“History isn’t what happened, but the stories of what happened and the lessons these stories include. The very selection of which histories to teach in a society shapes our view of how what is came to be and, in turn, what we understand as possible. This choice of which history to teach can never be ‘neutral’ or ‘objective.’ Those who choose, either following a set agenda or guided by hidden prejudices, serve their interests. Their interests could be to continue this world as it now stands or to make a new world.” – Howard Zinn
In the aftermath of the Second World War, many of the architects of the worst atrocities in history were rescued and protected by American intelligence. The overt role of Nazi scientists such as Wernher von Braun (who personally oversaw the torture and murder of slave laborers) in the United States space program and West German industry has been common knowledge for decades.
In recent years the end of the Cold War has brought revelations about the CIA’s “gladiators” such as Yaroslav Stetsko and Licio Gelli influencing the world’s political development by any means necessary. From Germany and Italy to Japan and South Korea, there is now a vast collection of evidence proving the existence of large, well-funded networks of fascist terrorists who did not hesitate to use violence to ensure compliance from the “free” people of the world.
However, what is less well known is that thousands of fascist-leaning and anti-communist academics were also rescued and nurtured by the U.S. to wage an ideological war against Communism. These revisionist historians spent decades laboring in the shadows of the academic press until the fall of the Soviet Union allowed them to return home and finally rewrite history to their liking. After decades of effort, we can now see the results of their work, the seeds planted 70 years ago are finally bearing their poisoned fruit.
Sowing the Seeds
“This struggle requires ruthless and energetic action against Bolshevik agitators, guerrillas, saboteurs, and Jews, and the total elimination of all active or passive resistance” – Franz Halder, Guidelines for the Conduct of the Troops in Russia
One of the first and most important of these historians was not a historian at all.
Franz Halder was a career staff officer, starting with the Reichswehr in World War I. He joined the Nazi Party in 1933 and his close personal friendship with Hitler helped him climb the ranks very quickly. By 1938, he was named Chief of General Staff of the Oberkommando des Heeres (OKH), which made Halder the head of planning for the entire German army and second in command only to the Führer himself. No order could leave OKH headquarters without the approval and signature of Franz Halder. This means that Halder was not only intimately aware of the regime’s crimes, but he planned most of them.
Starting with the invasion of Poland in 1939, Halder personally authorized the liquidation of “undesirables” such as Jews, Poles and Communists. His office was responsible for the infamous Commissar Order and Barbarossa Decree, which allowed Nazi soldiers to execute civilians at will and without repercussions. These orders led to the eventual death of millions in the Soviet Union, both through deportation to camps and through brutal reprisal campaigns in occupied territories.
“Collective drastic action will be taken immediately against communities from which treacherous or insidious attacks against the Wehrmacht are launched, on the orders of an officer with at least the rank of battalion commander upwards, if the circumstances do not permit a speedy apprehension of individual culprits.”- Decree on the jurisdiction of martial law and on special measures of the troops (aka the Barbarossa Decree), May 13, 1941.
Under the euphemism of “security warfare,” the Nazis annihilated entire villages and towns in occupied territory. Depending on the time and place, this was done through methods ranging from gunfire and torches to torture, rape, and pillaging. The result was always the same. Any settlement which may have held alleged partisans was completely depopulated of every man, woman and child.
All in all, a minimum of 20 million Soviet civilians were killed by the Nazis, but some Russian scholars estimate that the true number is at least double that.
Halder was a consummate professional; he poured over documents for weeks, writing and re-writing them to ensure the language was as precise and unambiguous as possible. He was successful, as his orders were heavily used as evidence against the Nazi regime in the Nuremberg trials and even today are specifically cited as the sort of criminal orders that soldiers must refuse.
The Allies considered Halder’s orders so reprehensible that Nazis such as Hermann Hoth and Wilhelm von Leeb were convicted of crimes against humanity simply for transmitting them to their subordinates. Many lower-ranking Nazis were hanged for following Halder’s orders in the Soviet Union. Despite this, Halder suffered no consequences whatsoever for issuing them.
