The Legacy of Post WWII Political Intrigue and Espionage
by Trowbridge H. Ford editing… Jim W. Dean
Whenever a sovereign nation is conquered by another, its inhabitants, whether they be from its elite or dregs, ultimately have a hard time adjusting to foreign occupation because they don’t know how long it will last, and what it may be replaced by.
The process is made more difficult if it seems that there is no alternative to the conquerors, especially if they appear to represent some wave of the future.
But then, there are always surprises in history, and some seemingly sure things turn out to be nothing more than delayed dead ends.
Of course, the alternative to such a course is to continue to fight the occupiers tooth and nail as there seems to be no choice about the matter, but the costs of such a course are usually devastating.
The best example of the latter is the sad fate of Poland when it was confronted by nemeses on both its borders as World War II approached. It refused to compromise with either of its threatening neighbors, and paid heavily for its choice.
The victim of yet more partitions of Poland, it still refused to accommodate with either of its invaders. Poland was the only country in Europe, when overrun, refused to recognize and cooperate with its conquerors.
In fact, it proved so obstreperous to its Soviet occupiers that they felt obliged to execute the leading officers of its military in the infamous Katyn Forest massacres for fear that they would fight with the invading Nazis when the showdown between Berlin and Moscow finally occurred.
The uncooperative Poles in the German occupied areas fared even worse as they were forced to fight back because of the Nazi liquidation of increasing numbers of its Jewish citizens, culminating in the infamous elimination of the Warsaw Ghetto.
The Poles preferred, in sum, partitions of their country aka Polonization rather than experience some kind of ‘Quisling’ rule – the sobriquet given the German occupation of Norway under the collaborationist administration of Vidkun Quisling.
Traditionally, the term Polonization had meant the political and cultural expansion of the country at the expense of its neighbors, especially Germans and Lithuanians, but now the term was used to identify the reverse process.
Ever since the failed Warsaw uprising of 1831, except for the chaos left after the collapse of World War I, the Poles had been resigned to the fate history had dictated for them, as was amply demonstrated when neither the French nor the British supplied the help they had promised when the Nzai blitzkrieg struck in 1939.
The trouble with this passive, go-it-alone strategy by the Poles when it came to improving the nation’s fortunes was that it could easily be sidetracked by others.
When the prospects of its government in exile in London started to improve, its head, General Wladyslaw Sikorski, was conveniently assassinated in Gibraltar by the Brits, it seems, in July 1943.
Sikorski was a courageous leader who was willing to make hard choices, deciding better ‘Stalin than Hitler’ immediately after the Nazi forces invaded the USSR.
His vigorous cooperation with them promised some hope for the Poles in the postwar settlement – what Churchill recognized, and had MI6 apparently sabotage the plane’s controls while it was refueling, making it look like a Soviet plane, parked next to it, had been its source.
Without Sikorski, the anti-communist Poles tried to go it alone when the Soviets forces approached Warsaw, but Stalin would not hear of it.
The postwar settlement in Poland was the most repressive of all in Eastern Europe. The country itself was a convenient hodge-podge at German expense which just provided another example of Polonization.
The terms of the Yalta Conference guaranteed that its politics would be Soviet-dominated, and the consequences were the least troublesome to its authorities when it came to anti-regime efforts, as the Vasili Mitrokhin files from the KGB demonstrate.
There is hardly any mention of Poland in the book Christopher Andrew wrote about it, The Sword and The Shield, until the revival of Catholicism during the late 1970s under Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, and the rise of Lech Walesa’s Solidarity Movement in the 1980s.
Until then, the Polish regime had essentially bought off its opponents under the watchful eye of Moscow. When the fear of Soviet military intervention collapsed in Poland, the regime fell surprisingly quickly, like a stack of cards.
For anyone living in Europe after WWII, especially in the Soviet bloc, Poland offered the least insights into how to deal with Soviet Communism domestically, and how it would fare in the world.
