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Federal Intelligence Service
BND Logo.svg
Logo of Germany's Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND)
Agency overview
Formed 1 April 1956
Preceding agency Gehlen Organization
Jurisdiction Government of Germany
Headquarters Pullach and Berlin
Employees 6,050 (2005)
Minister responsible Thomas de Maizière, Federal Minister of Special Affairs
Agency executives Ernst Uhrlau, President
Arndt von Freytag-Loringhoven, Vice-President
Parent agency German Chancellery

The Bundesnachrichtendienst (Federal Intelligence Service, BND) is the foreign intelligence agency of the German government, under the control of the Chancellor's Office. Its headquarters are in Pullach near Munich, and Berlin (planned to be centralised in Berlin by 2011). The BND has 300 locations in Germany and foreign countries. In 2005, the BND employed around 6,050 people, 10% of them Bundeswehr soldiers; those are officially employed by the "Amt für Militärkunde" (Office for Military Sciences). The annual budget of the BND is classified, but it exceeds  430,000,000.

The BND acts as an early warning system to alert the German government to threats to German interests from abroad. It depends heavily on wiretapping and electronic surveillance of international communications. It collects and evaluates information on a variety of areas such as international terrorism, WMD proliferation and illegal transfer of technology, organized crime, weapons and drug trafficking, money laundering, illegal migration and information warfare. As Germany’s only overseas intelligence service, the BND gathers both military and civil intelligence. However, the Kommando Strategische Aufklärung (Strategic Reconnaissance Command) of the German Armed Forces also fulfills this mission, but is not an intelligence service. There is close cooperation between the BND and the Kommando Strategische Aufklärung.

The domestic secret service counterparts of the BND are the Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz (Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, BfV) and 16 counterparts at the state level Landesämter für Verfassungsschutz or State Offices for the Protection of the Constitution); there is also a separate military intelligence organisation, the Militärischer Abschirmdienst (lit. military screening service, MAD).



The predecessor of the BND is the German eastern military intelligence agency during WWII, Abteilung Fremde Heere Ost in the General Staff, led by Wehrmacht General Reinhard Gehlen. Its main purpose was to collect information on the Soviet Union. In 1946 Gehlen set up an intelligence agency informally known as the Gehlen Organization, and recruited many of his former co-workers. Many also were recruited from the former Sicherheitsdienst, SS and Gestapo. The organisation mainly worked for the CIA, which contributed money and other materials. On 1 April 1956 the Bundesnachrichtendienst was created from the Gehlen Organization, and was transferred to the German government. Reinhard Gehlen remained President of the BND until 1968.

During the early 1960s as many as 90% of the BND's informants in East Germany were double agents run by the Stasi.[1]

In 2005, a public scandal erupted (dubbed the Journalistenskandal, Journalists scandal) over revelations that the BND had in the mid 1990s placed under surveillance a number of German journalists, in an attempt to discover the source of information leaks from the BND.

Yet another scandal came to light in early 2006, when it was alleged that agents of the BND supplied targeting information to U.S. forces to facilitate the invasion of Iraq in 2003. The BND assures that it only conveyed so-called non-targets, locations that must not be attacked.

Another scandal is one where the BND has (partially) admitted to using journalists to spy on fellow journalists. This supposedly was done to protect the security and authenticity (i.e. the truth) of the BND's investigations. It was quickly decided to set up a parliamentary investigation committee ("Parlamentarischer Untersuchungsausschuss") to investigate the allegations. The affair quickly became controversial, and if the allegations are substantiated, it would be tantamount to a violation of freedom of speech which is protected under the German constitution.

Reinhard Gehlen, the founder and president of the Bundesnachrichtendienst, and legendary cold war spymaster

In the beginning of 2008, it was revealed that the BND had managed to recruit excellent sources within Liechtenstein banks and had been conducting espionage operations in the principality since the beginning of 2000s. The BND mediated the German Finance Ministry's $7.3 million acquisition of a CD from a former employee of the LGT Group - a Liechtenstein bank owned by the country's ruling family. While the Finance Ministry defends the deal, saying it would result in several hundred millions of dollars in back tax payments, the sale remains controversial, as a government agency has paid for possibly stolen data.[1]See 2008 Liechtenstein tax affair.

