III B

I wrote about Elsbeth SCHRAGMÜLLER (1887-1940), das Fräulein Doktor, here and there. In a totally different connection I came across Oberst NICOLAI (1873-1947) (Ger., Eng.) again, her chief through the Great War and the head of section III B. He is mentioned in a Kulturlexikon zum Dritten Reich*, because he was a member of the board of the Reichsinstitut für Geschichte des Neuen Deutschland (Ger.), a pretty unsavoury institution.
III B was the military intelligence service of the Prussian and later the German army. It was founded 1889 as a section in the Generalstab and later became an own departement (Abteilung), steadily growing. NICOLAI was the head of this organization from 1913 until the end 1918. III B always was in competition with the Navy (Marinenachrichtendienst, Ger., Nachrichtenabteilung des Admiralstabs, founded 1889) and the different sections of the Foreign Office (Auswärtiges Amt, Ger., Eng.).
As a kind of forerunner of NICOLAI Wilhelm STIEBER (1818-1882) (Ger., Eng.) can be seen.  But STIEBER is basically a police man of the Criminal Division, who in the times of the 1848 revolution also did domestic intelligence avant la lettre, working seemingly with the Preußische Geheimpolizei (Ger., Eng.) too. Later (in the 1860s) he became head of the Feldgendarmerie (Ger., Eng.) and so was responsible for the counterespionage corps. STIEBER played a role in the running of the Central-Nachrichten-Büreau, the very first structured German intelligence organization. I read somewhere that it was part of the Foreign Office**, but am not sure, I have not yet looked for a history of this organization. After all in those years around 1871 the institutions are still in a liquid state of forming.
When NICOLAI took over 1913 he found a working organization, but with large room for improvement. Generally it was not overly successful throughout the war, with SCHRAGMÜLLER’s work as notable exception. NICOLAI’s last second in command was Major Friedrich GEMPP (1873-1947) (Ger.), the first head of the Abwehr (Ger., Eng.), who also died in Moscow, one week before his old chief.

* KLEE, Ernst: Das Kulturlexikon zum Dritten Reich. Wer war was vor und nach 1945, Frankfurt a.M. 2007, 433.
** The Foreign Office established an independent historical commission some years ago, the final report will be available in the coming days: Das Amt und die Vergan­genheit. Deutsche Diplomaten im Dritten Reich und in der Bundesrepublik. Here’s an interview with Prof. ZIMMERMANN.

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14 thoughts on “III B

  1. “The Prussian Secret Police has historically held a bad reputation, as it was the model upon which the Gestapo was later founded.”

    Yikes! I did not know that.

  2. On second thought a very strange sentence, XL: How can the PSP have a bad reputation from the Gestapo historically, an organization that follows? There surely is a continuity in the organization – the Nazis did not invent the police anew. But the spirit changed, and the 1933 new-founded Gestapo (shortly under Göring, from 1934 under Himmler) started as pure ns organization. They found it necessary to make a brake, to start new and to sort out the officers they wanted to get rid of, those they did not want to have in the fine new aryan organization, Jews and democrats. I think projecting the Gestapo back on the PSP is not persuasive.

  3. I take it that the article is saying that the PSP had a bad reputation in their own right (prior to the Gestapo). I did not take it to mean that the PSP were being retroactively compared to the Gestapo.

  4. Interesting to read about the inner world of the secret police, intellgence services and spies.
    I’ve read your posts about das Fräulein Doktor. It sounds like miracle that a woman could work on that in these days.

  5. Thanks for telling about stalacmites and stalactites. 🙂
    Header pic: Beautiful! Fruits are very colorful and yummy. 🙂
    I liked the naration of the person u met in train.
    The potatos are gift to mankind. Yes they are. 🙂
    Shadows is nice. Thanks for sharing. 🙂
    Hope u soon get the job of ur choice.
    Best wishes. 🙂

  6. I am sure that the PSP had a bad reputation, XL, after all it was used against the opposition in the Reich, what means against people who only fairly dared to dispute the political internal situation. So the PSP identified as enemies Democrats, Comunists, Anarchists, the Unions and – at least for some time – the Churches, the catholic especially. But its not the Gestapo of 1934 with Heinrich Himmler at the helm. There is a difference. What also must be seen is that the Gestapo became mystified throughout their existence and afterwards. It was never a large organization and not effective in the regime’s sense. The Gestapo ruled because of a system of spies and denunciation. The offices of said organization managed to burn their records towards the end of the war, only two did fail: The Wuerzburg bureau and one in the Rhineland. The records are kept here in the Staatsarchiv. They show that the officers mostly took action because of information given to them by Volksgenossen, informants who happily took the chance to kick an disliked or unpopular neighbour into the groin.

  7. It was a fruit cake Leni. One needs Sahne with it – and if there is Sahne for the cake I will put a spoonful of it in the coffee – actually it is more like an iceberg. A nice thing is to have a little vanille sugar in the cream. I can not become friends with the spray-thing, it’s conotated a bit with Haarspray or something the mechanic uses when the engine stalls …

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