Chapter Ten

Old Nazis and New Dreams

While speculating on total war in the late 1970s, LaRouche had to concede that an American-Soviet nuclear showdown was too dangerous. Between 120 and 180 million Americans would die in the initial exchange alone. This threatened his entire dream of world conquest. His solution was a multitrillion-dollar crash mobilization to build a space-based particle-beam missile shield. Naturally he said it would be a defensive system. The FEF's airport literature tables displayed "Beam the Bomb" posters. Dr. Steven Bardwell urged audiences to join the " 'higher' peace movement.” But Bardwell quit the LaRouche organization in early 1984 and stated bluntly, in a letter to his former comrades, what many of them had known but ignored: LaRouche's goal was not a defensive system such as President Reagan's SDI, but a "first strike" system predicated on a denial of "the right of the Soviet Union to exist" in its present form. Indeed, Bardwell claimed, the LaRouchians had privately discussed "Doomsday weapons," such as "cobalt bombs with fans.”

In the early and middle 1980s LaRouche utilized SDI and beam weapons to draw together the scattered forces of European and American neo-fascism to defend Nazi war criminals and promote revanchism. This effort was symbolized by a photograph of a four-pronged object, glowing with light, that appeared from time to time in Fusion and New Solidarity. Its shape was reminiscent of the swastika. A caption in a 1978 issue of Fusion said it was a plasmoid created at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in the 1950s, when a scientist supposedly collided four plasma beams to "form a rotating plasma structure whose dynamics are governed by a 'balancing' of forces." In a 1985 Fusion article by LaRouche urging total mobilization for SDI, the ghostly object was described as a laboratory "'galaxy'...created by colliding electron beams," and it was paired with a telescope photo of a barred spiral galaxy in the constellation Eridanus. According to the photo caption, the two objects represent "harmonic patterns," while LaRouche described SDI itself as the precursor of a "hyperbolic flaring" based on "triply self-reflexive" spirals. Readers were also informed that the "spiral geometry of many galaxies coheres with the spiral shape found in living biological processes."

The reference to cosmic spirals in an article on advanced weapons systems was something that SS veterans in Germany could understand. During World War II the theory of spiraling expansion/conquest had been a staple of Nazi propaganda. As a 1942 tract put it, "The living space of the Third Reich can be enlarged only by moving out from a powerful territorial hub and by accomplishing this conquest progressively, step by step, following the accelerating movement of a spiraling dextrogyre."

In the postwar period, neo-Nazis developed various forms of swastika mysticism; for instance, the late James Madole of the New York-based National Renaissance Party taught during the 1970s that the swastika represented "undefiled cosmic energy and hydrogen . . . flowing into the spiral arms of our mighty galaxy from the hidden galactic heart." But LaRouche developed a more sophisticated spiral mysticism embracing biology as well as cosmology, in which "manifold leaps" produce higher and higher stages of consciousness, racial types, superhuman species, and weapons systems.

The LaRouchians reached out to former Nazi scientists who had worked on V-2 rockets, jet aircraft, and the Nazi version of the atom bomb at research centers like Peenemünde. They also approached West German military officers, using a sales pitch that glorified "classical German culture" as the high point of world civilization while vilifying Russian culture. LaRouche developed a new version of the Grand Design featuring forced-draft development of SDI, underground factories on the moon, Lebensraum on Mars, and electromagnetic weapons capable of turning the Soviet Union into a vast microwave oven.

LaRouche and his wife, Helga, quickly developed a following among retired West German military men. Admiral Karl-Adolf Zenker, former head of the West German Navy and a World War II veteran, joined Patriots for Germany and met with LaRouche on many occasions. As a Navy captain in 1956 Zenker had created a furor by telling cadets they should respect Admirals Erich Raeder and Karl Doenitz, Nazi war criminals convicted at Nuremberg. Zenker said the two were blameless men who had merely done their "duty to their people." When LaRouche was indicted for obstruction of justice in a credit-card fraud case in 1987, Zenker called him an "honest defender of a strong Western alliance."

Brigadier General Paul-Albert Scherer, former chief of West German military counterintelligence, also joined the bandwagon. After LaRouche's indictment, he testified before a Schiller Institute-sponsored commission set up to prove that the U.S. government was violating LaRouche's civil rights. He praised LaRouche's warm heart, "gentle humor," and devotion to the Western alliance.

LaRouche's New Benjamin Franklin Publishing House issued a translation of Modern Irregular Warfare by Brigadier General (Reserves) Freiherr von der Heydt, a Bavarian law professor and longtime ultranationalist who had been a Nazi war hero. New Solidarity said the book presented a model of "total violent confrontation, involving the totality of the state and people." Suggesting this model might be useful in handling left-wing opponents of SDI, the NCLC newspaper urged the public to make bulk purchases "so that we can provide military, educational, and government institutions with the copies they need."

