Why was Axis intelligence less reliable than Allied Intel?

Discussions on High Command, strategy and the Armed Forces (Wehrmacht) in general.
User avatar
Poot
Member
Posts: 406
Joined: 29 Dec 2010 03:38

Re: Why was Axis intelligence less reliable than Allied Intel?

Post by Poot » 14 Jun 2015 05:49

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
Poot wrote:...
Not to take anything away from the SOE's successes, but everything that Buckmaster touched seemed to go sideways in rather disastrous form...

Pat
Refresh my memory, I cant recall Buckmaster in the literature I've read.

Thanks
Hello Carl,
Buckmaster was the leader of SOE's 'F' Section, and notoriously incompetent. For example, he was notified numerous times by alarmed signals operatives in SOE that agents in the field had been sending messages without using a deliberately mis-spselled word at the beginning of their transmissions. Omission of this word for each agent was used to signal that they were compromised, and likely in German custody. Time and time again, the agents omitted their words, and Buckmaster rashly assumed that they had simply forgotten. As a result, Giskes and other German intell officers were able to dominate the Funkspiele, radioing to send more agents and materiel, and netting more and more SOE agents and capturing entire cells and networks of the Dutch Resistance.

It is likely, along with the expected dynamics of inter-service rivalries, that Buckmaster's repeatedly demonstrated incompetence directly contributed to the friction with SIS, who were focused on intelligence gathering rather than operations and direct actions, which invariably drew the attention and vengeance of German forces. The result could and frequently did upset the intelligence gathering efforts of the SIS.

Pat
He who lives by the sword, should train with it frequently.

gambadier
Member
Posts: 221
Joined: 23 Aug 2007 14:11
Location: AsiaPac

Re: Why was Axis intelligence less reliable than Allied Intel?

Post by gambadier » 14 Jun 2015 06:57

An amusing piece, and one to which not too much credence should be given, one problem is that SOE's records were mostly destroyed. Gubbins was the one true professional anywhere in the special operations arena, although you could argue that Wingate's pre-war and early war successes made him another.

User avatar
Poot
Member
Posts: 406
Joined: 29 Dec 2010 03:38

Re: Why was Axis intelligence less reliable than Allied Intel?

Post by Poot » 15 Jun 2015 01:19

The accounts regarding Buckmaster and his 'performance' were derived from post-war interviews with people who worked in SOE, not from wartime records. Giskes himself also survived the war, was debriefed regarding the operations in Holland and even used as an advisor to the West during the Cold War.

Pat
He who lives by the sword, should train with it frequently.

Carl Schwamberger
Host - Allied sections
Posts: 7404
Joined: 02 Sep 2006 20:31
Location: USA

Silk and Cyanide

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 15 Jun 2015 02:23

Marks, a Bletchly Park trained cryptologist was assigned to the SOE signals section. His job was to sort out the problem with botched communications between the SOE home base & the field agents. Among other things he trained the staff in the radio section in code cracking techniques so they could sort through the errors In coding from the field agents. He wrote a long book 'Between Silk & Cyanide' describing his activity, & while eyewitness accounts have their own brand of errors it does give a insiders version of what was going on in SOE. Marks did not give the proper names of the people he worked with, but the descriptions of Buckmaster here & elsewhere clearly connect to one of the personalities Marks described.

Marks appears to have been one of the people in the signals section who raised alarms in 1942 about the messages from the SOE agents in Dutch territory. Not only did he see the 'authenticity' indicators omitted, but since he had assisted training many of the agents in encoding he was aware of how bad specific individuals were at it, and how alarming it was their messages were suddenly error free as if they had turned into professional radio operators on arriving in Europe.

Anyway thanks for the clarification of Buckmaster.

Carl Schwamberger
Host - Allied sections
Posts: 7404
Joined: 02 Sep 2006 20:31
Location: USA

Re: Why was Axis intelligence less reliable than Allied Intel?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 15 Jun 2015 02:40

Poot wrote:.... Giskes himself also survived the war, was debriefed regarding the operations in Holland and even used as an advisor to the West during the Cold War.

Pat
Giskies, a Abwehr officer, was also connected to the penetration of the AT3 encrypted communication link between London and Washington DC. His neutralizing of the SOE operation in the Netherlands was a more important coup, that had knock on effects into latter 1944. The Brits had a lot of trouble trusting any information from the Dutch underground to the end of the war. Various sources mention that the Dutch conducted a post war investigation into the possibility of treason within their own operations turning over the SOE ops to Giskes Abwehr section. I've not yet run across solid info on the results of that investigation.

User avatar
Poot
Member
Posts: 406
Joined: 29 Dec 2010 03:38

Re: Why was Axis intelligence less reliable than Allied Intel?

Post by Poot » 16 Jun 2015 03:50

The little I know about that part is that nothing was revealed that indicated treason had anything to do with it. I'm injecting my own 20/20 opinion here, but it would seem that the combination of Buckmaster's horrendous and frequently cited incompetence and Giskes' cunning and skill were more than enough to deliver the result.

Best,
Pat
He who lives by the sword, should train with it frequently.

Carl Schwamberger
Host - Allied sections
Posts: 7404
Joined: 02 Sep 2006 20:31
Location: USA

Re: Why was Axis intelligence less reliable than Allied Intel?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 22 Jun 2015 21:46

Poot wrote:The little I know about that part is that nothing was revealed that indicated treason had anything to do with it. ...
The Dutch government may have been turning every stone just on principle. To leave to loose ends. As I understanding they were running two other independant operations in the Netherlands as well as their part in the Brit run SOW operations. One Dutch Op was suposed to have been strictly intellegince gathering. The other a contact network aimed at gaining the opinions of the local Dutch leaders who remained behind, the politicians and business leaders. The government in exile seems to have wanted some sort of understanding of sentiment within the dutch population.

Perhaps some expert on the Netherlands could clarify this for us?

steve248
Member
Posts: 2484
Joined: 10 Aug 2003 20:53
Location: St Albans, England

Re: Why was Axis intelligence less reliable than Allied Intel?

Post by steve248 » 26 Jun 2015 09:10

There has long been a myth about SOE records being destroyed, from Gambardier's post above

"one problem is that SOE's records were mostly destroyed."

This is a myth, though some records were destroyed in a postwar fire. Looking at what is available this was small.

UK National Archives now hold a very substantial amount of SOE records declassified over the past 10 years and include several thousand personal dossiers on their agents. There are also records from various SOE country desks.

These are available in Record Groups/Class List HS 1 to HS 9 (the latter group hold the personal dossiers). they can all be searchable on the website
http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/

click on "Discovery - our catalogue" and on the next page enter what you are looking for.
You can also browse the files from the first file to the last, each file entry having a short description.

James A Pratt III
Member
Posts: 711
Joined: 30 Apr 2006 00:08
Location: Texas

Re: Why was Axis intelligence less reliable than Allied Intel?

Post by James A Pratt III » 11 Aug 2015 21:15

For more on German Intelligence see the book "Hitler's Spies".

James A Pratt III
Member
Posts: 711
Joined: 30 Apr 2006 00:08
Location: Texas

Re: Why was Axis intelligence less reliable than Allied Intel?

Post by James A Pratt III » 20 Aug 2015 20:50

The book "Wolfram Von Richtofen Master of the German Air War" mentions that Luftwaffe intelligence who about everyone has a low oppion of managed to get fairly good intelligence on the Polish and French air forces by the start of WW II.

There is a book "The French Secret Service" that deals with French intelligence and its successes and failures.

I have read one or more books that deal with the Cambridge Spies and how they passed information to the Soviets who in some cases passed the information to the Germans

paulrward
Member
Posts: 386
Joined: 10 Dec 2008 20:14

Re: Why was Axis intelligence less reliable than Allied Intel?

Post by paulrward » 12 Nov 2015 18:15

Hello All ;

Returning to the original question of the thread, Why was Axis intelligence less reliable than Allied Intel? I believe we have to go directly to Admiral Canaris, who was supplying the Allies with information almost from the start of the Polish Campaign.

