Part IV. German Intelligence Services at the Eastern Front


German Military Intelligence at the Eastern Front

By 1943, a complex German intelligence network existed at the Eastern Front and in the occupied territories. After the creation of SMERSH, Soviet counterintelligence’s main goal became finding and arresting members of German intelligence and counterintelligence. Arrest of Soviet collaborators and vetting of Soviet citizens living in areas that had been occupied by German troops was also an important part of SMERSH’s work. Since the German secret services at the Eastern Front have never been described in detail in historical sources in English, their general structure and activities are presented below.

There were two main German intelligence services, the Abwehr, military intelligence and counterintelligence, and the SD (Sicherheitsdienst) or Amt (Office) VI, the foreign intelligence within the State Security Main Office (Reichssicherheitshautamt or RSHA) of the SS (Schutzstaffel, a military organization of the Nazi Party). Abwehr can be described as the Red Army’s Intelligence Directorate merged together with the UOO, while the RSHA’s function was similar to that of the GUGB in the NKVD or the NKGB in 1941. In addition to their headquarters in Berlin, both services had branches in the field and in the occupied territory.

Abwehr, its Leaders and the RSHA

Abwehr was part of the Nazi military leadership structure. Formally, the High Command of the Armed Forces (Oberkommando der Wehrmacht or OKW) directed operations of the German Armed Forces that included the Army (Heer), Navy (Kriegsmarine), and Air Force (Luftwaffe). Abwehr was one of four OKW branches, and its full name was the Overseas Department/Office in Defense of the Armed Forces High Command (Amt Ausland/Abwehr im Oberkommando der Wehrmacht). The OKW’s Operations Branch distributed Abwehr’s intelligence information and its summaries to the intelligence evaluation sections of the army, navy, and air force. Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, Abwehr’s head, reported to the German High Command, consisting of OKW Chief Wilhelm Keitel, Operations Branch Chief Alfred Jodl, and his deputy, Walter Warlimont. Canaris was ‘a slim man of medium height… possessed of an extraordinary lively intelligence’.1 Every day the German High Command reported to Hitler about the war situation, but the most important intelligence information Canaris reported to Hitler personally.

Abwehr’s structure was established on June 1, 1938, four months before Beria reorganized the NKVD.2 Abwehr had three operational departments (Abteilungen) of five: I (intelligence), II (sabotage), and III (counterintelligence). Its headquarters in Berlin were small; in March 1943 only sixty-three officers served in Abteilung I, thirty-four in Abteilung II, and forty-three in Abteilung III.3 Therefore, Abteilung III’s HQ in Berlin was 15 times smaller than SMERSH’s HQ in Moscow (646 officers) organized the same year with a similar counterintelligence function.4

Abwehr’s Abteilung I collected intelligence on foreign armies, was in charge of identifying foreign spies in the armed forces (similar to the UOO and partly to the SMERSH mandate), disseminating disinformation among enemies, and guarding military and state secrets.5 It consisted of twelve groups, organized according to geography and economic principles. Colonel Hans Piekenbrock, ‘a Rhinelander who enjoyed life and was always ready for a joke’, headed Abteilung I from 1936 until March 1943 and was, possibly, Admiral Canaris’s best friend.6 Admiral Canaris called him ‘Pieki’, and ‘Pieki’ ‘called Canaris “Excellency”, a title to which general officers had a right under the Kaiser’. Piekenbrock was so popular among his colleagues that one of the Abwehr’s operations against Britain in 1940 was even called ‘Operation Elena’ after his wife. Piekenbrock frequently accompanied Canaris on his trips abroad, establishing contacts with foreign intelligence services and organizing and inspecting the work of Abwehr I outposts. Before the war he visited seventeen countries.

In March 1943 Piekenbrock left the Abwehr for the army, and Colonel Georg Hansen succeeded him as head of Abteilung I. He was 38, ‘blond, tall, slim, good-looking, who in contrast to the elegant Piekenbrock often buddied up to the enlisted men’.7 In May 1945, Piekenbrock was taken prisoner by SMERSH.

