The Red Orchestra (German: Die Rote Kapelle) or the Red Chapel as it was known in Germany, was the name given by the Gestapo to anti-Nazi resistance workers during World War II. These included friends of Harro Schulze-Boysen and Arvid Harnack in Berlin, as well as groups working independently of these intelligence groups, working in Paris and Brussels, that were built up on behalf of Leopold Trepper on behalf of the Soviet Main Directorate of State Security (GRU). Contrary to legend, the Red Orchestra was neither directed by Soviet communists nor under a single leadership but a network of groups and individuals. By name are known to date about 400 members. They printed illegal leaflets hoping to incite civil disobedience, helped Jews and opposition escape the regime, documented the crimes of the Nazi regime and forwarded intelligence to the Allies. To this day, the public perception of the "Red Orchestra" is characterized by the transfigurations of the post-war years and the Cold War.
For a long time after World War II, only parts of the German resistance to Nazism had been known to the public within Germany and the world at large. This included the groups that took part in the 20 July plot and the White Rose resistance groups. In the 1970s there was a growing interest in the various forms of resistance and opposition. However, no group was so systematically misinformed and recognised as little as the resistance groups around Arvid Harnack and Harro Schulze-Boysen.
In a number of publications, the groups that these two people represented were seen as traitors and spies. An example of these was Kennwort: Direktor; die Geschichte der Roten Kapelle (Password: Director; The history of the Red Chapel) written by Heinz Höhne who was a Der Spiegel journalist.  Höhne based his book on the investigation by the Lüneburg Public Prosecutor's Office against the General Judge of the Luftwaffe Manfred Roeder who was involved in the Harnack and Schulze-Boysen cases during World War II and who contributed decisively to the formation of the legend, that survived for much of the Cold War period. In his book Höhne reports from former Gestapo and Reich war court individuals who had a conflict of interest and were intent in defaming the groups attached to Harnack and Schulze-Boysen with accusations of treason.
The perpetuation of the defamation from the 1940 to the 1970s that started with the Gestapo, was incorporated by the Lüneburg Public Prosecutor's Office and evaluated as a journalistic process that can be seen by the 1968 trial of far-right holocaust denier Manfred Roeder by the German lawyer Robert Kempner. The Frankfurt public prosecutors office, which prosecuted the case against Roeder, based its investigation on procedure case number "1 Js 16/49" which was the trial case number defined by the Lüneburg Public Prosecutor's Office. The whole process propagated the Gestapo ideas of the Red Orchestra and this was promulgated in the report of the public prosecutor's office which stated:
From the perspective of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) the Red Orchestra were honoured as anti-fascist resistance fighters and indeed received posthumous orders in 1969. However, the most comprehensive collection biographies that exist are from the GDR, and represent their point of view.
In the 1980s, the GDR historian Heinrich Scheel, who at the time was vice president of the East German Academy of Sciences and who was part of the anti-Nazi Tegeler group that included Hans Coppi, Hermann Natterodt and Hans Lautenschläger from 1933, conducted research into the Rote Kapelle and produced a paper which took a more nuanced view of the Rote Kapelle and discovered the work that was done to defame them. Heinrich Scheel's work enabled a reevaluation of the Rote Kapelle, but it was not until 2009 that the German Bundestag overturned the judgments of the National Socialist judiciary for "treason" and rehabilitated the members of the Red Chapel.
The term "Red Orchestra" was invented by the Reichssicherheitshauptamt (RSHA), the counter-espionage part of the Schutzstaffel (SS), which referred to resistance radio operators as "pianists", their transmitters as "pianos", and their supervisors as "conductors".
The Red Orchestra was a collective name that was used by the Gestapo, the German secret police for the purpose of identification, and the Funkabwehr, the German radio counterintelligence organisation. The Funkabwehr used the name to identify the Paris and Brussels groups that were opponents of the Nazis, that appeared after the invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941.
