Sunday, June 23, 2019

Secret Armies and the Origins of the Cerle Complex Part VI

Welcome to the sixth installment in my ongoing examination of the mysterious Cercle complex. Variously known as Le Cercle, Pinay Cercle, the Pesenti Group, and so on, the Cercle emerged during the early 1950s as a kind of auxiliary to to the infamous Bilderberg group. But despite its Atlanticism, the composition was of the Cercle complex has differed somewhat from Bilderberg. While the latter was dominated by American and Northern European elites, Le Cercle was originally a joint Franco-German venture. As such, it had more of a Catholic orientation was dominated by reactionary orders such as the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and Opus Dei during the early years. Over the years a considerable amount of knights, lords, barons and dukes have been affiliated with the group as well, with these aristocratic trappings continuing to this very day.

The Cercle complex wielded phenomenal power throughout the Cold War and beyond, which has been explored before in an earlier series. As the title implies, the purpose of this present series is to explore the origins of the Cercle complex in relation to the various stay-behind armies that sprung up across Europe and beyond in the almost immediate aftermath of the Second World War. These paramilitary networks were initiated by the US and UK so as to wage a guerrilla war against the Soviet Union in the event of an invasion. They were modeled upon WWII era operations conducted by the UK's Special Operations Executive (SOE), the US's Office of Strategic Services (OSS), and Nazi Germany's Amt VI-S of the Reich Main Security Office. The first installment of this series provided further details on these organizations. Part two explored how assets of these organizations were transferred to the private sector at war's end, while the third installment considered the World Commerce Corporation (WCC), the Frankenstein-like conglomerate that ultimately came to control these various assets by the onset of the Cold War.

emblems of the SOE (top), OSS (middle), and SD (Amt VI: bottom)
The fourth installment began to explore the origins of several of the earliest stay-behind networks, and noted that in the nations most ravaged by terrorism linked to these networks (i.e. Italy and Belgium), there appear to have been multiple stay-behind networks, some under the official control of the security services of the host nation, others dominated by private, and often far right, groups. With the fifth and most recent installment of this series, I explored how these stay-behind networks were not restricted to paramilitary operations, but also appear to have been used in psychological warfare efforts. Specifically, I focused on Paix et Liberte, a French organization that established various branches across Western Europe engaged in various psyops and the like.

A major point of emphasis over the course of the last two installments in this series has been the parapolitics in France during the early years of the Cold War and for good reason: the Cercle complex was principally a French initiative initially. As such, our exploration will end in France.

German Secret Armies

But before getting there, I would like to take a brief digression to Germany. The various stay-behind efforts there during the early Cold War further elaborate the Cercle complex's control over the various stay-behind networks, including the private ones. As was noted in part four, the "Anello" (Italy's principal private stay-behind network) appears to have been under the direct control of famed Italian statesman Giulio Andreotti (as was the Propaganda Due [P2] Masonic lodge, allegedly), a co-founder of Le Cercle. In Belgium, but the official and private stay-behind networks appear to have been directed by Paul Vanden Boeynants (aka VdB) and Baron Benoit de Bonvoisin (aka the Black Baron), both of whom were actively involved with the Cercle complex since at least the 1970s.

In the case of Germany, there appear to have been similar connections. I would have outlined these in part four had I not forgotten about some crucial information a reader kindly provided in the comment section of the first installment of this series (hat tip Robert). But by giving these events their own installment, I'll be able to more fully explore the murky netherworld of the German stay-behind networks, which are quite curious (to put it mildly).

In the immediate postwar years, two prominent German officials are most closely associated with the stay-behind efforts. Neither name should come as a surprise to regular readers of this blog.
"When the Gladio scandal erupted in 1990 an unnamed former NATO intelligence official explained that the covert action branch of the CIA under Frank Wisner in order to set up the German Secret Army had 'incorporated lock, stock and barrel the espionage out then run by Hitler's spy chief Reinhard Gehlen. This is well known, because Gehlen was the spiritual father of Stay Behind in Germany and his role was known to the West German leader, Konrad Adenauer, from the outset.' According to the unnamed NATO officer, US President Truman and German Chancellor Adenauer had signed a secret protocol with the US on West Germany's entry into NATO in May 1955 in which it was agreed that the West German authorities would refrain from active legal pursuit of known right-wing extremists. What is not so well known is that other top German politicians were privy to the existence of secret resistance plans. One of these was the then German Secretary of State and former high-ranking Nazi, Hans Globke."
(NATO's Secret Armies, Daniele Ganser, pg. 193)
our old friend Reinhard Gehlen
That Gehlen, Adenauer, and Globke would be at the forefront of these efforts is hardly surprising. Indeed, these three men arguably dominated West Germany throughout its early history.
"Dubbed 'the gray eminence,' Globke secured his Richelieu-like grip on postwar Bonn through his jurisdiction over West Germany's prodigious secret-service outfit, the Gehlen Org. Gehlen himself described working with Globke as 'pleasant and stimulating.' Together with Adenauer – who referred appreciatively to Gehlen as 'my dear general' – they formed a high-powered troika that dominated West German politics until 1962, when the eight-five-year-old chancellor finally stepped aside.
"At a time when Adenauer was virtually unknown in Germany, Gehlen leaned on his influential U.S. contacts to support him for chancellor. Adenauer also had the backing of the financial and industrial oligarchs of the Rhine-Ruhr area, who, like Gehlen, favored his Atlantic-oriented approach to international affairs. Adenauer's political longevity was enhanced by the meddling of the Org, which spied on the chancellor's domestic opponents. The list of targets included nearly everyone who did not readily fall into step with Adenauer's march towards economic and political integration with West."
(The Beast Reawakens, Martin A. Lee, pgs. 54-55) 
Konrad Adenauer would go on to become a co-founder of the Cercle complex during the 1952-1953 period. As such, it is hardly surprising that he would be close the German stay-behind efforts. As was noted above, another Cercle co-founder, Giulio Andreotti, would be closely involved with Italian stay-behind efforts for years as well. Further, we've already encountered at least one instance of Adenauer's efforts on behalf of the stay-behinds in the prior installment. There it was noted that the Volksbund fur Frieden und Freiheit (VFF: the People's League for Peace and Freedom), the German arm of the Paix et Liberte network, maintained close ties to Adenauer's Christian Democratic Party (CDU) and had a direct line to the chancellor.

That Adenauer owed so much of his postwar fortunes to Reinhard Gehlen is also interesting. A former intelligence chief for Wehrmacht Foreign Armies East, Gehlen was later tapped by the US intelligence community to become West Germany's spymaster. He accomplished this through the efforts of the Org (short for Gehlen Organization), an intelligence network heavily staffed with former Nazis. Eventually, the Org would be transformed into the BND (West Germany's principal intelligence services) circa 1955. Gehlen would dominate US intelligence efforts in Eastern Europe throughout the 1950s until it became glaringly obvious that his Org was thoroughly penetrated by the Soviets.

Gehlen has never been linked to the Cercle complex directly, but he surely wielded influence via Adenauer and Jean Violet, a French co-founder on the payroll of the BND (noted before here) for years. From 1949 to 1956, the main CIA liaison to the Gehlen Org was James Critchfield. As David Teacher notes in Rogue Agents, Critchfield is known to have been involved with the Cercle complex by the 1980s. Gehlen and his Org would also back closely related networks such as Interdoc throughout the Cold War as well. But moving along.

As for the secret armies themselves, there appear to have been several such organizations, in keeping with developments in other European countries around this time. The most well known are the Bund Deutscher Jugend (BDJ: League of German Youth) and its paramilitary arm, the Technischer Dienst (TD). Here's a little more background on these outfits:
"In Germany one of the Nazi-dominated US networks named 'Bund Deutscher Jugend' (BJ) and its stay-behind 'Technischer Dienst' (TD) were discovered in 1952. Klaus Barbie had played a leading role in setting up the German stay-behind BDJ-TD. But the secret was not kept long. The New York Times reported on October 10, 1952 under the somewhat misleading headline 'German Saboteurs betray US Trust. Wide Investigation Follows Confirmation of Financing Guerrillas' War Training', that 'Authoritative officials have privately confirmed today that the United States has sponsored and helped finance the secret training of young Germans, including many former soldiers, to become guerrilla fighters in the event of a war Soviet Union.' The US newspaper reported that the disclosure yesterday in the State Parliament of Hesse and the banner headline publicly today in the German press have caused the United States Department and the Army considerable embarrassment', above all because 'it was discovered that the projected guerrilla group had engaged in political activities. Their leaders... drew a blacklists of persons who were to be "liquidized," if they were deemed unreliable in a war against the Russians.' Therefore 'Several joint German-United States meetings were held' because many acting 'Socialist, including government officials, were on the list, as well as the Communists'.
"This early discovery of a part of the German stay-behind caused a major scandal on both sides of the Atlantic and Newsweek in the United States reported in October 20, 1952 that the CIA had organized a group of 'stay-behinds' in Germany. Interestingly enough the German newspaper Der Spiegel on October 29, 1952 correctly reported that stay-behind networks existed next to Germany also in numerous countries of Western Europe: 'The BDJ affair has caused considerable worries in the different headquarters of the American secret service in Europe. Because the "Technischer Dienst" in Germany is but one branch of a partisan network supported by the United States and spreading over the whole of Europe.' Specifically, as the Spiegel reported, 'This network is most strongly developed in France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Italy and the Iberian peninsula. In France this organization was created already in 1948, with the support of the leader of the Socialist, [Ministry of the Interior] Jules Moch.' "
(NATO's Secret Armies, Daniele Ganser, pg. 193)
Jules Moch
Jules Moch is of course a figure that figured prominently in the prior installment of this series. There it was noted that Moch played a leading role in reestablishing a stay-behind network in France after the earlier Plan Bleu network drew the ire of the Socialists. Moch also played a key role in establishing the Paix et Liberte network, whose German branch had ties to the administration of Konrad Adenauer. This is all becoming quite incestuous indeed.

