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Espionage Manual 13 - Achtung Abwehr
German Intelligence, World War II
153 pages, 10 chapters
The Abwehr, German Intelligence in World War II, was a strange organization. From
1935 to 1944, the agency ran a huge number of spy operations all over the world.
Some of those spy operations were fantastically successful. However, most Abwehr
spy operations in World War II were failures. The reason for that was that the head
of Abwehr, Admiral Canaris, and two cliques of highly placed traitors operating
within the Abwehr sabotaged the Abwehr’s most important spy operations.
Those traitors within German Intelligence cost Germany over a million lives.
Espionage Manual # 13 – Achtung Abwehr provides the reader with an overview of
several Abwehr spy operations. In addition, thumbnail sketches of the Abwehr’s
Brandenburg Commandos and the traitor, Canaris, are provided. German
Intelligence would have worked very well if it had not been sabotaged from within.
The Abwehr included many dedicated patriots who almost, in spite of high-level
treason and sabotage, won the war for Germany. German Intelligence in World War
II was not limited to the efforts of the Abwehr. However, other German intelligence
agencies were much smaller, and therefore, less productive.
“The secret intelligence requirements of the German Wehrmacht [Armed Forces] High Command [O.K.W., Ober
Kommando des Wehrmacht] under the Third Reich were served by a separate branch of the O.K.W. called the Amt
Auslands und Abwehr (commonly referred to as the Abwehr) independent of the three service commands: Army (Heer),
Navy (Kreigsmarine), and Air Force (Luftwaffe). Each of these three armed services maintained its own intelligence staff
for the evaluation and dissemination of information obtained from both open and secret sources; but these staffs
conducted no secret intelligence activities themselves. Rather they maintained liaison with the Abwehr to which their
special needs for information were made known. The Abwehr was required to meet those requests, at the same time
being engaged in the task of collecting on a world-wide scale all manner of information which could be of interest to the
Wehrmacht High Command or to the individual services subordinate to the Wehrmacht High Command.
The Abwehr was divided into three basic groups (Abteilung). Abteilung I was charged with offensive intelligence,
including espionage; Abteilung II with sabotage and subversion; and Abteilung III with counterintelligence and security.
Of these our principal interest lies with Abteilung I. This was broken down into sections having cognizance respectively
over military, naval, air, and economic intelligence, plus certain technical sections. The sections were further broken
down into geographical subsections, dealing with particular countries or areas. In addition to the headquarters
organization in Berlin the Abwehr maintained field offices in Germany and abroad staffed by Abwehr officers. In Germany
and occupied countries these field offices were referred to as Abwehrstellen (Asts) with branches thereof called
Nebenstellen (Nests); in neutral countries the Abwehr office was called a Kriegsorganisation (KO) and usually acted
under cover of the diplomatic mission. Organizationally the field stations reproduced the functional division at
headquarters. Both headquarters and the field stations recruited, trained, and dispatched espionage agents for missions
abroad. While in theory there was a rough geographical division of responsibility between the various Asts, in practice
there was a great deal of overlapping. Thus while Ast Hamburg, and its subsidiary Nest Bremen, had primary
responsibility for espionage against the United States there was nothing to prevent Ast Cologne or KO Spain from
sending an agent to this country if it happened to recruit one it believed well fitted. This factor alone led to a good deal of
confusion and inefficiency in the operations of the Abwehr. Personnel of the Abwehr included officers of the Army, Navy,
and Air Force, both active and retired or reserve, and civilians recruited and commissioned directly.”
Excerpt from Espionage Manual #13 - Achtung Abwehr
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