Total Espionage: Germany’s Information and Disinformation Apparatus 1932-40

Author(s): Curt Riess 

ISBN: 9781781554517
£11.89 £16.99
It isn’t done with Mirrors - the Nazi state’s total mobilization of resources to gather information.

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  • The most comprehensive book written about the mobilization of the German espionage machine in the years leading up to World War Two

  • The German methodology of "total espionage" was to be adopted by many counties after the war, and influenced the way that the "Cold War" was fought

  • Superbly illustrated with images of all the main protagonists including Hess, Himmler and Goebbels

  • Written in the early 1940s by a well known journalist and author

Total Espionage was first published shortly before Pearl Harbor and is fresh in its style, retaining immediacy unpolluted by the knowledge of subsequent events. It tells how the whole apparatus of the Nazi state was geared towards war by its systematic gathering of information and dissemination of disinformation. The author, a Berlin journalist, went into exile in 1933 and eventually settled in Manhattan in where he wrote for the Saturday Evening Post. He maintained a network of contacts throughout Europe and from inside the regime to garner his facts.

The Nazis made use of many people and organizations: officers’ associations who were in touch with many who left to help organize the armies of South American countries, and in the USA there were the Friends of the New Germany. German consulates sprang up and aircraft would make unusual detours to observe interesting parts of foreign countries. News agencies and various associations dedicated to maintaining contacts with particular countries were encouraged to supply information.

Film studios would send large crews abroad to shoot documentaries as well as perform acts of espionage. Foreign nationals were bribed or blackmailed; and pro-fascist groups in foreign countries were supported via the Auslandsorganization. All Germans living abroad were encouraged to report their observations to the authorities, particular attention was being focused on engineers, technicians, scientists and people in other professions who were particularly likely to obtain valuable information; however, other Germans abroad were also used, even cabaret singers, waiters, language teachers, as well as Germans travelling abroad as tourists.

Germans living abroad were exempt from mobilization because of their value as spies. Foreigners were given opportunity to study in Germany, and connections with them were kept in the hope that they would one day provide useful information. All of this was Goebbels’ ‘Total Espionage’.

BOOK ISBN 9781781554517
FORMAT 234 x 156 mm
BINDING Paperback
PAGES 320 pages
PUBLICATION DATE 15 January 2016
ILLUSTRATIONS 96 black-and-white photographs



Curt Riess was a Jewish Berlin journalist who fled to the US in 1936. Born in Wuerzburg, Bavaria, he first returned to sports journalism. He was a noted war correspondent and returned to Germany in 1945 to witness the collapse of the Third Reich.