As for Adenauer, while there is some dispute as to when exactly he learned of the existence of the BDJ-TD (some source allege that he was ignorant of these networks prior to their 1952 exposure, while others allege that he was aware of them for several years prior), there can be little question that Adenauer played a crucial role in covering them up after the initial fallout. Adenauer likely would have had good reason for a cover up, as Martin A. Lee alleges in The Beast Reawakens that the BDJ-TD was used to spy on and harass his political opponents.

It is also interesting that Klaus Barbie would play a crucial role in setting up the BDJ-TD. The exposure of this network directly led to Barbie fleeing Europe for South America. There, the former SS man would establish himself as as a security chief and drug lord in Bolivia by the late 1970s. Barbie was plugged into the underground SS network headed by Otto Skorzeny and worked closely with the infamous Italian neo-fascist terrorist Stefano Delle Chiaie, who had ties to organizations linked to the Cercle complex (noted before here and here). Curiously, the man who debriefed Barbie and likely gave the greenlight for his work on the BDJ-TD project was the longtime US intelligence officer Arnold M. Silver.

Silver is quite a mysterious figure. He initially broke into the intelligence racket while working for the US Army's Counterintelligence Corps (CIC), which also played a crucial role in the early stay-behind efforts. In addition to "interrogating" Barbie on behalf of the CIC, he also did the same for Otto Skorzeny, whom we will inevitable encounter later in this installment. While with the CIC, he also served along side of future Cercle participant Henry Kissinger.

Silver later joined the CIA in 1948 and became quite a senior figure. He served in Austria, Luxembourg (as the Chief of Station no less), Germany, and Turkey before returning to the United States. According to the great David Teacher in Rogue Agents, Silver was in charge of counter-subversion efforts in West Europe. He was eventually drummed out of the CIA during the Carter administration by the DCI, Admiral Stansfield Turner. After his departure from the CIA, Silver became involved with the Cercle complex, initially through Brian Crozier's 6I network (a private intelligence network under the control of the Cercle complex, noted before here). By the 1980s, he had become a "security adviser" to the Cercle complex itself.

Der Bruderschaft

Naturally, the BDJ-TD was but one of several paramilitary networks established in Germany during the late 1940s to nominally deal with a Soviet invasion. One of the more curious (and faction riddled) was known as the Bruderschaft (Brotherhood). While this organization was briefly addressed in the prior installment, a few more details are warranted here. 
"The Bruderschaft was one of the most important groups in Germany's postwar fascist elite. Using its intelligence and organizational contacts with fascist movements around the world, it played a critical role in the Nazi underground railroad that smuggled war criminals to South America and the Middle East. In the early 1950s, elements from the Bruderschaft also helped create the Freikorps Deutschland, a paramilitary organization later outlawed by occupation authorities.
"The Bruderschaft was founded in 1945-46 in a British POW camp in Germany by Major Helmut Beck-Broichsitter, an ex-staff officer of the Grossdeutschland Division. He was soon joined by Franke-Gricksch, who brought to the group a detailed plan to recapture power 'through slow, mythological insinuation into governmental and party positions, under cover of such secrecy or camouflage as might be necessary for the success of the operation.' "
(Dreamer of the Day, Kevin Coogan, pg. 192)
The Bruderschaft remains one of the most enigmatic organizations of early postwar Nazi underground. The two principal figures behind it, Helmut Beck-Broichsitter and Alfred Franke-Gricksch, effectively represented different factions of the postwar underground. Many of the former Wehrmacht (the regular German military, as opposed to the Waffen-SS) officers within the Bruderschaft tended to side with Beck-Broichsitter, while Franke-Gricksch spoke for the SS, Hitler Youth, and Conservative Revolutionary elements within the organization.

This divide became more pronounced as the Cold War struggle intensified. According to Jeffrey Bale in The Darkest Sides of Politics, I, Beck-Broichsitter proposed in setting up anti-Communist shock troops to work in conjunction with the American military. Specifically, Coogan reports that efforts were in fact made to merge the paramilitary forces of the Bruderschaft with those of the BDJ-TD.

Conversely, Franke-Gricksch was fanatically anti-American and favored closer cooperation with the Soviets. This would bring Franke-Gricksch and the Bruderschaft into the orbit of anti-Western elements of the emerging Fascist International such as Francis Parker Yockey, who had dealings with Franke-Gricksch during the early 1950s. Franke-Gricksch's overtures to the Soviet Union caused a rift between his faction and Beck-Broichsitter's within the Bruderschaft. Eventually, Franke-Gricksch and his supporters were expelled from the Bruderschaft in February of 1951.

The ultimate fate of Alfred Franke-Gricksch is shrouded in mystery. In September or early October of 1951, he crossed over into East Berlin and was never seen alive again. During much of the prior year he had been in regular contact with Communist officials and in 1955, his wife returned to Germany from a Soviet prison camp. She alleged that Franke-Gricksch had been executed by the Soviets, but many believed that he was still alive.

As for the Bruderschaft, it was formally dissolved around the time of Franke-Gricksch's flight to East Berlin. But this was not the end of it. Rather, its members formed even more exclusive groups. The most noteworthy of these was the Naumann-Kreis (Naumann Circle) that was briefly discussed in the prior installment. There, it was noted that the Naumann-Kreis enjoyed ties to Dr. Eberhard Taubert, the founder of the Volksbund fer Frieden und Frieheit (VFF), the German branch of the CIA-linked Paix et Librete movement.

a propaganda poster from the VFF
That the US intelligence community may still have been trying to forge links with the old Bruderschaft network at this point is rather baffling. As the great Kevin Coogan noted in Dreamer of the Day, even the nominally pro-Atlanticist Beck-Broichsitter had at times supported normalizing relations with the Soviets. And there's no question the paramilitary networks the Bruderschaft had established were known to the Soviets, thanks to the efforts of Franke-Gricksch. But then again, the Gehlen Org was itself thoroughly penetrated by the Soviets at this point as well, so what were a few more double (triple?) agents in the grand scheme of things?


Reportedly, the most serious of these stay-behinds was a paramilitary network that had largely been unknown to the general public until 2014. During that year, Der Spiegel broke a story recounting how a historian pouring over documents from the Gehlen Org had uncovered a collection filed away as "Company Insurance." These documents outlined the existence of highly organized paramilitary network overseen by various high ranking Wehrmacht officers and the inevitable SS men. 

The leading figure behind these efforts was Albert Schnez, whom the network was named after. Schnez was a former Wehrmacht man who eventually became the Defense Minister of West Germany under the reign of Helmut Schmidt. The organization was founded in the Swabia region around the 1949/1950 period. It eventually spread throughout the southern part of West Germany.  

The Schnez-Truppe, as the network was known as, hoped to be able to deploy some 40,000 troops, including 2,000 officers, in the event of a Soviet invasion. In addition to Schnez, several of the officers in his network would achieve prominence in the Bundeswehr (the West German military founded in 1955). They included Adolf Heusinger, the Army's first Inspector General, and Hans Speidel, who became the 1957 commander of the NATO Land Forces in Central Europe.

Heusinger (top) and Speidel (bottom)
 The Schnez-Truppe would begin to receive official funding from the Gehlen Org in 1951. This is also when Konrad Adenauer became aware of the organization. While not enthusiastic about the organization, he would continue to support it even after the BDJ-TD was exposed despite the Schnez-Truppe being engaged in the same type of domestic spying. Indeed, Schnez had even sought links with the BDJ-TD organization, which was primarily based out of the Hesse region (a federal state in central Germany). However, both organizations appear to have been shuttered around 1953, at least officially. 

