Wilhelm Canaris

Wilhelm Canaris

Wilhelm Canaris

Wilhelm Franz Canaris (born January 1, 1887 in Aplerbeck in Dortmund, † April 9, 1945 in Flossenbiirg) was a German admiral during the time of National Socialism 1935-1944 head of the Abwehr, the military intelligence of the Wehrmacht.

Hailing from a middle class family Canaris was in the First World War, among other things as an agent and submarine – Commander used. During the period of the Weimar Republic, he worked closely with the volunteer corps to fight Spartacus and later held illegal contact with right-wing and anti-republican terrorist organization Organisation Consul. Canaris was involved in the organization of German support for Franco in the Spanish Civil War. As head of the military intelligence service, it Canaris later supported many conservative resistance fighters and 1938-1940 was involved in coup plots. In the assassination of 20 July 1944 to Adolf Hitler, Canaris was not directly involved. In studies of the Secret State Police Canaris’ diary and found it to be known contact with the resistance against National Socialism. Consequently, Canaris was arrested. In early April 1945, he was an SS – convicted in state court Flossenbiirg concentration camp to death and hanged.


Origin and family

Wilhelm Canaris was born as the son of the engineer Carl Canaris, head of the Technical Aplerbecker hut, and his wife Auguste Popp in Aplerbeck, today district of Dortmund, born. William grew up in Aplerbeck first. In 1892 was a move to Dusseldorf and in the same year to Duisburg. In Duisburg, his father worked as a chief engineer and later as a board member of the Lower Rhine hut, a blast furnace. From 1893, he lived with three siblings in a villa with park, nursery, carriage house and tennis court. Canaris visited the Steinbart Gymnasium, where he was a pupil of an outsider. He was described as a quiet, taciturn, reserved and reserved student. For school trips, which came in Wilhelmine Germany to maneuvers, Canaris already assisted the director of the school in the planning. Even as a child he experimented with invisible ink and put to wrong name.

The origin of the Canaris family moves to the 16th Traced century and is classified at Lake Como in the area of Ossuccio. From there we moved Canarisi members of the family in various parts of Europe, including in Greece, France and Germany. The progenitor of the Greek branch was Michael Canaris. Among his descendants to Constantine Kanaris (1790-1877) is, among other things, became known as the naval hero and statesman in the history of Greece. Constantine Kanaris might be the reason for the supposed Greek origin of Wilhelm Canaris. An ancestral community of this Greek branch with Wilhelm Canaris can not be completely ruled out.

Another branch of the family can be traced back to Corsica. Among the descendants of this branch there are also supposedly ancestors of Napoleon Bonaparte. However, the decisive branch of the family goes back to Thomas Canaris, 13 Was born in December 1659 in Ossuccio. Thomas Canaris walked today in the German part of the Holy Roman Empire and died on 3 November 1735 in Bernkastel. Three more generations of paternal came from Bernkastel. His great-grandfather and grandfather, Josef Ignaz Franz Canaris (1791-1828) and Johann Martin Joseph Canaris (1817-1894) was born in Munstermaifeld.

In the Trier area the family he belonged to the middle class and moved during the industrial revolution to present-day North Rhine-Westphalia. Middle of the 19th Century belonged to the family there for elite managers of the mining industry. His grandfather John was a royal Bergrat and mine conductor in Bigge, today Olsberg-Bigge, in the Sauerland region. His brother Carl was born in 1881 and grew to engineer in the mining industry. Carl was Director General of the August Thyssen-Hütte in Duisburg and later by Krauss-Maffei in Munich. The SS-Standartenführer Constantin Canaris was the nephew of Wilhelm Canaris.

Wilhelm Canaris was married to the daughter of an industrialist Erika Waag since 1919. The couple had two daughters, Eva (* 1923) and Brigitte (* 1926). Eva had to leave because of a mental disability, the elementary school and then lived in the institutions of Bodelschwinghsche Bethel near Bielefeld. His daughter Brigitte was sent to boarding school later. With its artistic and musically thoughtful woman s Canaris said to have had nothing in common. Even on the hard days work addicts is said to have plunged into work.


Navy time until the First World War (1905-1914)

Although never previously a member of the family was a career officer, Canaris was an early exercise this profession. Be loyal to the emperor and nationally liberal father Carl was a lieutenant in the reserve. He wanted his son went to the cavalry. Canaris, however, wanted the Imperial Navy. Since a visit to Greece in 1902, he was thrilled by the Greek naval hero Constantine Kanaris. To dissuade his son from the idea to go to the Navy, Canaris was given by his father a horse at age 15. The father forced Canaris himself as an officer cadet at the Royal Bavarian 1 Schwere-Reiter-Regiment “Prince Charles of Bavaria” to log in Munich. Carl Canaris died of a stroke at the age of 52 years in 1904. Auguste Wilhelm Canaris reported her son in the 1905 naval cadets in Kiel Adoption Commission, before William had passed the Abitur.

Canaris took effect on 1 April 1905 as a cadet in the Imperial Navy. His mother had previously signed the then customary commitment form in which they promised binding to raise 4800 mark for the first four years of naval career. With 50 other cadets, he was trained on the cruiser frigate SMS stone. After about a year of training aboard the stone was followed by 18 months of training on 7 April 1906 Canaris promoted to Midshipman at the Naval Academy. An instructor certified him there in the personnel file:

In October, 1907, after a successful oath, Canaris was put on board the light cruiser SMS Bremen. The Commander of the Bremen Captain Alberts wrote in the personnel file in November 1907.

1908 Canaris helped the commander of the SMS Bremen, develop a V-man system in Argentina and Brazil. It came to him good, he quickly learned the Spanish language. Besides Spanish Canaris spoke good English, also some Russian and French fairly well. The Bremen was in 1909 to the international blockade fleet, which the Coast Venezuela’s blocked. Canaris, 28 September 1908 was promoted to lieutenant, was adjutant of Bremen and proven in the negotiations so that he was honored by the Venezuelan President and General Juan Vicente Gómez with the Bolivar Medal V. class. The SMS Bremen took in September 1909 with three other warships in the German covers about 1,000 ships parade on the Hudson River in part for the 300th anniversary of New York. In January 1910, Canaris was second watch officer on the torpedo boat SMS V 162nd In June 1910, Canaris was treated as a company and watch on the torpedo boat SMS S 145th A lung catarrh nspitzen s he was sent for half a year in vacation. Promoted to lieutenant at sea took place on 29 August, 1910. After returning on board the S 145 ruled his commander in the personnel file:

In December 1911, the transfer of Canaris on the light cruiser SMS Dresden was. Because of the Second Balkan War, Dresden was ordered to the eastern Mediterranean. Canaris received a special commission to observe on land, construction of the Baghdad railway. In September 1913 he was adjutant to the commander of Dresden. End of 1913, the Dresden was sent to the East Coast Mexico s to protect German citizens during the civil war there. The Dresden took German and citizens of other countries on board. At times, including 2000 U.S. citizens were billeted at the Dresden. At the end of the Civil War in July 1914, the Dresden brought the ousted President and General Victoriano Huerta to Jamaica. Canaris proven during this time as an interpreter. On 28 July 1914, four days before the outbreak of World War II, the Dresden received at the port of Port-au-Prince, Haiti lying on the command to run the home. Three days later, the Dresden, yet they had previously recorded on the island of Saint Thomas provisions and coal, ordered to carry out a cruiser warfare in the Atlantic.

