Book Review: Cover Name: Dr. Rantzau


by Nikolaus Ritter

Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2019. Pp. xviii, 246. Illus., gloss., append., index. . $45.00. ISBN: 0813177340

An Insider’s Look at Wartime German Intelligence

Nikolaus Ritter (1899-1974) served at the front during World War I, rising to lieutenant, then made a career in business in the United States, before joining the Abwehr not long after Hitler rose to power in Germany.

During the following decade, Ritter engaged in numerous intelligence operations, such as stealing the Norden bomb sight from the U.S. and planning the invasion of Britain that never came. He also managed several spy networks, not all of them successfully. Ritter eventually rose to Chief of Air Intelligence in the Abwehr, before ending World War II commanding a flak unit, air defense having become more important than intel analysis in the final days of the regime.

This memoir is quite interesting for the details it gives on the German side of intel ops during the era of the Second World War, a much less security-minded period than the present. Many of the techniques and ruses would not work today, but some are still valid. Ritter keeps his account very focused on military matters, so Hitler and the regime are barely mentioned, and he makes no references to the Holocaust, the mass deaths of Russian prisoners-of-war, or the other crimes of the regime.

Cover Name: Dr. Rantzau, a volume in the Kentucky series “Foreign Military Studies”, is a good read for anyone interested in intelligence operations, particularly during WW II.


Note: Cover Name: Dr. Rantzau is also available in several e-editions.


StrategyPage reviews are published in cooperation with The New York Military Affairs Symposium


Reviewer: A. A. Nofi   

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