Two years later, Schnez was an officer in the Bundeswehr. By 1960, he had achieved the rank of general despite some hostility towards Adenauer. Curiously, by the end of the 1950s, Schnez had attached himself to the entourage of another Cercle co-founder, the longtime German statesman and eventual Defense Minister Franz Josef Strauss. This not entirely surprising as Schnez's power base was in the Swabia region, which includes Bavaria, which Strauss represented. When Schnez first fell into Strauss' orbit, he was serving as the Defense Minister in Adenauer's administration. As was noted in part four, defense ministers often oversaw stay-behind networks in their respective nations. As such, this may have been what brought Schnez to the attention of Strauss in the first place. And of course, Schnez would later serve as Defense Minister after achieving prominent postings in both liberal and conservative governments.

As such, Schnez appears to have been a key figure behind the most well organized of early German stay-behind efforts. It is likely he continued overseeing such things for decades, making his early connection to both Adenauer and especially Strauss most noteworthy. It would appears that, as in the case of Andreotti in Italy, these German Cercle co-founders were deeply involved in stay-behind efforts. 

It is also interesting to note that, as best as this researcher can determine, Schnez's organization does not appear to have been especially close to the US, unlike the BDJ-TD, which was directly subsidized by American dollars. This was probably a factor behind Schnez and his organization's rise within the various stay-behind efforts. His network was mainly comprised of Wehrmacht veterans, and as such, was not overtly Nazi. Nor does it appear to have been linked to the US or USSR, unlike the BDJ-TD and the Bruderschaft. As such, it was likely perceived as being loyal to the ruling coalition in West Germany rather than to the US, USSR, or even SS underground. Establishing this type of loyalty would be a preoccupation of French officials behind their own respective stay-behind efforts, as we shall see.


Of course, it would be impossible to examine German stay-behind efforts without addressing the various projects Otto "Scarface" Skorzeny was involved with in this regard. Of course, Scarface would have been a logical choice to create a stay-behind network --as was noted in part one, Skorzeny had taking a leading role in creating Nazi Germany's own stay-behind operations. Elsewhere, part two outlined how Skorzeny hooked up with former OSS head William "Wild Bill" Donovan's World Commerce Corporation (WCC) in the postwar years. Hence, Skorzeny had both the expertise and the resources to be a major player in Germany's postwar stay-behind racket. Unsurprisingly, Scarface appears to have had ties to numerous stay-behind networks, all of whom he attempted to manipulate to his advantage.

Skorzeny appears to have become involved in such activities mere months after he "escaped" from US custody in July of 1948. Several months he later, he was advising a US-sponsored organization geared towards psychological warfare and covert operations.
"... A West Germany political action group called the Fighting League against Inhumanity (Kampfgruppe gegen Unmenschlichkeit), or KgU. The group was headed by Rainer Hildebrandt, a surviving member of the network that carried out the attempted assassination of Hitler on July 20, 1944. Hildebrandt was imprisoned by the Nazis for his connections to the German resistance but managed to survive the war. He was a staunch anti-Communist, and with help from the U.S. Army's CIC, he founded the KgU in October 1948. It seems likely that Otto Skorzeny was contacted through secret channels to assist in the effort just after its formation. It is also possible that he was an original paramilitary adviser to the project. The KgU organization received its entire financial support from the CIA.
"The formation of the KgU was announced publicly by its German founders, who resolutely declared its objectives as 'to rally opinion against political oppression in the Soviet zone [of Berlin].' A primary goal of its organizers was 'to discover the fate of those who have been disappeared into Soviet concentration camps.' In reality, the KgU was in close communication with Western intelligence from its conception. The organization was assessed by individuals in the Army CIC, who saw the organization as an excellent vehicle for counterespionage, intelligence gathering, psychological warfare, and covert activities."
"The Skorzeny Papers, Ralph P. Ganis, pgs. 179-180)

Skorzeny's involvement with the KgU may indicate that it was a full blown stay-behind network. As has been noted above, frequently these networks served a duel purpose as an intelligence gathering network. Indeed, these organizations were frequently engaged in a host of black activities.

It is also interesting to note that another figure involved with the KgU by 1950 was Friedrich-Wilhelm Schlomann. Schlomann would work with the KgU until its dissolution in 1959, upon which he became a mainstay in the Ministry of Defense's Psychological Warfare Directorate, which had been co-founded by Strauss in 1958. Indeed, Strauss was the Minister of Defense when Schlomann was first officially brought into the fold. As the great David Teacher notes in Rogue Agents, Schlomann would later become an adviser to future German Cercle members.

But back to Scarface. As was noted in the prior installment, Skorzeny had links to the Naumann Circle. Hence, he was in contact with the Bruderschaft. Indeed, he is alleged to have had a falling out with one of its most high profile members, Heinz Guderian, at one point during the early 1950s. Just how serious this rift was is is debatable as he became a business partner of fellow Bruderschaft-ite Werner Naumann during this same time frame.

Around 1950, Scarface proposed forming his own stay-behind network. This would have consisted of some 200,000 troops, the bulk of whom would have been veterans of the Wehrmacht or the Waffen-SS. At one point, he proposed to train and set up these forces in Spain with the assistance of Franco. Indeed, Spain appears to have been a popular training ground for these type of activities, as we shall see.

Skorzeny made his initial pitch to put together stay-behind forces to the above-mentioned Adolf Heusinger and Hans Speidel of the Schnez-Truppe. Elsewhere, it is reported that Albert Schnez himself had also approached Skorzeny about cooperating with his efforts in the Swabia region in February of 1951. It is unknown, however, if Skorzeny's project was supposed to be a part of Schnez-Truppe. Reportedly, the Gehlen Org had concerns about Skorzeny becoming involved in Schnez's project, and even "consulting" with the SS about taking a stand against Skorzeny.

Just how serious these misgivings may have been is highly debatable, however. Gehlen himself had personally worked closely with Skorzeny for several years by this point.
"... Skorzeny and Gehlen probably began coordinating the launching of various ventures behind Soviet lines as early as the summer of 1943, by which time 'Scarface' had been put in charge of Amt VI's Zeppelin groups. This pattern of collusion was intensified after the disbanding of the Abwehr as an autonomous organization and the incorporation of much of its operational apparatus into other security organs. The bulk of it was absorbed into the RHSA as the Militaramt (Military Bureau), but Gehlen's FHO managed to obtain control over the Abwehr's 'WALLI' intelligence networks in exchange for his agreement to assist the Zeppelin units. Towards the end of the war, Gehlen and Skorzeny worked closely together in an effort to combine the Zeppelin stay/behind resistance groups and the WALLI networks into a combined espionage organization behind the Soviet front. Thus, although personal rivalries between the two highly ambitious and headstrong men sometimes led to serious friction, especially after Hitler had a falling out with Gehlen over his pessimistic situation reports, their relationship survived the collapse of the Third Reich. Some of Gehlen's intelligence files may have been cosigned to Skorzeny for burial during the last days of the war. Later, Gehlen intervened on behalf of the imprisoned SS man, and then apparently recruited him as a contract agent for the West German intelligence service he had been then been appointed to head, the so-called Gehlen Org..."
(The Darkest Sides of Politics, I, Jeffrey Bale, pg. 75)
Thus, Skorzeny and Gehlen had already been collaborating on stay-behind efforts for several years prior to either man being approached by the Americans. As such, Skorzeny would have been a natural partner for Gehlen towards this end. What's more, Gehlen would famously tap Skorzeny to train Nasser's security forces in Egypt on behalf of the CIA beginning in 1953. So, while some lower level members of the Org may have had misgivings about Scarface, it does not appear that the Org's namesake shared them. 

On the whole, Skorzeny is one of the most enigmatic figures of the Cold War. While often depicted as a diehard anti-Communist and/or Nazi, he was hardly opposed to working with Soviet-backed forces and even the Mossad. Indeed, he frequently played both sides against the other, indicating he was either a completely amoral opportunist, brilliantly working toward a third agenda, or some combination of the two. In any case, Herr Gehlen may well have trusted Skorzeny with the most sensitive aspects of Germany's stay-behind operations as he clearly had no real loyalty to either the US or USSR. And indeed, it appears that Skorzeny had links to virtually every major German stay-behind, with the possible exception of the BDJ-TD (and Klaus Barbie later became a part of Skorzeny's network). As such, I suspect some even more incredible bombshells regarding Skorzeny's role in such things await to be discovered.

And with that I shall wrap things up for now. With the next installment we shall go further back into the origins of the Cercle complex and the stay-behind networks themselves. And naturally, it leads back to France. Until then dear reader, stay tuned.

Friday, June 7, 2019

You're Gonna Miss Me

Roger Kynard "Roky" Erickson was both an American original and an American tragedy. He is most well known now as the American Syd Barrett, but with a somewhat happier ending. The body of work Erickson put together over the course of nearly six decades in the music industry (sans a decade or two when he gave up music) has proven to be enormously influential. A host of acts ranging from ZZ Top, Echo & the Bunnymen, Julian Cope, the Butthole Surfers, R.E.M., Primal Scream, and legions of modern neo-psych bands claim him as an influence.  When Erickson passed away on May 31, he was several decades into a remarkable career resurgence that would have seemed impossible in the 1980s.

