UNHOLY ALLIANCE: A HISTORY OF NAZI INVOLVEMENT WITH THE OCCULT
Epilogue: Hasta La Vista, Baby
My driver squeezed shut his eyes. His knuckles were white as he gripped the steering wheel like a life preserver. He faced forward, even when being questioned by the men who crowded around his side of the car, peering through the windows into the backseat looking for an Israeli kidnap team ala Eichmann.
"How many of them are there?" they asked.
"When did they arrive?"
"Where are they staying?"
To all of these questions my driver could barely open his mouth to reply.
They tried a more soothing tone next.
"Listen, we have to be careful, you know. These Israelis have diabolic intentions towards us." That was the word they used: "diabolic."
In the meantime a youngish man in an old-fashioned blue lab coat knocked on the window on my side of the car. I rolled it down.
And he spoke that phrase that every true aficionado of the war movie and the spy flick longs to hear in real life, but knows he never will. There, in the foothills of the Andes Mountains, with a white Mercedes-Benz limousine blocking my escape through a remote- controlled gate and with burly security men -- old men, with the mark of war and brutality on their faces like the sign of Cain -- covering every angle of escape, I heard it in a thick, German accent.
"Your papers, please."
I handed my passport through the open car window, knowing full well it was a dangerous thing to do but not knowing how to avoid it. If they wanted to, they could certainly have managed to drag me from the car, and that would have been the end of it. My passport was passed back to some people in the reception building-if that is what it was-and I didn't see it again for about a half-hour. At the time, I had no idea what they were doing with it and assumed they might have been making a photocopy or were examining it to see if it was genuine.
The young doctor, if that is what he was, began to ask me questions. First in German, then in Spanish. I decided I did not want to dicker for my life in a foreign tongue, so pretended no knowledge of either language. Finally, the man began to speak to me in fairly good English but with that accent that, to Americans, sounds so comical in war movies. But before he began questioning, Paul Schafer arrived and positioned himself at the rear of my car, where I could not, at first, see him. He asked the questions, in German, and the doctor translated them into English -- and my answers into German.
"Why are you here?"
I used the story I had come up with on the bus ride down. It wasn't very good.
"I am studying German emigration to South America."
The high-pitched bark of a laugh Schafer gave that admittedly lame excuse was straight out of the same war movie as "Your papers, please."
Then they demanded the film from my camera.
I was loath to give that up, but again there was little I could do. I removed it from the camera, handing it through the window of the still-locked car door to the young doctor. It had photographs of the reception area, the gate, and the town of Parral.
As I fumbled with the camera I managed to turn to the side and glance out the rear window. There I saw a man dressed in a brown uniform with no flashes or other identification that I could see. He was portly, and appeared to be bald with a head shaped like an artillery shell. He wore a soft campaign-style cap and a Sam Browne belt that diagonally crossed his ample frame. Basically, he looked like a militarized Easter egg. I tried to get a glimpse of a holster, but Schafer kept strutting back and forth, pacing behind the car as his security men were inspecting it from all angles and even going so far as kicking the tires.
It was a standoff, and I didn't know why. Certainly my driver thought I was done for, as I discovered later. On the way up to the place I had asked him quite bluntly if the Colony was in any way a "Nazi" community, or if Nazis were known to live or visit there. As the guardians of Colonia Dignidad descended on the beat-up Chevrolet, I wished I had kept my mouth shut. The driver had volunteered that, indeed, everyone knew it was an estancia nacista. I replayed our conversation back in my mind at fast-forward and almost winced when I remembered I had asked him about Bormann.
And about Mengele.
Few people knew it at the time -- and I certainly wasn't one of them -- but Mengele had died earlier that year in Brazil. Everyone in Parral knew Mengele's name, of course, but my driver could not confirm any rumors that he had been there. But "many, many Nazis" had visited the Colony over the years and Bormann was one name that few men dared to whisper, even on the pitch-dark evenings of a Chilean winter. Even to their friends.
Finally, my passport was handed back to me. For some mysterious reason, they had suddenly decided to let us go. We had been held there for about three-quarters of an hour or longer.
The gate swung open electronically and the white Mercedes vanished. Schafer disappeared. Many of the other men blended back into the landscape, and I was warned to return to Santiago immediately and to leave the country at once. I was not welcome in Parral, and Chile could easily become a hostile environment.
It had taken us about an hour to make the twenty-five-mile drive up the dirt road to the Colony from the Pan American Highway that morning.
It took us twenty minutes to make it back.
