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Kristian Bruhn

The provisional title of my PhD Dissertation:

Spies, secret agents and intelligence services in Denmark 1864 – 1924


16 January 1864 Bismarck issued an ultimatum to Denmark demanding that the November Constitution should be abolished within 48 hours. It was rejected by the Danish government and war broke out. The same day the Danish government formed a combined security and intelligence service as a part of the Danish Army High Command.

Prussian and Austrian troops invaded the Danish Kingdom and reached the northern tip of Jutland 14 July 1864 after several victorious battles against the Danish army. Piles of books have been written about the war but none about spies and military intelligence.

My dissertation is the story of this intelligence service with an emphasis on how it was organized, how the espionage activities were carried out, the successes and failures of the Danish spies. Some of the Danish spies were convicted by German military courts and imprisoned in occupied parts of Jutland. The same service was also responsible for the counter espionage activities e.g. letter and telegram control. Only 3 spies were convicted by Danish courts, but numerous suspicious civilians were removed from the war scene and put under surveillance in Copenhagen or forced to leave the country.

Because espionage was a violation of all three countries’ military criminal code, the intelligence service was at the same time both committing crimes and investigating crimes – on purpose.

This temporary intelligence service was abandoned in November when the peace treaty was finally signed, but the activities of the intelligence service continued on ad hoc basis and a very small budget in the following years. The two leading figures in the service during the war continued to run the activities for the next 29 years. In the year 1900 the intelligence service started to grow, and in 1903 it became a permanent office in the General Staff, and a web of secret agents across the country was created.

During World War One and the early revolutionary years, the service was very active investigating espionage activities in Denmark.