Only after the Abwehr had decrypted radio messages in August 1942, in which German names appeared, did the Gestapo start to arrest and imprison them, their friends and relatives. In 2002, the German filmmaker Stefan Roloff, whose father was a member of one of the Red Orchestra groups, wrote:
The Red Orchestra in the world today are mainly the resistance groups around the Luftwaffe officer Harro Schulze-Boysen, the writer Adam Kuckhoff and the economist Arvid Harnack, to which historians assign more than 100 people.
Harnack and Schulze-Boysen had similar political views, both rejected the Treaty of Versailles of 1919, and sought alternatives to the existing social order. Since the Great Depression of 1929, they saw the Soviet planned economy as a positive counter-model to the free-market economy. They wanted to introduce planned economic elements in Germany and work closely with the Soviet Union without breaking German bridges to Western Europe.
Before 1933, Schulze-Boysen published the non-partisan leftist and banned magazine German: Gegner, lit. 'The Opponent'. In April 1933, the Sturmabteilung detained him for some time, severely battered him, and killed a fellow Jewish inmate. As a trained pilot, he received a position of trust in 1934 in the Reich Ministry of Aviation and had access to war-important information. After his marriage to Libertas Schulze-Boysen née Haas-Heye in 1936, the couple collected young intellectuals, including the artist couple Kurt and Elisabeth Schumacher, the writers Günther Weisenborn and Walter Küchenmeister, the journalists John Graudenz and Gisela von Poellnitz, the doctors John Rittmeister and Elfriede Paul, the dancer Oda Schottmüller, and since 1938 the couple Walter and Marta, who was an actress. Schulze-Boysen held twice monthly meetings at his Charlottenburg atelier for thirty-five to forty people in what was considered a Bohemian circle of friends. During the meetings, book discussions in the first 90 minutes were followed by Marxist discussions and resistance activities that were interspersed with parties, picnics, sailing on the Wannsee and poetry readings, until midnight as the mood took.
Other friends found the Schulze-Boysens among former students of a reform school on the island of Scharfenberg in Berlin-Tegel. These often came from communist or social - democratic workers' families, e.g. Hans and Hilde Coppi, Heinrich Scheel, Hermann Natterodt and Hans Lautenschläger. Some of these contacts existed before 1933, for example through the German Society of intellectuals. S
John Rittmeister's wife Eva was a good friend of Liane Berkowitz, Ursula Goetze, Friedrich Rehmer, Maria Terwiel and Fritz Thiel who met in the 1939 abitur class at the local high school, Abendgymnasium in Schöneberg. The Romanist Werner Krauss joined this group, and through discussions, an active resistance to the Nazi regime grew. Ursula Goetze who was part of the group, provided contacts with the communist groups in Neukölln.
From 1932 onwards, the economist Arvid Harnack and his American wife Mildred assembled a group of friends and members of the Berlin Marxist Workers School (MASCH) to form a discussion group which debated the political and economic perspectives at the time. Harnak's group meetings in contrast to Schulze-Boysen were austere. Members of the group included the German politician and Minister of Culture Adolf Grimme, the locksmith Karl Behrens, the German journalist Adam Kuckhoff and his wife Greta and the industrialist and entrepreneur Leo Skrzypczynski. From 1935, Harnack tried to camouflage his activities by becoming a member of the Nazi Party working in the Reich Ministry of Economics with the rank of Oberregierungsrat. Through this work, Harnack planned to train them to build a free and socially-just Germany after the end of the National Socialism regime. 
Oda Schottmüller and Erika Gräfin von Brockdorff were friends with the Kuckhoffs. In 1937 Adam Kuckhoff introduced Harnack to the journalist and railway freight ground worker John Sieg, a former editor of the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) newspaper the Die Rote Fahne. As a railway worker at the Deutsche Reichsbahn, Sieg was able to make use of work-related travel, enabling him to found a communist resistance group in Neukölln in Berlin. He knew the former Foreign Affairs Minister Wilhelm Guddorf and Martin Weise. In 1934 Guddorf was arrested and sentenced to hard labour. In 1939 after his release from the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, Guddorf worked as a bookseller, and worked closely with Schulze-Boysen.