During that particular decade Erickson was practically homeless at times, almost completely incapacitated by mental illness, and suffering numerous other health and substance abuse problems. He had almost completely given up on music, and was often seen wandering about Austin, Texas in a disheveled state, adding to his legacy as one of the 1960s most notorious acid causalities. And yet, by the middle of the last decade, he was the subject of a successful documentary, releasing new studio albums, and even performing live with upstarts acts such as the Black Angels who based so much of their sound on Erickson's work from the 1960s.

After enjoying some regional success with the Spades, his first band, Erickson co-founded the legendary 13th Floor Elevators in 1965. The Elevators, in turn, are considered to be one of the pioneering psychedelic acts, their sound crystallizing concurrent to, and largely independent of, the far more well known San Francisco sound. Indeed, it is likely that the San Francisco psychedelic scene was even more influenced by happenings in Texas than vice versa. Both Janis Joplin and Family Dog's Chet Helms had spent time in the same Austin scene that spawned the Elevators before relocating to San Fran. Helms in particular would play an enormous role in shaping both the music and counterculture of the city during the 1960s to the point that he has been described as the father of the Summer of Love.

Janis Joplin and Chet Helms
The Elevators emerged out of the burgeoning psychedelic scene centered around the University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) during the early 1960s. This scene was fueled, unlike other such happenings, by peyote rather than LSD. The hallucinogenic and spiritual properties of the cactus buttons had first been observed by anthropology students during 1960 and later spread to others across the campus. At the same time, some curious figures were lurking about the school.

There was Whitley Strieber, the famed horror novelist turned UFO abductee and New Age guru. And then there was the infamous Charles Whitman. At one time a student at the Austin branch of the University of Texas during the early 1960s, the former Marine would return there on August 1, 1966, and embark upon a shooting spree that earned him the nickname the "Texas Tower Sniper." Whitman used the university tower as a sniper's nest, using multiple firearms to pick off students indiscriminately. When all was said and done, fourteen people were dead with an additional 31 wounded. At the time, the Elevators had just been subjected to the first of many drugs busts days before hand.

Strieber (top) and Whitman (bottom), who were both students at the UT Austin during the early 1960s along with several future Elevators
Austin remains a curious place to this day. In many ways, it seems like it should be a part of California. Its music scene, which the Elevators played no small part in putting on the map, has become the stuff of legends. Thanks to the efforts of filmmaker Richard Linklater and his Austin Film Society, it has a vibrant role in the motion picture industry as well. Elsewhere, Austin has become one of the leading tech hubs in the South as well. Locals have even gone so far as to refer to a part of the city as Silicon Hills.

As both the entertainment and tech industries are closely related to the intelligence sector, it should come as little surprise that at least one major private intelligence company calls Austin home. That would be Stratfor, which Barron's once referred to as "the shadow CIA." Unsurprisingly, famed conspiracy theorists (and CIA assetAlex Jones also calls Austin home.

Given all these associations, it should come as little surprise that the Elevators have provided ample fodder to the likes of David McGowan and Jan Irvin in their efforts to prove every aspect of the 1960s counterculture as some type of CIA plot. And indeed, if one subscribes to this particular brand of "Aquarian conspiracies," no 1960s rock 'n roll band may better fit this mold than the Elevators. They and their hanger-ons were all from solidly upper middle class backgrounds, and had parents connected to the military and/or the Texas elite of the time. The band sold drugs, most notably LSD, to make ends meet, with one member eventually linking up with the Brotherhood of Eternal Love

That member, electric jug player and chief lyricist Tommy Hall (who had previously displayed far right views), made no bones about his agenda for the band: namely, to use it as venue to promote his acid-fried spiritual vision that adopted a host of occultic and esoteric concepts. Indeed, Hall had a far more profound notion of occult doctrine that practically any other rock 'n roller circa 1965. While the Beatles were just beginning to dip their toes in, Hall had already catapulted into the deep end. Hell, they even adopted Great Pyramid and All Seeing Eye as their logo! The band had all but walked out of the Illuminatus! Trilogy.

But things are not always as they seem. Unlike their LA and San Francisco counterparts, the Elevators were crack musicians (at least until they toured San Fran and embraced the habit of not practicing) who wrote the bulk of their own material. In other words, they were not a studio creation like so many LA and San Fran bands of the era (see The Wrecking Crew). Further, rather than achieving stardom, the Elevators were confined to cult status thanks to the inexplicable ineptitude of their label, the infamous International Artists (IA). With little promotion, the Elevators had achieved a hit single in "You're Gonna Miss Me."  This, combined with the musical/songwriting prowess of the band and Erickson's movie star good looks, all but ensured they could have been huge. If you thought the occult influence of the Beatles and the Stones on America's youth during this era was a problem, be thankful that Tommy Hall never got such a platform.

the enigmatic Tommy Hall
Indeed, IA appears to have done everything in their power to suppress the band, effectively refusing to promote any of their material after "You're Gonna Miss Me." This ensured that the Elevators were rarely heard outside of Texas during the 1960s. And as for the band members themselves, they suffered profound personal tragedies --unlike so many of their California counterparts.

At the forefront was Roky Erickson. In 1969, after a minor drug bust, he was admitted to Rusk State Hospital in 1969. There, he was subjected to electroshock "therapy" while rubbing elbows with the criminally insane that comprised the bulk of Rusk's population. Former bandmates and family members largely insist that Roky's time in Rusk is what fueled his later mental health problems rather than the LSD, as is commonly claimed. While the acid no doubt contributed on some level, there's no question that the three years he spent in Rusk profoundly changed Roky. It especially evident in Erickson's post-Elevators solo work.
"Meanwhile Roky survived hell at Rusk. His resurrection was simple – Horror Rock. The whole point of good horror is that the audience is meant to suffer and, in turn, horror could be viewed as a subtle form of revenge for what had happened to him. One of Roky's biggest problems was countering his sense of the mundane, and horror offered a highly theatrical cast of monsters and gremlins to express himself. Although he prefers not to elaborate on the background of his songs, it's not hard to spot the adaptation of horror titles from his youth into autobiographical metaphors: 1943's 'I Walked With a Zombie' for the 'Thorazine shuffle' and 1957's 'Night of the Demon' for Rusk and 1955's 'Creature With the Atom Brain' for electric shock treatment. Screamin' Jay Hawkins employed voodoo and the macabre in his songs and Roky's hero Joe Meek used extraterrestrials. In 1975 Roky lost all his manuscripts in a huge fire and set about a marathon typing session assisted by Billy Miller in which he recalled all of his songs. What's intriguing was that Roky had become absorbed in the twin motion of acceptance and rejection and typed many of the songs with the lyrics 'God' and 'Jesus,' which were then crossed through with red pen and then replaced with 'Lucifer' and 'Satan.' "
(Eye Mind, Paul Drummond, pg. 380)
While I've always preferred Roky's work with the Elevators, there's no denying the power of his "Horror Rock" stage. While look to both 1950s horror and rock 'n roll for inspiration, Roky offered up a truly demented attempt to make sense of his experiences at Rusk. In addition to "Creature with the Atom Brain," there's no question that songs such as "Bloody Hammer" were also attempts to make sense of the electroshock "therapy" he was subjected too. An effort was made by Creedence Clearwater Revival's Stu Cook to record many of these songs during the late 1970s. Eventually, they were collected together during the early 1980s for the classic The Evil One.

But despite the creativity Roky was still capable of in the 1970s, there's no question his mental state had seen better days. In 1975, he had an attorney draw up an official document declaring that he was not human, but rather a Martian. Erickson's mental state would only get worse. By the 1980s, he had largely given up on music all together, as well as basic hygiene. Erickson had claimed to have heard voices since the late 1960s, but by the 80s the situation had become dire. Erickson, by now a recluse, spent much of his time holed up in his house with countless TVs and radios, all tuned to different stations, blaring at once. He allegedly used the white noise from these devices to drawn out the voices in his head. This would remain his preferred form of medication until the 1990s.

While Erickson seemed destined to fade away into obscurity, the Herculean efforts of his brother, Sumner, during the early 00s spurred a remarkable transformation in Roky. After wresting away custody from their mother in 2001, Roky was finally able to get effective psychiatric treatment. By the end of the decade, he was once gain touring and even recording.

