Abwehr’s Failures and Successes

In fact, the real problem was the FHO’s poor evaluation of information received from Walli. Gehlen’s personal great reliance on ‘Max’ messages from ‘Klatt Bureau’ in Sofia (Bulgaria), and from 1943, from Budapest (Hungary) became a classic example of the Abwehr’s and Gehlen’s poor judgment.1

Fritz or Richard Klatt was an alias name of Richard Kauder, a converted Jew, born in Vienna, who volunteered for the Abwehr to protect his Jewish mother. His ‘Klatt Bureau’ reported to Vienna’s Abwehr post on two main situations: Soviet troop dispositions on the Eastern Front (‘Max’ messages) and British dispositions in the Middle East (‘Moritz’ messages from Turkey). The number of messages received in Vienna from ‘Max and Moritz’ was enormous: 3,000 in 1942, 3,700 in 1943, and 4,000 in 1944.2However, the true source of Klatt’s information remains one of the main spy mysteries of World War II.

‘Max’ and ‘Moritz’ Cables

The Abwehr’s Viennese post Ast XVII (the number means the German military district) that received Klatt’s cables was organized after the Anschluss with Austria in 1938, and in 1940 it became Ast Vienna. Therre were two departments in it, I (espionage) and III (counterintelligence), and the Ast was responsible for collecting intelligence in the countries to the South East from the Reich and, after June 1941, in the Soviet Union.3 Colonel Rudolf Count von Margona-Redwitz, a close friend of Admiral Canaris, headed Ast Vienna until April 1944, when he was transferred to the Army High Command (OKH) in Berlin, and another of Canaris’s friends, Colonel Otto Amster, succeeded him in Vienna.

In July 1944, after the unsuccessful assassination attempt on Hitler, the Gestapo arrested both colonels as the Abwehr anti-Hitler plotters. On October 12, 1944 Count Margona-Redwitz was sentenced to death and executed, while Amster escaped from prison in April 1945 and in May SMERSH arrested him. In Vienna, in August 1944 Colonel Otto Wiese succeeded Amster.

In October 1940, Kauder and Ira Longin (or Iliya Lang), a White Russian and a close associate of the White Russian general Anton Turkul, established Dienststelle I or ‘Klatt Bureau’ in a villa in the central part of Sofia, Bulgaria. Sofia was important for the German intelligence and counterintelligence because Bulgaria was the only German ally country that continued to have diplomatic relationships with the Soviet Union, and the huge staff of the Soviet Embassy in Sofia included NKVD/NKGB and military spies. General Turkul was the leader of a fascist group of White Russian military emigrants in Europe, and in 1938 he moved from France to Berlin. After the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact was signed, Turkul left Berlin for Rome, where he organized his own intelligence network. Later, in 1944, he joined the Russian Liberation Army under General Andrei Vlasov’s command. In 1940, Turkul agreed to supply Sofia’s outpost with information gathered by his agents.

David Kahn described Kauder in his book Hitler’s Spies: ‘[Kauder] was of middle height, with a round face, well fed and well dressed… He spent his days in his office and on the move, apparently also doing some private business and paying off the Bulgarian police so he would not be bothered. He spent his nights in restaurants and cafes dining well and dating women.’4 The radio call sign of the ‘Klatt Bureau’ was ‘Schwert’, meaning ‘Sword’.

Presumably, Kauder’s agents, including ‘Max’, were stationed inside the Soviet Union, even in high positions in Moscow.5 Kurt Geisler, a former Abwehr officer who worked in the Stab Walli from 1941 to 1943 and was later captured by the Soviets, testified in 1947: ‘“Max” is a former Czar’s Army officer and a colonel in the Red Army signal troops. During the war he was the head or a deputy head of signals at the staff of one of the southern Red Army’s fronts located subsequently in Rostov-on-Don, near Baku and in Tbilisi.’6 Colonel Friedrich Schildknecht, head of the FHO group from October 1941 till September 1942, and captured in 1943 in Stalingrad, was of a similar opinion: ‘[“Max”] was an officer of the Red Army’s General Staff or a senior staff officer working at the front or army headquarters of the Soviet Armed Forces.’

Geisler also mentioned that ‘BAUN, who was in the town of Nikolaiken (East Prussia) with his Walli I, was making a monthly map, on which he marked information from “Max” reports every day. Each week he reported the data on the map to Colonel [Eberhard] Kintzel [Gehlen’s predecessor as FHO head]… I also know that Admiral CANARIS sent a number of the “Max” reports to HITLER’.7 The Fremde Luftwaffe Ost (German Air Force intelligence) also considered Max’s reports the best intelligence the Luftwaffe ever had. But, in fact, it is not known if the information was real.

In December 1941, British intelligence began to intercept and decipher Kauder’s messages between his bureau in Sofia and the Ast Vienna, and soon MI6 started to suspect the Soviets of being behind Kauder’s activity.8 At the same time, Moscow received some of the British-intercepted materials through John Cairncross and Kim Philby, the Soviet agents in MI6. Additionally, the GRU (Soviet military intelligence) received deciphered ‘Moritz’ messages through the agent ‘Dolly’ (presumably, James MacGibbon) and his handler Ivan Sklyarov (alias ‘Brion’), Soviet Military Attaché in London.9 In July 1942, the NKVD also began to intercept and decipher Kauder’s messages. However, Kauder’s modus operandi remained unknown.