Through these contacts a loose network of seven Berlin friends, discussion and training groups formed by 1941, that constituted some 150 Berlin Nazi opponents. Included in the group were artists, scientists, citizens, workers and students from several different backgrounds. The combined group included Communists, political conservatives, Jews, devout Catholics, and atheists. Their ages were from 16 to 86, and about 40% of the group were women. They had different political views and searched for the open exchange of views, at least in the private sector. Schulze-Boysen and Harnack were close in some ideas of the Communist Party of Germany, others were devout Catholics such as Maria Terwiel and her husband Helmut Himpel. Uniting all groups was the firm rejection of national socialism.
On the initiative of Adam and Greta Kuckhoff, they introduced Harro and Libertas Schulze-Boysen to Arvid and Mildred Harnack and began engaging then socially, with their hitherto separate groups moved together once the Polish campaign began on September 1939. From 1940 onwards, they regularly exchanged their opinions on the war and other Nazi policies and sought action against it.
The historian Heinrich Scheel, a schoolmate of Hans Coppi, judged these groups by stating:
As early as 1934, Scheel had passed written material from one contact person to the next within clandestine communist cells and had seen how easily such connections were lost if a meeting did not materialize, due to one party being arrested. In a relaxed group of friends and discussion with like-minded people, it was easy to find supporters for an action.
From 1933 onwards, the Berlin groups connected to Schulze-Boysen and Harnack resisted the Nazis by:
From the summer of 1936, the Spanish Civil War preoccupied the Schulze-Boysen group. Through Walter Küchenmeister, the Schulze-Boysen group began to discuss more concrete actions, and during these meetings would listen to foreign radio stations from London, Paris and Moscow. A plan was formed to take advantage of Schulze-Boysen employment, and through this the group were able to get detailed information on Germany's support of Francisco Franco. Beginning in 1937, in the Wilmersdorf waiting room of Dr Elfriede Paul, began distributing the first leaflet on the Spanish Civil War.
After the Munich Agreement, Schulze-Boysen created a second leaflet with Walter Küchenmeister, that declared the annexation of the Sudetenland in October 1938 as a further step on the way to a new world war. This leaflet was called Der Stoßtrupp or the The Raiding Patrol, and condemned the Nazi government and argued against the government's propaganda. A document that was used at the trial of Schulze-Boysen indicated that only 40 to 50 copies of the leaflet were distributed.
The Invasion of Poland on 1 September 1939, was seen as the beginning of the feared world war, but also as an opportunity to eliminate Nazi rule and to a thorough transformation of German society. Hitler's victories in France and Norway in 1940 encouraged them to expect the replacement of the Nazi regime, above all from the Soviet Union, not from Western capitalism. They believed that the Soviet Union would keep Germany as a sovereign state after its victory and that they wanted to work towards a corresponding opposition without domination by the Communist Party of Germany.
From 1940 onwards, the group started to produce leaflets that were signed with AGIS in reference to the Spartan King Agis IV, with titles like The becoming of the Nazi movement, Call for opposition, Freedom and violence and Appeal to All Callings and Organisations to resist the government. Their printing was arranged by the potter Cato Bontjes van Beek. They were often left in phone booths, or selected addresses from the phone book. Extensive precautions were taken, including wearing gloves, using many different typewriters and destroying the carbon paper.
In the spring of 1942, Joseph Goebbels held a Nazi propaganda exhibition called The Soviet Paradise (German original title "Das Sowjet-Paradies"), with the express purpose of preparing the German people for the invasion of the Soviet Union. Both the Harnacks and Kuckhoffs spent half a day at the exhibition. In May Schulze-Boysen and nineteen others, mostly people from the group around Rittmeister, travelled across five Berlin neighbourhoods to paste handbills over the original exhibition posters with the message:
In February 1942, Schulze-Boysen wrote the Agis Pamphlet or Agisflugschrift, named after the Greek name, which he used as an alias. The paper describes how the care of Germany's future is decided by the the people... and called for the opposition to the war the Nazis all Germans, who now all threaten the future of all.
