American Intelligence and the German Resistance to Hitler: A Documentary History

American Intelligence and the German Resistance to Hitler: A Documentary History

American Intelligence and the German Resistance to Hitler: A Documentary History

American Intelligence and the German Resistance to Hitler: A Documentary History

Synopsis

Even paranoids have enemies. Hitler's most powerful foes were the Allied powers, but he also feared internal conspiracies bent on overthrowing his malevolent regime. In fact, there was a small but significant internal resistance to the Nazi regime, and it did receive help from the outside world. Through recently declassified intelligence documents, this book reveals for the first time the complete story of America's wartime knowledge about, encouragement of, and secret collaboration with the German resistance to Hitler- including the famous July 20th plot to assassinate the Fuehrer. The U. S. government's secret contacts with the anti-Nazi resistance were conducted by the OSS, the World War II predecessor to the CIA. Highly sensitive intelligence reports recently released by the CIA make it evident that the U. S. government had vast knowledge of what was going on inside the Third Reich. For example, a capitulation offer to the western Allies under consideration by Count von Moltke in 1943 was thoroughly discussed within the U. S. government. And Allen Dulles, who was later to become head of the CIA, was well informed about the legendary plot of July 20th. In fact, these secret reports from inside Germany provide a well-rounded picture of German society, revealing the pro- or anti-Nazi attitudes of different social groups (workers, churches, the military, etc.). The newly released documents also show that scholars in the OSS, many of them recruited from ivy-league universities, looked for anti-Nazi movements and leaders to help create a democratic Germany after the war. Such intelligence gathering was a major task of the OSS. However, OSS director "Wild Bill" Donovan and others favored subversive operations, spreading disinformation, and issuing propaganda. Unorthodox and often dangerous schemes were developed, including bogus "resistance newspapers," anti-Nazi letters and postcards distributed through the German postal service, sabotage, and fake radio broadcasts from "German generals" calling for uprisings against the regime. This is much more than a documentary collection. Explanatory footnotes supply a wealth of background information for the reader, and a comprehensive introduction puts the documents into their wider historical perspective. Arranged in chronological order, these intelligence reports provide a fascinating new perspective on the story of the German resistance to Hitler and reveal an intriguing and previously unexplored aspect of America's war with Hitler.

Excerpt

On 31 October 1944, Germans turned on their radios and unexpectedly heard the voice of a man believed to have been dead for more than three months--either killed by his own hands, as their government claimed, or murdered by the Nazis, as it was rumored in the country. However, the speaker, who identified himself as Colonel General Ludwig Beck, the former Chief of Staff of the German Army, claimed to have survived the purge following the failed attempt on Hitler's life. He also claimed to remain in command of a strong anti-Nazi resistance movement. Appealing to their sense of duty and patriotism, the General told his listeners that the war was criminal folly and urged them to prepare for the final revolt against Nazi rule.

Nothing is known about the reaction of ordinary Germans to this broadcast, but news of General Beck's "resurrection" found its way into the presses of several Western and neutral countries. But anyone who listened to the radio during the following weeks to get more information or precise orders were disappointed. They had fallen victim to a psychological warfare tactic designed by the U.S. Office of Strategic Services (OSS) to undermine German morale by creating the impression of widespread resistance inside the "Third Reich." In reality, Beck had been dead since 20 July 1944, and organized opposition to Hitler no longer existed in Germany. When the Nazis successfully jammed a second OSS broadcast, the psychological warfare experts turned to other, more promising activities.

Half a century after the end of World War II the issue of German resistance to Nazism still instigates public controversies in Germany and in the United States. Some German conservatives deny Communist resistance fighters the right to be honored together with conservatives such as Stauffenberg and Beck; U.S. critics suspect that Germans are trying to "balance" the Holocaust with 20 July 1944 commemorations. The questions are still passionately debated whether Germans can claim to have resisted the Nazi regime in a similar way as, for example, the French, the Italians, the Serbs or the Norwegians, and whether the attempt on Hitler's life should become part of the "founding myth" of the Federal Republic of Germany. Unfortunately, in the heat of political controversy not many people pay close attention to the historical record. Without reliance on sources, however, it is impossible to reconstruct the facts and, equally important, the ideologies and mentalities of wartime.

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