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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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