Heinrich Boell and Co: "Drinking CIA Brandies"

BERLIN/WASHINGTON/BERNE/ROM | | usa

BERLIN/WASHINGTON/BERNE/ROM (Own report) – At the beginning of their careers, several top correspondents of German television's prominent First (ARD) and Second (ZDF) channels were in contact with CIA front organizations. The meeting place was a "mansion close to the Rhine, financed by the secret service", says the author of a documentary film broadcast by the French-German channel, ARTE, in a discussion with german-foreign-policy.com. The key journalists were appointed to Washington. Their reports from the US capital influenced the millions of viewers of the public television channels. Heinrich Boell, the future literature Nobel Prize laureate, was also a member of the CIA front organization. Assignments were issued by CIA case officers stationed in Paris, who, at regular intervals, went to inspect their cultural subsidiary stations (in Cologne, Hamburg, West Berlin, Munich and elsewhere). The CIA activities, that verifiably lasted into the late sixties, encompassed also activities in Switzerland, Austria and Italy. The documentation substantiates with prominent examples, that this included also cooperation with ex-agents and high officials of the Nazi regime and Mussolini's dictatorship. The CIA had an influence even on the Nobel Prize Committee.

Among the group of "high-ranking journalists in the German broadcast and TV organizations, who were, consciously or unconsciously, of use to the CIA were" [1], Gerd Ruge (ARD) and Klaus Harpprecht (ZDF), who later was named main correspondent in the USA for the ARD and ZDF Television. Klaus Harpprecht played "a not insignificant role" in the CIA front organization in Cologne, says the author of the ARTE documentation, upon demand of german-foreign-policy.com.[2] Also Gerd Ruge, "up to today, one of the most popular TV personalities", socialized in the secret service financed mansion in Cologne. "With the money from the CIA center in Paris (...) garden parties were thrown or Soirées were given, around fastidious topics of the period. There was a large dragnet laid out" – and careers were made.

Agent Provocateur

Alongside Klaus Harpprecht, who later became an advisor of German Chancellor, Willy Brandt [3], obscure personalities with Nazi backgrounds, were also active at the CIA base in Cologne. According to the documentary commentary, an earlier Gestapo agent provocateur – who is a namesake of the founding director of the German international broadcaster, the "Deutsche Welle" (DW) – was also active at the base in Cologne. This link is left unmentioned in the ARTE film. Also implicated was the former Nazi foreign espionage agent of the Reich Security Central Office (RSHA), Berend von Nottbeck. Nottbeck emerges as a publisher of works from the "Publicist Center for German Unity" (PZ-Archiv) – a dubious address, with direct terrorist and CIA ties.[4] Boell's friend and publisher, Joseph Caspar Witsch ("Kiepenheuer and Witsch"), the former Nazi cultural functionary, was the head of the Cologne group. The future Nobel Prize laureate, Boell, participated in the political activities of the group.

Financial Account

Similarly bizarre connections, between ambitious publicists, who saw themselves as liberals, and heavily implicated Nazi veterans, was typical also for other CIA subsidiaries. Thus the documentary reveals that the Italian police informer of the CIA branch (of the "Congress of Cultural Freedom"), the well-known writer, Ignazio Silone, was for many years an informer of Mussolini's secret police, before taking up secret service activities for the USA. Silone socialized in the entourage around Boell and the Witsch publishers in Cologne, which published Silone's works in Germany. The CIA network extended also into Switzerland, where the prominent political scholar, Denis de Rougemont, initiated a "Centre Européen de la Culture". The CIA transferred substantial sums of dollars by way of Switzerland. As the CIA's financial accounts show, the US secret service transferred about 40,000 DM monthly to Germany – to the Cologne group – where Boell was active – and elsewhere.

Nobel Prize

In view of the Nobel Prize, later awarded to Heinrich Boell, it is particularly revealing that the CIA operations, using agents acquainted with Boell, extended to within the Stockholm Nobel Prize Committee. In the 60s, the CIA headquarters in Paris launched a subversive campaign to prevent from having the Nobel Prize awarded to the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda. As divulged in an internal document, quoted in the ARTE documentary, use was made of assistance from within the Stockholm Nobel Prize secretariat. The members of the Nobel Prize Committee were sent dossiers and articles, developed on instructions of the CIA, to portray Pablo Neruda as ridiculous. It is unknown, whether the CIA was able not only to prevent a Nobel Prize award, but also to initiate one.

Persisting Interests

Even though the documents, forming the basis of information for the film, have been publicly accessible for several years, the entanglement of prominent German scholars, journalists and artists implicated, are, still today, shrouded in silence. This could be due to the persisting interests of influential media organs. In the TV documentation, the legal advisor to Hamburg's Bucerius publishing house reminisced about "some of the 'CIA brandies'", he drank in the CIA's cultural base in Hamburg, with "numerous other TIME and SPIEGEL journalists".[5]

Please read also Interview mit dem Filmautor, Heinrich Boell: "State Directed", Diamant in der Sammlung der CIA and Heinrich Böll: Im Geheimdienstgestrüpp

[1] Beliebte TV-Persönlichkeiten; Interview, 29.11.2006
[2] Den ersten Teil des Interviews brachte german-foreign-policy.com am 24.11.2006: Diamant in der Sammlung der CIA
[3] Klaus Harpprecht: Im Kanzleramt. Tagebuch der Jahre mit Willy Brandt. Ohne Ortsangabe, 2000
[4] Zur "Kampfgruppe gegen Unmenschlichkeit", die als Mitherausgeberin der PZ-Publikationen ausgewiesen wird.
[5] Beliebte TV-Persönlichkeiten; Interview, 29.11.2006