|Born||3 Apr 1902|
|Died||8 Jun 1979|
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
ww2dbaseReinhard Gehlen was born in Erfurt, Germany to a book store owner. He was raised a Roman Catholic. He joined the military in 1920, and graduated from the German Staff College in 1935. At the rank of captain, he was attached to the Army General Staff later in 1935. In 1939, he was promoted to the rank of major. In 1939, he was the staff officer of an infantry division during the invasion of Poland. In 1940, he became the liaison officer to Army Commander-in-Chief Field Marshal Walther von Brauchitsch, then later in the year transferred to the staff of Chief of Staff General Franz Halder. In Jul 1941, he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel, and soon after became a senior intelligence officer on the Russian front. In 1942, he was approached by Colonel Henning von Tresckow, Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, and General Adolf Heusinger to participate in the assassination of Hitler; when the July Plot failed, Gehlen was able to cover up his involvement (his participation was not significant) during the subsequent investigations. In Dec 1944, he was promoted to the rank of major general and given charge of intelligence gathering. In Mar 1945, Gehlen and some of his senior officers microfilmed holdings of his Fremde Heere Ost organization and buried the films in watertight drums in several places in the Austrian Alps. On 22 May 1945, he surrendered to US Army Counter Intelligence Corps in Bavaria in Southern Germany.
ww2dbaseAfter the war, Gehlen offered his intelligence archives, knowledge of Russian military organizations, and contacts across the Soviet Union to the Americans in exchange for the liberty of a number German officers including himself. The offer was accepted, and Gehlen's name, along with the names of his former senior officers, disappeared from prisoners-of-war lists. Gehlen and seven others gathered the buried drums in secret shortly after. On 20 Sep 1945, Gehlen and three of his officers were transferred to the United States to begin working for the Office of Strategic Services. Among his first contributions to the OSS was the revealing of several OSS officers who were, in secret, members of the US Communist Party. In Jul 1946, Gehlen was officially released from US captivity and returned to Germany. From Germany, he set up an organization consisted of 350 former German intelligence officers and operated under the cover of the South German Industrial Development Organization in Pullach, Germany, near Munich. This organization would eventually grow to 4,000 undercover agents. His agents, codenamed "V-men" and their group nicknamed the "Gehlen Organization", were instruments of the US Central Intelligence Agency in Germany against the Soviet nations during the Cold War. The Gehlen Organization was later evaluated to be ineffective in gathering valuable information from the Soviet nations, though successful missions such as Operation Crossword (infiltration of 5,000 anti-communists into Eastern Europe and Russia) and the uncovering of the Soviet assassination unit known as SMERSH proved the organization's worth.
ww2dbaseIn 1955, the Gehlen Organization was handed over to the Federal Republic of Germany under the government of Konrad Adenauer. On 1 Apr 1956, the organization formed the foundation of the newly created Federal Intelligence Service, with Gehlen at its helm with the title of president. In 1968, he stepped down into retirement due to a political scandal among top Federal Intelligence Service leadership.
Last Major Revision: Aug 2009
Reinhard Gehlen Timeline
|3 Apr 1902||Reinhard Gehlen was born.|
|14 Jul 1942||Reinhard Gehlen and Heinz Herre presented to General Franz Halder intelligence on the Soviet difficulty in recruitment and the redirection of Lend-Lease war goods to Egypt.|
|8 Jun 1979||Reinhard Gehlen passed away.|
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General Douglas MacArthur at Leyte, 17 Oct 1944