On SMS Dresden in World War I (1914-1915)

The Dresden contributed to the outbreak of the war, Argentina to attack ships there to England. Argentina needed to achieve the Dresden coal. Canaris contacted by radio merchants in Argentina and Brazil, which he knew from previous trips ago to organize coal. On 10 August 1914 was able to take 570 tons of coal from the German cargo ship Corrientes in a bay at the Dresden Jericoacoara (Brazil). The Dresden sank against Argentina two British freighter and held three more of. The latter were released because they had loads of neutral states on board. As undercover agents from Canaris reported that warships of the Royal Navy were on the march, the more Dresden in the Pacific to meet with the squadron of Vice-Admiral Maximilian von Spee. Canaris was able to report an enemy fleet parade this squadron on its V-people in Chile and Argentina. At the naval battle of Coronel (Chile), the German squadron was able to sink a British ship’s two of four British ships. It was the first naval battle of the First World War and the first defeat of the Royal Navy after the Battle of Plattsburgh in 1812 against the United States. Canaris was recognized for its education services with the Iron Cross Second Class. Canaris wrote to his mother after the battle:

The German squadron headed for the Falkland Islands, to destroy the naval base at Port Stanley. It was there on 8 December for the naval battle of the Falkland Islands with far superior British associations. Except for the Dresden all the other five German ships were sunk. After the Battle of the Falkland Islands, the SMS Dresden fled into the Pacific. The Dresden hid from almost the entire British fleet in the South Atlantic in an inaccessible bay of southern Chile, which was not mapped. An on Canaris network of undercover agents constantly reports about British fleet movements were delivered. On 18 January 1915 was the Dresden take coals from the freighter Sierra Cordoba. The Dresden sank on 27 February, the British sailing ship Conway Castle. 8 March, she was able to escape the British armored cruiser Kent again. Since the coal was consumed up to 80 tons while the ammunition was fired, the Dresden drove on 9 March to be interned in Cumberland Bay, Robinson Crusoe Island, then Isla Más a Tierra, a part of Chile, the neutral ship. On 14 March, the incapacitated Dresden by three British warships,
in violation of the neutrality of Chile, fired. Canaris was sent with a barge for light cruiser HMS Glasgow, to gain time, because the commander was preparing the scuttling before.

After scuttling Canaris was interned with other crew members on the island in the middle Quiriquina Chilean city of Concepcion. On 3 August 1915 Canaris escaped from the poorly guarded internment camps. While escaping to Argentina, he received help from Chileans of German descent. With a horse he crossed the Cordilleras alone. From Buenos Aires he drove, disguised as a Chilean citizen Reed Rosas, with the Dutch freighter Frisia to Amsterdam. His disguise was so perfect that defense officers of the Royal Navy in the control during the stopover Plymouth, drew suspicion. On 4 October 1915 he reached Hamburg and reported little later the Naval Staff Report on the trip of Dresden.

As a secret agent in Spain in World War I (1915-1916)

Canaris was born on 30 November 1915 recalled to Spain. He was there to build up a supply organization operating in the western Mediterranean submarine e and obtain information on enemy ships about undercover agents. In Spain he carried under his code name Rosa Reed, a life agent. Canaris built in the Spanish coastal towns on a network of undercover agents for the Naval Intelligence, where it benefited the pro-German sentiment in Spain. Canaris was able to build a supply organization with Spanish ships, the 1916 German submarines powered with supply from spring. The restless Canaris asked for the transfer to the torpedo weapon. On 21 In February 1916 he left the Chilean reed pink camouflaged Madrid to travel through France and Italy to Switzerland. Shortly before the Swiss border, he was arrested because radio messages were decrypted by the French secret service. Apparently he has escaped from prison in Genoa, with detailed evidence is lacking. Canaris returned to Spain. On 1 September Canaris was picked up at Cartagena under dramatic circumstances by the German submarine SM U 35th Canaris was able to go with two other officers of a small sailing boat on U 35th This was achieved even though the French submarine opals and a French auxiliary cruiser were in the Bay of Canaris and the submarine. A French undercover agent in the German embassy had reported the information to the French secret service.

U-boat commander in World War I (1916-1918)

On 24 October 1916 he was awarded the Iron Cross First Class for his efforts in Spain and assigned to the submarine inspection. After training as a U-boat commander he was 16 November 1916 promoted to lieutenant and assigned to the leader of the submarines in the Mediterranean as a U-boat commander. The head of U-School Commander Theodor Eschenburg presented in the overall judgment stated:

In submarine operations staff in Kotor on the Adriatic he was initially charged with aides and staff work. He was christened on 28 November 1917 the command of the submarine mines SM UC 27. A little later he received the command of Deputy SM U 34th On 19 January 1918 was 34 U in the direction of the western Mediterranean. The first sinking of an enemy ship was 30 January. He sank the 7293 – GRT freighter Maizar and survived a depth charge attack British warships. Until the return of 16 February after Kotor could U34 two Battleships. His boss Lieutenant Commander Rudolf Ackermann reported:

In May 1918 he went to Kiel, there to take SM UB 128th The first transfer attempt of UB 128 was canceled because a crew member’s had to be hospitalized because of his appendectomy. On the way back to Kiel there were serious technical problems, and once the submarine was almost dropped. In a second experiment UB 128 was narrowly missed in the Atlantic by a British torpedo between the Norwegian coast and the entrance. For more information about the torpedo attack on UB 128 is not known. On 21 August, the French coal freighter Champlain was torpedoed in the Atlantic and then fired at the submarine gun. The French captain was captured and sunk the freighter by a demolition squad. UB 128 he reached on 4 September finally Kotor. As the ally Austria-Hungary collapsed as a state in October, the German U-boat flotilla had to vacate their base in the Adriatic. Ten non-operational U-boats were sunk and blasted the plants in Pula and Kotor. UB 128 went to Kiel with 15 other submarines. On the evening of the 8th November Canaris tried the blocking of the Strait of Gibraltar by British and American warships to break. It was UB 128 s of powerful lights, which were on the Spanish side of the Strait, discovered and recorded. The submarine was seven

Water bomb attack. The two hydroplanes fell from 60 bagged and UB 128 m from deep. The submarine could be intercepted and go back to periscope depth after which down the attacker. The next morning, the submarine was able to overcome the barrier but still. On 12 November reached Canaris at sea a radio call about a cease-fire of the German Reich.

Active struggle against the Republic (1918-1921)

Shortly after the arrival of the submarines in Kiel held a Social Democrat and Governor of Kiel, Gustav Noske, a speech in which he informed the Marines on the situation in the German Empire. After the decommissioning of submarines was. Canaris was appointed by the Navy liaison officer to the governor of Noske. He had joined a group of extreme right-wing anti-republican naval officers to Lieutenant Commander Wilfred of Loewenfeld shortly after arrival. Canaris soon became one of the closest collaborators of Loewenfeld.

When it came to the Spartacist Spartacist uprising in Berlin, Canaris was in Berlin, where Noske was popular in the Cabinet Officer for the Army and Navy now. Canaris received from Noske mandated to liaise with the Staff of the Guards Cavalry Rifle Division, which was one of the Freikorps. In division, he got in touch with Captain Waldemar Pabst, which was the first General Staff officer of the division. At the following battles from the 11th January 1919 against Spartacus in Berlin, Canaris was at the forefront. In these battles, the regular troops won against the Spartakists immediately the upper hand and took control of the city. On 15 January Rosa Luxembourg and Karl Liebknecht were shot by Freikorps members on the orders of Pope. Where Canaris was staying at the time of the murders, is not ascertainable.

