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A History of Nazi Mercenaries During the Cold War


History, Politics


Danny Orbach






Danny Orbach is an associate professor in the History and Asian Studies Departments at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He received his PhD from Harvard University. His prior books include Curse on This Country: The Rebellious Army of Imperial Japan, and The Plots Against Hitler, which has been published in seven languages. Danny lives in Jerusalem.





Rights available:

Danish, Dutch, Estonian, Faroese, Finnish, German, Icelandic, Latvian, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Swedish

Rights Sold: French, Hebrew, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish



After the Second World War, the Allies vowed to hunt Nazi war criminals “to the ends of the earth.” Yet many slipped away—or were shielded by the West, in exchange for cooperation in the unfolding confrontation with Communism.

Reinhard Gehlen, founder of West German foreign intelligence, welcomed SS operatives into the fold, overestimating their supposed capabilities. This shortsighted decision nearly brought down his cherished service, as the KGB found his Nazi operatives easy to turn or expose. However, Gehlen was hardly alone in this cynical strategy; the American, Soviet, French and Israeli secret services—and nationalist organisations and independence movements—all used former Nazi operatives in the early Cold War.

Nazi fugitives became freelance arms traffickers, spies, and assassins, playing crucial roles in the clandestine contest between the superpowers. From posh German restaurants, smuggler-infested Yugoslav ports, and fascist holdouts in Franco’s Spain to Damascene safehouses and Egyptian country clubs, these spies created a busy network of influence and information, a uniquely combustible ingredient in the covert struggles of the postwar decades.

Unearthing newly declassified revelations from Mossad and other archives, historian Danny Orbach reveals this long-forgotten arena of the Cold War, and its colourful cast of characters. Shrouded in official secrecy, clouded by myth and propaganda, the extraordinary tale of these Nazi agents has never been properly told—until now.


‘A quick, consequential read useful for even experienced intelligence professionals. Orbach skips across various persons, organizations, and events but still maintains a unifying narrative theme… Fugitives is a timely reminder for an evergreen lesson: even experienced professionals do well to keep a clear head and discerning eye despite the heavy undertow of emotional and cognitive biases.’ — Studies in Intelligence ‘[A] highly intriguing book … Fugitives is genuinely revelatory and Orbach’s research is impressive and scholarly. More to the point, the many fascinating narratives he relates here could easily provide the raw material for a dozen espionage novels. I have a feeling a lot of writers will be inspired.’ — William Boyd, New Statesman ‘The tales Orbach tells could fit into a pecu...



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