Austria plans retrieval of Nazi secrets

GOOD MORNING: “60 Minutes II,” the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Oceaneering and the Austrian government are teamed to bring to light — literally — some of the most frightening revelations of WWII. In March-April, when the ice melts sufficiently in the Austrian Alps’ Lake Toplitz (an hour and a half south of Salzburg), exploration begins in the 105-meters-deep lake for 10 aluminum boxes containing some secrets of the SS, Adolph Eichmann and plans of Nazi Germany to destroy the economy of Great Britain and the U.S. When salvaged, those documents will be given to the Wiesenthal Center in L.A. to analyze. A paper conservatory in France is assigned to unravel the known buried writings … “60 II” producer Bill Owens emphasizes, “We are not seeking any loot, just the historical documents.” He has been to the site and returns again soon to start the underwater operation with Oceaneering — whose record includes major plane-disaster salvaging, as well as some of the Titanic. It has not yet been determined whether a dive by a sub or by remote will be used. Owens emphasizes that this area of Austria is historically important, as many in the SS ended up there. The Austrian government is cooperating, confirms Rabbi Hier, with thanks to Werner Brandstetter, Consul General of L.A.’s Austrian Consulate. The cost has not been determined but “60 II” (exec producer Jeff Sager) is determined to see this project through in two phases. Scott Pelley will be correspondent on the story. He and Owens were formerly members of the CBS White House Evening News staff … Among early discoveries: a Nazi superspy, Otto Skorzeny, was picked up a few miles from the lake site. He had freed Mussolini and was a principal in “The Eagle Has Landed” … The story had its origin with Heinrich Himmler, whose idea was to cripple the U.S. and British economies by printing fake dollar bill$ and £5 notes. Himmler recruited expert printers from prisoners in the Oranienburg concentration camp, giving them a (temporary) lease on life to re-create the bills in what was called “Operation Bernhard.” (Two of those surviving expert printers have been found!) When the war was drawing to a close, however, a convoy carrying the bills plus secret documents of the Third Reich, the SS, etc. was heading to Austria, where the load was ordered dumped in the lake. Word of the cache was learned by Stern magazine in 1959 and some was brought to surface, but the then-Austrian government confiscated it. The current Austrian regime has given the OK to this project … Incredibly, on Jan. 7, the L.A. Times frontpaged a provocative story, “Danger in Denying the Holocaust” and the Times then refused to print a letter of correction from the Wiesenthal’s Rabbis Hier and Abraham Cooper containing direct Holocaust quotes and descriptions from Himmler; Rudolf Hess, Commandant of Auschwitz; Dr. Johann Paul Kremer, M.D., doctor at Auschwitz; Franz Stangl, commandant of Treblinka and Sobibor; Franz Ziereis, Commandant, Mauthausen concentration camp; Erich Bauer, SS Captain in charge of the gassing at Sobibor; Kurt Gerstein, SS Captain who witnessed the gassing of Jews from Lemberg at Belzec, etc. Hier and Cooper told the Times, “Society should never confuse its commitment to sacred freedoms of speech and academic discourse with the need to provide deniers an equal platform to spew forth hate.” The Times did not print their letter, telling them it was “not quite it.” ???

TINA BROWN’S ON A major push in L.A. this weekend to Talk it up. She’s on a nonstop sked (“I’ve got meetings every 10 minutes”) to further the consolidation of the new mag with writers — those to contribute to the mag, and those to write about it in the press. And she’s here to get photo’d pufflicity with a typically Brown celeb bash — this one Saturday at the Mondrian. She says the magazine is going for a younger (25-40) group. It will deal with the “online revolution.” Brown says she now has “the inner structure” of the magazine right: “The staff is right, and it has reached what Barry Diller calls, ‘the sweet spot.’ ” … Add mag goings-on: There was a rumor out of Washington that Monica Lewinsky had taken a job as an intern with Vanity Fair in L.A. Not so, says West Coast editor Krista Smith, who figures the rumor got started because she had dinner (low calorie?) with Lewinsky last week … Add mag parties, Glamour magazine’s editor-in-chief Bonnie Fuller hostessed a party Thursday night at L.A.’s Le Colonial to introduce new West Coast beauty and fitness editor Jennifer Meyer — daughter of Ellen Meyer (Mrs. David) Baron and Ron Meyer … The New Yorker is readying a big feature on Fidel Castro by John Anderson, who is down there now … Helen Gurley Brown, editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan, heads to Spain, Italy and Greece to bow more international editions — now topping 40 versions.

AARON SPELLING TELLS IT on himself: He and wife Candy were watching “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” when prospective contestants were asked to choose the correct chronology of Spelling series: “Love Boat,” “Fantasy Island,” “Dynasty” and “Beverly Hills 90210.” Guess what — the Spellings guessed wrong … Jude Law is being talked to play the lead in the remake of Orson Welles-directed “Magnificent Ambersons” (1942) for director Herb Ross.

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