Yes, Intelligence Matters

Yes, Intelligence Matters

by Frank Ellis

Robert Hutchinson, German Foreign Intelligence from Hitler’s War to the Cold War: Flawed Assumptions and Faulty Analysis, University Press of Kansas, Lawrence Kansas, 2019, notes, bibliography, index, pp. vii-x + pp.1-247, ISBN 978-0-7006-2757-8

According to Hutchinson, ‘the most significant fatal flaw in the German intelligence services’ reporting during the war was a protracted inability to see the world as it actually was’.[1] This is an enduring philosophical problem in its own right but in practical assessment terms one that was hardly confined to the German intelligence services. Consider the following examples. Between 1918 and May 1940 the Germans pioneered a technological and doctrinal revolution in military affairs. The British and French failure to grasp what the German had achieved  – there was no shortage of evidence – constituted a monumental intelligence failure and pointed to the fact that the British and French Armies were institutionally mismanaged and unprepared for modern war. Anglo-French diplomacy was almost as bad, caught out by the German-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact in August 1939. In May 1940, Anglo-French forces were taken by surprise when the Germans sent massed armoured formations through the Ardennes (and did it again in 1944). The French compounded this intelligence failure by refusing to take seriously air reconnaissance reports showing that the Germans were massing in the south (on the Maas). Obsessed by the north, and that this had to be the German Schwerpunkt, French commanders ignored reports to the contrary because they did not fit in with their preconceptions about how the Germans would deploy their forces.

In the Far East, the British  showed themselves to be just as wilfully indifferent to possibilities other than those they envisaged by taking no account of the possibility that the Japanese would use the route that they did to attack Singapore. The Abwehr enjoyed considerable success with the so-called Englandspiel in which British agents were captured and executed in the German-occupied Netherlands. The disaster of Operation Market-Garden, the Allied airborne landings in September 1944, underscores, once again, the danger of senior officers and politicians ignoring evidence. When the intelligence officer at British 1 Airborne Corps, Major Brian Urquhart, informed his superiors that air reconnaissance flights had identified German armoured formations in the area of Arnhem – not what General Browning 1 Airborne Corps commander wanted to hear – he was sent on medical leave. And what of the total surprise achieved by the Japanese carrier-based strike force at Pearl Harbour?

If, according to Hutchinson, obsessions with race corrupted German intelligence assessments, then notions that belonging to a certain privileged caste conferred moral superiority and trustworthiness exposed the British intelligence services to devastating infiltration by Soviet-recruited agents, making it possible for the Soviet Union to achieve one of the greatest intelligence successes of the twentieth century. At the very moment when the Joint Intelligence Committee report, Some Weaknesses in German Strategy and Organisation, was submitted to the chiefs of staff and cabinet, in which it was smugly noted that decisions in Germany were the preserve  ‘of a group of ignorant maniacs’[2], messrs Kim Philby, Anthony Blunt, John Cairncross, Donald Maclean and Guy Burgess, comfortably ensconced in the heart of the British intelligence establishment – all jolly decent chaps by the way – were happily betraying Britain. Embedded in the Manhattan Project, Klaus Fuchs was another Soviet success story.

Telling leaders what they want to hear was also responsible for the greatest intelligence disaster of the twentieth century – 22nd June 1941 – a direct consequence of Stalin’s refusal to see the obvious. After 1945, the French and then US leaders all saw what they wanted to see in Vietnam, hence the rage and fury directed at Daniel Ellsberg who leaked the so-called Pentagon Papers. Joseph Hovey, a CIA analyst, concluded that a general uprising was imminent (the Tet offensive) but his analysis was ignored because it did not fit in with the assessment of the Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV). The invasion of Iraq also shows that when it suits them leaders (or should we call them managers?) will suppress inconvenient intelligence information in order to justify illegal wars. Having invaded Iraq, the US-led coalition made no provision for the insurgency that followed, another serious intelligence blunder.

U.S. Marines with Iraqi Prisoners, March 21 2003

The German intelligence services, Hutchinson concedes, were not alone in making blunders but then he maintains that ‘to posit that the German intelligence services had little or no significance for either Hitler’s strategic assumptions or his major decisions in the early phases of the war is simply incorrect’.[3] This is something of a straw man fallacy: who exactly is positing that the German intelligence services played no part in Hitler’s deliberations? The absence of any study carried out by Germany’s Militärgeschichtliches Forschungsamt (MGFA) – highlighted by Hutchinson – may or may not be significant but the absence of any study does not imply that the position of the MGFA is that the German intelligence services played no part. Another problem is that Hutchinson has earlier cited the JIC report in which we are told that ‘all decisions of policy and interpretation of facts, became increasingly dependent on the arbitrary whims of a group of ignorant maniacs’[4] which is inconsistent with any meaningful role played by the German intelligence services. Maybe that is why the MGFA, having read the JIC report, has so far not bothered.

The Germans, Hutchinson maintains, misunderstood the British, underestimated the Soviet Union and, in his words, counted out the United States. But the British were easily misunderstood. Throughout the 1930s, they had stood idly by as Hitler re-occupied the Rhineland, carried out the Anschluß, devoured Czechoslovakia and played a central role in assisting Franco. Given the British policy of appeasement throughout the 1930s, the Germans could quite reasonably conclude that Britain would not go to war. British defence guarantees to Poland were interpreted as a bluff, a view reinforced by the British and French failure to mount any relief operation in support of the Poles in the West after 1st September 1939. Anglo-French dithering and inconsistency, and even duplicity, were further on display when, having declared war on Germany (3rd September 1939) for violating Polish sovereignty, they looked the other way when the Red Army invaded eastern Poland on 17th September 1939.

