January 12, 2016

1949. The Fascist Remnants in Germany

The Nazi Remainder
Otto Strasser returns to Germany in 1955 after years of exile in Canada (Ted Rohde, Stars and Stripes) (source)
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

January 10, 1949 (for the Murrow show)

One of the greatest postwar mysteries here in Germany is what became of all the super-German nationalists who supported Hitler and the National Socialist movement. As our armies marched into Germany, the Nazis seemed to have disappeared from the face of the earth.

Today we are beginning to see the first signs of reviving pan-German movements which have a suspicious, beer-hall odor about them. There are at least three political organizations now being formed, all with innocuous-sounding names. All are anti-Communist, all demand the restoration of the prewar German borders, particularly the return of Silesia from Poland. All complain of the hardships which the occupation is committing on the German people. In this sense, they are anti-Western Powers.

The three movements call themselves "The League of German Revival," which concentrates its activities in the British zone in the Ruhr; another is the "Union of the Middle," which operates in the American zone of southern Germany; and finally there is the "German Union," which operates in the French zone.

The Socialists charge that these parties mean the reemergence of Otto Strasser's notorious "Black Front." Strasser, you remember, was the Nazi who Hitler purged in 1930 and who formed the rightist Black Front in opposition. Strasser escaped from Germany and has been living in Canada. But he has been in touch with individuals here, sends his greetings in letters to meetings of the League of German Revival, and has announced that he soon will return to Germany to participate in its political life.

Some observers here see these leagues for German revival as the beginning of a right wing movement in which Strasser would attempt to build a following similar to General De Gaulle's "Reunion of the French People."

One report has it that the Strasser movement already has pledged subscriptions totaling one million marks, mostly from German industrialists.

However, these new political movements are not going unnoticed. They still must be licensed by the occupation powers concerned before they can appear on the ballot.

But, barring this, of course, they might form the first anti-occupation underground in postwar Germany.

This is Bill Downs in Berlin. Now back to CBS in New York.
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

January 24, 1949

Certain American army officers in Western Germany have been holding secret meetings with former Nazi military officials. The purpose of the meetings are so secret that even present German political leaders are concerned about them.

This was revealed to me and two other reporters in Bonn by Dr. Konrad Adenauer, president of the West German constitutional convention and leading conservative politician there. Adenauer said he had heard of the talks particularly those with former General Felix Steiner, who was the Waffen SS commander of the 3rd SS Panzer Corps. Adenauer described the SS general as a man "with whom I would not sit at the same table."

The names or rank of the American officers who have been having these secret meetings are not revealed. I checked with intelligence officers in General Clay's headquarters. They said that it is possible that some overly enthusiastic or ambitious American officers might have run into former Nazi army leaders and talked with them—but that, if they occurred, the Americans were acting entirely on their own and in direct violation of orders from General Clay.

Dr. Adenauer made it plain that he and his colleagues opposed re-creation of a Wehrmacht—or the use of Nazi officers. He said that this would only serve to revive German militarism. If any German force were organized to participate in Western European defense, he favors making it part of an international, Western European army. Asked if he thought the Americans might use men such as SS General Steiner, the German politician replied cryptically:

"If one has delicate and important talks on highly secret topics with another person, then one is more likely to be prepared to put that other person to use than if no such talks had taken place."

The whereabouts of the former SS general and his status as a former Nazi have not yet been determined. He was last reported living in the French zone. Steiner at one time was employed by the American military government in Frankfurt when the historical division used several high-ranking Wehrmacht men to complete its record of the war.