Franz Canaris was born January 1, 1887, in the Ruhr village of
Aplerbeck, Germany. The son of a Westphalian industrialist, Canaris
entered the Imperial navy in 1905 and during World War I commanded U-boats
in the Mediterranean as well as carrying out military espionage missions
in Spain and Italy.
Canaris was celebrated as a war
hero for his exploits as a submarine captain, and during the twenties he
was active in naval affairs. Canaris was
appointed to head the Abwehr Military Intelligence in the Reich War
Ministry in 1935.
1938, he made efforts to hinder Hitler from attacking Czechoslovakia and
later he played an active role as a peace keeper. He personally
went to Franco and told him not to allow passage to the Germans for the
purpose of capturing Gibraltar.
Admiral Canaris underlined the Swiss will of resistance and
Switzerland’s economic strength and geographic advantages. It was due to
the views of Canaris that Hitler gave up his plans to incorporate
Switzerland into his New Europe. Shortly before Canaris left
office, he paid a visit to Bern, where he expressed to the German
Ambassador his satisfaction about the success of their reports.
Canaris was directly involved in the
1938 and 1939 coup attempts.
Himmler, Goebbels and Canaris
was an eye-witness to the killing of civilians in Poland. At Bedzin, SS
troops pushed 200 Jews into a synagogue and then set it aflame. They all
burned to death. Canaris was shocked. On 10 September, 1939, he had
traveled to the front to watch the German Army in action. Wherever he
went, his Intelligence officers told him of an orgy of massacre.
At a conference two days later aboard Hitler's train, which had stopped
at the Silesian border town of Ilnau, Canaris protested to Wilhelm Keitel, Chief of
the Armed Forces High Command. "I have information," Canaris
told Keitel, "that mass executions are being planned in Poland and
that members of the Polish nobility and the clergy have been singled out
warned Keitel that ".. the world will one day hold the Wehrmacht responsible
for these methods since these things are taking place under its
nose". But Keitel responded that the Führer and Goering had worked
these things out between themselves and he urged Canaris to take the matter no further.
during the war Canaris gave Hitler an account of the atrocities and the
Führer answered: "You are getting soft, sir! I have to do it,
because after me no one else will!"