Occasionally reading slips into some very grey areas of conspiracy yarns, it is mostly harmless stuff sometimes plausible and entertaining, more likely bonkers and amusing leaps of speculation and chiselled details. The narrative such work creates offers the untold account through assertion, assumption and alternatives of evidently undiscovered connections underpinned by deductive reconstruction. Only that which supports the unfolding narrative is included in what is pseudo-history and faction. Two excellent examples of such “guilty indulgences” have had different impact. “Grey Wolf” is an implausible account of the escape of Adolf Hitler to live his life unmolested in Argentina.
Such a scenario has been the subject of post-war rumours and speculation, and escaped Nazis settled in South America have featured in many movies because that is what did happen. “Grey Wolf” details the arrival of U boat 518 in July 28th 1945 and purports to be offering a history that contradicts all known documented accounts. There is the DVD (same name) by Gerald Williams as a companion to the book.
It is not surprising that when critically engaged there are sharply differing assessments by readers. Those believing they are genuinely seeking the truth, see “Grey Wolf” as raising a large number of interesting possibilities. The background collaboration between western industrialists and Nazi hierarchy that are historical facts provide some scaffolding for other speculations. However Hitler living until his death in 1962 in a German enclave in Argentina – come on, never to give a public speech, to forsake all the drama and power he conjured with, a man not driven by hateful revenge against the rest of humanity. If Hitler had escaped, it wouldn’t take decades to prove it. “Grey Wolf” is well written and proves that anything can get published. The narrative on offer could be given a film treatment, but it fails despite all the smoke and mirrors it employs because it was unbelievable. Suicide in 1945 is a less prosaic ending.
Believability in the story-teller can create the spell of confidence and conviction and this was the impact of Anatoliy Golitsyn on sections of the American intelligence community. “New Lies for Old: the Communist Strategy of Deception and Disinformation” came out years after his defection from the Soviet Union in December 1961. Again he purports to provide a sensational account of history of Soviet intelligence activity in that he claims that the Sino-Soviet split was a charade to deceive the West. It was clearly staged, the ideological divisions within the international communism movement, and later he argued (in The Perestroika Deception Memoranda to the Central Intelligence Agency) the “fall” of the USSR was a deception. All this was a carefully crafted ruse to lull the West into complacency. Golitsyn’s perspective on this deception is fantastically constructed and completely wrong. He goes against every known piece of public information and revelations from the archives but still finds ideological partisan support for his conspiracy paradigm.
Golitsyn’s book had had its real impact when his debriefing convinced the paranoid James Jesus Angleton, CIA counter-intelligence director of his thesis that change in the “Soviet Bloc” was all part of a strategic master plan to mislead the Western authorities. There were other damaging assertions such as Golitsyn claim that Harold Wilson (Labour Party leader and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom) was a KGB informer and an agent of influence. This claim was taken serious by a section of British intelligence that included Peter Wright (who plotted to overthrow Wilson’s government) and later best-seller author of Spycatcher. In all Golitsyn work shares the same characteristics as “grey Wolf”, and if you are entertained by the genre of the unfolding narrative of what is pseudo-history and faction, then indulge yourself; otherwise choose some better fiction to read.