Academic journal article Military Review

The Red Orchestra

Academic journal article Military Review

The Red Orchestra

Article excerpt

THE RED ORCHESTRA bv V.E. Tarrant. 224 pages. John Wiley & Sons Inc., New York. 1996. $24.95.

During World War II, a massive Soviet intelligence network of more than 200 agents operated in Western Europe. VE. Tarrant's objective is to tell the story of the agents' operations and the counterintelligence organizations that discovered and rounded them up. The story of the Red Orchestra, or Rote Kapelle, has been told in various ways-as part of a larger Soviet espionage story, as biographical reflections of participants, as a complete story and as a subject of analysis, such as the one done by the CIA. Tarrant gives an exciting account of German counterintelligence work and the orchestra's agents.

The Red Orchestra had many accomplishments, including providing advanced warning of Barbarosa, Germany's June 1941 attack on the Soviet Union. Gathering information from the military, defense industries and the German diplomatic service. the agent network was able to report German troop movements. Stalin was well served, even though he ignored some of the Red Orchestra's best work. The orchestra's players operated primarily in Switzerland, France and Germany and included career civil service employees as well as simple laborers. The agents provided valuable information until their various networks were "rolled up" by the Gestapo and Bureau Abwehr.

A major portion of Tarrant's book is devoted to the German side of the story, probably due to easier access to German information. Soviet sources are more than likely still scarce, despite the availability of some autobiographies and the opening of some Moscow archives.

Because the Germans kept extensive records, the German perspective is well known. …

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