The problem for Germany in assessing the USA was one of time: could Germany achieve her goals in Europe before the USA was able decisively to intervene? To a far greater extent than their assessments of Britain, the German intelligence services were obsessed with the influence of Jews in the USA. The German view was one of an American establishment totally penetrated by Jews and their anti-German plotting. Theodore Kaufmann’s Germany Must Perish (1941) inflamed German suspicions about a master plan to eradicate all Germans (exactly what the Germans were planning to inflict on Jews).  Regardless of obsessions with Jews, the German intelligence services ‘were able to extensively document just how “unneutral” Roosevelt’s government was’[5], and Fremde Heere West (FHW) had a very good idea of US war production. So not exactly a complete failure. Hutchinson cites a number of reports submitted to Berlin by the German chargé d’affaires in Washington, Hans Thomsen. In the English translations, Thomsen refers to Germany and allies as ‘the totalitarian powers’.[6]  It seems unlikely that Thomsen would use such language about Germany, never mind in his official dispatches. So did Thomsen actually use the word ‘totalitarian’ (totalitär) in his German-language dispatches or is this an improvised and unfortunate translation? Later, Hutchinson classifies the DDR as ‘authoritarian’[7], where totalitarian is most certainly required.

The starting point in any assessment of overall German performance in the invasion of the Soviet Union, including the German intelligence agencies, is to ask, yet again, one very simple question: if German assessments of the Soviet Union’s capacity to wage war were so hopelessly distorted by National-Socialist race ideology and racial stereotypes how did the German army manage to stand firm at Moscow in that first dreadful winter, 1941-1942, on Hitler’s orders and against the advice of his generals, recover and then fight its way to the Volga (Stalingrad) and the Terek (Caucasus)? Another point to highlight about Fall Blau, the summer campaign of 1942, is that the plans, by way of one of those freak accidents that occur in war, fell into the hands of the Red Army but were not taken seriously. The Soviet intelligence assessment of German intentions for the summer of 1942 was a renewed assault on Moscow, so plans indicating that the main German blow would fall in the south with the aim of seizing the Baku oil plants were not accorded due weight (sounds familiar).

Battle of Stalingrad

German planning for Barbarossa was based on a number of assumptions about the Soviet state and, in particular, about the ability of the Red Army to wage modern, all-arms war.  Although the totalitarian nature of the Soviet state made it extremely difficult for German agencies to gather intelligence from human sources, the way that Stalin’s regime treated its people was hardly a state secret. In order to force through the collectivization of agriculture, Stalin’s terror agencies had broken the rural way of life and implemented genocide (Holodomor). Industrialization had brought further upheavals and Stalin’s Great Terror attacked the party and Red Army. Even though Soviet forces eventually prevailed against the Finns in the 1939-1940 Winter War, the Red Army had been humiliated, revealing a series of tactical and operational failings. That German intelligence perceived political, economic and military weakness was entirely reasonable: the Germans knew of the genocide in Ukraine, the Great Terror and the squalor and shortages and that Stalin ruled by terror and the NKVD. The assumption that an invasion would expose internal weaknesses – it did – was not an intelligence failure. Nor did Stalin and his inner circle have any confidence that they could withstand the invasion, which is why secret police terror, deportations and executions were used. The critical German failure in the period immediately after the start of Barbarossa was the failure to exploit the weaknesses of the Soviet regime.

Hutchinson highlights what he sees as the German reliance on stereotypes of Russians, derived from the nineteenth century. Attacking stereotypes is a familiar line in so many areas of history but Hutchinson fails to investigate the origin of stereotypes and why they arise in the first place: stereotypes do not just appear ex nihilo. Another point is that the use of “Russian” and “Soviet” as if they were the same terms is not necessarily evidence that German intelligence officials accepted the continuity of the nineteenth century. The Germans referred to the British as “die Engländer” (cf. das Englandspiel) because the English were the largest and the dominant group comprising Britain. Modern Russian tends to refer to England (Angliia) instead of UK. However, dismissing the possibility that characteristics and traits observed among Russians by historians, diplomats and travellers in the nineteenth century and earlier can have any relevance for the mid-twentieth century implies acceptance of Soviet ideological claims that some new Soviet man (homo sovieticus) has been created. In fact, German assessments of Russians are not that far removed from what we find in the works of Russians themselves. If some nineteenth-century writers tended to idealise peasant life, others highlighted the qualities identified by the Germans: passivity, lack of initiative and extreme insularity. The very nature of the Tsarist autocracy served to crush any initiative, and in the Soviet period where conditions were even more oppressive, leading to the world’s first totalitarian state, initiative was seen as something dangerous.

Fear of initiative and accepting responsibility had far-reaching consequences for the Red Army in WWII, a problem exacerbated by the fact that the Red Army, as the full and formal title suggests, Raboche-Krest’ianskoi Krasnoi Armii (The Workers-Peasant Red Army), largely comprised recruits from the strata of Tsarist and Soviet societies that were not accustomed to showing initiative. In one of his last works, Vse techet (Everything Flows, 1970), Vasilii Grossman contrasted the evolution of freedom in the West with the evolution of slavery in Russia and the Soviet Union, characterising Russia as a thousand-year old slave. Polish women who were deported to the Soviet east by the NKVD in 1940 described Russians and non-Russians in less than flattering terms. Concerning Kazakhs, one Polish deportee remarked: ‘we looked with repugnance at these ugly, slant-eyed, flat-nosed people, so horribly dirty, breeding lice in their rags at the crotch’. One Polish woman described a Kalmyk’s face as ‘inhuman’, filling her with horror. Another remembers a Russian ‘with a dreary face, resembling something between an orangutan and a chimpanzee’. The general perception of Russian women formed by Poles of both sexes was that ‘Such females [Russian] are not only not European, but they are closer to animals, just like the nondescript women of Central Asia’.[8]  In short, National-Socialist ideologues were not alone in harbouring a sense of racial and cultural superiority. Nor, incidentally, do we find much evidence of any Pan-Slavic brotherhood among the Poles.