After Halder surrendered to the U.S. Army, the United States refused to try him at Nuremberg. Instead, he faced only a minor trial for “aiding the Nazi regime” in a German court. He denied any knowledge of the crimes that bore his literal signature and was found not guilty. After the war, he lived a comfortable life as an author, commentator and “historical consultant” for the U.S. Army Center of Military History (CMH).
The old fascist was rescued from the gallows to serve as the chief planner for another war. Halder no longer planned vast battles and the extermination of races, but he remained at the forefront of the war against what Halder called “Judeo-Bolshevism,” a term he learned from his beloved Führer.
Halder’s job was to rehabilitate Nazism for the benefit of his new American patrons. If the Nazis could be ideologically separated from the German people and the German Army, America could use the most useful of Hitler’s soldiers in their war against the Soviet Union without raising suspicion. Halder oversaw a team of 700 former Wehrmacht officers and intentionally set about rewriting history to present the image of a clean Wehrmacht and a German people ignorant of Nazi brutality. His deputy was CIA agent Adolf Heusinger, a Nazi war criminal who was largely responsible for planning the endless massacres of “security warfare,” and was later a commander of both the German Army and NATO.
Through manipulation, fabrication and widespread censorship, Halder and Heusinger created a complete narrative of themselves and the Wehrmacht as brilliant, noble, and honorable victims of the madman Hitler rather than the monsters who butchered a continent.
Halder and Heusinger published reams of fantastical lies with the CMH, saying that the Wehrmacht committed no crimes on the Eastern Front. According to Halder and Heusinger, the Nazis set up markets and cultural centers to buy food from local farmers and hold dances and social events for grateful people. Halder and Heusinger only briefly mention problems in the East, saying they were carried out by “Judeo-Bolshevik” NKVD infiltrators instead of the noble Wehrmacht.
None of this could have been farther from the truth. Under unambiguous orders from the OKH, the Wehrmacht was directly responsible for the subjugation and extermination of an entire continent as part of Generalplan Ost. Every bit of Eastern Europe was to be picked clean both by and for the benefit of the Wehrmacht, and the soldiers did their duty.
The primary weapon was starvation. The Wehrmacht sustained itself from the conquered lands, drawing on both resources and labor in massive quantities. Brutal requisition programs for grain and meat killed millions while the rest toiled to feed their Nazi overlords on a daily ration of 420 calories. In the planning phase for Operation Barbarossa, the Nazis concluded that the war was only winnable if the entire Wehrmacht was fed from Soviet land by the third year. By 1944 the Nazis requisitioned more than 5 million tons of grain and 10.6 million tons of other foodstuffs from occupied territory, 80% of which was consumed by the Wehrmacht.
The Nazis needed more than just food to conquer the world. They also needed weapons and equipment. For this, Germany mustered its world-famous industrial might. The infamous concentration camps contained massive factory and labor complexes where millions of slaves were worked to death, building the weapons and equipment the Wehrmacht used to subjugate them. Given the magnitude of the contracts, very few German corporations kept their hands clean, and even the dirtiest kept all their blood money after the war.
The two elements had an almost perfect symbiotic relationship. German capital served the interests of the Army, and the Army served the interests of capital. As the Nazis conquered, they took slaves to build more weapons, which would then be used to conquer and take more slaves. The two-headed monster exploited conquered land with such savage efficiency that Nazi generals and economic planners feared running out of slaves.
“When we shoot the Jews to death, allow the POWs to die, expose considerable portions of the urban population to starvation, and in the upcoming year also lose a part of the rural population to hunger, the question remains to be answered: Who is actually supposed to produce economic value?” – Maj. Gen. Hans Leykauf
Despite the sheer enormity of his crimes, Halder’s laundry was wildly successful; it was not until after the fall of the USSR that any Western historian questioned his lies.
Even well-meaning researchers were ensnared by Halder’s trap. Halder enjoyed special status, releasing information to only the most privileged journalists and historians. With the legitimacy granted by his title, access to information, and U.S. government backing, Halder’s CMH was considered a gold standard source for academic historians and their information was highly coveted. Halder used this to carefully vet to whom he released information, ensuring he got the maximum impact.
From 1955 to 1991 his works were cited at least 700 times in academic publications, especially by professors and researchers in Western military academies. Since Western historians were forced to drink from Halder’s well, they passed down the poison to their students, and from there the lies worked their way into the public consciousness. Eventually, Nazi propaganda was laundered into “truth” through simple repetition and careful control of sources.
