Admiral Canaris - Chief of Intelligence

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Read Books, 2008 - Biography & Autobiography - 228 pages
CHIEF OF INTELLIGENCE by IAN COLVIN. Text extracted from opening pages of book: FOREWORD: THE INTELLIGENCE GAME We have a large amount of material on Admiral Canaris all of it secret, said the Foreign Office. We could not contemplate allowing you to examine it yourself, and we cannot spare the time of anyone here to look through these papers for you. But, I objected, historians are given access to a great number of documents of recent date. We see your point, but we don't see our way to help you. Was it so deep a mystery? I asked Lord Vansittart if he could say anything of Ganaris as a friend of the British. I only knew of him as an efficient intelligence officer, he answered. By chance I met a man at lunch who had worked in the Military Secretary's office of the War Office during the war. We fell to talking about the German enigma and I once again mentioned Ganaris. The name registered. Ah yes, said the man from the War Office, he helped us all he could, didn't he? I said I thought that this was so. What has become of him? my companion asked. So the search for Admiral Ganaris went on; Germans in remote villages, Austrians, Irishmen, Spaniards, Poles, Swiss, each with a scrap of information to add to the strange portrait of the man who was Hitler's Intelligence Chief and Britain's secret contact in Germany. I had before the war collected certain information when working as foreign correspondent of the News Chronicle in Berlin. As correspondent of Kemsley Newspapers in Germany since the war, I have been able to add to that material. The German biography of Ganaris by Dr. Karl Abshagen has also given me the broad trend of his career and I am indebted to its author. Members of the German Abwehr have helped me with their own aspects of the story: General Erwin Lahousen, long his assistant and head of Branch II, Dr. Paul Leverkuehn, his chief in Turkey, Dr. Josef Mueller, special liaison man with the Vatican. Close personal friends of Ganaris have helped, too, like Otto John, who worked for him in Portugal, and Fabian von Schlabrendorff, who was entrusted by him with high political secrets. I expected to be writing this book without any official as sistance from the British and had already finished many chapters when the telephone in my office rang, and I realised with some astonishment that someone on our own side had a word or two to say about Ganaris. The British Secret Service looked further into the mind of Admiral Ganaris than his close German associates were aware. Some of his old British op ponents in the duel of wits have helped to correct imperfections in my portrait with a solicitous and friendly touch. The main records of the Admiral's secret activities, his diary, may have been destroyed by the Gestapo, but there is no conclusive evidence that it may not come to light when the prisons are emptied of the remnants of the Nazis and the world has quietened down. Therefore I have not attempted a full biography of Ganaris or even a verdict on his strange character. The intricate collecting of technical information and the networks of agents and large departments that flourish in the intelligence game are the backcloth, but not the main interest of this book. How we deceived the enemy and rooted out his agents in Britain is a chapter that may be told in the fullness of time. It is the mentality of the man himself, and the web that he wove round Hitler, that seize the imagination. The readers will have to judge for themsel

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