April 7, 2015

1943. Axis Espionage in Russia

Fearing Axis Spies
"Be on alert...Do not talk!" Soviet propaganda poster warning of careless talk that could aid the enemy (source)
The parentheses indicate portions that did not pass Soviet censors for military or propaganda reasons.

(For more, see the complete 1943 Moscow reports.)
Bill Downs

CBS Moscow

July 14, 1943

There's a very real war going on against the Axis here in Russia that has no front line, no guns, and few soldiers. This is the war (on the home front) against espionage.

(It's a military secret, of course, just how far Axis espionage extends in the Soviet Union. However, we know it exists, just as we know that there are spy systems in America and Britain and China).

In the past several days, official Russian publications have taken occasion to warn against enemy agents—a warning which is valid in all the United Nations fighting against Axis treachery.

According to a prominent Soviet official (engaged in counterespionage), the German intelligence service has divided its work in Russia into three sections. The first is the collection of verbal and written information concerning the disposition of Red Army forces. The second is the organization and preparation of sabotage, and the third is defeatist propaganda which concerns itself with spreading rumors designed to provoke panic and alarm.

The business of spying is no longer a glamorous job of pumping a victim full of champagne and getting him to talk. Axis agents have been discovered disguised as beggars, as wounded Russian soldiers, as government officials, and a number of other things.

But the most despicable situation that has grown up here since the German invasion of Russia is the use of hostages to force men to spy against their own country. For example, a Red Army soldier from Smolensk will be captured somewhere on the Central Front. The German intelligence will discover that his wife and family live in German-occupied territory. Under threat of death and torture to his family, the soldier will agree to collect certain information for the Germans. He will be dropped behind the lines, for example, and assigned to watch troop movements on a certain road.

Similar threats to their families have forced Russian women into espionage for the Axis, where they are made to do many things unmentionable over the radio.

War has always been a pretty nasty business, but never has it reached the depths to which the Nazis have forced it in the year 1943.