In the Soviet structure, military intelligence had functions similar to the main function of Abteilung I. From April 18, 1943 onwards, there were two intelligence organizations: Razvedupr or RU (an abbreviation from Razvedyvatel’noe upravlenie or Intelligence Directorate; headed by Fyodor Kuznetsov) of the Red Army’s General Staff (field intelligence) and Glavnoe razvedyvatel’noe upravlenie (Main Intelligence Directorate) or GRU (headed by Ivan Il’ichev) of the Defense Commissariat (NKO) (in charge of foreign intelligence).8 There were three operational departments within RU: the 1st, in charge of field intelligence; the 2nd, in charge of agent intelligence, and the 3rd that analyzed the incoming information. The Investigation Department, along with the 1st and 2nd departments, interrogated the German POWs.

Until the summer of 1943, Colonel Erwin von Lahousen, ‘an Austrian officer and a bitter enemy of Hitler’, headed the Abwehr’s Abteilung II in charge of sabotage.9 Before the Anschluss, the incorporation of Austria into the Third Reich in 1938, Lahousen served in the Intelligence Department of the Austrian General Staff as a specialist on Czechoslovakia. He was six foot tall, called ‘Long L’ in the Abwehr and ‘gained the complete confidence of his chief’, Canaris.10 In August 1943, von Lahousen was sent to the Eastern Front, and another of Canaris’s close associates, Baron Wessel von Freytag-Loringhoven, succeeded him.11 In 1944, Loringhoven provided the detonator charge and explosives for the assassination attempt against Hitler. On July 26, 1944 he committed suicide after being arrested by the Gestapo.

Von Lahousen’s deputy, Colonel Erwin Stolze, called ‘Saboteur No. 2’, headed Group 2A within Abteilung II, which specialized in diversions and terrorism in the Soviet Union. Until 1936, Stolze served in Abwehr I and was responsible for the intelligence collected in Eastern and Southeastern Europe.12 He supervised a number of White Russian officers, including General Yevgeny Dostovalov and Colonel Pyotr Durnovo, who conducted analysis of the Soviet press and used other Russian sources to provide Stolze with information. Stolze did not know that General Dostovalov was a double agent. From 1923 on, he worked for Soviet intelligence, and later he even moved to the Soviet Union, where he was arrested and executed in 1938.13 Therefore, most probably he provided Stolze with disinformation. Colonel Durnovo, on the contrary, became head of Abwehr’s agents in Yugoslavia in 1941. In February 1945 he and his family were killed during the infamous bombing of Dresden.14 Stolze’s close relations with the leaders of the Ukrainian emigration community were helpful in Abwehr’s preparation for Operation Barbarossa. On May 31, 1945, SMERSH arrested Stolze in Berlin.

The function of Abteilung II was based on the activity of the division Brandenburg-800.15 This division began in October 1939 as a battalion of Volksdeutsche, Germans living outside of Germany who were fluent in Polish. They were very successful saboteurs during the invasion of Poland, operating in the rear of the Polish troops. The original Brandenburg-800 battalion consisted of four companies, one of which comprised men from the Baltic countries and Russians, mostly emigrants. Later, volunteers from Soviet POWs were added. When the Brandenburg-800 expanded into a division, it included British, Romanian, African, Arab, and other units. From the end of 1942, the division was attached directly to Abteilung II. The men of the division became known as the Brandenburgers.

In action, a Brandenburger unit could be as small as a two-man team or as large as a full 300-man company, depending on the mission. The units operated in the enemy’s rear or in the German rear if the troops were in retreat. From the autumn of 1939 onwards, a special group of Brandenburgers watched the Ploesti oil fields in Romania. In 1940, groups of Brandenburgers dressed in the uniforms of the enemy played an important role in the conquest of Norway, Belgium, and the Netherlands. Later they were also active in Afghanistan, Iran, the Middle East, and Africa.

In the Soviet structure the 4th NKVD Directorate headed by the infamous Pavel Sudoplatov was similar to Abteilung II.16 Originally, this directorate was formed on July 5, 1941 as the Special Group (terrorist and diversionary acts in the enemy’s rear) subordinated directly to Commissar Beria. On October 3, 1941 the group was transformed into the 2nd NKVD Department (with the same functions), which on January 18, 1942 became the 4th NKVD Directorate. On April 14, 1943, it was transferred to the NKGB as its 4th Directorate.

