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On April 1, 1942, Lieutenant Colonel Reinhard Gehlen assumed command of the German
General Staff intelligence division, Fremde Heere Ost [Foreign Armies East]. On February 27,
1945, Brigadier General Reinhard Gehlen personally met with Adolf Hitler in the Reich
Chancellery. On July 1, 1946, Herr Reinhard Gehlen and several American intelligence analysts
departed Washington, DC, on a troop transport for Europe. On September 20, 1950, Gehlen met
with Konrad Adenauer at the Koenig Museum in Bonn. On April 1, 1956, Gehlen was
commissioned a Lieutenant General in the newly formed Bundeswehr. As this string of events
suggests, Gehlen continually worked to develop and operate an intelligence network against the
Soviet Union from 1942 until his 1968 retirement from the Bundesnachrichtensdienst [BND or
Federal Intelligence Service]; first for Hitler, but then for the United States and West Germany.
This spymaster’s unusual biography begs several important questions: What sort of person was
Reinhard Gehlen? Why was he employed by the United States and later the West German state
in such an important role given his association with Hitler and the Third Reich? What did this
association mean in light of the subsequent Cold War?
The study of these crucial questions is fundamentally problematic, as historians of
espionage by nature work in oxymoronic territory. Spies covertly seek to uncover and maintain
secrets, and historians overtly seek to research and analyze facts in order to form coherent
narratives. Thus the goal of intelligence history ironically violates the goal of intelligence
organizations. These opposing goals have led to a conflict-ridden modus vivendi between
historians and the intelligence community regarding the acquisition of sources.