The Clandestine and the Military since the 19th Century: Actors and Actions between “Information” and “Intelligence”

Annual Conference of the Arbeitskreis Militärgeschichte e. V. in Cooperation with the Hochschule des Bundes für öffentliche Verwaltung, Fachbereich Nachrichtendienste, and the Universität der Bundeswehr München, Center for Intelligence and Security Studie
Donnerstag, 9. September 2021
Freitag, 10. September 2021

In the 19th and 20th centuries, boundaries between military and secret intelligence services became blurred – if they existed at all. Most modern intelligence services have their roots in the military general staff system of the 19th century, and many are subordinate to military command authorities to this day.

After all, the military made most frequent use of intelligence services’ information and has served as the most important point of reference for counterintelligence operations. Reciprocal connections between the military and the secret world of intelligence were and remain opaque. Yet, the complex relationship between the military and institutions responsible for clandestine information collection, threat analyses, and counterintelligence were insufficiently examined in historical research and security studies.

The conference seeks to invigorate the systematic scholarly exchange on this topic by exploring these relations from various perspectives, based on approaches from the fields of military history and intelligence studies.



Opening Address (Christoph Rass)

Introduction (Rüdiger Bergien, Andreas Lutsch, Markus Pöhlmann)



1 – Organization and Personnel

Markus Pöhlmann (Potsdam), The General Staff System and the Rise of Military Intelligence, 1871–1914

Florian Altenhöner (Berlin), The Training of German Intelligence Officers (1944/1945)

Marcus Faulkner (London), The Organization and Role of German Naval Intelligence, 1919–1939

Chair and Discussant: Tanja Bührer (Bern)


2 – The Realm of Politics: Intelligence – Military Relations

Agilolf Keßelring (Helsinki/Potsdam), The "Organisation Gehlen" as a US Military Intelligence Substitute Solution (1946–1956)?

Nicolas Leixner (München), Between Political Reform and Military Objections: The Creation of the Defense Intelligence Agency

Debora Gestenberger (Berlin), The Civilian and Military Intelligence Services in Brazil (1964–1985)

Chair and Discussant: Rüdiger Bergien (Berlin)


12.30–13.30: Lunch Break



3 – Intelligence Knowledge in the Military Decision-Making Process

Jacek Jędrysiak (Wrocław), A Troublesome Neighbor: The Institutions of the Prussian Army and Gathering of Information about the Kingdom of Poland (1815–1831)

Lukas Grawe (Bremen), Forced into the World War? The Significance of Intelligence in the Prussian General Staff, 1911 to 1914

Somer Alp Şimşeker (Istanbul), Decision Makers and Intelligence: The Ottoman Intelligence Department in World War I

Chair and Discussant: Markus Pöhlmann (Potsdam)




4 – Shaping the Military’s Perception of the Adversary

Stefan Laffin (Bielefeld), An Occupation by the (Hand)book? The OSS as Provider and Evaluator of Information for the Allied Occupation of Italy in World War II

Stephen Hanna (Glasgow): Imperial Japan 1895-1945: How Militarism Shackled Military Intelligence

Chair and Discussant: Marcel Schmeer (Munich)



5 – Intelligence, the Military and the Threat of Nuclear War

Egemen Bezci (Nottingham), Military Intelligence and Trial with Atoms: Turkish Military Intelligence and the Evolution of Nuclear Warfare

Constantin März (Duisburg-Essen), The Team B Experiment and its Strategic Aftermath: Controversies on US Nuclear Threat Assessment between Intelligence, Military and Government (1976-1980)

Chair and Discussant: Andreas Lutsch (Berlin)


11.30–12.00: Lunch Break



6 – Intelligence in Hot and Cold Wars

Tony Cowan (London), The Basis of Our Own Plans and Operations? German Intelligence on the 1917 Entente Spring Offensive

Tobias Schmitt (Freiburg), ‘Hot War’ or ‘Cold War’ Agency? U.S. Military Planning for the Defense of Western Europe and the ‘Militarization’ of the CIA, 1948-53

Niccolò Petrelli (Rom), Technological Innovation, Organizational and Operational Adaptation and the Future of Military Intelligence: An Interim Assessment of the “Revolution in Intelligence”

Chair and Discussant: Frank Reichherzer (Potsdam)



7 – Final Discussion


Conveners are Prof. Dr. Rüdiger Bergien (HS Bund), Jun.-Prof. Dr. Andreas Lutsch (HS Bund), Dr. habil. Markus Pöhlmann (ZMSBw)


Conference Languages are English and German

The conference will be held online on Zoom. Participants need to register before September 6, 2021 at