Poland seemed like the worst place to choose as a jumping off spot for some kind of better future as the soft, repressive character of its communist regime appeared like a fixed monolith, quite impervious to change, because of the immediate presence of the USSR right next door – what turned out to be a paper tiger when Mikael Gorbachev took over.
Actually, a more flexible, compromising attitude towards an invader seems like a more profitable course for an subject country, as France experienced under Nazi rule, and after its liberation. Paris, always worried about the discontinuaties of its turbulent past, always kept a lifeline to its republican past, no matter how comforting the autocratic ways of Marshal Pétain, and the prospects of the Nazi invaders seemed while it too experienced partition with the creation of the Vichy regime.
The duplicity of all concerned was well-illustrated by the behavior of the National Assembly which voted away its power after the fall of France, only to try to restore itself after the departure of the Germans. The Marshal’s infamous Deputy Premier, Pierre Laval, and then his successor, Admiral Darlan, were quite prepared to work for the Nazis until it seemed much more profitable just to work for themselves.
The same transition occurred within the population at large, as the chorus of support for Pétain turned slowly in favor of a unified resistance. General de Gualle was transformed from a troublesome traitor into the nation’s savior.
Insignificant resistance groups became the National Resistance Council, and right-wing hopes of an administered autocracy were dashed by the fiascoes in Vichy.
One can still only wonder if liberation would have turned out so well if Churchill’s dealing with the difficult General had resulted in this one’s assassination too.
When Churchill only informed de Gaulle of the D-Day landings after they occurred, he reacted so furiously that the British Prime Minister wrote him “..a letter,” Gordon Wright has written in France in Modern Times, “breaking off all personal relations and ordering de Gaulle off British soil.” (p. 394) Fortunately, the letter was not sent.
The experiences of Poland and France during WWII, and in the post-war world must have influenced everyone growing up in their mutual neighbor, Germany, West and East, especially one who moved from zone one to the other. The whole socializing process on either side of the border would have created all kinds of problems between peers and parents.
And it would have become even more disruptive if there was an ideological-religious difference between parents and children. The divided character of the country would have proven most vexing to all Germans, as they seemed caught up in an endless quandry of occupation – what no one really knew the outcome of, and when it would occur.
This analysis seems germane while trying to put together the life of Angela Kasner, eldest daughter of Lutheran priest Horst Kasner, and current Chancellor of the German Federal Republic, especially since she is most reluctant to talk about it. Born in Hamburg in 1954, and moved to East Germany shortly thereafter as her father obtained a pastorship in Quitzow, near Perleberg, in nearby Brandenburg, she had the Cold War almost embedded in her very bones.
Her father was born in the Pankow district of Berlin, then part of the Soviet sector. Her mother’s parents still lived in Elblag – formerly East Prussia’s Elbing – in Poland when Angela was born. The area was allocated to the USSR under the terms of the 1939 Treaty with the Nazis, and was sold to the Soviets in January 1941 for $7,500,000, so the Kasners were victims too of various invasions and partitions. After WWII, the area became part of Kaliningrad, and remains so.
The Kasners’ move to the German Democratic Republic (GDR) was apparently an effort to better position themselves for whatever happened to their divided country, particularly since they lived further in the GDR, setting up a household in Templin, 80 kilometers north of Berlin.
While Horst was trying to improve relations between the West’s and the East’s Lutheran churches, Angela was attending state schools, becoming a member of its Free German Youth (FDJ) program, though she did not take part in its Jugendweihe, the secular coming of age rite, preferring to be confirmed in the Lutheran church. Apparently, there was growing tension between the stern father, and the ambitious, talented daughter. Angela became so proficient in Russian that she ever won a prize.
