THE RED ORCHESTRA: The Soviet Spy Network Inside Nazi Europe by V.E. Tarrant

THE RED ORCHESTRA: The Soviet Spy Network Inside Nazi Europe

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Perhaps the fullest account yet to have appeared of the extraordinary network of Soviet spies in the Second World War known as Die Rote Kapelle--the Red Orchestra. Tarrant, a military advisor and naval historian, clarifies a good deal of the confusion that has existed about the three sectors in which the Orchestra operated: the network in France, Belgium, and Holland; the Berlin network; and the most remarkable of all, the group that operated out of Switzerland, the so-called Lucy Ring, whose sources included Lieut. General Fritz Theile, second-in-command of the German High Command's communications branch, and Baron Colonel Rudolf von Gersdorff, who was eventually to become Chief of Intelligence in one of the army groups on the Eastern front. The first two networks reported extraordinarily sensitive information from key areas of the German bureaucracy, but nothing compared to the work of the Lucy Ring, which gave Stalin the very date of the German attack on Russia, its objectives, and its strength. For reasons that still puzzle historians, Stalin refused to believe this information, but the Russians did not make this mistake a second time. The information that came from the headquarters of the German High Command enabled the Russians to surround the German Sixth Army at Stalingrad and to predict precisely the direction and strength of the German attack in the great tank battle of Kursk. Lucy's sources, writes Tarrant, ""were to cost the Germans the war on the Eastern Front."" Most of the German officers were executed for their involvement in the 1944 Bomb Plot against Hitler, and the Swiss closed down the Lucy Ring, but by that time the fate of the Nazis was sealed. Using mostly secondary sources, but economically and vividly, Tarrant traces the rise and achievements of one of the most successful spy rings in history and the grim fate (imprisonment, torture, and execution) of some of its operatives.

Pub Date: April 5th, 1996
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Wiley