Commenting on the Fremde Heere Ost (FHO) assessment of the Soviet invasion of Poland on 17th September 1939, the author cites it without clarifying whether it was true or an accurate statement of what ensued. So one needs to be quite clear: Sovietization did occur, estates were plundered, people were arrested and deported, and Polish prisoners of war were interned and in the spring of 1940, 21,857 were murdered by the NKVD. Hutchinson makes no mention of Katyn. An important question here is whether the Germans knew, or had good grounds to believe, that the NKVD had executed Polish prisoners of war. Hutchinson is also silent on the cooperation that it is known to have taken place between the German intelligence agencies and the NKVD. Given his theme, this is a serious omission. The Soviet state made much of the fact that it was a multi-ethnic union, yet ethnic diversity in the Red Army was also a weakness, as events were to prove. Wipert von Blücher, the German ambassador to Finland, noted in one of his reports (18th December 1939), cited by Hutchinson, that the Red Army was not properly equipped with camouflaged winter clothing and that at night Soviet troops gathered round fires which made them vulnerable to attack from the ground and air. Once again, given his predilection for seeing German assessments of the Red Army in terms of stereotypes,  Hutchinson should make clear whether he accepts that the ambassadorial dispatch is accurate, and if not explain why.

The tactically careless behaviour identified by von Blücher, and many other shortcomings, were also identified in two Soviet reports which were declassified only after the end of the Cold War. Hutchinson is obviously unaware of these reports which generally support the FHO assessments of the Red Army. The first was compiled by General Voronov (later Marshal) and is dated 1st April 1940 and the second report was compiled by Marshal Voroshilov and Marshal Timoshenko and dated 7th December 1940. The picture of the Red Army that emerges from Voronov’s report is of an army that is tactically and operationally inept and poorly led. One of the more striking findings was that that Red Army infantry were unable to operate in trackless forest in winter: junior commanders were unable to use map and compass, and there was a fear of forest wilderness. As a consequence, Red Army units stayed on tracks where they were easily ambushed by small highly mobile Finnish patrols. The main finding of the December 1940 report, a year after the start of the war, is that many of the failings indentified in the invasion of Poland in September 1939 and the Finnish campaign have still not been removed. In other words, German assessments of Red Army performance in the Winter War were far from being corrupted by race ideology, were accurate and, if anything, may actually have understated the problems afflicting the Red Army. Thus, the extract from Franz Halder’s diary (5th December 1940) – used by Hutchinson as an epigraph for his second chapter and intended to show that Halder’s assessment of the Red Army was mistaken (Halder assesses the quality of Soviet military leadership as poor and one that has failed to make use of the most recent experiences) in actual fact turns out to be in line with what very senior Soviet figures themselves thought about the Red Army, and almost simultaneously (Halder, 5th December 1940, Voroshilov & Timoshenko, 7th December 1940).

In assessing Red Army performance in the Winter War, and in spite of its very losses relative to the Finns, Hutchinson prefers to see the glass as half full rather than almost empty: an equally plausible lesson to draw from the Red Army’s experiences in the Winter War of 1939-1940, then, was appreciation for the Soviet Union’s ability to suffer crippling losses and tactical failures only to regroup and prevail due to both the demanding inflexibility of the Soviet political classes, which would not accept defeat, and the tenacity of the Russian (sic) soldier in the field in both offensive and defensive operations[9]

Dead Russian soldier in the Winter War

The crippling losses suffered by the Red Army arose from the low levels of competence among Soviet commanders at all levels. Even by May 1945, these shortcomings had not been completely eliminated. Stalin and his generals squandered men’s lives because they had men’s lives to waste. What Hutchinson categorizes as ‘the demanding inflexibility of the Soviet political classes’ is a euphemism for the extreme brutality and ruthlessness of the Soviet terror apparatus which was turned against the Red Army and which functioned throughout the war with Germany. Further measures were introduced after 22nd June 1941: the reintroduction of the institution of military commissars (16th July 1941) and Stalin’s infamous Order № 270 (16th August 1941).

Given that German intelligence officers and senior army officers were well aware of Soviet profligacy with the lives of Soviet citizens and the terror-enforcement role played by the NKVD and military commissars, it would have been entirely conceivable to German intelligence officers and army commanders that Stalin would go to any lengths to avoid defeat. The FHO view that Red Army armoured units lacked coordination with other units and that the Red Army soldier was passive and too obedient is also entirely consistent with what was repeatedly observed on the Eastern front.

For its part, the German army placed a premium on Auftragstaktik, mission-led command, which demanded that leaders at all levels show initiative and not just wait for orders, whereas the Red Army stressed rigid adherence to the implementation of orders regardless of changed circumstances. Red Army commanders, with memories of the way the Red Army had been mutilated in the 1930s, were for the most part institutionally unprepared and psychologically incapable of acting  independently, an appalling handicap when operating against an enemy which valued and inculcated aggressive initiative and independent command. Military commissars breathing  down their necks just made things worse for Red Army commanders. If, however, one accepts the Hutchinson position that Eberhard Kinzel, the head of FHO (later replaced by Gehlen) and Ernst Köstring, the German military attaché in Moscow, were incorrect to argue that the general disarray and backwardness of the Red Army meant that it would be many years before the Soviet Union would be a threat to Germany, then it would be reasonable to deduce that the Soviet Union constituted a threat to Germany in May-June 1941, so justifying a pre-emptive strike.

After the start of Barbarossa, German agents reported that Jews were being evacuated by the Soviet administration and given preferential treatment. Hutchinson cites this as yet another example of the Nazis’ conflating Jews with the Bolshevik regime. However, in Dvesti let vmeste (Two Hundred Years Together, 2002), Solzhenitsyn points out that after the German invasion a major effort was made by the Soviet bureaucracy to evacuate as  many Jews as possible, and there were very good reasons why the Soviet regime allowed nothing to be published in the press. Firstly, after the conclusion of the Non-Aggression Pact in 1939, there was complete official silence in the Soviet Union about Hitler’s policy towards Jews, and this meant that the bulk of the Soviet population was not aware of the deadly threat posed to Jews by the German invasion. Secondly, German propaganda had repeatedly highlighted “the Judeo-Bolshevik” threat and that had the Soviet state let it be known that Jews were to be given priority for evacuation this would have played straight into the hands of Goebbels.

