British Intelligence and Hitler's Empire in the Soviet Union, 1941-1945
Author(s): Ben Wheatley
This is the first detailed study of Britain's open source intelligence (OSINT) operations during the Second World War, showing how accurate and influential OSINT could be and ultimately how those who analysed this intelligence would shape British post-war policy towards the Soviet Union.
Following the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, the enemy and neutral press covering the German occupation of the Baltic states offered the British government a vital stream of OSINT covering the entire German East. OSINT was the only form of intelligence available to the British from the Nazi-occupied Soviet Union, due to the Foreign Office suspension of all covert intelligence gathering inside the Soviet Union. The risk of jeopardising the fragile Anglo-Soviet alliance was considered too great to continue covert intelligence operations. In this book, Wheatley primarily examines OSINT acquired by the Stockholm Press Reading Bureau (SPRB) in Sweden and analysed and despatched to the British government by the Foreign Research and Press Service (FRPS) Baltic States Section and its successor, the Foreign Office Research Department (FORD).
Shedding light on a neglected area of Second World War intelligence and employing useful case studies of the FRPS/FORD Baltic States Section's Intelligence, British Intelligence and Hitler's Empire in the Soviet Union, 1941-1945 makes a new and important argument which will be of great value to students and scholars of British intelligence history and the Second World War.
“This is an important study that examines a largely-ignored but significant piece of Second World War history. Ben Wheatley points out that intelligence gathering consists of far more than glamorous femme fatale spies and surreptitious document drops in parks, but is fundamentally the meticulous gathering of information from a wide range of sources. The importance of open source intelligence (OSINT) has often been neglected by scholars because it rarely fits the glamorous image of intelligence work made famous in novels and popular media, but as Wheatley observes it played a key role in understanding the German occupation of the Soviet Union and provided information that could not otherwise have been obtained for a variety of reasons. This is a work that deserves to be read by anyone interested in the intelligence battles that took place behind closed doors during the Second World War and the British struggle to gather reliable information under some of the most difficult political circumstances imaginable.” —Bradley W. Hart, Assistant Professor, California State University, Fresno, USA
“British Intelligence and Hitler's Empire in the Soviet Union moves intelligence history off the beaten track in two very interesting ways: first it takes the reader to the ghastly Reichskommissariat Ostland; secondly it demonstrates that Britain was not merely spying on its enemies, it was taking pains to understand them.” —Simon Ball, Professor and Chair of International History & Politics, University of Leeds, UK
“In this absorbing account Dr Wheatley shines new light on a previously unknown aspect of the secret war between Britain and Nazi Germany. Here, for the first time, is a detailed description of the open source intelligence war that was being waged in tandem with the secret war. I highly recommend it.” —Michael S. Goodman, Professor in Intelligence & International Affairs in the Department of War Studies, King's College London, UK
“A significant and stimulating contribution that widens our understanding of the clandestine conflict between Britain and Hitler's Germany.” —Christopher Moran, Associate Professor of US National Security, University of Warwick, UK