We swerved around oxen in the road, children playing, huasos on horseback ... all at an alarming speed. My driver was so relieved we had gotten out alive he was laughing and sobbing. "Que milagro" he yelled, and banged on the dashboard for emphasis. What a miracle. The gringo was still alive.
When we arrived at the town, the driver dropped me at the square from where we had left less than three hours earlier. I paid him, and tipped him heavily. It was only another hour or so until my bus would arrive and take me back to Santiago, so I decided to wait around the central square still shaken by what had happened and angry as hell that I had lost my film containing the only known shots of Colonia Dignidad "in captivity."
A moment later, two more soldiers walked up to me. This was a different pair from the two I had met with Senor Molinas that morning.
I swallowed. They knew my name.
They asked to see my passport. They passed it between themselves, stared at my photo, then at me, then carefully wrote down my name and passport number in colored ink in their notebooks. Then they started to ask me about my trip.
"You are the one who went to visit La Colonia."
I nodded, my mouth dry. I could only imagine I was being arrested.
It seemed the whole town knew where I had gone and what had happened. The soldiers certainly knew all about it and, from the direction they had come and the amount of time elapsed, I knew they hadn't yet had a chance to talk to my driver. They must have been reached by radio from the Colony. That meant that the Colony had its own communications procedures with the army. The implications were unnerving.
"Were they armed?"
"Did they take you inside?"
"How did you get out?"
I answered them as best I could. Were they armed? Yes, sure they were armed, but they didn't brandish their weapons openly. They didn't have to. And the hefty bulges in their jackets and coats along with suggestive pattings after the artless fashion of hoods everywhere told the story quite eloquently.
Once I had answered their questions to their satisfaction, they gave me much the same advice as had the Germans.
"Leave Parral on the next bus."
"And you had better leave Chile, too. You are a very lucky man." Sometime later my bus arrived, and I boarded it gratefully. It was a bit crowded, but I found an aisle seat toward the rear and settled in for the roughly 250-mile return trip to Santiago.
Then, every fifty miles or so, the bus could come to a stop in the middle of the highway. The doors would open, and soldiers would come on board. These were not the same, dusty, down-home troops I had chatted with, and drunk moonshine with, in Parral. These men were smartly turned out with cold stares and automatic weapons. They would confer briefly with the driver, who would gesture toward my seat. One of the soldiers would walk down the aisle toward me and ask to see my passport. I would get a long, hard look, and then they would leave and the bus would be allowed to continue along its way.
This happened about four times. On the last two occasions it was enough for the soldiers to stop the bus, talk to the driver, give me the "look," and nod.
But every one of them, at every stop, knew my name.
When I arrived back at the Grand Palace Hotel I found a note waiting for me. I was confirmed on the next flight out of Santiago for the United States, leaving the following day. The message could not have been clearer. I was unofficially being declared persona non grata by the Pinochet regime because I had had the temerity to stand in the parking lot of Colonia Dignidad and take pictures of the reception building. For this, I was graced with military roadblocks all the way back to the capital and a seat on the next flight out of the country. And it wouldn't stop there.
For the next eighteen hours until my flight I could not shake the bearded man. He seemed to be everywhere I was, and was frequently there ahead of me. He was standing nonchalantly outside the Grand Palace Hotel when I went downstairs for a last, long look at Santiago. He was in the German restaurant that evening where I brazenly went to order my last meal, sitting at a long table when I went in, surrounded by what appeared to be students from the University. When I walked to my table, they stopped speaking and were silent until I had placed my order. I could feel their stares like cold raindrops on my skin.
A few hours later, as I walked along Huerfanos on my way back to the hotel, the bearded man was once again ahead of me. Just standing there.
And when my taxi arrived to pick me up the next morning, he was standing across the street. This time, he was openly staring at me from eyes that glowed like two brass cartridges.
He was such a conspicuous figure that I can only assume that I was meant to notice him and to take his presence as a kind of warning. But I had seen him several times before my trip to Colonia Dignidad. How had he known what I was up to? So few people back in New York knew where I was going, or when. I went over a mental list of people who would have been in a position to notify elements of the Chilean security police -- DINA -- as to my itinerary. I could count them on the fingers of one hand, and still have spares.
One was a Chileno who was a victim of Pinochet's regime. Conceivably he could have betrayed me to DINA, but only if they had something to hold over him. Family, maybe a wife, back in Chile whose life would be in danger unless he cooperated with them. But I knew -- or, at any rate, thought I knew -- that this was not the case.
And then there was an occultist.
