Istanbul Intrigues » 17-Epilogue
The conditions of the war, the uncertainty as to what was coming next and the urgency of the immediate tasks, created the illusion that the passage of time was suspended, and everyone was filled for the moment with an extraordinarily potent sense of perpetual youth. Friendships were rapidly born, and people revealed themselves in a day as they would not usually do in a year.
–Colin MacInnes, To the Victors the Spoils
The day of victory over fascism was glorious, but it did not usher forth a new world of unalloyed justice, peace, and plenty. Many of those responsible for the evil prospered or escaped relatively unscathed; many genuine heroes died in obscurity or failed to find a place for themselves after the fighting ended.
Von Papen was arrested by the Allies in October 1945. “It is certainly hard, as a net result of a long, devoted term of service to the Fatherland,” he wrote with self-pity, “to be imprisoned like a criminal behind a double barbed-wire fence covered by machine guns.”
Von Papen disclaimed responsibility for Hitler’s rise and reign, blaming the Nazi ascendancy on a weak intelligentsia, a decline in piety, and broad historic trends. At his trial, he made a phony claim of having helped Roncalli save 20,000 Jews, while actually he had only forwarded the Vatican envoy’s letters, which were usually rejected by Berlin. Ambassador Steinhardt visited von Papen during the trial, and they spent five hours reliving their old battles. Earle, who von Papen had tried to use as a conduit to Roosevelt, wrote a letter documenting and praising von Papen’s peace proposals. Von Papen was acquitted of war crimes by the Nuremberg tribunal in 1946.
Franz Josef Messner, a leader of the Austrian resistance movement and a member of the Dogwood chain, was murdered by the Germans a few hours before Vienna’s liberation. Wilhelm Hamburger, the Abwehr agent and Austrian resistance member, worked with the British in Cairo after his defection and then returned home to Vienna to become a successful international trade negotiator.
Some of the OSS men decided to stay in the same line of work and joined the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Most notable among them was Frank Wisner, OSS-Turkey’s liaison man in Cairo and later Macfarland’s replacement as OSS chief in Turkey. He was one of the leading critics of the Dogwood operation. In later years, he became the CIA’s head of covert operations. Under tremendous stress, he committed suicide in the 1950s.
George Earle married a young Belgian woman he met in Istanbul. His behavior and thinking became increasingly erratic after the war. He returned to Philadelphia to found an extreme right-wing anti-Communist group.
Paul Leverkuehn, the displaced Istanbul Abwehr chief, became first a prosecutor and then a. defense lawyer for some German officers at Nuremberg. Later, he went into politics and was elected a Christian Democratic member of parliament and president of the European Union. The Leverkuehns settled in Switzerland and became involved with conservative Catholic causes.
Ernst Reuter, one of the leaders of the German anti-Hitler refugee community in Turkey, became West Berlin s first postwar mayor. Alexander Rustow, leader of the anti-Nazi German émigrés in Istanbul and liaison between the OSS and the German underground, returned to Germany to take the chair of sociology at the University of Heidelberg. Most of the other exiled professors emigrated to the United States and enjoyed distinguished scholarly careers.
A different kind of distinguished career was followed by the Soviet assassinations expert Leonid Eitingon, who, under his alias of Naumov, had been the NKVD chief in Turkey. He was promoted to major general in 1945, and he helped establish the postwar Soviet espionage network in western Europe. In the 1950s, he organized a campaign to murder exiled Ukrainian leaders. In 1954, he was caught up in a post-Stalin purge and sentenced to twelve years in a labor camp. He eventually returned to Moscow and held a job in a Soviet publishing company that was an intelligence front.
The wartime U. S. ambassador to Turkey, Laurence Steinhardt, went on to be ambassador to Czechoslovakia and served there during the 1948 Communist coup. He later became ambassador to Canada, where he died in an air accident in 1950. Although Sir Hughe Knatchbull-Hugessen was named British ambassador to Belgium after the war, he was soon retired, his career blighted by the Cicero affair.
Multiple agent Andre Gyorgy opened a bar in Vienna after the war. Luther Kovess made his way back to Istanbul, patched up relations with the Americans, and became active in Hungarian refugee affairs. Lieutenant Colonel Otto Hatz, the Hungarian quadruple agent, survived yet another intelligence association. At first the Russians used his services, but in 1952 they sentenced him to seven years’ imprisonment and fifteen years’ hard labor in the U.S.S.R. Three years later he was declared innocent and allowed to return to Hungary. Hatz became a fencing coach in Budapest and lived quietly until his death in 1984.
The gallant Czech, Polish, and Hungarian intelligence men and diplomats had barely returned home from fighting the German invaders when they lost their countries to the Soviet occupiers. Most of them went into an exile which, this time, would have no happy ending in their lifetimes. Two of the main pro-Western Hungarians–Colonel Ujszaszy and Count Bethlen–were kidnapped by the Soviets at the end of the war and died in captivity in the U.S.S.R.
In contrast, the members of the Zionist delegation in Istanbul were able to establish their independent state. Out of great tragedy came constructive action. Some of Israel’s builders were Jews whose lives the members had saved through their rescue efforts in Istanbul. Teddy Kollek became the mayor of Jerusalem and was responsible for that city’s flowering; Akiva Levinsky rose to be treasurer of the Jewish Agency. Between 1945 and 1948, Yehuda Pomerantz became one of the leaders in Aliya Bet, bringing Jewish refugees through the British blockade into Palestine. He then became a physics professor.
The Vatican prelate Roncalli, whose career seemed to have reached a dead end in Istanbul, was named the Holy See’s envoy to France in 1944. Two decades later, he became the highly popular, reforming Pope John XXIII.
The Turks themselves were much affected by the democratic ideas propagated by the Allies. After the war, Ïnönü allowed a multiparty state and free elections. Despite some lapses under tremendous pressure, this democratic commitment survived. The massive migration of Turks from the countryside overwhelmed Istanbul and made it one of the world’s largest cities. There are now 2 bridges across the Bosporus. The unique flavor provided to the city’s cultural life by the Greeks, Jews, and Armenians was largely diluted by their gradual emigration from the country. Still, the natural setting and old landmarks make Istanbul as uniquely beautiful as ever. In contrast, citizens of Ankara skeptically laugh at the idea that their swollen, smoggy city was once a place of beautiful vistas and open spaces.
The war had changed everyone and everything beyond recognition. “These are days of glory and of mourning,” wrote the German defector Wilhelm Hamburger from Cairo in April 1945. “I am indeed dead tired after having struggled for years in vain. Once I served an idea and the idea became a crime…. I know that the people I knew and loved are dead or changed or robbed of all their means…. The homes we lived in, the forests we hunted in and the places to which I simply belong are reduced to ashes. I am to close one chapter of my life and of [the] world’s history….How vastly different will be the postwar world!”
Those emerging from such desperate struggles had to believe there was hope for that world. Ex-Abwehr officer Leverkuehn wrote former OSS chief Donovan in February 1946, “After six years…it is a tremendous relief to know that there is peace somewhere and that the friendship of good old days is helping to pave the way into that land of peace.”