The ‘Klatt Bureau’ operated independently of the main Abwehr office in Sofia attached to the German Legation and headed by Colonel Otto Wagner (alias ‘Dr. Delius’). Colonel Wagner was skeptical regarding Kauder’s activity. In 1946, he told the American investigator Arnold Silver: ‘One wall of Klatt’s office was covered with a map of the USSR west of the Urals, with a small light near each city. Whenever [an] Abwehr officer visited Klatt, one or more lights flashed repeatedly, whereupon Klatt would exclaim, for example, “Ah! A report from Kiev has just come in.”’10

At the end of 1942, Wagner complained to Admiral Canaris and Hans Piekenbrock, suggesting that Kauder might be a Soviet spy, and ordered an investigation of Kauder’s activity.11 It was found that there was no radio station handling Kauder’s traffic in Bulgaria. When confronted with this fact, Kauder responded that he received information from Turkey by phone. This coincides with Ira Longin’s statement to Arnold Silver, the American investigator, in 1946 that he called from Istanbul to Kauder in Sofia. Also, Geisler told his Soviet interrogators that because of the problem with receiving radio messages from ‘Max’ in Berlin, in 1942 he met with Longin in Sofia twice and discussed this problem with him. But in 1943 Wagner’s investigators also discovered that Kauder and Longin had contacts with the Soviet Legation in Sofia and, possibly, were given information there.

Despite the suspicion, in September 1943 Kauder was allowed to move to Budapest, where he headed his own Abwehr outpost, Luftmeldekopf Südost (Air Intelligence Outpost, Southeast).12 By this time, Kauder’s group consisted of 25–30 members, of whom 6–7 were ciphering operators, and 4–5 were radio operators. All Kauder’s staff members were Jews or half-Jews, and being employed by the Bureau was crucial for their survival. Until August 1944, cables were sent to Vienna, and after that, to both Vienna and Berlin. For cover, the Bureau’s signboard said Bureau of the Preserve Plant ‘Fruits and Vegetables’.

After August 1944, when Abwehr I was included in Schellenberg’s SD as part of the Amt Mil (Military Department), Lieutenant Colonel Werner Ohletz, head of the Branch C (operations in the east), became responsible for Kauder’s network.13 In November 1944, the SD moved the ‘Klatt Bureau’ to the small town of Csorna in Hungary, while the Ast Vienna was relocated to the village of Obing in Bavaria.14

On February 12, 1945, two days before the Red Army took over Budapest, Kauder and his staff members were brought to Vienna. Austrian customs officers interrogated Kauder on suspicion of planning an escape to Switzerland.15 They confiscated his three metal boxes with cash, as well as an expensive stamp collection and jewelry that belonged to his mother and his mistress, Ivolia Kalman. Besides these valuables, Kauder declared that he had left 252 golden coins and 5,800 Swiss francs in the bank of Csorna.

Finally, Colonel Wiesel, head of Ast Vienna, arrested Kauder on Schellenberg’s order.16 SS-Hauptsturmführer Alfred Klausnitzer, who specially arrived from Berlin, continued interrogations, now about the Bureau. After being imprisoned for two months, Kauder was released because of the approaching Red Army.

Kauder’s Channels

While Kauder, Ivolia Kalman, Ira Longin, and General Turkul were caught by the Americans and British in 1945 and then intensely interrogated, SMERSH operatives arrested staff members of the ‘Klatt Bureau’, including Kauder’s wife, Gerda Filitz. This is known from a short description by Nigel West and Oleg Tsarev of the still secret Soviet archival file ‘Klatt’ in their book The Crown Jewels.175 The file contains materials from the SMERSH/MGB investigation of the Kauder case conducted in 1945–47. The SD investigator Klausnitzer was also captured and interrogated by SMERSH. Additionally, Franz von Bentivegni, former head of the Abwehr III, and Otto Armster, former head of the Ast Vienna, were questioned about Kauder.

Recently several excerpts from the transcripts of interrogations of these prisoners were published in Russian.18 On April 19, 1945 Gerda Filitz testified: ‘The “Klatt Bureau” was subordinated to the central intelligence organ Luftwaffe-1 Abwehr [Ast] in Vienna. At first Klatt was in contact with Lieutenant Colonel [Roland] von Wahl-[Welskirch] and then with Colonel Wiese… Additionally, “Klatt” had a direct connection with Berlin through SS-Brigadenführer [Walter] Schellenberg.’19 Von Wahl-Welskirch, whom Filitz mentioned, headed the referat Abwehr I Luft (intelligence on the air force) in the Ast Vienna. He was a friend of Kauder’s mother and employed Kauder in the Abwehr in 1939.20

According to Filitz, Ira Longin (she called him Langin) played the main role in providing Kauder with information about the Soviet Union:

The White Russian emigrant Langin Ivan [?], alias ‘Longo’, a Russian, an officer of the old [Czar’s] and White armies, emigrated [from Russia] in 1919 and lived in Budapest… While the Bureau was located in Budapest, Klatt personally involved Langin in its work.

