German military intelligence. The building of the Fremde Heere Ost executive in the headquarters of the Chief Command of the Army (OKH) in Zossen near Berlin.



Miscellaneous intelligence activities, conducted already in the peacetime, are organically linked with the armed struggle, and constitute an important factor in the history of the mankind, and especially its military history. Simultaneously they are a subject very difficult to research, because even after decades it is not always possible to access once secret archives, as well as other trustworthy sources of information. True, there is a plethora of studies and reminiscences published in the post-Second World War era, but way too often they miss proportions and perspective, while sensational stories, real or just imaginary exploits of various "archspies" and "superagents", obscure the meaningful matters. Meanwhile, the cardinal problem of espionage is better described by its other name - intelligence. Collecting and processing information about the enemy - probable in the peacetime and real during the war - is the basic and superior task of the intelligence services around the globe.

Diversified and as exact as possible investigation of various aspects of enemy politics, economics, military capabilities and armed forces is very important to the military staffs and commands during the war. The knowledge itself does not decide yet about a success in operations and campaigns - there the crucial factor are own forces and means - but their most logical and efficient use require informed decisions. Moreover, to the recipients of the information, politicians or commanders, techniques and legality of acquiring such an information do not matter. The results are important: reliable, updated and exact data. So, during the Second World War valuable information about the enemy was collected from all the available sources - secret and open, publicly accessible (printed media, publications, radio, official statements etc. etc.) However, only specialized secret services were able to access strategic and other information classified as secret and eagerly guarded of curious eyes. Therefore, apart from the offensive intelligence, which maintained its secret networks in the enemy territory, governments of the belligerent states, and the commands of their armed forces, also maintained defensive counter-intelligence, whose task was to prevent "leaking" of sensitive information to the enemy.

Counter-intelligence embarked on a variety of preventive activities, like rigorous regulations on confidentiality of information and documents, guarded by appropriate legislative acts, use of codes and ciphers in the radio-traffic, as well as specialized counter-intelligence services. Those services used to control the circulation of the information and documents, and invigilate and investigate enemy spies and their agents domestically, and often also abroad, in neutral countries. Those were the very counter-intelligence services, which most often delivered materials for sensational stories about "superspies". It is worth mentioning though, that it was just a narrow fragment of a broader spectrum of their activities. In fact, the most valuable and meaningful achievements resulted from long, meticulous, and overall not-so-exciting work of staffs and laboratories of highly skillful professionals, within complex networks of intelligence systems.

In its core, intelligence service was focused, in general terms, on two levels. The first of them, and the most important in the military hierarchy, as a rule had nothing in common with covert operations, spies, agents and sensational matters. Those were namely cells (divisions, offices, executives etc.) placed in various state, military and scientific institutions, whose sole purpose was to conduct studies on probable enemies, formulate demands on gathering information, classify the information coming from all the available sources, analyze it, and hand over, usually in the form of synthetic reports or extended monographies, to the responsible governmental and military bodies. Directly in the battlefields, commanders of the operational and tactical units, and their staffs, drove a lot of information from the reconnaissance by battle, actions of rangers infiltrating the enemy frontlines, interrogation of POW's and defectors, as well as visual and acoustic range-reckoning.

The second level of the state and military intelligence services comprised organizations and services of the secret intelligence and counter-intelligence, whose task was to gather secret information, battling enemy intelligence through identification its spies and agents, and sometimes turning them, it means convincing or forcing them to work against their masters. Another form of espionage game was "exposing" own agents, who after "turning" by the enemy, would become a source of a valuable information about the enemy intelligence.

In the years before the outbreak of the Second World War major powers and their armed forces shaped their intelligence in different ways, which were strongly influenced by traditions, and current tasks of the foreign policy, security and defence.