The 4th NKVD/NKGB Directorate was almost an independent service with its own intelligence at the enemy’s rear and abroad, and its own terrorist troops. The operational troops consisted of 5,000 men, up to 2,000 of whom were foreign Communists who lived in the Soviet Union. The activities of Abwehr’s Abteilung II and 4th NKVD/NKGB Directorate were similar to those of the British Special Operations Executive or SOE.17

Abwehr’s Abteilung III, that is comparable with SMERSH’s HQ, consisted of eleven groups, most of which were composed of sections called ‘referats’. Colonel Franz Eccard von Bentivegni, known as ‘Benti’ to insiders, headed it until April 1944. Karl Abshagen, Canaris’s biographer, wrote: ‘Despite his Italian name, [Bentivegni] came from a Prussian family… He was a typical old-fashioned Prussian officer, most careful about his appearance and never to be seen without an eyeglass in his eye… Bentivegni’s personal relations with Canaris did not become as close as those with Piekenbrock.’18 In May 1944 von Bentivegni left the Abwehr for the army, and in March 1945 he was taken prisoner by SMERSH.

In general, the Abwehr leaders tried not to follow the orders that would involve Abwehr in military atrocities. In April 1942, Colonel Piekenbrock told Canaris: ‘Herr Keitel [OKW Chief ] should be told once and for all to inform Herr Hitler that we of the Abwehr are not an organization of assassins like the SD or the SS.’19 With this attitude, Canaris and many other high-level Abwehr officers later joined the anti-Hitler military Resistance.

There was a serious reason why Piekenbrock mentioned the SD: in the spring of 1942, the Abwehr began to lose its positions to the SD, part of the RSHA. Created in September 1939, the RSHA consisted of the SD or Amt VI (foreign intelligence), Gestapo (investigation of political opposition), Kripo (criminal police), interior intelligence and the department for investigation of ideological loyalty.20 This German organization and the NKVD had a similar function, security of the ruling party. Even the name SS and the NKVD’s motto were similar: the SS meant the ‘Shield Squadron’ of the Nazi Party, while the NKVD was ‘the sword and the shield’ of the Soviet Communist Party. The title of RSHA head Reinhard Heydrich (and from January 1943 onwards, Ernst Kaltenbrunner), was ‘Chief of the Sicherheits-polizei and SD’. Walter Schellenberg headed the SD from autumn 1941 until the end of the war.21 He had the rank of colonel, and from June 1944 onwards, of brigadier general.

By March 1942, the SD took under its control almost all Abwehr’s counterintelligence work. Admiral Canaris signed the following agreement with Heydrich: ‘Counterintelligence shall in future be an additional function of the Security Police and SD.’22

Abwehr’s Branch for Russia ‘Stab Walli’

Before the end of 1939, Abwehr had almost no information about the Red Army.23 After the German and Soviet occupation of Poland in September 1939 and the Soviet annexation of the Baltic States in the summer of 1940, the situation changed. During this period, many thousands of refugees were suddenly on the move. The Abwehr used refugee crowds as an opportunity to send German, Ukrainian, and Polish agents onto the newly occupied Soviet territory. Also, from January 1940 to June 22, 1941, 327 Red Army men, from private to colonel ranks, escaped to the Germans.24 They brought a lot of documents and maps with them.

As a result, by May 1941, the Abwehr knew the exact location of seventy-seven Soviet Rifle divisions in the former Polish territories that soon became a battleground.25 Paul Leverkühn, head of the Abwehr station in Turkey, later wrote: ‘In June 1941, the distribution, arms and armament of the Russian force and the location of their aerodromes, at least in that portion of Poland which they occupied, were known with comparative exactness.’26 This information helped to destroy many Soviet planes on the ground within the first hours of the German attack on June 22, 1941.

The German agents collected not only military information, but also information on the NKVD and OOs. In May 1941, Anatolii Mikheev, head of the 3rd NKO Directorate in Moscow, describing the goals of German intelligence, noted:

Sometimes the Gestapo agents [at the time, the Soviets called all German agents ‘the Gestapo agents’]…are tasked with collecting intelligence specifically on the NKVD organs and their leadership, for instance with finding out the following:

1. What is a Special Department [OO] and to whom does it report?

2. Is there a connection between the NKVD organs and the Special Department and how are they subordinated?

3. What are the names, nationalities, and addresses of the [OO] workers?27

In early 1941, an operational organization with the code name ‘Stab Walli’—the future main target of SMERSH—was formed from Abteilung I’s eastern groups to head up Abwehr’s participation in Operation Barbarossa. It was located in the area of Sulejowek outside Warsaw, on the estate of General Jozef Pilsudski, the Polish dictator from 1925 to 1935.28 Soon Stab Walli was divided into I, II, and III, representing the three Abwehr departments.

