The organizations within the “Third Reich” that dealt with “militärische Geheimdienst”, or intelligence matters, made up a sort of an “intelligence community”. 

The organizations were [Uwe 2]:

1. der Abwehr

2. der Abteilung “Fremde Heere” (West und Ost) im OKH

3. der Abteilung “Fremde Luftwaffe” im OKL

4. der Abteilung “Fremde Kriegsmarine” im OKM (3.Abt. Seekriegsleitung “Naval Warfare”)

5. der Funkaufklärung

6. der Luftaufklärung

7. dem Ic-Dienst der drei Teilstreitkräfte

8. der Funkabwehr

9. der Abteilung Chiffrierwesen der Amtsgruppe Wehrmachtsnachrichtenverbindungen im OKW.

10. dem Amt VI des Reichssicherheitshauptamtes (SD-Auslandsnachrichtendienst)

11. dem Forschungsamt Hermann Görings

12. Teilen der Informationsabteilung des Auswärtigen Amtes.

Organisation The “Abwehrstelle (AST) im Wehrkreis X, Hamburg” was one of the largest departments. It had 3 groups:

I – “Geheimer Meldedienst”

II – “Sabotage und Zersetzung” (dissolved May 1941)

III – “Spionageabwehr”

Counter espionage issues (“Abwehrangelegenheiten”) were directly under the Amt Ausland/Abwehr in OKW (located in Berlin). About once a month the “Abwehrstellenleiter” in Hamburg discussed problems and results with the corresponding commanders in Abwehrabt. I-III in Berlin [Uwe 3]. The Abwehrstelle in Hamburg had other offices called “Nebenstellen”, more or less correlating with the organization in Hamburg, located in Bremen, Flensburg and starting June 1st 1944, also in Kiel. The oldest, largest and most important one of these “Nebenstellen” was the one in the Hansa City Bremen (in 1941: four “Referaten” and 37 civilian and military employees.

On June 1st 1944, the military secret service (“Mil. Geheimdienst” – “Abwehr”) and SD from RSHA (which was oriented towards political intelligence) were combined into one joint organization. Due to the build up of the Abwehr, the Hamburg Abwehrstelle had to see several of its qualified personnel leave for other organizations, among others the officers Ob.Lt. Adolf v. Feldmann (a nephew of Adm. Canaris) and Ob.Lt. Harry Piepe who had a part of the destruction of the Soviet agent network “Red Chapell” in 1942 (this was performed by AST Bruessels, Gent) [Uwe 4]. The close to completely missing central control of the AST’s, meant that each AST “played its own tune, on its own instruments” (Kahn, Hitler’s Spies. p. 242). SD was organized by Heydrich 1931 to observe and encounter the political opponants. Nov. 13th 1933, the SD was under the command of the “Nachrichtendienst des Außenpolitischen Amtes” of NSDAP.

By a direct order of Rudolf Hess from June 9th 1934, the SD was declared as the solemn Geheimdienst of NSDAP. In the mid 30’s, SD is more and more active in foreign countries, starting out with hunting political opponants in those countires [Uwe 5]. The contradictions between the SD and Abwehr becomes more and more obvious, a problem which can no more be completely solved.

The “Reichsicherheitshauptamt” (RSHA) was created Sept. 27th 1939 in which SD’s foreign spionage (“Ausland”) was one of seven dept’s. This was Amt VI, Auslands-SD.

The reason why the Abwehr was integrated into SD in 1944, was basically because they had had several missions that went completely wrong, such as: missing the allied landing in North-Africa, Sicilly and Anzio. Also due to the resistance towards Hitler amongst a group of people around Gen. Maj. Hans Oster. This was the peak of the power concentration of the NS. Canaris is suspended Feb. 18th 1944 and in parallel, the “Führerbefehl” from Feb 12th 1944 is dictated as a “Geheime Kommandosache”, where it states “Es ist ein einheitlicher deutscher geheimer Meldedienst zu schaffen”. (Charisius/Moritz; “Fusion”; p. 49).

In early 1944, the official reason for the fusion between the two agencies is the current situation of the war. The Abwehr departments “Geheimen Meldedienst” and “Sabotageabteilung” were integrated into a military “Amt” and joint into Amt VI of RSHA. OKW, on the other hand, had only the “Frontaufklärungskommandos” and troups left of once the Abwehrabt. I and II. [Uwe 6]. The rest of OKW Spionageabwehr – except III-F-Dienst — Counter espionage within the troup in the operational zone and within occupied countries, and the pure Truppenabwehr – all entered into Amt IV RSHA; “Geheimen Staatspolizei”.

The “Amtsgruppe Ausland” stayed at OKW and was put under command of the “Wehrmachtführungsstab”. The soldiers and “Wehrmachtsbeamten” stayed as “belonging to the army”, i.e. they kept on wearing uniform and was in its service – command and economically wise. The other former OKW employees (civilians “Arbeiter und Angestellter”) experienced though a change: They were no longer civilians under OKW, but entered the Bereich Reichsführers SS. Thereby was a majority of them now belonging to Gestapo.

The secret service within the secret service, the “Hauskapellen”, was the direct result of Canaris desire to create new small organizations that had personnel not in uniform, and which was more useful for foreign espionage. The secret service “Hauskapellen” was run by the “referats” in III-F and they were all placed outside the general commandos. For “AST Hamburg”, it was in a city office located at Rothenbaumchaussee Nr. 1.

The “Hauskapellen” of III-F normally consisted of 3-6 agents. They were shadowing prospective spies abroad with a main objective to find out what kind of connections these spies had and their home bases etc. Thereby one hoped one could penetrate the enemy’s secret service.

In 1935, espionage in England was clearly forbidden by Hitler himself. First after the naval agreement met June 18th 1935, England was recon target for Group I at AST Hamburg. Agent operations in England were seldom and were given permission on a case to case basis. First fall of 1937 England is completely released for recon ops incl. naval bases and bases over see. In the years of war, AST Hamburg built up their networks abroad even more and it became, mission area wise the largest operating AST of all AST’s of Amt Ausland/Abwehr.

It is interesting to note that there was obviously an “Abwehrnebenstelle” in Tromsö/Norway. At least in July 1941 [Uwe 7]. Of course, there was also an “Abwehraußenstelle” in Oslo (visited by Canaris at least once, on March 31st 1940). After the invasion of Norway, the “Abwehraußenstelle” Norway turned into a true AST which received additional personnel through Amt Ausland/Abwehr [Uwe 8]. Now, “Abwehrnebenstellen” in Bergen and Trondheim also were installed being under the command of AST Norway. One of the main objectives for AST Norway was the observation of political movement within Sweden and the norwegian connection to Sweden, especially Stockholm. In AST Hamburg the referates I Luft and I Luft/Technik were responsible for, among others, gathering information about the aircraft industry in England and USA.

This is an archived topic and no updates have been made to it in many years, never the less, it is copyright (C) 1999, 2019 by Bo Stahlbrandt