Hutchinson also criticizes FHO for not consulting the 1939 Soviet census as a way of assessing Soviet manpower reserves, unaware that it was heavily censored so as to mask the consequences of the genocide in Ukraine. The 1939 census was another example of telling Stalin what he demanded to hear. Those who compiled the 1937 census were shot because their figures indicated population decline. Their successor-demographers who compiled the 1939 census drew certain conclusions from the fate of their colleagues and gave Comrade Stalin the census he required. Stalin’s demands that the world be presented to him as he saw it, not as it was – the weakness of which Hutchinson accuses the German intelligence services – had almost catastrophic consequences two years later.

That the various branches of the German intelligence services played a role in expediting the Endlösung is not in dispute yet it is not the case, as Hutchinson claims, that Walter Rauff, the head of the technical agencies of the RSHA, and his subordinates ‘pioneered the science of mobile gassing units, designing specialised vans with redirected carbon monoxide exhaust, testing them on Soviet prisoners, and assigning them to Einsatzkommandos’.[10] Documents declassified and published in the Soviet Union in 1990 (Komsomol’skaia Pravda, 28th October 1990) show that the use of mobile gassing vans – always highlighted as yet another example of unique Nazi malevolence – was, in fact, pioneered by the Soviet NKVD not the National-Socialist RSHA. In 1937, at the height of the Great Terror the NKVD executioners in Moscow were unable to cope with the mass of executions. The head of the NKVD administrative section in the Moscow Directorate of the NKVD, one Isai Davidovich Berg, proposed mass gassing to accelerate the execution process. Prisoners would be stripped naked, their mouths stuffed with rags, their arms pinioned and they would be laid in the rear of a van.  Camouflaged as a bread delivery van, this mobile gassing machine would set off to burial pits dug in advance. En route, exhaust fumes would be fed into the rear and by the time the van reached its final destination the prisoners would all be dead from gassing. In the unlikely event that any prisoners survived this ordeal, they could be dispatched with a bullet in the neck. Berg himself was shot in 1939 on a charge of having participated in some conspiracy, and rehabilitated in 1956. I somehow cannot imagine that the German government will be in any hurry to rehabilitate Walter Rauff. Given that these revelations about the pioneering role of the NKVD in the techniques and technology of mobile gassing were first made public in 1990, nearly thirty years ago, it is pertinent to ask why the NS-regime is still held responsible for inventing this method of execution. Intelligence failure or not wanting to know?

Reinhard Gehlen replaced Kinzel as head of FHO in 1942, so beginning his extraordinary career in which he progressed from Hitler’s spymaster-in-chief on the Eastern front until the end of the war, whereupon with American support he set up the Gehlen Organisation, eventually becoming the head of Germany’s Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) until his retirement in 1968. The essential problem with Gehlen, as far as Hutchinson is concerned, is that he and senior German officers who were enlisted in the US Army’s Historical Division, brought the same prejudices and ideological assumptions to their postwar work that, according to Hutchinson, had undermined their wartime assessments of the Soviet Union and the Red Army.

In assessing Gehlen’s post-war work, Hutchinson acknowledges that reporting on the crises in Poland and Hungary was good, and an accurate picture of Soviet troop movements in Eastern Europe was provided. One obvious weakness was hiring former members of the SS and former members of other such units some of whom could be suborned by Soviet handlers. Gehlen deserves credit, which Hutchinson denies him, for his unflinching concentration on the very real threat to the West posed by the Soviet Union and its instrument, the Warsaw Pact. Gehlen’s views on the Soviet state may well have grated on the nerves of those who believed  – or wanted to believe – that the post-Stalin Soviet Union was less of a threat but the evidence after 1953 supports Gehlen. The Soviet Union sought to manipulate Western politics through front organisations, a continuation of Comintern methods. Gehlen was also entirely correct to see Western communist parties as a threat, and there is no doubt that Soviet promotion of what it called ‘peaceful coexistence’ and detente were also ruses to undermine the West. The deployment of Cuban forces to Africa in 1975 and the DDR’s support for West German terrorist groups confirm the Gehlen position. Detente was finally exposed as the sham it always was six months after Gehlen’s death when Soviet troops invaded Afghanistan (December 1979). Attempts by the Soviet Union to exploit so-called “peace movements” and “friends of peace” in the early 1980s, with the aim of preventing the NATO deployment of Cruise and Pershing missiles, were precisely the sort of threat foreseen by Gehlen. His fears were justified and have been fully corroborated since the end of the Cold War.

Between 1945 and 1956, the US Army’s Historical Division sought to derive as much information and insight as possible into the Red Army (now the Soviet Army) and Soviet state from former senior Wehrmacht officers, a thoroughly worthy undertaking, even if German revelations came with biases. To quote Hutchinson: ‘In their analysis of Soviet combat and intelligence-gathering capabilities, politics, state structure, or specific battle outcomes, many of the German authors found innately “Russian” characteristics decisive’.[11] Why should this be a problem? Hutchinson refers to a study carried out by General Lothar Rendulic, The Fighting Qualities of the Russian Soldier (1947). Given Rendulic’s impressive military record, he knew a thing or two about the Red Army and has to be taken seriously.

General Lothar Rendulic

According to Rendulic, in order to assess the fighting capabilities of the Russian soldier it was necessary to consider national character. Since it was only logical that an enemy army would change over time, adapting to past experience in terms of technology, tactics, and organisation, “the national characteristics of the fighting men which are based on the national character of the people, and the doctrine of leadership as far as it was influenced by this character”, would not change, and were thus of central importance”.[12]

The Rendulic view makes perfect sense and is fully in line with the views of the British general, Sir John Hackett: ‘What a society gets in its armed services is exactly what it asks for, no more and no less. What it asks for tends to be a reflection of what it is. When a country looks at its fighting forces it is looking in a mirror; the mirror is a true one and the face that it sees will be its own’.[13] The mass rape of German women at the end of, and after, WWII, about which Hutchinson is silent, must also have nurtured implacable German hostility to anything Soviet/Russian, justifying a view of irredeemable savagery, and a determination to make sure that it never happened again. They proceeded from the assumption that their American captors, to begin with, then their colleagues and allies, needed to be informed about the Soviet threat to Western Europe.