Suddenly the pieces began to fall into place. The occultist was a member of a "satanic" cult in New York with ties to Brazil and Argentina. It was entirely possible that this person secretly disapproved of my venture to Chile, and took the opportunity to notify cult members of my trip. My opposition to Fascism and totalitarianism was well known in occult circles in the United States, and I had appeared on radio and television talk shows debating Nazis, Klansmen, and Satanists (of the Church of Satan variety). The bearded man, therefore, was quite possibly not connected with DINA at all but with this cult that boasted so many South American connections. They had even produced a Spanish- language version of Crowley's Book of the Law although they were not part of Grady McMurtry's O.T.O.
On the plane back, the seriousness of my predicament finally hit me. All the anxiety that I had not allowed myself to feel during my capture by the Nazis of Parral, the army roadblocks, and the conspicuous tail by the bearded man, descended upon me like an anvil. I spent most of the trip to Miami in the plane's rest room, vomiting.
When I arrived in Miami and passed through Customs and Immigration procedures, the last installment of my adventure then took place. As I came through the line with my luggage, preparing to recheck it for a flight to New York, three men in suits left their position by the opposite wall and approached me. One of the men flipped open an identification wallet and closed it again rapidly, too rapidly for me to make out what agency he represented. But he was from my own government.
"May I see your passport, please?"
Once again, I proferred my very popular documents to yet another government representative. At least, I thought, this time it was United States officials. Certainly, I had nothing to fear from them?
They stood around me for a moment, framing me in a kind of mise-en-scene. I thought I detected a smile, but it could have been a sneer. Without explanation they returned my passport to me, thanked me, and allowed me to pass on my way.
When I looked back, they were no longer there.
Sitting in the lounge, waiting for my flight to be called, and finally wondering why I had been stopped by those three men, I picked up a copy of the Miami newspaper. And nearly dropped it.
There, as a banner headline, was the reason I had been allowed to leave Colonia Dignidad alive: GERMANS EXTEND STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS ON WAR CRIMES.
I scanned the article quickly as if it were a telegram addressed directly to me. It said that the West German government, meeting in Bonn, had voted to extend the statute of limitations on Nazi war crimes. The statute had been due to expire that month. What the vote meant was that the German government could continue to hunt down the monsters who created, aided, and abetted the atrocities of the Third Reich ... forever. It meant that whoever was hiding out at Colonia Dignidad would never be safe.
I had probably stumbled into their domain as the vote was being counted. They perceived my presence there as a device intended to provoke them into some kind of action that would swing the vote against them. Either that, or they assumed that I was there to register their reaction in some way; or as the advance guard of a new contingent of Israeli commandos (which was, indeed, what they had suggested to my driver). In any of these cases, it would not have been prudent to drag me from the car and shoot me. Instead, they allowed me to escape unharmed. It was a tactical decision, and it saved my life. Had I turned up a day later -- after the outcome of the vote was made public -- I have no doubt I would have been enlisted in the ranks of the "disappeared," tortured and murdered by the men of Colonia Dignidad.
A month later, in August of 1979, Jack Anderson's column published a story about Colonia Dignidad. It included references to secret CIA testimony before Congress and to Amnesty International reports on human-rights abuses taking place there. It spoke a little of the torture that was a main feature of the Colony; it mentioned that the Colony had been used as an interrogation center for DINA, the Chilean secret police, where technocrats were trained in the black arts of torture and for the first time I realized just what I had escaped from.
Two weeks later I was fired from my job with a large, multinational corporation that did a lot of business with the Chilean military (and the armies of virtually every free-world dictatorship).
A week after that, and I was followed down a Brooklyn street at six in the morning by a taxi full of bald-headed, beefy thugs -- perfect strangers -- shouting anti-Semitic epithets at me.
A few days later, and I was approached by a strange man in the Astoria section of Queens. Sporting a straw hat and dressed in a white suit with an impossible red carnation in his lapel (he reminded me somehow of the Peter Lorre character in Casablanca), he tugged at my arm and whispered to me in an accent I could not place:
"Don't worry. You are among friends here."
Before I could ask him what he meant, he walked away with a smile and dissolved into the streetscape.
