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You're reading: Kseniya Kirillova: In the footsteps of Schellenberg
At the end of May, an interesting article about the methods that German agents working abroad used on the eve of and during World War II appeared on one of the Ukrainian websites. The source for this article is "Total Espionage," a book by German journalist Kurt Riesz. Quite a lot of attention in the article is paid to the activities of Walter Schellenberg in America, starting with anti-war rallies under the slogan "America first" and ending with the establishment of a spy network. "Domestic help, grocery store clerks, hairdressers, nurses, chauffeurs, opera singers, accountants - they all sent weekly reports to regional offices. Even fakes, gossip and anecdotes weren’t beneath them. Schellenberg put everything to work. Snatches of overheard conversations led to the disclosure of a major business transaction, helped assess the morale of the army and the people, or divulge the exact departure date of a ship with a strategic cargo... Shellenberg’s efforts were so successful that Adolf Hitler and Joseph Goebbels stated that there is nothing easier than "organizing a fascist coup in the United States," the article says. The situation, in fact, seems frighteningly familiar when compared to Moscow's current work in the United States, with the only difference being that Germany functioned in a much more disciplined manner, and German immigrants in the era of the Third Reich stood practically no chance of avoiding recruitment. "The guiding principles of 'total intelligence' were formulated personally by Hess: "Everyone can be a spy; everyone should be a spy; there is no mystery that could not be uncovered"... In February 1934, Bole was appointed head of the" Auslands-organization", which controlled the life and activities of German immigrants abroad. And instantly 30 million Germans scattered around the world became Hitler's agents... Most of them have long been naturalized. But "tenacious paws of the motherland" wouldn’t let go. For those who did not wish to cooperate willingly or, worse, handed over German spies to the authorities, there were branches of the "Investigation and Settlement Committee" – the secret tribunal of the Hitler party. "Traitors" were abducted, tried and killed," the study notes. For example, at the Congress of foreign Germans in the spring of 1934, Hitler openly stated: "You are our vanguard. You must prepare the ground for the attack. Consider yourselves mobilized; you are subject to all military laws." There were separate organizations that worked with veterans, emigrants, youth, captains of industry and artists. Students studying abroad were forced to distribute leaflets, engineers – to steal industrial and strategic secrets. "For example, 20,000 spies were sent to Holland to work as governesses... And there were thousands and thousands of German tourists that made Europeans very happy since they spent money like water. They were soldiers, engineers, technicians and they were all spies. In their backpacks or suitcases there were advanced cameras, powerful binoculars, radio transmitters," Riesz notes in his book. According to the study, the propaganda minister Goebbels spared no expense in order to bribe the foreign press. Already by 1937 he controlled about 330 newspapers abroad. At the same time, the newspapermen were not just propagandists, but also a tool for direct espionage. "But the main striking force were the correspondents of German newspapers. Goebbels did not send agents who pretended to be journalists. He sent real journalists who were diligently carrying out espionage tasks... Directors and actors of the Berlin musical theaters were willingly spying for Goebbels. If Himmler and Rosenberg were chasing quantity, Goebbels preferred quality. His voluminous dossiers on prominent foreign figures, ready to sell their homeland without hesitation, would have been the subject of envy for any corruption fighter today," it says in the text. Now let's return to modern Russia. The author of the article, Yevgeny Yakunov, is unequivocal in his belief that the fascist methods evoke tangible analogies with Moscow's actions. For my part, I would note that there is a certain similarity, although Russia in its "foreign work" sometimes lacks German organization. First, the Kremlin today uses roughly the same channels of influence as the Third Reich. Among them is propaganda (both broadcasting their own media to foreign audiences and bribing the local media), bribing officials and politicians, building corrupt ties through business lobbies, numerous emigrant organizations, working with various segments of the population and special emphasis on friction, dissatisfaction and conflicts, which exist in any society. So, about six months ago, the newspaper Kommersant printed an article with a very frank headline: "The Russian Diaspora in the United States received a special mission." The material began with an even more shocking confession: "Yesterday representatives of the Russian diaspora in the US reported to the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation on how they are promoting the Russian language, history and culture" in the environment of anti-Russian sanctions. "Organizations of compatriots receiving grants from Rossotrudnichestvo, said that they consider themselves part of the Russian strategy of "soft power". These Russian "sanctions fighters" reported personally to the head of the commission for the development of public diplomacy and support of compatriots Elena Sutormina, who with disarming sincerity said: "The situation right now is very complex, there is a sanctions war. You are in the forefront of it." As part of the "military operations" in her undeclared war, Olga Zatsepina, vice president of the Coordination Council of Compatriots in the United States, promoted the action "Immortal Regiment," conducted with special emphasis on the boosting of the image of the USSR, worked with the American-adopted Russian children and American society as a whole, as well as with senators (which, according to Elena Sutormina, "must be used"). In the state of Washington, members of the Russian-American Youth Association became known for threatening Ukrainian activists with acts of terrorism in their historical homeland (which then actually took place). They also actively disseminated Russian propaganda, supported the Donbas militants and attracted not only the children of immigrants, but also the native American youth. Recently, an article published on the portal "Medusa" described a group of computer programmers created in Moscow under the auspices of the Russian Federal Security Service, or FSB, where future hackers are being trained from childhood. "It was organized by the computer science teacher Sergey Epifantsev. He pointed out that the project was created in order to "resist all sorts of" ukrop," "rabble," all those who support the American way of life, to resist the "fifth column, "the enemies of modern Russia," the material says. "The curator of the "young programmers," Epifantsev details their studies, participation in conferences and web security competitions, in which teams often have to quickly hack something... At the end of December 2016, the" young programmers "participated in the Moscow School CTF competition. They showed up in military uniforms. One of the hackers who is a permanent CTF member told Medusa that such events are the main venues through which web security specialists are recruited for work in special services: the hackers are approached during breaks, given booklets and invited to come in for a talk," the article says. During the lectures, future hackers are told about the technologies of hybrid warfare and the "American threat", and are also advised of such methods of struggle as "hacking foreign sites". Involvement of children, students, immigrant cultural organizations, foreign Russian-language media, etc., to cooperate with special services has been going on for many years. It is very indicative that the "instructions for informers" published on social networks since the beginning of 2015, directly state: "The United States is in the process of liquidation of V. Putin and destruction of Russia. In this situation, it is foolish to rely on special services. All Russia should become special services." This is the ideal toward which Russia is moving confidently both outside and inside the country. Yes, modern Moscow is not able to influence all immigrants or destroy everyone who refuses to be recruited (except for high-level defectors). In addition, it is important to understand that, unlike the Reich, not all of Moscow's "soft power" comes down to espionage. The tasks of propagandists are often propaganda, and nothing more. However, the Kremlin's need to ensnare as many people as possible into the orbit of its aggressive policy is obvious, and cannot be discounted.  

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