Although access to Soviet records has led to increasing resistance to this propaganda, some historians, such as Timothy Snyder of Yale University, still lean heavily on, or recycle Halder’s ideas to support what is known as the “double genocide” theory. Created by Baltic neo-Nazis to hide their involvement in the Holocaust and widespread collaboration with the Nazi regime, this theory languished in the darkness until Snyder brought it into the mainstream with “Bloodlands.” Even 70 years after its publication, Halder’s poison remains a key element in attempts to portray the Red Army as nothing more than savages, and thereby make the Nazis seem tame.
The Army knew that Halder published nothing but apologia, but that was the point. Halder remained with the Army for decades and was frequently rewarded for a job well done. He was even given a medal for Meritorious Civilian Service in 1961, in honor of his tireless service in the cause of genocide denial.
“It is necessary to eliminate the red subhumans, along with their Kremlin dictators. The German people will have to complete the greatest task in their history, and the world will hear that this task will be completed to the end.” – Wehrmacht Messages for the troops, № 112, June 1941
The Fertile Soil
“In the East, I intend to loot and pillage effectively. All that may be suitable for the Germans in the East, should be extracted and brought to Germany immediately.” – Hermann Goering
After decades of struggling in the dark, the fall of the Soviet Union created a golden opportunity for fascist academics. As ex-Soviet professors left, retired, or were fired in the tumultuous 1990s, an entire generation of fascist academics nurtured in the West was standing by to replace them.
Lavishly funded private schools popped up all over the former Warsaw Pact, staffed with fascist professors from Canada, Australia and the U.S. who had spent decades rehabilitating their Nazi collaborationist predecessors.
With almost limitless financial backing from NATO and a dizzying array of affiliated NGOs, the fascists could now rewrite history to their liking and train an entire generation of new soldiers in their ideological war.
As an example of this, we can focus on the life and times of Kyiv independent war correspondent Illia Ponomarenko. Through him, we can see some of the gears in the machine.
Illia was born in the town of Volnovakha, Donetsk Oblast, Russia. Then a part of Ukraine, this town of around 20,000 people sits about 40 miles north of Mariupol and the Sea of Azov.
Founded in 1881 as a station for what was known as “Catherine’s railway,” a major rail project posthumously named after the long-reigning Empress, had been mostly unremarkable since. Illia eventually moved south to attend college in Mariupol, the industrial port city which formed the backbone of the region’s economy.
Mariupol and the surrounding area have often been swept up in the tumultuous history of Ukraine. The region was a major flashpoint in the Russian Civil War and changed hands many times in the fighting between the Red Army, Tsarist forces, Makhno’s bandits, and the Central Powers before it was recaptured by Soviet forces in 1920.
In the following decades, the region saw an explosion in economic development due to its strategic position on the Sea of Azov only a short ferry trip from the USSR’s richest iron mines. Most notable was the now-famous Azovstal steel plant, a crown jewel of Stalin’s first five-year plan. The foundations were laid for the plant in 1930 and, by 1933 Azovstal produced its first ingot of cast iron. Production increased rapidly, and in 1939 the plant set a world record by producing 1,614 tons of pig iron in a single day.
When the Nazis came to enslave Ukraine, Mariupol and Azovstal stood resolute. The plant produced armor for T-34 tanks until the bitter end with the last workers being evacuated the same day the Nazis captured the city. As they left, the workers destroyed the blast furnaces and power plants to deny them to the enemy. Azovstal fell under the control of Krupp, but repeated sabotage from Soviet partisans kept the factory out of service until 1945.
More than 6,000 Azovstal workers fought against the Nazis as partisans or Red Army soldiers. Several hundred were decorated for valor, with eight of those being awarded Hero of the Soviet Union, the highest possible award for a Red Army soldier. Sadly, hundreds paid the ultimate price in the war against fascism. A monument was erected in their honor outside the plant which has been allowed to crumble by the Maidan regime, no doubt ashamed of what it represents.
Even this great and costly victory only brought a reprieve for Mariupol. The people of Mariupol lived for decades in peace and prosperity, blissfully unaware of what was coming next. In 1991, less than 50 years after the victory of 1945, the monsters returned to once again ravage Ukraine and its people.
