From the Sydney Morning Herald, October 16, 2012
Read more from the original here: http://www.smh.com.au/world/castro-recruited-former-nazis-20121016-27o0p.html#ixzz29TAu4227
Fidel Castro recruited former members of the Nazi SS Waffen to train his troops at the height of the Cuban missile crisis, declassified German intelligence files show.
The communist leader also sought to buy weapons from arms dealers connected with Germany’s extreme right, showing the extent to which he was prepared to collaborate with his ideological enemies to prevent a US invasion.
Papers released this week by the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), the German foreign intelligence agency, disclose the information gathered by German operatives 50 years ago during the tense days of the Cuban missile crisis.
They reveal that Castro personally approved a plan to hire former Nazi officers to instruct the Cuban revolutionary army, offering them wages that were four times the average salary in Germany and the chance to start a new life in Havana.
The papers, dating from October 1962, show that four former officers from the elite Nazi death squads had been invited to the Cuban capital, although subsequent reports could confirm only that two had arrived. They also showed how the Castro regime negotiated with two traffickers linked with Germany’s far right to buy Belgian-made pistols to arm the Cuban forces.
The conclusion drawn by German secret service officials was that the Cuban regime wanted to free itself from total dependence on Soviet-backed training and supplies.
“Evidently, the Cuban revolutionary army did not fear contagion from personal links to Nazism, so long as it served its their own objectives,” said Bodo Hechelhammer, the BND’s historical investigations director, in an interview with the German newspaper Die Welt.
The papers provide insight into Cuban actions during a Cold War period that brought the US and Soviet Union to the brink of war.