Reitsch and von Greim were taken to Salzburg by the American authorities and Reitsch spent eighteen months as a prisoner before being released. After a long and somewhat illustrious postwar career, she died— apparently a suicide—in 1979 and was buried in Salzburg, an unrepentant Nazi to the end.

An interesting aside to her interrogation by the American authorities relates directly to the theme of the Nazi Redoubt. According to Reitsch, the plan was still being discussed as late as April 15, 1945132 but it soon became obvious that it was too late to put it into effect at that stage due to

the deterioration of the military situation. In other words, according to Reitsch, the Nazi Redoubt actually did exist. It had been in preparation, and meetings were still being held in the bunker as to the state of its construction and organization as late as two weeks before the war’s end. The implication is that the inhabitants of the bunker would not have been able to reach it due to the encirclement of Berlin by the Allies, but that it already had been in development for some time. This is in contradiction to other intelligence reports, which cast doubt on the whole idea of an “inner fortress” in the Salzburg region. Either Hanna Reitsch was lying about the Nazi Redoubt, or she was telling the truth. If she was lying, why was she lying and what else was she lying about? If she was telling the truth, then the Allies were mistaken in their assumption that the Redoubt was nothing more than a propaganda ploy concocted by Goebbels. According to Reitsch, the Redoubt was at least “partially completed” by April 15, 1945.

Thus, in Salzburg we have a confluence of personalities and plots. The Ustashi, whose most famous Ratline member was Father Draganovic, the creator of the monastery route; the mysterious Nazi Redoubt, a virtual fortress for the preservation of Nazis and Nazism after the war; the magnificent homes of the leaders of the Third Reich; the headquarters of the American forces in Austria; the CIC office responsible for the region; and the Pöch couple. In addition, there is one more aspect to the Salzburg region that requires mentioning for it bears directly on our case.

Ernst Schäfer and the Inner Asia Research Institute

One of the most peculiar departments of the SS was the Ahnenerbe, or “Ancestral Heritage” research division. It was a hothouse of racial theories, crank anthropologists and eccentric archaeologists, mystics, rune scholars, and developers of pseudo-scientific concepts concerning the nature of the cosmos, alternative energy sources, and the story of Atlantis. The SS- Ahnenerbe was the soul of Nazism, for within its ranks could be found every type of academic devoted to the core values of the Party. Scientific theories were made to fit the ideological mold of race science, or Rassenkunde. As history would eventually reveal, some of the worst atrocities of the Third Reich took place under the aegis of the SS- Ahnenerbe and its leader—Wolfram Sievers—would be executed for war crimes.

One of the strangest gaggle of academics within the organization was the group devoted to Tibetan research. Led by Ernst Schäfer, a small party of SS officers who were also anthropologists mounted a historic expedition to Tibet in 1938. Various reasons were given as the mission of the expedition, but surviving documentation—including film footage—shows that Rassenkunde was certainly one of its more important goals. Expedition member Bruno Beger, for instance, conducted anthropometric studies in Tibet, measuring the skulls of living Tibetans with calipers and recording the data. Schäfer himself collected all manner of flora and fauna to take back to Germany, and also made a detailed study of the religious rituals of the Tibetans. (He returned to Germany with a complete set of the Kangschur, the 108-volume sacred Tibetan scripture, as well as silent film footage of Tibetan rituals.)

The idea of conducting anthropometric research in the field while simultaneously recording the research on still and motion picture cameras owes a great deal to the pioneering efforts of Rudolf Pöch, Hella Pöch’s first husband. Yet, at this time, there is no evidence that Schäfer and Pöch ever met although Schäfer would almost certainly have been familiar with her work, and the work of her late husband. The overall mission of the SS- Ahnenerbe was to discover evidence to prove Nazi race ideology through various means. One of its contributions to the Reich was the development of race tests that would identify people who were Jews as well as Mischlinge, or “half breeds”: those with mixed Jewish ancestry. This was one of the research goals of the Pöch couple in the Netherlands, as well as of the SS-Ahnenerbe in general and of Ernst Schäfer in particular during an expedition to the Caucausus to ascertain whether or not the “Mountain Jews”133 were Aryan or in reality descendants of Jews who were in diaspora from the time of the destruction of the First Temple.