Also, schools for training Russian Walli agents were opened. In January 1942, Walli I started to select volunteers for schools from among Soviet POWs. A former attendee of the Central School in Sulejowek recalled:

The ‘students’ were mostly former Red Army officers or captured young Soviet radio operators who needed to be taught ciphers…

A German Hauptmann (Captain) headed the Warsaw Intelligence School… During World War I he was a POW in Russia, spoke Russian perfectly and liked to repeat that he ‘knew the Russian soul well’. Nobody knew his name.

German instructors taught us radio operation and ciphering methods, while former Soviet officers taught other subjects: military, economical, political, and sociological intelligence, topography, working methods of the [NKVD] and counterintelligence, and so on. There was Major General [M. B.] Salikhov (alias Osmanov), a Lieutenant Colonel of the General Staff with the alias [I. P.] Pavlov, a Major with the alias Zorin (he also headed a special laboratory that produced any Soviet document), and a Colonel with the alias Shelgunov…

A course lasted 11 or 6 months, and students spent 10 hours a day in classes… Every week four–five graduates left the school to be dropped in the Red Army rear.29

Walli I was responsible for military and economic intelligence at the Soviet–German front.30 Its head, Lieutenant Colonel Wilhelm Baun, was ‘a short, thin, chain-smoking ex-infantryman…who had been born in Odessa in 1897, spoke Ukrainian as well as Russian’.31 From 1921 to 1937, he worked at the German consulates in Odessa and Kiev. Admiral Canaris used to say that Baun had ‘a special gift for intelligence work’.32

Five years later, while interrogating the arrested Baun, the American counterintelligence officer Arnold Silver had a low opinion of him: ‘It did not take more than a few hours to determine that Baun was alcoholic dependent.’33 One more American intelligence officer, Captain Eric Waldman, recalled Baun as a dishonest person: ‘Gustav Hilger, the former German diplomat… discovered that Baun had stashed away under his bed a large trunk full of U.S. dollars, which should have been spent on operations. Another incident occurred when Baun tried to blackmail [Major Heinz Danko] Herre [also a captured German officer].’34

Walli I consisted of five referats:



intelligence on ground troops;


IL (Luft):

intelligence on the air force;


I Wi:

economics intelligence;


I G:

fabrication of false documents;


I I:

radio transmitters, ciphering, and codes.35

Walli II, in charge of sabotage within the Red Army and at its rear, was headed by Major Seeliger, who had great experience in irregular warfare.36 In summer 1943 Soviet partisans killed him. Senior Lieutenant Müller, and, finally, Captain Becker succeeded him. The OKW’s directive to Abteilung II and its Walli II was to have ‘agents to promote rivalries and hatred between the various peoples of the Soviet Union’.37

Walli III mostly collected information about the NKVD. Its head, Lt. Col., later Col., Heinz Schmalschläger started his Abwehr career in Vienna in 1935 and later claimed that he was the nephew of Admiral Canaris.38 He was also responsible for Stab Walli as a whole. By 1943, Walli III consisted of five groups:

1.     Commanding Group (general administration, planning of operations), Head: Oberstleutnant Heinz Schmalschläger

2.     Analytical Group (intelligence analysis, issuing information for field groups and writing reports to Berlin), Head: Hauptmann Krickendt Referat I (study and analysis of intelligence data, writing reports) Referat IIIF (arrest of the enemy agents, analysis of the work of Soviet intelligence, writing memos) Referat of Personnel and Training

3.     Military-Topographic Group (preparation of operational maps of Abwehr field groups; maps of the location of Soviet intelligence agents; charts of movements of the German radio operators and Abwehr’s agents, etc.), Head: Hauptmann Krickendt

4.     Radio Group (joint with Walli I until the end of 1942)

5.     Transport (reparation of vehicles of field groups).39

Stab Walli received intelligence and counterintelligence materials from operational units in the field. After a preliminary evaluation, materials were sent to Abwehr headquarters in Berlin and to the Fremde Heere Ost or FHO (see below). In the field, during the advance of the three German army groups A (South), B (Center), and C (North) into Soviet territory, the Abteilung I and III reconnaissance detachments working under Walli I and III, respectively, moved with the troops, frequently even ahead of them with the forward tank units.40

There were two types of detachments, commando units of 25–60 men assigned to each of the army groups, and squads (gruppen) of 12 men assigned to each army. In all, there were only 500–600 intelligence men in the Abwehr detachments at the Eastern Front. Both commando units and squads included Abwehr officers, translators, radio operators, and others. Commandos and squads were in constant radio contact with Walli I and III. All Abwehr groups reported also to Abwehr officers of the department ‘1c’ responsible for intelligence in the army groups. Within an army, the staff of each German detachment from a divisional level upward consisted of three departments, 1a (operational), 1b (the rear, supplies), and 1c (intelligence).