After spending much of the 1980s and early 1990s in a special kind of hell, Roky's striking career resurgence was a fitting coup de grace for one of the most enigmatic figures in rock 'n roll. After years of obscurity, Roky finally possessed a fitting cult following of a respectable scale. And the poor bastard finally made some money, after years of being exploited by family members and assorted hanger-ons. As such, Roky had about the closet thing to happy ending as this type of saga is likely to produce.

the Elevators
But Roky will always be most remembered for his work with the Elevators. And the Elevators' story is ultimately a tragic one. Like Icarus flying to close to the sun, the band rubbed shoulders with powerful forces as part of their psychedelic evangelicalism and more than a few band members were burned in the process. For more information on these tragedies, check out my early series on the Elevators, "Slip Inside This House: The Nightmare Trip of the 13th Floor Elevators":

Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four
Part Five

Before signing off, I would like to note that the reverberations continued even with Erickson's death. As was noted above, he died on May 31. Reverse the numbers in 31 and one is left with a 13. And it just so happens, Roky's death is not the only tragedy that unfolded on May 31, 2019 related to 13. That date also witnessed a mass shooting, the Virginia Beach shooting, to be precise. Twelve individuals were gunned down by the perpetrator, who was later was killed by police. This resulted in a total of 13 deaths.

Powerful forces, indeed. And with that, I shall sign off. Until next time dear readers, stay tuned.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Secret Armies and the Origins of the Cercle Complex Part V

Welcome to the fifth installment in my ongoing examination of the origins of the mysterious outfit variously known as Le Cercle, the Pinay Circle, the Pesenti Group, and so on. The Cercle complex had its origins during the early 1950s, beginning as an auxiliary of the infamous Bilderberg group. But while Le Cercle had its fair share of wealthy capitalist backers, the core of its membership has typically derived from the European aristocracy and reactionary Catholic orders such as Opus Dei and the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (SMOM). As such, the politics of the Cercle complex have tended to be much more right wing than those of their globalists counterparts in Bidlerberg. Indeed, these factions appear to have become increasingly antagonistic of one another throughout the 1970s, leading an eventual break with the Rockefeller family around this time.

But the purpose of this series is the Cercle complex's origins, not what its been up to over the past seven decades. For more on these sordid details, check out my prior series of Le Cercle, which can be found here.

As the title of this particular series implies, it is my contention that the Cercle complex had its origins in the various "stay-behind" networks that the intelligence services of the UK and US established in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War across Western Europe and beyond. In theory, these networks would wage a guerrilla war with the support of UK and US special operations forces in the event of a Soviet invasion, but considerable evidence has come out since the 1990s that these networks were frequently used to destabilize host nations, ensuring their subservience to US (and to a much lesser extent, UK) interests.

These networks had their origins in resistance and stay-behind networks established by the UK's Special Operations Executive (SOE), the US's Office of Strategic Services (OSS), and Nazi Germany's Amt VI-S of the Reich Main Security Office (RHSA) during WWII. The first installment of this series provided additional details about these organizations and their secret armies. Part two explained how many of these SOE, OSS, and Amt VI-S assets were transferred to the private sector in the aftermath of the war via conglomerates such as the British American Canadian Corporation (BACC), the World Commerce Corporation (WCC) and SOFINDUS. Eventually, the BACC and SOFINDUS fell under the umbrella of the WCC, which became a kind of super private intelligence agency specializing in covert operations. As such, the WCC was considered in further detail in the third installment.

the insignia of the SOE, OSS and SD (Amt VI)

The fourth and most recent installment shifted gears a bit and began to focus on the early post-war stay-behind networks. There this researcher attempted to show evidence of multiple stay-behind networks in nations that have been particularly ravaged by terror. In the case of both Italy and Belgium, there appear to have been private stay-behind networks under the control of Cercle-connected politicians in those respective nations in addition to the "official" stay-behind networks under the control of the intelligence services of those countries.

From there, I turned my attention to France. As the Cercle complex was largely a French initiative in the early days, the history of French stay-behind networks is especially relevant to this series. As was noted there, the initial French stay-behind network was known as Plan Bleu. It was established in 1946 and exposed by the French Socialist government during the next year. The Socialists, however, appear to have objected more to the far right elements the UK and US had recruited into this network rather than the idea of a stay-behind network in and of itself. To wit, the Socialist government would greenlight the establishment of a second stay-behind network, this one known as Rose des Vents (Compass Rose).

Indeed, the French Socialists would prove to be vigorously anti-Communist and appear to have taken the lead in anti-Communist efforts during the late 1940s. As such, I would like to focus on the initiates taken by the French Socialists during this period as their efforts may have contributed to the creation of Le Cercle.

The Mysterious Jules Moch

Jules Moch was a long serving French politician of the Socialist persuasion. During the 1930s he was a member of the mysterious X-Crise group, of which much more will be said in a future installment. By the late 1930s he procured a place in the Socialist administration of Leon Blum, first serving as Under-secretary of State (1937) and later as Minister of Public Works (1938). During the war, the Jewish Moch remained in Paris but supported the French Resistance. He would reach the pinnacle of his power in the immediate post-war years, when he became an eight time cabinet minister during the Fourth Republic

Moch was able to hang on as a minister throughout the late 1940s and early 1950s even after the French Socialist party was voted out after 1947. Indeed, upon the election of Christian Democrat (MPR) Robert Schuman as Prime Minister in November of that year, Moch was bumped up to Minister of the Interior after having previously served as Minister of Public Works and Transportation in the administration of Socialist Paul Ramadier. Curiously David Rockefeller sites Schuman, a founder of the European Union, as also being a founding member of Le Cercle in Memoirs. While it is debatable as to whether Schuman was actually a founder, there is little doubt that he was involved with the group during the early years.

It was not long after being promoted to the Minister of the Interior that Moch appears to have become involved in the stay-behind operations. For his part, he handled efforts organized by the French police. 
"... the CIA in the Fourth Republic targeted also the French police. After in the spring of 1947 when the Communist Ministers had been expelled from the French government the whole administration was purged from Communists while the anti-Communists were promoted in the police forces. Prominent among them was commissar Jean Dides who during the Second World War had closely cooperated with the OSS and now was promoted to become the commander of a clandestine French paramilitary anti-Communist police unit operating under Interior Minister Jules Moch. The embassy of the United States was pleased with progress made..."
(NATO's Secret Armies, Daniele Ganser, pg. 89) 
This does not appear to be the only stay-behind initiative that Moch launched either. According to Ralph P. Ganis in The Skorzeny Papers, it was also Moch who supported the creation of Paix et Liberté (Peace and Liberty), one of the first post-war efforts to create an transnational anti-Communist network. In the "Paix et liberte: A Transnational Anti-Communist Network" essay appearing in the invaluable Transnational Anti-Communism and the Cold War collection, Bernard Ludwig also credits Prime Minister René Pleven with the organization's creation.

Pleven served as French Prime Minister twice in the postwar years, first from 1950-51, and again from 1951-52. Cercle founder Antoine Pinay served in both of Pleven's administrations as Minister of Public Works, Transport, and Tourism, while Moch also served as Minister of Defense during the first administration. Pinay and Moch would also serve together in the third administration (1951) of Henri Queuille in the same cabinet posts as well.


While there is some dispute as to just when exactly Paix et Liberte was founded, the general consensus is that it was up and running by 1950. Its' official founder was regarded as a rising star in French politics.
"It was during this period that French politician Jean-Paul David, with the backing of the French government, attempted to fill the gap. His organization, Paix et Liberte, made its appearance in France in September 1950. Prime Minister René Pleven had called a meeting of like-minded political leaders to propose the formation of a new organization to confront communist 'fifth column' infiltration in French society. David, at 37 the leader of the Rassemblement des gauches republicaines (RGR), deputy for Seine et Oise, and mayor of Mantes-la-Jolie, 'was not an intellectual but an organizing genius, a courageous man endowed with some straightforward ideas, notably an urgent need to combat Marxist influence'. Finance in the region of two to three million francs a year was assembled from French industry and banks, and a high-profile campaign was begun utilizing posters, brochures explaining the communist threat and the reality of concentration camps, radio transmissions, and even a film, Creve-Coeur, about the French battalion fighting in the Korean War. Links were also made with like-minded groups across Western Europe..."
(Western Anti-Communism and the Interdoc Network, Giles Scott-Smith, pgs. 21-22) 
Before getting to those "like-minded groups," a few points need to be made. Let us start with the Rassemblement des gauches republicaines (RGR: Rally of Republican Lefts). This was a political coalition that brought together several largely center-right parties in opposition to the Communists, the Socialists and the Christian Democrats. During the late 1940s and early 1950s, it dominated French politics. And it was the 37 year-old Jean-Paul David who led it. As such, David was clearly a major player in French politics by this point despite having never held a cabinet position or other such prestigious postings.

