Cultural Whitewashing

The Nazis in El Paso: Why White Supremacy Is Engrained in El Paso

“The message of El Paso, historic and present, is this: In America constructed by some as ‘great,’ if you are a white man there is almost nothing – whether it’s inventing weapons of mass destruction for a genocidal monster or smirking at a proposal of human slaughter, grabbing woman wherever, and notionally shooting someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue – that should be an impediment to power and glory. And if you are not, even if your Latino family has been in this country for generations, you may be cast as an aggressor mounting an ‘invasion’ (a term Trump’s Facebook ads have used over 2,000 times) and gunned down in an El Paso Walmart.” [5]

El Paso has an identity crisis. It doesn’t know how to be Mexican, and, in many ways, it is afraid to be Mexican. How can it be that a community of over 80% Latino and mostly Mexican be so anti-Mexican?

The answer lies in the history of El Paso that has been distorted by the white purveyors of El Paso’s history.

Readers may have noted that El Paso is also anti-immigrant, especially immigrants from México, although it pretends to be otherwise. Just this week, the county commissioners of El Paso approved a contract with the U.S. Marshals Service that predominantly jails immigrants at the local county jail. While approving the jail contract, commissioner David Stout proclaimed – only to be chastised by commissioner Carlos Leon for straying outside a dubious rule of order – about how he reluctantly voted for the contract while demanding that the federal government not continue jailing immigrants.

The schizophrenia between making money off jailed immigrants while demanding that the government not jail them is the undercurrent of El Paso’s duplicity on its people of color.

Our journey into the El Paso abyss starts with a beloved El Pasoan showing how to murder millions.

Tom Lea Shows The Way To Murdering Millions

Nazism and El Paso started even before Hitler rose to power in Germany in 1934. In 1917, then El Paso mayor Tom Lea sent an alarmist telegram to Washington DC demanding that a quarantine be placed because of “hundreds of dirty lousey destitute Mexicans arriving at El Paso.”

Lea created bath houses to delouse Mexicans as they crossed the border.

Dr. Gerhard Peters, who was sentenced to prison for his role supplying gas to the Nazi regime, included two photographs of Lea’s delousing chambers in a 1938 article in Anzeiger für Schädlingskunde, a science journal. Peters was demonstrating the effectiveness of Zyklon B for killing unwanted pets. The Nazis used Zyklon B to murder millions of people, mostly Jews. [16]

From publicly stripping men and women naked and spraying them with dangerous chemicals to cleanse them ostracizing people of color, Tom Lea taught the Nazis how to demonize a certain segment of the population simply because they were deemed “dirty” or “destitute.”

In many ways, Tom Lea was the first to express the sentiment of the 2006 Glass Beach study that used taxpayer monies to label Mexicans as “gritty, dirty, lazy.”

The Germans derived most of their profits from Zyklon-B’s licensing fees in the United States. Americans used a lot of the chemical, as a pesticide and for delousing ships and prisons. The most shocking use of Zyklon-B in the United States was at the Santa Fe Bridge in El Paso. Tom Lea used it on Mexicans crossing the border into the country. [17]

It should be noted that there is little academic research into Tom Lea’s delousing of Mexicans in El Paso and how El Paso led the Nazis towards Zyklon B. David Dorado Romo made the connection between the use of Zyklon B in El Paso and the Nazis in his book, Ringside Seat To A Revolution. Without Romo, this fact would continue to be buried in El Paso’s historical vault by historians like Leon Metz that perpetuated the Mexican outlaw while glorifying the Anglo defender of virtue in his writings.

Likewise, the artist, the younger Tom Lea painted scenes of Anglos taming the desert. The younger Lea, known for his art about Texas, stylized the American cowboy while ignoring the true cowboy, the vaquero in his art. It has been argued that Tom Lea valued Mexicans but his book, The Brave Bulls focuses on the protagonist’s “machismo” and “mistress” and his friend’s betrayal reinforcing the distorted view of Mexicans often perpetuated across America.

Lea’s The Wonderful Country also not only anglicizes the vaquero into a cowboy in the illustrations, but also the protagonist, Martin Brady, stereotypically hides in México as a wanted criminal while working for a Mexican warlord only to return to Texas, fall in love with an Anglo woman and join the Texas Rangers to fight the Apaches in México. Although fictional, the stereotypical plot continues the disparagement of Mexicans.

George Graham Vest wrote in 1891 that “history is written by the victors and framed according to the prejudices and bias existing on their side.” Ironically, Vest was criticizing those disparaging the Confederacy.

Nonetheless Vest’s sentiments should be considered as to why the historical record about the treatment of Mexicans in El Paso is so lacking.

