with the Gestapo
ADMIRAL WILHELM CANARIS, the Third Reich's master spy who controlled thousands of Abwehr secret agents around the world, was seated behind the mammoth mahogany desk in his office at 76-78 Tirpitzufer, overlooking the beautiful chestnuts of Berlin's Tiergarten. Two stern-faced visitors were escorted into his cavernous domain: Gestapo Commissioner Hans Sonderegger and Dr. Manfred Roeder, an army investigator. It was April 5, 1943.
Canaris remained impassive, but no doubt he knew this was the beginning of the end of the Schwarze Kapelle (Black Orchestra), a conspiracy of prominent German military men and government and civic leaders whose goal was to “eliminate” Adolf Hitler and his Nazi regime. Canaris had long been one of the conspirators.
The inquisitors immediately charged that Hans von Dohnanyi, a lawyer who was a deputy in the Abwehr, along with his brother-in-law, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a theologian, were engaged in an espionage plot with the British secret service to overthrow the German führer.
These blockbuster allegations were accurate. Dohnanyi had been active in the Schwarze Kapelle; Bonhoeffer had made several trips to neutral capitals in Europe to gain support for the conspiracy.
Specifically, Dohnanyi was accused of taking bribes to smuggle Jews from Germany into neutral Switzerland. Indeed, there had been an undercover project (code-named Operation 7) that had been sneaking Jews across the frontier for more than a year. Canaris himself had conceived the plan, and Dohnanyi masterminded the exfiltration of Jews disguised as Abwehr agents.
Now Roeder demanded the right to search Dohnanyi's office safe. Canaris protested, but agreed when it would appear that the Abwehr operatives were concealing incriminating documents. When the safe was being searched, Canaris, Dohnanyi, and Colonel Hans Oster, the number-two man in the Abwehr and a leader in the Schwarze Kapelle, looked on in silence.
Finally, Roeder had all the contents piled on a desk, and he began to examine several slips of paper known within the spy agency as “playing cards.” These cards contained information about secret missions. One of them, which