Gestapo head got away with murder due to status as CIA asset

Franz Josef Huber was the head of the Austrian Gestapo and partnered with Adolf Eichmann on the transfer of tens of thousands of Jews to concentration camps.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

A high-ranking Nazi and former Gestapo head responsible for deporting tens of thousands of Jews was never tried for war crimes because he served as an intelligence asset for the CIA during World War II, a report from the New York Times revealed this week.

Franz Josef Huber was the head of the Austrian Gestapo, Hitler’s secret police force, and partnered with Adolf Eichmann on the transfer of tens of thousands of Jews to concentration camps. Eichmann was later tried and executed in Israel for his role as a central architect of the Holocaust.

But unlike Eichmann, Huber was never held responsible for his crimes. While scores of other Nazis fled to South America and lived under assumed names, Huber continued to live in his hometown of Munich until his death in 1975 and never hid his identity.

Although Huber was identified as a war criminal by U.S. military intelligence and arrested in Vienna in 1945, American senior intelligence officials felt that he was uniquely positioned to provide information about communist activity in East Germany and the Eastern Bloc.

After two years in custody, the U.S. military released Huber. Soon after, he was recruited to the German intelligence agency, the BND.

An internal CIA memo from 1953 obtained by the Times confirmed that senior security officials knew about Huber’s background but chose to ignore it because of his value as an intelligence asset.

“Although we are by no means unmindful of the dangers involved in playing around with a Gestapo general,” the memo states, “we also believe, on the basis of the information now in our possession, that Huber might be profitably used by this organization.”

With extensive connections throughout Austria, American intelligence believed that Huber could provide critical information and could even potentially recruit Soviet agents who’d work with the West.

“Austria was, at the time, a major front line of the Cold War,” Prof. Shlomo Shapiro of Bar-Ilan University told the Times.

“Western intelligence services struggled to recruit reliable anti-communist contacts and did not inquire too closely at the past of people they thought would serve them well,” he said.

Both the German and American governments helped block Austrian extradition requests for Huber. As the Cold War heated up, both governments apparently thought Huber’s role as an asset in the war against communism was more important than his previous participation in war crimes.

In 1964, fearing that Huber’s past would come to light, the BND decided that it was “no longer conceivable” to retain Huber, as the revelation about his Nazi activities could “endanger the service.”

Huber took early retirement and, according to the Times, received a German government pension until his death.

The Times reported that the CIA and BND declined to comment on the story.