Alleged Nazi Spy Ring Through El Paso

Did a pre-World War II Nazi spy ring operate through El Paso? The historical records are scant on this, but author Clint Richmond alleges in his book – Fetch the Devil that a San Francisco-based Nazi spy ring operating out of the German consulate used El Paso as a conduit to South America. [10]

It started with the murder of two women who spent a few days in El Paso and in Cd. Juárez before being murdered on the side of the road.

Hazel Frome (46) and her daughter Nancy (23) were found dead near Van Horn in 1938. The Frome pair were on a road trip from Berkley California to Parris Island in Nancy’s brand new “expensive” Packard. [14]

In El Paso they developed engine trouble and stopped to have their car fixed. Because of the lack of parts, they stayed at the Hotel Cortez while their car was fixed. As they waited, they visited Cd. Juárez. On March 30, 1938, they resumed their trip to Parris Island. [14]

Somewhere near Van Horn they vanished. The following day, near Balmorhea, their car was found by a deputy. The women and their luggage had vanished. A comparison of the odometer readings between the repair shop notations and where the car was found showed that the car had been driven forty miles more than it should have been. [14]

Four days later their bodies were found. Although they were almost naked, they showed no signs of being sexually molested. However, both women had been severely tortured with cigarettes. They had also been beaten severely. Both had been killed with a .32s bullet shot to their temples. [14]

It has been suggested that the bullets used to kill both women were a “specialized” type of bullet made in Germany and used by ranking Nazi Party members.

A robbery was first suspected as the motive, although a diamond ring and cash were missing, other jewelry, including a diamond watch was still with them when their bodies were found. [14] Other motives investigated by authorities included a “drug deal gone sour” or men who befriended them on their trips to Juárez. [14]

German espionage was mentioned but quickly disregarded. [14]

Several individuals were arrested, interviewed and released after the investigations determined they were not involved. Weston Frome, the husband of Hazel, maintained that the only possible motive was robbery. However, Sheriff Chris Fox believed that the murders were “premeditated” and “appeared to be the work of someone inspired by intense hatred.” [14]

El Paso sheriff Chris P. Fox dismissed the Texas Rangers’ theory that the murders were highway robberies. Instead, Fox believed that the motive for the murders originated out of San Francisco. [10]

By 1953, the Frome case “had become ‘Texas’ costliest, most intensive and most complex crime”. As late as September 13, 1970, the Texas Rangers were still investigating the cold case. [14]

According to Richmond’s theory about the murders, the two women were victims of a Nazi spy ring headed by Wolfgang Ebell. [10]

The El Paso Nazi Doctor

On April 3, 1942, the United States revoked Dr. Wolfgang Ebell’s U.S. naturalization. Ebell lived and worked as a doctor in El Paso. According to court documents, Ebell was naturalized on April 3, 1939. Ebell, who was born in Germany on July 28, 1899 and moved to México in 1927. In 1930, Ebell moved to El Paso, Texas where he married. [11]

Ebell’s sympathies remained strongly pro-Hitler according to the court records. “Hitler would rule the world,” the court found that Ebell had proclaimed in 1940. [11]

In addition to his pro-Hitler public proclamations, Ebell was found to routinely meet with Gerhardt Wilhelm Kunz, the leader of the German-American Bund in El Paso. [11]

The court found “great preponderance of evidence” showing that Wolfgang Ebell committed fraud on his application for naturalization and “did not intend to support and defend” the United States and thus, revoked his naturalization.

On July 14, 1942, Ebell pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiring to violate the Espionage Act of 1911. Ebell admitted to providing Germany and Japan American secrets. [12]

Ebell was imprisoned from 1942 until 1947 and deported to Germany. [13]

The Vonsiatsky Espionage Ring

On June 10, 1942, Anastase A. Vonsiatsky, a Russian Revolutionary Party member and naturalized American citizen was indicted on espionage charges. Along with Vonsiatsky, Gerhard Wilhelm Kunze, Dr. Otto Willumeit, Reverend Kurt E. B. Molzahn and Ebell were also indicted on the same espionage charges. [15]

On February 20, 1939, New York’s Madison Square Garden’s marquee promoted the “Pro American Rally”. Hanging alongside American flags were swastikas. The rally was sponsored by the German American Bund, an organization with “thousands of members” across America who openly supported Hitler.

One of the main speakers at the event was Gerhard Wilhelm Kunze. Kunze preached about “the spirit of the white man” at the rally. When Fritz Kuhn, the leader of the Bund was arrested, tried, denaturalized and deported, Kunze took over the Bund. [19]

According to the FBI, on November 9, 1941 Kunze crossed the border from El Paso into Juárez with the help of Ebell, who was known to have several German contacts. On June 30, 1942, Kunze was arrested by Mexican officials as he attempted to leave México on a boat he had purchased.