Rendulic argued that ‘Russian infantry operations were successful only when provided with overwhelming superiority in numbers in troops, tanks, and artillery along an entire front’.[14] The infantry, tanks, artillery, mortars and planes available to Soviet commanders at Kursk (July 1943) support Rendulic: total men available to Red Army commanders on 5th July 1943 were: 1,987,463 (German 625,271), Red Army tanks 8,200 (German 2,699), Red Army artillery pieces 47,416 (German 9,467) and Red Army aircraft 5,965 (German 1,372). By the time the Red Army launched Operation Bagration (June 1944) against Heeresgruppe Mitte, the disparities in forces between the two sides were grotesque. In the first phase which was launched on 22nd June 1944, 3 of the four armies of Heeresgruppe Mitte were attacked by 1,254,300 troops, supported by 24,383 guns, heavy mortars and rocket launchers, 4,070 tanks and assault guns, with 6,334 aircraft deployed.[15]

Assessing German foreign intelligence before and during WWII requires some baseline, some set of criteria so that one may judge its performance – its assumptions and analyses – in relation to other foreign intelligence services and the degree to which, if any, their leaders heard what they wanted to hear and ignored what they did not. Absent such a baseline, the view that emerges is that the failings of the German foreign intelligence services were not found in the intelligence services of the other belligerent nations, which is not the case. This failure to establish a set of criteria for judging the performance of an intelligence service – what makes a good intelligence officer for example – is one of a number of weaknesses of German Foreign Intelligence. From December 1941, now in a war with Britain, the USA and the Soviet Union, the German intelligence services had to direct their intelligence-gathering operations against three enemies, whereas in the European theatre the three Allies were able to focus their efforts exclusively on Germany. The intelligence resources and assets that the three Allies could deploy against Germany were formidable – ULTRA, SOE, OSS, NKVD, NKGB, SMERSH, highly effective air reconnaissance flights and support for various resistance movements, along with Blunt and his gang – which placed intolerable strains on the German counter-intelligence effort.

It is all very well to highlight the conclusions of the British Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) on the ineffectiveness of the German intelligence service but not to ignore the fact that the Wehrmacht fought so successfully for so long against the combined resources of the USA, the British Empire and Soviet Union. Soviet agents, among them, John Cairncross, provided Stalin and his planners with valuable, almost priceless intelligence about German plans for Operation Citadel, yet use of these data was thwarted by German leadership and tactical superiority, on the ground and in the air. The spectacular American victory at Midway in 1942 was based on the success of code breakers but would have come to nothing without the daring, bravery and skill of US naval aviators. All intelligence services and intelligence assessments are prone to error – that is inherent in the very nature of the enterprise – and with regard to the German intelligence services Hutchinson offers no evidence that German failures were uniquely erroneous and disastrous. That ‘honour’ belongs to Stalin.


[1] Hutchinson, p.2
[2] Ibid., p.2
[3] Ibid., p.6
[4] Ibid., p.2
[5] Ibid.,, p.10
[6] Ibid., p.89 & p.98
[7] Hutchinson, p.19[8] Katherine R. Jolluck, Exile and Identity: Polish Women in the Soviet Union during World War II, University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, 2002, pp.224-225, p.236, p.252 & p.257
[9] Hutchinson, p.66
[10] Ibid., p.147
[11]  Ibid., p.220
[12] Ibid., p.220
[13] General Sir John Hackett, The Profession of Arms, Sidgwick and Jackson, London, 1983, p.15
[14] Hutchinson, p.221
[15] See the relevant sections of Das Deutsche Reich und der Zweite Weltkrieg, Band 8

 © Frank Ellis 2019, all rights reserved

Dr Frank Ellis is a military historian and the author of The Stalingrad CauldronBarbarossa 1941

Posted in Book Reviews, QR Home | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Multiculturalism gives Whites the Elbow

William Blake, The Great Red Dragon and the Beast from the Sea

Multiculturalism gives Whites the Elbow

by Ilana Mercer

America is “a society that is and always has been multiethnic and polyglot,” burbled David Frum, in a 2016 exposition. It’s a refrain repeated by centrists like David French, by lefties and by faux rightists. Such dissembling about America having always been multicultural is no more than post hoc justification for turning the country into a veritable Tower of Babel.

Early America’s colonies were founded by Englishmen in periwigs, speaking different English dialects. They were joined by Irish, Scottish, French, Dutch, German and Swedish Christians, who quickly adopted English as lingua franca. Not even the woke Wikipedia denies that “Nearly all colonies and, later, states in the United States, were settled by migration from” one colony to another, with “foreign immigration” generally playing “a minor role after the first initial settlements.” In other words, population growth was organic, a result of the settlers themselves multiplying and being fruitful, not of a flood of immigrants.

This so-called “multiethnic” dispensation saw early Americans publicly debate and come to a broad agreement on some highly complex, abstract matters of political philosophy, an impossibility today. The colonial community had to be tight to arrive at the Articles of Confederation, followed by the Constitution.

Try as he might, not even saint Barack Obama got away with claiming, as he did, that, “Islam had been woven into the fabric of our country since its founding.” Beyond their heavy involvement in the slave trade and in the Barbary wars—and contrary to Obama’s modern myth-making—Muslims were most certainly not enmeshed in America from its inception. The learned Founding Father John Quincy Adams, as chronicled by Laura Rubenfeld of PJ Media, held a dismal view of Islam and its vampiric prophet.

