A sordid history: U.S. collaboration with neo-Nazis

It may surprise some that the U.S. government — especially under a reputedly liberal Democratic Party administration — would be supporting fascists in Ukraine. Not officially, of course. According to Washington and all the corporate media, the people given money and credibility by the U.S. are just anti-Russian patriots.

But fascists they are — in their symbols and program, as well as in their brutal practice. The heads of the ministries now in charge of Ukraine’s various armed forces belong to the Svoboda and Right Sector parties. They made up the street fighters who, with U.S. support, overthrew the elected Ukrainian government in February. They are now carrying out the murderous suppression of those in the East who refuse to recognize the coup as legitimate and have set up their own independent authorities.

A little history of U.S. government collaboration with East European fascist elements is in order.

Neo-Nazis blow U.S. cover of ‘freedom & democracy’

Recent Victory Day celebrations in many parts of Europe, especially in Russia and Eastern Ukraine, are a reminder that Hitler’s armies were defeated not by the so-called Western democracies, but by the Soviet Red Army.

The USSR was attacked by Germany along an 1,800-mile front in June 1941 in what Hitler called Operation Barbarossa. This massive campaign eventually involved 4 million German soldiers and carpet-bombing by the Luftwaffe.

For the next four years, the Soviet Union shouldered the brunt of the fight against Nazi fascism in Europe.

The U.S. and Britain finally opened their offensive against Hitler with D-Day in June 1944. By this time, the USSR, after taking enormous casualties, had the German troops on the run. It was the Soviet Red Army that in May 1945 liberated Berlin, causing Hitler and some of his subordinates to kill themselves in their bunker.

As soon as World War II was over, the Cold War began. U.S. imperialism’s new target was “communism.” In Eastern Europe, the most rabid anti-communists were those who had earlier collaborated with the Nazis.

A considerable number of German specialists in rocketry were quickly brought to the U.S. to work for the Pentagon. They included Wernher von Braun, satirized in the film “Dr. Strangelove.” Von Braun had been a member of both the Nazi Party and the notorious SS, and was a central figure in Hitler’s rocket development program.

In 1949, the U.S. set up Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty to beam anti-communist messages into the USSR and Eastern Europe. For more than 20 years, the funding for this propaganda arm of the U.S. government, supposedly promoting freedom and liberty, came directly from the CIA.

RFE/RL promoted uprisings in the workers’ states of Eastern Europe, taking advantage of the region’s slow recovery from the war’s devastation. The U.S., virtually unscathed by war, was pouring billions into rebuilding Western Europe’s capitalist economies. The USSR, which had lost an estimated 40 million people and a third of its industry to the war with Germany, could do little to help Eastern Europe’s recovery. Economic conditions in the East remained very difficult.

Fascists and Hungary’s ‘revolution’

One of the uprisings took place in 1956 in Hungary. While the West characterized it as a “revolution,” its leaders were in truth counterrevolutionaries bent on restoring the Hungarian ruling class, which included many Nazi collaborators. One of those who lamented the Soviet Union’s intervention to end the uprising was Admiral Miklos Horthy, the far-right former dictator of Hungary who had instigated many pogroms against Jewish villages.

Some of RFE/RL’s programs were directed at the Ukraine, which until 1991 was a republic in the Soviet Union. With the escalation of the Cold War during the Reagan administration, far-right Ukrainians were given air time to attack socialism and the USSR. They were such open anti-Semites, however, that even their sponsors in the U.S. got worried.

Robert Parry writes that “the problem with some western Ukrainians expressing their inconvenient love for Nazis has not been limited to the current crisis. It bedeviled Ronald Reagan’s administration when it began heating up the Cold War in the 1980s. As part of that strategy, Reagan’s United States Information Agency, under his close friend Charles Wick, hired a cast of right-wing Ukrainian exiles who began showing up on U.S.-funded Radio Liberty praising the Galician SS.

“These commentaries included positive depictions of Ukrainian nationalists who had sided with the Nazis in World War II as the SS waged its ‘final solution’ against European Jews.” (“Ukraine’s Dr. Strangelove,” May 5, consortiumnews.com)

Then as now, those responsible for U.S. foreign policy viewed these neo-Nazis as a “problem,” not because of what they stood for, but because they blew Washington’s carefully cultivated cover of promoting “freedom and democracy” through regime change.

Today in Odessa and other cities in Eastern Ukraine, shock troops from Svoboda and the Right Sector are burning alive people who won’t accept the coup regime in Kiev. These neo-Nazis are the direct descendants of the fascist Ukrainian exiles who praised the SS and were welcomed into the U.S. during the years when Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union.