It was not until 1952 that another coalition, the even more conservative Centre National des Indépendants et Paysans (CNIP: National Centre of Independents and Peasants), that the RGR suffered an electoral set back. 1952 witnessed the election Cercle co-founder Antoine Pinay as Prime Minister. Pinay was a member of the CNIP. Despite this, Paix et Liberte still received support from the French government, even if it doesn't appear to have been as vigorous as when the RGR was the leading coalition. Nonetheless, David began to push an ambitious agenda for Paix et Liberte while Pinay was initially Prime Minister.
"... Nevertheless David, who gained notoriety as the network's spokesman, became the point man for a determined attempt in 1952-53 to take it a step further by establishing a psychological warfare section within NATO itself. With the backing of French Foreign Minister Georges Bidault, David carried out an intensive rolling tour of NATO countries during this period in order to raise governmental understanding and support for psychological warfare activities. Always received at the highest levels, David's visit to the US in February 1952 was recorded in the New York Times and was intended to link up with like-minded American organizations and send a strong message that Europe was rearming not only militarily but also psychologically in the struggle against communism..."
(Western Anti-Communism and the Interdoc Network, Giles Scott-Smith, pg. 22) 
Georges Bidault was the foreign minister in the administration of René Mayer, the RGR candidate who succeeded Pinay as the Prime Minister in 1953. But Pinay was the Prime Minister during David's initial foray into the United States in 1952. Given that Paix et Liberte was sponsored by the French government, Pinay must have approved of David's efforts on some level. Despite different coalitions holding power in France during the crucial 1952-1952 period (the same time frame Le Cercle was founded, incidentally) the rise of Paix et Liberte appears to have continued unabated.

And that brings me to my next point: the extent of the involvement of French security services had in Paix et Liberte. Scott-Smith notes that SDECE (France's principal foreign intelligence service at the time and a crucial player in the stay-behind networks, as was noted in the prior installment) contributed members to a "brain trust" the French government provided to Paix et Liberte. Elsewhere, the great Daniele Ganser notes that the above-mentioned Jean Dides (the police commissar tasked with establishing an anti-Communist police unit under the direction of Jules Moch) "regularly took part in the meetings" (NATO's Secret Armies, pg. 89) of the group.

Finally, David himself and key figures of Paix such as Pierre Rostini were veterans of the Resistance. What's more, Ludwig (writing in the Transnational Anti-Communism and the Cold War collection) describes other early supporters as "various militants from the RPF [Rassemblement du peuple francais]" (pg. 82). This is almost surely a reference to the Service d'Order du RPF mentioned in the last installment. This network was essentially a private intelligence service within the SDECE loyal to de Gaulle. It eventually became the dreaded Service d'Action Civique (SAC). Both networks were deeply involved with establishing the French stay-behind networks. As such, there are clear links between Paix et Liberte and French security services involved in stay-behind operations.

Finally, there's the question of American involvement in Paix. For years, it has been alleged that Paix et Liberte was principally funded by the CIA. For instance, Ganser writes: "American historian Christopher Simpson estimated that covert action units such as 'Paix et Liberte' were funded by the CIA during the secret war against the Communists with 'well over a billion dollars yearly'..." (NATO's Secret Armies, pg. 89). Of course, Paix was but one organization among many that this billion dollars was earmarked for. While there seems to be little question that some funding was provided by the CIA, Scott-Smith calls into question the general assumption that it was largely a CIA project.
"... The Dutch report on September 1953 does state that 'it cannot be denied that the movement in France is mainly sustained from American funds' but does not say what information this remark is based on. Regnier contends that even if American funding was involved it must have been a small percentage of the overall budget provided by French professionals and employers organizations..."
(Western Anti-Communism and the Interdoc Network, Giles Scott-Smith, pg. 270 n36)

Accounts of what some of the regional partners received appear to confirm Scott-Smith's instance that these funds were not substantial. Writing in Puppetmasters, Philip Willan notes: "A secret service report declared that the Milan office of the United States Information Service (USIS) 'appears recently to have made a payment of 3 million Lire... to the Peace and Freedom Association for their anti-communist struggle...' " (pg. 108). While this may sound impressive, 3 million Lire is only akin to several thousand US dollars --hardly enough for any kind of significant operations. As such, it seems likely that private sources of income is what chiefly fueled Paix.

Scott-Smith noted that David had met with high ranking figures in the US intelligence community such as Allen Dulles and Walter Bedell Smith in 1953 to pitch his concept of Paix leading NATO psychological warfare efforts. The Americans were unmoved, however, and refused to back Paix as a NATO venture. As such, while there can be no question that the Americans had some involvement, Paix et Liberte appears to have been principally a European project, and one largely controlled by the French.

Despite being rejected for a formal role by the Americans, David was undeterred. He continued to build up his network both domestically and across Europe. In France, one of the crucial partners he picked up was a Georges Albertini, a former socialist turned Nazi collaborator. Albertini would become a leading figure in European anti-Communist circles throughout the Cold War, in addition to a crucial figure in the Cercle's French section for decades. Much more information on Albertini can be found here.

the enigmatic Georges Albertini
Elsewhere, David began aggressively expanding Paix's European reach. By at least 1951 he was busy setting up sister organizations across Europe, with an eye towards uniting them under an executive committee. For now, let us consider several of David's partners.

The Partners

"Incidentally" (or not), at the exact time David was launching Paix, a similar effort was underway in Germany.  This organization was known as the Volksbund fur Frieden und Freiheit (VFF: the People's League for Peace and Freedom). But unlike Paix, which principally drew from the ranks of former Resistance figures such as David, the VFF had a far more dubious origin.
"...The Volksbund, ostensibly a civil society organization, was put to use as the strong arm of the government, particularly by the Ministry for All-German Affairs. Unlike Paix et liberte, which was led by a politician, the protagonists from the VFF were – or had been – close to government circles, and took advantage of connections with intelligence circles. This was particularly so in the case of the founder of the organization, Eberhard Taubert, a former executive in the National Socialist Ministry of Propaganda. In 1933 he had created an association similar to the VFF, the Antikomintern. The anchoring of the VFF at the heart of the state apparatus was made possible by the extensive anti-communist consensus that reigned in Bonn, built particularly around the Christian Democratic Party (CDU) and its extended network. A key figure for the VFF was its vice president, Arthur Ruppert, a journalist and CDU militant from the Ruhr who had participated in the party's reconstitution in Hamburg and across the British zone, making him a key contact for the future chancellor Konrad Adenauer."
(Transnational Anti-Communism and the Cold War, "Paix et Liberte: A Transnational Anti-Communist Network," Bernard Ludwig, pg. 82)
In other words, it had its origins in Nazi Germany. Hence the reason that Paix took the lead in establishing a European wide network despite the VFF predating it and arguably having even more elite connections. Indeed, the VFF appears to have had a direct line to Konrad Adenauer, another Cercle co-founder. But Adenauer was hardly the only VIP in post-war Germany VFF founder Eberhard Taubert could count among his network.

He would later go to serve as an "adviser" to another Cercle co-founder, future German Defense Minister Franz Josef Strauss. Even more curious is the individual he sought out to pitch what became the VFF in 1948: Per Ludwig, it was none other than US diplomat Robert D. Murphy. Murphy was one of the most powerful State Department officials of his era, and also a member of the Bilderberg group's steering committee. He reportedly played a role in the stay-behind networks, with Ralph Ganis alleging in The Skorzeny Papers that it was Murphy who greenlighted the use of the World Commerce Corporation to participate in such activities. Much more will be said of Murphy in a future installment, so do keep him in mind dear reader.

In addition to these "overworld" figures, Taubert was (unsurprisingly) well connected within the Nazi underground as well. According the great Jeffrey Bale in the first volume of his groundbreaking The Darkest Side of Politics, Taubert was also part of the network on Werner Naumann, a towering figure in the post-war Nazi diaspora. Naumann had joined the Nazi party in 1928, and by 1933 had become a general in the SA (Brown Shirts). He was also a member of the SD, and eventually joined the Ministry of Propaganda. He succeeded Goebbels' as its head shortly before Hitler's suicide. Indeed, Naumann had been a regular fixture in Hitler's bunker during the final weeks of the war, showing just how close he was to the remaining Nazi hierarchy.

Naumann was especially close to Martin Bormann, the head of the Nazi party apparatus. Indeed it was Naumann who first raised the specter of Bormann's survival during 1953. Bormann managing the post-war Nazi international from some distant location in South America would become a popular conspiracy theory in the second half of the twentieth century, with proponents that included elements of the Mossad, and high ranking intelligence officers in both the USSR and US such as Lev Bezymenski and Frank Wisner, respectively. Curiously, Naumann alleged that Bormann was a Soviet spy who fled to Moscow in the aftermath of the war.

This was hardly the only intrigue Naumann became involved in during the postwar years either. Indeed, the great Kevin Coogan in his classic Dreamer of the Day notes that Naumann was one of the key figures in the postwar SS underground. Naumann was a member of the Bruderschaft (Brotherhood), a crucial postwar Nazi network involved in smuggling various war criminals to South America and the Middle East.

