• Germany's news in English
 

Details emerge of CDU's private spy service

Published: 03 Dec 2012 07:51 GMT+01:00

The shadowy network had close ties with US President Richard Nixon’s foreign policy Svengali Henry Kissinger, who offered advice, and even discussed whether it was a good idea for the conservatives to usurp the government.

Political scientist Stefanie Waske spent seven years researching letters from politicians from the Christian Democratic Union and its Bavarian sister party the Christian Social Union – many of which concerned what they described as the "little service" – and will publish her full findings in a book early next year.

Some of those involved are still alive – but Kissinger for example, and the CDU/CSU, have refused to comment on the revelations, or even confirm what they did, Waske says.

It was the 1969 West German election which prompted the conservatives to set up their own secret service. They were kicked out of power for the first time since the establishment of the Federal Republic – and saw former allies the Free Democrats join Brandt’s centre-left Social Democrats to form a government.

Fear of Ostpolitik

The conservatives were fearful and mistrustful of his policy of talking with the Soviets and sending his secretary of state Egon Bahr to negotiate a treaty to swap West German recognition of post-war borders for a promise to not use violence against each other.

Conservative MP Karl Theodor Freiherr zu Guttenberg, (grandfather of the disgraced former defence minister) held a meeting in autumn 1969, not long after the election, with former chancellor Kurt Georg Kiesinger, Hans Globke who had served as chief of staff to Konrad Adenauer, and the CSU chairman Franz Josef Strauß.

They decided to form an "information service for the opposition," a later note recorded, according to Waske's work, which was explained in detail by the latest edition of weekly newspaper Die Zeit.

Being fresh out of office and extremely well-connected, they were able to call upon real spies to set it up for them, and contacted the former head of the foreign intelligence agency the BND for help. He offered up the BND's own network of informants across the globe which he had established, including agents in the US, France, Austria, Italy, the Vatican, Arabic countries, Romania, the USSR and even at the United Nations.

Familiar names and aristocrats

The man they chose to head this new network was a BND staffer, Hans Christoph von Stauffenberg, cousin of Klaus, who had been killed after trying to assassinate Hitler.

Others who were brought into the scheme included Casimir Prince of Sayn-Wittgenstein, who would later play a leading role in and only narrowly miss imprisonment for the CDU's party donation scandal. Suitably enough, he was in charge or raising hundreds of thousands of Deutsche marks to fund the spy service and he did so by tapping up his friends in industry.

One of the strongest links this service had was with Henry Kissinger, National Security Advisor under US President Richard Nixon, and later his Secretary of State. Ahead of the 1970 German-Soviet agreement, he and Brandt’s negotiator Bahr had agreed to open a back channel of informal information so the Americans could keep tabs on what the Soviets were saying.

But, Waske says, Kissinger was not confident Bahr was being candid, and it seems his office was feeding the information to the German conservatives. The Treaty of Moscow was signed, possibly confirming the fears of the CDU/CSU leaders that Brandt was doing business with the Soviets.

Stauffenberg went about his work, collecting information from sources around the world, including Brussels, London and Paris – as well as Romania and Yugoslavia, Taiwan and Cuba, and of course, the United States.

Meanwhile the position of treasurer was taken over by Alfred Seidl, formerly a Nazi party member out of conviction who not only acted as Rudolf Heß’s defence lawyer but also spend years fighting for him to be freed.

Advice from Kissinger

By the end of 1970, Kissinger was offering the conservatives’ spies advice on how to deal with the Social Democratic government. One agent who visited him quoted him saying, “It might be possible to overthrow the current government, but it remains to be seen whether this would involve risks which could put a CDU/CSU government in great difficulties.”

And he suggested the conservative opposition use delaying tactics to slow the ratification of the Treaty of Moscow in order to shift responsibility for its adoption firmly onto the government, rather than sharing it.

In 1971 when Brandt was talking about the administration of Berlin with Leonid Brezhnev in Yalta, Stauffenberg’s informants were delivering secret information to the conservatives – who were discussing it with Kissinger.

A year later Guttenberg died, leaving the service in the hands of Stauffenberg, who continued to operate his global network of informants for a decade.

The political secret service only began to come to light in 1982 when journalists from the left-wing magazine Konkret started to publish information about it from one of the top operators. The Bavarian state parliament started to investigate the suspicious use of nearly DM100,000 of Interior Ministry money – it was funnelled into the service.

Just as things were threatening to collapse for the conservative spy network, its existence became unnecessary after conservative Helmut Kohl took power in 1982. Soon afterwards, the “little service” was disbanded.

