Mr. Donald R. Heath, Chargé in the Office of the United States Political Adviser on German Affairs, to the Secretary of State

No. 9610

Sir: With reference to the Department’s telegram no. 3055 of December 28, 1946,42 and to subsequent correspondence regarding the thirteen deportees from Buenos Aires who arrived aboard the Argentine naval transport Pampa, I have the honor to report that the interrogation of the thirteen has been finished. …

The prisoners were fairly cooperative after some initial resistance in certain cases—notably in that of Harmeyer—and by the end of the questioning the interrogator had the impression that they had not withheld salient facts. All resented the treatment they had received from the Argentines and considered they had been made scapegoats for the bigger men who escaped deportation; but they knew few concrete facts regarding the true relationships between the latter and Argentine officialdom. The SD people were especially resentful, also, of the special treatment accorded in jail to Johannes Siegfried Becker and Gustav Utzinger.43

There follows an advance summary, in abbreviated form, of such information as could be gathered concerning the seven topics outlined in the Department’s telegraphic instruction under reference. The interrogator was somewhat handicapped by a lack of background information regarding recent happenings in Argentina—notably concerning [Page 190] the habeas corpus proceedings of June, 1946, and the events leading up to the deportation in December.

. . . . . . .

2. Reasons why important agents were not deported; possibility that Argentines warned them in advance; degree of police interrogation on the whereabouts of the fugitives:

Considerable time was spent on this subject. The deportees’ resentment lent a favorable psychological clime for revelations, but they themselves were ipso facto those who were warned too late or not at all, wherefore their knowledge of what transpired among the higher-ups could only be from hearsay. It could be established that the person chiefly responsible for the mechanics of warning the SD group was Dr. Octavio Rivarola, the lawyer who represented them in the habeas corpus proceedings. Becker, Rivarola and Vilches were in regular contact from June, 1946, until Becker’s flight to avoid deportation. Prieto asserted that he was in Rivarola’s office at least ten days before his (Prieto’s) arrest on November 17, and that Rivarola’s secretary warned him then to go into hiding. Interrogation disclosed that the first public announcements were made on November 14–15, wherefore Rivarola definitely had advance notice and was advising his clients to flee. From him the word was apparently spread in chain form: Harmeyer was told by Szeraws; Manfrini by Seraphin; Amorín was to have been told by Ilvento, but had moved and learned only by chance at Maubach’s place of business; Frank Langer also knew of the projected measures before the decree was signed, according to Amorín; Ullrich learned only by calling at Utzinger’s house to find the latter had fled, having been advised by Treutler.

The consensus of opinion among the prisoners had it that Rivarola’s information came either from Rodriguez or from young Freude, or from both: but none had concrete information to this effect. Schwaiger asserted that Becker and Utzinger boasted the Argentines would not dare deport them because they knew too much—not necessarily about Perón himself but about those around him.

Upon being picked up for deportation, only Harmeyer of the whole group was subject to anything more than a superficial interrogation regarding the whereabouts of the others.

3. Assurances that the deportees might avoid repatriation or later return to Argentina:

All prisoners were emphatically negative on this point—in fact, most of them had been arrested in an unnecessarily inconsiderate manner and many were shipped without money or clothing. Schwaiger, however, told of certain assurances to Chantrain by the Honorary Consul of Luxemburg (Tornquist?) that he would not be repatriated. [Page 191] Chantrain apparently managed to keep most of the money he had brought to Argentina for espionage purposes in June 1944, and used some of it for bribery and some to set himself up in business.

4. Assistance furnished by members of the German colony:

Direct aid comprised only the regular food, cigarettes and pin-money gifts sent into the jail regularly by the community, which aid tapered to nothing by early 1946. When this ended, the prisoners earned expense-money by making leather goods, which they sold through their relatives outside, Mueller, in a different category, received about 6,000 pesos in aid from the German Welfare Society, but upon his release he was informed he owed the society that money and could have no more.

No evidence was found of aid by individuals of the colony. However, there was a certain contact between Becker and Ludwig Freude after the former’s release in June 1946, according to Amorín and Harmeyer. The former stated that Becker was extremely annoyed when Amorín repeated the story of the Freude meeting, saying it might cause trouble if the story got around.

5. Source of funds for lawyers, court fees, et cetera:

Excepting for Amorín, who was defended gratis by his friend Arrego Tassoni, all the SD group was included in a group-defense by Rivarola, arranged by Becker. Schwaiger said Becker paid Rivarola 60,000 pesos, or one-third of the 180,000 pesos impounded at Becker’s arrest and returned upon his release. Werner Koennecke also paid Rivarola from 2,000 to 2,500 pesos for Schwaiger’s defense, while Leitner’s wife sent the lawyer 500 pesos.

Mueller, of the Abwehr, and tried in another connection, was represented by a Dr. Bustamante at the instance of German Consulate, which paid the latter some 10,000 pesos for the defense of Mueller, Schneider, Napp, and Freiwald and entrusted him with 8,000 pesos for their bail. The Consulate also contributed 2,000 pesos for the support of Mueller’s family while he was in jail.

6. Means of livelihood during former and recent liberty:

These are given in some detail in each man’s statement, but nothing suspicious is evident. The regular SD workers were paid by SD funds; the rest had regular occupations. Ullrich, after his release, joined Utzinger and Leeb to form a small radio-parts company in the suburb of Punta Chica: through Utzinger’s close connections with Captain Rodriguez they were half-promised government contracts, which hope, however, eventually came to naught.

Rolland’s ample funds, mentioned by the Department, came from his multifarious business deals, for which the original capital was furnished [Page 192] by the Abwehr but which he carried out on his own after 1942.

7. Specific assistance by Axis firms:

None of the prisoners was important enough in his business firm to know of any but obvious help such as the Winterhilfswerk; excepting for Voelckers, who insisted he knew of no other than this regular help in the case of Clarfeld. Ullrich’s position was purely technical, although relatively high: his orders to help Utzinger came from Berlin.

The individual affidavits and interrogation reports will follow in the order of their importance.

Respectfully yours,

Donald R. Heath
  1. Not printed.
  2. For details concerning these persons, see Department of State, Consultation Among the American Republics With Respect to the Argentine Situation (Washington, 1946).