In the towns abandoned by the retreating Red Army, the commandos and squads searched for documents—orders, cables, and so forth—left behind by the military commanders (the responsibility of Abteilung I) and by the NKVD (the responsibility of Abteilung III). For instance, in the city of Brest-Litovsk, they discovered a large cache of documents in NKVD headquarters, which they sent to Stab Walli in cars and trucks. It included a top-secret telephone book containing all of the Kremlin numbers and home numbers of all members of the Soviet government. In the Belorussian capital of Minsk, Abwehr groups discovered twenty-nine safes filled with secret documents, including lists of all members of the Soviet government and Party elite and their relatives with private addresses and phone numbers.41 Special Abwehr IIIF squads were in charge of finding spies and terrorists in the rear of the German armies.

Walli I was also active in a wide area behind the front line.42 Squads were sent into enemy territory for reconnaissance, frequently dressed in Red Army uniforms. They used local informers and interrogated POWs. In December 1941, Walli III began to send its agents to penetrate partisan detachments. However, as Baun admitted to the American interrogator Silver in 1947, ‘not one of his wartime operations had been successful… The Soviets had rolled up [the] agents one after another’.43 In the summer of 1942, the names of the German army groups were changed to South A, South B, and Don, while the attached Abwehr squads and groups received numbers.44

Walli II detachments were sent for special sabotage actions. For instance, a Brandenburger group penetrated into Soviet territory a day before the German attack. It took over a bridge and prevented its destruction by the Soviets until the main German troops arrived.45 During the first days of the war, numerous groups of saboteurs dressed in Red Army or NKVD/NKGB uniforms were parachuted into various locations in Belorussia, frequently before the arrival of the German troops.46 In Brest, German saboteurs put the telephone and telegraph cables out of commission and cut the electricity and water supplies to the city before it was taken over by the Nazi troops. The Party, the city, and the military authorities were helpless. In the Baltic States, 80 specially trained Estonians were dropped behind the Soviet lines and reported locations, operations, and movements of Soviet troops. To distinguish them from the Soviet servicemen, they had ‘a rust-red cloth about the size of a handkerchief with a circular yellow spot in the middle’.47

On October 9, 1941, during the German fast advance toward Moscow, a company of Brandenburgers was dropped near the Istra Water Reservoir, about 30 kilometers from Moscow.48 A detachment of NKVD troops killed all paratroopers before they blew up a dam and destroyed the main Moscow water supply.

In 1941–43, several Brandenburger groups were dropped near Murmansk, a city on the Barents Sea, with orders to destroy the railway from Murmansk to Leningrad.49 Murmansk had a big port, where in 1941–42 British and American ships brought American supplies sent to the Soviet Union as part of the American lend-lease. Also, this railway was important for moving Soviet troops in the North and supplying the encircled Leningrad. In 1942–43, numerous Brandenburger sabotage groups were dropped into Southern Russia.

Some of the Brandenburg detachments were hard to control.50 On June 30, 1941, the Gruppe Nachtigall, part of the Brandenburg corps formed of western Ukrainian émigrés, entered the city of Lvov, followed by an SS-Einsatzgruppe. Just before the Soviet troops left the city, the NKVD killed in local prisons at least 3,000 Ukrainians—followers of the nationalist leader Stefan Bandera.51 The Jews were blamed for these atrocities because they allegedly supported the Soviet invasion in 1939. Using this rumor as an excuse, the Einsatzgruppe, along with the newly formed local Ukrainian police and, apparently, some of the Nachtigall members, slaughtered between 2,000 and 4,000 Jews and Poles.