The group had more ambitious plans beyond this, however, hoping to lead a gradual Nazi revival in Germany. Naumann was reportedly selected as the front man for this plot. To this end, he founded the Naumann Kreis (Circle), a shadowy network of former Nazis that sought to establish cells inside the Free Democratic Party (FDP), a moderate right wing group. At the time, the FDP was part of Adenauer's coalition government.

Around this time, Naumann also became the manager of the H.S. Lucht Company, which was then owned by the widow of another former Ministry of Propaganda man. The Madrid business manager of the company was none other than Otto Skorzeny, who as noted in part one was essentially the figure head of the postwar SS underground.

All of this was unfolding during the early 1950s as Taubert was setting up the VFF. As such, there is a strong chance that Taubert himself was part of these intrigues due to his access to the well-funded Paix network. Naumann was arrested by British authorities in 1953, bringing an end to these plots, though Taubert appears to have emerged mostly unscathed. This researcher suspects that Taubert was effectively a bridge between "overworld" figures like Adenauer, Strauss, and Murphy on the one hand, and the SS underground on the other.


The German section was hardly the only wing featuring curious figures, either. Consider the Belgian branch:
"... At the end of spring 1951, a Paix et liberte committee was also set up in Brussels under the leadership of Marcel Paternostre, president of the World Committee of Political Refugees from Central Europe and member of the Belgian section of the Comite international de defense de la civilisation chretienne (CIDCC). But the true architects of the Belgian wing, officially created on 4 October 1951, were Marcel De Roover and Maurice Keyaerts. De Roover had run the Societe d'etudes politiques, economiques et sociales (SEPES), a private anti-Communist organization that represented the Belgian section of the EIA, from behind the scenes prior to the Second World War. At the start of 1951 he served as David's intermediary in the creation of a Dutch Paix et liberte committee (Vrede en Vrijheid) under the leadership of E. P. van Dam Isselt, secretary of the Benelux committee, the body for trilateral cooperation."
(Transnational Anti-Communism and the Cold War, "Paix et liberte: A Transnational Anti-Communist Network," Bernard Ludwig, pg. 84) 
As was noted before here, the Comite international de defense de la civilisation chretienne (CIDCC: International Committee for the Defense of Christian Civilization) shared a lot of members in common with the Cercle complex, including founders Antoine Pinay and Jean Violet. Another Belgian CIDCC member who later became involved with Paix was the uber-connected Paul van Zeeland. He was a former Belgian Prime Minister and a founding member of the Bilderberg group. According to Ludwig, Van Zeeland became the president of Paix's international committee in 1954, shortly before the organization was rechristened the Comite international d'action sociale (CIAS).

Van Zeeland
Elsewhere, Chevalier Marcel de Roover (sometimes referred to as the "Black Knight") was an unabashed fascist who, according to David Teacher in the classic and long suppressed Rogue Agents, played a role in setting up early Belgian stay-behind networks. As was noted before here, de Roover was a key member of the Academie Europeenne des Sciences Politiques (AESP), another organization with an extensive overlap among the Cercle complex (and the Belgian stay-behind networks).


Intrigues were the order of the day for the Italian section of Paix. Here the key figure was another colorful character, one Count Edgardo Sogno
"... Sogno advocated a Gaullist-style presidency in the government of technocrats to tackle what he saw as the moral and economic decline of the country. He became a member of P2 in 1979. Born into an aristocratic family in Turin in 1915, Sogno had been a hero of the Resistance, working with the forces of the British Special Operations Executive and winning an American Bronze Star for his bravery during the war. As such he was an ideal leader for the anti-communist struggle, being untainted by fascist associations. After the war he became a diplomat, serving at the Italian consulate in Paris before becoming director of the NATO Planning and Co-ordinating Group in London in 1954. He returned to Paris, to the NATO Defense College, which he addressed on one occasion on 'The communist menace in Italy'. It was during the 1950s that he made his contribution to the Cold War by founding the Peace and Freedom Association (Pace e Liberta), which became a vehicle for a rabidly anti-communist propaganda campaign. He was ably assisted in this endeavor by Luigi Cavallo, a former communist journalist and secret service agent provocateur. In the 1960s Sogno moved to the United States, where he served in the consulate in Philadelphia and then as a counsellor at the Washington embassy, before ending up as an ambassador in Rangoon, Burma. He returned to Italy in the 1970s, just in time to play his part in saving the country from chaos and communism."
(Puppetmasters, Philip Willan, pgs. 107-108)
We'll get to Sogno's role in "defending" Italy from chaos and Communism a little later in this installment. For now, its worth highlighting Sogno's role in the British Special Operations Executive (SOE). As was noted in the first installment of this series, the SOE was the inspiration for the various stay-behind networks, while many former SOE hands would later come to dominate the British section of Le Cercle. As was noted in part two, SOE veterans would also play a key role in setting up the British American Canadian Corporation (BACC), which was later incorporated into the WCC. The WCC also acquired Nazi Germany's SOFINDUS conglomerate, which was initially intended to sponsor a clandestine, post-war Nazi revival. Otto Skorzeny became an agent of SOFINDUS around the time it was acquired by the WCC.

The above-mentioned P2 was of course Propaganda Due, the notorious Masonic lodge that has also been linked extensively to Italian stay-behind efforts (noted before here). P2 also had compelling links to the above-mentioned Belgian AESP, as was noted before here). Through the AESP, P2 also had links to the Cercle complex.


Paix et liberte never quite managed to establish a proper branch in the UK, but it did forge ties with a curious organization known as Common Cause. This organization was distinct from the progressive organization founded in American during 1970. As for the older Common Cause, there were actually two of them, one originating in America, the other in the UK. The American Common Cause was slightly older, having been organized in 1947. It featured many VIPs such Eugene Lyons, Arthur Bliss Lane, and Adolf Berle. Many of the backers of the American Common Cause would later go to work for CIA-linked organizations such as the American Committee for Liberation from Bolshevism (Amcomlib). 

The British Common Cause was likely founded sometime around 1951 by Dr. C. A. Smith, a former socialist. Smith had spent the war years backing the Common Wealth Party, a far left party Smith eventually became the chairman of in 1944. But with the onset of the Cold War Smith became increasingly anti-Communist, and with several other "reformed" liberals would go on to found Common Cause. This marked quite a remarkable political transformation. The first co-chair of the British Common Cause was Lord Malcolm Douglas-Hamilton.

the Lord and Lady Douglas-Hamilton
Douglas-Hamilton's brother, the Duke of Hamilton (Douglas Douglas-Hamilton) had maintained close ties to the Nazi regime since the 1930s. When Rudolf Hess made his mysterious flight to Scotland in 1940, it was the Duke of Hamilton who was to be his host. 

Lord Douglas-Hamilton appears to have been every bit as right wing as his brother, possibly even more so. He had help set up the American branch of the International Association for the Advancement of Ethnology and Eugenics (IAAEE), an organization founded in Scotland during the late 1950s. The IAAEE is beyond question the leading post-WWII eugenics organization in the English speaking world. Per Russ Bellant in Old Nazis, the New Right, and the Republican Party, Douglas-Hamilton's widow, the Lady Douglas-Hamilton, later became a member of the American Security Council Foundation (ASC). As was noted before here, the ASC was the leading far right think tank in the United States throughout the Cold War. 

As for the two anti-Communist Common Causes, there is still much dispute as to whether there were ties between these organizations prior to the mid-1950s. The general consensus is "no," but it is certainly quite curious that these two organizations would spring up at practically the same time with similar objectives. Much more information on the origins of the two Common Causes can be found here

As David Teacher reports in Rogue Agents, leading Cercle figure Brian Crozier would regularly collaborate with Common Cause beginning in the late 1960s. He appears to have been in contact with the organization by the early 1960s as part of his work with another transnational anti-Communist organization known as Interdoc, according to Giles Scott-Smith. By the 1980s, Common Cause firmly a part of Crozier's network, and by extension, the Cercle complex. Through Interdoc, Crozier likely had some dealings with Paix by the early 1960s, but he would not join the Cercle until the early 1970s, by which point Paix and its successors were largely defunct.  

And that brings us to the American branch of Paix, called the American Friends of Paix et Liberte. The organization was based out of New York and run by the mysterious figure known as Clifford Forster. What little is known about Forster was largely unearthed by Ralph P. Ganis for his brilliant The Skorzeny Papers. Nominally, Forster comes off as pure Eastern Establishment. He was a law graduate of Yale and worked for a time with the ACLU. And yet Forster was a business partner of Otto Skorzeny and Merwin K. Hart. Hart had been a pre-WWII "isolationist" who founded the deeply anti-Semitic National Economic Council during the 1930s to attack the policies of FDR. 

