Fugitives: a history of Nazi mercenaries during the cold war

Research output: Book/ReportBook


After the Second World War, the Allies vowed to hunt Nazi war criminals “to the ends of the earth.” Yet many slipped away—or were shielded by the West, in exchange for cooperation in the unfolding confrontation with Communism. Reinhard Gehlen, founder of West German foreign intelligence, welcomed SS operatives into the fold, overestimating their supposed capabilities. This shortsighted decision nearly brought down his cherished service, as the KGB found his Nazi operatives easy to turn or expose. However, Gehlen was hardly alone in this cynical strategy; the American, Soviet, French and Israeli secret services—and nationalist organisations and independence movements—all used former Nazi operatives in the early Cold War. Nazi fugitives became freelance arms traffickers, spies, and assassins, playing crucial roles in the clandestine contest between the superpowers. From posh German restaurants, smuggler-infested Yugoslav ports, and fascist holdouts in Franco’s Spain to Damascene safehouses and Egyptian country clubs, these spies created a busy network of influence and information, a uniquely combustible ingredient in the covert struggles of the postwar decades. Unearthing newly declassified revelations from Mossad and other archives, historian Danny Orbach reveals this long-forgotten arena of the Cold War, and its colourful cast of characters. Shrouded in official secrecy, clouded by myth and propaganda, the extraordinary tale of these Nazi agents has never been properly told—until now.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages321
ISBN (Electronic)9781787387874, 9781643138961
StatePublished - 2022

ULI publications

  • uli
  • Cold War -- Secret service
  • German mercenaries -- History -- 20th century
  • Intelligence service -- History -- 20th century
  • Nazis -- Germany -- History -- 20th century
  • War criminals -- Germany -- History -- 20th century
  • המלחמה הקרה -- שירותים חשאיים
  • נאצים -- גרמניה -- היסטוריה -- המאה ה-20


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