Kunze was using the name Alfonso Graf Cabiedes when he was arrested by Mexican officials. Kunze was deported from México and delivered to the FBI in Brownsville, Texas. [18]

Kunze was convicted and sentenced to jail in 1941.

Project Paperclip

Project Paperclip was a Joint Intelligence Objective Agency (JIOA) operation to bring Nazi scientist to American to both exploit their knowledge and to keep that knowledge from the Soviets. The operation lasted into the 1970s. [1]

The codename Operation Paperclip is said to have originated from the paperclips used to attach the scientists’ paperwork to their immigration applications. [1]

Being a member of the Nazi Party is a disqualifying factor in attaining a visa to enter the United States and on becoming a citizen. Question number 13 in Part 12 of the most recent Application of Naturalization form (N-400) asks a three-part question about the applicant’s involvement with the Nazi Party between March 23, 1933 and May 8, 1945. [copy obtained on March 24, 2021]

Nazi Party Members

In an April 27, 1948 memorandum, the director of the Joint Intelligence Objectives Agency, Navy Captain Bosquet N. Wev, bluntly wrote, “security investigations conducted by the military have disclosed the fact that the majority of German scientists were members of either the Nazi Party or one or more of its affiliates.” [1] Wev argued that the Nazi Party membership was offset by the possibility that the scientists would end up in the Soviet Union. Wev considered bringing the Nazi scientists to America “the highest consideration”. [1]

Between 1945 and 1955, 765 Nazis were brought to the United States under the programs Overcast, Paperclip and other similar programs. [2]

To facilitate their entry into the country, the Army investigators investigating the Nazi engineers and scientists were asked by officials at the U.S. European Command to “revise some security reports so that certain scientists could participate in Project Paperclip.” [2]

It is estimated that around 80% of the German scientists and engineers were former Nazi Party members. [2]

In one case, Arthur Rudolph, who had been placed in charge of building the Pershing missile and was a NASA project director on the Saturn V Apollo Program left the country in 1984 when it was discovered that he worked on the underground V2 missile factory in Nordhausen, where concentration camp workers worked as slave labor on the missiles. Rudolph surrendered his U.S. citizenship acquired as part of his recruitment under the Paperclip Project. [2]

Rudolph, who arrived in December 1945, was one of the first Germans brought to America under Project Paperclip. In 1949, Rudolph, like many immigrants today, crossed into Cd. Juárez to go to the American consulate to get the paperwork to formally reenter the United States as an immigrant. [3]

He died in Germany in 1996. [3]

The Radiation Experiments

The Air Force’s School of Aviation Medicine (SAM) at Brooks Air Force Base conducted dozens of human radiation experiments during the Cold War. [1] The radiation experiments included “total-body irradiation” and “flash blindness studies”. [1]

The radiation experiments at SAM were tied to the Nazis brought to America under Operation Paperclip. “The portfolio of experiments at the SAM was one that would particularly benefit from the Paperclip recruits,” says a 1995 memorandum from the Members of the Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments. [see note 1]

One of the most prominent Nazi scientists of the Paperclip program was Hubertus Strughold. He has been called “the father of space medicine.” [1]

While working for NASA, the United States government had him also listed as wanted by U.S. authorities as a war criminal for his participation in the Dachau experiments. This did not become known until after his death in 1986 when the U.S. government released documents from 1945. The Dachau experiments were Nazi human experiments on unwilling participants.

Strughold’s name was removed from the International Space Hall of Fame in 2006 due to his Nazi participation and several other accolades were also rescinded.

The El Paso Nazis Today

Operation Paperclip is not a footnote in history. Nazism and especially white supremacy continues in the country. El Paso is no exception. On May 7, 2019, the El Paso Times reported on Corwyn Storm Carver, a Ft. Bliss soldier being investigated for an alleged association with a neo-Nazi white supremacy hate group known as the Atomwaffen Division. [6]

White supremacy within the military and law enforcement is a national concern.

