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On April 1, 1942, Lieutenant Colonel Reinhard Gehlen assumed command of the German General Staff intelligence division, Fremde Heere Ost [FHO]. On February 27, 1945, Brigadier General Reinhard Gehlen personally met with Adolf Hitler in the Reich Chancellery to discuss the strategic situation on the Eastern Front. On July 1, 1946, Reinhard Gehlen departed Washington, D.C. with Pentagon authorization and support to reactivate his spy network against the Soviet Union. On September 20, 1950, Gehlen met with Konrad Adenauer at the Koenig Museum in Bonn to discuss the reformation of his spy service under full West German sovereignty. On April 1, 1956, the Gehlen Organization became the West German Bundesnachrichtensdienst [BND], and 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, serving in turn Adolf Hitler, the United States Army, the Central Intelligence Agency, and Adenauer’s Christian Democrats.
The first comprehensive attempt to explain Reinhard Gehlen’s provocative career was made by Julius Mader, an East German intellectual who earned a doctorate in the “development, system, and methods” of the “imperialist” West German intelligence service. Mader argued that Gehlen was the Cold War equivalent of Mephistopheles from Goethe’s Faust, a “Fascist General Staff Officer” that successfully carried out his “diabolical plan” to plant “the seed of Satan”in the anti-Fascist alliance of the Great Patriotic War by offering the United States knowledge of the Soviet Union in exchange for permission to become “America's number one Spy in Europe… without the knowledge of either the US Congress or the American People.” The American Faust character thus gained intelligence on the Soviet Union, but at the cost of starting an ideological Cold War in support of “the dream of Himmler and Schellenburg,” namely the resurrection of Hitler's General Staff to serve as a foundation for the eventual rearmament of Germany. Despite his impressive synthesis of literary flourish and sound Marxist-Leninism, this paper disagrees with the theoretical conclusions reached by Julius Mader. Reinhard Gehlen was never impressive enough to cause such a dramatic shift in the international political arena (often characterized as “slight, soft-spoken[,] small and slim”), and his intelligence analysis (exposed as a complete failure by intercepts from the ULTRA program) could never match Mephistopheles’ offer of unlimited knowledge and worldly pleasures. Nevertheless, Mader correctly identifies the central puzzle of the U.S.-Gehlen relationship: how can a fellow-traveler of the Nazi party’s war of aggression against the Soviet Union end up in the employ of the U.S. Army mere months after Hitler’s suicide?