Among its main members were theatrical producer Adam Kuckhoff and his wife Greta, pianist Helmut Roloff, secretary Ilse Stöbe, diplomat Rudolf von Scheliha, author Günther Weisenborn, potter Cato Bontjes van Beek, Horst Heilmann (a radio operator in the Cipher Section of OKH), and photojournalist John Graudenz (who had been expelled from the USSR for reporting the Soviet famine of 1932–1933).
The group gathered intelligence from many sources. It did not communicate with the USSR by radio.
However, these efforts to inform other governments about Nazi atrocities and war plans were only a small part of their resistance effort.
Their primary activity was the distribution of leaflets to incite civil disobedience and cause the Nazis to worry about subversion. They also printed and pasted up anti-Nazi stickers in large numbers, and they helped people in danger from the Nazis to escape the country via an Underground Railroad-like network.
During 1942 the OKH Cipher Section decoded some of Trepper's radio traffic, and on 30 July 1942, the Gestapo arrested radio operator Johann Wenzel. Horst Heilmann tried to warn Schulze-Boysen, but the warning was not in time. Schulze-Boysen was arrested on 30 August, and Harnack on 3 September. The rest of the team was arrested within a few weeks, and many were executed.
The investigation was carried out by the Red Orchestra Special Commission under the leadership of Horst Kopkow, whose death was feigned by MI5 was later given a different identity to help with Communists in West Germany after WWII.
Other small groups and individuals, who knew little or nothing about each other, each resisted the National Socialists in their own way until the Gestapo arrested them and treated them as a common espionage organization from 1942 to 1943.
Leopold Trepper was an agent of the GRU, with the code name of Otto, and had been working with them since 1930. During early 1939, he was sent to Brussels, posing as a Canadian industrialist, to establish a commercial cover for a spy network in France and the Low Countries. Trepper established the cover company the "Foreign Excellent Raincoat Company" in Brussels, an export company with offices in many major European ports, to sell crockery and raincoats. After the conquest of Belgium during May 1940, he relocated to Paris and established the cover companies of Simex in Paris and Simexco in Brussels. Both companies sold black market goods to the Germans and made a profit doing so. Belgian-born socialite Suzanne Spaak joined the Trepper group in Paris after seeing the conduct of the Nazi occupiers in her country.
Trepper directed seven GRU networks in France, and the network steadily gathered military and industrial intelligence in Occupied Europe, including data on troop deployments, industrial production, raw material availability, aircraft production, and German tank designs. Trepper was also able to get important information through his contacts with important Germans. Posing as a German businessman, he had dinner parties at which he acquired information on the morale and attitudes of German military figures, troop movements, and plans for the Eastern Front.
Additionally, communication between the Simex company and its main customer, the Todt Organization, provided information on German military fortifications and troop movements. As a bonus, these communications supplied some of Trepper's agents with passes that allowed them to move freely in German-occupied areas.
During December 1941, German security forces stopped Trepper's transmitter in Brussels. Trepper himself was arrested on 5 December 1942 in Paris. The Germans tried to enlist his help as part a sophisticated anti-Soviet operation, to continue transmitting disinformation to Moscow under German control, as part of a playback (German:Funkspiel) operation. According to orders, and relying on training, Trepper agreed to work for the Germans, and began transmitting, which may have included hidden warnings, but saved his life. During September 1943 he escaped and hid with the French Resistance.
Operations by the Trepper team had been entirely eliminated by the spring of 1943. Most agents were executed, including Suzanne Spaak at Fresnes Prison, just thirteen days before the Liberation of Paris during 1944. Trepper himself survived the war.
The Swiss group were perhaps the most important in the war, as they could work unheeded. The head of the Soviet intelligence service in Switzerland was Maria Josefovna Poliakova who first arrived in Switzerland between 1936 and 1937 to direct operations. Poliakova passed control to the new director of the Soviet intelligence service in Switzerland sometimes between 1939 and 1940. The new director was Alexander Radó, codenamed Dora, who held the secret Red Army rank of Major General. The other important leader in the Switzerland group was Ursula Kuczynski codenamed Sonia, who was a colonel of the Soviet intelligence service, the GRU.
