Legend (camouflage)

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A legend to camouflage commonly referred pretending a state of affairs. It often relates to a person's biography , but also to objects (e.g., for example, conspiratorial apartments ), organizations and activities. It serves to disguise the true mission and purpose, origin and intentions.

Police officers who work as undercover investigators in the context of security (e.g. Section 45 (2) No. 5 of the Federal Criminal Police Office Act ) or criminal prosecution (e.g. Section 110a of the Code of Criminal Procedure ), private investigators and "undercover employees" of intelligence services (e.g. B. § 9a Abs. 1 S. 1 BVerfSchG ) use them as legends that have been granted and permanently changed identities . A legend can also be part of a witness protection program in order to secure the testimony of endangered witnesses , especially in the fight against organized crime . "Legend papers" can support a legend.

The legend is a narrative that is based on a mixture of truth and fiction and stands up to scrutiny in every possible detail. Therefore it should contain as many true facts as possible and only as many inventions as is necessary for its purpose.

The corresponding verb is called legendieren (to invent or develop a legend). Objects such as B. conspiratorial apartments or real estate can be legend (synonym: camouflaged ) in order to keep their true function secret.

Biographical legend

to form

The most complex and therefore rarely used form of legend is the creation of a completely new biography. However, it is more practical to change personal data (date of birth, place of birth, marital status, etc.). The legend can also only refer to certain facts (e.g. time of military service, concealment of "suspicious" activities, etc.).


The legend must suit the person for whom it is developed; it must be plausible and credible. The legend should therefore always be worked out together with the person concerned.

A typical problem with the biographical legend is the justification of special qualifications: If the person has skills (e.g. knowledge of foreign languages) that are not “covered” by the legend, it must be ensured that these skills are not used. Otherwise the entire legend can become implausible. It is therefore more advisable to base the legend on such abilities instead of hiding them.

The reverse case would be even more obvious, in which the legend ascribes skills to a person that he does not actually have. This may concern clearly demonstrable facts, e.g. B. an allegedly completed training, but also those that are rather indirectly derived from the legend: If a person is, for example, assigned a longer stay in a foreign-language country, at least basic knowledge of the corresponding language and local customs should be available. Although these u. U. to a certain extent can be purchased afterwards, but the risk of discovery remains much greater than if the legend had a real background.

Order legend

to form

When legending actions and intentions - if the actual mission is to be hidden - a biographical legend is often unnecessary, but can be used as a support or provided.

When adding an order to an order, reasons that are difficult or impossible to verify can be used (e.g. personal interest, hobby, order from unreachable people or institutions). On the other hand, government agencies or other agencies connected to the intelligence service can be used for coverage (e.g. persons who confirm the pretended order, documents, etc.).


When adding a legend to the order, it must be ensured that the legend is always sufficient to dispel doubts in the event of potentially "suspicious" actions in the context of the order fulfillment (counterexample: for photographing military facilities, specifying a "hobby" would not be sufficient).

Support, quality of legend

Intelligence services usually have all the means to prove a legend and thereby make it more believable: They can (have) made personal documents on aliases or obtain any documents.

The quality of a legend is not measured primarily by its craftsmanship or its support, but by the way in which it is represented by the person concerned.

Legend donor

When using a legend for intelligence purposes, a legend donor is often used. This is often a real person whose data, identification papers, etc. Other possessions may also be used to create a legend for an agent. Often this happens without the knowledge of the person concerned and also in individual cases with people who lived alone without relatives and without the authorities or the living environment becoming aware of the death. During the Cold War , personal data such as B. used in the Federal Republic , whose real owner z. B. lived in the GDR , and whose data the Ministry for State Security used to smuggle in agents. Many of these cases were uncovered in the course of Operation Registration , after many of the agents had lived and worked in Germany for years without being recognized. At the Ministry for State Security, these were often officers on special assignments (OibE) who were deployed at home and abroad.

Web links

Wiktionary: legend  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations


Individual evidence

  1. ^ Patrick Kurtz: Kurtz Detective Agency Münster, private detectives, business investigations. January 25, 2016. Retrieved June 29, 2016 .
  2. ^ Helmut Roewer , Stefan Schäfer and Matthias Uhl : Lexicon of Secret Services in the 20th Century . Herbig, Munich 2003, ISBN 978-3-7766-2317-8 , pp. 265 .
  3. Bodo Hechelhammer (Hrsg.): Intelligence service definitions of the " Organization Gehlen " and the early Federal Intelligence Service (=  Federal Intelligence Service [Hrsg.]: Communications of the research and working group "History of the BND" . Volume 4 ). Berlin 2012, ISBN 978-3-943549-03-4 , pp. 24 .
  4. Siegfried Suckut: The Dictionary of State Security: Definitions for "political-operational work" (= Germany Federal Commissioner for the Documents of the State Security Service of the Former German Democratic Republic [Ed.]: Analyzes and Documents . Volume 5 ). 1st edition. Ch. Links Verlag, 1996, ISBN 3-86153-111-9 , ISSN  0721-2925 , p. 233 ff . (469 p., Limited preview in Google Book search).