On 3 February 1919 reached Canaris at Noske approval for installation of 3 Marine brigade in Kiel. Canaris made ​​sure that their Loewe field commander was.

When the National Assembly in Weimar on 6 February recorded the discussions, Canaris was there to influence the army. However, his chameleon-like talent came to light, with which he could adapt to every caller apparently. As on 15th February, the Imperial Navy, was in Admiralty and in 1920 renamed the Naval Command established shortly thereafter, Canaris was one of the employees.

He was, at the instigation of Pope, in May 1919 to the assessor of the court martial before which should answer for the murders of Rosa Luxembourg and Karl Liebknecht accused Freikorps members. Canaris rehearsed beforehand with the defendants in the Moabit prison the process in order to conceal the traces to higher charge as pope. Much of the accused was acquitted of this court. Only two defendants to imprisonment for n of 2 years and 4 months imprisonment. On 17 May brought Canaris, disguised as Lieutenant Lindemann, the 4 months to 2 years and condemned Lieutenant Kurt Vogel from prison and allowed him to escape. Nevertheless, Canaris was jailed for four days in Moab prison. His detention was converted into a Great Honor Palace in Berlin, the headquarters of the 3rd Naval Brigade. A little later, Canaris was acquitted by court-martial boards of the Guards Cavalry Rifle Division, so by the Division, which was behind the killings. Canaris was not even supposed time of the crime in Berlin.

Defence Minister Noske offset Canaris now in his personal staff. After Chefadjudant Colonel Erich von Gilsa Canaris was the second most important employees of Noske. Canaris worked there of all questions which concerned the naval brigades. As 1920, the volunteer corps should be resolved planned right circles around the countryside General Director Wolfgang Kapp a coup. On the eve of the Kapp Putsch it on 12 March Canaris was sent to the camp of the Naval Brigade in Dallgow to their commander Hermann Ehrhardt, to prevent this coup by Vice Admiral Adolf von Trotha. Although both encountered the Naval Brigade ready to leave, Noske Canaris reported “no signs of putsch”. Shortly after midnight, the coup began. Canaris like most naval officers was reflected immediately on the side of the rebels, while his superior Noske fled along with Chefadjudanten Gilsa. Canaris later justified this by saying that he would have been faced with the choice to follow Noske or the troops. By a general strike, the coup collapsed quickly. For a few days Canaris was in a cell of the Berlin police headquarters. As a commission in the Ministry of Defense of the coup investigated Canaris remained unscathed, as a participation in the preparations of the coup was not detectable. The new Minister of Defence Otto Gessler had the most officers from the former area of Noske move.

On 24 June 1920 was second only Canaris and a little later the first admiral staff officer at the command of the Naval Station of the Baltic Sea. Canaris procured material and weapons from hidden camps for the equipment of the new navy. To raise money, he threaded a selling surplus weapons and equipment over Denmark. Canaris was liaison to right-wing terrorist organization Organisation Consul (OC), which was led by the submerged Ehrhardt. The members of the OC was paid for with funds from the illegal arms deals. Even with weapons and equipment, the terrorist organization has been supplied. So Canaris worked closely with an anti-state organization that was led by a treason’s this Ehrhardt. Even when the OC committed more and more political assassinations of leaders of the Reich, including Foreign Minister Walther Rathenau and the former Minister of Finance and the German original signatories to the Armistice of Compiègne Erzberger, Canaris did not end the cooperation.

Military Political covert operations (1921-1929)

In 1921, Canaris was assessed by his superior Lieutenant Commander Ernst Meusel as follows:

In June 1923, Canaris first officer on the light cruiser Berlin under the command of Wilfried Loewenfeld. On board the Berlin he met the cadets know Reinhard Heydrich, who was from July 1923 to March 1924 aboard Berlin. Canaris had a soft spot for loners, and he took a liking to the infamous Heydrich with other Marines because he had an arrogant and smug demeanor. Heydrich soon spent much time in the home of Canaris and played with Erika Canaris Canaris during cooking.

In May 1924 he was sent on a secret mission to Osaka in Japan. He should know about the status of the local, planned and carried out by German experts submarine construction. The first January 1924 to Lieutenant Commander appointed Canaris was so unhappy that he on the 15th in the Navy Wanted to quit the service in January 1925. Canaris presented his resignation at a naval medical opinion, which attested to him a Dienstuntauglichkeit. The station chief of the Naval Station of the Baltic Sea, Sea Captain Ernst Freiherr von Gagern, Canaris wrote a five-page very personal letter to retune Canaris. Canaris took back his request.

On 4 October he took over at the Navy Department in Berlin as head of the Department for mobilization svorarbeiten. The desk work seems to have Canaris do not like, his strength was the personal contact with people. His superior sea captain Arno Spindler listed in the personnel file:

In January 1925 in Spain queuing negotiations on the construction of submarines to German plans, Canaris traveled there. Canaris should also build a new network of V-men in Spain. He partially reactivated its undercover agents from the First World War. In the coming years Canaris traveled repeatedly because of the secretive armaments cooperation and build a network of agents to Spain. This led to contacts up to the highest government circles, among other things, he also met with King Alfonso XIII. together. He also gave credit for a Spanish shipyard which was involved in the U-boat blueprints. Canaris acted as a sort of unofficial naval. It came to him in addition to his excellent knowledge of Spanish and his fondness for Spanish and Latin Spanish culture for good.

On 23 January 1926, Canaris was loaded in Berlin before the Reichstag committee causes the German collapse in 1918. This committee examined include the revolutionary processes in the Navy in the years 1917 and 1918, and also the stab. In his statement, claiming Canaris include: Canaris expressed numerous other lies the right-wing German naval circles. During his testimony, Canaris was repeatedly interrupted by laughter and heckling. After the statement drew Canaris as during the process to the murders of Liebknecht and Luxembourg in the view point of the left and military critical press. Minister of Defence and the Ministry Gessler denied until his fall several times the participation of Canaris in the liberation of Kurt Vogel and the secret support of the Organisation Consul with money and weapons. At times, Canaris was enemy No. 1 for the left-wing press. In particular, the World Stage reported on Canaris. In the world stage, there were articles with headlines such as The Secret of Canaris Canaris on the Baltic Sea, Canaris movie theater and the League of Nations and The Tale of the Canary Islands. The world stage, others wrote in September 1927:

In 1927, when Defence Minister had to resign because of the scandal Gessler to the secret arms deals, participation in these transactions from Canaris came up. Canaris remained until the end of 1927 the focus of the press.

But the career and work of Canaris seems kind of press reports, not to have been disturbed. On 1 October 1926 he was lecturer on the staff of the Chief of Naval Command. Most of the time spent Canaris in Spain to reinforce the secret armaments cooperation. Despite years of intensive efforts by Canaris and other Germans, it was because of political and industrial policy implications only for the construction of a submarine in Spain. The Spanish Navy put the German Navy after all, own submarines for tests and maneuvers available. Early 1928, he negotiated with General Jesus Bazan, chief of the Spanish security police (Jefe de la Seguridad), a secret agreement on cooperation between the Police in the Reich and Spain. This secret agreement was signed on 17 Februar signed in 1928. In May Canaris worked in Argentina for talks on defense cooperation of Argentina with Spain and the Empire in the background. Only when in Spain, the Republic was proclaimed in April 1931, the cooperation with Spain was at first an end.

