Die Spinne (German for "The Spider") is believed by some to be a secret organization established and led in part by Otto Skorzeny, Hitler's commando chief, as well as Nazi intelligence officer Reinhard Gehlen which helped as many as 600 former SS men escape from Germany to Spain, Argentina, Paraguay, Chile, Bolivia and other countries.
Die Spinne was established by Skorzeny using the cover names of Robert Steinbacher and Otto Steinbauer, and supported by either Nazi funds or, according to some sources, Austrian Intelligence. Later, Skorzeny, Gehlen and their network of collaborators had gained significant influence in parts of Europe and Latin America. Skorzeny travelled between Francoist Spain and Argentina, where he acted as an advisor to President Juan Perón and bodyguard of Eva Perón, while fostering an ambition for the "Fourth Reich" centred in Latin America.
According to Infield, the idea for the Die Spinne network began in 1944 as Hitler's chief intelligence officer Reinhard Gehlen foresaw a possible downfall of the Third Reich due to Nazi military failures in Russia. T.H. Tetens, expert on German geopolitics and member of the US War Crimes Commission in 1946-1947, referred to a group overlapping with die Spinne as the Führungsring ("a kind of political Mafia, with headquarters in Madrid... serving various purposes.") The Madrid office built up what was referred to as a sort of Fascist International, per Tetens. According to Tetens the German leadership also included Dr. Hans Globke, who had written the official commentary on the Nuremberg Laws. Globke held the important position of Director of the German Chancellery from 1953 until 1963, serving as adviser for Konrad Adenauer.
The "Fascist International"
During the period from 1945 to 1950, Die Spinne leader Skorzeny facilitated the escape of Nazi war criminals from war-criminal prisons to Memmingen, Bavaria, through Austria and Switzerland into Italy. Certain US military authorities supposedly knew of the escape, but took no action.
A coordinating office for international Die Spinne operations was established in Madrid, Spain, by Otto Skorzeny, under the control of Generalissimo Francisco Franco, whose victory in the Spanish Civil War was guaranteed by economic and military support from Hitler and Mussolini. When a Die Spinne Nazi delegation visited Madrid in 1959, Franco stated, "Please regard Spain as your second Fatherland."
Die Spinne leader Skorzeny requested the assistance of ultra-wealthy German industrialist Alfried Krupp, whose company controlled 138 private concentration camps under the Third Reich, and this was granted in 1951. Skorzeny became Krupp's representative in industrial business ventures in Argentina, a country which harboured a strong pro-Nazi political element throughout World War II and afterwards, regardless of a nominal declaration of loyalty to the Allies as World War II ended.
With the help of Die Spinne leaders in Spain, by the early 1980s Die Spinne had become influential in Argentina, Chile and Paraguay, including ties involving Paraguayan dictator Alfredo Stroessner.
War Crimes investigator Simon Wiesenthal claimed that Joseph Mengele had stayed at the notorious Colonia Dignidad Nazi colony in Chile in 1979, and ultimately was harboured in Paraguay until his death.
As of the early 1980s, Die Spinne's Mengele was reported by Infield to have been advising Stroessner's ethnic German Paraguayan police on how to reduce native Paraguayan Indians in the Chaco Region to slave labour.
A wealthy and powerful post-World-War-II underground Nazi political contingent held sway in Argentina as of the late 1960s, which included many ethnic German Nazi immigrants and their descendants.
In popular culture
- "Otto Skorzeny, Nazi Commando, Dead". The New York Times. July 8, 1975.
- "Nazis: The Deadly Spider". Newsweek. July 21, 1975.
- "Peculiar liaisons: in war, espionage, and terrorism in the twentieth century", John S. Craig. Algora Publishing, 2005. ISBN 0-87586-331-0, ISBN 978-0-87586-331-3. p. 163
- "Barbie's Postwar Ties With U.S. Army Detailed". Boston Globe. 14 February 1983.
- Glenn Infield. The Secrets of the SS. Stein and Day, New York, 1981
- Joseph Wechsberg. The Murderers Among Us. McGraw Hill, New York, 1967. pp. 81, 116
- Infield, p. 201
- T.H. Tetens. The New Germany and the Old Nazis. Random House/Marzani+Munsel, 1961. p. 31
- Tetens, p. 73
- Tetens, p. 38
- Tetens, pp. 39–41
- Infield, p. 197
- Infield, p. 197
- Wechsberg, p. 116
- Infield, p. 8
- Tetens, p. 73
- Infield, p. 209
- Infield, p. 199
- Wechsberg, p. 337-338
- Wechsberg, p. 166
- Infield, p. 208
- Infield, p. 210
- Infield, p. 210
- Wechsberg, pp. 123–124, 159, 162
- Infield, Glenn. The Secrets of the SS. Stein and Day, New York, 1981. ISBN 0-8128-2790-2.
- Tetens, T.H. The New Germany and the Old Nazis. Random House/Marzani+Munsel, 1961. LCN 61-7240.
- Wechsberg, Joseph. The Murderers Among Us. McGraw Hill, New York, 1967. LCN 67-13204.