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        Abwehr was  far more complex than represented here with its tentacles reaching far around the globe quietly influencing politics until it was too late, the Nazis moved on the world. Below is an attempt to present a condensed definition of the Abwehr.

        Abwehr was the German military intelligence organization. After Adolf Hitler came to power, Abwehr often came into conflict with the Nazi controlled organizations, the SD Security Service and the Gestapo.

        In January 1935 Admiral Wilhelm Canaris became the new head of Abwehr. Soon afterwards he negotiated an agreement with Reinhard Heydrich about the role of the two organizations. However, both continued to train their own spies for duty in Germany and in foreign countries. Hugo Bleicher was particularly successful at tracking down agents in France.

        In 1943 several members of Abwehr became active in the anti-Nazi movement in Germany. This included Wilhelm Canaris, Hans Oster, Helmuth von Moltke, Hans Gisevius, Josef Muller, Hans Dohnanyi and Peter von Wartenburg.

        The Gestapo began to investigate members of Abwehr and Hans Dohnanyi was arrested and Hans Oster was suspended from duty.

        In early June, 1944 Heinrich Himmler took over Abwehr and after the July plot to assassinate Hitler, the organization was absorbed into the Nazi Security Service known as the Sicherheistdeinst or SD. Over the next few months Wilhelm Canaris, Hans Oster, Helmuth von Moltke, Hans Dohnanyi and Peter von Wartenburg were all found guilty of treason and executed.


Admiral Wilhelm Canaris (1887-1945)

        German Navy Admiral and head of the German secret service, the Abwehr, from 1935 to 1943.  He began his career in World War I on the cruiser Dresden, which was scuttled off Chile.  He made his way back to Germany and joined the intelligence service until 1917, when he became a submarine commander credited with sinking seventeen ships in the Mediterranean. 

        Canaris was a monarchist and was opposed to Hitler and the Nazis.  He was horrified with Nazi excesses and began to use his position to plot against Hitler.  He helped terror victims escape, falsified reports to dissuade Hitler from invading Spain, and saved the lives of French generals Henri Giraud and Maxim Weygand after Hitler ordered them killed. Canaris kept a card file of all Nazi crimes since 1933 and on all Nazi leaders.  

        He was involved in the attempted assassination of Hitler on July 20, 1944, was arrested by the Gestapo, and imprisoned in Flossenburg concentration camp where he was executed on April 9, 1945. British foreign office identifier for Admiral Canaris was simply K.  (At one time during World War I, Canaris was an intelligence operative in Spain.  The British sent Stewart Menzies to either kill or capture Canaris but Menzies failed.  Ironically, they each became the heads of their respective intelligence services during World War II.)


Erich Fellgiebel (1888-1944)

German general and head of German Army communications.  He was the person who recommended the adoption of the Enigma coding machine by the German military.  It is believed that Fellgiebel passed secrets to the British throughout the war, until he was arrested by the Gestapo for taking part in the July 20, 1944, conspiracy against Hitler.  He was tried before the People’s Court by Dr. Roland Feisler and executed on September 4, 1944.


Major Francis Foley

Though a British Army major, he was the passport control officer in Berlin from 1920 to 1939 and was, in reality, the MI-6 representative. Admiral Canaris fed information through him to the British about Hitler’s intended war.


German-American Bund

Name of a pro-German organization in the United States led by Fritz Kuhn. Having seventy-one units with over 25,000 members located in industrial centers and near munitions works, it was an early concern to the FBI.


America First

Isolationist organization that listed as a “patriotic society.”  Robert Douglas, Jr., a Yale law student, and General Robert E. Wood, head of Sears, Roebuck and Co started it.  The goal of the group was to prevent the entry of the U.S. into the war.  What was not known at the time, even among some of the key people, was that primarily the Nazis financed it.  Most, if not nearly all, members were merely duped into affiliation with America First without knowing the real source of funding. An investigation by the FBI- Federal Bureau of Investigation, concluded the members of American First were so fervently [or self-righteously] caught up in their agenda they failed to see the Nazi involvement.

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