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  HOME | Mexico

Businessmen in Northern Mexico Spied for Nazis, Author Says

By Julian Rodriguez Marin

MEXICO CITY – Businessmen in the northern Mexican city of Monterrey acted as a fifth column, assisting with Nazi espionage operations targeting the United States during World War II, journalist and writer Juan Alberto Cedillo says in his new book “Operacion Pastorius.”

“Businessmen of German origin and from Mexican businesses collaborated with officers of the Third Reich’s army, who were sent to Mexico to open an operations center for the Americas specializing in espionage,” Cedillo said in an interview with Efe.

The Nazi spy ring’s head in Monterrey was Otto Guido Moebius, a powerful businessman in northern Mexico who ran an industrial empire and had links and alliances with some of the large corporations in the city.

Moebius’s father helped found the companies now known as Vitro and Banorte, two of the largest industrial and financial corporations, respectively, in Mexico.

“Operacion Pastorius, la historia del espionaje nazi desde Monterrey” (Operation Pastorius, the Story of Nazi Espionage in Monterrey) was published by the Autonomous University of Nuevo Leon this year.

The book describes how the Abwehr, Germany’s military intelligence service from 1921 to 1944, sent a team to Monterrey to determine the military capabilities of the United States.

Moebius placed his companies at the disposal of Abwehr officers conducting industrial espionage operations against the United States and later helped smuggle strategic raw materials, such as mercury, to Germany.

Using a large radio antenna located inside his plant, Moebius maintained direct contact with Berlin.

The businessman tried to assist the Abwehr in carrying out “Operation Pastorius,” which sought to sabotage U.S. defense plants.

The plan called for landing explosives specialists from submarines on U.S. soil and for others to enter the United States from Mexico.

Abwehr operatives monitored the movements of U.S. Navy ships, American steel and strategic materials capacity, and technological advances.

The German spies were concerned about the military aid that the United States might provide to Britain, Cedillo told Efe.

Mexico was chosen as an operations center because it had provided petroleum starting in early 1938 that was refined into aviation fuel in Hamburg for the Lutwaffe, which Adolf Hitler considered key to the success of his plans.

Moebius and the main Abwehr agents were arrested by Mexico under pressure from the United States, but the businessman spent only a short time in jail because he was operating with the backing of high-level Mexican officials and military officers.

The German agents, businessmen and politicians were protected by powerful officials, including Government Secretary Miguel Aleman, who had a relationship with Hilde Kruger, an agent working for Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels.

This new book and the author’s previous work, “Los nazis en Mexico” (The Nazis in Mexico), tell how the Nazis backed the presidential candidacy of Juan Andrew Almazan, who was defeated by Manuel Avila Camacho.

The books also discuss the links between Nazi spies and prominent politicians, such as Maximinio Avila Camacho, brother of the then-president, and intellectual Jose Vasconcelos, who was behind the educational campaigns of the 1920s. EFE

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