In the United Kingdom, where the intelligence was formed as a state institution as early as in the 16th century, essentially consisted of two major departments - foreign and domestic. The Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) was traditionally the domain of the Foreign Office. During the First World War it was subordinated to the newly created Military Intelligence as the MI-6 department (intelligence). The Home Office, on the other hand, since 1924 controlled the Secret Service Bureau (created in 1909). It was included into the Military Intelligence as the MI-5 department (counter-intelligence). Also the Royal Air Force and Admiralty had their own intelligence services. Activities of all those intelligence services were co-ordinated by the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) - quite in line with the British traditions comprised of their chiefs of staffs. Furthermore, the Admiralty, which is not only a state ministry, but also the operational command of the navy, conducted its own, independent from MI-6, secret intelligence in the enemy naval bases and ports. Finally, for the complete picture, it is worth mentioning that the British police (so-called Scotland Yard) too had its own counter-intelligence department, independent from MI-5. For short, it was a complex apparatus, and the name "Intelligence Service", so often used and perused in spy stories, is merely a meaningless generalization.

The intelligence and counter-intelligence system of the French Republic in the 1920s also had similar, but less complicated, two-level structure. The level of the intelligence studies and analyses, accumulating the output of the espionage, comprised the cells of the II Division (Deuxième Bureau) in the army, navy and air force, while the actual French espionage agency was the Intelligence Service (Service de Renseignement - SR), which reported directly to the minister of war and the prime-minister. It conducted both intelligence operations abroad and counter-intelligence inside the country.

The intelligence system of France influenced the organization of similar services of her allies, in particular Poland, where they were completely centralized. There all the intelligence tasks were concentrated in the hands of the II Division (Oddział II) of the General Staff, as a civilian and military agency for intelligence abroad and counter-intelligence inside the country. The II Division comprised several sub-divisions and cells, out of which the most important ones were: Division IV (studies), Division IIa (intelligence), and Division IIb (counter-intelligence). This structure was formed before 1928 and functioned without major changes till September 1939.

In the German Reich, before 1939, the intelligence cells, which defined intelligence goals and co-ordinated the efforts of their achievement, were two divisions of the Chief Staff of the Land Forces: 3rd - Foreign Armies East (Fremde Heere Ost), and 4th - Foreign Armies West (Fremde Heere West), as well as intelligence divisions of the Navy and the Air Force. They were the centres, which collected data on foreign countries and their armed forces, and their studies and analyses made the basis for Hitler's and the Wehrmacht command's planning. To them reported the intelligence cells (Ic) in the army, corps and division commands.

The direct secret intelligence and counter-intelligence, as well as subversive operations, belonged to the Abwehr - a structure independent from the General Staff, and reporting directly to the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces (OKW). It was created in 1938. The Abwehr was responsible for collecting and sorting the information, which would be further passed to the respective intelligence offices in the Army, Navy and Air Forces.

In the 1930s the spectrum of the issues of interest to the intelligence services grew very broad. A country's military potential does not mean solely its armed forces, trained mobilization reserves and defence industry; it is practically the entire economy and industry, material resources, sciences and research, technological advance, transportation and communication systems, and of course human resources and their morale. The concept of the total war, introduced by Erich Ludendorff, and developed by hitlerite generals, reflected also on the activities of the German intelligence.

Economical data, collected by the Abwehr, were forwarded to the office of the Economic Defence Staff (Wehrwirtschaftstab, Gen. Georg Thomas). That staff, which co-ordinated German armaments and industry's preparations for war, also conducted independent studies of the industrial capabilities of potential enemies, like Poland, France or the Soviet Union. Their main source of information were foreign economical publications. Every day they analyzed more than 150 foreign economical periodicals, industrial bulletins and corporate publications. Also were analyzed research results from the German Institute for the World Economy (University of Kiel), Hamburg Institute of International Economics, German Institute for Economic Research (basic research and policy advice on economic processes in Germany and abroad), as well as leading corporations, as to I.G. Farbenindustrie, Siemens AG, Deutsche Bank, Reichskreditgesellschaft, Metallgesellschaft and others. Apart from the Abwehr, the Economic Defence Staff also had close ties with the Foreign Ministry, Ministry of Economy, Ministry of Finances, and the Imperial Bank.