Bandera, supported by the Nachtigall, proclaimed an independent ‘Ukrainian State’ in Lvov and formed a government under his deputy, Yaroslav Stetsko. In Berlin Alfred Rosenberg, Minister for Eastern Territories, was outraged since his plans for the area did not include any state independent from Germany. By July 12, the Gestapo arrested Bandera and Stetsko and they spent most of the rest of the war in Sachsenhausen-Zellenbau concentration camp. On Canaris’s order, the Nachtigall was transferred from Ukraine to Germany. Later the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), organized by Ukrainian nationalists in the area of Lvov, became one of the main targets of the NKVD, SMERSH, and the NKGB. The UPA fought against the Germans, the Soviets, and the Polish underground Armija Krajowa (Home Army).52

In the autumn of 1941, Walli II formed an additional battalion, Bergman (later Corps Alpinist), for actions in the Caucasus.53 It consisted of 1,500 volunteers, mostly Soviet POWs of various Caucasian ethnic groups. In 1942 and 1943, this battalion fought in the Caucasus, then in the Crimea, and from April 1944, in Romania and Greece. The Abwehr also used two special groups, Tamara 1 and 2, formed of Georgian emigrants, attached to the Army Group South, for diversion and intelligence collection.

The FHO Takes Over

The RSHA was not the only threat to Abwehr’s activity. In December 1941, after the German troops stopped near Moscow, Hitler decided to make decisions in Russia by himself and became Supreme Commander of the Army High Command (Oberkommando des Heeres or OKH). De facto the OKH was responsible for military actions at the Eastern Front, and the OKW, at the Western Front in Europe. With this change, Abwehr remained in the OKW, but the cooperation of Stab Walli with the OKH increased.

The OKH had its own military intelligence department, the FHO (Foreign Armies East), responsible for military affairs in Eastern Europe.54 It analyzed information received from the Abwehr and other sources and made estimations and predictions. From mid-1942 on, the FHO was directly subordinated to the Chief of the General Staff and to the OKH Operations Department. Colonel Reinhard Gehlen, head of the FHO from April 1942 onwards, was a forty-year-old ‘thin man of medium height with dark thinning hair’.55 General Franz Halder, Chief of the General Staff from 1938 until September 1942, highly praised Gehlen: ‘[He] combines extraordinary ability and knowledge with unusual assiduity and a soldier’s ardour. He is born a leader.’56

Gehlen introduced a new three-part structure for the FHO’s Russian department.57 Gruppe (Section) I, headed by Captain Gerhard Wessel, produced a daily enemy situation report, situation maps, and statistics, including numbers of Soviet prisoners.

Gruppe II, under Major Heinz Danko Herre and then Major Horst Hiemenz (Herre eventually became head of the training section of the Vlasov Army consisting of former Red Army servicemen), reported on the economic and military potential of the Soviet Union and evaluated the strategy and operational intentions of the Stavka. It assessed the statements of Soviet POWs, evaluated captured documents and Soviet press items, and maintained the main index of Soviet formations and Soviet high-level personnel.

Gruppe III was responsible for translating captured documents, press articles, radio broadcasts, and propaganda materials. Colonel Alexis Baron von Rönne, fluent in Russian, an FHO liaison with the Abwehr, SD, OKH, and OKW—and later a member of the anti-Hitler plot—headed this section until March 1943, when he was appointed head of the Fremde Heere West, an equivalent of the FHO at the Western Front. Captain Egon Peterson succeeded him. At a special interrogation center subordinated to Gruppe III and commanded by the former Soviet Major Vasilii Sakharov, selected Soviet POWs were interrogated in detail.

Two signals intelligence offices shared information on reconnaissance with the FHO, Fremde Luftwaffe Ost, German Air Force intelligence, and Leitstelle für Nachrichetenaufklärung Ost, the OKH signals intelligence organization. The Germans broke a number of Red Army, Soviet Air Force, and NKVD ciphers, and the FHO received a lot of information obtained through radio reconnaissance.

In mid-1942, Walli’s sections I and III were placed under the operational control of the FHO.58 To make the contact more efficient, Walli I moved closer to the location of the FHO. From June 1941 until July 1942, German General Staff and Gehlen’s office were in Mauerwald (now Mamerki), while Walli I was stationed nearby. Mauerwald was not far from ‘Wolfschanze’ (Wolf’s Lair), Hitler’s headquarters near Rastenburg, a small town in East Prussia (now Ketrzyn, Poland).

