(Newser) – It would have made serious waves—had news of it actually come to light. Some 65 years ago, a group of Germans who had fought with the Nazi-era Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS amassed an army.
The revelation surfaced by way of a 321-page file unearthed by accident in the archives of the country's foreign intelligence agency (a historian hired by the BND to dig into the agency's origins found the documents, titled "insurances," while trying to figure out how many employees the BND originally had).
What Agilolf Kesselring found instead was details on the 1949 forming of a secret—and, under Allied law, illegal—army by some 2,000 ex-officers, who intended to protect West Germany against the Soviets or Eastern European countries; a study on the documents was published this week.
Der Spiegel notes that the file "is incomplete and thus needs to be considered with some restraint," but reports on what the document does reveal: That if an attack was launched from the East, 40,000 fighters would protect the country—whose own chancellor didn't even learn the group existed until 1951, and apparently made no moves to dissolve it.
Der Spiegel explains in detail the involvement of Albert Schnez, a WWII colonel who was instrumental in founding the group, seeking funds from like-minded citizens, making contact with veterans groups, asking for help from the West German secret service (which gave it a small amount of money through 1953), and crafting an emergency plan that involved potentially making use of transportation company vehicles and police weapons in case of emergency.
It's not clear when the army disbanded, though Der Spiegel notes that the 1955 creation of the Bundeswehr made it "redundant."