As the Abwehr intensified its intelligence operations abroad, it also strengthened its counter-offensive structures inside Germany. The counter-intelligence personnel was expanded by absorbing, at the Abwehr III headquarters in Berlin, as well as local offices, reserve officers having experience from working for relevant services of the Weimar Republic - border guards, police and the Federal Bureau of Investigations, the political police before 1933. Between 1935, when Adm. Wilhelm Canaris became the head of the Abwehr, and 1939, when Germany attacked Poland, the Abwehr permanent personnel increased from less than 100 to more than 700 persons. Their tasks and expertise were not limited to the military issues any more, but reached out to all the spheres of political and economical life.

To increase secrecy of its operations the Abwehr had placed some of its cells inside various civilian institutions. For example, the Abwehrstelle in Berlin was installed at the university as a "press office". Its officers were grouped by professional branches, and employed themselves with browsing through classifieds, searching there for possible coded intelligence messages, instructions for secret agents, etc.

Another separate, and expanded to a big degree, technical intelligence and counter-intelligence service was the Research Office (Forschungsamt - FA), which reported directly to the chief of the Prussian police, Gen. Hermann Göring. FA conducted surveillance of the foreign radio-traffic and telephone conversations within Germany for itself or on behalf of the Abwehr or the Secret State Police (Gestapo). Reports about intercepted conversations of the foreign diplomats accredited in Berlin were called "brown birds" (braune Vögel), since they were typed on brown-coloured sheets of paper. Special couriers used to deliver them in special briefcases, keys to which were in possession only of FA and authorized recipients - heads of departments of the Abwehr and Reich's Main Security Office (RSHA), chief leaders of the Nazi party (NSDAP), Reich's Chancellery, and some ministers. During the Second World War the Forschungsamt employed about 4000 persons.

Apart from the Research Office there were also two military services, which conducted radio surveillance and interception - Decryption Service of the OKW (E-Dienst), Surveillance and Decryption Service of the Navy (B-Dienst), - as well as the Foreign Ministry Decryption Division, known as the Pers Z. Organizationally they were separated from the Abwehr, but co-operated on regular basis.

Bearing and interception of the transmissions of the foreign military and diplomatic radio-stations was enabled through numerous receivers working in several systems. The most important of them was the Wehrmacht's system of the radio-surveillance with the headquarters (Horchleitstelle) in Berlin and seven local centres of radio-surveillance in Konigsberg, Breslau, Dresden, Munich, Stuttgart, Munster and Juteborg (main army training range). In 1937-1939 that system was enhanced by adding six mobile radio- bearing and interception detachments, as well as two networks of listening stations deployed on the borders with Poland and France.

The navy surveillance and decryption service had its headquarters in Berlin, while local centres were deployed in Neumunster, Soest, Wilhelmshaven, Langenargen am Bodensee, Neusiedl am See, Kiel, Swinemunde and Pillau.

Just like in the field of traditional espionage, in 1930s Germany was also ahead of other countries in airborne intelligence. It was an essential part of preparations for an aggressive war, in which the factor of surprise, and therefore the thorough knowledge of the defence systems of other countries, was of a tremendous importance. The development of the Luftwaffe's reconnaissance aviation owed much to the fact that its commander-in-chief, Gen. Hermann Göring, the Nazi No.2, after Adolf Hitler, during the First World War served as a reconnaissance pilot. He thought about himself as an expert in airborne reconnaissance, and even used to browse and interpret air photographs, especially during the Battle of Britain.