On board the Silesia (1929-1934)

To get Canaris from the political line of fire, he was on 22 June first officer on the battleship Schlesien. Initially Canaris could still continue to maintain secret contacts to Spain. As a serious error in the secrecy of secret cooperation with Spain were then uncovered by the defense just created, the new Navy chief Admiral Erich Raeder banned in May 1929 any more special political task for Canaris. His predecessor, Admiral Hans Zenker, had to resign because of Lohmann affair in which Canaris was involved. Nevertheless, the promotion of Canaris to the Commander took place on 1 Juni 1929.

On 29 September 1930 he was appointed Chief of Staff at the command of the naval station of the North Sea. In 1931 the trial for treason against the journalist Berthold Jacob, because article about the Reichswehr and right-wing organizations which, again, the participation of Canaris on the flight of birds Luxembourg murderer discussed. Again, the facts were covered up and the defense ministry were repeated to paint a statutory declaration from Canaris. Kiel took place on 1 October 1931 was promoted to Captain. On 29 September 1932 he was commander of the ship of the line Silesia.

In 1932, Canaris seems to have attracted more and more by Adolf Hitler and his ideas. He was an enthusiastic Nazi. This assessment is based mainly on post-war statements by Conrad Dittes, the predecessor of Canaris as defense chief, and Werner Best, later temporarily head of the Department I (legal, human resources, administration) in the Reich Security Main Office. Narrated is also a report from the commander of the German battleships Max Bastian from 1 November 1934:

Under the spell of Hitler (1934-1937)

On 29 September 1934 was the transfer to the Swinoujscie fortress commander. With this item, Canaris had landed according to most biographies and works that deal with Canaris, in a career dead end, in part because the Navy chief Erich Raeder, since their time together should have been with Defence Minister Noske, an opponent of Canaris. The biography of Michael Mueller, from 2006, contradicts this view. Mueller cites a personal letter and held in a confidential tone of bikes to Canaris of 11 Oktober 1934. Raeder prescribes, inter alia:

On 2 January 1935, Canaris was appointed as the successor of Captain Conrad Dittes as head of the Abwehr. Going back to postwar statements by Dittes argument that this is done in Patzig own suggestion seems refuted, but at least Dittes overestimated its influence on the appointment. Even in his assessments in 1933 and 1934 his boss Max Bastian had “suitable for that special place” in the first section and second, Naval Attaché Defense Ministry (initially as Head of Department – Department of Defence) written. When taking office Dittes Canaris warned strongly against the SS This is said to have replied: Initially, it was Canaris difficult to procure in defense and the entire Wehrmacht validity. This may have played a role in its size of about 1.60 m, unmilitary his appearance, his reserved manner, his gentle lisp and his tired look.

From the beginning, there were problems with the SS, more precisely with the SS Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich, head of the Secret State Police Office and the Security Service (SD). The SS was united from the beginning of the Nazi regime, a unified organization, which intelligence and secret police under the leadership of SS. Canaris and Heydrich lived in Berlin-Steglitz both in the first Dolle street. The two had not seen each 12 years. Their families were wont in the years to narrow social interaction. Later in Berlin-Schlachtensee marginalized both plots together. In the house Heydrich played in a string quartet and Erika Canaris, Heydrich First Second fiddle. Lina Heydrich listened, Canaris, however, was mostly absent or cooked. Both were loners, where human irrelevance, indeed insurmountable distance to the environment has been rumored. From 1936 it came in the morning often shared rides in the Berlin Tiergarten, where often the SS officer Werner Best, who was replaced by Walter Schellenberg in 1940 took part. Despite close relations with each other, both seem to have stalked normal. Both intelligence chiefs had informants in the other service. Typical of Heydrich the following statement about Canaris against SS comrades seems to have been: Schellenberg claimed after the war that both would have had with each other incriminating material on toast. So no one could do anything against the other, as it would otherwise have brought themselves in danger. How to Canaris files relating to a non-Aryan grandmother of rivals have had while Heydrich material collected over resisters in defense. The family contacts of both families never ripped off. To the families of Canaris and Heydrich still spent the winter of 1941/42, together Heydrich Jagdgut Stolpshof.

The contact of Canaris other SS personnel, in particular to Best, was initially very tight. With Best Canaris met by the end of 1939 times a day. SD and invited each other a defense to their meetings.

In an agreement dated 17 January 1936 between the Wehrmacht and the SS was the military espionage and counter-espionage, Canaris regulated at the instigation of moment. The agreement was signed by Canaris and Best. The jurisdiction of espionage and counter-espionage remained in the defense of the Wehrmacht. The defense also got the responsibility for counterintelligence in the SS troops available, the defense department was placed under the defense.

On 1 May 1935 he was promoted to Rear Admiral. Canaris launched a massive staffing structure of the defense. Among the new employees were many former Freikorps members or Members of the terrorist organization OC Many new employees Canaris knew personally from his time in Berlin. It both Nazis and opponents were recruited them. People who were close to the SPD or further to the left parties were not recruited. Not more than 50 of the 13,000 officers, officials and employees of the defense contributed later active resistance against the Nazis.

Due to the very different composition never was a real esprit de corps in defense. Many V-Men in embassies, hotels, etc. It’s been advertised. In armaments factories were appointed defense instruct. Canaris personally sat down for cleaning of armament factories of politically unreliable, so politically left-wing people. Secret support in the workplace should be inspected and their sharper briefcases are examined when leaving the job, private telephone calls should also be prohibited. By the end of the 30s called the defense or Canaris always sharper surveillance near the border and arms factories. These were first on goals and measures of the SS or Gestapo out.

Canaris began an increasingly close cooperation with intelligence agencies in Italy and other countries whose governments were classified politically right. As of December 1936, Canaris was given the responsibility on the part of the Wehrmacht for all issues of German-Japanese military cooperation. He had already worked closely with the Japanese military attaché Brigadier Hiroshi Oshima together. Canaris was seemingly always in the realm of the people, which encouraged close cooperation with Japan. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of War and the arms industry had traditionally been placed on cooperation with China. The collaboration with the Japanese secret service was so tight that defense staff in 1937, were allowed to attend the hearing of the overflowed Soviet NKVD chief for the East, General Samoilowitsch Ljuschkow.

The contact with Hitler was initially very intense, such as meetings of 17 December 1935 show until March 1936. Canaris was at that time fully behind Hitler and the government, as the following two sayings of Hitler show:

After his appointment as intelligence chief in 1935, Canaris used his excellent knowledge of Spanish and personally built partly in Spain on a spy network. Canaris is regarded as the man behind the German military support for Franco in the Spanish Civil War. As on 17th July 1936 the Civil War began, was the main part of the insurgent troops in Spanish Morocco. Since the Spanish Navy was true republic, Franco asked the Empire at ten cargo plane e to fly troops to Spain. Canaris reached after intensive discussions of 25 to 26 July, Hitler, Hermann Goering and Werner von Blomberg that on 28 July the decision was twenty Lufthansa Ju 52 to Tetouan in Spanish Morocco to send. Later, Canaris was also responsible for ensuring that German combat units were deployed in the form of the Condor Legion in Spain.

As the insurgent forces under Franco were separated south and north-west of Spain and had inadequate radio equipment, ran messages beginning about Canaris and the Abwehr. Canaris took on to support the insurgents contacts with the Italian intelligence chief Mario Roatta the end of October and met with Franco in Salamanca, to discuss further cooperation. On 6 December 1935, Canaris was in Rome at the Conference of the Chiefs of Staff of the Italian forces there, with the deployment of a Division in Spain, it was decided.

