History of Interpol: Nazi War Criminals

About the history of Interpol and its refusal to aid in the search for nazi war criminals after the war and beyond.

The Men from Interpol

By Vaughn Young

Since the war, Interpol has puzzled those not acquainted with its history, and Louwage's, by politely but firmly refusing to aid in the search for wanted Nazi war criminals. Citing Article 3 of its constitution, Interpol has insisted that Nazi war criminals are beyond its "jurisdiction." The matter came to a head in 1961 with the capture and trial of Adolf Eichmann, who had sat in Interpol's offices 19 years earlier toasting the Fuhrer.

The World Jewish Congress, meeting in Geneva that same year, took notice of Interpol's refusal. Charging that such an attitude gave "an unexpected sense of safety" to other Nazis in hiding, the WJC did not accept Interpol's view that the murder of 6 million Jews was beyond its jurisdiction. Interpol, however, refused to listen. Instead, it began to concentrate on the worldwide drug traffic, still its favorite program today. Backed by the U.S. Treasury Department, Interpol no sooner attacked the movement of heroin and opium than the problem turned into an epidemic. Each new program touted to combat the illicit traffic was followed by an increase in drugs from Europe and the Far East. Interpol's ineffectiveness was becoming painfully apparent.

By 1968, the Nazi issue had quieted sufficiently to allow the election of Paul Dickopf as president. Besides working in Heydrich's SD, where Interpol was located during the war, Dickopf had helped to reestablish the police in postwar Germany, achieving a senior position for himself in the Bundeskriminalamt. During his 4-year reign, the organization achieved a momentary state of financial affluence. When Dickopf stepped down in 1972, Interpol owned a new 8-story building in St. Cloud, a radio station, over 100 acres of French land, and had nearly 2 billion Swiss francs in the bank, due, in part, to large contributions by 3 member countries during his tenure: Venezuela, Brazil, and Switzerland, where, coincidentally, the Nazi Odessa brotherhood is very much alive.

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