In the months immediately following my return, I made several overtures to various agencies and media in an attempt to tell not only my personal story but to warn interested parties that there was more at stake in pursuing Nazis in hiding than revenge for what happened at the death camps. It was my contention that the Nazi underground posed a serious threat to peace, particularly in South America, and that world governments should ardently hunt these war criminals, sadists, and butchers to the ends of the earth for national-security reasons if nothing else. I told my story to Jack Anderson's people by phone, and to Simon Wiesenthal's people, and to members of various Jewish groups of my acquaintance. I was met with polite attention ... and reluctance to become involved in that particular spin on the Nazi war-criminal story. The involvement of Colonia Dignidad in the Pinochet regime was well known; the CIA had reported as much to Congress. Amnesty International was compiling horror stories of torture and sexual abuse. But the full details of Klaus Barbie's reign of terror in Bolivia were not yet revealed; and Farago's book was still being laughed off the shelves. There was simply no interest in the story of a single man (possessing no journalistic credentials whatsoever) who had visited Colonia Dignidad in search of a story about "Nazi voodooism."
And then the fall of Communism, the rise of the Skinhead phenomenon, elevated levels of racial violence in American streets, revelations concerning the rites of human sacrifice at Matamoros, the Branch-Davidian massacre at Waco, and "ethnic cleansing" in Bosnia, all contributed to a growing sense that something is terribly wrong out there; that perhaps the ghoulish specter of the Third Reich had not been put to rest after all, and that it takes more than bullets and B-movies to exorcise a demon.
And I hauled out my notes, and refreshed my memories, and decided to write this book.
We have seen how some occultists -- what Aleister Crowley would have called "Brothers of the Left Hand Path" -- were responsible for creating a peculiar moral environment from which the bizarre religious, racial, and political theories of the Third Reich germinated. We have also seen how the notorious Protocols of the Elders of Zion was introduced to the Western world by a Theosophist when it was already on the verge of being discredited in Russia. Indeed, both directly and indirectly, that fabulous creation of Madame Blavatsky -- her Theosophical Society -- can be found at the root of virtually all of the occult societies that gave rise to the Thule Gesellschaft and, eventually, to the Third Reich itself. This influence was preserved among those contemporary neo-Nazi cults -- such as the National Renaissance Party -- whose leaders understood the tremendous impact Theosophical thought exerted on the List Society, the Order of the New Templars, the Golden Dawn, and (eventually) on the political platforms of the Nazi Party. Racial theory including the superiority of the Aryan "race," the supreme significance of the swastika and other runic emblems, the universal application of an initiated interpretation of world myths, and a "scientific" approach to religion ... all of this can be traced back to Theosophy. Certainly, eugenics programs were in place in the United States that proved to be the model for the German variety; Lebensraum tactics had been used by the United States against the Native American population for centuries; and racial laws forbidding marriage between blacks and whites were in place all through the American South. But in Nazi Germany, these programs were given a certain, moral foundation in the writings of the Nazi "Church fathers": List, von Liebenfels, Darre, Rosenberg, and in the speeches of Hess, Himmler, and Hitler himself. What were vicious little social programs of dubious scientific value in the United States became elevated to the level of literally cosmic importance in Nazi Germany. No dissent was permitted; no discussion or argument tolerated. And those who did disagree were exiled, tortured, murdered by the State.
This was not simply totalitarianism at work. The wholesale slaughter of the Jews and other "subhuman races" was of virtually no political or economic value to the Third Reich. On the contrary, the Holocaust was an expensive and extremely problematic program. Vital resources were diverted from the war effort to the pursuit and execution of isolated, powerless groups of people who posed no real threat to the State. Human resources as well as valuable raw materials were wasted in the design, creation, and maintenance of the death camps. There was no earthly reason for all this. It was not logical, not pragmatic. The Holocaust could only be considered of value in a strictly metaphysical sense to the Nazis: they actually believed they were engaged in a spiritual struggle of truly divine proportions, that the Jews were the children of Satan -- a subhuman species that, through its demonic collaboration with Freemasons and Communists, was intent on destroying the world and delivering its ashes to their Lord and Master, the Father of Lies.
To fight these insidious demoniacs, the Nazis created a secret society of their own. Borrowing the "skull and crossbones" motif from the Freemasons and dressing in black uniforms, initiated in candlelit ceremonies in awesome arenas, wearing a ring inscribed with magical runes, these sorcerers of the Right prepared themselves for battle with the Eternal Enemy of the Left. This was not politics. This was not economics. The SS was a cult, and its high priest was a man who believed himself to be in telepathic communication with the spirit of a Saxon king; a man who destroyed the lives of over a thousand concentration camp prisoners in the creation of his Grail center at Wewelsburg; the same man who created the Einsatzgruppen, the roving bands of SS men who hunted down Jews and commissars with equal ferocity and fed them to the crematoria; the same man who gleefully ordered "scientific" experimentation on living human subjects in the death camps.
