Spying on Science: Western Intelligence in Divided Germany 1945-1961

By P. U. Maddrell | Go to book overview
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The Soviet Exploitation of German
Science and the Origins of
Scientific Containment


In the mid- and late-1940s, scientific intelligence operations against the Soviet Union were among the causes of the East–West hostility known as the Cold War. A decade later, they helped to stabilize it. The first post-war penetration of Soviet military capability by British intelligence was a by-product of its effort to complete the victory over Germany. In 1945–6, British and American intelligence agencies had the task of finding out all they could about German weapons so that in a future war Germany would have no weapon with which they were not familiar. Installations engaged in weapons development and manufacture and war-related scientific research were visited by Combined Intelligence Objectives Sub-committee (CIOS) teams.1 CIOS, as a division of SHAEF, was wound up in the summer of 1945, when SHAEF was dissolved. In its brief lifetime, it produced reports on 3,377 targets.2 Its work amounted to the biggest single scientific intelligence operation ever conducted by any group of powers against another. British Intelligence Objectives Sub-committee (BIOS) teams did the same work in Britain's interest alone.

In the last months of the war German scientists and technicians, like others, moved West so as to fall into Western hands. Thus the leaders of the German guided-missile project (including its directing mind, Wernher von Braun) were captured by the Americans and the leaders of the German atomic energy and nerve-gas development projects ended up in 'Dustbin', the Allied interrogation centre which was first situated at Chesnay, near Versailles, and was, in June 1945, moved to Schloß Kransberg, near Frankfurt. The Americans and British also evacuated scientific workers from the Soviet Zone to deny them to the USSR. In June 1945, they evacuated from central Germany some 2,000 German scientific workers, many of them very important, before the region was handed over to

1 'History of 'T' Force Activities', FO 1031/49.

2 BIOS minutes, 12/9/1945, FO 1031/50.


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