Germany’s Nazi-era Foreign Ministry was far more involved in the Holocaust and other crimes committed by Adolf Hitler and his regime than previously known, according to a book released in Berlin on October 25 about the organization’s past.
The book, entitled The Office and the Past: German Diplomats in the Third Reich and the Federal Republic, was commissioned in 2005 by then Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer after the organization was criticized for penning praise-heavy obituaries about its World War II-era, Nazi employees.
The book shows specific examples of German diplomats contributing to the slaughter of European Jews: Otto Abbots, Germany’s Nazi-era ambassador in Paris, ordered the deportation of 2,500 French Jews to concentration camps after French partisans killed some German troops.
In another example, the ministry’s head of Jewish Affairs, Franz Rademacher, requested traveling funds for a visit to Serbia to supervise the “liquidation of Jews in Belgrade,” describing his trip as “official business” on the April 14, 1943, application form.
Most significantly, the study also reveals that the ministry’s complicity continued long after the war’s conclusion. The belief that the lion’s share of German wartime diplomats were uninvolved in war crimes permitted numerous former Nazis to infest the postwar Foreign Ministry of the Federal Republic of Germany in Bonn. According to the document, from these positions, they labored to conceal their past allegiance, to prevent each other from being smoked out, and to assist other former Nazis who were hiding themselves around the world.
Herbert W. Armstrong, editor in chief of the Trumpet’s forerunner magazine, the Plain Truth, was among the first to report on the Nazis’ strategy of hiding underground after the war. On May 9, 1945, he said that while the battle against Nazism had ended, the war against Nazism was not over: “We don’t understand German thoroughness. From the very start of World War ii, they have considered the possibility of losing this second round, as they did the first—and they have carefully, methodically planned, in such eventuality, the third round—World War iii! … [T]he Nazis have now gone underground.”
Northwestern University historian Peter Hayes, who was one of the book’s four authors, affirms that the German Foreign Ministry took part in this underground strategy. “I was not aware of how consciously some people in the late 1940s set about building an alibi legend for the Foreign Office,” Hayes said.