In 1990, after a decade of economic sabotage and on the verge of collapse, the Human Development Index of the USSR was the 25th highest in the world, at .920. After the collapse one year later, it would never again be so high.
In 2019, the last year data was published before the war, Russia ranked 52nd. Far from the prosperity promised to them by the West, four years of Maidan rule made the situation even worse in Ukraine, which fell from 83rd in 2014 to 88th, below Sri Lanka, Mexico and Albania. Iran and Cuba, crushed under the siege warfare America euphemistically calls sanctions, still provide a better standard of living for their people.
None of the former Soviet republics has recovered to their 1990 level as of 2022. Even when the USSR was months from dissolution, Soviet citizens enjoyed more prosperity than they have since their “liberation.” Their wealth and security did not vanish into the ether; rather, they were stolen by the very same Western capitalists who looted the country once before.
It is easy to view these numbers as simple abstractions, measures of a vast and almost incomprehensible economic machine but, just as it was in the 1940s, this campaign of systematic pillaging was lethal. Peer-reviewed studies have found a minimum of five million excess deaths from starvation, lack of medical care, drug addiction, and deprivation in Russia alone from 1991 to 2001. When the rest of the former Soviet republics are added, the butcher’s bill easily exceeds that of the Holocaust.
Had this happened anywhere else, or been perpetrated by anyone else, it would have been called what it was: genocide. Growing up amidst the devastation wrought by the unrestrained brutality of the “rules-based international order” only makes Ponomarenko’s future collaboration even more shocking.
Ponomarenko moved to Mariupol to attend college at Mariupol State University in 2010. Despite the innocuous name, this college was founded in 1991 with grants from USAID and George Soros and still today receives considerable funding from the U.S. and EU. The line of the college is unabashedly pro-NATO, its professors tour NATO headquarters, and the university proudly advertises its links to D.C.-based Atlanticist think tanks.
MSU is not unique. Universities like it emerged all over the Eastern Bloc, flush with cash from both Western governments and their proxy think tanks. The Soros-backed Open Society Foundation was a particularly important conduit for this. Not only did Soros create scores of new universities throughout the Eastern Bloc, but even went so far as to produce new textbooks for primary and secondary schools in the region. His schools count presidents, members of parliament and countless lesser bureaucrats among their alumni.
All of this is in the service of his war against Communism, which he has been waging since at least the 1970s with both official and unofficial government support. The irony of the ferocious anti-Communist George Soros being called a Communist by the right is particularly sharp, especially as Soros has personally benefitted enormously from looting the former Soviet Union.
Ponomarenko graduated in 2014, just in time to be swept up by the next storm to hit Ukraine.
The Bloody Harvest
“Apparently some quirk in human nature allows even the most unspeakable acts of evil to become banal within minutes, provided only that they occur far enough away to pose no personal threat.” – Iris Chang
The narrative we are selling regarding the 2014 Maidan coup is simple. We are told that protesters rose with nearly universal support to free themselves of the yoke of the illegitimate, reviled Viktor Yanukovych’s Party of Regions, and thereby Russian control. After this, they say, the transition was clean and orderly, the problems in the east emerged only because of Russian infiltration and all true Ukrainians stood behind the new regime. To this day, the Maidan regime vehemently maintains that the conflict in Ukraine is not a civil war, but rather a foreign invasion that has been going on for eight years.
If you listen hard enough, you can almost hear the echoes of Franz Halder and Adolf Heusinger in the approved Maidan narrative, and I do not believe this is accidental. Just as it was then, the fantasy created by NATO propaganda could not be any farther from the truth. The Maidan never had universal support, and the process of bringing the country to heel was a long, bloody affair.
Despite the Ukrainian government’s insistence to the contrary, the conflict is a civil war by any reasonable definition, the separatists were Ukrainian citizens almost without exception and they started fighting to defend a legitimately elected Ukrainian government. Most foreign backing was firmly behind the Maidan, not Yanukovych and the separatists. From the very beginning of the Maidan, groups like Mamuka Mamulashvili’s U.S.-backed Georgian Legion had mercenaries on the ground to escalate a peaceful protest into a bloody coup.
