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Intelligence in Public Media

The Fighting Group against Inhumanity: Resistance and Espionage in the Cold War, 1948–1959

(German title: Die Kampfgruppe gegen Unmenschlichkeit (KgU): Widerstand und Spionage im Kalten Krieg 1948–1959)
Enrico Heitzer (Bӧhlau Verlag, 2015).

Reviewed by Thomas Boghardt

During the early years of the Cold War, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) embarked on a global campaign of espionage and covert action to assess the capabilities and intentions of the Soviet Union and to contain the spread of international communism. Well-known examples of this clandestine endeavor include CIA support of non-communist parties in Italy’s 1948 parliamentary elections, as well as of pro-Western coups d’état in Iran (1953) and Guatemala (1954). Since divided Germany constituted the epicenter of the early Cold War, it comes as no surprise that the CIA became very active in this theater as well. One of the agency’s principal local auxiliaries was a militantly anti-communist organization called the Kampfgruppe gegen Unmenschlichkeit (KgU). In his doctoral dissertation, German historian Enrico Heitzer has produced the definitive study of the KgU, including careful documentation of the organization’s numerous links to US intelligence agencies.

Heitzer’s book is comprehensive, well-organized, and thoroughly researched. The author mines an impressive array of primary sources, including the KgU’s own records and those of its chief antagonist, the East German Ministry for State Security (MfS). Heitzer is also the first historian to exploit the large volume of recently-declassified CIA documents on the agency’s collaboration with the KgU, a project codenamed DTLINEN. In four parts—“organization,” “individual actors,” “operations,” and “setbacks”—Heitzer chronicles the genesis, rise, and fall of the KgU.

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Posted: Feb 08, 2016 12:09 PM
Last Updated: Feb 08, 2016 12:09 PM