Felix Bohr

The War Criminals’ Lobby - West German Aid for Nazi-Perpetrators Taken into Custody Abroad

(German title: Die Kriegsverbrecherlobby)
ca. 558 pages
Felix Bohr
Foto: Felix Bohr
© Max Zerrahn

Felix Bohr, born in 1982, is an historian and journalist. The War Criminals’ Lobby is his first book.

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The eternal desire to draw a line under it


Immediately after the Second World War, National Socialist war criminals were taken into custody by many Western European countries. Given the Federal Republic of Germany’s links to the West, the majority were released. In Italy and the Netherlands alone, five Germans remained in police custody: SS man Herbert Kappler as the Gestapo commander responsible for the Ardeatine massacre, and the »Breda Four« who had played a significant role in the murder of Dutch Jews. High-ranking German politicians, among them the social democrat German Chancellors Brandt and Schmidt, aided in securing their release.

Felix Bohr outlines the Federal Republic’s activity on behalf of the Nazi perpetrators arrested abroad. He reveals how church groups, veterans associations and diplomats formed an influential network of interests that offered legal and financial help. While victims of the Nazi regime struggled for re-entry into society and restitution, the lobby organised support for the war criminals at the highest political level. Based on sources hitherto inaccessible, Bohr directs an all-encompassing gaze toward a chapter of West Germany’s history that has been narrowly explored until now.


»With its impressively well-researched wealth of facts Bohr’s important reappraisal leaves one aghast at the reach of the brown tentacles.« Süddeutsche Zeitung

»Bohr has managed to write a sparkling book about how right-wing extremists have managed to instrumentalize politics for themselves and at the same time claim sovereignty over the meaning of history. Considering current attempts to change the Nazi period into simply ›a speck of birdpoop‹, this is now more relevant than is comfortable.« taz

»Bohr presents the history of [The War Criminals’ Lobby] in a painstaking and multi-facetted way.« Frankfurter Rundschau

»Felix Bohr’s enormously comprehensive study is commendable – an antidote to the run-of-the-mill, and all too self-assured, historical narratives we have become used to.« Deutschlandfunk Kultur

»In this highly recommended study historian Felix Bohr investigates whether or not these [war criminals], whose death sentences were in the end changed into lifelong sentences, were supported over the course of decades by certain groups and official representatives of the Federal Republic.« Neue Zürcher Zeitung

»A threat is looming over the successful German democracy. Anti-democratic, extreme right-wing powers have gathered steam. […] This is another reason for why Felix Bohr’s book is important. By looking back onto the very recent past, it shows how vulnerable our democracy is, which dangers lurk within it and how difficult the German people’s relationship with freedom was over the course of its history.« Gerhart Baum, DIE ZEIT

»an ambitious and enlightening book« Hans Niedermayer, Buchprofile/medienprofile Jg. 64/2019, Heft 2