The Kriegorganisations (KO)
KO Bulgaria was greatly expanded in 1941 and became the most important Abwehr station in the Balkans. Its Leiter was Oberstleutnant Dr. Wagner and the headquarters were at 57, rue Patriarch Eftimei, Sofia. Prominent among its officers was the Leiter III Major Fabian (see Ast Breslau). The more important of its subsidiary stations were (1) Mks Varna and Burgaz, reporting stations established by IM Ast Vienna, (2) Nest Plovdiv, the advanced base for work against Turkish Thrace, (3) Mk Svilengrad, a frontier control station manned by the GFP, (4) Mk Ivailovgrad, an I Luft station. In addition, KO Bulgaria maintained an Aussenstelle at Skopje for III F work against the Partisans and small posts in Greece at Dedeagatch, Demotika, Kavalla, and Samothrace. The KO withdrew from Sofia to Samakov in April 1944 and from there to Budapest in July 1944, leaving behind a few Meldetrupps which later retreated into Greece and the former Yugoslavia. Its post-occupational network had been organized in 1943.
Sofia was also the headquarters of (1) Luftmeldekopf Sud-Ost, established by I Luft of Ast Vienna with its headquarters at 55 Bd. Skoboleff. It was directed by Richard Klatt and obtained intelligence reports, few of which were of much value, from Russia, the Middle East, and North Africa. It was transferred to Budapest in November 1943. (2) The “Chaine” Organization set up by Ast Vienna IH early in 1942 with its headquarters at 10 Dibrudja and directed by Hauptmann Bernard Koller. Its was primarily responsible for establishing the post occupational network in Southeastern Europe and Turkey. It withdrew to Samakov in January 1944, and then to Budapest in September to that year.
KO Finland was set up in 1940 under Fregattenkapitan Cellarius, Naval Attaché for Finland, Latvia, and Estonia, and operated from headquarters known as the “Bureau Cellarius” in Helsinki, with branches in Rovaniemi, Mikkeli, and Petsamo. In the early days of Barbarossa there was close collaboration between the Abwehr and the Finnish I.S. How far the termination of hostilities between Finland and the USSR affected the Abwehr network is not clear from the OSS documents, but it was known that Cellarius was still in Finland in September 1944, though it was stated his departure was imminent at that time.
KdM Hungary Up to the time of the German occupation of Hungary on March 19th 1944, the Abwehr had relied, at least ostensibly, upon intelligence received through the Hungarian I.S. to which Abwehr liaison officers were attached – a collaboration which had become ineffective as the war turned against Germany. After the occupation, Budapest became for a brief period a Nest, but the mobile system was almost immediately introduced and by June 1944 a Gruppe I Truppe, almost certainly controlled by Belgrade, had been established in Budapest. In July ’44, however, Oberst Wagner, formerly Leiter KO Bulgaria, was transferred to Budapest with orders to set up KdM Hungary, by which title the Abwehr organization in that country was then designated.
KO Portugal worked throughout the war from headquarters in the German Embassy, Lisbon. It had certain interest in Oporto, the Algarve, and in Portuguese Islands, where it controlled W/T equipped agents, but did not establish any stations. Its Leiter, Oberst Rolf Frederici, formerly of Ast Cracow, succeeded Albert von Karsthoff in April 1944. The principal objectives of KO Portugal were: (1) to obtain armed forces intelligence by penetrating Allied circles in Lisbon, by sending agents on Portuguese ships plying to East and West Africa, (2) counter-espionage against Allied intelligence activities in Portugal, and (3) the transmission or Reports received at numerous cover addresses from agents in the UK, USA, and in South America, (4) the creation of a “Stay-Behind” organization.
KO Spain worked throughout the war from its headquarters in the German Embassy, Madrid, and with subsidiary stations at all the principal Spanish ports, including Seville, and at Tetuan, and covered Morocco, Rio de Oro, and the Canaries. The Leiter during the greater part of this period was Gustav Lenz who was replaced in September 1944 by Oberst Kleyenstueber, formerly Leiter I Luft Abwehr Amt. The principal objectives of KO Spain were: (1) the collection of information regarding Allied western lines of communication with the Mediterranean theatre, though the observation posts established for this purpose on both sides of the Straits of Gibraltar had been either closed down or considerably reduced in number by the end of 1943, (2) sabotage against British shipping in Spanish ports, which was discontinued for political reasons from early 1944, (3) the employment of seamen agents as observers on Spanish ships plying to South America, (4) the training and dispatch of agents for employment abroad, especially in the US, the Western Hemisphere, and the UK, (5) the transmission of intelligence reports received at numerous cover addresses from agents in the UK and US, and South America, (6) the creation of a “stay-behind” network.
KO Sweden was directed by the Air Attaché, Oberst Jens Peter Petersen until the fall of 1942, when he was replaced by Dr Hans Georg Wagner. Up to this time headquarters had been the German Legation; but Wagner, who combined the functions of Ast Leiter with those of Leiter III, set up in addition a new office, the Dienststelle Wagner, at Nybrogatan 27, Stockholm. As the Naval and Military Attaches each had his own office and received and transmitted his reports independently, KO Sweden thus contained at least four separate sections. By 1944, however, Wagner had become completely compromised, and after the reorganization of June 1944, he was replaced by Hauptmann Albert Utermark. The principal objectives of KO Sweden were: (1) the penetration of Allied organization and line of communication in German controlled territory, and (2) the provision of information on the war potential of the USSR and on the production capacity of the Western Allies.
KO Switzerland was primarily responsible up to the Franco-German Armistice in June 1940 for espionage against France and for reporting upon the defenses of Switzerland and her industrial potential. After the collapse of France its activities were concentrated on the unoccupied zone and on preparing the way for a German occupation of Switzerland, should it be necessary. The Leiter was Oberstleutnant Waag until March 1943, when he was succeeded by Korvettenkapitan Hans Meissner. Headquarters were the German Embassy, Bern. Subsidiary stations existed at Zurich (mainly I Wi) and Geneva (the advanced base for the operations against France). There were also minor posts in Lausanne, Luganno, Locarno, and Constanz. An important preoccupation of KO Switzerland was the penetration of such Allied intelligence services as they were operating in Switzerland.
KONO (Turkey) In 1940-1941 the principal Abwehr representative in Turkey was Dr. Victor Friede, responsible to Ast Hamburg. Side by side with his organization, there was a second, under Oberst Schultze-Bernett, formerly of KO The Hauge, who succeeded, largely through the good offices of von Papen, in ousting Friede. His organization became known as KONO (KO Naher Ost) and was based in Istanbul. In the spring of 1943 he was succeeded as Leiter by Oberst Paul Leverkuehn, who was dismissed in February 1944, and replaced by Fregattenkapitan Erich Pfeiffer. The most important subsidiary stations were: (1) Izmir (principally IM), (2) Ankara under Dr. Rudolf Roser, an active German intelligence officer in Syria until the Allied occupation of that country, and (3) Adana, a collecting station for reports on the Middle East. KONO, which was at one time extremely active, was seriously weakened early in 1944 by the defection to the Allies of certain members of its staff.