A previously unseen document has shed new light on the US government’s use of ex-Nazi scientists after 1945.
Arthur Rudolph, who had worked on rockets for Hitler’s Germany, was brought to the US after the war under a secret program to keep other countries from getting their hands on German scientific breakthroughs.
He was one of hundreds of scientists who were allowed into the US in the years following the war.
Though the US knew Rudolph had been a Nazi, he was not considered complicit in atrocities. He became the father of the mighty Saturn rocket that made the space program possible.
But in 1984, as the Justice Department, armed with new evidence, prepared to prosecute him for involvement in Nazi use of slave labour, he left the US and renounced his citizenship in 1984.
The details of the Rudolph case is among dozens detailed in a Justice Department report never made public but was recently obtained by the New York Times.
"The government knows much more about the history of American collaboration with the Nazis than was previously acknowledged in this remarkable post-World War Two period," Eric Lichtblau of the New York Times said.
The report describes internal US government battles over, for example, whether it could be proven that Swiss banks bought gold looted by the Nazis from Jewish victims.
Jewish groups that do their own Nazi hunting say the Justice Department should make the report public.
Abe Foxman from the Anti-Defamation League also questions the motives of the Department of Justice. "We’re still covering up? We’re still hiding the role that some some in our country played by some perverse sense of national interest? I think it’s time that our country knew."