Canaris and the Abwehr

A - K

Abshagen, Karl Heinz. Canaris: Patriot und Weltbürger. Stuttgart: Union Deutsche Verlagsgesellschaft, 1954. Canaris. Tr., Alan Houghton Brodrick. London: Hutchinson, 1956.

Amort, Cestmir, and I.M. Jedlicka. Tr., Margeret Parker and Roger Gheysens. The Canaris File. London: Wingate, 1970.

Bassett, Richard. Hitler’s Spy Chief: The Wilhelm Canaris Mystery. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 2005.

Hughes-Wilson, RUSI Journal, Jun. 2005, finds that this book combines elements of both very good and very bad. It "is deeply equivocal, mixing factual research, conclusion and comment in a manner which is sometimes deeply thought-provoking and sometimes just downright incredible." The author's "well-written ... book ... is a good read and an interesting contribution to any intelligence bookshelf. It will undoubtedly provoke much controversy."

Bratzel, John F., and Leslie B. Rout, Jr. "Abwehr Ciphers in Latin America." Cryptologia 7, no. 2 (Apr. 1983): 132-144.

Brissaud, André. Tr. & ed. Ian Colvin. Canaris: The Biography of Admiral Canaris, Chief of German Military Intelligence in the Second World War. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1970. New York: Grosset and Dunlap, 1974.

To Constantinides, this is "a fairly well-researched biography," but he notes that the emphasis is on Canaris's attitude toward the Nazi state rather than his intelligence accomplishments and failures. In addition, the "final and exact picture of Canaris's opposition role is still to be drawn and is not to be found in this work." Pforzheimer states Brissaud's conclusion thusly: Canaris "was neither a traitor to Germany nor a British agent. Rather, he was an intellectual who deplored Nazi excesses and, thus, occasionally assisted the Allied war effort."

Bryden, John. Fighting to Lose: How the German Secret Intelligence Service Helped the Allies Win the Second World War. Toronto: Dundurn, 2014.

Peake, Studies 59.1 (Mar. 2015), says this "attempt[] to rewrite the history of WW II intelligence ... is appalling history." For West, IJI&C 28.1 (Spring 2015), this book "is nothing if not an equal opportunity traducer of reputations and purveyor of indiscriminate smears.... [T]he wholesale rewriting of history ... should not be allowed to pass muster." The author has "pour[ed] tainted water on the pathway to knowledge."

Colvin, Ian. Chief of Intelligence. London: Gollancz, 1951. Master Spy: The Incredible Sory of Admiral Canaris. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1951.

Constantinides: "In a series of essays on Canaris and German intelligence, the author tried to describe Canaris's character, his views, his role in the Abwehr and in German intelligence, and his place in German opposition to Hitler.... [T]he work is obviously dated, contains a number of errors, and misdirects attention by posing the wrong central question" -- whether Canaris had been a British agent.

Fischer, Benjamin. "A.k.a. 'Dr. Rantzau': The Enigma of Major Nikolaus Ritter." Center for the Study of Intelligence Bulletin 11 (Summer 2000): 8-11.

"[N]o one represented the Abwehr's ambiguous record of occasional success and repeated failure better than Maj. Nikolaus Ritter, whose operational alias was "Dr. Rantzau." Ritter, in fact, was intimately involved in one of the service's greatest successes and its two greatest disasters -- the compromise of all Abwehr agents in the United States and Britain."

See also, Peter Day and Andrew Alderson, "Top German's Spy Blunders Helped Britain to Win War," Telegraph (London), 23 Apr. 2000: Documents at the Public Record Office in London show that "Major Nikolaus Ritter realised as early as 1941,... that his spy network in Britain had been compromised but he never passed on his suspicions to his superiors.... Ritter's failure to report his suspicions paved the way for the success of Operation Double Cross."

Ritter published an autobiography: Nikolaus Ritter, Deckname Dr. Rantzau: Die Aufzeichnungen des Nikolaus Ritter, Offizier im Geheimen Nachrichtendienst (Hamburg: Hoffmann und Campe, 1972).

Giskes, Herman J. London Calling North Pole. London: Kimber, 1953. New York: British Book Centre, 1953. New York: Bantam, 1982. [pb]

Pforzheimer notes that the author headed the Abwehr's counterintelligence branch in Holland. He tells here the story of a German radio-playback and deception operation based on the capture of a Dutch officer parachuted by SOE into Holland. The operation ran undetected for two years and was used to capture 54 other agents and arms and materials dropped for the Dutch Resistance. For Constantinides, Giskes' version "of the means and imagination employed to win this intelligence victory still stands as the accurate and intriguing account from the German side."

Höhne, Heinz. Tr., J. Maxwell Brownjohn. Canaris: Hitler's Master Spy. New York: Doubleday, 1979. Lanham, MD: Cooper Square, 1999.

From publisher: "What emerges in this definitive biography is a panoramic view of the rise and fall of Nazism as reflected in the destiny of one man who hopes, for patriotic purposes, to harness evil, only to be destroyed by it."

Jörgensen, Christer. Spying for the Führer: Hitler's Espionage Machine. Minneapolis, MN: Chartwell Books, 2014.

For Peake, Studies 59.1 (Mar. 2015), this book offers "a broad overview of the German intelligence services from WW I to the end of WW II." It also discusses "Sweden's role in the war, including its secret attempts to broker peace."

Kahn, David. Hitler's Spies: German Military Intelligence in World War II. New York: Macmillan, 1978. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1978.

According to Pforzheimer, Hitler's Spies is "based on personal interviews and on extensive research of documentary material. Its focus is on German Army and high command intelligence, with little on air and navy intelligence.... [It] is particularly weak on German counterintelligence." Constantinides says there is "no better summary of the overall dismal record of failures that German intelligence left." Nevertheless, there are "significant omissions as well as less significant ones.... [O]ne cannot use the adjective 'comprehensive' in describing the book."

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