Tuesday 28 October 2014

Poland moves its troops east (and a Nazi past)

Poland to move thousands of troops to border with Ukraine

Poland's Defence Minister Tomasz Siemoniak (R),  (Reuters / Bartosz Bobkowski / Agencja Gazeta)

27 October, 2014

Warsaw has decided to relocate troops from the west of the country towards its eastern border due to “the biggest security crisis since the Cold War.” It is a major realignment of the military structure, Poland’s defense minister told the AP.

"The geopolitical situation has changed, we have the biggest crisis of security since the Cold War and we must draw conclusions from that," Poland’s Defense Minister Tomasz Siemoniak told The Associated Press on Monday.

He explained that the number of troops stationed at three military bases in the east will triple in two years. Siemoniak added that the quantity of military hardware stationed at the bases will also be increased.
The Polish minister explained that it was not a radical measure but for protection due to the threat posed by the neighboring Ukrainian conflict.
“…we would like those units in the east of Poland to be more efficient," he said.
Most of Poland’s army has been concentrated in the western part of the country as the country has not realigned its military structure since it was part of the Soviet bloc.
Warsaw plans to invest in the army’s modernization, particularly in the eastern part of the country, adding that the ministry has planned buying new hardware in 2016, Siemoniak said on October 23 while visiting the Siedlce military base located in eastern Poland, Polskie Radio reported.

Today, our eastern flank is crucial. We will work out the details, we will preserve and develop what we have. I saw the infrastructure here. Frankly, it looks outdated, so we will improve it," Siemoniak said.

Polish soldiers (AFP Photo/Ceerwan Aziz)
Polish soldiers (AFP Photo/Ceerwan Aziz)

According to the Polish media, the Siedlce base was under the threat of closure a few years ago, however the minister has now decided to reinforce it. The minister also said he plans to visit eastern military bases in Chelm and Suwalki in the near future.

In April, NATO-member Poland asked the military organization to permanently station 10,000 troops near the country’s eastern border amid claims that Russia amassed troops on Ukrainian border. NATO has not directly responded to Poland’s request.

Now former NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen confirmed in August that the alliance is planning to permanently deploy forces under its flag in Eastern Europe. However some NATO members, including Germany, have expressed reservations over the plans as they do not see the point of provoking tensions with Moscow.

The new NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg paid a visit to Poland in early October where he reiterated calls for a rapid reaction “spearhead” force – a 4,000 soldier force which was agreed upon by the 28 NATO member states following a conference in Wales in September.

Such a military force was intended to substitute for permanent NATO bases in Eastern Europe, which the military alliance pledged not to create following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Moscow criticized the plans of creating the rapid force and accused NATO of using the Ukrainian crisis as a pretext to push its military presence closer to Russia’s borders. Russia’s envoy to NATO, Aleksandr Grushko, suggested in September that the alliance was engaged in “
Cold War thinking,” and risked undermining the landmark 1997 treaty in which Moscow and Brussels officially proclaimed that they were no longer adversaries.”

And from history... Something we always knew conformed
CIA and FBI used 'over 1,000 ex-Nazis and collaborators' as spies during Cold War

RIA Novosti/G. Vasukevich

27 October, 2014

CIA and FBI used at least 1,000 ex-Nazis of all ranks and collaborators as anti-Soviet spies during the Cold War overlooking their war crimes and concealing it even from the US Justice Department, The New York Times reports citing newly disclosed files.

The NYT cites the materials from a book by Eric Lichtblau “The Nazis Next Door: How America Became a Safe Haven for Hitler’s Men,” which is to be published on October 28 and tells a story about US intelligence services cooperating with ex-Nazis after the World War II.

Newly declassified records and interviews show that in 1950s the CIA and the FBI began to actively recruit the former Nazis and collaborators. It is reported that the US highly appreciated their “value” against Russians and used them as secret “assets” in confrontation with the Soviet Union. Even the war crimes were not an obstacle, the disclosed files say.
Richard Breitman, a Holocaust scholar at American University who was on a team that declassified war-crime records, said the morality of recruiting ex-Nazis was rarely considered.
This all stemmed from a kind of panic, a fear that the Communists were terribly powerful and we had so few assets,” he said.

The first public evidence of these facts appeared in the 1970s but recently disclosed archives show that the number of recruited Nazis was much higher than thought before and the government was trying to conceal this until recently.
Norman Goda, a historian on the declassification team, says a complete count is impossible as many records still remain classified.

US agencies directly or indirectly hired numerous ex-Nazi police officials and East European collaborators who were manifestly guilty of war crimes,” he said. Information was readily available that these were compromised men.”

In 1980 the Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations requested the information with the FBI about 16 suspected Nazis living in the US but the Bureau refused to provide it. According to new data all 16 people worked for FBI as spies and informants providing leads on Communist “sympathizers.”
An FBI official left a memo stressing the need for protecting the confidentiality of such sources of information to the fullest possible extent.”

The intelligence services hired Nazis of all ranks, sometimes very high. For instance, just after WWII the CIA recruited Otto von Bolschwing who was a top aide to Adolf Eichmann, mastermind of the “Final Solution” - Nazi Germany's plan during World War II to systematically rid the world of its Jewish population through genocide. In 1954 he was relocated to the US and granted citizenship as “a reward for his loyal postwar service.”
Von Bolschwing lived in the US for another 20 years before US prosecutors discovered his past. His son, Gus von Bolschwing, said the cooperation between his father and the CIA was not consistent” with American values.

They used him, and he used them,” he said in an interview. It shouldn’t have happened. He never should have been admitted to the United States. It wasn’t consistent with our values as a country.”

The intelligence agencies’ protection of their ex-Nazi spies continued long after the end of the Cold War. According to a government official cited by The NYT, in 1994 US prosecutors were pressured by a lawyer with the CIA into dropping a probe into an ex-spy implicated in a Nazi massacre of thousands of Jews in Lithuania.

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