The Luftwaffe gained its practical experience in airborne intelligence earlier than the air forces of other countries. Already in 1936-1939, during the civil war in Spain, the German Legion Condor had an experimental Reconnaissance Squadron A/88 attached. Based on its experiences, numerous similar squadrons were formed back in Germany: short-range ones, for tactical reconnaissance, and long-range ones, for strategic and operational reconnaissance. The peak of their development came in 1937-1939; within barely few months there were formed six groups of tactical reconnaissance, attached to the land forces (Nos. 111, 112, 113, 114, 115 and 212), and six groups of strategic reconnaissance, deployed in Neuhausen (121), Prenzlau (122), Grossenhain (123), Kassel (124), Wurzburg (125) and Goslar (127).

Each of the five air fleets also possessed at least one squadron of strategic reconnaissance. The number of reconnaissance planes - in each air fleet they made 1/6 of all the aircraft - testifies to the importance the German air force attached to the intelligence.

During the aggression against Poland in September 1939 the Luftwaffe already possessed 80 squadrons of reconnaissance planes, which were attached to army groups, armies and corps. Those were chiefly Heinkel He-46 and Henschel Hs-126 planes, as well as modern Dornier Do-17's (so-called "flying pencils"), equipped with automatic cameras produced by Karl Zeiss factories. In September 1939 about 200 of those modern planes flew in the Polish skies; they were built in 1937-1938 as fast bombers and were faster than contemporary French or British fighters.

The main centre of the German airborne intelligence, Stabia, was in Zossen, 30km south of Berlin, in the headquarters of the Chief Command of the Army. Also representatives of the navy were placed at the Stabia. Specialists in interpreting air photographs were trained in five local centres: Hildesheim, Quedlinburg, Bad Voeslau, Munich and Berlin-Schonewelde. In September 1939 the Wehrmacht had 5200 well-trained specialists, who - apart from Stabia in Zossen - served in airborne intelligence cells attached to the Luftwaffe corps, as well as in every air reconnaissance squadron.

Development of such a sophisticated system of the airborne intelligence came out of the III Reich's aggressive strategy, which foresaw rapid, manoeuvre operations in big spaces. Therefore, air photographs interpreting teams were deployed in the first line of the tactic and operation units. Preliminary interpretation of the photographs, sometimes even their negatives, was possible already within 60 to 90 minutes after their delivery. Gathered information was passed to the fighting units via telephone lines. Within next 8 hours photographs with appropriate evaluation were delivered to the higher staffs, where they were compared with earlier photographs and intelligence data. Used documentation was collected in the archives in Zossen.

Apart from regular reconnaissance squadrons, the command of the Luftwaffe had at its disposal also a special unit of airborne espionage operating over the territories of foreign countries. Already in 1937 Göring created so-called Kommando Rowehl (from the name of its commander, Lieutenant-Colonel Theodor Rowehl), which reported directly to him. This unit, originally flying several pre-production planes Heinkel He-111c with civilian markings, was deployed on Staaken military airfield in western Berlin.

The usual trick Rowehl used to utilize was to use those planes for "experimental flights" on behalf of various aircraft companies. In 1937-1939 "civilian" He-111c's, fitted with hidden cameras, secretly made thousands of photographs over Poland, France, Great Britain, Soviet Union, and other countries where the Lufthansa airlines had established passenger connections.

Shortly before the outbreak of the war in September 1939 Rowehl's espionage unit was re-designed as the Air reconnaissance Group subordinated directly to the commander-in-chief of the German Air Forces. Till the end of the war it conducted operations ordered by Göring personally.

Therefore, the military machine of the Third Reich in 1935-1939 had been actively preparing for aggressive war with utmost thoroughness and professionalism.

Furthermore, the Abwehr, using German diplomatic missions abroad, mounted a network of secret organizations, which had to be activated after the outbreak of hostilities. That system was called the War Organization (Kriegsorganisation - KO), and apart of the cells, installed in countries to be invaded, also had its cells in neutral states. Since at the outbreak of the war German missions, embassies, consulates, trade offices etc., acting in the enemy countries, would be closed, KO had to take over contacts with agents "serviced" by the Abwehr officers officially employed on meaningless jobs in German embassies and other offices abroad.