Many of the militiamen were members of the Ukrainian Army, who defected when ordered to shoot their family, friends and fellow Ukrainians in Donbas. NATO analysts estimate that 70% of the Ukrainian Army deserted or defected rather than killing for the Maidan regime and they took their weapons with them, a fact which puts yet another nail in the coffin of the Maidan narrative of foreign infiltrators.
The narrative of a foreign invasion, rather than civil war, is particularly important for the Maidan regime. If we accept that this is a civil war, then we must ask why this so-called “nationalist” government is killing so many Ukrainians in Donbas with its daily shelling of residential areas, schools, hospitals and other civilian targets. It would be impossible to justify calling them nationalists, let alone liberators, with the blood of so many Ukrainians on their hands.
The solution to this contradiction is simple. If you strip the people of Donbas of their identity and history as Ukrainians, it becomes much easier to reconcile their annihilation. In the ideology of “heroes of Ukraine” Yaroslav Stetsko and Stepan Bandera, foundational to the Ukrainian far-right, only a Galician is a true Ukrainian. The bulk of the nation’s people are so-called “Moskals” and “Asiatics” unworthy of living in the Galician Reich.
The fact that Galicia had been a part of Poland or Austria, not Ukraine, for more than a millennium is simply ignored in favor of their addled fantasy about how they, and they alone, are true Ukrainians by virtue of some ancient Viking blood.
Then as now, the ideology makes it easy for Galician fascists to justify killing Ukrainians by the thousands.
When the Maidan protests began in 2014, counter-protests emerged all around the country, with thousands of Ukrainians taking to the streets in support of the democratically elected government of Viktor Yanukovych and the Party of Regions. As the Maidan grew increasingly violent under the influence of the far right, the anti-Maidan protesters refused to be intimidated and fought back. Eventually, they coalesced into militias drawn from the wide variety of anti-Maidan activists and resistance became much more organized.
Fearing a counter-revolution, the unelected government of America’s hand-picked Arseniy Yatsenyuk created the Special Tasks Patrol (STP) police which was drawn almost entirely from the neo-Nazis infesting Ukraine and given wide-ranging powers to detain and kill Ukrainians.
The most famous of them was the Azov Battalion. Long before their cynical rebranding in the wake of the 2022 Russian invasion, the Azov Battalion of 2014 was an openly neo-Nazi militia. The soldiers Illia Ponomarenko counts as comrades in arms marched under the same flag their ancestors did in the 1940s.
The echoes of history are easy to hear from Azov. Originally called “Patriot of Ukraine,” the organization was founded in 2005 by Andrei Belitsky as a coalition of several Kharkiv neo-Nazi groups, such as Tryzub (the armed wing of CIA agent and Nazi collaborator Slava Stetsko’s Congress of Ukrainian Nationalists), and the UNA-UNSO (led by the son of CIA commando and Holocaust perpetrator Roman Shukhevych) and filled with soldiers from Ukraine’s large far-right soccer hooligan gangs.
In their formative years, Patriot of Ukraine worked as enforcers for Mafia kingpin Arsen Avakov, who was elevated to Minister of Internal Affairs after the Maidan. Avakov pulled strings to get lieutenant Belitsky out of prison for beating a rival gangster to death and the talented young Nazi was deputized to bring the separatists to heel.
In Mariupol, the saga finally came full circle and the world got to see first-hand what Halder and Heusinger spent so long planning.
After months of protests, fighting in Mariupol started in May 2014. According to the Ukrainian version of events, on May 3rd Russian infiltrators approached a checkpoint in the city with food for the guards laced with sleeping pills, then took the soldiers and their weapons after they were incapacitated. This fantasy is likely covering up the truth: The soldiers simply surrendered. Separatists set up barricades in the city center and began to occupy city administration buildings. The situation was rapidly spiraling out of the Maidan regime’s control.
