THE BELARUS SECRET by John Loftus

THE BELARUS SECRET

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Loftus, a federal prosecutor in the Nazi War Crimes Unit, presented the basic thrust of this exposÉ--the importation and sheltering of Nazi-ish war criminals by US agencies--on a recent segment of 60 Minutes; here, in a rather colorless narrative, he offers details and documentation. Starting with a sliver of drama in a prologue (coming face-to-face with a New Jersey-dwelling war criminal in 1980), Loftus moves back in time and devotes virtually the entire book to the events which preceded his own investigations. First comes a history of Byelorussia, an area carved up by Poland and the Soviet Union but rich in nationalist strivings. Next, Loftus recounts the WW II collaboration of the Byelorussians with the Nazis: ""In no other nation under German occupation did the inhabitants so willingly and enthusiastically visit such a degree of inhumanity upon their neighbors""--spying, informing, running the ghettos, committing grisly Holocaust atrocities. Then the top Byelorussians are followed in their wily, postwar DP-camp guises: they embraced the Western allies--presenting themselves as fierce anti-Communists, offering to supply secret information, claiming to possess a spy-network behind the Iron Curtain. (Many were, in fact, Soviet double-agents.) And the focus finally comes to rest on Frank Wisner of the State Dept.'s new, clandestine Office of Policy Coordination (OPC): he envisioned guerrilla topplings of the Soviet empire; though fully aware of the Byelorussians' war crimes he eagerly recruited them as agents--bringing them to the US, finding them jobs, securing their citizenship, and getting around the anti-Nazi laws (thanks largely to bureaucratic incompetence at the FBI and Immigration, as well as some conscious conspiracy). Loftus himself, then, only enters the picture in the last pages, finally uncovering these facts in 1980, two years after an earlier inquiry produced only multi-agency coverup. And his narration throughout lacks the shape and style which might have marie Wisner (who eventually committed suicide) the central figure in a strong psycho-historical study. Nonetheless: worthy muckraking indeed, however flatly delivered--with names named, facts footnoted, and further Intelligence scandals hinted at.

Pub Date: Nov. 17th, 1982
Publisher: Knopf