From mid-July to October 1942, when Hitler used his other headquarters ‘Wehrwolf’ (should be ‘Werewolf’ in English, but Hitler ordered that it be spelled ‘Wehr’ as the word ‘defense’ in German) near Vinnitsa in the occupied Ukraine, the OKH and Walli I were stationed in Vinnitsa itself. In November 1942, Hitler went back to the Wolfschanze, and the OKH, to Mauerwald, while Walli I moved to Neuhof (now Timofeevka), again not far from Mauerwald. They stayed there until November 1944. In 1943, Hitler stayed in ‘Wehrwolf’ twice, in February–March and August–September.

From July 1942 onwards, the FHO was responsible for evaluating information from Walli’s sections I and III and for providing an independent estimate of the enemy situation. However, Major Hiemenz, head of FHO Group II, was skeptical regarding the information he received from Walli on Russia: ‘All we got from Canaris was rubbish.’59


1. Karl Heinz Abshagen, Canaris, translated by Alan Houghton Brodrick (London: Hutchinson, 1956), 23.

2. David Kahn, Hitler’s Spies: German Military Intelligence in World War II (New York: Collier Books, 1978), 233.

3. Ibid., 238.

4. SMERSH. Istoricheskie ocherki i dokumenty, edited by V. S. Khristoforov, et al. (Moscow: Glavnoe arkhivnoe upravlenie, 2003), 75 (in Russian).

5. Details in Julius Madder, Hitlers Spionagegenerale sagen aus (Berlin: Verlag der Nation, 1978), 429–48.

6. Abshagen, Canaris, 85; Ladislav Farago, Burn After Reading: The Espionage History of World War II (New York: Pinnacle Books, 1972), 28; Kahn, Hitler’s Spies, 236–7.

7. Ibid., 237.

8. A. Kolpakidi and D. Prokhorov, Imperiya GRU. Ocherki istorii rossiiskoi voennoi razvedki. Kniga 1 (Moscow: Olma-Press, 2000), 302–4 (in Russian).

9. Reinhard Spitzy, How We Squandered the Reich, translated from the German by G. T. Waddington (Wilby: Michael Russell, 1997), 298.

10. Abshagen, Canaris, 88.

11. Mueller, Canaris, 233.

12. Stolze’s testimony in the MGB, dated July 14, 1947. Quoted in Mader, Hitlers Spionagegenerale, 132.

13. S. T. Minakov, Za otvorotom marshal’skoi shineli (Orel: Orelizdat, 1999), 83–94 (in Russian).

14. Kirill Aleksandrov, Armiya generala Vlasova (Moscow: Yauza-Eksmo, 2006), 246 (in Russian).

15. Details in Franz Kurowski, The Brandenburger Commands: Germany’s Elite Spies in World War II (Stackpole Books, 2005).

16. Details in N. N. Luzan (N. Abin), Lubyanka: Podvigi i tragedii (Moscow: Kuchkovo Pole, 2010), 218–358 (in Russian).

17. Michael R. D. Foot, SOE: An Outline History of the Special Operations Executive 1940–46 (London: British Broadcasting Corporation, 1984).

18. Abshagen, Canaris, 86.

19. Andre Brissaud, Canaris: The Biography of Admiral Canaris, Chief of German Military intelligence in the Second World War, translated and edited by Ian Colvin (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1973), 274.

20. Heinz Höhne, The Order of the Death’s Head: The Story of Hitler’s SS, translated from the German by Richard Barry (New York: Ballantine Books, 1969), 289–92.

21. Detailed biography in Reinhard R. Doerries, Hitler’s Intelligence Chief Walter Schellenberg (New York: Enigma Books, 2009).

22. Höhne, Canaris, 471.

23. Oscar Reile, Tainaya voina. Sekretnye operatsii Abvera na Zapade i Vostoke (1921-1945) (Moscow: Tsentropoligraf, 2002), 135–36 (in Russian, translated from the German).

24. I. L. Bunich, ‘Groza’. Krovavye igry diktatorov (Ct. Petersburg: Oblik, 1997), 297 (in Russian).

25. H. Buchheit, Abver: shchit i mech’ III reikha (Moscow: Eksmo, 2005), 247–8 (in Russian, translation from German).

26. Paul Leverkuehn, German Military Intelligence, translated from the German by R. H. Stevens and Constantine FitzGibbon (London: Weidensfeld and Nicolson, 1954), 156.

27. OO Directive No. 29670, dated May 25, 1941. Document No. 215 in Organy gosudarstvennoi bezopasnosti SSSR, T. 1. Nakanune, Kn. 2 (Moscow: Kniga i bizness, 1995), 158–60 (in Russian).