The Local/hc

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

12:44 December 3, 2012 by pepsionice
Before anyone gets excited over this....if they ran this little network for 100k DM($50k), then this had to be a fairly small and insignificant network of spys. My guess is that it's just a dozen guys who lived in odd places....met every four months at some hotel....had some free drinks, and noted what they had heard through the rumor-mill. If that's a spy network, then fine. One should also take note that the Red Army Faction continued to run through this entire period and it probably wasn't a bad thing to have an extra spy-network around.
19:54 December 3, 2012 by Englishted
@pepsionice

You equate the R.A.F. with the S.P.D. and one of the best and most popular Chancellors Willy Brandt.

Look whose forefathers name shows up ,dirty little cheats run in the family .

100,000DM was not small change then and any dealings with tricky dicky are always corrupt .

I would not be surprised if they are running one now ,with the fear of losing power next year ,so keep your eyes open for "shocking revelations " in the press.
Today's headlines
Poland bridles at German minimum wage
Photo: DPA

Poland bridles at German minimum wage

Germany's newly-introduced €8.50 minimum wage is raising hackles at Polish trucking companies, who say they shouldn't have to pay their drivers at that rate for the hours they spend on their western neighbour's roads. READ  

Life sentences meted out in murder-for-hire
A man photographs an appeal for witnesses in the death of Christin R. in 2012. Photo: DPA

Life sentences meted out in murder-for-hire

A Berlin judge on Thursday sentenced four people to life sentences in a sordid conspiracy murder case in which a pizza delivery driver was paid €500 to kill a young woman for her life insurance. READ  

Jobless numbers rise to top 3 million
Men at work. Photo: DPA

Jobless numbers rise to top 3 million

German jobless numbers rose this month, bringing unemployment up to seven percent, the Federal Labour Agency (BA) reported on Thursday. READ  

Frankfurt man loses airport job over Isis links
Security checks at Frankfurt airport. Photo: DPA

Frankfurt man loses airport job over Isis links

In a decision announced on Wednesday, a Frankfurt court upheld the dismissal of a man from his job at Frankfurt airport over his close friendship with a foreign citizen with ties to terrorist group Isis. READ  

Cologne Karneval scraps Charlie Hebdo float
Image courtesy Festkomittee Kölner Karneval

Cologne Karneval scraps Charlie Hebdo float

Cologne's planned Charlie Hebdo float in its Rosenmontag parade was a false start, after the organising committee scrapped its construction over security concerns. READ  

Overnight raids bust up smugglers ring
File photo: DPA

Overnight raids bust up smugglers ring

Federal police arrested 12 people on Wednesday night after a national raid by police broke apart a smuggling ring. READ  

Anti-euro AfD split over Pegida ties
Former Pegida spokesperson Kathrin Oertel and Brandenburg head of AfD Alexander Gauland. Photo: DPA

Anti-euro AfD split over Pegida ties

Germany's upstart anti-euro AfD party will seek to mend a rift among members on whether to forge close ties with an emergent "anti-Islamisation" movement at a congress this weekend. READ  

Court grants kids right to know donor fathers
Photo: DPA

Court grants kids right to know donor fathers

The Supreme Court (BGH) decided on Wednesday that the children of sperm donors have a right to know who their biological father is at any time. READ  

Russia may declare 1990 reunification illegal
Russian President Vladimir Putin. Photo: DPA

Russia may declare 1990 reunification illegal

More than 25 years after the Berlin Wall's fall, Russian lawmakers are mulling a proposal to condemn West Germany's 1990 "annexation" of East Germany as Moscow's answer to Western denunciation of its seizure of Crimea. READ  

No room for scooters on the bus: Court
Photo: DPA

No room for scooters on the bus: Court

A court in North-Rhine Westphalia found on Wednesday that there is no obligation for buses or trains to make room for mobility scooters - and that it's actually dangerous to bring them aboard. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Business & Money
FATCA: 'The age of financial privacy is over'
Gallery
The best regional foods TTIP opponents want to protect
Photo: DPA
Features
The rise and spread of Pegida
Photo: Shutterstock
Culture
This cosplayer did not think his plan through
National
Europe in statistics - from Spain to Sweden
Photo: DPA
Politics
The Local's report from Pegida's largest ever demonstration.
Sponsored Article
Top-notch tech boosts bilingual schools
National
Six stories that will rock Germany this year
Photo: DPA
National
Terror alert at a new high. Should you be worried?
Dresden skyline and river by night. Photo: DPA
Politics
What does Dresden have against Muslims?
Photo: DPA
National
What were your favourite news stories of 2014?
Gallery
Top 12 German idioms
National
Why has The Local got a new logo?
Photo: DPA
National
This German was abducted and tortured by the CIA
Culture
10 top tips for partying in Germany
Photo: DPA
Technology
What does the Chancellor see as the future of the internet?
Photo: DPA
Berlin
The Local's series on 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,448
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd