly from the publisher at 1-800-423-7087 or www.redwheelweiser.com.
Peter Levenda is a well-known author of several books including Unholy Alliance and Ratline. Levenda is also the author of the three volume study of the influence of esoterica on American politics, Sinister Forces: A Grimoire of American Political Witchcraft and the controversial Ibis Press title, The Angel and the Sorcerer: The Remarkable Story of the Occult Origins of Mormonism and the Rise of Mormons in American Politics.
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