- The Russian word razvedka is often translated as “intelligence.” A more correct translation would be “reconnaissance.” RED ORCHESTRA. Shortly after the German invasion of the Soviet Union, German radio counterintelligence picked up a number of Soviet intelligence stations broadcasting from occupied Europe and Germany itself. Noting how the stations seemed to respond to a director, the Germans called the network the Rote Kappelle or Red Orchestra. This network of spies in Nazi-occupied Europe was organized and run by GRU illegal Leopold Trepper from 1938 to 1942. Trepper managed a series of espionage rings, which had been cobbled together by the GRU and the NKVD in the 1930s. In Germany, the agents included Harro Schulze-Boysen, an air force intelligence officer, and Arvid von Harnack, a senior economist in the German government, and a host of socially highly placed German citizens. When shown the first evidence of the Red Orchestra’s work, Adolf Hitler was supposed to have said that Germany was superior to Russia in everything except espionage.More than a hundred ideologically motivated agents and a support staff collected critical military, political, and economic information on the Nazi war machine in Belgium (17 agents), France (35), Switzerland (17), and Germany (48). Prior to the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, the Red Orchestra provided dramatic evidence of Hitler’s plans. Joseph Stalin ignored the warnings. During the first year of the Nazi–Soviet war, the Red Orchestra provided the Red Army general staff with important information about German plans and military industrial production. One report in early 1942 dealt with the movement of German fighters from France to bases supporting Army Group Center. Others dealt with production problems in German industry. Sandor Rado, operating from neutral Switzerland, commanded one of the important branches of the Red Orchestra and possessed some impeccable sources of information. Operating from Switzerland, this small organization had less to fear from Nazi counterintelligence.German counterintelligence uncovered networks in Nazi-occupied Europe and Germany in early 1942. In Berlin the fall of the organization was swift, since many of the spies were friends or lovers and had participated together in Communist Party operations in the 1930s. In 1942 the networks in France and Belgium were quickly defeated. Almost all members of the Red Orchestra were arrested and executed. Both Schulze-Boysen and Harnack as well as their wives, who were active in the organization, were put to death.
Historical dictionary of Russian and Soviet Intelligence. Robert W. Pringle. 2014.
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