Fidel Castro, communist revolutionary and leader of Cuba, hired former officers of the Nazi Waffen SS to train his troops during the Cuban missile, newly declassified documents reveal.
In a stunning piece of realpolitik, Castro collaborated with his ideological enemy in order to deter the threat of invasion from the USA and lessen his dependence on Russia.
The Waffen SS were the armed wing of the Nazi party and effectively Adolf Hitler's personal army. During WWII they gained a reputation almost unmatched in history for their ruthless programme of rape, executions and destruction, not to mention their prominent role in the Holocaust.
Castro wanted to lessen Cuba's dependence on Russia
The intelligence files from the German foreign intelligence agency, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), show that Castro offerred former SS officers wages four times higher than the German average as well as food, accommodation and the chance to live in Cuba.
Four former SS officers were invited but only two are known to have moved to Cuba.
Bodo Hechelhammer, historical investigations director at the BND, told German newspaper Die Welt: "Evidently, the Cuban revolutionary army did not fear contagion from personal links to Nazism, so long as it served their own objectives."
Waffen SS troops in the Ukraine during WWII
The files also show that Castro purchased 4,000 Belgian sub-machine guns from two German dealers, one of whom was notorious for founding an ultra-nationalist, right-wing, Holocaust denying political party.
The Cuban missile crisis saw the world brought to the brink of nuclear war in 1962 when US spy planes spotted Russian nuclear weapons on Cuba, only 90 miles from the American mainland.
Armageddon was averted when Russia agreed to remove the weapons in return for America promising no to invade Cuba.