It gives me pleasure to inform my anti-Semitic readers and Ilhan Omar, the representative from Mogadishu in Minnesota – Jews were around. Early American Jews were mostly of Sephardic origins, having hailed from Spain and Portugal. That Jewry has always been more refined and reactionary than their radical, East-European brethren, who arrived much later.

And so we find Jews fighting or financing the War of Independence. Francis Salvador and Haym Solomon come to mind. “The highest ranking Jewish officer of the Colonial forces was Colonel Mordecai Sheftall.” Why, Jews even produced proud Confederate soldiers, the likes of Col. Abraham Charles Myers. It was to the peaceful Jews of America that George Washington saw fit to promise peace and goodwill in a 1790 address to a synagogue congregation in Newport, Rhode Island.

Descendants of the original inhabitants of the United States of America are certainly not up to dealing with the political aggression brought to the country’s politics by recent immigrants. Come to speak of it, neither are the First Nations, the American Indians, who’re also politically more passive, when compared to the barbarians who’ve joined the Empire, since 1965.

To tether the character of Rep. Ilhan Omar to America’s immigration preferences is perfectly proper. Likewise Rashida Tlaib. The representative from Michigan is a second-generation Palestinian-American, and every bit as tribal, politically aggressive and reliably leftist as Omar. By virtue of its main source countries, America’s mass immigration policy privileges individuals like Omar: angry, anti-white, and highly receptive to theories that blacken the West and porcelainize the undeveloped world (a pedagogic poison that is, by the way, hot-housed in the U.S.—K to 12 and beyond).

Muslim power in U.S., we are told, is negligible. Demographers peg the number of Muslims in America at 3.5 million, a mere 1 percent of the population. Nobody buys that—all the more so, given that the Census Bureau has not asked questions about religion since the 1950s. “Some say the number is closer to 5 million and rising,” surmises the Economist. The more politically aggressive the new arrivals, the more demographers stick by their “puny numbers”.

Kamala Harris’ mother migrated to California from Chennai, in southern India. But the senator “rarely mentions the Indian side of her family while campaigning.” How long before Harris tells her unschooled voters that Indian-Americans were “woven into the fabric of our country since its founding”? The truth is that Indian-Americans have “arrived in America over the past two decades.” They’re a new addition to the country’s state-planned, multicultural mosaic. But, like Muslims, they are highly aggressive politically and reliably leftist. “… Capitol Hill, for example, is crammed with staff and interns of Indian-American heritage. They also appear to be ‘over-represented’ in academia, the media and other influential posts,” notes the Economist, a left-liberal news magazine.

Again, we are assured that “only 1 million voters of Indian descent are politically active.” Accordingly, the Economist even attempts to obfuscate the tendency Indian arrivals have of cultivating their own, Indian-only “informal networks.” As those in the corporate world know all-too-well, Indian-Americans wrestle jobs for one another and for their kin. Once ensconced in a position of power, individuals of South Asian descent tend to work assiduously to fire pale faces and hire others of their own persuasion.

Anglo-Americans, on the other hand, generally hire by talent, not by tribe. Their fate in multicultural America is to be dispossessed by the politically savvy, ruthlessly racist Other. For that is the reality of multiculturalism in the West. It means conferring political privileges on many an individual whose illiberal practices and proclivities that run counter to, even undermine, the American political tradition.

Ilana Mercer has been writing a weekly, paleolibertarian column since 1999. She is the author of Into the Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons for America From Post-Apartheid South Africa(2011) & The Trump Revolution: The Donald’s Creative Destruction Deconstructed (June, 2016). She’s on Twitter, Facebook & Gab. Latest on YouTube: “How Democracy Made Us Dumb.

Posted in Current Affairs and Comment, QR Home | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Silver Scream

Thomas Cole, The Voyage of Life, Old Age, credit Munson Williams Proctor Arts Institute

Silver Scream

Bill Hartley, on the retirement-community racket

On a busy urban road near where I live stand a pair of heavy duty iron gates set into a high brick wall. This defensive perimeter has the feel of an institution but closer inspection reveals it is a gated, retirement complex. People who acquire an apartment in such places (never a mere flat) are buying not just a home but a lifestyle. They are heavily advertised and clearly this is a buoyant market. Although this type of development isn’t specifically sheltered accommodation for the infirm or vulnerable, once it has you in its clutches it might as well be since it operates on the assumption that by 55 (often the lower limit for getting in) your outlook changes, though as one inmate sorry resident points out in a promotional video, ‘you can come and go as you want’. However nicely put, there is an overarching sense of decline and inevitable dependency.

Paradoxically, the advertising often features hale and hearty couples, slim and trim, the sort you might see on television stopping at one of those leisure hotels or on a European river cruise. The reality, though, is somewhat different. Residents tend to be homely old ladies. Locational advantages are often talked up by the residents; nearby coffee shops or the proximity of a railway station. A bit like day release really.

Another of the advertising pitches these companies make is that they will take care of all the chores for you allowing ‘more time’ for the things you like. Don’t fancy cleaning skirting boards? Then this can be added to your not-to-do list and the staff will take care of it. All this sounds superficially attractive and perhaps many of us would wish to off load window cleaning, lawn mowing and the like onto others. However, one of the problems for retirees and not always anticipated, is how to use up all of that time previously spent on work. Not just the forty or so hours spent there but the travelling and other associated matters. Some people manage this quite effectively; often they have a range of activities which can be expanded to fill the time available. In retirement ‘village’ land (another cosy word they have appropriated) routine domestic chores become translated into burdens, rather than an integral part of life.

A colleague has parents who moved to such a place out in Lincolnshire. He described it as an isolated outpost adjacent to a village. Imagine, he said, being in a ‘community’ where day follows day, weekends and bank holidays pass almost unnoticed and where children are admitted for only a limited number of hours. Youngsters are noisy and energetic and would disturb the leaden calm of the place. Artificiality is one of the key features. Diversity is lost. Gone is the normal mixed neighbourhood of intergenerational living, replaced by a world behind the gates where everyone is at a ‘similar stage in life’.