Canaris was repeated in Spain, to settle conflicts between Spaniards, Germans and Italians. Canaris personally cared for detachment of the German Ambassador Wilhelm Faupel and the commander of the Condor Legion, Major General Hugo Sperrle as both clashed with the Spaniards of its kind on the head. The bombing of Guernica Canaris should have shaken.

The defense took over the counterintelligence of the Condor Legion. As part of the Save the Secret Field Police (GFP) have been prepared by officials of the Gestapo. In Spain, a unit of GFP with 30 men and the term “S/88/Ic” used. This unit worked closely with the intelligence of Franco’s troops (Servicio Informacion Policia Militar). One of the focuses of work in Spain was the persecution of Germans who fought in the International Brigade. An agreement with Franco regulated the transfer captured German fighter of the International Brigade in the CFP. Some of the captured German fighters of the International Brigades in Spain have been killed, most were deported, with the consent of Spain into the German Empire to be made ​​there either before the People’s Court or to land immediately in concentration camps. To what extent Canaris was involved in the work of the CFP in Spain, is unclear, since the CFP the local commander of the area was under-Ic, which – if at all – only messages to be prefixed command – often only on radio – recovered.

In winter 1936/37, it came at the request of Canaris with Heinrich Himmler to a visit by officers of the defense and selected officers of the High Command of the Wehrmacht (OKW) in Sachsenhausen concentration camp. The visitors of Theodor Eicke, the Inspector of Concentration Camps were welcomed. The visitors saw others just “welcome” flogged prisoners. The camp commander and other SS officers gave candid information about further torture. According to the visiting participants Heinz Friedrich Wilhelm Canaris wanted to lead the participants to the inhumanity of the Nazis in mind. Canaris seems to have more and more of Hitler and National Socialism away from the latest in 1937. In the fall of 1937, Canaris said his predecessor Dittes, “from top to bottom they are all criminals, directed Germany based”. On the question of how Canaris then could remain head of the defense, Canaris said:

Helper and opponent of Hitler at the same time (1938-1944)

At the beginning of 1938 it came to the Blomberg-Fritsch crisis, which led to the dismissal of the War Minister and Commander of the Wehrmacht’s, Werner von Blomberg, and the Commander of the Army, Werner von Fritsch. Blomberg had married a woman in January 1938, which has been conducted since 1932 in police files as a prostitute. Fritsch was falsely denounced as a homosexual. Both officers were then forced to resign. Hitler seized on the opportunity to get rid of unwanted, technically competent critics of his war plans.

Canaris was one of the few military leaders who are actively campaigning for Fritsch and helped in clarifying the false accusations against Fritsch. The Chief of Staff of the Army, Ludwig Beck, however, issued a strict prohibition to even talk about the affair. With the Enlightenment came out, among other things, that the Gestapo had early noticed the confusion of Fritsch with a man with the same name and did not pass on this information. The Blomberg-Fritsch crisis seems to be the final turning point of Canaris in relation to the government, in particular to the SS and Gestapo, and to have been led to turn to resistance groups against Hitler in the military. Canaris was now collecting the defense anti-Gestapo material and gave this material to leading officers of the Wehrmacht on.

On 4 February 1938 were forced to retire 16 generals and 44 more were added. The War Department was renamed the High Command of the Wehrmacht (OKW) under Lieutenant General Wilhelm Keitel. Canaris was born on 7 February Chief of Office Group General Wehrmacht Affairs (AWA) in the OKW, while maintaining the function as chief of the defense. Canaris was now temporarily in charge of relations of the OKW to party, police, press and public.

Keitel issued on 13 February 1938 Canaris to spread the command wrong, but credible news about preparations for war against Austria to the orders of Hitler to build up pressure on the Government of Austria (Note: In mid-March it came to the annexation of Austria).

This deception actions were immediately seen through by the secret Austria. For the first time there was a duplicitous maneuvering of Canaris, when he was both working for the Nazi government as well as simultaneously with the Head of the Central Department of Defense (Hans Oster) worked against the government. Canaris and Colonel Frederick Hoßbach, Hitler’s Wehrmacht adjutant, formulated demands that Colonel General Walther von Brauchitsch, the new commander of the army, Hitler would present. Among other things, the paper calls for significant changes in staffing leader of the Gestapo. This paper Hitler was never presented by von Brauchitsch. On 1 April 1938 he was promoted to Vice Admiral Canaris.

After the Anschluss Canaris flew on 11 March to Vienna. He confiscated the local secret personal files of Hitler, Goering, Himmler and Heydrich. He came here Schellenberg before. Canaris made ​​the local senior staff Max Ronge and Erwin Lahousen immediately offered to go to the defense, and also came here Schellenberg before. He said to Lahousen:

Lahousen was actually employees of the defense and soon a close associate of Canaris. Ronge, however, was arrested by the SS, but was later released at the instigation of Canaris.

The defense was on 1 June reorganized into four departments. She was now also responsible for the management of weapons attaché to s embassies abroad and the support of foreign military attaché in Berlin s. Canaris simultaneously lost the leadership of the Office Group General Wehrmacht matters.

Canaris and the Abwehr from 30 May 1938 on the orders of Hitler’s war preparations against Czechoslovakia busy (note:. 15-16 March 1939 was the “destruction of the remainder of Czechoslovakia” put into practice).

But since 1934, the defense worked together with the leader Konrad Henlein of the Sudeten Germans. Already in the course of 1937, the defense had begun to prepare or attract by Helmuth Groscurth ammunition storage and undercover agents on Czechoslovak territory. The defense was camouflaged combat and sabotage organizations seep across the border in order to sabotage the war began – to stand by and terrorist actions. The defense also led the preparation of the Sudeten German Free Corps (SFK). Canaris was at this time, as in the next few years, on the one hand and on the other pioneers would-be preventer of Hitler’s war of conquest s at the same time. Oster and Canaris were trying to urge the Chief of General Staff General Beck for action against a war. Beck wrote memoranda but rather against a war instead of acting and eventually resigned. With Beck’s successor, General Franz Halder, Canaris was preparing a coup, should participate in the von Brauchitsch. These plans Hans von Dohnanyi allegedly beat for the first time in conservative circles resistance to pre an assassination attempt on Hitler by men in its environment. Canaris, however, could only imagine an arrest, but not to kill Hitler in 1944. Nevertheless, there were already planned to kill at a 1938 arrest specific plans of Easter, Friedrich Wilhelm Heinz and Gisevius Hitler.

In early May 1939, work began aerial reconnaissance s height with special reconnaissance aircraft over Poland, with Canaris and the Abwehr participated in the planning. At the same time began smuggling of defense men in Poland, to prevent the demolition of important installations, particularly of bridges, by the beginning of the war in Poland. Until the outbreak of war in 1300 Abwehr agents were introduced in Poland. The defense also formed a Ukrainian Legion 13-14000 men with it to use it in case of war in south-eastern Poland (former Galicia), since in this area also Ukrainians lived.

On 22 August Hitler made ​​a speech on the impending war against Poland on 50 key officers of the empire at the Berghof, where Canaris was present. Despite ban, Canaris wrote on keywords. After the speech, all the officers were silent, even among themselves there was no discussion about the speech. Canaris informed the next day the department and group leader of the defense of the speech and the expected date of the attack. Later, he read from his closest confidants before transcript. Easter falsified these keywords from Canaris and played it to an American journalist. On 25 August was this more the manuscript to the British Embassy. The resistance groups in the Wehrmacht considered several times a coup against Hitler, but dropped the plan because there was no support from the commanders of the armed forces.

When the war started Canaris gave a short, pithy speech to his officers. It came to taking important industrial enterprises of the defense of Upper Silesia, which were maintained until the arrival of the Wehrmacht. The defense began collaborating with enemies of war opponents. You made ​​contact with the IRA as well as Indians and Ukrainians. In Afghanistan, the defense was planning to bring the pro-German ex-King returned to power.

Canaris helped each pole, for B. Szymańska Halina, wife of Poland’s military attache in Berlin, to flee to Switzerland. He allowed the defense to collect data on crimes committed by the SS and Gestapo in Poland. He ordered his department heads and the installation of service diaries, in which for example the members of the defense, but not carried out murders were recorded. Because of his service diary about Lahousen testified as a witness at the Nuremberg trial of the major war criminals and supported the accusation by his evidence and his personal perceptions. Canaris also used this material to incite some dissident commanding generals of the Wehrmacht against the Einsatzgruppen, Gestapo, SS, etc. He made ​​sure that reports of Colonel John Blaskowitz on crimes in Poland came to the commanders of the three army groups in the West:

Army Group A Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt (October 26, 1939 to June 22, 1941)

Army Group C Field Marshal Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb (since August 26, 1939 by renaming)

Army Group B Field Marshal Fedor von Bock (October 12, 1939 to July 14, 1942)

Canaris protested only once in person, on the 14th September was Wilhelm Keitel, for the murders in Poland. His staff Lahousen wrote in a memo, which he wrote on the order of Canaris:

Keitel said, among other things, as the Wehrmacht would hereby have nothing to do, would fall the “folk extermination” in the civil responsibility of the commander. Canaris also the protest against the bombing of Warsaw (see Battle of Warsaw (1939)) was without any effect. But he took no action in regard to his standing among Secret Field Police (GFP), which participated in crimes against Poland. The service rules of the CFP, which was part of the defense and was confiscated from officers and employees of the Gestapo, regulated, that it has similar functions as the Einsatzgruppen of the SS. The CFP grew up as part of the Department of Defense III 500-600 man was Colonel Commandant of the CFP Wilhelmskirch tree that was SS-Standartenführer in the SD Main Office before. The CFP and other departments of defense gave detainees at Einsatzgruppen to liquidate. This practice led to a letter from Heydrich to Canaris. Heydrich called the CFP to instruct to conduct their executions themselves. Of 764 shootings with about 20,000 dead, from 1 September to 26 October were carried out in occupied Poland, 311 were carried out by the Wehrmacht. What part of this was the CFP seems unclear. Canaris expressed by the Polish campaign against his friend from Freikorps times, Ehrhardt

On 1 January 1940 he was promoted to Admiral Canaris.

The 1940 defense could hardly deliver secret data to France during preparations for the western campaign, which first caused disgruntlement over the defense and Canaris, the General Staff of the Army. There were more coup plans by Hans Oster worked in the defense headquarters in Berlin, as it held the western campaign planned for insanity. Canaris went to commanders on the Western Front, in order to win a revolution. Only Wilhelm von Leeb, commander of Army Group C, was willing to participate. The defense made ​​contact with Pope Pius XII. Than on the defense officers Josef Müller and Wilhelm Schmidhuber. The Pope should make indirect contact with the Western powers. This contact to the Pope, of course without the proper background, Canaris was also shared with Heydrich. He asked Heydrich to match material on the domestic situation. Heydrich gave way to the argument that he would only ask Himmler, this is not wanted. Canaris and Heydrich sent neutralized as the SD. After making contact, the pope agreed to forward messages of resistance to the British Government. The Vatican gave further messages to the ambassadors of the British Embassy in Rome. The ambassador responded very like the British government reserved the negotiated deal. Nevertheless, Müller made ​​it in his report to the British Canaris an offer to a kind of gentlemen’s agreement between the resistance and the British government. In defense this message miller the so-called X-report. X This report was handed over to Major General George Thomas Halder. Because as Chief of Staff Halder had no jurisdiction, he needed v. Brauchitsch for concrete action. Halder on the X report came to von Brauchitsch. Halder already distrusted the report because of its unknown origin and content contradictions. Von Brauchitsch said that the report did as treason and demanded the arrest of the author. But Halder could prevent this. Von Brauchitsch and other generals refused later to take part in actions against Hitler.

When Hitler on 5 November 1940 compared with von Brauchitsch and Halder spoke of, wipe out the “Spirit of Zossen” (seat of the OKH), Halder panicked. Halder was Carl-Heinrich von Stülpnagel ordered to leave destroy all coup documents. Stulpnagel gave this command to the Groscurth of the defense on. Now called Groscurth that an action against Hitler hermüsse. Since Halder called Canaris, this itself should abservieren Hitler. As things stand, without a coup troops, now only an assassination attempt against Hitler came into question. Canaris wanted to be an assassin and rejected an assassination attempt. He set visitors since that time a resigned, weary and tired feeling. He said Easter now, any more conspiratorial activity. Since that time, Canaris did not participate more actively in coup plans. He further revealed conspirators in defense.

The 1941 defense led by deception actions to conceal the preparations for war before the secret services of the Soviet Union. About the consequences of an attack on the Soviet Union seems Canaris, unlike almost all other high military to have been clear. In a so-called Barbarossa Conference of Defence, in preparation for the attack, he said:

The special unit of Brandenburg was the assault on the Soviet Union, particularly in the Baltic States, again successful in doing so. It fell about 400 soldiers of the “Brandenburg”, including Hans-Wolfram Knaak. 8 Canaris went to 1st July Army on the Eastern Front. He was also informed about a massacre of the Romanian secret police, in which 5,000 Jews were murdered. Employees of Defence in Bucharest were involved in the planning of the massacre. Canaris sent a letter, written by Helmuth James Graf von Moltke, to Keitel, where the treatment of prisoners of war in accordance with the principles of international law was urged s. Canaris was the end of July make a report in which all the material was collected, which provided the defense about strength and fighting power of the Red Army before the attack, since Canaris did not want to be blamed for the attack did not run as expected. The defense headquarters was on the defense and commands Defensive squads in the army groups and armies informed about crimes against prisoners of war and Jews. Dohnanyi collected copies of the messages in its so-called rare-map, in which he collected documents on crimes of the Nazi regime. Lahousen wrote on 23 October a report “On a trip to the area of ​​operations in the East made observations and findings”, in which crimes have been documented. At the same time created an interpreter of Defence, Sergeant Soennecken, an eyewitness account of a massacre of 7,000 to 8,000 Jews in Borisov. The defense under standing CFP again participated actively in the crimes. So called for the CFP Kodyma, the competent in the area of the SS Einsatzgruppen in order to jointly carry out a shooting action.

End of October Canaris traveled with staff to the army groups on the Eastern Front. When visiting the Spanish division Canaris experienced a violent attack of the Red Army. His companion Lahousen wrote that the Spaniards “took no prisoners”. Because partisan threat to continued on with cocked pistols. At Army Group Center is also passed by prisoners trains. According to the diary of Lahousen was spoken during the visit front also about the massacre of Borisov. When you return to Rastenburg Canaris Hitler read before eyewitness accounts of mass shootings in Riga. Hitler replied: On 7 March 1943 transported the aircraft that brought Canaris, Dohnanyi Lahousen and the headquarters of Army Group Centre at Smolensk, and explosives for the Abwehr – command. This explosive was intended for an attack against Hitler at troops a visit. Whether Canaris was informed of the reason for this explosive delivery is unclear. A bomb with this explosive lit at 13 March, for unknown reason, not the return flight in Hitler’s plane.


On 11 February 1944 Canaris was dismissed from his post as defense chief.

The dismissal as defense chief was preceded by a series of errors of the defense. Complain of a poor job of defense had heaped in 1943 with the growing defeats of the Wehrmacht. Thus, the defense had not recognized the preparations for Operation Shingle (landing of Allied troops at Anzio in Italy). On 5 February, Hitler was reported to the overflow of Defense employee Erich Increase in Istanbul at the British. Than 11 February had been a bomb attack on a British freighter for Orange n in Cartagena in Spain through the defense with explosives supplied Franco opponents, Hitler raged. Well struck SS brigade leader Hermann Fegelein, liaison officer of the Waffen-SS in Hitler’s headquarters, before to pass the defense of the Reich Leader SS Himmler. It is interesting in this context that Himmler had two previous occasions to replace Canaris as defense chief, not used. Hitler ordered Himmler to him and commissioned him to create a unified intelligence. Himmler designed a command, the Wilhelm Keitel and Jodl agreed for the Wehrmacht. Hitler signed on 13 February a corresponding command. Jodl and Keitel, Canaris put the Abwehr headquarters in Zossen news that defense and SD would be combined. Canaris was to go to the Castle Lauenstein in the Franconian Forest. There is a service of the defense was with Centre for Research in forgery of passports, secret inks, micro cameras, etc. Hitler would later decide on the further use of Canaris. Canaris was put under house arrest order. Thanks to Hitler’s words were delivered, and the news of the award of the German Cross in silver to Canaris.

Canaris went to the castle with his driver and two dachshunds. On 10 March was the dismissal of Canaris from the military service of 30 June has. The defense was on 1 June dissolved. Schellenberg went shortly afterwards to Canaris, to inform him about it. Canaris was back in June for military service as an admiral for V. (available) convened and he became the first July Chief of OKW task force trade war and economic action (HWK) in oak near Potsdam. Canaris had an adjutant, some not front-capable officers and some civilians committed war available. This should control the trade war and the fight against the Allied economic blockade. In 1944 this office was because of the war situation with virtually no task. He lived with an Algerian minister and a Polish cook in his house. His wife survived because of persistent bomb attacks have long been in Riederau am Ammersee. Canaris took Russian language lessons and his neighbor Helmut Maurer, a pianist who played piano for him at home.

Arrest and detention

Canaris had only learned in the first half of July 1944 by the two lieutenant colonel of the defense Freytag Loringhoven and Werner Schrader of the impending assassination attempt on Hitler by Claus von Stauffenberg. Canaris responded to this communication is not known. It is certain that Canaris had always refused to assassinate Hitler in previous years. Canaris on 20 July learned of the attack is unclear, and there are two versions of this. After the first version was Canaris on 20 July by 17 clock of General Staff Judge Karl Sack, one of the conspirators of the 20th July 1944 informed of the attack. According to the second version Stauffenberg personally Canaris the afternoon of 20 have called in July, was present as a sack with two other friends. The second version astonished, as Stauffenberg and Canaris had a bad personal relationship to each other. In the so-called report of the SS Kaltenbrunner on the investigation of the assassination is no indication in any case contain, although the presence of blind Canaris is mentioned there. Nevertheless Stauffenberg said to have declared at his call Canaris without further ado, the leader was killed by a bomb. Canaris, who had announced that he was tapped is said to have replied: Canaris sent from his office in Oak immediate declaration of loyalty to the Fuehrer’s Headquarters Wolf’s Lair, in which he congratulated Hitler for the miraculous rescue.

The Chief of the Office M (also Mil Office or Military Office, the name of the former defense in SD), Colonel Georg Hansen admitted on 22 July before Gestapo chief Heinrich Müller, his participation in the attempted coup and called Canaris as “intellectual drivers of the opposition movement.” On 23 July Canaris was arrested while drinking coffee with two friends from SD chief Schellenberg personally. The following details of the arrest are preserved only by statements of Schellenberg. Canaris asked Schellenberg to get him within three days of a conversation with Himmler. Schellenberg is also offered Canaris have to wait an hour in the living room, what Canaris said he did not think to escape, even if he wanted to shoot.

Canaris was put to school in Border Police Furstenberg. There, there were another 20 officers who were suspected by the Gestapo in the assassination of 20 July to have been involved. The investigation was led by SS-Sturmbannführer Walter Huppenkothen and Detective Sonderegger. Canaris was transferred to the prison of the RSHA little later. He was housed in a one and a half times two and a half meter cell and did not walk in the yard. The contact with other prisoners was forbidden. Only in the morning when showering conversations were possible. Meals as there was only starvation rations, while others visit prisoners and Esspakete got lacked both Canaris.

During interrogation said Friedrich Wilhelm Heinz, commander of the 4th Infantry Regiment “Brandenburg” from that same division, which was under Canaris was intended for subversive plans. Their commander, Major General Alexander von Pfuhlstein confirmed this. Easter accused Canaris little later after the submission of the statement Pfuhl stone of complicity for subversive plans. Canaris confirmed only talks about “change of warfare,” he had these theoretical discussions attributed no value. Even with a comparison of Canaris remained in his line.

On 19 September was a set up by Karl Doenitz, the commander of the German Navy, signed letter, after Canaris with effect from 25 July was dismissed. On 21 September Canaris wrote up an explanation of the regime. On the same day, a driver reported that he previously secret files of the defense to the camp of the Zeppelin bunker in Zossen – had driven Wunsdorf. On 22 September was the Gestapo, the Secret Archives of the coup attempts of 1938-1940 and some punches from Canaris’ diary. Dohnanyi had this archive, contrary to his command, not destroyed. Easter betrayed by acts Fund all about his plans for a coup to the Gestapo. Canaris, however, still played everything down as if he had just participated in formal talks conspiracy. For each allegation or suspicion Canaris gave a plausible explanation ready. Food rations for Canaris were reduced to a third of the normal prison diet. He was also subjected to sleep deprivation through regular monitoring, and now had to scrub the floors.

In Flossenbiirg and execution

On 5 February 1945 Canaris was transported to Flossenbiirg with others. In the special wing of the concentration camps he had contact about knocking the prisoner Hans Mathiesen Lunding, a Danish intelligence officer. April 1945 saw the beginning of the Infantry General, Walter Buhle, or one of his officers in a safe in Zossen, the long-sought by the Gestapo from Canaris’ diary. The Nazi mistress had set this immediately handed over to the Gestapo. On 5 April, was presented by Ernst Kaltenbrunner, the Chief of the Security Police and SD, Hitler personally. Hitler ordered the “immediate destruction of the conspirators.” Kaltenbrunner now ordered an SS drumhead court. About the process followed in the concentration camp SS court, there are only representations of SS Judge Thor Otto Walter Beck and the prosecutor Huppenkothen.

Easter pleaded before the court to the SS-resistance. Canaris, however, denied all allegations. Easter also confirmed all the allegations in a confrontation with Canaris. Now Canaris said when asked if his former chief of staff, lie in the negative. The defendants, in addition to Canaris, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, runaway Ludwig, Hans Oster and Carl Sack, were sentenced to death. Knocked Canaris to the neighboring cell a final message:

Canaris, Bonhoeffer, runaway, Easter, sack and Theodor Struenck had to strip naked little later and were hanged. An SS man later told a witness: The dead were cremated in the crematorium, and the ashes scattered.