Patrick Crusius’ August 3, 2019 attack on Mexicans was driven by right-wing terrorism in the United States derived from neo-Nazi groups like the Atomwaffen Division. Crusuis murdered 22 people and injured 24 others [2] because he viewed Mexicans as invaders. Crusius’ attack was the “deadliest attack in modern times against the Latino community in the United States.” [7]

The Atomwaffen Division (AWD) “is a dangerous neo-Nazi extremist network with a rapidly growing international footprint.” [8]

In 2018, Corwyn Storm Carver, the Ft. Bliss soldier posted “soldiers, criminals and workers make the best Nazis just a fact” to a chatroom used by the Atomwaffen Division. Carver also praised Dylann Roof, who murdered nine people in Charleston, South Carolina in 2015. [9]

Nate Thayer, a freelance journalist, uncovered Carver’s affiliation to Atomwaffen Division in a series of articles in April 2019. Since then, little has been reported about the case. It is likely that without Thayer making the connection between Atomwaffen and Carver the issue of white nationalism and El Paso would be further buried in its past.

White supremacy, in many ways creates the illusion of what El Paso is and has been – cheesy reenactments of El Paso’s historical record and Anglo historians writing the history of El Paso.

It is no wonder that few in El Paso understand how offensive the Glass Beach Study was and why many did not realize how demonizing it was until it was pointed out to them. White supremacy is enshrined in El Paso’s psyche. The proof lies in the fact that few recognize that the pride of the Segundo BarrioBowie Highschoolglorifies the very foundation of white supremacy in that Bowie, the high school’s namesake, not only was a slave trader but even fought Mexicans at the Alamo to keep slaves as property in Texas.

It is this white supremacy psyche that drives the El Paso agenda. Because of the unrelenting historical record distortions by the people in power, many do not see nor understand how white supremacy rules El Paso.

Author’s note: This is article is a part of a series of articles looking into the reasons behind the rising immigration crisis on the border, the national debate on immigration and the reasons why immigration policy in America has evolved the way it has. Over the next few articles, this publication and Border Politics will develop what and how the American immigration system is designed to control how many and how frequent people of color are allowed to come to America. El Paso is always at the center of the politics of the border, although the community of El Paso pretends it is not so.

Footnotes:

  1. Memorandum to the Members of the Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments regarding Post-World War II Recruitment of German Scientists, Project Paperclip, April 5, 1995. [see note 1 below]
  2. “Nazi War Crimes & Japanese Imperial Government Records Interagency Working Group, Final Report to the United States Congress,” April 2007.
  3. Judy Feigin, “The Office of Special Investigations: Striving for Accountability in the Aftermath of the Holocaust,” The United States Department of Justice, Office of Special Investigations, Draft Edition, December 2008.
  4. Annie Jacobsen, “Operation Paperclip, The Secret Intelligence Program That Brought Nazi Scientists To America,” Little, Brown and Company, New York, February 2014.
  5. Diane McWhorter, “The forgotten histories of El Paso and Dayton tell a vital story,” CNN, Opinion, August 8, 2019.
  6. Aaron Martinez, “Fort Bliss soldier under investigation for alleged ties to neo-Nazi group,” El Paso Times, May 7, 2019.
  7. “Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act of 2020,” House of Representatives Report on H.R. 5602.
  8. “Special Report: The Atomwaffen Division: The Evolution of the White Supremacy Threat,” The Soufan Center, August 2020.
  9. Lecia Brooks’ written testimony before the Subcommittee on Military Personnel, February 11, 2020.
  10. Clint Richmond, “Fetch the Devil: The Sierra Diablo Murders and Nazi Espionage in America,” ForeEdge – University Print of New England, June 2014.
  11. United States v. Ebell, No: 165, District Court, W. D. Texas, El Paso Division, April 2, 1942.
  12. “Texas Doctor Admits Espionage Conspiracy,” The New York Times, July 15, 1942.
  13. Texas Attorney General Opinion No. V-754, December 23, 1948.
  14. H. Joaquin Jackson, “One Ranger Returns,” University of Texas Press, January 1, 2010.
  15. “Five Are Indicted As Axis Spy Ring; Kunze, Former Bund Head, and Vonsiatsky, Russian Fascist, Are Accused in Hartford FIVE ARE INDICTED AS AXIS SPY RING,” The New York Times, June 11, 1942.
  16. David Dorado Romo, “Ringside Seat To A Revolution,” Cinco Punto Press, El Paso, Texas, 2005.
  17. Scott Christianson, “The Last Gasp, The Rise and Fall of the American Gas Chamber,” University of California Press, Berkley and Los Angeles, California, 2010.
  18. Report of the Committee on International Relations, Annual Convention I.A.C.P, New York, September 21,23, 1942.
  19. Sarah Kate Kramer, “When Nazis Took Manhattan,” All Things Considered, NPR, February 20, 2019.

Note:

  1. The Committee on Human Radiation Experiments (ACHRE) was established by a Cabinet memorandum on January 19, 1994. ACHRE was tasked with evaluating the U.S government’s role in sponsoring or conducting scientific and medical experiments using ionized radiation involving human subjects.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.