Langin was connected with a counterrevolutionary organization, located in the Soviet Union… At first Langin was in contact [with the organization] through messengers, but from 1942 on, he contacted it by radio.

There was an agent who radioed cables from a military detachment located in the town of Tiflis [Tbilisi, Georgia]. A Russian military counterrevolutionary organization provided him with materials, and he sent the information to the ‘Klatt Bureau’. I know that this agent worked with Langin until February 12, 1945, the day when the Gestapo arrested me.21

Later Filitz added that ‘Klatt didn’t know personally Langin’s people who provided him with information’.22 Valentina Deutsch, the arrested Kauder’s radio operator, added that Longin was subordinate to General Turkul. She described Kauder’s system of cables:

After receiving intelligence from the Soviet Union, Klatt used to personally look it through and make some changes, mostly editorial. Usually, Klatt took out the details that could have been unfavorable for the German high command. Then he gave the text of the radiogram to ciphering operators…

Klatt always marked Lang’s radiograms with the intelligence on the Soviet Union by [the name] ‘Max’…

Klatt marked the data about the British troops in the Near East by the name ‘Moritz’, the data about Turkey he marked ‘Anker’ or ‘Anatol’, and about Egypt, by the word ‘Ibis’.23

However, only Kauder, whom SMERSH interrogators did not have in their hands, could identify the meaning of his marks. Later he described to the British interrogators his system of sorting out cables from Turkey.24 ‘Ibis’ was a ship that sailed in the Black and Aegean seas, and Kauder paid the captain of this ship, who was a friend of Ira Longin, for gathering and transmitting the intelligence information. Most of these telegrams were sent to Sofia by the coastal police station in the port of the city of Burgos (Bulgaria).

In Ankara the Spanish pro-German diplomat Pedro Prat y Soutzo, a friend of General Turkul, agreed to use the Spanish Embassy for sending cables to Sofia. His assistant was trained in Sofia as a radio operator. George Romanoff, another of Ira Longin’s friends, used to bring the intelligence materials to the Embassy, and the Germans paid him for the information. These telegrams Kauder marked ‘Anchor’.

The same Romanoff also provided another of Kauder’s agents, his old friend Wilhelm Goetz, with the intelligence information. Goetz was a Jewish businessman from Budapest who had had problems with the Germans. With the help of Colonel Otto Hatz, the Hungarian Military Attaché to Sofia from 1941 and Ankara from 1943, Goetz was employed at the Hungarian Embassy in Ankara and sent cables from there. Kauder marked them ‘Islam’. However, in October 1944 Goetz defected to the British.

In his testimony Kauder mentioned that Hatz ‘was glad to help me, and he was generously rewarded for the help’. In fact, Hatz, a triple agent, was involved in many affairs. In Turkey he participated in the unsuccessful peace negotiations between Hungary and the Western Allies, about which he also informed ‘Dr. Delius’ (Wagner) and Adolf Beckerle, the German Ambassador to Sofia.25 In January 1944, Hatz even had a personal meeting with Admiral Canaris in an attempt to work out a joint strategy of negotiations with the Americans.26 Allen Dulles, head of the OSS office in Switzerland, reported to Washington: ‘Hatz is reliable pro-German. However, he is short in funds and has numerous affairs with women. There is also an unconfirmed report to the effect that he is in touch with Jews who are paid by Hungarian Intelligence and that he shares in the profits which he makes from smuggling currency.’27 Soviet military intelligence was also well informed about the Hungarian negotiations with the Western Allies in Turkey.

According to Kauder, cables were sent by radio only in urgent situations; more frequently information was delivered to Sofia by couriers who flew once a week by Lufthansa. The Press Attaché at the Spanish Embassy, Vladimir Velikotny, a White Russian, prepared the reports. They were sent in sealed envelopes from the Hungarian Military Attaché in Turkey to the Hungarian Military Attaché in Sofia, from whom Kauder received the reports. Apparently, Hatz organized this channel, but in October 1944, he was called back to Budapest and transferred to a commanding military post.

On November 7, 1944, Hatz defected to the Soviets by plane and brought with him documents about the Hungarian Army and military fortifications on the Danube River.28 Most probably, Hatz spoke Russian because in his SMERSH/MGB documents he is mentioned with a patronymic name, Otto Samuilovich Hatz, as was done for foreigners who knew Russian. Hatz wrote four leaflets in Hungarian and made a record addressing the Hungarian troops and asking them to follow his example and to surrender to the Red Army troops that encircled Budapest.29 In retaliation, the Germans arrested Hatz’s parents and brother and sent them to a concentration camp in Germany, where his mother died. After the Red Army took over Budapest, Hatz assisted at the Soviet Military Commandant’s Office. In April 1945, SMERSH operatives arrested him and from mid-May 1945, he was kept in Moscow investigation prisons. Interestingly, in October 1946 he was put for a while with Hans Piekenbrock, former head of Abwehr I.30

SD officer Klausnitzer, who had questioned Kauder in Vienna, testified during the SMERSH/MGB interrogations: ‘Klatt was arrested [in Vienna] on suspicion of playing a double game. He was accused of having been in contact with British intelligence and feeding the German intelligence with British disinformation. Additionally, Kauder was accused of embezzling and taking for himself the money he received from the German intelligence.’ 31 Apparently, Klausnitzer was well informed about Kauder’s contacts with the British through Bandi (Andor) Grosz (aliases André György, Andreas Greiner, and ‘Trillium’ in the American Dogwood spy network created by Alfred Schwartz).32 Grosz was a Czech Jew and a shady triple agent who from January 1942 onwards was a go-between for Jewish organizations in Hungary and other German-occupied territories and Allied intelligence circles in Turkey. As for embezzling, the valuables confiscated by the Austrian customs supported this accusation.

However, Kauder told his British interrogators that Klausnitzer questioned him mostly about the Hungarians, Hatz, and Momotaro Enomoto, a Japanese journalist and spy in Sofia, whom Kauder knew well.33 Possibly, Klausnitzer also mentioned Hatz and Enomoto during interrogations in SMERSH because later MGB investigators accused Hatz of spy contacts with Kauder and Enomoto. In any case, Klausnitzer insisted that ‘based on interrogations, I had an impression that Klatt did not collect intelligence, and the information he sent out was just a creation of his imagination… Klatt frankly said that he would not have been working for the German intelligence if he was not able to make a lot of money. I concluded that Klatt was an adventurer, a swindler and he gambled for getting big money’.34

Klausnitzer considered Longin (Lang, as he called him) to have been more important in the spy network than Kauder:

According to the photo I’ve seen, Ira Lang has a high forehead, wide face, is snub-nosed, has deeply positioned eyes, wide mouth, he is about 48–50 years old. He should have been an officer. Klatt recruited him in Budapest and brought him to Sofia. Apparently, he sent people equipped with radio transmitters…from there to Russia through Romania…

Lang was the main person, while Klatt was only an impresario…[Lang] received 220 pieces of gold per month. With the help of Turkul’s organization he obtained very important information that immediately was sent to Berlin. It was noticed that he got the exceptionally valuable data that influenced the German tactics.35

The ‘pieces of gold’ meant coins. As Kauder told the British, ‘beginning in November 1944, Longin refused [to accept] hundred dollar bills. He demanded his salary in gold coins—napoleons. Longin began his spy career at 207 coins a month; the last payment…was 350 gold napoleons’.36 Therefore, the whole business was quite profitable for Longin.

After interrogating Klausnitzer and the other ‘Klatt Bureau’ prisoners in 1945, in the spring of 1946 SMERSH operatives tried to kidnap Kauder in Salzburg, in the American occupational zone of Austria, but this attempt failed.37

In July 1947, after analyzing all information the investigators collected, the MGB sent a 61-page-long Memorandum on the KLATT-MAX Case to Stalin.38 It included the following main conclusions.

First, only eight percent of all ‘Max’ messages contained real information, while most of them were far from reality. This was not something new. Already in April 1944 Beria signed a report to Stalin that stated that the analysis of radio messages sent from Sofia to Budapest and from Sofia to Vienna from autumn 1941 until spring 1944, intercepted by the NKVD, NKGB, and SMERSH, demonstrated that most of Klatt’s data on the Red Army detachments and their movements were pure fantasies.39

Second, according to Soviet counterintelligence radio control, there were no attempts to send radio messages from Soviet territory to Sofia during the war. Additionally, contrary to Wagner’s suspicion, the MGB investigators found that Kauder and Longin did not receive information from the Soviet Legation in Sofia.

The MGB investigators suggested that Kauder might have prepared messages by himself, possibly using three main sources. He could receive eight percent of reliable information from the Russian émigrés who interrogated Soviet POWs for the Germans. The émigrés who worked in foreign embassies in Sofia could also have access to information on the Soviet Union. The MGB report mentioned the Swedish Legation as an example. Possibly, Sweden was singled out because at the end of 1943, the Soviet Foreign Affairs Commissariat asked the Swedes to recall their minister and military attaché from Moscow, accusing them of supplying the German Supreme Command with secret information about the Red Army.40 Finally, Kauder might have bought some information from German intelligence officers. Therefore, the MGB investigators basically concluded that Kauder concocted or invented the texts of his cables to Vienna and Berlin. However, it is hard to believe that one person could create thousands of cables by himself during a short period of time.

Still a Mystery

In the meantime, Kauder, Longin, and General Turkul were investigated by the American and British security services. In 1946 and 1947, the American officer Arnold Silver and the British MI5 officer ‘Klop’ Ustinov (the father of Peter Ustinov, the actor) interrogated these three individuals. Ustinov’s real name was Jona Baron von Ustinov, but for some reason he hated his name so much that he amazingly called himself ‘Klop’ which means ‘a bedbug’ in Russian. The two interrogators concluded that the whole of Kauder’s network was a creation of Soviet intelligence through which it fed the Abwehr and FHO with sophisticated disinformation.41 According to Kauder, already in 1941 he suspected that Joseph Schultz, his contact with Turkul and the network that Turkul and Longin supposedly had in the Soviet Union, was a Soviet agent.42Kauder claimed that Schultz admitted this himself at the end of the war. However, Schultz disappeared and could not be traced. It is also possible that Schultz was Kauder’s invention, a ‘red herring’ to distract Silver and Ustinov’s attention to Longin and Turkul.

Despite the conclusions of the Soviet and Anglo-American investigators, it is still unclear where Kauder’s information originated from and what part Kauder played in creating the texts of cables. Apparently, through his people Longin controlled most of the materials that were sent from Ankara to Sofia. As the American investigator Silver characterized him, Longin was capable of any trick: ‘Ira Longin was an intelligent liar who could spin off 60 cover stories in as many minutes.’43 Interestingly, in March 1944 when Turkul came to Budapest, he began to suspect Longin of working for the Soviets.44 However, there is still no conclusive proof that Soviet intelligence ran Longin.

Finally, the notorious Pavel Sudoplatov, head of the NKVD/NKGB terrorist directorate during the war (its function was similar to the Abwehr II), created more confusion, claiming in his memoir that his Moscow agent Aleksandr Dem’yanov (alias ‘Heine’) was Kauder’s ‘Max’.45 But the memoir of Dem’yanov’s wife, who was also a Soviet agent, as well as other Russian recollections, do not support this identity.46 Additionally, when Germany attacked the Soviet Union, Kauder had already sent 600 ‘Max’ messages to Vienna, and the Abwehr clearly identified two ‘Max’ agents, referring to ‘Heine’ as ‘Max North’, and to Kauder, as ‘Max South’.47 Therefore, Dem’yanov had nothing in common with Kauder’s ‘Max’.

The Russian security services never mentioned what happened to Kauder’s arrested co-workers and Klausnitzer. Usually such prisoners were sentenced to long imprisonment in labor camps, while Klausnitzer might have received a death sentence as an SD officer. As for Otto Hatz, his investigation was concluded at the end of 1951 and on January 29, 1952, a session of the Military Tribunal of the Moscow Military District sentenced him to fifteen years’ imprisonment in labor camps as a Hungarian spy. This was a ‘lenient’ conviction for a spy because usually spies received the death sentence or 25 years of imprisonment; the tribunal took into consideration that Hatz voluntarily joined the Soviets and worked for them in 1944–45. Hatz’s verdict mentioned Ast Vienna and Kauder:

During his spy activity Hatz was connected with military attaches of other countries, in particular, of Finland and Japan, as well as with the German intelligence men from the German intelligence offices ‘Abwehrstelle Sofia’, ‘Abwehrstelle Vienna’, and ‘Klatt Bureau’. From them, he received intelligence information about the Soviet armed forces and sent it to the [Hungarian] Intelligence Directorate in Budapest.

Additionally, in 1943 Hatz Otto established contact with the representatives of American intelligence and participated in the secret political negotiations of the Americans with the [Hungarian] government of [Miklós] Horthy about a possibility of Hungary quitting the war.48

In July 1952, Hatz was sent to the Ozernyi Special Camp for political prisoners in the Krasnoyarsk Province. Four years later he was released and returned to Hungary. He became a trainer of the Hungarian and East German fencing teams and in 1977, 75-year-old Hatz died in Budapest.49 In mid-1947, the Americans released Kauder, Longin, and General Turkul, coincidently at the same time as the MGB sent its report on Klatt to Stalin. Arnold Silver saw Kauder for the last time in Salzburg in 1952, while in 1964 he heard from his colleagues that Kauder tried to approach the CIA to offer his assistance.

If only eight percent of the ‘Max’ information was real, as Soviet investigators concluded, Admiral Canaris, the FHO, and Gehlen, as well as Fremde Luftwaffe Ost, look bad for relying upon this source. The two other main Abwehr sources of information on the Soviet Union that the FHO relied on, ‘Stex’ in Stockholm and German journalist Ivar Lissner in Harbin (China), also worked under Soviet intelligence control.50

Successful Operations

The German intelligence failures are unexpected because in general, as Gehlen described to the Americans in June 1945, the FHO had good knowledge of Soviet intelligence and its methods:

The Russians repeatedly attempted to deceive their enemies by planting specially prepared reports in the international press…ANKARA and STOCKHOLM played an important role in this respect… Sometimes the Russians even succeeded in giving their ‘news items’ the appearance of coming from different sources and of corroborating one another. Especially numerous were reports planted by the Russians concerning exhaustion within the ranks of Russian troops, low morale, food troubles in the interior, and counter revolutionary trends in the Soviet Union…

Besides these general methods of deception, certain deceptive ‘news’ might also be spread by agents…

Neutral and friendly foreign correspondents were also used by the Russians to deceive the enemy.51

Some intelligence information the Germans received supposedly from Moscow was surprisingly correct. For instance, the story and activity of Vladimir Minishkiy or Agent 438, as E. H. Cookridge (a pen name of Edward Spiro, the British journalist and intelligence officer), Gehlen’s biographer, calls him, remains a mystery. The name ‘Minishkiy’ makes no sense in Russian.

Cookridge writes that according to Minishkiy’s statements, before the war he was a high-level Comminist Party functionary in Moscow.52 However, the Russian historian Boris Sokolov could not find the names Minishkiy or Mishinsky as other sources called him on the lists of staff of the Party’s Central Committee, or the Moscow City and Province committees.53 In October 1941 a Walli I group captured Minishkiy, a political Commissar, near the city of Vyazma. After Hermann Baun, head of Walli I, interrogated him, Minishkiy was transferred to Gehlen’s headquarters. Gehlen personally recruited Minishkiy and in May 1942, after training, Minishkiy was smuggled through the front line. The operation was called ‘Flamingo’.

According to ‘Flamingo’ messages from Moscow, Soviet officials believed in Minishkiy’s cover story of escaping from the Germans written by Baun’s men, and as a reward he was supposedly appointed to a politicalmilitary desk at the GKO office. In reality, it was impossible for a Soviet officer who had been in German captivity to be accepted into the GKO staff because he would be vetted in an NKVD filtration camp and, most probably, sent to a shtrafnoi battalion. However, judging from Minishkiy’s messages to Gehlen, he might have had access to high-level military information. Here is an example.

On July 14, 1942, Gehlen and Heinz Herre, head of the FHO’s Gruppe II, presented General Hadler, Chief of the General Staff, with a report based on the message they had just received from Minishkiy.54 It stated that during the previous night a meeting of ‘the war council’ took place in Moscow. Marshals Boris Shaposhnikov and Kliment Voroshilov, Commissar for Foreign Affairs Molotov, and ‘heads of the British, American, and Chinese military missions’ were present. Boris Shaposhnikov reported on future military plans, including preparations for the Stalingrad Battle. The problem of Soviet reserves of manpower, and a redirection—to support British troops in Egypt—of armaments destined for the Soviet Union as part of the lend-lease were also discussed.

Most of the circumstances he mentioned were wrong. This could not be a GKO meeting because the message did not mention Stalin and other GKO members. Most probably, it was a meeting of the representatives of the Red Army (Shaposhnikov and Voroshilov) and Foreign Affairs Commissariat (Molotov) with the Allied military attachés who came to Moscow from Kuibyshev, where foreign embassies moved in June 1941. Heads of military missions could not have attended this meeting because the British and American military missions were organized in Moscow later, in 1943.

But surprisingly, the main details of the message were correct.55 As it stated, later in July 1942 the Red Army began its retreat to the Volga River, at the same time defending Stalingrad and the Northern Caucasus, and it was on the offensive near Orel and Voronezh. Also, the Soviet government admitted that it had a problem with recruiting new men because of the enormous losses during the first year of the war. And the same July Stalin agreed to redirect a part of the lend-lease military equipment to Egypt to reinforce British troops fighting with Erwin Rommel’s Panzer Army Africa.

It remains unknown how Minishkiy acquired information about the agenda of the meeting. Also, he supposedly sent this and other messages through a radio operator ‘Aleksander’, another Baun agent in Moscow. It is questionable if ‘Aleksander’ could operate from Moscow, totally controlled by the NKVD counterintelligence. Therefore, the whole of Operation Flamingo looks suspicious, like a Soviet deception. However, there was no sense in Soviet intelligence releasing real information on a number of military plans, a lack of Soviet servicemen in mid-1942, and the help to British troops in Africa.

Cookridge writes that Minishkiy stayed in Moscow for three months, and then Gehlen organized his escape with the help of a Walli I field group that brought him back.56 Later Minishkiy worked in Group II of the FHO. Presumably, he surrendered to the Americans along with the rest of Gehlen’s men and later lived in the United States.

In a number of other cases the FHO was efficient. For instance, it had discovered the existence of SMERSH within three months of its creation.57

In July 1943 the FHO captured a secret manual for SMERSH’s officers. Gehlen wrote in his memoirs that it described ‘how to detect “parachutists, radio operators, saboteurs, and other German espionage agents”. It was translated by Group III, and we modified our tactics and forged documents accordingly.’58 Possibly, this was a copy of the Instruction for Organizing the Search for Enemy Agents that SMERSH headquarters sent to every SMERSH officer in the field. A copy of the translated text was immediately sent to Hitler, who attentively read it from cover to cover.

In comparison, SMERSH was able to summarize information on German intelligence only eight months later. In February 1944 Abakumov reported to Stalin and the GKO on the publication of the Collection of Materials on the German Intelligence Organs Acting at the Soviet–German Front.59

The FHO also conducted the so-called radio games, Funkspiele, both with Abwehr III and alone, by using Soviet defectors or captured Soviet radio operators to pass false information to Soviet intelligence and military command. The FHO considered the radio game conducted by Ivan Yassinsky, a former Soviet military interpreter captured in August 1943, very successful. Supposedly, Yassinsky managed to receive ‘descriptions of Soviet Intelligence schools at Stavropol and Kuibyshev, where SMERSH trained its senior agents’.60

In fact, there was no SMERSH school in Stavropol. If this information was not a Soviet deception, most probably Yassinsky had discovered a military intelligence school in Stavropol-on-Volga (currently Toliatti), a town located near Kuibyshev. In October 1941, the Red Army Military Institute (College) for Foreign Languages that trained military translators and agents was evacuated there from Moscow. Ivan Kruzhko, an attendee of the intelligence courses at this institute, later recalled: ‘We were taught to become specialists in the German language. There were also special subjects like geography, German political economy, as well as military disciplines: martial arts, shooting skills, long marching in full marching order, orienting, interrogation of prisoners and so forth.’61

Secret Field Police (GFP)

In addition to the Abwehr, there was another counterintelligence organization within the Wehrmacht, the Secret Field Police (Geheime Feldpolizei or GFP). Its task was similar to that of the UOO or the U.S. Army’s Counterintelligence Corps (CIC)—the safety and support of the operations of the field army, which mainly consisted of discovering espionage in the German Armed Forces.62 The GFP was headed by Field Police Chief of the Armed Forces Wilhelm Krichbaum, a close friend of Heydrich, who reported to the OKW Chief Keitel, while Chief of the Army Police Cuno Schmidt was attached to the OKH and reported to Krichbaum.

In reality, the GFP mainly prevented desertion from the German Army, conducted investigation for military tribunals, and fought against partisans. Typically, the GFP worked as a group of approximately 50 men attached to an army and its field operations were coordinated with the Abwehr department 1c.63 Overall, there were 24 such groups at the Eastern Front. Although in the Wehrmacht, GFP personnel were selected from SS, Gestapo and Kripo (criminal police) men and cooperated with the SS-Einsatzgurppen. Also, field Abwehr III detachments frequently used the GFP for executions. In the occupied territories, the GFP established its own network of local agents.

In 1939, the special Reichssicherhetsdienst (RSD) Gruppe was included in the GFP. It was formed in 1933 as Führerschutzkommando (Führer protection command), Hitler’s personal guards in Bavaria. The RSD members were both SS officers and Wehrmacht servicemen. In 1942, the RSD participated in killing the local Jews before Hitler’s arrival in the Wehrwolf bunker near Vinnitsa.64 Oberführer Johann Rattenhuber headed this security force from March 1933 until May 1, 1945, when, fleeing from Hitler’s bunker after Hitler’s suicide, he was captured by SMERSH.


1. Thomas, ‘German Intelligence,’ 290.

2. Interrogation of Kauder on July 15, 1946, quoted in Robert W. Stephens, Stalin’s Secret War: Soviet Counterintelligence against the Nazis, 1941–1945 (Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 2004), 171.

3. Vladimir Makarov and Andrei Tyurin, SMERSH. Gvardiya Stalina (Moscow: Yauza-Eksmo, 2009), 258–9 (in Russian).

4. Kahn, Hitler’s Spies, 314.

5. Reinhard Gehlen, The Service: The Memoirs of General Reinhard Gehlen, translated by David Irving (New York: World Publishing, 1972), 57–58.

6. MVD Report on the interrogation of K. Geisler, dated April 18, 1947. Document No. 28 in Lubyanka, Stalin i MGB SSSR, mart 1946-mart 1953, edited by V. N. Khaustov, V. P. Naumov and N. S. Plotnikov, 49-51 (Moscow: Materik, 2007) (in Russian).

7. Ibid.

8. Details in Nigel West and Oleg Tsarev, The Crown Jewels: The British Secrets at the Heart of the KGB Archive (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1999), 187–203.

9. Vladimir Lotta, ‘Sekretnyi front General’nogo shtaba,’ Krasnaya zvezda, November 2, 2002 (in Russian),, retrieved September 6, 2011.

10. Page 204 in Silver, ‘Memories of Oberursel.’

11. Kahn, Hitler’s Spies, 316–7; Stephan, Stalin’s Secret War, 168–9.

12. Makarov and Tyurin, SMERSH, 260.

13. Kauder’s testimony quoted in Avraham Ziv-Tal, The Maskirovka of Max and Moritz (Sichron-Ya’acov, Israel: Bahur Books, 2007), 222.

14. Kauder’s testimony cited in Ziv-Tal, The Maskirovka, 222–3.

15. Ibid., 223.

16. Doerries, Hitler’s Intelligence Chief, 118–9.

17. West and Tsarev, The Crown Jewels, 199–202.

18. Makarov and Tyurin, SMERSH, 261–81.

19. Ibid., 265–6.

20. Michael Mueller, Canaris: The Life and Death of Hitler’s Spymaster (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2007), 213.

21. Makarov and Tyurin, SMERSH, 266.

22. Interrogation of Gerda Filitz on April 30, 1947, in ibid., 267–8.

23. Interogation of Valentina Deutsch on June 25, 1947, in ibid., 264–5.

24. Kauder’s testimony in Ziv-Tal, The Maskirovka, 215–22.

25. Yehuda Bauer, Jews for Sale? Nazi-Jewish Negotiations1933–1945 (New Haven, CTL Yale University Press, 1994), 135–40.

26. Ye. V. Popov, ‘Vengerskaya rapsodiya’ GRU (Moscow: Veche, 2010), 95 (in Russian).

27. Dulles’s telegram 1534-38, dated January 2, 1944. Document 2-109 in From Hitler’s Doorsteps: The Wartime Intelligence Reports of Allen Dulles, 1942-1945, edited by Neal H. Petersen, 190–1 (University Park, PA: The Pennsylvania University Press, 1996).

28. From Hatz’s Verdict pronounced by the Military Tribunal of the Moscow Military District, dated January 29, 1952, and a decision of the Plenum of the USSR Supreme Court, dated April 8, 1955. Pages 3–4 and 41–42 in Hatz’s Personal File (No. UO-190819, RGVA, Moscow).

29. Hatz’s statement to Commander of the 2nd Ukrainian Front, dated November 21, 1944. Document No. 31 in Russkii Arkhiv. Velikaya Otechestvennaya 14, No. 3 (2), 328–30 (in Russian).

30. Hatz’s Personal File, 22.

31. Interrogation of Klausnitzer on June 5, 1947, in Makarov and Tyurin, SMERSH, 269.

32. Barry Rubin, Istanbul Intrigues (New York: Pharos Books, 1972), 181–6, 191–7,

33. Zvi-Tal, Maskirovka, 224.

34. Interrogation of Alfred Klausnitzer on July 5, 1947, in Makarov and Tyurin, SMERSH, 273.

35. Klausnitzer’s report to SMERSH investigators, dated August 2, 1945, and quoted in ibid., 273–4.

36. Ziv-Tal, Maskirovka, 226.

37. Page 202 in Silver, ‘Memories of Oberursel.’

38. Cited in West and Tsarev, The Crown Jewels, 198–200.

39. Beria’s report to Stalin, dated April 13, 1944. Document No. 257 in Lubyanka. Stalin i NKVD-NKGB-GUKR ‘SMERSH.’ 1939–mart 1946, edited by V. N. Khaustov, V. P. Naumov, and N. S. Plotnikov, 420–2 (Moscow: Materik, 2006) (in Russian).

40. C. G. McKay, From Information to Intrigue: Studies in Secret Service Based on the Swedish Experience 1939–45 (London: Frank Cass, 1993), 217.

41. Page 205 in Silver, ‘Memories of Oberursel.’

42. Ibid., 204–5. Also, a review of all interrogations in Stephan, Stalin’s Secret War, 166–73.

43. Page 203 in Silver, ‘Memories of Oberursel.’

44. Memoirs by L. V. Serdakovski, ‘U Khorti v Budapeshte,’ Kadetskaya pereklichka, no. 27 (1981) (in Russian),, retrieved Setember 6, 2011.

45. Pavel Sudoplatov and Anatoli Sudoplatov, with Jerrold L. and Leona P. Schecter, Special Tasks: The Memoirs of an Unwanted Witness—A Soviet Spymaster (New York: Little, Brown and Co., 1994), 152–60.

46. V. V. Korovin, ‘Poedinok s Abverom,’ VIZh, 1995, No. 1 (in Russian); Lyudmila Ovchinnikova, ‘Zheleznyi krest i Krasnuyu zvezdu on poluchil za odnu operatsiyu,’ Komsomol’skaya pravda, August 13, 1996 (in Russian).

47. Stephan, Stalin’s Secret War, 154,161–8.

48. The Verdict, pages 3–4 in Hatz’s Personal File.

49. Bauer, Jews for Sale, 140.

50. Page 290 in Thomas, ‘Foreign Armies East.’

51. A review of the interrogations of Gehlen and Albert Schöller (deputy head of Group I) in ‘Notes on the Red Army—Intelligence and Security,’ dated June 24, 1945,, retrieved September 6, 2011.

52. Cookridge, Gehlen, 74.

53. B. V. Sokolov, Okhota na Stalina, okhota na Gitlera (Moscow: Veche, 2003), 133 (in Russian).

54. Report in Cookridge, Gehlen, 75.

55. A detailed discussion in Sokolov, Okhota na Stalina, 125-33.

56. Cookridge, Gehlen, 77.

57. Ibid., 81.

58. Gehlen, The Service, 44.

59. SMERSH. Istoricheskie ocherki, 87.

60. Cookridge, Gehlen, 84.

61. Ivan Kruzhko, ‘Cherez vsyu voinu’ (in Russian),, retrieved September 7, 2011.

62. Details in Wilhelm Krichbaum and Antonio Munoz, The Secret Field Police. Wehrmacht Geheime Feldpolizei Forces in World War II, 1939–1945 (Europa Books, Inc., 2008).

63. Paul B. Brown, ‘The senior leadership cadre of the Geheime Feldpolizei, 1939–1945,’ Holocaust and Genocide Studies, 17, no. 2 (Fall 2003), 278–304.

64. Pages 6–7 in Stephen Tyas, ‘Allied Intelligence Agencies and the Holocaust: Information Acquired from German Prisoners of War,’ Holocaust and Genocide Studies, 22, no. 1 (Spring 2008), 1–24.

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