The document now printed is one of the very few surviving examples of the work of the most secret of all the German intelligence agencies active in the Nazi era, the Forschungsamt (Research Office).
Very little apart from the fact of its existence appears to have been known by Allied Intelligence agencies during the war. Its own records were in great part destroyed in January 1945 in Breslau to avoid their falling into Russian hands. The office was evacuated to Breslau after its headquarters on the Schillerstrasse in Berlin-Charlottenburg had been burnt out by British incendiaries on the night of 22 November 1943. The remaining records were destroyed at the end of April 1945 before the German capitulation. Its existence was mentioned at the trial of its erstwhile head, Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring, on war crimes chargés at Nuremberg. But it has only received the scantiest of attention by historians and memoir writers since 1945.
Yet its intelligence reports, the so-called ‘brown pages’, Braune Blätter, covered the whole range of international and domestic political and economic intelligence. They were circulated to a wide range of German Ministries and other interested agencies. And at the height of its activity it employed well over three thousand people and enjoyed a budget of twenty-five million Reichsmarks. The job of the Forschungsamt was, in the jargon of the intelligence agencies, purely ‘passive’; to collect and record information in accordance with general and specific requests made to it by other German Government agencies. Its information came in part from monitoring public sources of information, the foreign press, radio and press services, in part from monitoring radio, wireless, and all telecommunications traffic passing in and out of German-controlled territory. It never employed any agents; and it never planted microphones. It simply listened in to all public forms of communication. A great deal of its work was the provision of economic intelligence, especially after the outbreak of war in 1939, when its information on the movement of world prices, the availability of new material supplies and so on were of considerable importance to the management of Germany’s war economy. This was particularly true apparently of the information it provided on the Russian war economy from monitoring official domestic Soviet radio traffic during 1943–1945