Fremde Heere Ost Commander Reinhard Gehlen

Heer (German Army) Colonel (later Major General) Reinhard Gehlen (April 3, 1902 - June 8, 1979) who headed Fremde Heere Ost (FHO; Foreign Armies East) from April 1, 1942 until March 1945. Fremde Heere Ost was responsible for gathering intelligence on the Red Army; its strength, weapons, deployment, strategy and tactics. Gehlen was an extremely talented spymaster who had many ties to various rightist organizations, inlcuding Stepan Bandera's "B Faction" (Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists); Romania's Iron Guard; the Ustashe of Yugoslavia; the Vanagis of Latvia; and former Red Army General Andrey Vlasov's Russkaya Osvoboditel'naya Armiya (ROA, Russian Liberation Army). He also revolutionized FHO, increasing the speed of intelligence bulletins, sifting through reports from various units, combining that with aerial reconnaissance, and checking arrest reports to divine Soviet intentions. Generals like Franz R. Halder (June 30, 1884 - April 2, 1972) and Heinz W. Guderian (June 17, 1888 - May 14, 1954) depended on Gehlen's reports during their tenure in the Eastern Front. Guderian even stood up to Reichsklanzler (Reichchancellor) Adolf Hitler when the Fuhrer called for Gehlen to be dismissed and placed in an insane asylum. Besides his statistical talents, Gehlen was also a talented self-promoter, who created stunning maps and graphics to underline his reports. Hitler was upset by one of Gehlen's graphs, that showed huge Soviet manpower as a large soldier icon towering over a much smaller German figure. Gehlen always claimed he predicted Soviet strategy, even when he failed to do so, as in November 1942, when he did not note the growing Red Army pincer movement around Stalingrad. He would list all possible Soviet actions, discount the ones he felt were most unlikely and avoid mentioning specific times, places or dates. Gehlen would then claim he had noted the Soviet attack in his report, even if it had occurred months later and was only a minor notation in his daily dossier. Gehlen was dismissed from FHO when Hitler fired Guderian in March 1945. Gehlen buried his files on the Red Army in watertight cans. On May 22, 1945 Gehlen and his top aides surrendered to an American Counter-intelligence Corps (CIC) team. The CIC was ignorant of Soviet intentions; the Americans had learned most of their information about the Red Army from captured Nazis. The Americans realized they had a critical need for experts in Soviet military strategy and tactics. Gehlen played his strengths to those fears, and with the help of the CIC and the OSS, he was quietly removed from the prisoner of war rolls and placed in charge of a growing group of Germans gathering intelligence for the United States. Gehlen put unrepentant Nazis into key posts in his new "Gehlen Organization." Many escaped war crimes trials. Gehlen continued to provide intelligence to the Central Intelligence Agency even though by 1950 it was clear the Soviets had compromised his network. Polish operatives dropped by plane simply disappeared. The United States turned the Gehlen Organization over to the West Germans in April 1956. Despite his shortcomings, Gehlen headed the Bundesnachrichtendienst (Federal Intelligence Service) until a scandal drove him into retirement in 1968.
Date Photographed: 
Friday, January 1, 1943
East Prussia