Authored by Chris Scipioni
It is widely known that following the conclusion of World War II, a number of Nazi officials and collaborators not only avoided prosecution, but retained positions of authority. The most startling instances involve the ranks of German and French Police, as well as the International Criminal Police Organization known as “Interpol.” By the mid-1970s, new and intense pressure was being applied to Interpol regarding reputed ties with the Third Reich. This was spearheaded by a new agency funded by The Church of Scientology, labelled the National Commission on Law Enforcement and Social Justice. The church’s motives have been rightfully questioned; founder L. Ron Hubbard had been long evading taxes and other legal jurisdictions by having business transactions in international waters, and several countries repeatedly lobbied Interpol for support through the late 1950s and 1960s. By the 1970s, Scientologists had reacted by launching a campaign to create negative publicity and public distrust for Interpol (Stalcup 2013 p.236). While these ulterior motives provide a dramatic backdrop, the information put forth by the NCLE has been generally accepted as factual and meticulously researched, and highlights more critical points.
In April 1976 the NCLE Director of Research, Vaughn Young, put out a press release detailing several former Nazis and Nazi-supporters who have held positions in the French Police and Interpol. Jean Napote, who had collaborated with France’s corrupt Vichy Government during the Third Reich, had been elected Interpol’s president in 1963 (Posner 1990). Paul Dickopf enrolled in the SS in 1939 (identified as SS officer #337259) but fled Germany in 1942 as the tide began to turn with Hitler’s invasion of Russia. Yet Dickopf served as Interpol’s president between 1968 and 1971, and acted as its German representative up until 1973. When confronted with this information by The News American staff reporter Matt Olesker, Interpol Chief Louis B. Sims merely asserted that Dickopf was a German citizen who did not “desire” to serve in the SS and fled to Switzerland (1975).
The accompanying research report released by Vaughn Young expanded information on Serge Langlais, a former Nazi who (as of 1974) was currently on Interpol’s General Secretariat Staff as a counterfeiting expert. Langlais had been appointed to the French Police in 1942, but expelled by the De Gaulle regime during an “administrative purge” of Nazi collaborators in 1944. Inspector Langlais was eventually hired by Interpol, even making a proud appearance as part of the International Criminal Police Review #280 in an article advertising new training courses in counterfeiting. When Young travelled to Europe to meet with a variety of parliamentarians, he reputedly suffered “public character assassination” at the hands of the German Federal Police, who “issued a press release which stated that Vaughn Young is a swindler and that the GAO report [detailing Interpol abuses] is a swindle” (Barram 1977).
It is very possible, if not probable, that The Church of Scientology launched this campaign against Interpol purely out of self-interest. Yet this does nothing to lessen the ideological and moral issues raised by Interpol’s action, or lack thereof; the problem is that Interpol has historically refused to aid in the capture of Nazi fugitives. William E. Simon, Secretary of the Treasury, responded that Interpol’s constitution forbids involvement in “activities of a political, military, religious or racial character,” and that Interpol will only assist if an individual “violates a criminal statute of a member nation” (U.S. Department of the Treasury, 1976).
St. John’s Motivational Core Values are applicable here: Truth, Love, and Respect. The avenue which Interpol chose in this matter illustrates a neglect of these ideals. To pardon, or embrace, those who were willing participants in the Third Reich is to pardon what they represent: lies and hate. To let them shirk justice is to disrespect the victims of the Holocaust, Jewish or otherwise. The Nazi regime took great pains to suppress the perspective of those they despised, and destroy vast parts of the human cultural record; the horrors committed by Nazis and supported by their sympathizers is perfectly antithetical to a worldview through the Vincentian lens of transparency (Angel 2013, p.5). While there is much drama to the notion of Nazis hiding among the ranks of the international criminal police, the significance of the NCLE report is simpler and less sensational. Interpol’s position of non-involvement in the pursuit of Nazis and Nazi collaborators is held on the basis that it is a political issue. Interpol is therefore viewing the call for action through a bureaucratic lens rather than a Vincentian one. This would be the correct response to a purely governmental topic, yet such an approach overlooks the painfully human element at its core.
Angel, Christine M., Information representation through the Vincentian lens of transparency: providing the under and misrepresented with a voice within our cultural heritage records, 2013,Retrieved from stjohns.digication.com/christineangel/Evolution_of_My_Teaching_2013.
Barram, S.A. GAO investigation exposes Interpol ‘inefficiency’, The Detroit Jewish News, April 1, 1977.
Olesker, Matt, The nazi connection part 1: Interpol, with ties to Reich, gets data on Americans, The News American, p.1A, March 16, 1975.
Posner, Gerald L., Interpol’s Nazi affiliations continued after the war, The New York Times, p.A22, February 22, 1990.
Stalcup, Meg, Interpol and the emergence of global policing, In William Garriot (ed.), Policing and Contemporary Governance: The Anthropology of Police in Practice (pp.231-261), New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2013.
United States participation in the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol): Hearing before the Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, and International Law, of the Committee on the Judiciary House of Representatives, 95th Cong, (Serial No. 32), 1977, Retrieved from National Criminal Justice Reference Service.