Hitler's Spy Chief: The Wilhelm Canaris Mystery: The Most Dangerous Intelligence Man in the World

Overview

A remarkable tale of espionage and intrigue—the story of Wilhelm Canaris, Hitler’s intelligence chief, and his role in the conspiracy to assassinate the Führer.Admiral Wilhelm Canaris was appointed by Hitler to head the Abwehr (the German secret service) eighteen months after the Nazis came to power. But Canaris turned against the Führer and the Nazi regime, believing that Hitler would start a war Germany could not win. In 1938 he was involved in an attempted coup, undermined by British Prime Minister Neville ...
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Overview

A remarkable tale of espionage and intrigue—the story of Wilhelm Canaris, Hitler’s intelligence chief, and his role in the conspiracy to assassinate the Führer.Admiral Wilhelm Canaris was appointed by Hitler to head the Abwehr (the German secret service) eighteen months after the Nazis came to power. But Canaris turned against the Führer and the Nazi regime, believing that Hitler would start a war Germany could not win. In 1938 he was involved in an attempted coup, undermined by British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain.In 1940 he sabotaged the German plan to invade England, and fed General Franco vital information that helped him keep Spain out of the war. For years he played a dangerous double game, desperately trying to keep one step ahead of the Gestapo. The SS chief, Heinrich Himmler, became suspicious of Canaris and by 1944, when Abwehr personnel were involved in the attempted assassination of Hitler, he had the evidence to arrest Canaris himself. Canaris was executed a few weeks before the end of the war.In a riveting true story of intrigue and espionage, Richard Bassett reveals how Admiral Canaris’s secret work against the German leadership changed the course of World War II.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A WWI hero, Adm. Wilhelm Canaris specialized in intelligence, remained in the tiny, postwar German navy, and became Hitler’s director of military intelligence in 1935. Unlike the typical thuggish Nazi, he was urbane and sophisticated, and former London Times correspondent Bassett presents an intensely researched and admiring biography. Canaris, certain Hitler was leading Germany to disaster, turned against Hitler in 1938, attempting repeatedly to sabotage the fuehrer’s military efforts. During the Munich crisis, Canaris and other plotters promised to overthrow Hitler provided Britain threatened war over Hitler’s invasion of Czechoslovakia. Chamberlain’s appeasement wrecked the scheme. In 1940, Canaris’s advice encouraged Franco to deny the Wehrmacht passage through Spain to capture Gibraltar. After France’s defeat, he dampened interest in a cross-channel invasion with exaggerated estimates of British defenses In 1944 an increasingly suspicious Hitler dismissed him. Although not part of the failed July 20, 1944, assassination attempt, Canaris was arrested and later executed.. A likable Nazi official seems a contradiction, but Canaris qualifies, and Bassett delivers a fascinating account of his courageous, frustrated, and ultimately tragic life. (July)
The Financial Times
“An illuminating history.”
The Evening Standard
“Fascinating and eminently readable.”
The Literary Review (London)
“Canaris himself emerges from these pages as a remarkable man, unassuming and modest, but with an iron will, great courage and a subtle intelligence, who thought that the dirty work of spying became less sordid if conducted by gentlemen.”
Kirkus Reviews
A London journalist makes a convincing case for the quietly subversive pro-British diplomacy of the head of the Abwehr. Bassett portrays Admiral Wilhelm Canaris as a German gentleman of the old school who grew to admire the might and prowess of the British navy. Although he was an eager Nazi apparatchik at the beginning, he began to realize the horrors of Hitler's regime and distance himself from them. Canaris started his career with the Imperial German Navy, and he cut his teeth during the Anglo-German naval race of World War I. He showed a flair for intelligence work, with impeccable English and Spanish, and developed connections within the anti-communist segment consolidating in Germany after the war. He found himself in goodly stead with the rising National Socialists led by Hitler, who was obsessed with the British secret service. Canaris' old navy colleague and protégé Reinhard Heydrich took over the German Security Service and became a close ally and dangerous rival. Canaris' philosophy in leading the Abwehr seemed to be to "run with the party" while cultivating a degree of "independent thought and action." This ultimately led to his arrest and hanging for treason in April 1945. Bassett carefully considers Canaris' rather uneven record, from his pressure on Hitler to support Franco during the Spanish Civil War, and ability to provide Franco with the key intelligence required to withstand Hitler's wooing of Spain to the Axis side, to his subtle foiling of what he considered repugnant Gestapo activity in Poland and Russia. Bassett's thorough work spotlights this relatively unknown character in the Nazi hierarchy. A welcome addition to the war record and a solid elucidation of the Nazi spy system.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781605983707
  • Publisher: Pegasus
  • Publication date: 6/1/2012
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard Bassett has worked in the City for the last fifteen years advising several of Europe’s largest companies. Previously he worked in Central Europe for many years, first as a professional horn player and then as a staff correspondent of the London Times in Vienna, Rome, and Warsaw, where his dispatches covered the end of the Cold War and gave early warning of the impending disintegration of Yugoslavia. He divides his time between London and the Continent.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements 3

Preface 7

Author's Note 11

Preface to the American Edition 13

Introduction 17

1 A Naval Tradition 28

2 The League of Gentlemen 44

3 A Guilded Youth 61

4 Finis Germaniae 72

5 Spy Chief 91

6 Spain 120

7 Fallen Bastions 138

8 Lines of Communication 163

9 Keeping the Empire Afloat 184

10 Total War 204

11 Duel to the Death 223

12 The Search for Peace 240

13 Unconditional Surrender 259

14 The End of the Abwehr 274

Conclusion 291

Sources Notes 298

Selected Bibliography 305

Index 309

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