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Reinhard Gehlen (Erfurt, German Empire, April 3, 1902 – Starnberg, Federal Republic of Germany, June 8, 1979) was a German soldier. He came to the position of major general in the German Wehrmacht during the Second World War, with the position of chief of counterintelligence on the Eastern Front. He was recruited by the United States through Operation Paperclip to use his Stay Behind spy network against the Soviet Union.
He managed the West German intelligence apparatus until 1968, and is considered one of the most important spies of the Cold War. Organized by the Gehlen Organization, axis of the secret Operation Gladio of NATO. He was also the first president of the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), the secret service created by West Germany. It is supposed to be funemental in the ODESSA organization.
First years and military service
Reinhard Gehlen was born into a Catholic family, the son of a bookstore owner. He joined the Reichswehr in 1920. After entering the School of Officers, he graduated in 1935. He was promoted to captain being attached to the Army Staff.
Under the Nazi government of Adolf Hitler, he was assigned to the staff of 1935/36. In 1939, Gehlen was promoted to Major and during the German attack on Poland he reached the rank of first general of an infantry division.In 1940, Gehlen was the liaison officer of Field Marshal Walther von Brauchitsch. From there he was transferred as deputy to the Chief of the Army General Staff, General Franz Halder.
In 1941, Gehlen was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. Gehlen worked intensely on the Eastern Front and, because of his superior talent and experience, was promoted to senior intelligence officer in the Army’s Senior Staff on the Eastern Front.
According to Gehlen’s memoirs, he approached Colonel Henning von Tresckow, Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg and General Adolf Heusinger in 1942 to participate in the attempted assassination of the German dictator Adolf Hitler; however, his role was minor. When the plot culminated in the failed bombing of July 20, 1944, Gehlen’s role was concealed and he escaped Hitler’s brutal revenge against the conspirators.
In December 1944, Gehlen was promoted to the rank of Major General and his task was concentrated on intelligence against the Soviet Union and his tactics on the battlefield, as Head of the “Eastern Extinction Forces” department (Fremde Heere Ost), dedicated to assessing the enemy’s situation on the Eastern Front. This information would be of immeasurable value after the war.
In March 1945, knowing that the end of the Third Reich was near, Gehlen and a small group of officers microfilmed the files of the Fremde Heere Ost about the USSR and put them in hermetic containers. The containers were buried in several places in the Austrian Alps.
Beginnings of the Cold War
On May 22, 1945, Gehlen surrendered to the Counterintelligence Corps (CIC) of the US Army in Bavaria. He was interned at Camp King and interrogated by Captain John R. Boker near Oberursel. Because of his knowledge and contacts within the Soviet Union, it was of great value to the Americans. He offered his intelligence files and his network of contacts in exchange for his freedom and that of his colleagues imprisoned in prisoner of war (POW) camps in Germany. Boker silently removed Gehlen and his network from the official North American prisoner lists and managed to transfer 7 of Gehlen’s highest officers to the field. Gehlen’s archives were removed and taken to the field stealthily, even without CIC’s knowledge.
By the end of the summer, Boker had the support of Brigadier General Edwin Sibert, director of the Twelfth Army G-2 (American Army Intelligence), and Walter Bedell Smith, the highest American intelligence officer in Europe. General Sibert contacted his superior, General Walter Bedell Smith, Eisenhower’s team leader who worked with William Joseph Donovan and Allen Dulles, the last of them at the time, head of the Berna station of the OSS, to do the relevant arrangements. On September 20, 1945, Gehlen and three of his closest associates secretly flew to the United States to begin working for the Government of that country. Gehlen then revealed to them that several members of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) were secretly members of the Communist Party.
In June 1946 Gehlen was officially freed from American captivity by flying to Germany and returned to Camp King, where he resumed his intelligence work with former German officers in that field. He set up a façade organization in Pullach near Munich called the Industrial Development Organization of southern Germany to mask his espionage ring. Gehlen recruited 350 Nazi intelligence exagents to work with him; this number would increase to 4,000 undercover agents. They were called the V-Men and they were the only eyes and ears that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had in the field of Soviet bloc nations during part of the Cold War. This group would quickly be called “Gehlen Organization”.
In 1952, the German media had denounced a far-right group, the Bundesdeutscherjungend, whose militants were armed by the secret services of NATO, whose mission was to prepare the assassination of the main leaders of the left in case of a Soviet invasion. NATO thought to counteract the establishment of a “puppet” government imposed by the Soviet Army.
The Gehlen Organization has a voluminous intelligence register of the Warsaw Pact. According to an article in the Guardian that reviews the declassified files of the CIA, “because of all the moral conflicts [in hiring Nazis], it was a complete fiasco from the point of view of intelligence, the Nazis were terrible spies.” The CIA worked in close union with the Gehlen Group: the Gehlen Organization delivered human capital while the CIA delivered funds and materials for clandestine operations, such as airplanes and money.
One successful mission was Operation Crossword, which infiltrated about 5000 anti-communists of Eastern European and Russian origin. These agents received espionage training in a field called Oberammergau. Another operation of the Gehlen Organization was Operation Rusty, which set up counterintelligence operations directed against dissidents of the German organizations in Europe.
The mission of the Gehlen Organization was compromised by the existence of communist moles within itself, in addition to the CIA and the British MI6, particularly Harold “Kim” Philby. The WIN mission to Poland was a complete failure due to the denunciations of the counterspies, and was finalized when the Soviet secret services created the so-called Fifth Command of the WiN Organization within Poland.
Despite these setbacks, the Gehlen Organization triumphed when it discovered the secret Soviet murder unit called SMERSH. They also helped in the Berlin Tunnel, which was built under the Berlin Wall to monitor Soviet and East German communications; however the final result was disastrous and the operation failed. Theodore Shackley, of Polish ancestry, was involved.
The Gehlen Organization employed hundreds of ex-Nazis, including Alois Brunner, who was responsible for the Drancy Concentration Camp near Paris, who is believed to have been alive in 2007; CIA turned a blind eye, and even participated actively in some cases, due to the demands of the Cold War. According to Robert Wolfe, historian of the National Archives and Documents Administration of the United States, “the intelligence of the United States Army accepted that Reinhard Gehlen offered his recognized knowledge about the Soviet Army – and so many mass murderers were employed.” United, it was first called the Bureau for Political Coordination (its initials were OPC). Its first director was Frank G. Wisner. He was appointed by the Secretary of State, George Marshall from among persons proposed by his adviser George F. Keenan, who maintained a close relationship with Allen Dulles. < / p>
At the head of the BND
In 1955, the Gehlen Organization was officially transferred to the Federal Republic of Germany under the government of Konrad Adenauer On 1 April 1956 it formed the nucleus of the newly created Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), the new Intelligence Service of the West Germany: Gehlen held the highest position (President of the BND) until he was forced to resign because of the scandals. He retired from the BND in 1968 and died in 1979, at the age of 77.
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