Courtesy Reuters

Berlin to Baghdad: The Pitfalls of Hiring Enemy Intelligence

In This Review

Partners at the Creation: The Men Behind Postwar Germany's Defense and Intelligence Establishments

By James H. Critchfield
Naval Institute Press, 2003
243 pp. $32.95
Purchase

As the United States approached war with Iraq in early 2003, some journalists turned to an 86-year-old retiree for perspective. A decorated World War II Army officer, James Critchfield later joined the CIA and became one of the nation's most influential spies. The journalists called him because of his stint supervising CIA activities in the Middle East in the 1960s, during which he helped arrange the 1963 coup that overthrew General Abd al-Karim Kassem and set in motion the Baath Party's 40-year domination of Iraqi politics. Had they been sharper, they would also have asked about the lessons of an episode from still earlier in his career: his creation of the foreign intelligence service of West Germany from the ashes of the Nazi state.

Critchfield died two weeks after the toppling of Saddam Hussein's statue in Baghdad, but, fortunately, he had been able to keep his cancer at bay long enough to finish a detailed treatment of his experiences in postwar Germany. Part memoir and part history, the posthumously published Partners at the Creation tells the story of the men behind West Germany's emergence as a stalwart member of the Atlantic alliance in the 1950s. Its discussion of building new pro-U.S. security services from the remnants of a defeated tyranny could not be more timely: it serves as an uncannily appropriate backdrop to the agonizing dilemmas facing decision-makers in Iraq today.

THE ENEMY OF MY ENEMY

Partners at the Creation focuses on Critchfield's mentoring of two of Hitler's former generals, the controversial Reinhard Gehlen and the lesser-known Adolf Heusinger, both of whom would ultimately play large roles in West Germany's national security community. During the war, Gehlen directed the German army's intelligence organization on the eastern front, the Fremde Heere Ost, while Heusinger was wartime chief of the operations division of the German army general staff. Heusinger participated in the resistance movement against Hitler and was jailed for it in 1944; Gehlen did not.

A defender of old-fashioned realpolitik, Critchfield credits U.S.

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