Retirement living is big business and these properties aren’t cheap. One and two bedroom apartments can range from between a quarter and half a million pounds depending on location. Often such places are described as ‘award winning’, though it’s never stated what the award is. When it’s nationally known and recognised most companies won’t hesitate to tell you. Generally they’ll stick a logo on their publications for added emphasis. At one location the ‘ever expanding’ social life was flagged up. Clearly those additional hours which might have been spent cleaning skirting boards need to be filled. The social events mentioned included coffee mornings, fish and chip suppers and…..that was it. So in exchange for having a great deal of everyday life sucked out of your existence, you can have all the coffee mornings you want. This life comes at a price of course and not just the cost of an apartment.

Whilst doubtless there are people satisfied with this kind of arrangement and have a need for someone to keep an eye on them, there is a downside. Some of these problems seem to have first become noticeable in Australia where lawyers are reportedly bringing a class action against a retirement homes company. A solicitor commented that some of the contracts he has seen run to 100 pages. Also management fees may be deferred for two or three years after purchase. If the buyer doesn’t like the place they may discover they have lost 35% of the purchase price and be unable to afford to go elsewhere. Another example perhaps of how consumer law struggles to keep up with our fast changing society.

The Daily Telegraph published an article about the pitfalls of buying into this lifestyle, quoting a former property journalist Sebastian O’Kelly who runs a charity called Campaign Against Retirement Leasehold Exploitation (CARLEX). One of the points he makes is that all these management services may be supplied by offshoots of the freeholder. In other words there is no competitive tendering process and residents may find themselves hit by very high costs. O’Kelly also warns that these properties sell at a high premium and tend to depreciate dramatically. Interestingly, even after death residents may continue to require laundry and meals. Some relatives discovered that whilst the apartment was up for sale, service charges were still costing £10,000 per annum.

It is clearly a seductive product: all those pesky chores taken care of, the operators generously permitting people to come and go as they like, endless coffee mornings and no kids. However, the BBC has reported that ‘half of new build retirement homes sold over a ten year period were later re-sold at a loss’. AgeUK produces an excellent fact sheet in which the prospective buyer can learn all about charges on top of service charges and other costs waiting for the unwary. Perhaps there is something to be said for standing on your own two feet as long as you can.

William Hartley is a former Deputy Governor in HM Prison Service 

Posted in Current Affairs and Comment, QR Home | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Night Moves

Tuuli Takala as Queen of the Night, photo by Tristram Kenton

Night Moves

Die Zauberflöte, singspiel in two acts; music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, libretto by Emanuel Schikaneder, Orchestra of the Royal Opera House conducted by Leo Hussain, 6th revival of director David McVicar’s 2003 production, revival director Bárbara Lluch, Royal Opera, 1st November 2019, reviewed by Leslie Jones

Reinhold Hanisch recalls a conversation that he had with Hitler, on the bread line in Vienna. Citing Die Zauberflöte, Hanisch suggested that Mozart was a much greater composer than Wagner. Hitler flew into a rage. He considered Mozart’s work superficial and sentimental.

Imbued as it is with humanistic, nay Masonic, ideals of peace, progress, reason and love, Hitler evidently detested Die Zauberflöte. The character of the Queen of the Night, bent on murder and revenge, was more in line with his social-Darwinist thinking. Yet, paradoxically, there are anticipations of The Ring in Mozart’s late masterpiece. Its hero Tamino, who contends with a giant serpent, prefigures Siegfried. The Queen’s Three Ladies, brilliantly performed on this occasion by Kiandra Howarth, Hongni Wu and Nadine Weissmann, likewise, bring to mind the Rhine Maidens. And for Alberich, read Monostatos (Rodell Rosel, suitably sinister). Indicatively, a production of Der Ring des Nibelungen, at Strasbourg, is one of director David McVicar’s credits. Continue reading

Posted in Cultural Matters, QR Home | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Learn before you Lead

Friedrich Hayek

Learn before you Lead

Ilana Mercer tutors young conservatives

To judge by their writing, the youngsters who’ve been given the run of the conservative op-ed pages, pixelated and printed, know little about how socialism differs from capitalism. To their credit, they’ve chosen a side—the right side—but are incapable of arguing the morality of capitalism and its efficacy, which stems from its morality. Their employers are failing to demand that their young, conservative charges methodically and creatively motivate for the right—and the Right—side.

Endeavoring to explain the oft-repeated banality that, “Colleges are turning young people [into] socialists,” one such prototypical writer says this in her dog’s breakfast of a column, for the Washington Examiner:

“Students are gullible and moldable because they have little conviction and no foundation. Too often, public universities teach students to accept basic, shallow ‘knowledge’ at face value. They are not trained to ask why this knowledge matters or how it influences the rest of their education or how it relates to higher principles.”

The writer at once, and incoherently, condemns “shallow knowledge” (whatever that is) yet laments that students are not taught to relate “shallow knowledge” to higher principles. What does this even mean? Such bafflegab is published absent the telltale signs of editorial oversight. Or, perhaps the editors of the Examiner and publications like it think that voicing an opinion is the same as advancing an argument. Continue reading

Posted in Current Affairs and Comment, QR Home | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

ENDNOTES, November 2019

St James the Great Church, East Malling, Kent

Endnotes, November 2019: in this edition, Mozart at a mediaeval church in Kent – and Six Flute Sonatas by Bach, on the OUR label, reviewed by Stuart Millson

Vaughan Williams once likened musical life to a great pyramid. At the apex are the renowned performers of world standing, but beneath them – like supporting blocks – are the thousands of fine amateurs, students and soon-to-be professionals who make music simply for the joy of it. This vast band of dedicated people can be found throughout the country: at churches, community halls and the concert-halls of provincial towns. Names like the Sevenoaks or Maidstone Symphony orchestras, Midlands Philharmonic, the old North-East London Polytechnic Chorus and a thousand other choirs or chorales come to mind.

