News Release

Interviews Available on Germany and Russia

MARTIN A. LEE
Author of The Beast Reawakens, a book on neofascism, Lee said today: “President Clinton’s visit to Germany comes at a time when that country is mired in a major political scandal, involving secret slush funds and illegal influence-peddling by big business. The scandal has resulted in the fall from grace of former Chancellor Helmut Kohl and several other leaders of the Christian Democratic Union, now the main opposition party in Germany. Thus far, U.S. officials have yet to acknowledge the role that the U.S. government played in setting the stage for this scandal. For years, Washington turned a blind eye to political corruption in West Germany in the interests of fighting Communism. Obsessed with turning West Germany into a bulwark against the Soviet Union, U.S. officials sanctioned the restoration of numerous Nazis and Third Reich veterans to positions of power in West Germany during the Cold War. Among those who benefitted from this policy were Fritz Ries, a wealthy industrialist who made a fortune from expropriating ‘Aryanized’ Jewish property and from slave labor in factories near Auschwitz. Not only was Ries never punished for his crimes, he went on to become Helmut Kohl’s principal patron within the German business community. Therein lay the roots of the current political scandal, which has been described as Germany’s version of Watergate.”

DAVID JOHNSON
Senior fellow at the Center for Defense Information, Johnson edits a daily email newsletter on Russia. He said today: “At the beginning of the 1990s, Russians were very pro-American. But the U.S.’s role as an enthusiastic supporter of Yeltsin has made Russians associate the U.S. with the failures of economic reform and the corrupt privatization program that was implemented with American advice and financing. A third of the population now lives in crushing poverty and most others face a daily struggle to make ends meet. There has been a massive deterioration of the social infrastructure. While elections have become an accepted feature of political life, power has been centralized in a corrupt elite who control the country’s major economic assets and much of its media. Compounding the disillusionment has been the expansion of the NATO military alliance and occasions such as the war in Yugoslavia in 1999. The brutal war in Chechnya has been President Vladimir Putin’s main focus since Yeltsin appointed him prime minister in August 1999…. The dominant and enduring U.S. interest in Russia has been to help secure and remove the huge arsenal of nuclear weapons and nuclear materials that Russia inherited from the Soviet Union. But Russia’s continuing economic catastrophe threatens to undermine attempts to address the nuclear issue.”
More Information

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy: Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020 or (202) 332-5055; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167