Germany fell and surrendered World War II on May 7, 1945, two weeks after Mussolini’s death and only a week after Adolf Hitler committed suicide in Berlin. The National Socialist German Workers’ Party, or the Nazis, had as many as 8.5 million members in 1945, before dissolving later than year. While the party did ultimately fall with Germany’s surrender, Nazis and SS Officials were forced to desperately escape Europe to avoid being put on trial by the Allies.
ODESSA is the name given by Americans to a theoretical Nazi Plan that carried out a mass escape for Nazis. ODESSA stands for Organisation der Ehemaligan SS-Angehörigen, which translates to “Organization of Former SS Members” in English. It is theorized that the program would have assisted SS Members to escape to both the Middle East and South America under new pseudonyms that would protect their former German identities.
Simon Wiesenthal, an Austrian Holocaust Survivor, claims that ODESSA was set up in 1944 by the Nazis who feared a World War II loss. However, another expert named Gitta Sereny disagrees with Wiesenthal’s theory, saying that ODESSA was a network of organizations set up by various SS Officials across the world. Both the United States and Austria sent espionage missions to investigate the existence of ODESSA, but came up short on conclusions and proof. Furthermore, Guy Walters, author of Hunting Evil, claimed to have found evidence of smaller organizations run by Otto Skorzeny , but stated that there is no evidence of an ODESSA network.
Die Spinne is another theoretical escape organisation, which, much like ODESSA, is still debated over by historians. Many are skeptical on its existence, while others claim it to be either a subdivision of ODESSA or its own independent organization. Reinhard Gehlen and Otto Skorenzy started the organization, according to Austrian investigation. Evidence of this organization comes from Skorenzy’s escape from prison camp in 1948. While in an American Uniform, he escaped a prison camp while awaiting trial in Nuremberg. He escaped to Paris, then Salzburg, and ultimately Spain before dying in June 1975. From his hideouts, sources claim he helped as many as 600 former Nazis escape to Spain, Argentina, and more of South America.
Other Nazi scientists, mathematicians, engineers, and highly educated members of the Nazi Party were taken to work for the United States in Operation Paperclip. As many as 1,600 members were recruited from the end of the war until the program ended in 1959. The purpose of the recruitment was to acquire scientists and engineers that could advance US technologies in the Cold War. The Soviet Union carried out Operation Osoaviakhim in only a single night on October 22, 1946, where 2,000 skilled Germans were taken by force to work for the Soviets.
While Nazism largely died with the fall of Germany in World War II, political parties and hate groups around the world continue to preach far-right Nazi ideology and antisemitism. The American Nazi Party is an example of one of these groups, which began in 1959 as the World Union of Free Enterprise National Socialists, until being renamed the following year. The party has had three leaders in its history, with the most recent and present Commander being Rocky Suhayda of Michigan. Neo-nazi groups were also found in the East after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Groups of KGB activists, neo-nazis, an alt-right Socialist groups formed in both Eastern Europe and Russia.