After Angela graduated from secondary school in 1973, though, details about who she was becoming, and what she was doing become few and far between. She attended the University of Leipzig. She also married in 1976 fellow undergraduate student Ulrich Merkel, explaining that it was considered the thing to do, though they never had any children, and the marriage started breaking down as soon as she got appointed to Berlin’s Academy Sciences where she became FDJ’s secretary for recruiting, aka ‘agitprop’, children of its members into its program, showing that she was covertly supporting the GDR’s future. In fact, she was so busy doing other things that it wasn’t until 1986 that she finally completed her Ph.D degree.
Quantum chemistry aka quantum physics is a highly theoretical field which combines quantum mechanics with general field theory, and has all kinds of practical applications regarding plasmas, nuclear rehabilitation, and electromagnetism. The Soviet Union had built all kinds of nuclear devices on a crash basis – weapons, power plants, nuclear-powered submarines, radioisotope thermo-electric generators (RTGs), etc. – and were becoming concerned about what to do with them when they were no longer useful.
There were nuclear power generating plants all around the country whose safety was becoming questionable, nuclear-powered submarines around the ports of Murmansk, Archangel and in the Baltic which were dangerously rotting away, and spent RTGs littering the Kola Peninsula.
While the Soviets did not have the resources to deal with these problems, they looked to the East Germans – whose Berlin Academy of Sciences still had a great reputation in the field – to find the know-how, given its contacts in the West. The Berlin establishment traced its origins back to 1700 when the Prussian Academy of Sciences was started, and included among its membership such distinguished scientists as Gottfried Leibniz, Max Planck, and Albert Einstein.
Even though it had only been revived by the GDR after WWII, it still had over 200 members, including some two dozen from the West. It had grown now to include research in quantum chemistry – where Angela was working at its Central Institute for Physical Chemistry.
To take advantage of Merkel’s potential, Markus Wolf’s foreign section of the Stasi, the Hauptverwaltung Aufkluring (HVA), recruited her, it seems, to handle illegal agents the GDR was sending across The Wall to gather secrets from research facilities in the Federal Republic (FRG), France, Norway, and other Western countries – what she had learned about from her meetings and contacts at the Institute.
The future seemed to be turning in the GDR’s favor since détente had been established between Washington and Moscow, and the two German states had recognized one another’s existence in 1972. Most important, the Stasi had nursed along Willy Brandt’s bridge-building government towards the GDR until 1974 when its spies in the Chancellor’s Office, the Guillaumes, were exposed, Gunter declaring proudly: “I am an officer of the (East German) National People’s Army!” (Quoted from Andrew, p. 445.)
Despite Wolf’s claims after the GDR’s collapse that this was a grave mistake – what Andrew believes – it was deliberate, thinking that it would just enhance the GDR’s Eric Honecker’s potential in German reunification.
Thanks to the KGB Archives that its librarian Vasili Mittrokhin supplied Andrew, we now know about the extensive use of Stasi ‘Romeo’ spies who provided the KGB with all kinds of information. The glaring exception was the performance of Wilhelm Kahle (codenamed WERNER), a laboratory technician who assumed in the GDR the identity of a West German resident, and worked in the West in various capacities, and capitals, particularly in labs at Cologne and Bonn universities.
By the late 1970s, though, his intelligence take had become too thin, though quite extensive, resulting in a ten-volume file in the Archives, that the KGB became suspicious of his bona fides, especially when it learned through his communications with his mother in East Germany that he was fearful of being recalled to Moscow because of the wealth he had amassed in Paris.
In 1978, Kahle was summoned back to Moscow, and given a lie detector test on a contrived basis just to determine how unreliable he had become. It proved that it was extensive, resulting in its putting its most accomplished agent, codenamed ANITA – who spoke both German and Russian fluently – on the case. It was one of putting a ‘Juliet’ on a runaway ‘Romeo’, apparently a first in intelligence history. A
fter intensive questioning during their liaisons, Andrew wrote, “ANITA’s report confirmed the Centre’s suspicions.” (p. 450) She wrote that he had become an ideologically unreliable, completely self-serving agent who had no qualms about using others, even targets, for his own purposes. “As a result of ANITA’s report,” Andrew concluded, “Kahle appears to have been sidelined. He was formally removed from illegal work in 1982.”