Another figure in the American branch of Paix was Issac Don Levine. A Russian-born Jew, Levine had become a successful journalist in the United States by the 1940s. At the onset of the Cold War, he went to work for the CIA. Levine had help set up the American Committee for Liberation from Bolshevism, later known simply as the American Committee for Liberation (Amcomlib). As Christopher Simpson notes in Blowback, much of the funding for Amcomlib came from the Office of Policy Coordination (OPC), which eventually became the CIA's Directorate of Operations. Simpson had also linked the CIA funding for Paix to the OPC as well. Funding for both Paix and Amcomlib ultimately originated from the 1950s-era Psychological Strategy Board (PSB), per Simpson.

As such, the presence of Levine in the American Friends of... is quite interesting. He may well have been the American bagman for Paix. At the same time, there was also much overlap between Amcomlib and other projects sponsored by the PSB and the American Common Cause. Indeed, it is likely all US funding for Amcomlib, Paix, and the American Common Cause originated from the efforts of the PBS and OPC. This is all quite incestuous.

Assassinations and Coups

Before wrapping up, I would like to briefly address some of the more extreme controversies surrounding the Paix network. There's little question that the bulk of Paix's efforts focused upon propaganda. This has led to charges that it was effectively a propaganda bureau for the various stay-behind networks the US and UK (and potentially, the SS underground) were establishing around Europe at the onset of the Cold War. 

But some have argued that the Paix network went beyond mere propaganda and employed some very extreme measures against the spread of Communism. This appears to be especially true of the Belgian and Italian sections. For instance, Ganis highlights this incredible allegation concerning the Belgian branch:
"Paix et Liberte operations may also have included assassination as described in Europe Since 1945: An Encyclopedia: 'Several leading Peace and Liberty activists were directly implicated in anti-constitutional political activity, including serious acts of violence and anti-government coup plots.' A former member of the Belgian Paix et Liberte organization 'confessed on his deathbed' that the group had carried out the 1950 assassination of Julien Lahaut, head of the Communist Party of Belgium."
(The Skorzeny Papers, Ralph P. Ganis, pg. 134)
Such allegations are not without merit. As was noted above, the principal figure behind the Belgian branch of Paix was Mercel de Roover, who later became a leading figure in the Belgian-based AESP, an organization with extensive ties Italian and Belgian terrorists, in addition to the infamous Aginter Press. As was noted before here and here, was a right wing terror network founded by former Organisation armée secrète (OAS: Secret Army Organization) militants after their efforts to topple de Gaulle failed. As was noted in the prior installment, the OAS appears to have used elements of the French stay-behind network in the efforts to overthrow de Gaulle.

De Roover was not the only member of Paix's Belgian section that was later linked to the OAS.
"Perhaps even more important was the role played by Pierre Joly's Jeunesses Nationales. Joly began his political career as a member of the left-wing Etudiants Progressistes (Progressive Students) at the University of Liege in 1949 and 1950, but then quit and began actively collaborating with the Belgian branch of the Union Democratique pour la Paix et la Liberte (Peace and Freedom Democratic Union) organization, an international CIA-funded anti-Communist front created in Paris in March 1949. In 1952, he founded a short-lived Ecole Internationale de Cadres Anti-Communistes (International School for Anti-Communists Cadres) and published a pamphlet praising Franco and Salazar. Later that same year he appeared in Algiers right around the time of the notorious bazooka attack on General Raoul Salan. Five years later he published an anonymous treatise on counterrevolutionary warfare that synthesize the writing of some of the most influential guerre revolutionnaire specialist within the French Army, such as Commandant Jacques Hogard and Colonels Gabriel Bonnet, Charles Lacheroy, and Roger Trinquier, which soon became a sort of vademecum for right-wing subversives in Algeria and Europe. In May 1958, he participated in the Algiers demonstration which precipitated the collapse of the Fourth Republic alongside Pierre Lagaillarde, a right-wing student activist and future leader of the OAS. He then worked closely with the Mouvement Populaire 13 (MP13: Popular Movement 13 [May], commemorating the 13 May 1958 military coup in Algeria), and became the Belgian spokesman for Joseph Ortiz upon his return home. Indeed, up until September 1961, Joly collected money for Ortiz using the Aide Mutuelle Europeene (European Mutual Aid) organization as a cover. Between 1960 and 1961, he helped sponsor and contributed to the monthly publication Reac, the organ of the Etudiants Nationales. His own Jeunesses Nationales organization was the first Belgian group to establish a close relation with French activists, and after the assassination of FLN activist Akli Aissou and pro-FLN professor René-Georges Laperches in Belgium by the so-called Main Rouge (Red Hand), a front group created by the French secret service that was used to carry a politically sensitive operations ponctuelles, Joly's organization was suspected of having lent its support to the killers. In January 1962, Joly and René Boussart were accused of sheltering General Salan in Liege, although this was never actually proven..."
(The Darkest Sides of Politics, I, Jeffrey Bale, pgs. 97-08)
Clearly, the Belgian branch of Paix had its fair share of militants, and given their later ties to the OAS and the Belgian strategy of tension, the possibility that this organization was used to carry out assassinations cannot be dismissed out of hand. As for coups, at least one member would later turn up in such efforts in France during the early 1960s.

The Italian branch of Paix offers even more striking evidence. There can be little doubt that this branch was engaged in espionage under the auspices of the stay-behind networks.
"... Pace e Liberta was an offshoot of a French anti-Communist organization, Paix et Liberte... One of the principal activities of the Italian branch was spying on Fiat workers with communist sympathies and drawing up intelligence dossiers on them. This was the work of Cavallo, who was paid for it by both Fiat and the secret service Office of Economic and Industrial research, run by Colonel Rocca."
(Puppetmasters, Philip Willan, pg. 108)

According to Ganser in NATO's Secret Armies, it was Colonel Renzo Rocca who headed Ufficio R within the Italian secret service. As was noted in the prior installment, it was this office that oversaw stay-behind efforts in Italy. The above-mentioned Cavallo was Luigi Cavallo, a former journalist and intelligence asset who became Count Edgardo Sogno's chief collaborator in the Italian branch of Paix. Later both men would get up to quite a bit of mischief together.
"The culmination of Sogno's plans was to have been reached in August 1974 with the seizure of the presidential Quirinale Palace. President Giovanni Leone would be forced to dissolve Parliament and appoint a government of technocrats headed by Randolfo Pacciardi, another non-communist Resistance hero and a former Defense Minister. The plan was never implemented as the secret services had got wind of it but, more importantly, because there was insufficient political and military support to guarantee its success. Sogno and Cavallo were arrested in 1976 and charge with trying to overthrow the government by violent means. The nature of their project was clearly outlined in the number of documents confiscated from Cavallo..."
(Puppetmasters, Philip Willan, pg. 109)
There were numerous coups plotted in Italy during the 1970s, but Willan insists that Sogno's had the greatest chance of success. This is a bit debatable, as it never seems to have gotten off the ground to the extent of the Borghese coup, but there's no question Sogno had support at the highest levels of NATO. This was likely due to his war time background with the Special Operations Executive. Willan suggests that the growing threat from the Communist Red Brigades (RB) played a role in the decision to call off the coup as it was felt that the RB would pave the way for a democratic center-right coup like the one Sogno had plotted. Naturally, Sogno and Cavallo were ultimately cleared of all charges and the aborted coup was promptly swept under the rug.


Where exactly Paix et Liberte fits into this labyrinth is difficult to discern. While clearly receiving support from these United States, it appears to have principally been a European venture. And while there's much overlap with what became the Cercle complex, there appears to have been only one actual Cercle member (Georges Albertini) who actually belonged to Paix

What can be said with certainty is that the Cercle was clearly operating on a higher level than Paix. With few exceptions (such as Sogno and especially van Zeeland), most Paix members were mid-level operators at best. Conversely, Cercle was founded by heads of state and defense ministers, with the exception of the mysterious Jean Violet. 

As has been argued over the course of this series, the Cercle complex appears to have taken over the management of the various stay-behind networks at some point during the Cold War. As such, it may have stealthy taken over management of Paix at some point after 1953. Paix founder Jean-Paul David and longtime Cercle chairman Antoine Pinay were from different political movements in France. Indeed, Paix appears to have grown out of the efforts of moderate Socialists and conservatives to form an anti-Communist front that could rival the efforts of the far right in this department. When the deep history of France is considered in a future installment, the desire of these moderates (especially the Socialists) to launch such a movement will become more clear.  

The rise of Pinay's fellow Bilderberger Paul van Zeeland in Paix at the expense of David likely signaled that this takeover was complete. Van Zeeland was put forth as the head of Paix's international body by the VFF, the German section. As was noted above, this section had ample ties to Bilderberg and Cercle members. 

Paix appears to have gradually petered out after this coup. This was likely the result of internal events in France that put Cercle and its Atlanticist aspirations in a predicament. These events will also be discussed in a future installment. 

But before getting to the curious events that rocked France, I must briefly make an interlude to Germany in the next installment. There we shall consider the role the German Cercle partners played in the stay-behind efforts. Until then, stay tuned dear readers.