In the early '70s, New York Rep. Elizabeth Holtzman received a confidential tip that American immigration authorities knew of dozens of former Nazis — some implicated in serious war crimes — who were living in the U.S.
Holtzman looked into it and discovered that it was true, and that the formerly named Immigration and Naturalization Service wasn't doing much about it.
But that was just the tip of the iceberg, according to investigative reporter Eric Lichtblau.
In his new book, The Nazis Next Door, Lichtblau reports that thousands of Nazis managed to settle in the United States after World War II, often with the direct assistance of American intelligence officials who saw them as potential spies and informants in the Cold War against the Soviet Union.
Lichtblau says there were whole networks of spy groups around the world made up of Nazis — and they entered the U.S., one by one.
"They sort of had put in their service," Lichtblau tells Fresh Air's Dave Davies. "This was their 'reward' ... for their spy service ... coming to the United States and being able to live out their lives basically with anonymity and no scrutiny."
Most Americans knew little about the Nazis among them. And then in 1979, media reports and congressional interest finally spurred the creation of a Nazi-hunting unit with the Justice Department.
Do the people protesting for more liberal immigration and refugee policies really know who they are demanding to be allowed into the country? Will history repeat itself?