The trouble with Andrew’s treatment of ANITA is that he never explained how she had become such an important counterintelligence specialist, who she might be, and why he never explained in the notes the disposition of her case since the Berlin Wall had come down, and the Cold War was over.
Then Andrew went out of his way in the notes to make it appear that all ‘Romeos’, except Wolf’s spy FELIX, had been identified – even going out of his way to account for the identity of “Franz Becker” aka Hans-Jurgen Henze (note 57, p. 649) – when there is no identification of either Kahle and his superior ‘Romeo’ ANITA.
Also, there are questions about what she might have done for the KGB after Mitrokhin’s records ran out. She could well have been the KGB agent who infiltrated Egon Bahr’s entourage – what Andrew mentioned when he discussed SDP Chancellor Helmut Schmidt’s dealing with the newly elected President Reagan after a month’s delay of his visit to Washington.
KGB Chairman Yuri Andropov explained, thanks to the KGB agent’s report “of special importance”, to the Soviet chief Leonid Brezhnev, that the delay was “designed to enable Washington to gain time to build up its armaments with the aim of overtaking the USSR in the military field.” (Quoted from ibid, p. 455.)
The KGB source also stated that there were all kinds of Western agents flooding Bonn to stop the growing commercial contacts between the FRG and the USSR, especially the proposed construction of a pipeline to bring natural gas from Siberia to the West – what Schmidt, to Moscow’s delight, was vigorously pressing ahead with.
With the KGB’s agent – stationed in the GDR, and apparently Angela Merkel – tipping off Moscow about Washington’s new arms race, it was hardly surprising that she finally received her Ph.D. in quantum chemistry. Thanks to her contacts, and the input from various illegals in the West, she had obviously learned alot about what was going on in the field.
Just compiling her agent reports into a coherent document would have been enough for the Institute to give her the degree. More important, the whole field was becoming much more important with the Soviets having to face nuclear rehabilitation with its aging nuclear arms, and everyone having to worry about nuclear meltdowns of atomic plants – what happened at Chernobyl just when she received her doctorate.
Unfortunately for Merkel, her hopes for Honecker’s all-German socialist republic did not work out, at least as far as we know now. Thanks to the Reagan arms buildup, and Gorbachev’s refusal to engage in an arms competition after the near fatal non-nuclear showdown with the Anglo-Americans – what was to be triggered by the assassination of Sweden’s statsminister Olof Palme – the communist Soviet bloc, and its individual states underwent deadly collapse, triggered by the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Merkel, to cut her losses from potential blowback, suddenly got involved in politics, joining East Germany’s new party, Democratic Awakening. Following the first democratic election in the GDR, she became deputy spokesperson for the pre-unification Prime Minister Lothar de Maiziere, a long-time Christian Democratic politician, and suspected agent of Erich Mielke’s Stasi – an allegation which led to his disappearance from politics after Helmut Kohl’s CDU/CSU gained control of a united Germany.
Kohl’s promotion thereafter of Merkel, aka his ” Madchen”, cost him dearly though. He had to engage in all kinds of bribes to get the Stasi to destroy embarrassing files, especially those relating to ANITA. and when he refused to identify who supplied the money, he was finished politically after 16 years in office.
Along the way, there was the surprise assassination of Scheswig-Holstein’s Prime Minister Uwe Barschel who had just been defeated in a lander election under most suspicious circumstances which still have not been clarified, his killers identified and prosecuted. Barschel was also a member of the CDU, the party Merkel had to join if she ever had any chance of becoming a political leader in West Germany. Barchel’s murder – whatever the reason and by whom – cleared the way for Merkel’s advancement no matter what actually transpired.
