The Dienstelle Klatt

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The Dienstelle Klatt

The Dienstelle Klatt, or Klatt network, was the name of an Abwehr-run German network established in Sofia to receive intelligence reports about Soviet troop dispositions on the Eastern front and British dispositions in the Middle East. The existence of this network was revealed to the British in the winter of 1941-1942 by ISOS reports of intercepted Abwehr communications (ISOS is the name given to reports issued from Bletchley Park derived from intercepted German agent radio messages), but the source of the intelligence that the Klatt network was receiving was unclear. Intercepted British and Russian radio communications were ruled out as the source after an investigation, and it seemed that the Max reports of Russian intelligence might be sourced from a large clandestine network of German spies behind Russian lines. There were no clues as to the source of Moritz reports on British movements.

Two theories have developed as to the source of these reports. One, supported by these files, holds that the intelligence supplied to the Klatt network was disinformation run by the Soviets through penetration of White Russian circles which supplied information to the Klatt network. An alternative view, drawing on the value that the Germans placed on the sources and the cost in human terms to the Soviets of the information gathered by the Abwehr through the Klatt network, asserts that Kauder and his associates in the Klatt network concocted the intelligence for financial gain (see for example Nigel West et al, The Crown Jewels, Yale University Press 1999).

Richard Kauder, aka Klatt

(KV 2/1495-1499)

Kauder, an Austrian Abwehr officer working from Vienna (and later Sofia and Bucharest), was the leader of the Klatt network, which provided intelligence on British and Soviet troop dispositions and movements in the Eastern theatres of the war. Kauder's main sources were Ira Longin and General Turkul. While some commentators believe Kauder fabricated his intelligence for financial gain, the view expressed in these files is that Longin and Turkul were under Soviet control and were used to feed disinformation to the Abwehr.

Kauder was captured by the Americans in May 1945, and their interrogation report, and questions devised by the British to be put to Kauder, are on KV 2/1495 (1943-1946), along with a Security Service case summary. There is further similar material on KV 2/1496 (1946-1947), which also includes correspondence from the Secret Intelligence Service showing that this case was handled at MI6 by Kim Philby.

KV 2/1497 (1947-1949) continues the investigation into the Klatt network generally, and includes J Chennal's draft report on the network and a comprehensive list of individuals involved. KV 2/1498 consists of an undated case chronology. The files created by SIME during its investigation into the Moritz messages, including copies of intercepted messages, a chronology and traffic analysis (including hand-drawn maps showing the distribution of supposed locations of Moritz informers) are in KV 2/1499.

General Anton Turkul

(KV 2/1591-1593)

Turkul was the leader of a group of White Russians based in Rome during the Second World War, which fed information to the Klatt network.

These files chiefly concern the interrogation of Turkul after the war and the efforts to establish a link between him and Soviet intelligence, but KV 2/1591 (1932-1946) includes some pre-war correspondence on his links with anti-Soviet and Ukrainian movements and their links with terrorist organisations. It records how he was expelled from France in 1938, and settled in the Balkans. Turkul was arrested at the end of the war, and the file includes lengthy interrogation reports, a list of his personal property, and a photograph and description of Turkul's cyanide capsule.

There are further interrogation reports on KV 2/1592 (1946).

Turkul was handed over to the American sector of Germany in November 1946, and as is recorded on KV 2/1593 (1946-1951) continued to engage in anti-Soviet activities in West Germany.

Ira Longin

(KV 2/1629-1631)

Longin was one of Kauder's principal sources of intelligence, but upon his interrogation after the war it became clear that his apparent network of agents in Russia who provided information to Longin by radio was a cover for his information being provided by Soviet intelligence. He first came to Security Service attention in 1941 in reports from the field, in which he was quickly identified as a White Russian agent for the Klatt network. These details are in KV 2/1629 (1941--1946), which also covers his arrest by American forces in June 1945, briefs for his initial interrogation and the first verbatim reports of his British interrogations after he and Turkul were sent to London by the Americans. The file includes a list of his personal effects removed from him upon his arrival in Britain. The SIS representative on the case was Kim Philby, who is noted as attending meetings on the Klatt Network and handling Security Service requests for SIS information.

KV 2/1630 (1946) continues with detailed verbatim reports of Longin's interrogations. By October, Michael Serpell was convinced that there was 'little doubt that Ira at least was a conscious Soviet agent', the other possible explanations for his activities having been considered and discarded. There are case summaries on this file. Longin was returned to US custody in November 1946, and was flown to Frankfurt (the file includes signed receipts for the safe delivery of the 'live body' of Longin).

KV 2/1631 (1946-1951) contains a copy of the draft report of the Klatt network, and some further correspondence about the role played by Longin. The file includes several photographs of Longin.

Other Dienstelle Klatt figures

This release also includes files on a number of more peripheral figures involved either on the German or the Russian side with the Klatt network. These include Joseph and Greta Hirsch (KV 2/1472), Pedro Prat y Soutzo (KV 2/1465), Hugo Kittel (KV 2/1466), Vladimir Velkotny (KV 2/1656), George Romanoff (KV 2/1453) and Nikolaus Kowaleski (KV 2/1474).