Mid-Kent’s East Malling Singers have been established for over thirty years and have performed such ambitious repertoire as Handel’s Messiah, Bach’s Passions, Britten’s Saint Nicolas, the Vaughan Williams’ Serenade to Music, Brahms’s A German Requiem and Orff’s Carmina Burana. Continue reading

Posted in Cultural Matters, ENDNOTES:Music, QR Home | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Texas Sings the Blues

Downtown Dallas

Texas Sings the Blues 

Ilana Mercer does demography

Democrats, reports the Economist, “think they might win Texas in 2020.” Demographers, being mostly Democrats, credit Donald Trump. One of them, he’s from Rice University in Houston, claimed that Trump was the “worst thing that ever happened to Texas Republicans”:

“Mr. Trump has alienated many white Republican women in Texas, and has also pushed away Hispanics, who account for around 40 percent of the state’s population. … According to a recent poll by the University of Texas and Texas Tribune, more Texans say they would sooner vote for a candidate running against Mr. Trump than re-elect the president.”

But even those afflicted with Trump Derangement Syndrome are forced to concede that,

“Long after Mr. Trump leaves office, demographic change in Texas will continue to exert an influence on the fortunes of Republicans, as the Hispanic population grows, millennials vote in increasing numbers and people continue to move to Texas from other states, bringing their more liberal politics with them.”

Yes, the country as a whole is moving leftward. And it’s not Donald Trump—although a border wall and a moratorium on immigration would have helped mightily. As the Economist attests, “Americans are more in favor of ‘big-government’ policies today than at any point in the last 68 years.” The “public mood” in America is decidedly with statism and leftism. Continue reading

Posted in Current Affairs and Comment, QR Home | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

“Hitler’s Holocaust” – made in Britain?

“Hitler’s Holocaust” – made in Britain?

David Ashton reviews a TV agitflop

On 3 and 10 October, BBC4 showcased Science’s Greatest Scandal, a two-parter, which claimed that Englishmen initiated the “shocking” beliefs that “drove” the mass-murder of the Jews (Radio Times). This gruesome slander was illustrated by ipso facto irrelevant and therefore purposely prejudicial Soviet footage from Auschwitz.

The presenters were Adam Pearson and Angela Saini. Both have acutely personal perspectives. Pearson is an actor facially disfigured by neurofibromatosis and surgery. Ms Saini, from a high-caste Punjabi background, has written a book about Indian brains “taking over the world”, and another recommending that female scientists should transform society towards “equality” [1]. Her subsequent shallow polemic against “race science”, Superior: the Return of Race Science, was refuted by Mankind Quarterly’s editor, and also in Quillette, provoking a torrent of online vituperation.

The causal connection that she alleges between our fellow-countrymen and the “horrific practice [0f] …the Nazis” was “eugenics”, the applied science elaborated by the Victorian polymath Sir Francis Galton. Eugenics is about human birth and conception, not death and extermination. Galton proposed incentives to encourage parenthood and fecundity among healthier and more creative people, and to discourage reproduction of offspring with hereditary illnesses and social handicaps. The objective was to prevent, not inflict, personal suffering, and to improve community capabilities. How is that “evil”? Continue reading

Posted in Current Affairs and Comment, QR Home | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

The British Aristocracy, a Retrospect

Cliveden House

The British Aristocracy, a Retrospect

Entitled: a Critical History of the British Aristocracy, Chris Bryant, 2017, Transworld Penguin, ISBN 9780857523167, reviewed by Monty Skew

Chris Bryant is a privately educated, former Anglican priest, once a Conservative Party supporter, who subsequently became MP for the Rhondda, one of Labour’s safest seats. He was also secretary of the Christian Socialist Movement. In Entitled, this Welsh MP mounts a critique of the aristocracy and their privileges.

Jack Jones, a former dockworker who rose to become General Secretary of the Transport and General Workers’ Union, once described the aristocracy as nothing more than the descendants of robber barons and trollops. Bryant expands on this list of their supposedly negative qualities. He includes insatiable greed (they own one third of the land), jealously guarded wealth, pride and arrogance and ostentatious display (such as monuments). He may be right but his text does not sustain the argument.

The history of the aristocracy is the history of this country but it is not all the history. The early chapters on the Normans and Plantagenets, with a description of feudal land tenure, are useful and highlight one of the lesser known continuities of history. But the slender argument runs aground with an over-detailed account of families, their squabbles, marriages etc. None of it adds to an understanding of the historical forces at work. Continue reading

Posted in Book Reviews, Current Affairs and Comment, QR Home | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Democracy makes us Dumb

Portrait of Friedrich Nietzsche

Democracy makes us Dumb

by Ilana Mercer

From the riffs of outrage coming from the Democrats and their demos over “our democracy” betrayed, infiltrated even destroyed—you’d never know that a rich vein of thinking in opposition to democracy runs through Western intellectual thought, and that those familiar with it would be tempted to say “good riddance.”

But voicing opposition to democracy is just not done in politically polite circles, conservative and liberal alike. For this reason, the Mises Institute’s Circle in Seattle, an annual gathering, represented a break from the pack. The Mises Institute is a think tank working to advance free-market economics from the perspective of the Austrian School of Economics. It is devoted to peace, prosperity, and private property, implicit in which is the demotion of raw democracy, the state, and its welfare-warfare machine.

This year, amid presentations that explained “Why American Democracy Fails,” it fell to me to speak to “How Democracy Made Us Dumb.” (Oh yes! Reality on the ground was not candy-coated.)

Some of the wide-ranging observations I made about the dumbing down inherent in democracy were drawn from the Founding Fathers and the ancients. A tenet of the American democracy is to deify youth and diminish adults. To counter that, let’s start with the ancients. The Athenian philosophers disdained democracy. Deeply so. They held that democracy “distrusts ability and has a reverence for numbers over knowledge.” (Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy, New York, 1961, p.10.) Continue reading

Posted in Current Affairs and Comment, QR Home | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment