The special services in wartime

The special services in wartime

Le colonel Passy, chef du BCRA, photographié en Bretagne en 1944

The archives kept by the Service Historique de la Défense shed light on the structure and activities of the French and German special services during the Second World War. As well as core documents (official texts, organisational charts), activity reports and mission reports, the archives contain the kinds of document concerned with the methods of action and investigation of counter-espionage organisations (interrogation reports, transcripts of tapped phone calls, intercepted documents). It is also possible to study the special services through the information they gathered about one another. The archives contain a great deal of information about the German services, such as files of the Directorate-General for Studies and Research (DGER) Special Section Germany (SSA), whose mission it was to reconstruct the order of battle of the Abwehr and Sipo-SD. The services monitored one another, trying to find out the secrets of each other’s practices, and if the Central Bureau of Intelligence and Action (BCRA) studied its adversaries, the French services were similarly the focus of keen-eyed attention from their German counterparts. Evidence of this is found in certain documents of the occupier that were seized at the end of the war and incorporated in the archives.