by W.E.B. Griffin & William E.
& Interview by Elise Cooper
Death At Nuremberg
by W.E.B. Griffin and
William E. Butterworth IV is more than a thriller.
These authors have a knack for telling a riveting
story that is intertwined with historical facts. It
is a reminder of past history and the plot supports
how history in many ways is repeating itself. Some
of the facts are so incredibly gripping they can make
for a thriller in and of themselves.
This plot covers the time period when the Nuremberg
war trials began with covert intelligence agent Captain
James Cronley Jr. having to handle many fronts: the
Russians, Nazis, and a bureaucracy. He has been reassigned
from the Chief, DCI-Europe to protecting the Nuremberg
US Chief Prosecutor Robert Jackson and the American
Judge Francis Biddle from a possible Soviet NKGB kidnapping.
In addition to that he is still hunting down and dismantling
Odessa, an organization dedicated to helping Nazi
war criminals escape to South America. In trying to
play nice he decides to work with the CIC, a counter
agency to the DCI and enlists the help of Colonel
Morty Cohen who also has another agenda. He asks for
Cronley’s help in getting to the bottom of a
religious cult organized by SS Commander Heinrich
Himmler. Griffin’s signature writing style is
very evident as he blends humor, espionage, danger,
and great characters in his latest novel.
Elise Cooper: This series delves into the
beginnings of the Cold War?
William E. Butterworth IV (JR): The Cold
War is back. President Trump speaks of not surrendering
our sovereignty to foreign bureaucrats and that there
should be a new era of competition to protect our
national interest. Now just as then we have rivals
that are tough and tenacious, and we have to make
sure we do not trust the Russians or Chinese. Dad
put in the last few books how no one wanted to believe
that at the end of WWII the Russians were not our
“allies” after they were our “allies.”
Behind the scenes they were working only for the Russians.
We hoped to show through our plots that Russia was
and still is a “revisionist power” seeking
to change the global status quo, rejecting cooperation
in favor of competition.
Elise: Can you explain what
is meant by the 1000-year old reign?
JR: The Nazis used the discontent of the
German people who felt emasculated by the Treaty Of
Versailles after losing WWI. They promised a 1000-year
old Third Reich. They claimed the First Reich began
with Charlemagne in 800 AD, ending in 1806 AD. The
Second Reich started in the early 1870s and ended
with the conclusion of WWI. The Third Reich was supposed
to bring back Germanic power and pride. They removed
political opponents, so called criminals, deviants,
gypsies, Jews, Slavs, and the handicapped, those deemed
to be sub-human.
Elise: Himmler started a religious
cult, the Black Knights of the SS?
W.E.B. Griffin: Himmler was obsessed with
the Nordic/German past and thought himself as divine.
He had the Wewelsburg Castle designated as his fortress
that would display Nazi greatness and the ideological
center of the SS. The German people were completely
taken in by Hitler who gave them their pride back
and convinced them they were superior to everyone
else. It also became a collection place for what the
Nazis stole from the occupied lands including famous
paintings. I hope readers understand through the story
that it was a holy place that justified mass murder.
It was very real and very dangerous. They wanted to
own the world.
Elise: Throughout the book you
show the true identity of the SS?
Griffin: I mention Operation Phoenix where
the Germans were willing to ransom Jews out of Concentration
Camps. FDR allowed it to continue to save some from
the ovens. The SS were a bunch of gangsters as well
as murderers, crooked to the core. President Truman
was a genius for having the Nuremberg Trials because
the Nazis were seen as criminals as well as killers.
Elise: A powerful quote in the
books seems like it could have come from the German-born
iconic actress Marlene Dietrich?
Griffin: Marlene was a good person who supported
our side against her own people. The quote, “Now
when I think about my German blood, I’m a little
ashamed about it. That people ‘of my blood’
could do what the Nazis did.” My mother’s
maiden name is Gladys Schnable so I have some German
blood. This is how I feel. When I was in Germany,
in the Army, shortly after the War you couldn’t
find anyone who was a Nazi even though about 90% of
the population supported them. I went to the film
vault to look at what happened in the Concentration
Camps. My boss, General White, came in and told me
I should never forget.
Elise: Here in America is a
statute of the poster boy for German nationalism.
Maybe that is a statue that should be destroyed?
Griffin: The statue is in New York City and
is of Hermann der Cheruskerfurst. It was put up around
the turn of the century, and is called the Hermann
Heights Monument. Many Germans are named after him
including Hermann Goring. I am against taking statues
down because they need to say up for historical value
to remind us what did happen.
Elise: This series describes
the turf wars between agencies of the DIA and CIC?
Griffin: There were turf wars all the time.
Everyone wanted to protect their turf. I put in the
quote, “You spend as much time in turf warfare
as you do in fighting the Red Menace.” The beginning
of the book explains how Truman disbanded the OSS.
Everyone fought over wanting to take that agency over
and filling in the intelligence vacuum with their
own agency. The CIC, the counter-intelligence Corp
of the Army, the Navy, State Department, FBI, all
wanted to take control and in the process tried to
make a fool of Truman. Basically, he thought, ‘screw
this,’ and started the DCI, appointing Admiral
Sidney Souers as its head. It morphed into the CIA.
Elise: What about Colonel Wallace?
Griffin: Most of the upper military are interested
in their careers. My character Wallace represented
these types. I wanted to show how ethics play an important
role. Are those involved more concerned about themselves,
their agency, or their country? The regular Army guys
are patriots. I would also include all the Generals
in Trump’s staff as patriots. I think Wallace
knew how to work around the bureaucracy, where his
actions served him and not the country. The bureaucracy
is the cancer on society.
Elise: It appears there was
fake news even then?
Griffin: The AP reporter was Janice Johansen.
She is based on the real-life war correspondent that
covered the Cold War, the Korean War, and the Vietnam
War, named Maggie Higgins. Instead of reporting that
the American was kidnapped by the Russians and exchanged
for a Russian we had, she said the exchange took place
after both were arrested for being intoxicated. Other
times she did not report the information until she
JR: During the Cold War, at the conclusion
of WWII disinformation was put out. It is wrong information
that was sold as true. It is basically subversive
and is done on purpose. Misinformation is where mistakes
are made. Janice agrees to write disinformation because
she understands the security ramifications and knows
that Conley will feed her bigger stories before any
Elise: Is German General Reinhard
Gehlen a good guy or a bad guy?
Griffin: He was a good guy. During the war
he was an Lt-General, but was anti-Hitler from the
beginning and was involved in multiple plots to kill
Hitler. After the war he helped us with espionage
against the Russians and became the German head of
intelligence. He even had agents in the Kremlin that
tipped us that there were spies in the US Atomic Energy
Elise: Can you give a heads
up about your next book?
Griffin: It continues the plotline about
Himmler’s religion. It will also continue to
show how the Cold War began, and how it is important
to get to know the enemy and try to con them.
and Elise want to thank each author for taking the
time to give this interview.
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