Recently declassified documents held by the German intelligence authorities reveal former Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro went to extraordinary lengths to guard against a feared US invasion of Cuba by hiring former members of the Nazi Waffen-SS to train Cuban troops during the Cuban missile crisis
of 1962, reports The Daily Telegraph
It’s 50 years since the Cuban missile crisis but that dark period during the Cold War continues to give up some shocking secrets. When the world was on the edge of its seats terrified of a nuclear exchange between the United States and the USSR, for Fidel Castro, it seems his friend’s enemy became his friend.
Previously secret papers released this week by Germany’s Bundesnachrichtendienst
(BND), the German foreign intelligence agency, show that while then US President John F Kennedy was aware of Soviet missile launchers on Cuban territory, at the same time Cuban leader Fidel Castro had launched a recruitment drive among former Nazi SS combat personnel to train native Cuban soldiers. Castro’s aim was to help prevent a perceived invasion of the island by the United States.
The recently released documents also point to Castro having attempted to source weapons from the strangest of bedfellows, namely, arms dealers associated with Germany’s extreme right.
Castro was eager to rid himself of Soviet military tutelage. In the face of Soviet ideological opposition, the Cuban leader invited four former officers of the Nazi Waffen-SS death squads to Cuba to train Cuban Revolutionary Army troops. Castro sought to tempt the former Nazis with an attractive remuneration package, offering the former German combatants almost four times the 1962 German average wage and the chance to start a new life in sunny Havana. Although four former Nazis were approached by the Cuban leader, subsequent reports by German intelligence record that only two actually arrived.
The Cuban missile crisis lasted for a nail-biting thirteen days, during which time the United States and the USSR were on the brink of nuclear war. Soviet leader, Nikita Khrushchev, eventually backed down and accepted withdrawal of Soviet nuclear missiles from the Caribbean island.