The ex-Nazi's career in the German secret service (History Documentary) | DW Documentary

DW Documentary

The story of Gerhard Mertins, a former SS man, who became a powerful arms dealer in West Germany. Mertins had many contacts in the Middle East, as well as to former leading Nazis. That made him a very interesting prospect for the German secret service, the BND.

After the Second World War ended, Gerhard Mertins launched a taxi service in Bremerhaven, a seaport situated on the North Sea. But before long he was making deals with both the BND, Germany’s foreign intelligence service, and America’s CIA. Many files on Mertins remain classified secret even today. Flouting both German and international law, Mertins shipped weapons to war zones with the backing and sometimes on behalf of the BND. By the time Willy Brandt was elected German chancellor at the end of the 1960s, Mertins had risen to be one of the most powerful international arms traffickers in West Germany. But why did the BND work with Mertins for decades? And how much did the West German government know? Our investigation takes us from Bremerhaven via the Middle East to the USA and provides a fascinating insight into how West Germany looked for its place in the international power structure after years of war and occupation. Author Rainer Kahrs and his team spent almost two years researching the film. It was the first time the BND had given a camera team access to the files on its first arms dealer, Gerhard Mertins.


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