Spied on by Adenauer? The SPD demands consequences

The first Chancellor of the Federal Republic is said to have systematically spied on the opposition with the help of informers. SPD General Secretary Kevin Kühnert speaks of a “monstrous and probably unprecedented” process.

The SPD reacted with indignation to an article in the “Süddeutsche Zeitung”, according to which Konrad Adenauer (CDU) had the SPD leadership spied on as Federal Chancellor for almost ten years. SPD General Secretary Kevin Kühnert asked the CDU to follow the processes.

“It is a scandalous event that is probably unprecedented in the history of the Federal Republic of Germany that the first democratic chancellor systematically extended and consolidated his power in defiance of the rule of law and democratic principles,” he said. said Kühnert of the “Süddeutsche Zeitung” (Online). “It is time for German Christian Democracy to face a critical reassessment.” The discovery of this “unscrupulous abuse of power puts parts of the history of our Federal Republic in a whole new light”.

Konrad Adenauer (l) with then US President Richard Nixon in 1959: The German Chancellor allegedly got information directly from the SPD leadership. (Source: JT Vintage/imago images)

Report: Nearly 500 confidential reports

As the “Süddeutsche Zeitung” reported, citing historical documents, Adenauer had the SPD leadership spied on far more than previously thought with the help of two informants. One of them reportedly worked directly in the leadership of the SPD. Nearly 500 confidential reports from the SPD’s executive board have reached the CDU-led chancellery. Adenauer, who ruled from 1949 to 1963, was often briefed on opposition party events on the same day via the Federal Intelligence Service (BND) informant.

According to the report, all of this comes from files of the CDU-affiliated Konrad-Adenauer Foundation, which historian Klaus-Dietmar Henke has evaluated and which the “Süddeutsche Zeitung” has been able to consult. Henke is the spokesperson for the independent commission of historians responsible for researching the history of the BND.

It is useless today to speculate on how different history would have been without this massive political distortion of competition, Kühnert said. However, this does not reduce the explosive power of the findings. In this context, history books and biographies should be rewritten and, in particular, “Adenauer’s work should be reclassified in view of its abuse by the foreign intelligence service”.

One of those spied on was Willy Brandt

It was already known that Adenauer, through his state secretary Hans Globke and Reinhard Gehlen, the head of the Gehlen organization that bears his name, had national opponents under surveillance. The most striking example is probably Willy Brandt, who later became Chancellor of the SPD. According to “SZ”, the documents that have now been evaluated reveal a “new dimension” of espionage in political competition. The BND emerged from the Gehlen organization in 1956.

The two main suppliers of confidential information to the SPD leadership were the two Social Democrats Siegfried Ortloff and Siegfried Ziegler. Ortloff worked for the SPD board and was responsible for defending against communist infiltration. Ziegler was a member of the Gehlen organization and SPD district chairman in Starnberg. Both provided information to Gehlen, who found his way to Adenauer via Globke.

For example, Adenauer found out what had been discussed in the SPD board about changing the majority vote that was being considered at the time – or who would stand as the SPD’s candidate in the presidential election. federal. Adenauer also received the confidential message that then-party leader Erich Ollenhauer did not want to run again as a candidate for chancellor in the 1961 federal election.

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