Bruno Beger, the anthropologist who conducted surveys in Tibet with

Schäfer, would later go on to participate in the selection of human prisoners from the camps for the creation of a skeleton museum. This macabre, mad- scientist endeavor was intended to demonstrate the anatomical differences between Aryans and Jews, and in order to be successful one had to have unblemished Jewish skeletal material at one’s disposal. In order to accomplish this, Beger would select those prisoners he felt best represented stereotypical Jewish traits. These prisoners would then be executed in such a way as to ensure there was no damage to their crania or other skeletal

structures. The bodies would then be macerated—a process requiring several weeks of “de-fleshing” the bones—and the resulting skeletons would then be prepared for display.

These activities were disrupted by the fast approach of Allied forces, and steps were taken to hastily remove whatever traces of this hideous process there were; however, the Nazis were not entirely successful in covering their tracks for many bodies remained, at least one with its concentration camp tattoo intact. Eventually a trail of documentation would lead straight back to the Ahnenerbe and to Bruno Beger, a man who had met the Panchen Lama of Tibet and who had spent months among the Tibetan Buddhists.

Beger was eventually indicted for these crimes, but the charges were never able to stick. He spent very little time in prison, and the rest of his life was a model of academic repose. He remained on good terms with the Tibetans, and there are extent photographs of Beger in audience with the current Dalai Lama. For awhile, he even published a brief account of his admiration for the Tibetan people that was carried on the official Tibetan Government-in-Exile website, until taken down at the insistence of those who knew very well who Beger was and what he had done during the war.

As the war progressed and it became obvious that the Allies would take huge chunks of Germany’s empire—if not the whole thing— Himmler decided that the research of the SS-Ahnenerbe would have to take place in safer quarters. The main office of the organization was moved out of Berlin, and Ernst Schäfer’s own operation moved to Mittersill, a town in the state of Salzburg that was once also the site of a sub-camp of the infamous Mauthausen concentration camp. It was there that Schäfer continued his research in relative peace and quiet, about two hours’ drive from the home and office of Georg Anton Pöch in Salzburg.

Archaeology was one of the main interests of the SS-Ahnenerbe. Nazi archaeologists were sent to the far corners of the globe in an effort to discover traces of Aryan civilization. In the occupied territories, archaeologists working for the Ahnenerbe would simply seize those artifacts deemed valuable to this research and they would wind up either at Ahnenerbe headquarters or at Wewelsburg Castle, Himmler’s sacred retreat. We know that the German Archaeological Institute was involved in some way with these activities but until more work is done at the Institute’s archives in Rome we will not know the whole story.

Like his colleague Bruno Beger, Ernst Schäfer managed to escape any serious punishment for his role in the Ahnenerbe and lived to a ripe old age after more expeditions after the war in South America—principally Venezuela—before returning to Europe. Did the Pöch couple know Schäfer, especially after his move to Mittersill? Was Schäfer (or another member of the Ahnenerbe) their connection to the Deutsches Archaeologische Institut in Rome? Schäfer was successfully denazified long before he left for Venezuela in 1950. What was the status of the Pöchs?

While the expected Werewolf guerrilla war never materialized, and the exact location of the legendary National Redoubt never identified, the money stolen by the Nazis was used to help fugitives escape and also to prop up the Perónist regime in Argentina. Rather than finance a Nazi guerrilla war in Europe, Nazi gold helped finance fascist dictatorships throughout Latin America and the Middle East: regimes that utilized not only the stolen gold and other financial instruments but also the expertise of the Nazi criminals themselves.

We can take the case of Freddy Schwend as an example.

Friedrich “Freddy” Schwend (1906-1980) claimed the rank of SS- Sturmbannführer (although he was probably not a genuine SS officer and held the rank as a kind of cover) but his real job was as the manager of something called Operation Bernhard. Bernhard was the ambitious currency-forging project of the SS that managed to create beautifully- crafted British pound notes as well as other currencies. The original mission of Operation Bernhard was the destabilizing of the world’s currencies as part of the overall war effort, but in the end it functioned as a kind of slush fund for secret operations, using the forged currencies rather than genuine money to pay off spies and bribe officials. The forged currencies were also used to buy much needed raw material for the war effort from neutral countries. Schwend conducted this operation from a villa in the Tyrol that was surrounded by SS men, and which oversaw transport of the forged currencies by the truckload and trainload to other countries in Europe. The forgers themselves were Jews: concentration camp prisoners chosen for their ability as printers and engravers.

