Spying on the Reich : The Cold War Against Hitler 1933-39
R T Howard

Spying on the Reich : The Cold War Against Hitler 1933-39

Exactly a century ago, intelligence agencies across Europe first became aware of a fanatical German nationalist whose political party was rapidly gathering momentum. His name was Adolf Hitler.

From 1933, these spy services watched with growing alarm. What sort of threat would his regime now pose to the rest of Europe? Would Germany rearm, either covertly or in open defiance of the outside world? Would Hitler turn his attention eastwards - or did he also pose a threat to the west? What were the feelings and attitudes of ordinary Germans, towards their own regime as well as the outside world, and did those attitudes matter in such a dictatorial regime?


Despite intense rivalry and mistrust between them, some of these spy chiefs gradually began to liaise and close ranks against the emergent threat of Nazi Germany. At the heart of this loose, informal network were the British and French intelligence services, alongside the Poles and Czechs. Some other countries - the United States, Holland and Belgium – stood at the periphery.


Their relations (or lack of them) reflected the wider political relationships between their respective governments but at times also forged them: the French, for example, manipulated or even invented their intelligence information (flawed and accurate) to try and create an alliance with London. Intelligence information was also vital to the Anglo-French policy of appeasement, and drove London and Paris to make a commitment to Poland in 1939.


Drawing on a wide range of previously unpublished British, French, German, Danish and Czech archival sources, Spying on the Reich tells the true story of the spy masters, agents, frauds and imposters who watched and monitored Hitler’s Germany before World War II. The book fills a major gap in the existing book market by -


  • offering a fast-paced, personality-driven text aimed at mass readership
  • looking at Hitler’s Reich, appeasement and Anglo-French relations (the paradox of bitter rivalry coupled with interdependency) from a novel and underexplored angle
  • drawing on archival research from original, previously unpublished pan-European sources
  • having a broad international appeal, with numerous export markets
  • emphasising political intelligence about the attitudes, opinions and sentiments of ordinary Germans as well of Hitler and his entourage.


In particular, the book tells the stories of:


  • previously unpublished assassination attempts against Hitler 
  • previously unpublished accounts of German opposition to Hitler 
  • the mysterious parallel espionage network of ‘Colonel Z’ and other mavericks
  • the dubious ‘intelligence’ that took Britain to war in September 1939
  • the truth about the ‘female spy ring’ and the wild ‘sex parties’ that supposedly operated in Germany in the early 1930s 
  • the Nazi informer whose identity was kept secret even from the British prime minister.

Book Details:

  • Author: R T Howard
  • On Submission
  • Rights Sold
    • UK: OUP
R T Howard

R T Howard

R T Howard is a journalist and author writing on international relations and is an associate editor of an international magazine on intelligence issues, Eye Spy His previous books include The Oil Hunters: Exploration and Espionage in the Middle East 1880-1939 (2008) and Iran in Crisis? (2004). His articles have appeared in The Guardian, The Times, Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail, Daily Express, Independent on Sunday, Wall Street Journal, Spectator, New Statesman, International Herald Tribune, Jane's Intelligence Review and many other newspapers and journals. He has a specialized knowled...
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Book Reviews

  • "Takes an original approach...a remarkably thorough and well-researched study."
    Literary Review
  • "  Howard perceptively frames....case studies that illuminate enduring dilemmas in intelligence gathering, intelligence analysis, and the employment of intelligence by governments...Howard is especially good at bringing out the complex, shifting and mutually suspicious relationships that kept the allies who would find themselves fighting Hitler from effectively pooling resources and sharing intelligence....The author places the problems of intelligence against a finely wrought tapestry of competing diplomatic challenges....Howard makes excellent use of materials from the British and French archives.He skillfully portrays...an enduring historical echo."
    Wall St Journal