Radó formed several intelligence groups in France and Germany, before arriving in Switzerland in late 1936 with his family. In 1936 Radó formed Geopress, a news agency specialising in maps and geographic information as a cover for intelligence work, and after the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, business began to flourish. In 1940, Radó met Alexander Foote, an English Soviet agent, who joined Ursula Kuczynski's network in 1938, and who would become the most important radio operator for Radó's network. In March 1942, Radó made contact with Rudolf Roessler who ran the Lucy spy ring. Roessler was able to provide prompt access to the secrets of the German High Command. This included the pending details of Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union and many more, over a period of two years.
Radó's established three networks in Switzerland that became known as the Rote Drei. The Rote Drei was a German appellation based on the number of transmitters or operators serving the network, and is perhaps misleading, as at times there was four, sometimes even five.
The first network was run by Rachel Dübendorfer had the most important contacts of the three subgroups and who was codenamed Sissy. It was Dübendorfer who received the reports from Roessler, the led the Lucy spy ring, who in turn received them from the sources Werther, Teddy, Olga, and Anna, and it was never discovered who they were. A study by the CIA concluded that the four sources that were forwarding intelligence to Roessler were a General in the Wehrmacht, Hans Oster, Abwehr chief of staff, Hans Bernd Gisevius, the German politician Carl Friedrich Goerdeler and Chief of Intelligence, Army Group Centre General Fritz Boetzel. The second network was run by the French journalist George Blun, whose groups codenamed was Long, and whose sources could not match the production of Lucy's group in quality or quantity. The third subgroup was lead by Swiss journalist Otto Pünter whose was codenamed Pakbo. Pünter network was considered the least important.
The three principal agents above were chiefly an organisation for producing intelligence for the Soviet Union. But some of the information that was collected for the Rote Drei was sent to the west through a Czech Colonel, Karel Sedláček. In 1935, Sedláček was trained in Prague for a year in 1935, and sent to Switzerland in 1937 by General František Moravec. By 1938, Sedláček was a friend of Major Hans Hausamann who was Director of the unofficial Bureau Ha, a supposed press-cuttings agency, in fact a covert arm of the Swiss Intelligence. Hausamann has been introduced to the Lucy spy ring by Xaver Schnieper a junior officer in the Bureau. It was unknown whether Hausamann was passing information to Lucy, who passed it to Sedláček who forwarded it London Czechs in exile, or via an intermediary.
Of the radio stations that were know were established at:
Wilhelm F. Flicke who was an cryptanalyst and unofficial historian at the Cipher Department of the High Command of the Wehrmacht, the German High Command signal intelligence agency, worked on the messages transmitted by the Swiss group during World War II and who estimates some 5500 messages, about 5 a day for three years, were sent. The Trepper Report stated that between the radio stations that were established by the three subgroups between 1941 and 1943, well over 2000 militarily important messages were sent to the GRU Central office. In September 1993, the CIA Library undertook an analysis of the messages and estimated that a reasonable number would be 5000.
Rudolf Herrnstadt was a German journalist, who worked in the Berliner Tageblatt who became a communist in the 1920s and in late 1930 became a member of the Communist Party of Germany under the name Rudolf Arbin
In 1933 Herrnstadt recruited German diplomat Gerhard Kegel.
|url=value (help). Penguin Books Limited. p. 236. ISBN 978-0-7181-9299-0. Retrieved 5 January 2019.