Azov was one of the first units sent by the regime to retake Mariupol. Inserted into the city on the 7th of May, Azov started killing almost immediately. Azov dismantled the barricades by force, firing on the crowd of unarmed protesters who opposed them. Azov finished its work by the night of May 8th, and on Victory Day, May 9th, they started the next phase of their mission. While most of Ukraine was commemorating the sacrifice of eight million Ukrainians in the struggle against Azov’s forefathers, the heirs of Stetsko and Bandera marked the occasion in their traditional way, by killing Ukrainians. When the local police defected upon receiving an order to open fire on the crowds, Azov did not hesitate. Victory Day turned into a bloodbath as Azov terrorists opened fire on the crowds.
Local protesters and police defectors occupied the regional police HQ and took the chief of police prisoner in the process. Azov militants attempted to break the siege but, when faced with armed resistance, the “cyborgs” were soundly defeated. They retreated after suffering casualties and were forced to negotiate for the release of the prisoners. Just like before, the bravado and prowess of the fascist thugs evaporated as soon as their victims fought back.
Azov was defeated that day, but they were not destroyed. With backing from the Ukrainian state and the gangsters who were increasingly taking power, Azov returned in June, their forces bolstered by foreign mercenaries and a column of armored vehicles. After they came under drone attack, the separatists were forced to withdraw and DPR forces were driven out of Mariupol, suffering 5 dead and 30 captured. None of them returned alive.
Among the attackers that day were men wearing the insignia of the U.S. Army 1st Aviation Brigade, a unit responsible for training Army soldiers in combined arms operations. Considering their participation, the source of Azov’s sudden proficiency with UAVs becomes very clear.
Azov did not rest on their laurels. Along with the rest of the STP units, Azov quickly got back to their roots as what the people of the region once knew as “punishers,” enforcing order by any means necessary. It is unclear just how many people suffered in the dungeons staffed by STPs and SBU (Ukrainian intelligence), but the campaign was so widespread that even the Maidan regime found dozens of them guilty for crimes such as gang rape (including at least one instance where 8-10 Azov members raped a mentally disabled man until he nearly died), looting, torture, murder, smuggling and extortion. They may have worn the insignia of a military unit, but Azov had changed little from their days as Mafia killers.
All the while, Azov was nurtured by the United States and its NATO allies. Evidence has emerged of CIA training at least from 2015, if not earlier. Arms dealers bragged openly about transferring anti-tank weapons and, by 2017, Azov was posing for pictures with NATO military advisers.
Even as men marching under a swastika once again cut a swathe through his home, Illia Ponomarenko was one of their most steadfast supporters from the very beginning. After COVID forced him to cancel a planned internship in the U.S, Illia went to work for NATO-funded papers such as the Kyiv Post, and later the Kyiv Independent.
His education at the NATO-funded schools served him well, and he has done an exemplary job at continuing the work started by Franz Halder and Adolf Heusinger so many years ago by once again rehabilitating the fascist killers butchering Ukrainians. He now has millions of followers on Twitter, and routinely makes appearances on mainstream Western news, such as the BBC, CNN and Fox News. His years of carrying water for his Nazi friends have finally paid off, Illia went from simply being in the right place at the right time to an integral part in the machine.
What we are seeing today in Ukraine is no accident: It is a plan seven decades in the making. From the very beginning, the United States and NATO have been working to rehabilitate the legacy of fascism so it can be used as a weapon. These networks are not just in Ukraine; they have branches all around the world. Azov militants were even spotted at protests in Hong Kong, the latest front in America’s covert war. Fortunately, Chinese authorities prevented the city from suffering the same fate as Mariupol.
The seeds of this conflict were not planted in 2014, nor in 1991. Rather, they were sewn on June 22, 1941, when Nazi troops first streamed across the border as part of Franz Halder’s Operation Barbarossa. After four long years and tens of millions dead, the United States absorbed the “best and brightest” of the Third Reich and, for 70 years, they carefully tended Halder and Heusinger’s saplings, waiting for the chance to take root.
In 2014, we finally saw the noxious weeds of fascism return to the land they blighted so long ago, watered once more in rivers of Ukrainian blood.
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About the Author
Evan Reif was born in a small mining town in Western South Dakota as the son of a miner and a librarian.
His father’s struggles as a union organizer, and the community’s struggles with de-industrialization, nurtured Evan’s deep interest in left-wing politics. This, along with his love of history, made him a staunch anti-fascist.
When not writing, researching or working, Evan enjoys fishing, shooting, and Chinese cooking.