The History of BND

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In 1920, German socialist movement started. This movement was initiated by ‘The Nazi Party’, also known as the ‘National Socialist German Worker’s Party’. As a result of this movement the ‘Third Reich’ (third German empire) was established.

The empire was led by Adolf Hitler, who was Nazi leader from 1933 to 1945. The Nazi government established an intelligence agency known as the ‘Nazi Intelligence Network’. Later it was named as Gehlen Organization.

After the war CIA recruited prominent Nazi’s. One of them was General Reinhard Gehlen. The CIA allowed Gehlen’s pre-WWII network to continue spying on the Soviet Union. The Gehlen network proved to be an invaluable source of Soviet intelligence. Some drastic changes, in the organization, were made with the help of US. The Gehlen organization’s headquarters were in central Germany, at Spessart Mountains.

In 1948, Gehlen Organization apparently established communication with a group known as WIN, which was operating in Poland against the Soviets. WIN also provided evidences of its previous operations against the soviets. Gehlen Organization started supporting WIN with intelligence data, equipment, weapons and money. In 1952 the people entering Poland for supporting WIN came to know that the intelligence provided by WIN was not reliable, some people even started to disappear. It was discovered later that WIN was in fact working for Soviets and was established by the Soviet Secret Police.

In April, 1956, Gehlen Organization was shifted to West German Federal Republic. It was renamed BND ("Federal Intelligence Service" or Bundes Nachrichten Dienst).

With the increase in number of staff, the organization was moved to Pullach, in a twenty-five-acre compound. The organization operated under the name of ‘South German Industrial Development Organization’. There the number of agents reached 4,000. Gehlen Organization played a key role in providing intelligence regarding the development of Soviet missiles.

In the year 1970, 25 percent of the BND employees were former Gestapo, SS or AD officers. In the Cold War era, about 90 percent of the agency’s East German spies were double agents. These agents were commanded by the Stasi.

Since the 90’s, United States and Germany have enjoyed cordial relations and helped each other with intelligence sharing. Its purpose was to establish their authority in the Balkans. According to John Whitley, an intelligence analyst, BND and CIA secretly supported the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), a separatist guerrilla group. This group became active in the mid 90s. The main objective of KLA was to gain independence for Kosovo.

Previously, BND also played an important role in the establishment of Franjo Tudjman’s government in Croatia. Initially the task of establishment and funding for the KLA was assigned to Germany. KLA guerrillas’ received German weapons and uniforms. Unofficially, both U.S. and Germany favored the establishment of “Greater Albania”, comprising of parts of Macedonia and Kosovo.

During the Iraq was, BND allegedly supplied intelligence to the US forces in 2003. In year 2005, BND faced one of its worst public scandals called the Journalist scandal or “Journalistenskandal”. This scandal was about the surveillance of numerous journalists from Germany. The reason behind it was to investigate information leaks from inside the BND.

In terms of intelligence, France and German alliance has been going pretty well. Sometimes these two countries perform joint ventures and share top classified information. The future of relationship between these two allies, in terms of information sharing is uncertain, because of the lack of constitutional framework to support such relationship on permanent basis.


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