28. Short descriptions of Stab Walli in Heinz Höhne and Hermann Zolling, The General Was a Spy: The Truth About General Gehlen and His Spy Ring, translated from the German by Richard Barry (New York: Coward, McCann & Geoghegan, Inc., 1971), 15–22; Heinz Höhne, Canaris, translated from the German by J. Maxwell Brownjohn (Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Co., Inc, 1979), 436–59; Kahn, German Military Intelligence, 248–9.

29. P. P. Stefanovsky, Razvoroty sud’by: Avtobiograficheskaya povesti. T. 1. AbverSMERSH (Moscow: Izdatel’stvo RUDN, 2002), 19 (in Russian).

30. Brissaud, Canaris, 235.

31. Kahn, Hitler’s Spies, 249.

32. Höhne and Zolling, The General Was a Spy, 18.

33. Page 208 in Arnold M. Silver, ‘Memories of Oberursel: Questions, Questions, Questions,’ Intelligence and National Security 8, No. 2 (April 1993), 199–213.

34. In ‘Debriefing of Eric Waldman’ on September 30, 1969,, retrieved September 6, 2011.

35. S. G. Chuev, Spetssluzhby III Reikha. Kniga 1 and II (St. Petersburg: Neva, 2003), 53–54 (in Russian).

36. E. H. Cookridge, Gehlen: Spy of the Century (New York: Random House, 1971), 54, 369.

37. Erwin Stolze’s testimony, quoted in Mader, Hitlers Spionagegenerale, 132.

38. Mader, Hitlers Spionegenerale, 259; Linda Hunt, Secret Agenda: The United States Government, Nazi Scienticts, and Project Paperclip, 1945 to 1990 (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1991), 203.

39. Von Bentivegni’s testimony during the MGB investigation, in Mader, Hitlers Spionagegenerale, 259–61.

40. Reile, Tainaya voina, 158–62; Kahn, German Military Intelligence, 248–9.

41. E. G. Ioffe, Abver. Politsiya bezopasnosti i SD, tainaya polevaya politsiya, otdel ‘inostrannye armii–Vostok’ v zapadnykh oblastyakh SSSR. Strategiya i taktika. 1939-1945 (Minsk: Kharvest, 2007), 62, 78–79 (in Russian).

42. Kahn, Hitler’s Spies, 249.

43 Page 208 in Silver, ‘Memories of Oberursel.’

44. Abwehr I squads acquired numbers 101–106, and their groups, numbers 101–110, 114–115, 143–144, Abwehr II squads became 201–206 with groups 201–212, 214–215, 217–218, 220, and Abwehr III squads were provided with numbers 301–305, and the groups, with numbers 301-329. Details in Chuev, Spetssluznby, I, 56–163.

45. Mader, Hitlers Spionage Generale, 357–8.

46. Ioffe, Abver. Politsiya bezopasnosti, 56–84.

47. Höhne and Zolling, The General Was a Spy, 19.

48. Mader, Hitlers Spionagegenerale, 365.

49. Details in ibid., 368–89.


Reile, Tainaya voina, 165–6; Höhne, Canaris, 462–3.

51. Richard Rhodes, Masters of Death: The SS-Einsatzgrupen and the Invention of the Holocaust (New York: Vantage Books, 2002), 61–63.

52. Details, for instance, in Alfred J. Rieder, ‘Civil Wars in the Soviet Union,’ Kritika: Explorations in Russian History, 4, No. 1 (Winter 2003), 129–62.

53. Chuev, Spetssluzhby, I, 295–8.

54. David Thomas, ‘Foreign Armies East and German Military Intelligence in Russia 1941–45,’ Journal of Contemporary History 22, no. 2 (1987), 261–301. From November 1938 to March 1942, Lieutenant Colonel Eberhard Kinzel headed the FHO, then General Franz Halder (March–April 1942), and finally, Lieutenant Colonel (later Major General) Reinhard Gehlen (April 1942–April 1945).

55. Kahn, Hitler’s Spies, 429.

56. Cited in Cookridge, Gehlen, 64. Chiefs of the German General Staff after Halder: Kurt Zeitzler (September 1942–June 1944), Adolf Heusinger (June 1944–July 1944), and Heinz Guderian (July 1944–March 1945).

57. Details in Thomas, ‘Foreign Armies East.’

58. Höhne and Zolling, The General Was a Spy, 21–23.

59. Höhne, Canaris, 467.

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