Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
- This article is about the 20th-century German military officer. For the 19th-century Greek naval officer, see Constantine Kanaris.
He was born in Aplerbeck , in Westphalia. He joined the navy in 1905 and served as an officer in WW I aboard the SMS Dresden in the Battle of the Falkland Islands (December 8, 1914). He was later interned in Chile. Escaping in August of 1915, he returned home. On his homecoming he was awarded the Iron Cross and transferred to intelligence, initially working in Spain. After a British assassination plot failed, he returned to active service and ended the war as a U-boat commander in the Mediterranean, credited with eighteen sinkings.
He remained in the military after the war, first with the Freikorp and then working for the post-Versailles navy. He returned to intelligence work in 1931 and, after the ascension of Adolf Hitler, he was made head of the Abwehr on January 1, 1935. His first major endeavour was to push for intervention in the Spanish Civil War. Despite his efforts with the organization, he worked against Hitler with the General Staff, opposed atrocities, and leaked intelligence to the Allies on numerous occasions. He was instrumental in planning assassination and coup attempts during the war. He was directly involved in the 1938 and 1939 coup attempts, and in March 1943, he flew to Smolensk to meet with conspirators on the staff of Army Group Center.
Hitler dismissed him from command in February 1944, replacing him with Walter Schellenberg and merging most of the Abwehr with the SD. Later that year he was placed under house arrest, preventing him from participating in the July 20 Plot. The Gestapo discovered evidence linking him to that conspiracy, however, and he was executed - by slow strangulation at Flossenbürg concentration camp together with Hans Oster, Carl Sack , Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Ludwig Gehre - a few weeks before the end of World War II.
He considered himself to be a distant descendent of the Greek Admiral, freedom fighter and politician Constantine Kanaris but the exact genealogical connection remains uncertain.
- A more detailed profile of him: http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Holocaust/canaris.html
- An evaluation of him, along with his last words: http://www.joric.com/Conspiracy/Canaris.htm
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