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By Stanislas Balcerac, Warsaw, translated from Polish with illustrations by John Helmer, Moscow 

Arndt Freytag von Loringhoven (lead image, right), a former deputy head of the German intelligence agency BND, and more recently the NATO intelligence chief, a newly created post, is now to take over as the new German ambassador in Poland.

This is a strange nomination, is it not, when ex- intelligence bosses are being despatched to run the German legation in a friendly, allied state?

This nomination is part of the militarisation of relations between European Union (EU) leaders, Germany and France, towards unruly Poland, which is buying military equipment in the US instead, for example,  of the Franco-German Caracal.

The Caracal was the Airbus helicopter H225M which Poland had agreed to buy when the Civic Platform party was in power in Warsaw. The current Law and Justice party government, first elected in October 2015, canceled the deal in 2016.

For the past year Frédéric Billet, who speaks several languages (English, Polish, Russian, Estonian, Turkish and Arabic (Magreb dialect), has been the French ambassador to Poland; he is a graduate of Saint Cyr Coëtquidan, the French military academy.  After the famous declaration by [German Defence Minister] Ursula von der Leyen in the autumn of 2017 that Germany should “support the resistance movement in Poland”, all operations of the foreign services in Poland should be closely monitored. We’ve already had one Ciamajdan [foreign-sponsored opposition protest, Maidan type]; fortunately it was not successful.

The Polish original, headlined “Ambassador Straight from Hitler’s Bunker”, appears this week in Warsawska Gazeta.

The German Embassy is quite a curious place. Built in 2008, it occupies a large area in the immediate vicinity of the Sejm [parliament] of the Republic of Poland, as do the French and Canadian embassies. Why such a great investment, since the Germans moved the capital from the bucolic European Bonn to Prussian Berlin, 80 kilometers from the Polish border? The flight from Warsaw to Berlin is only a few dozen minutes;  indeed, candidate Rafał Trzaskowski [Civic Platform party Mayor of Warsaw] even suggested that the new Central Communication Port near Baranów is unnecessary, because there is a new BER airport in Berlin. So why do the Germans install dozens of diplomats in Warsaw during the ‘digital European Union’? The explanation lies perhaps in the particular expertise of German diplomats in Poland. For example, Marco Gutekunst is the deputy head of the political department of the German Embassy in Warsaw; he got his PhD in “outsourcing of election campaigns”.  

Here’s an additional oddity:  there are in fact two German ambassadors —  Rolf Nikel, officially sent as ambassador by the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs when it was headed by socialists from the SPD party of Martin Schulz;  and Knut Abraham, sent two years ago directly by Chancellor [Angela]  Merkel in the role of “envoy with the rank of minister”. It just so happens that Abraham began his career in NATO structures. Why do the Germans have two ambassadors in Warsaw?

Arndt Freytag von Loringhoven is the son of Hitler’s staffer, Baron Bernd Freytag von Loringhoven (lead image, left). He was a staffer with the rank of major who prepared military materials for Hitler’s daily briefings in the bunker in Berlin until the death of Hitler on April 30, 1945. Born in 1914, von Loringhoven interrupted his studies in Königsberg and at the age of nineteen joined the army in 1933, when Hitler came to power.

Strangely enough, it is not known what he did in the first years of the war; in the officially available information his name appears only in 1942 when he was the commander of a tank battalion near Stalingrad.

Left: the German Army advance into Warsaw, September 1939. At that time von Loringhoven appears to have been a staff officer with General Heinz Guderian (right) commanding the invasion force. In August 1944 von Loringhoven was a staff officer in Hitler’s bunker in Berlin when Guderian was ordered to burn Warsaw down during the Warsaw Uprising.  

Von Loringhoven senior was a privileged officer, escaping the pocket at Stalingrad on one of the last Luftwaffe flights out. The fact that he was valuable small fry is demonstrated by his decorations: Iron Class II Cross in 1939 (apparently for participating in the attack on Poland); Iron Cross First Class in 1940 (attack on France); and the German Cross in gold in 1942 (after Stalingrad). After his evacuation from Stalingrad, von Loringhoven joined the 111 Infantry Division fighting on the Eastern Front. When this was destroyed near Crimea, von Loringhoven was promoted in July 1944 to the staff of Hitler. He remained in that post until Hitler’s death.