In November 2008, three German BND agents were arrested in Kosovo for allegedly throwing a bomb at the European Union International Civilian Office, which oversees Kosovo's governance.[2] Later the previously unheard of "Army of the Republic of Kosovo" (ARK) had accepted responsibility for the bomb attack. Laboratory tests had shown no evidence of the BND agents’ involvement. However, the Germans were released only 10 days after they were arrested. It was suspected that the arrest was a revenge by Kosovo authorities for the BND report about organized crime in Kosovo which accuses Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaçi, as well as the former Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj of far-reaching involvement in organized crime.[3]


The Bundesnachrichtendienst is divided into 8 branches, with different operational intelligence tasks.

  1. Operative Aufklärung / Human Intelligence
  2. Technische Aufklärung / Signals Intelligence
  3. Auswertung / Analysis
  4. Steuerung und zentrale Dienstleistung / Administration
  5. Organisierte Kriminalität & Internationaler Terrorismus / Organized Crime & International Terrorism
  6. Technische Unterstützung / Technical Support
  7. Schule des BND / BND School
  8. Sicherheit / Security & Defense

Presidents of the BND

The head of the Bundesnachrichtendienst is its President. The following persons have held this office since 1956:

Presidents of the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND)
Name (lived) Beginning of service End of service
1 Reinhard Gehlen (1902 – 1979) 1 April 1956 30 April 1968
2 Gerhard Wessel (1913 – 2002) 1 May 1968 31 December 1978
3 Klaus Kinkel (b. 1936) 1 January 1979 26 December 1982
4 Eberhard Blum (1919 – 2003) 27 December 1982 31 July 1985
5 Heribert Hellenbroich (b. 1937) 1 August 1985 27 August 1985
6 Hans-Georg Wieck (b. 1928) 4 September 1985 2 October 1990
7 Konrad Porzner (b. 1935) 3 October 1990 31 March 1996
8 Gerhard Güllich (b. 1937) (interim) 1 April 1996 4 June 1996
9 Hansjörg Geiger (b. 1942) 4 June 1996 17 December 1998
10 August Hanning (b. 1946) 17 December 1998 30 November 2005
11 Ernst Uhrlau (b. 1946) 1 December 2005

The President of the BND is a federal Beamter paid according to BBesO order B, B6 (can be viewed here)


The President of the BND has two deputies: one Vice-President and - since December 2003 - one Vice-President for military affairs. Prior to that time there was only one Vice-President. The following persons have held this office since 1957:

Vice-Presidents of the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND)
Name (lived) Beginning of service End of service
1 Hans-Heinrich Worgitzky (b. 1907) 24 May 1957 1967
2 Horst Wendland (1912– 1968) 8 October 1968 (suicide)
3 Dieter Blötz (1931– 1987) 4 May 1970 August 1979
4 Norbert Klusak (1936– 1986) 1 April 1980 27 February 1986
5 Paul Münstermann (b. 1932) 1986 27 August 1994
6 Gerhard Güllich (b. 1937) (interim) 1994 1996
7 Rainer Kesselring 18 June 1996
8 Rudolf Adam (b. 1948) July 2001 31 March 2004
9 Werner Schowe (b. 1944), military affairs VP December 2003 2005
10 Rüdiger von Fritsch-Seerhausen 1 May 2004
11 Georg Freiherr von Brandis (b. 1948), military affairs VP 4 October 2005 February 2008
12 Arndt von Freytag-Loringhoven

See also


  1. ^ "BND hatte Tausende Spione in der DDR" (in German). 2007-09-24. Retrieved 2008-07-16.  
  2. ^ Three German Spies Await Release At Kosovo Airport, RFE/RL, November 28, 2008
  3. ^ German spy affair might have been revenge, Welt Online, November 30, 2008

External links and publications

Coordinates: 48°03′50″N 11°32′06″E / 48.064°N 11.535°E / 48.064; 11.535

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