The chairman of the state court, Thor Otto Beck, and the prosecutor Walter Huppenkothen were charged after the end of the Nazi regime in the Federal Republic of Germany to murder. Thor Otto Beck was acquitted by the Federal Court in 1956 of charges of complicity in the murder, although it was purely a show trial. Even under the laws of the Nazi state this SS drumhead court was illegal. After the war criminal order (KStVO) a court martial was responsible for the defendant because it did not involve members of the SS. After the war criminal, no prior court order was possible, since this was only responsible for crimes committed precisely, their immediate sentencing for maintaining order and security of the troops was necessary. Furthermore, the following procedural errors were present: no military judge wrong of court, no defense, no confirmation and verification of judgments.

Attitude towards Jews

His biographer Heinz Höhne claims that Canaris has grown up or lived in an atmosphere of moderate anti-Semitism of the Ruhr-bourgeoisie and the Navy. He apparently believed in a “Jewish problem” in the German Empire.

Controversial is the attitude of Canaris towards the Holocaust. The Lubavitcher Hasidim (grouping within the Orthodox Judaism) advocate his honor as a Righteous Among the Nations, because he had thereof, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, in September 1939, and later many other Jews helped escape.


Parts of the defense, in particular the Division III and GFP were directly involved in the Holocaust and other war crimes. It is not known that such Canaris B. has actively sought through commands to prevent the participation of employees of defense in war crimes. On the other hand, Canaris was actively involved in the rescue of Jews and put it at risk his command.

The CFP helped around July 1941 in Minsk the Einsatzgruppen in the selection of prisoners in detention camps. The officers stationed there defending Division III (counterintelligence) drew up lists and documents to liquidating by the Einsatzgruppen. The defense and GFP gave Jews routinely caught the Einsatzgruppen.

In February 1942, Canaris was suspended for the V-Jewish men of the defense. Three of the main agents, namely Edgar Klaus, Ivar Lissner and Richard Klatt were Jews or so-called half-Jew n Canaris had reached earlier, that “half Jews” who were working as undercover agents for the defense, “German blood” people were equal. Himmler told Hitler in February 1942 about a “full Jews” with the (Morocco) worked for the defense in Tangier. After a tantrum of Hitler, Canaris was suspended. Canaris immediately flew to Hitler’s headquarters. After discussion with Hitler, Canaris returned to service. About the meeting with Hitler in private no details are known.

On 30 Canaris was in June 1942 after the failure of Operation Pastorius again with Hitler. During the operation eight Abwehr agents had already been taken shortly after landing by a submarine in the United States. There were allegations of Hitler to Canaris. Canaris told all agents were party members and the organizer even Blood Order of the NSDAP. Hitler expressed it, “then they take criminals and Jews.” Now Canaris sent officially Jews alleged agent contracts abroad and thus saved them. In a secret operation under Major Walter Schulze-Bernett 500 Jews were sent to South America as a V-Men. Canaris took care of foreign exchange for the bailout.

Reception of the present

From today’s perspective, Canaris was one of the few resistance fighters against Hitler, whose position in the history nor the beginning of the 21st Century is controversial. The classification Canaris is difficult because practically there are no separate written legacies. There are few personal letters and tiny fragments of the diary service.

Immediately after the war, he was seen by right-wing circles, especially as traitors. His wife Heather and daughter Brigitte therefore long lived in Spain in order to escape harassment. In conservative circles, his resistance to Hitler was highlighted in the 1950s. More left-wing circles in the eye was also drawn to his involvement in the trial of the murderers of Luxembourg and Liebknecht. Since the biography of Heinz Höhne with the subtitle Patriot in the twilight of 1976, the whole of his behavior is apparently contradictory. Here also the responsibility of the Secret Field Police crime came to light during the war, as this was part of the defense.

After Canaris was no military installation, unlike many of the other high officers named. There are in Wesel and a Luedinghausen Wilhelm Canaris Street, also in Dortmund and Duisburg-Walsum a Aplerbeck Canaris road. Hanover Mill Mountain there is a Canarisweg, with many streets are named after the district of resistance fighters.


•Venezuelan Bolivar Order of the breast image of V. Class, 1909

•Crown, IV Class

Iron Cross (1914) Class II and I.

U-boat War Badge (1918)

•Austrian Military Merit Cross III. Class with war decoration

•Iron Crescent

•Cross of Honor for Combatants

•Wehrmacht Long Service Award IV to First Class

War Merit Cross (1939) with swords II and Class I.

Clasp to the Iron Cross II and First Class

•Finnish Order of the Cross Freedom I. Class with Star and Swords on 16 September 1941

•Finnish Order of Liberty Cross First Class with star, swords and oak leaves and breast star, on 19 September 1941

•German Cross in Silver 11 November 1943


•Canaris, Federal Republic of Germany, 1954 Director: Alfred Man Willow, Book: Erich Ebermayer and Herbert Reinecker, with OE Hasse in the title role


•Karlheinz Abshagen: Canaris – patriot and citizen of the world. German Union Publishing Company, Stuttgart 1954, ISBN no.

•Klaus Benzing: The Admiral – life and work without publishing, Nördlingen, 1972, no ISBN..

•André Brissaud: Canaris – 1887-1945 Societäts-Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1976, ISBN 3-7973-0287-8..

•Michael Bertram: The image of the Nazi regime in the memoirs of the leading generals of the Third Reich. Ibidem-Verlag, 2009, ISBN 978-3-8382-0034-7.

•Ian Colvin: Admiral Canaris – Chief of Intelligence. Wilhelm Frick bookstore, Vienna / Zurich / Munich 1955, ISBN no.

•Heinrich Fraenkel, Roger Manvell: Canaris – Spy in the conflict. Scherz Verlag, Berne in 1969.

•Karl Glaubauf, Stefanie Lahousen: Major General Erwin Lahousen Edler von Vivremont – A Linzer intelligence officer in the military resistance. Lit Verlag, Münster, 2005, ISBN 978-3-8258-7259-5.

•Heinz Höhne: Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, in: Gerd Ueberschär (ed.): Hitler’s military elite.68 CVs. University Press, Darmstadt 2011, ISBN 978-3-534-23980-1, pp. 53-60.

•Heinz Höhne, Canaris – Patriot in the twilight. Bertelsmann, Munich, 1984, ISBN 3-570-01608-0.

•Guido Knopp, Hitler’s Warriors. Bertelsmann, Munich 1998, ISBN 3-570-00265-9.

•Michael Mueller, Canaris – Hitler’s intelligence chief. Propylaea, Berlin 2006, ISBN 978-3-549-07202-8.

•Gunter Pirntke: The true face of Wilhelm Franz Canaris – Opaque defender of Hitler. Digital Publisher Großrosseln Großrosseln 2006, ISBN 978-3-936983-16-6 ( books.google.de ).

•Michael Graf Soltikow: I was in the middle – My years with Canaris. Paul Neff Verlag, Vienna / Berlin 1980, ISBN 3-7014-0164-0.

Military person (Imperial Navy)

Military person (the Navy)

Military person (Navy of the Armed Forces)

Military person (Defence)

Admiral (German Reich)

Agent (Intelligence)

U-boat commander

Prisoner in Flossenbiirg

Person (assassination attempt of July 20, 1944)

Executed man person (Nazi victims)

Support of the Royal Prussian Crown Order 4th Class

Winner of the German Cross in Silver

Support of the Iron Crescent

Support of the Finnish Order of the Cross of freedom

Freikorps member

Person (Dortmund)


Born 1887

Died in 1945


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