The list of those who endorsed LaRouche's various public appeals included a former Frankfurt police chief, a vice president of the Bavarian Soldiers Association, a Kiel University professor who had worked on Hitler's uranium bomb, and various ultra-rightist generals in France, Italy, and Spain. The LaRouchians also cultivated former Nazi scientists brought to the United States after the war as part of the Army's Operation Paperclip to work on defense projects. They included the survivors of Wernher von Braun's team who designed missiles at the Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama.

For decades the wartime deeds of these "old-timers" (as they call themselves) appeared to be a closed book. Former SS general von Braun became an American hero for his work on the space program. But in the late 1970s, after von Braun's death, the Justice Department's Office of Special Investigations (OSI) began to examine the records of alleged Nazi war criminals in this country, with the aim of deporting the guilty ones. When the investigators nibbled at the edges of the Paperclip crowd, the latter felt angry and betrayed. Had they not wiped the slate clean by their contributions to America's fight against communism?

LaRouche told them the slate never needed any wiping in the first place. In a 1981 EIR article praising Nazi Germany's work on jet aircraft, he distinguished between bad Nazi politicians and good Nazi scientists. "Although the Nazis commanded the German state," he said, "it was the German nation which deployed its non-Nazi resources to fight the war," The Peenemünde scientists were part of this healthy German nationalism. The crimes of the Nazi regime thus were "irrelevant" to any judgment of their wartime role. Fusion and New Solidarity published adulatory articles about how Peenemünde had paved the way for fusion energy and SDI. It was said to represent the "classical German tradition," the path to true progress as opposed to the degenerate science of the "British."

In November 1981 the FEF held a special dinner and awards ceremony for the University of Colorado's Adolf Busemann, who had worked at Peenemünde. In an interview with Fusion he criticized Hitler for not giving Germany's rocket scientists enough resources to do their job properly. When he died in 1986, New Solidarity urged its readers to "reflect on his life with joy" and bemoaned the fact that so few old-timers were left to "carry on the great traditions of the German scientific school."

The LaRouchians also developed close ties with Krafft A. Ehricke, a member of the von Braun team widely known for his visionary ideas on space travel. He had served in World War II as a tank platoon leader on the Eastern Front before being assigned to Peenemünde. Brought to the United States in 1947, he helped develop the Atlas rocket, America's first intercontinental ballistic missile. Retired and living in La Jolla, California, in the early 1980s, Ehricke dreamed of colonies on the moon. He wrote articles for Fusion, served on its editorial advisory board, and spoke at FEF and Schiller Institute events. In a 1984 phone interview shortly before his death, he praised LaRouche's followers as "open, clean-cut, and positive," in contrast to Jane Fonda and the environmentalists with their "African grass hut technology." He said he had spent many an evening with his friends Lyndon and Helga LaRouche discussing Star Wars and the Soviet Union's plan to become the neo-Byzantine "Third Rome." Ehricke said he agreed with LaRouche's assessment of the Soviet menace because of his own observation of their murderous qualities during World War II.

Another LaRouchian role model was Arthur Rudolph, the Paperclip engineer who developed NASA's Saturn V moon rocket. When he was accused by the Justice Department of working thousands of slave laborers to death at a V-2 factory in 1943-45, the LaRouchians and the old-timers launched a campaign to depict him as the innocent victim of a Communist plot. Yet his Nazi activities were extremely well documented. He had joined both the Nazi Party and the SA storm troopers in 1931, before Hitler came to power. After serving as an SA Oberscharfuhrer and then as a Peenemünde engineer, he became production manager of the underground Mittelwerk factory in the Harz Mountains. Mittelwerk used slave labor from the nearby Dora-Nordhausen concentration camp. A third to a half of the camp's 60,000 inmates died from disease, starvation, and mistreatment. Approximately 5,000 died while working for Rudolph, who once stood by while SS men lynched twelve of his slaves. In 1945 a U.S. Army report called him a "100 percent Nazi, dangerous type" and recommended that he be interned.

But after Rudolph joined Operation Paperclip a revised security report said he was "not an ardent Nazi." In the early 1980s, having long retired from NASA, he was investigated by the OSI. He admitted in a 1983 interview with OSI attorneys that he had been fully aware of the inhuman working and living conditions of the Dora-Nordhausen laborers. The following year he returned to Germany and agreed to give up his U.S. citizenship rather than face deportation proceedings. OSI prosecutor Eli Rosenbaum later described him as having an "almost unbelievable callousness and disregard for human life."

The FEF, the Schiller Institute, and the Huntsville crowd campaigned to restore Rudolph's citizenship. The old-timers were increasingly nervous because two more from their ranks, Dieter Grau and Günther Haukohl, had come under OSI investigation for their role at Mittelwerk. The FEF warned that "hundreds" of Operation Paperclip scientists were under investigation, but this was denied by the OSI.

An Old-Timers' Defense Fund was established, and a petition was sent to President Reagan asking him to help Rudolph. Major General J. Bruce Medaris (ret.), former chief of the U.S. Army Ordnance Command, Baltic and Ukrainian émigré groups, The Spotlight, and the neo-Nazi magazine Instauration all lent their support. A delegation from Huntsville met with White House communications director Patrick Buchanan.

Rudolph's most outspoken supporter was Friedwardt Winterberg of the FEF. A student of former Nazi physicist Erich Bagge after the war, Winterberg felt strongly that Rudolph was a victim rather than a victimizer. He launched his own investigation and sent letters of protest to Ed Meese and other administration officials on Desert Research Institute stationery. He also gave an interview to The Spotlight repeating the LaRouche line that an attack on Rudolph was an attack on NATO. Winterberg also sent handwritten notes (he called them "brainteasers") to OSI prosecutor Rosenbaum focusing on such themes as: Israel is guilty of Nazi-style crimes; Simon Wiesenthal was a Nazi collaborator; Zionism is a form of Nazism that has "infected" world Jewry.

EIR published an article by General Medaris: "Stop the OSI's Assault against German-American Scientists!" Editorials in New Solidarity described Rudolph as an American "patriot" and suggested that OSI prosecutors were Soviet agents and "traitors" who perhaps should be executed for treason. Their activities were said to be a plot to undermine the SDI by demoralizing and deporting America's brilliant cadre of Peenemünde scientists. The Schiller Institute expanded the list of patriotic martyrs to include John (Ivan the Terrible) Demjanjuk of Treblinka fame; Karl Linnas, the butcher of the Tartu death camp; and Tscherim Soobzokov, a Waffen SS mass murderer whose attorney, Michael Dennis, was also LaRouche's attorney. (Just why autoworker Demjanjuk, construction surveyor Linnas, and Paterson, New Jersey, ward heeler Soobzokov were vital to SDI was never explained.)

In 1985 the old-timers held their fortieth reunion at the Alabama Space and Rocket Museum beneath a giant picture of von Braun. Linda Hunt, a former Cable Network News reporter, recalled a darkened auditorium full of aging Nazis eagerly watching a slide show of the latest laser-beam weapons. She said that when the lights went on, the FEF's Marsha Freeman went to the front and delivered a tirade against the OSI to hearty applause.

This event was mild compared with the Krafft Ehricke Memorial Conference held that year in Reston, Virginia. Sponsored by the FEF and the Schiller Institute, it united support for SDI, defense of Nazi war criminals, glorification of Peenemünde, and a messianic vision of the conquest of outer space. Fusion boasted that participants included "military, scientific, and diplomatic representatives from four continents." Former top Nazi scientist Hermann Oberth sent greetings from West Germany hailing Ehricke's "vision of 'Homo Sapiens Extraterrestris,' " the New Man who would leave behind the "flaming harbors of the Earth." Speakers included Admiral Zenker and Peenemünde rocketeer Konrad Dannenberg. LaRouche gave the keynote address, entitled "Krafft Ehricke's Enduring Contribution to the Future Generations of Global and Interplanetary Civilization." Resolutions were passed calling on President Reagan to adopt LaRouche's crash program for SDI and halt the Justice Department's investigation of the old-timers. Since the only old-timers being probed were those who allegedly served at Mittelwerk, the FEF/Schiller Institute's hoopla about underground factories on the moon and the spirit of Peenemünde in space technology was suggestive, at the least.

Over the next two years LaRouche assumed Krafft Ehricke's mantle. He outlined plans for cities on Mars and in the asteroid belt—an extension of his earlier earthbound citybuilding schemes so reminiscent of the SS plans for Aryan colonies in occupied Russia. His prototype design for a space city was based on the geometry of cosmic spirals. He said his inspiration had come from the work of German scientists who, at the end of the war, while "awaiting reassignments" (presumably to the Redstone Arsenal) had amused themselves by drawing up plans for rebuilding the Ruhr.

While thus dreaming of a new Ruhr on Mars, LaRouche did not forget the Green Steppes of Earth. In a speech at a September 3, 1987, EIR seminar in Munich, he claimed that when he promoted SDI in the early 1980s he had intended it only as the first stage in the most awesome revolution in the history of military technology—the development of "mass-killing" weapons using the "full range of the electromagnetic spectrum." Such weapons would make possible the "true total war." Aimed eastward, they could fry the entire Soviet population while leaving Soviet factories and railroads intact. LaRouche told his audience of military officers and Bavarian defense contractors that whoever develops microwave weapons first can "dominate this planet."