This enormity was too great to simply disappear at war's end. He had indoctrinated his people all too well. They were the initiates of an elite secret society and would not trade in their beliefs, their cherished ideals, for a green card or a farm in Bolivia. They possessed "secret knowledge" incomprehensible to the profane, to the noninitiate, and jealously guarded this knowledge to their dying days, passing it on to select members of the Aryan Race so that the flame would never be extinguished.
The flame, that is, of a particular Hell.
From a purely philosophical point of view the Nazis' reluctance to simply jettison Christianity altogether is compelling. They could not just ignore the Church and go on about their pagan business. They had to demonize the Church to a large extent: they had to identify it as the Enemy. One cannot help but wonder if this was not due to a deep sense of betrayal; that in their hour of need the German people looked to the Catholic Church (or to the Lutheran ministries, or to any of the other Protestant denominations) for succor and found its spiritual strength -- its moral courage -- wanting. The ambivalence of the Nazi "church fathers" to the Catholic Church in particular is striking: they wanted to retain something of value from their childhood idea of Christianity (for von Liebenfels, for instance, it was the extensive liturgical calendar, the pageantry, the hyperorganized and ritualized lifestyle, the myth of the Grail and the Knights Templar), but they wanted to throw out Canon Law, the Papacy, and Christian moral values. They wanted to rediscover the Cathar tradition as they understood it: a kind of proto-Christian paganism; a Gnostic, illuminated version of Christianity, perhaps, but without the strict moral code that the Cathars were known to adhere to. The Nazis sensed that there was something wrong, something dark, at the heart of Christianity -- a Lie -- and the reaction of the Catholic Church itself is telling for, in its silence and in its meek acquiescence to the evils being perpetrated by the Nazis, it betrayed a shocking sense of doubt in its own institutions. Catholic bishops openly assisted the Nazi hierarchy. Catholic monks took part in the Holocaust. And, when Hitler invaded the Soviet Union, Pius XII applauded.
Were the Nazis somehow blackmailing the Church with evidence of some monstrous crime that has never come to light (did the Nazis find the Templar treasure? were they in possession of the Grail?), or was the Church's notorious lack of conviction during World War II somehow evidence that the Church itself had lost its own faith?
When each year that passes brings more revelations of how the United States aided and abetted the escape of Nazi fugitives, how can we instruct our young people on the evil of the Third Reich? When high-ranking Roman Catholic clergymen ensured the survival of thousands of war criminals by providing them passports, safe houses, and transport out of Europe ... when the Church has covered up the sexual abuses perpetrated by its own priests ... when it has been revealed how the Catholic nuns of Montreal, virginal brides of Christ, tortured the orphan children under their own care as late as the fifties and sixties . . . how can we speak to our children about morality? Wouldn't it be a normal reaction to try (as did the Nazis) to rescue the idealized portrait of a gentle Jesus, God of Love, from the clutches of the Church? Worse, how can we insist that these same Nazis are the very portrait of all that is wrong with society, with civilization, with power run amok ... when we shamelessly exploited their talents during our Cold War with Communism, both in Europe (with the Gehlen organization) and in South America?
Thus, with a growing number of white men taking part in racist attacks against Jews, blacks, and Asians and using the Nazis as their role models, we find ourselves in a desperate moral dilemma. Since Vietnam, and through Watergate and Iran-Contra, the American people have become cynical about their elected officials, about their lies, their treachery, and abour the abuse of power that seems endemic to Washington. Clearly, the idea of moral political leadership seems a quaint memory. Who, then, will tell the Skinheads and whatever new generation of neo-Nazi ideologues and radicals that comes along in the next few decades that Hitler was a psychopath; that the social programs of the Third Reich were a monstrous fraud; that the racial ideas of the Nazi Party had no basis in science; that the SS was not an institution to be emulated, that it consisted of murderers, rapists, junkies, and thugs?
Sadly, we must expect that when we say these things to our children -- and to our children's children -- they will point to Klaus Barbie and Reinhard Gehlen and Werner von Braun and Otto Skorzeny and Freddy Schwend and Valerian Trifa and Pius XII and Paul VI and Bishop Hudal and hundreds if not thousands of others and ask, "Then, why?"
And if America's cults become the surrogate families for children who have been abused, neglected, or scorned at home (or at the Boy Scout troop, the day-care center, even in church), we may never even have the chance to hear the question.
For, as Charles Manson -- neo-Nazi mystic par excellence -- once prophesied at his trial with regard to his own Family:
"What about your children? These are just a few. There is many, many more coming right at you."