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Castro Hired Nazi SS to Train Military, Intel Documents Reveal

Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro recruited two former Nazi SS soldiers to help train his military at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis.
By Rachel Hirshfeld
First Publish: 10/16/2012, 1:17 PM

Soviet-era nuclear capable ballistic missile
Soviet-era nuclear capable ballistic missile
Reuters

Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro recruited two former Nazi SS soldiers to help train his military at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, according to declassified documents released by Germany's secret intelligence agency, the BND (Bundesnachrichtendienst).

The documents, dated October 26, 1962, revealed that Castro invited four SS officers to Havana, where he offered them quadruple the average salary a German made at that time in exchange for their expertise. Two of the four, who served in Adolf Hitler’s Waffen-SS, accepted the offer.

Castro was also trying to hire German paratroopers and technicians in an effort to ward off an American invasion.

"Obviously the Cuban revolutionary military had no fear of any personal contact with those associated with nazism, so long as they served their objectives," Bodo Hechelhammer, historical investigations director at German foreign intelligence agency Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), said.

The documents, published online by the German newspaper Die Welt, also reveal that Castro was in contact with two middle men with ties to Germany's extreme right in an attempt to purchase 4,000 Belgian-made arms, as he was apparently trying to rid himself of his dependency on Soviet Union made arms.

Other recently declassified documents revealed that Robert F. Kennedy, who was then U.S. Secretary of Justice, attempted to orchestrate a mafia plan to kill Castro.

The U.S. government reportedly offered $100,000 bounty on the head of the communist leader. An additional reward of $20 thousand was offered for the life of his brother Raul Castro, who currently rules Cuba.

Tuesday is the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis, which began after the United States discovered Soviet Union nuclear missiles in Cuba. The discovery led to a tense 13-day standoff from October 16 to the 28th between President John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev.

After secret negotiations between the two leaders, the United States agreed not to invade Cuba if the Soviet Union withdrew its missiles from the island.