The German Master Spy Who Saved Gibraltar

by Daniel Russ on September 14, 2012

Reinhard Heydrich

Reinhard Heydrich

October 1935, Hitler marched into the Sudetenland and took 11,000 square miles of land from Czechoslovakia and added it back into German borders. People, 80% of who were German speakers or German nationals, of course occupied the Sudetenland. The rest of the 800,000 who lived there were turned into Europe’s first refugees. At the time, Reinhart Heydrich headed the dreaded SD, one of a bevy of internal investigative agencies attached to the Third Reich. (Sicherheitsdienst des Reichsführers – State security guards) Heydrich was a charismatic, tall and Aryan looking hero of German. He was a master equestrian and fencer, and made good use of the Nazi’s internal public relations teams. Heydrich was also a punctilious and hard worker who built a huge intelligence infrastructure with tentacles into much of German public and private life. They kept files based on any information no matter how tenuous and inundated Germany with a deep fear of the new leaders of Germany. They were also ruthlessly effective. One of the reasons why Hitler was able to consolidate his power so quickly was the enormous intelligence networks that tried to out cruel each other and out purity each other to Hitler and his cronies. That said there was another internal security service run by Admiral Wilhelm Canaris called Abwehr. Canaris was an accomplished U Boat captain with a background in signals intelligence. He distinguished himself in the navy from South America to the Spanish coastline.


German Admirdal Wilhelm Canaris

German Admiral Wilhelm Canaris


Oddly, both Heydrich and Canaris had met early in their careers. At that time, both were Naval officers although Heydrich had been demoted and expelled from the Navy for having an affair on his wife. The administrative officer at hand was German Admiral Rader. Utterly despondent, Heydrich wanted only to mundify his sins and find his role in life. He was ecstatic to find meaningful work in the growing German security state in his late twenties. Himmler took a liking to him and advanced his career. Both Canaris and Heydrich were cosmopolitan, but Heydrich enjoyed sartorial splendor of the Nazi uniforms. Canaris was a well-read, educated scholar, yet he was not the garrulous type, preferring civilian clothes to the ostentatiousness of the Nazis. His wife was a virtuoso violinist and held small house concerts. Canaris and Heydrich were close, but not in the way of close friends. They were close in the way of two Nazi intelligence officers on their way up the ladder were close. There was one singular difference between two of them. Heydrich was an avowed Nazi while Canaris grew increasingly critical of the murder and slaughter of innocents at the hands of the SS.


Heydrich was plagued by rumors that he was of Jewish heritage. It did nothing to quell his insatiable appetite for the suffering of Jews and Gypsies and Bolsheviks. He led the Einszatz Brigades, or SS groups that followed behind the German Army and murdered minorities, non-Aryan types and political enemies of the German people, whom would include any Russian or Communist or open dissident. Typically Einszatz activities were held behind the lines, so German officers didn’t hear about them until it was a fait accompli. This brought Hans Oster, a German General into the heart of the German resistance. He was appalled at the senseless, unquestioned killings. Events brought Oster and Canaris together. They watched in horror from their perspective posts as German agent provocateurs dressed up as Polish partisans and attacked and killed German outposts in order to offer a casus beli to Hitler. Canaris Oster met and discussed the false flag operations and secret lists of people to kidnap and erase from their new territories.  And as with all the German resistance operatives were aghast at the unrelenting success the Nazis enjoyed no matter how depraved the offense. Operation “Canned Goods” was the very false flag operation that started the Second World War, when German operatives disguised as Polish Partisans attacked a German radio station and killed the operators. Then they blew up the station.  Soon thereafter, on September 1st, 1939, the Wehrmacht invaded Poland.


At this point in the history of the Third Reich Hitler decided that he needed to cut off the waterway in and out the Mediterranean Gibraltar. This way he could easily stop reinforcement to any nation that wanted to help take North Africa out German purview. If Hitler controlled the Mediterranean, he would have completely secure internal lines of communication.



Wilhelm Canaris knew that by playing his cards right, he could wreak havoc on the Nazis, or have a deleterious effect that they couldn’t discern until it’s too late. Canaris’s piece de resistance was in Spain, where Franco supported Hitler and admired him. But Franco was no patsy. He was not like Mussolini who was a sycophant around Hitler. Franco watched as Hitler consumed the territory around him, much of it without even a fight. Canaris tried to convince Franco not to allow Hitler to invade, as he would probably never leave. The Spanish population was broken by the years of bloody civil war. They wanted jobs and if the Nazis came in to land grab and take what they needed then this would spark a massive uprising.



Canaris told Hitler that a massive insurgency would explode if they tried to invade Gibraltar through Spain. This was on the eve of the invasion of Russia, and therefore, Hitler needed every available man. So, Hitler abandoned the plan. Gibraltar, and probably much of Spain, owes thanks to a traitorous German general.


Sources: History Channel, Wikipedia, The Histroy of World War Two, Winston Churchill




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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Louis September 19, 2017 at 6:18 am

And Francos no-nonsense attitude, and knowledge of his country being a wasteland, both economically and socially, after a very bloody Civil War.
Franco did offer Hitler a division of Spanish troops to go and fight the communists. Which they did with great fervor, and great skill, almost all of the personel in the division being combat veterans of the Spanish Civil War.

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