The Fuhrer must have put high value on him, since according to the official information he agreed that von Loringhoven would escape from Berlin and death himself. Perhaps von Loringhoven had a mission to fulfill, but he fell into British captivity, where he spent two and a half years. After returning to Germany in 1948, von Loringhoven quickly got back on his feet; eleven years after escaping from Hitler’s bunker he joined the newly created German Bundeswehr [Federal Defence Forces].  

Perhaps Hitler’s plans were visionary and farsighted. On from the staff of Hitler, von Loringoven made a fine career not only in the Bundeswehr,  but also in NATO structures, where he was the first German officer on the Alliance headquarters staff. Probably the experience he gained presenting military briefings to Hitler was also appreciated at NATO headquarters, not to mention his knowledge of the USSR, which he had covered by tank as far as Stalingrad.  But the road to Stalingrad by tank had run through Poland. The lack of available information about von Loringhoven’s early war career in 1939-42 may indicate that his files and his past were sanitised so that they would not offend new NATO members – Poland, for example.  

It is worth unravelling further this thread of history.  Bernd von Loringhoven finished his career at the Bundeswer as a lieutenant-general at the age of 59. He spent the next 34 years as a pensioner in Munich, where he died in 2007. To his collection of Nazi orders, he  also added the Grand Order of Merit to the Federal Republic of Germany (Großes Verdienstkreuz) received in 1972.

Baron Arndt Freytag von Loringhoven was born in Munich in 1956, the year his father joined the Bundeswehr. He studied chemistry and biochemistry in Bonn, Berlin and Oxford, and began working as a researcher at the publicly funded Max-Planck Institute near Munich. But in 1986, at the age of 30, he completely changed his career and began working in the German diplomatic service. It is not excluded that this happened under the influence of the father.

Shortly after the collapse of the USSR in 1992, young von Loringhoven found himself at the German Embassy in Moscow. After returning to Germany in 1994 he got a job at the ministry’s planning staff (Planungsstab). Just so he was following in the footsteps of his father the staff man. At the age of 42 he found himself in the office of the minister of foreign affairs and at the age of 46 he returned to Moscow as head of the Embassy’s political department. It so happens that in the year of the death of his father, staff man to Hitler, Arndt von Loringhoven arrived as the vice-chief of BND, the German intelligence agency. This is an interesting coincidence, taking into account that  the founder of the BND was Wehrmacht General Reinhard Gehlen, who during World War II had led Nazi military intelligence on the Eastern Front, where Bernd had been serving. It might be suspected that the promotion of the son could be an expression of recognition and compensation for the military career of his deceased father in the Third Reich.

Berlin headquarters of the Federal Intelligence Service (in German: Bundesnachrichtendienst, BND) is the foreign intelligence agency of Germany and reports directly to the Chancellor's Office.

Arndt von Loringhoven left BND and returned to the German Foreign Ministry as head of the European department in August 2010; that is, a few months after the Smolensk disaster.  In September of the same year, another German intelligence veteran, Baron Rüdiger von Fritsch, a former vice-head of BND like von Loringhoven, became the new German ambassador in Poland. Two years ago (2014-16), von Loringhoven was the German ambassador in Prague.

Then in December 2016, von Loringhoven followed in the footsteps of his father and joined the NATO structures as First Assistant Secretary-General for Intelligence and Security.

This new function in the NATO structures gave him the number-3 ranking position in the administrative staff of the Alliance. The role of his new intelligence department was to support the North Atlantic Council intelligence services and the Military Committee (defense ministers of the member states) and to advise the NATO Secretary-General on special services and security.

Centre: Von Loringhoven as a guest of Victor Pinchuk, the anti-Russian Ukrainian oligarch at lunch in Munich, February 19, 2019.   The NATO intelligence post was considered a German one in Berlin when it was first created in 2016 and von Loringhoven appointed to hold it. According to the state German news agency, “the new post was developed to fill a gap in NATO's assessment and collection of intelligence, which has traditionally relied heavily on the United States. It was originally proposed as a way to improve intelligence on Russian military activities.”  However, in mid-2019, von Loringhoven was replaced on Washington’s demand by an American from the Defence Intelligence Agency.  