Then the intelligence coordinator of the Chancellor’s Office, Ernst Uhrlau – who went on to become the director of Germany’s foreign intelligence service (BND) -went to the greatest lengths to retrieve a Stasi index file of its agents (Operation Rosewood) that the CIA had, and was refusing to turn over.
“It is unacceptable in the long run,” Uhrlau explained to the Associate Press on December 10,1998 regarding the possibilities of blackmail, “for the German government that relevant files are sitting in the United States, and a possible or likely double in Russia.” After a two-year effort, the files were returned to Berlin.
It was not prepared for the fact that Moscow long had held the most dangerous ones, those regarding ANITA, and they had been released to the world by the tome that Christopher Andrew wrote, thanks to the Archive Mitrokhin he had access to. This book was doubly troublesome because by that time Merkel had married, it seems, her old flame, WERNER aka Wilhelm Kahle and now divorced Joachim Sauer.
They had had at the same time similar totally unexplained careers at the Central Institute of Physical Chemistry. Sauer is even more tight-lipped about his life than she is, even declining to mention that he was born in East Germany in Senftenberg, 50 kilometers north of Dresden – where he called his mother when he got into the KGB’s soup.
Of course, this would explain why Sauer has adopted such a low-profile existence to Merkel’s growing importance and popularity. He seems afraid that someone, especially one of his ‘honey trap’ victims might still recognize him. It would also explain why his wife has the best relation with Russia’s Vladimir Putin, and why she has apparently been blackmailed by the Mossad when it comes to Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, EU policy towards Iran, and missteps by the Pope when it comes to The Holocaust.
In fact, she until recently followed a policy so favored by the Social Democrats in the current economic meltdown that her CSU Economics Minister Michael Glos suddenly resigned about two years ago – what the press explained in terms of an alleged lack of input when it came to economic policy-making, but he explained ominously: “She always believed I didn’t have a clue about a lot of things.”
It seems that as other people learn more about who Angela Merkel really is, she will have increasing political difficulties. She has taken incredible risks in our ever-changing world, but still is coping with all its problems.
Trowbridge Ford (1929 – 2021) was the son of William Wallace Ford, the father of the US Army’s Grasshoppers.
He attended Phillips Exeter Academy, and Columbia University where he received a Ph.D. in political science after a stint in the Army’s Counter Intelligence Corps as a draftee during the Korean War, and after being discharged, worked as the sports editor and a reporter for the now-defunct Raleigh Times.
Thought academia was the thing for him. He was quite satisfied teaching all kinds of courses about European and American politics while writing his dissertation about an under-appreciated British politician, Henry Brougham, who became the Lord Chancellor of the famous Reform Government (1830-34).
At the same time, Trowbridge became most interested in the role that A. V. Dicey, a famous Oxford legal professor, played in settling the Irish question – another figure that historians didn’t think did much about. It was while he was doing research on the dissertation at the British Museum in London that President Kennedy was assassinated, and it slowly led him to take a dimmer view of academic life, especially when joined by campus protests over the growing Vietnam War. He was fired by two institutions of higher learning because of his protests against the war.
When the Vietnam War finally ended, he got involved in researching the Dallas assassination, and his first serious efforts about it appeared in Tom Valentine’s The National Exchange in 1978 – what Fletcher Prouty thought was quite good, just urging him to go higher in the Agency and the political world for the main culprits.
He slowly started doing this, ultimately deciding to retire early in 1986, planning on finishing his Brougham biography while living in Portugal. While he did this, he had made too many enemies with the White House not to be punished – first by attempts to establish that he maliciously tried to destroy Richard Nixon during Watergate by libeling him, and when he died, DCI George Tenet tried to have me killed by poisoning – what would make his death look like a suicide or a natural one.
As a result of this, once he had finally determined the cause, he moved to Sweden to not only save his skin but also investigate and write about assassinations, covert operations, ‘false flag’ deceptions, preventive wars, weapons development, and their use, etc. He passed away in 2021.