Monday, November 28, 2011

Economic Intelligence by the Forschungsamt

The Forschungsamt was one of the principal German intelligence agencies in the period 1933-45.It was created by Goering in 1933 to provide the Nazi party with reliable intelligence on domestic and foreign affairs.

It’s main focus was on intercepting plaintext post , radio and teletype traffic and eavesdropping on telephone conversation but it also had a large decoding department.

One of the main efforts of the FA was in economic intelligence. The part devoted to economic intelligence was department 12 of Group V ( Evaluation).

Department 12 was divided in three sections :

                  1. 12A – Germany’s national economic problems.
                  2. 12B – Economic conditions of other countries.
                  3. 12C – Compilation and analysis of information concerning domestic raw materials ,markets and prices.

Source: Consolidated Interrogation report SAIC/SIR/7 – 19 July 1945

Obviously the information collected from unencoded and encoded traffic was important in guiding German economic and trade policy, especially as Goering was also in charge of the four year plan.

A hint of this is given by report ’Headquarters Seventh Army ,MU 500 , CSDIC,G-2 , APO 758 – German Air ministry Research Office' , 29 Jan ‘45

Main source : Guenther Lothar

The economic Dept is the largest of all FORSCHUNGSAMT sections. Here a staff of experts of various branches of industry sort and evaluate information pertaining to the activities of the world market, production of all possible goods, statistics, etc. Of particular interest, was, of course, the armament industry in the United States and England. Stock exchange rumors and fluctuations in foreign countries were also very closely watched and collected to enable quick and advantageous decisions to be made for buying and selling.

Statistics of industrial interest gathered by this Dept were also sometimes disseminated to certain German industrial institutions.

The codes of foreign banking establishments were also targeted.

TICOM report I-162 ''Report on interrogation of Kurt Saurbier of RLM/Forschungsamt held on 31 August 1945'' gives more information:

From p3:

7. Commercial Codes :

Several enciphered versions of standard codes were solved, but S. did not consider any of the results of importance. Traffic between TURKEY and SWEDEN was attacked particularly and solved, but yielded none of the expected information on shipping possibilities.A major effort of the section was the solution in 1944 of the code used by INTABANK, the International Bank at BASLE. The code used was an old Bank of England code which had been solved in 1941. The pages were shuffled, and an encipherment added, but solution was achieved by the use of cribs and common form messages, of which the best was a statement of the daily exchange rates between various countries.

The detail of the encipherment was as follows: the basic system was bigram substitution from a table different for each link and changing each 3 months. The text was divided into segments of three or four groups, and the plain text bigrams for encipherment were prearranged pairs, as 1 and 15, 2 and 14 , 6 and 10 etc. Very long depths and near depths were produced on closely similar number values, and this was the entry. The whole solution took about 6 months, starting with 1942-3 traffic and working up to 1944. The interception of the traffic was not systematised at any time, and S. did not believe more than 50%, of all the traffic was read as a result of the solution .

I have also written before on the Soviet economic traffic intercepted during the war , allowing the Germans to evaluate parts of the Soviet economy.

So in the area of economic intelligence the FA certainly had its successes!

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