| Gerhard Mertins |
(soldier, spook, arms dealer)
|Born||30 December 1919|
|Died||19 March 1993 (Age 73)|
|Founder of||Merex AG|
A Nazi who fought for Germany in WW2. After being spotted by US intelligence as a neo-nazi, his business empire flourished as he went into arms dealing with the support of the Western intelligence agencies.
Gerhard Mertins was a renowned arms dealer, Nazi and reported associate of paedophile cult leader Paul Schäfer. His arms dealing was carried out through Merex AG with the assistance of the Bundesnachrichtendienst and other intelligence agencies.
Gerhard Mertins grew up in Berlin.
World War II
During World War II he served under Otto Skorzeny and was one of three officers of the SS commandos, which on September 12, 1943 undertook Unternehmen Eiche, to try to liberate Benito Mussolini. Between 1940 and 1943, he was wounded five times and was highly decorated for his war service as a paratrooper.
After the war Mertins worked temporarily at Volkswagen and lived in Bremen. For a short time he ran a bus company. In Bremen, he was leader of the Grünen Teufel, an association for former paratroopers. The US Army Intelligence learnt in 1951 from this that Mertins was active in various neo-nazi organizations.
In September 1951 Mertins went to Egypt, quite possibly sent by the CIA to assist in the revolution which brought Muhammad Naguib to power the next year. Some evidence for this is provided by the fact that his former commander, Otto Skorzeny was denazified in 1952 and sent by Reinhard Gehlen (CIA) there the same year to help train Muhammad Naguib's army. Gerhard Mertins remained there until 1955 as head of the advisory group for airborne troops in the Egyptian Ministry of Defense and trainer of an elite Egyptian Parachute Regiment.
In 1963, along with former commander Otto Skorzeny, Mertins founded the export company Merex AG in Vevey, Switzerland. This exported German weapons for many years. Several sources suggest Mertins had a "long term cooperation" with the Iranian secret service SAVAK from 1965. Until 1969 he worked closely with the Bundesnachrichtendienst and through them with other Western intelligence agencies. Mertins' services became more widely known after he sold F-86 Sabre jets to Pakistan. The jets came from the German Air Force and he had the support of the BND and other German authorities for this transaction, which was shipped via Iran. This deal established Mertins' credentials as a middleman of Samuel Cummings, an established international arms dealer.
After Der Spiegel eposed Mertin's role in shipping weapons to Pakistan, the Bonn public prosecutor laid charges of illegal arms trafficking. After proving that the BND had supported him and that he had the requisite export licences to complete a government contract, Mertins was acquitted in 1980 and received compensation of five million marks.
Merex, together with its "affiliated companies have been used over the years by intelligence services around the world - the CIA included - for all sorts of secret arms deals. During Iran-Contra, the company appears to have helped 'front' a shipment of East Bloc arms to the Contras. The arms were apparently obtained initially by one of the scandals central figures, General Richard Secord."
Mertins cultivated a special relationship to Chile. At the end of 1975 he hosted the head of the Chilean intelligence, Manuel Contreras (who had entered under a false name), and later traveled with him in 1976 to Tehran to offer the Mohammad Reza Pahlavi help in killing Carlos the Jackal.
In 1978 Mertins founded the Circle Colonia Dignidad, to which various West German politicians belonged, which supported German migration to the south of Chile. According to Manuel Contreras Mertins supplied the Pinochet regime with arms and helicopters.
- DER SPIEGEL 35/1967
- Erich Schmidt-Eenboom: Undercover. Kiepenheuer & Witsch, 1998, S. 259.
- Mit Billetal und BND. In: Der Spiegel. 47/1974 vom 18. November 1974, S. 65.
- Anthony Sampson: The Arms Bazaar in the Nineties: From Krupp to Saddam. Houlder and Stoulton, 1991, p.209
- Erich Schmidt-Eenboom: Undercover. Kiepenheuer & Witsch, 1998, p.260
- New York Magazine 16 Dec 1991, p. 46
- Gero Gemballa: „Colonia Dignidad“, ein deutsches Lager in Chile. Rowohlt Verlag, 1988, p. 156