By all accounts this was a very successful operation, and at the end of the war Schwend gave himself up to the CIC which “turned” him and used him as a double agent: first, in the location of stolen gold, currencies and

artwork in a series of hiding places, mine shafts and safe houses throughout Austria and other parts of Europe, and then for counter-intelligence work under the code name “Major Klemp,” and as code name “Flush” (for an operation created to “flush out” others like him in Italy). There is also evidence that Schwend was involved in Dulles’s Operation Sunrise, which ensured the peaceful surrender of SS and Wehrmacht forces in Italy.134

Schwend’s network of wartime safe houses was then used for the Ratline. The same agents he had used to pass forged pounds sterling he now used to move SS men out of Europe. Operation Sunrise had presented the OSS with a considerable number of SS officers who had cooperated with them in the orderly surrender, and who now expected special treatment in return. Dulles himself was notoriously anti-Communist and relatively relaxed when it came to Nazism; like the Vatican and especially Pope Pius XII and his Secretary of State and future Pope Paul VI—Cardinal Pacelli— he saw the Nazis as a potential bulwark against the Russians.

An underground network of SS officers, working for the Allies rather than against them, would provide American intelligence with a ready-made spy network in Eastern Europe. This would eventually become the infamous Gehlen Organization, run by Reinhard Gehlen who had seduced his captors with promises of being able to penetrate Soviet intelligence and run operations behind Russian lines.

In the meantime, Schwend proved his worth over almost two years of work with the CIC and the OSS, and several of these files are still classified to this day. Eventually, however, Schwend would realize that Europe was getting too hot for him and he wound up using his own network to leave Europe and sail to South America . He used the false identity of a Croatian national, with International Red Cross documents courtesy of Father Draganovic, and fled with his wife to Peru in 1946. By the 1970s, however, Schwend found himself a wanted man again. The Italian government had demanded his extradition from Peru for the murder of a man who had been trying to steal a quantity of the forged notes Schwend had created: Schwend had shot him on the orders of SS strongman Ernst Kaltenbrunner.

Schwend was eventually released from custody and spent the remaining months of his life in Peru, where he died in 1980…taking many secrets with him to the grave. Reportedly, Schwend was deeply involved with Klaus Barbie and with Barbie’s network of fascist murderers and arms dealers in South America and Europe who conducted assassinations as part of

Operation Condor: the quasi-official agreement between the governments of Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, and Paraguay to seek out leftists and communist leaders and neutralize them “with extreme prejudice.” Agents of Operation Condor were responsible for assassinations and assassination attempts in Italy and Spain as well as in South America, and in addition there were connections to the Italian Masonic lodge, Propaganda Due, or P2: the heavily-connected renegade Masonic association with members in the military, government, finance, media and the Church that was involved in assassinations and money laundering in Europe with a view towards resurrecting a Catholic, fascist dictatorship a la the Ustashe of Croatia.135

Schwend was not the only source of funds for the Ratline, of course. In addition to the gold and other valuables stolen by the Ustashe, there was a surging underground market in stolen art and artifacts from other parts of Europe. During the war, Hitler had decided to “repatriate” many of these artworks, while having others stored in hidden places in cities like Nuremberg where the famous Hapsburg Crown Jewels were taken from a museum in Vienna. But it is the strange story of the German Archaeological Institute that brings us back to Georg Anton Pöch.

In 1946, the Art Looting Investigation Unit (ALIU) of the OSS compiled a list of persons of interest who were implicated in the sack of public and private art collections that took place under the orders of the Third Reich. This list has generally not been consulted by those studying the ratlines as it is considered a separate issue entirely; however, the author’s discovery of the Roman address of the German Archaeological Institute in the Pöch diary suggested a closer look at this list would bear fruit.

As it turns out, no fewer than ten individuals who were officials of the German Archaeological Institute or otherwise connected appear on the OSS list. To quote directly from the list, they are: