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BND in 1950’s: “We Should Sound Out Opinions There [in The SS] Before Making a Decision”

COMMENT: A recent piece in Der Spiegel dis­cuss­es what we are told was an “under­ground army” com­posed of Third Reich Wehrma­cht and SS vet­er­ans. This comes as no sur­prise and is–in all probability–part of the NATO oper­a­tion known as “Stay Behind.”

A con­tin­gency plan to wage guer­ril­la war­fare against either a com­mu­nist takeover in a West­ern Euro­pean coun­try and/or a “Sovi­et inva­sion,” the oper­a­tion enlist­ed fas­cist com­bat­ants in order to staff the ranks.

Many of these fas­cists found oth­er, use­ful roles, such as the Ital­ian fas­cists who exe­cut­ed the “Strat­e­gy of Ten­sion” dur­ing the “Years of Lead.”

The Gehlen “Org” was deeply involved in the exe­cu­tion of Stay Behind.

Otto Sko­rzeny

The under­ground force dis­cussed by Spiegel worked with the Gehlen Org/BND, and oper­at­ed with the approval of then Chan­cel­lor Kon­rad Ade­nauer, after he was informed of its exis­tence.

As indi­cat­ed in the title of this post, a note­wor­thy aspect of this dis­clo­sure con­cerns the fact that the BND–in assess­ing the course of action to pur­sue with regard to the Schnez under­ground army–noted that the SS should be con­sult­ed in con­junc­tion with the oper­a­tion.

The fact that the SS was dis­cussed as a note­wor­thy fac­tor in the Fed­er­al Repub­lic’s activ­i­ties and referred to in the present tense is more than a lit­tle sig­nif­i­cant.

Oth­er impor­tant aspects of the analy­sis include:

  • The fact that Schnez was close to Defense Min­is­ter Franz Joseph Strauss and served both Chan­cel­lor Willy Brandt and (lat­er chan­cel­lor) Hel­mut Schmidt.
  • Schnez’s under­ground army was approved by “ex” Nazi gen­er­als Hans Spei­del (lat­er a key NATO gen­er­al) and Adolf Heusinger (who became the equiv­a­lent of our Chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff).
  • Schnez’s oper­a­tion was exe­cut­ed in con­junc­tion with ODESSA king­pin Otto Sko­rzeny.
  • The his­to­ri­an who uncov­ered and han­dled the BND doc­u­ment about the Schnez oper­a­tion was the grand­son of key Nazi gen­er­al Albert Kessel­ring.
  • Schnez’s net­work oper­at­ed in con­junc­tion with the offi­cial­ly “banned” League of Ger­man Youth and its “Tech­ni­cal Service”–both secret­ly fund­ed by the Unit­ed States.

 “Nazi Vet­er­ans Cre­at­ed Ille­gal Army” by Klaus Wiegrefe; Der Spiegel; 5/14/2014.

For near­ly six decades, the 321-page file lay unno­ticed in the archives of the BND, Ger­many’s for­eign intel­li­gence agency — but now its con­tents have revealed a new chap­ter of Ger­man post­war his­to­ry that is as spec­tac­u­lar as it is mys­te­ri­ous.

The pre­vi­ous­ly secret doc­u­ments reveal the exis­tence of a coali­tion of approx­i­mate­ly 2,000 for­mer offi­cers — vet­er­ans of the Nazi-era Wehrma­cht and the Waf­fen-SS — who decid­ed to put togeth­er an army in post­war Ger­many in 1949. They made their prepa­ra­tions with­out a man­date from the Ger­man gov­ern­ment, with­out the knowl­edge of the par­lia­ment and, the doc­u­ments show, by cir­cum­vent­ing Allied occu­pa­tion forces. . . .

. . . . The new dis­cov­ery was brought about by a coin­ci­dence. His­to­ri­an Agilolf Kessel­ring found the doc­u­ments — which belonged to the Gehlen Orga­ni­za­tion, the pre­de­ces­sor to the cur­rent for­eign intel­li­gence agency — while work­ing for an Inde­pen­dent His­tor­i­cal Com­mis­sion hired by the BND to inves­ti­gate its ear­ly his­to­ry. Sim­i­lar com­mis­sions have been hired by a num­ber of Ger­man author­i­ties in recent years, includ­ing the Finance and For­eign Min­istries to cre­ate an accu­rate record of once hushed-up lega­cies. . . .

. . . . Accord­ing to the papers, Ger­man Chan­cel­lor Kon­rad Ade­nauer did­n’t find out about the exis­tence of the para­mil­i­tary group until 1951, at which point he evi­dent­ly did not decide to break it up. . . . .

. . . . Among its most impor­tant actors was Albert Schnez. Schnez was born in 1911 and served as a colonel in World War II before ascend­ing the ranks of the Bun­deswehr, which was found­ed in 1955. By the end of the 1950s he was part of the entourage of then Defense Min­is­ter Franz Josef Strauss (CDU) and lat­er served the Ger­man army chief under Chan­cel­lor Willy Brandt and Defense Min­is­ter Hel­mut Schmidt (both of the SPD). . . .

. . . . State­ments by Schnez quot­ed in the doc­u­ments sug­gest that the project to build a clan­des­tine army was also sup­port­ed by Hans Spei­del — who would become the NATO Supreme Com­man­der of the Allied Army in Cen­tral Europe in 1957 — and Adolf Heusinger, the first inspec­tor gen­er­al of the Bun­deswehr.

Kessel­ring, the his­to­ri­an, has a spe­cial con­nec­tion to mil­i­tary his­to­ry: His grand­fa­ther Albert was a gen­er­al field mar­shal and south­ern supreme com­man­der in the Third Reich, with Schnez as his sub­or­di­nate “gen­er­al of trans­porta­tion” in Italy. Both men tried to pre­vent Ger­many’s par­tial sur­ren­der in Italy. . . .

. . . . Con­tem­po­raries described Schnez as an ener­getic orga­niz­er, but also self-con­fi­dent and aloof. He main­tained con­tacts with the League of Ger­man Youth and its spe­cial­ized orga­ni­za­tion, the Tech­nis­ch­er Dienst (Tech­ni­cal Ser­vice), which were prepar­ing them­selves for a par­ti­san war against the Sovi­ets. The two groups, secret­ly fund­ed by the Unit­ed States, includ­ed for­mer Nazi offi­cers as mem­bers, and were both banned by the West Ger­man fed­er­al gov­ern­ment in 1953 as extreme-right orga­ni­za­tions. Schnez, it seems, had no qualms what­so­ev­er asso­ci­at­ing him­self with for­mer Nazis.

Schnez also main­tained a self-described intel­li­gence appa­ra­tus that eval­u­at­ed can­di­dates for the “Insur­ance Com­pa­ny,” as he referred to the project, and deter­mined if they had sus­pi­cious qual­i­ties. . . .

. . . . US doc­u­ments viewed by SPIEGEL indi­cate that Schnez nego­ti­at­ed with for­mer SS Ober­sturm­ban­n­führer Otto Sko­rzeny. The SS offi­cer became a Nazi hero dur­ing World War II after he car­ried out a suc­cess­ful mis­sion to free deposed Ital­ian dic­ta­tor Ben­i­to Mus­soli­ni, who had been arrest­ed by the Ital­ian king. The for­mer SS man had pur­sued plans sim­i­lar to those of Schnez. In Feb­ru­ary 1951, the two agreed to “coop­er­ate imme­di­ate­ly in the Swabia region.” It is still unknown today what pre­cise­ly became of that deal. . . .

. . . . A nota­tion in papers from the Gehlen Orga­ni­za­tion states that there had “long been rela­tions of a friend­ly nature” between Schnez and Rein­hard Gehlen. The doc­u­ments also indi­cate that the secret ser­vice first became aware of the clan­des­tine force dur­ing the spring of 1951. . . .

. . . . Still, Ade­nauer decid­ed not to take action against Schnez’s orga­ni­za­tion — which rais­es sev­er­al ques­tions: Was he shy­ing away from a con­flict with vet­er­ans of the Wehrma­cht and the Waf­fen-SS?

There were mis­giv­ings with­in the Gehlen Orga­ni­za­tion, par­tic­u­lar­ly sur­round­ing Sko­rzeny. Accord­ing to anoth­er BND doc­u­ment seen by SPIEGEL, a divi­sion head raised the ques­tion of whether it was pos­si­ble for the orga­ni­za­tion to take an aggres­sive stance against Sko­rzeny. The Gehlen Orga­ni­za­tion man sug­gest­ed con­sult­ing “the SS”, adding, the SS “is a fac­tor and we should sound out opin­ions in detail there before mak­ing a deci­sion.” Appar­ent­ly net­works of old and for­mer Nazis still exer­cised con­sid­er­able influ­ence dur­ing the 1950s. . . .

. . . . From that point on, Gehlen’s staff had fre­quent con­tact with Shnez. Gehlen and Schnez also reached an agree­ment to share intel­li­gence derived from spy­ing efforts. Schnez boast­ed of hav­ing a “par­tic­u­lar­ly well-orga­nized” intel­li­gence appa­ra­tus. . . .

 

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