Articles & Talks 

Gerhardt Thamm has written widely on military topics for various journals and newspapers. He has also delivered talks to scholarly, professional and community groups. Some of his most popular articles and talks are listed below.


Document Exploitation After WW II: The Potsdam Archive—Sorting Through 19 Linear
Miles of German Records
During the occupation of Germany in spring 1945, Soviet, British, and American
forces overran and captured not only large numbers of German soldiers and war
materiel such as aircraft, vehicles, factories, replacement parts, and oil
supplies, but also document archives. One such archive in Potsdam, southwest of
but very close to Berlin, held “19 linear miles” of German military intelligence
and German army personnel files. One of the US soldiers who exploited these
files, Gerhardt Thamm, tells his personal story about the effort here.
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All statements of fact, opinion, or analysis expressed in this journal are those
of the authors. Nothing in any of the articles should be construed as asserting
or implying US government endorsement of their factual statements and
interpretations. Articles by non-US government employees are copyrighted.

The ALFA SSN: Challenging Paradigms, Finding New Truths, 1969–79

Studies in Intelligence: Journal of the Intelligence Professional (Unclassified extracts from Studies in Intelligence, Volume 52, Number 3 (September 2008)

Mie Askari mdachi: I Am a German Askari.

MHQ: Quarterly Journal of Military History, Summer 2007: pp. 68–73.

The story of German East Africa in the First World War is essentially the story of a vibrant and young officer, Colonel von Lettow-Vorbeck, who harried the forces of the British Empire. With his small band of 3,000 Europeans and 11,000 native levies called Askaris, he tied down a British Imperial army 300,000 strong. One of von Lettow-Vorbeck’s greatest victories was at the Battle of Tanga, where he beat a British force more than eight times the size of his own.

Shallow Water Antisubmarine Warfare

U. S. Naval Institute Proceedings, February 1991, pp. 93-95.

Shallow Water Antisubmarine Warfare concerns the safeguarding of convoy assembly anchorages, securing sea-lanes of communications to the 100-fathom curve for arriving and departing vessels.


1776: George Washington and His Spies

Until a few years ago, few knew that General George Washington had operated, and almost singlehandedly directed, an extensive espionage operation against the British army in the American colonies. School children learn only that the British had hanged the spy Nathan Hale. But Hales was only one of many spies Washington dispatched to gather information on British intentions and capabilities. It surprised almost everyone when researcher disclosed that these revolutionary amateurs had penetrated British lines to collect intelligence; and, even more surprising, how well they did it. (Delivered at the Amelia Island Museum of History, Spring 2010).

Boy Soldier

Presented initially to the Amelia Island Book Festival in 1991 in connection with the publication of his first book Boy Soldier, this talk was featured on Book TV (C-Span) and is available through their website.

Life in Wartime Germany’s Hinterlands

Most Americans think of Germany at the end of the war in Europe as a land of total destruction. It is an image supported by newsreels, by television’s History Channels, and the various illustrated World War 2 chronologies. The media show city block upon city block of hulking ruins; streets blocked by humongous rubble piles; the burned-out hulks of churches and cathedrals– and people wandering about in utter desolation. There were actually two Germanys, one that was heavily bombed — the urban and industrial areas, the other that was rarely touched by war–the large farmlands and small towns. This talk contrasts the stories of two German children, one from a heavily bombed urban area and one from an almost untouched rural area. (Delivered at the International Conference on Teaching and Learning, Jacksonville, Florida, 2008)

A Man for All Seasons

Clandestine case officers were the prima donnas of the intelligence services. But, in Europe, during the early days of the Cold War, they were also an endangered species because the chances of getting killed by the opposition were extremely good. They were the point men in the game of espionage. Yet, only those in the inner circle of the services knew their successes. This talk describes the inner workings of this profession as experienced first hand by Gerhardt Thamm and described more fully in his book, The Making of a Spy. Gerhardt has delivered this talk in various forms to groups throughout the Jacksonville, FL metropolitan area.