To a bigger extent than the Abwehr expanded, after the Nazis took power in Germany, the Foreign Armies Division at the Chief Command of the Army. From a small cell of 4-5 officers in 1933-1939 it grew to a sophisticated service, divided into several department, including the aforementioned Foreign Armies East and Foreign Armies West. Together with their specialized agencies, as to research institutes and expert groups, they numbered about 600 officers, servicemen and civilian employees. Foreign Armies East and Foreign Armies West, together with the Military Attaché Branch, composed a sort of "department" of intelligence and studies, whose head was deputy Chief of the General Staff, Gen. Kurt von Tippelskirch. Its analogs in the subordinated staffs (armies, corps and divisions) were intelligence cells (Ic), which conducted operational intelligence. They studied information gathered by the Abwehr and through their own structures.

In August 1939 operational structures of the German General Staff, together with intelligence cells of the Foreign Armies West and East, were quartered in Zossen.

The rapid growth of the military potential of the III Reich, which since 1935 also possessed armoured troops and air force, was closely watched by the intelligence services of the potential opponents, although with different results.

The British were primarily interested in the development of the German air force. The German aviation industry had been an object of long-lasting and thorough studies, conducted at the Industrial Intelligence Centre (IIC), which co-operated with the Air Ministry between March 1934 and July 1939. During that time its experts had worked out 12 detailed reports, which were presented to the Committee of Imperial Defence through its sub-committees responsible for industrial espionage abroad. The British intelligence monitored individual factories, their equipment, technical personnel, production output, etc.

Until 1938 the British had a relatively easy access to those factories. For example, in May 1936 a mission from the Air Ministry visited several of them, and in the summer of 1937 so did representatives of the Bristol Aeroplane Co. There were more unofficial contacts between aviation companies and experts from both countries. Simultaneously worked secret intelligence through the British air attaché office in Berlin. The Nazis had no intention to conceal, apart from strictly secret matters, the expansion of their air force. They had even made an effort to magnify their power in the eyes of the British observers.

The last British pre-war estimation of the German military power, made in July 1939, contained grave errors. It claimed, for example, that Germany was able to mobilize 120 to 130 divisions, in that two-thirds equipped with the most modern weapons, and that the Wehrmacht was receiving that equipment from the manufacturers at a rate enabling formation of 16 or 17 new divisions each year.

In the summer of 1939 the British War Ministry and the IIC in their calculations estimated the equipment of the German armoured forces for 5,000 tanks, in this 1,400 medium and 3,600 light ones. Meanwhile the actual picture was way more modest: the Germans possessed 3,000 tanks, in this only 300 medium ones, and the rest were light tanks (mostly Pz.Kpfw. T-I).

Estimations of the German air force were better. In June 1939 the British intelligence reported that the Germans had been producing 720 to 750 planes a month; in fact it was 700 planes a month in September. However, the British miscalculated the potential growth of that output in case of war; they estimated that after the outbreak of war, it would be 1,500 planes a month. In fact, in merely one year after the outbreak of the war, in December 1940, the output of the aircraft industry reached 779 planes a month, which was slightly bigger than in September 1939.

It is worth mentioning that estimation of the output of the German military industry was not easy. Military production in Germany was not concentrated in solely armament factories, but was placed in many places, departments and branches all over the III Reich.

Estimation of the German naval armaments, and the production of submarines in particular, till September 1939 were based on the data on commissioning new U-boats. The British intelligence had also studied relevant historical materials, concerning the expansion of the German submarine fleet during the First World War.

Of course, counting ships, launched in shipyards, was easier than counting tanks and planes, which were easier to conceal, and easier to be assembled out of earlier manufactured spare parts. Provisions of the Anglo-German naval treaty of 1935 allowed Germany to build 57 submarines. However, already in 1938 the Admiralty had received alarming reports that this limit was exceeded. At the outbreak of the Second World War (1 September 1939) German submarine forces were estimated for 66 ships with monthly expansion by 10 units. I was expected that in 1940 the Germans would possess the total of 129 submarines. In fact, in March 1940 the Kriegsmarine had only 63 submarines.