He succeeded in playing the 'double game' for nearly four years, and was only undone by the mistakes of his subbordinates when they tried to kill Hitler. His work to derail the Third Reich, his defiance of the Nazis while in prison and his courage in the face of his execution make him one of the truly great unsung heroes of WW2.

The human race owes him a tremendous debt.

Respectfully ;

Paul R. Ward
Information not shared, is information lost
Voices banned, are voices who cannot share information....

steve248
Member
Posts: 2484
Joined: 10 Aug 2003 20:53
Location: St Albans, England

Re: Why was Axis intelligence less reliable than Allied Intel?

Post by steve248 » 12 Nov 2015 18:54

And the evidence for Canaris "supplying the Allies with information almost from the start of the Polish campaign" is what?

And who do you believe were "the Allies....from the start of the Polish campaign"?

Canaris is hardly "unsuung" as a hero or otherwise. There are many books about him. Looking up from my keyboard I can see three.

paulrward
Member
Posts: 386
Joined: 10 Dec 2008 20:14

Re: Why was Axis intelligence less reliable than Allied Intel?

Post by paulrward » 14 Nov 2015 17:28

Hello Mr. Steve248 ;

Immediately before the Polish Campaign, Canaris was informed by Hitler of a plan to exterminate a number of Polish officers, members of the nobility, and Roman Catholic Clergy. Canaris took notes of the meeting, and passed the information along to MI6.

During the Polish Campaign, Canaris learned of a number of massacres by SS troops, and this began his personal activity to overthrow the Nazi regime.

During 1942 and 1943, on trips to both Spain and France, Canaris met with British agents stationed in Gibralter, and with French agents in Paris. He also had lines of communication with MI6 via Zurich.

During 1943, he apparently worked to to prevent the Nazi assasination of Pope Pius XII, ordered by Hitler, by informing the Italian military of the plot.

Much of this material can be found in Richard Bassett's ' Hitler's Spy Chief: The Wilhelm Canaris Mystery' (2005)


So, who knows: Maybe the Axis Intelligence Service was the most effective of any in the war. It just happened to be working for the Allies.........


Respectfully ;

Paul R. Ward
Information not shared, is information lost
Voices banned, are voices who cannot share information....

steve248
Member
Posts: 2484
Joined: 10 Aug 2003 20:53
Location: St Albans, England

Re: Why was Axis intelligence less reliable than Allied Intel?

Post by steve248 » 15 Nov 2015 15:06

If only one swallow made a summer. I think you will need to do a bit more research to realize much of what Bassett wrote was speculation.
Why do I say this? Research among the decoded Abwehr messages at National Archives, Kew; the reports written up from these reports drawing conclusions based on fact and from other secret intelligence agents; the various MI 5 name files on Abwehr officers and their rather thin file on Canaris himself. No claim made for contact from Canaris to support Bassett.
CIA did much the same and came to similar conclusion.
Wanting to know is not the same as knowing.

paulrward
Member
Posts: 386
Joined: 10 Dec 2008 20:14

Re: Why was Axis intelligence less reliable than Allied Intel?

Post by paulrward » 16 Nov 2015 03:58

Hello Mr. Steve248 ;

The name of the MI6 agent who met with Canaris in both Switzerland and France was Ms. Halina Szymańska, a Polish national who was recruited by the S.I.S. in 1939, and who served as a conduit for information throughout the war. You might want to read Nigel West's ' MI 6 ' .

Knowing is better than knowing it all....

Respectfully ;

Paul R. Ward


A post script: MI5 would know nothing about Canaris, as MI5 is Counter Intelligence, not Foreign Intelligence. As they had no contact with Canaris, they would have a VERY thin file on him.

And, as for the files of MI6, I am reminded of a quote: " He's a spy. His secrets have secrets....."

PRW
Information not shared, is information lost
Voices banned, are voices who cannot share information....

Return to “German Strategy & General German Military Discussion”