Arndt von Loringoven’s secondment to Warsaw is intriguing. All the more so because he suddenly replaced another candidate, Andreas Peschke [Foreign Ministry spokesman], who was supposedly already learning Polish. It seems that Chancellor Merkel had pushed through the change.

Von Loringhoven comes with a distorted knowledge of Polish realities. His Twitter account shows that he is following news from Gazeta Wyborcza in English;  several left-wing German correspondents in Warsaw; and  Anne Applebaum, wife of [former Polish Defence and Foreign Minister from the Civic Platform party] Radosław Sikorski.

More disturbingly, von Loringhoven also follows on Twitter the Canadian [Foreign Minister, Deputy Prime Minister] Chrystia Freeland. She is the proud granddaughter of Michailo Chomiak, a Nazi collaborator in occupied Krakow, about whom I wrote in the Warsaw Gazette in January 2017 in the text ‘Canada’s New Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland – the proud granddaughter of a collaborator’. Her grandfather escaped from Poland with the retreating Wehrmacht and ended up with his family in a refugee camp in a resort near Munich, the von Loringhoven hometown.

Left: Freeland’s Twitter feed. Right: Michael Chomiak in Canadian exile with daughter Halyna (left), Chrystia Freeland’s mother. Read the Polish police investigation file on Chomiak, here.

The arrival of the new ambassador is already being prepared by Onet.pl, the Polish internet portal;  based in Krakow it is owned by Germany’s Springer media group.  On May 29, a text about von Loringhoven appeared in Onet with disturbing news:  “Onet’s sources at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs assess von Loringhoven’s candidacy as a gesture indicating that Berlin has decided that they must send a ‘heavyweight’ diplomat to Poland.”

Heavyweight is boxing. Until now, Berlin boxed Poland indirectly, through Brussels. Why did Berlin think that now is the time to punch Poland directly? Is it because German anticipation of the political exchange of the recalcitrant PiS [Law and Justice Party] for the obedient PO [Civic Platform] does not follow according to plan, while the actions of the “resistance movement” supported by the Germans (such as Defence Minister von der Leyen) have so far not brought about the expected results? Onet believes that the nomination of trusties as ambassadors in allied countries is “an expression of serious treatment of a partner”, giving as an example the German representation in Moscow:  “In Moscow, two more German ambassadors are also former deputy heads of BND, which is perceived as an expression of serious treatment of the partner.”

Onet continues the convincing hypothesis that the former head of BND intelligence does not have to be an officer of the special services and that  “even if the diplomat had a relationship with the services, at the time of taking up the [ambassador’s] post he no longer conducts any activities of an intelligence  character.” The author of these stage wisdoms for Onet is Witold Jurasz, a former employee of the Polish embassies in Moscow and Minsk, and then in 2013-2014 director of development at a company dealing in the international arms trade. Jurasz manages a foundation called Strategic Analysis Centre,  the chairman of which is an employee of Axel Springer, Michał Broniatowski, editor-in-chief of Forbes and previously a longtime correspondent in Moscow and a member of the ITI and TVN supervisory boards.

Jurasz’s father was a long-time diplomat of the Polish People’s Republic in Libya, Venezuela, Nigeria and Iraq and an activist of the Polish United Workers’ Party. Witold Jurasz is bound therefore to have a good understanding of how intelligence agents work. His text praising and disarming future German ambassador Arndt von Loringhoven, commissioned by the German Axel Springer, is accordingly more bizarre than rational. As reasons go, it is probably not the case.

NOTE : A German Foreign Ministry source,  of the age generation between father Bernd and son  Arndt, comments that  Junior von Loringhoven has been selected for the Polish post because he is considered on the German side to be unusually skilful at diplomacy and conciliation. This, according to the source, is intended to address the difficulties which Germany always has with Poland on account of World War II; and also to address the “difficulties Germany and the EU are having” with the present PiS party  government. The source is categorical on one point: von Loringhoven’s appointment has nothing to do with Russia – neither with Berlin’s relationship with Moscow, nor Warsaw’s. In Von Loringhoven’s  parting NATO speech last October, he made allegations  against Moscow which not even Merkel has repeated, including “Russia’s breach of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty…Moscow’s attempt to kill former Russian agent Sergei Skripal with a nerve agent in the United Kingdom in March 2018 (a British citizen, Dawn Sturgess, later died after exposure to the substance).”  The flight from Stalingrad still rankles.   -- JH.

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