The major shortcoming of the estimation of the German military potential was not the lack of information, but profound misunderstanding of Hitler's concept of the aggressive war, and related economical issues. Hitler was perfectly aware of Germany's obvious materiel weakness, which also transpired from his advisers' information. However, with a big self-confidence, he was able to impose his point of view that a successful "lightning war" will be able to expand materiel resources at a low cost of war casualties. Mobilization of the economy for short-lasting military campaigns was not supposed to require any great burdens and sacrifices from the "master race". The last pre-war study of the British experts in the economical intelligence (24 May 1939) was alarming. It pointed at the demonic persistence of the Nazis' effort to achieve economical self-sufficiency at any price. According to the British experts, that policy sooner or later had to lead to further territorial expansion. For short, Hitler faced the dilemma: either abandoning the policy of autarky or war.

In January 1939 the British Foreign Affairs Committee evaluated probable German intentions and quoted intelligence report concerning a secret conference, which took part earlier at the German Imperial Ministry of Economics. When one of the chief experts of that ministry warned of inevitable collapse of the German economy in case if thereto policy was pursued further, Hitler reportedly rebuked him saying that the decision to go to war had to be taken immediately, or rather had already been taken.

French intelligence evaluations, as compared to the British one, had inflated German mobilization capacities and military power of Germany even more. In the beginning of August 1939 Deuxième Bureau insisted that the Wehrmacht had achieved the full combat readiness, and that it possessed 140 to 150 divisions, in this 90 "élite divisions", and after the full mobilizations it would have 250 divisions. In fact Germany at that time had 98 divisions, in this 30 divisions far from being "élite" standards (they were deployed in the fortifications of the Siegfried Line). That blatant overestimation of the enemy forces hardly came solely from an error in collecting intelligence data. It must have been ordered by those circles of the French politics and military, which beforehand dismissed possibility of offensive operations in the coming war, and that meant also lack of will to come to aid of allied Poland.

In Poland intelligence and counter-intelligence operations were controlled by the II Department of the General Staff (so-called Dwójka), which was the only state intelligence service, and had several cells specialized in operations against Germany. Intelligence (or Ofensywa) was conducted by the Section West (Referat "Zachód") from Warsaw. It maintained directly the network of Polish spies and informers in Germany. Collected information was studied and evaluated at the Independent Section Germany (Samodzielny Referat "Niemcy").

Branch offices of the II Department, Ekspozytura nr 3 in Bydgoszcz and Ekspozytura nr 4 in Katowice, focused on counter-intelligence (Defensywa); the area of their operations included German frontier territories up to 150km into the Reich.

A special role in discovering German intentions was attached to the central section of the radio-intelligence and decryption BS-4. It possessed four radio-surveillance stations in Warsaw, Poznan, Starogard and Krzeslawice near Cracow, able of intercepting coded emissions of the Wehrmacht, SS, SD and key civilian offices of the III Reich. The greatest success of the BS-4 was breaking the Wehrmacht's universal coding system - the Enigma; a task that proved impossible, despite of years of effort, to the French or British intelligence agencies. That success was bound to have its outstanding role in the history of the Second World War.

Throughout the 1930s networks of the Polish intelligence operated in Berlin (IN-3, "Navale", "Inga"), Leipzig ("Parade"), Munich ("Hakodate"), Essen ("Müller"), Kiel ("Ricardo"), Vienna ("Eleda"), as well as many other industrial centres and military garrisons. Counter-intelligence sections, deployed along the border, also used to place their agents in the local administration, political centres and paramilitary organizations.

Occupation of Prague on 15 March 1939 and acute exacerbation of the political situation meant putting the Polish intelligence on the wartime foot. Two more intelligence networks were created in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia (Prague and Moravska Ostrava), and one in the Slovak State, in Bratislava with branches in Uzhgorod and Sevljus (Vinogradov). Existing intelligence networks in Germany, chiefly in Berlin, Ruhr Basin and port cities, were reinforced by 20 intelligence officers, and a new network was created in Oppeln. Surveillance of the frontier areas, where the German armies were concentrated, intensified as early as in the beginning of 1939.

