Spaces of War: Spatial Perspectives of Modern War & Conflict
Time & Location
About the Event
I am presenting a paper co-authored with my brilliant research partner Dr Adrian O'Sullivan entitled 'Landscapes of Intelligence in the Third Reich: Visualising Abwehr Operations and 'Covert Space' during the Second World War'.
The paper explores the significance of geographic location and its influence on German intelligence organization and operations during the Second World War. The German military-intelligence service (the Abwehr) was a macrospatial organisation whose clandestine operational activities were significantly affected by such factors as place and space. The wartime head of MI5, Sir David Petrie, wrote to the head of MI6, Stewart Menzies, on 17 April 1942 that ‘the German espionage organization does not recognize our artificial divisions of a home and a foreign field, but operates without regard to geographical or other boundaries’. The lack of visible front lines or arenas associated with ‘secret’ warfare, is in fact, what distinguishes covert space from overt space. The latter, occupied by naval, land, and air forces, seeks to visibly control an area. However, the osmotic nature of covert space is one which applies to both past and present intelligence organizations. Yet, only the intelligence operative has the ability to move freely between overt and covert operational space, with the ability to reside in the latter, maintaining cover for long periods of time. As the Second World War progressed, the Abwehr’s covert spaces expanded and contracted dynamically, producing some challenging operational environments. The service responded in various ways to a changing landscape engendered by military occupation, overseas deployment, geographical distance, enemy activity, and imminent defeat.
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