A noted German historian explores the successes and failures of American intelligence and counterintelligence in the European theater during WWII.
Mauch (Modern History/Univ. of Cologne) maintains that the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) can claim few great single victories, save, perhaps, for the masterful Operation Sunrise, which resulted in the mass surrender of German troops in northern Italy a few days before the fall of the Nazi regime in Germany. Nevertheless, he writes, the OSS contributed materially to the Allied cause, and in the aggregate OSS actions helped shorten the war in Europe by, at least, several weeks. The OSS accomplished this laudable end by, among other things, targeting and exploiting weak points in the German economy, identifying bombing targets, disrupting civilian and military morale, and spreading misinformation that helped pin down Wehrmacht and SS units that might otherwise have gone into battle against the Allies. To its discredit, however, OSS did little to slow the extermination of Jews in the occupied territories, though OSS (and later CIA) director Allen Dulles privately raised funds to help secure visas and obtain the release of hundreds of individuals, “so long as this did not impinge on the business of espionage.” Throughout, Mauch writes, Dulles, “Wild Bill” Donovan, and company warned their superiors not to bet on the Nazi regime’s premature collapse: morale may have suffered, but throughout the war, Germans were so thoroughly cowed by Hitler’s secret police that they could mount little internal resistance, and even in the final days of the war, Nazi forces were planning a last stand in the Alps—a possibility that Dulles largely dismissed against the evidence, saying, “Hitler is not the type of man who, at this stage in his career, would be good at planning to play the role of Robin Hood.”
A careful study that draws heavily on declassified archives: illuminating research on the WWII era and modern military intelligence.