Charles Spaak (25 May 1903 – 4 March 1975) was a Belgian screenwriter who was noted particularly for his work in the French cinema during the 1930s. He was the son of the dramatist and poet Paul Spaak, the brother of the politician Paul-Henri Spaak, and the father of the actresses Catherine Spaak and Agnès Spaak.Elisabeth Schumacher
Elisabeth Schumacher (née Hohenemser; April 28, 1904 – December 22, 1942) was an artist and resistance fighter during the Third Reich. She belonged to the Red Orchestra (Rote Kapelle) resistance group.Hans Coppi
Hans Coppi (25 January 1916, Berlin – 22 December 1942) was a German Red Orchestra resistance fighter against the Third Reich.Harro Schulze-Boysen
Heinz Harro Max Wilhelm Georg Schulze-Boysen (2 September 1909 – 22 December 1942) was a German soldier who would become a leading figure in the Red Orchestra (Rote Kapelle) group in the German resistance to Nazism during World War II. He was arrested and executed in 1942.Hermann Böse
Hermann Böse (born Hemelingen May 4, 1870 – July 17, 1943) was a music teacher at the Hermann-Böse-Gymnasium, which was named after him. He was also conductor of the ultra left "Workers - Singing Union in Bremen".Hilde Coppi
Hilde Coppi (née Rake, 30 May 1909 in Berlin – 5 August 1943 in Berlin-Plötzensee) was a German resistance fighter against the Third Reich. Together with her husband Hans Coppi, she belonged to the Red Orchestra (Rote Kapelle).Kurt Schumacher (sculptor)
Kurt Schumacher (6 May 1905 – 22 December 1942) was a German sculptor and Communist member of the German Resistance against National Socialism. He was married to the painter and graphic designer, Elisabeth Schumacher and was in the Red Orchestra.Leopold Trepper
Leopold Trepper (February 23, 1904 – January 19, 1982) was the organizer of the Soviet spy ring Rote Kapelle (Red Orchestra) prior to and during World War II.Liane Berkowitz
Liane Berkowitz (7 August 1923 – 5 August 1943) was a German resistance fighter of the Red Orchestra organisation. Arrested and sentenced to death, she was executed shortly after she gave birth to a daughter in custody.Libertas Schulze-Boysen
Libertas Schulze-Boysen, born Libertas Viktoria Haas-Heye (November 20, 1913 in Paris – December 22, 1942 in Berlin-Plötzensee) was a German opponent of the Nazis who belonged to the Red Orchestra (Rote Kapelle) resistance group during the Third Reich.Maria Terwiel
Maria Terwiel (7 June 1910 in Boppard – 5 August 1943 in Berlin-Plötzensee, executed) was a German resistance fighter in the Third Reich. She belonged to the Red Orchestra resistance group.Rachel Dübendorfer
Rachel Dübendorfer (née Hepner, 18 July 1900 - 3 March 1973) was an anti-Nazi resistance fighter. During the Second World War, her codename was Sissy, and she was leader of a section of the Red Three Swiss resistance movement.Red Three (espionage)
The Red Three (German: Rote Drei) was the Switzerland section of the so-called Red Orchestra (code name: Foreign Excellent Raincoat Company), the espionage network of the Soviet Union in Western Europe, from 1930 until the end of World War II. It was established and maintained by Soviet Military Intelligence Staff Division 4.Robert Havemann
Robert Havemann (11 March 1910 – 9 April 1982) was a chemist, and an East German dissident.Suzanne Spaak
Suzanne Spaak (née Augustine Lorge; 6 July 1905 – 12 August 1944) was a World War II French Resistance operative.Werner Dissel
Werner Friedrich Dissel (26 August 1912 – 22 January 2003) was a German actor and director.Wilhelm Guddorf
Wilhelm Guddorf (alias Paul Braun; 20 February 1902 – 13 May 1943) was a journalist and resistance fighter against the Third Reich. He was reputedly a member of the Red Orchestra (Rote Kapelle) resistance group.Willi Lehmann
Willi (Willy) Lehmann (15 March 1884, in Leipzig – 13 December 1942, in Berlin) was a police official and Soviet agent in Nazi Germany.Lehmann was a criminal inspector and SS-Hauptsturmführer (captain), alias Agent A-201/Breitenbach. During World War II Lehmann was one of the most valuable sources for the NKVD in Germany.Willi Stoph
Willi Stoph (German pronunciation: [ˈvɪli ˈʃtoːf]; 9 July 1914 – 13 April 1999) was an East German politician. He served as Prime Minister (Chairman of the Council of Ministers) of the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) from 1964 to 1973, and again from 1976 until 1989. He also served as chairman of the State Council (head of state) from 1973 to 1976.