Secret Intelligence in the Twentieth Century

By Heike Bungert; Jan G. Heitmann et al. | Go to book overview

11

The Early History of the Gehlen Organization and Its Influence on the Development of a National Security System in the Federal Republic of Germany

James H. Critchfield

The acceptance of West Germany as a member of NATO and the formation of the Warsaw Pact, both in May 1955, completed the creation of a geopolitically divided world, a development Reinhard Gehlen had foreseen by the autumn of 1943 when he was chief of the German intelligence organization Fremde Heere Ost (Foreign Armies East). In the security of his walks in the Mauerwald in East Prussia, Gehlen had discussed these thoughts on the future with his deputy, Gerhard Wessel. Gehlen had weighed the implications of Roosevelt’s and Churchil’s agreement on ‘unconditional surrender’ at Casablanca in January 1943, the major military reversals on the eastern front, including Stalingrad, and the inevitable consequences of the total mobilization and determination of the USA to defeat both Japan and Germany. Most thinking officers had come to believe that the war could not be won. But Gehlen had gone beyond that point. The two individuals closest to Gehlen in 1943, Gerhard Wessel and Heinz Herre, have credited Gehlen alone with the foresight of predicting the reversal of the Soviet alliance with the West. He had the concomitant idea that Fremde Heere Ost would be of real value to a Western alliance and to a future German government entering this alliance against the threat posed by the Soviet Union.

In May 1955, 12 years had passed and Gehlen’s vision of 1943 seemed likely to become reality. The final step, the legalization of his

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