As of April 1939, it was a task of the Polish intelligence, apart of the operations in Germany, to seek contacts with patriotic circles of the Czechoslovak army, which did not reconcile with the capitulation. Poland was represented by the chief of the Section West of the II Division of the General Staff, Maj.Dipl. Tadeusz Szumowski. He made an agreement to open the Polish border to the refugees, and organize the Czechoslovak Legion in Poland. The quarters for legion were actually set in Bronowice near Cracow, and Deblin (for the Czechoslovak airmen). As many as 2,000 officers, NCO's and soldiers of the Czechoslovak army made this way to Poland till the end of August 1939. Their volunteer organization, formed in Bronowice, became a regular Polish Army unit, commanded by Lt.-Col. Ludvík Svoboda - later the commander of the Czechoslovak Corps formed in the Soviet Union, and the President of Czechoslovakia in 1968-1974.

Between April and August 1939, thanks to co-operation with the Czech underground, Executive No.4 in Katowice and II Division in Warsaw received a lot of valuable information about deployment and movements of the German troops in the Protectorate and in the Slovak State, as well as production output in the Škoda factories. Polish border guards co-operated with the intelligence in helping Czechoslovak politicians, soldiers and professionals cross the border. In Poland they were receiving passports, with which they were able to travel abroad. As many as 1,000 airmen and specialists in armoured equipment went this way to France.

A little known episode of that secret war were contacts between the Polish and Danish intelligence. In July 1939 an officer of the Danish intelligence, Colonel Hans Lundig, visited Warsaw where he concluded a secret agreement with the II Division. In exchange for the Polish information about German troops deployed in northern Germany, the Danes had committed themselves to helping in transferring of Polish agents to Germany and providing them with Danish passports.

Beginning of the spring 1939 intensified spy flights of the Kommando Rowehl over Poland. Particularly thorough was reconnaissance of the coastal military installations, fortifications on the Pomeranian and Silesian frontiers, and communication routes and passes in the mountains between Poland, and Moravia and Slovakia. Polish reconnaissance planes also flew over the German frontiers, taking pictures of the concentrations of the German troops in Silesia, Pomerania and East Prussia.

In August 1939 the immediate danger of war made the Polish intelligence to use all possible means of intelligence, among others as risky ones as sending to the areas of concentration of the German troops senior intelligence officers, who had to monitor German preparations for attack. For example, on 10 August 1939 the chief of the II Division of the Army Kraków, Col.Dipl. Marian Zdon, was transferred on such a mission to Slovakia. Within two weeks, based on his own observations and information from the Polish intelligence network, he identified precisely almost all the German divisions deployed along the southern border of Poland.

Overall, before the outbreak of the war the Polish intelligence fulfilled its primary duty: it had revealed the deployment, structure and strength of approx. 85% of the German forces designated for the war with Poland, which let the Polish command to estimate the main directions of the German attack. That, however, could not compensate for the invader's overwhelming superiority, especially in armour and air forces.

Polish counter-intelligence (Division IIb in Warsaw and Independent Information Sections at the corps commands) in 1939 alone detected more than 900 cases of espionage and direct preparations for sabotage made by the Abwehr and SD. Many of those actions of the German intelligence were thwarted before the outbreak of the war.

The Polish Army was the first regular armed force to break the series of Hitler's "peaceful" conquests, achieved in 1936-1939 solely by the threat of the use of force (Rhineland, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Klaipeda). Its defeat in September 1939 did not mean a lost war. Not everything that the Polish intelligence had accomplished was wasted. Some intelligence networks, information channels and methods of operation - developed before the war - still could serve the cause not only of Poland, but also that of countries allied in the war against fascism.