German shipping companies and the arms trade | DW Documentary

German shipping companies and the arms trade | DW Documentary

Germany’s secret service, the BND, is heavily involved in the delivery of weapons to crisis areas of the world. As this documentary shows, it has – among other things – played along with arms deals made by German shipping companies.

Top secret operations are carried out silently, bypassing the federal authorities by exploiting a blind spot between the Foreign Trade and the War Weapons Control Acts. The weapons are not shipped from
Germany, but via a secret port in Ukraine that does not appear on any map. The trail leads to Kyiv, where a former Ukrainian president confirms the existence of the port and the “delicate” arms deals. For the first time, the chief of the country’s secret service acknowledges that German companies are involved in the shipping of military weapons via the Ukraine, and provides the film team with the first and only television pictures of the secret port. Research in the USA throws up more alarming indications. American satellite images show the port where heavy-lift carriers load tanks, howitzers and other military equipment. At least two German shipping companies are involved in the operation.

The plethora of secret documents points in particular to a former world market leader in the heavy-lift cargo business, the Bremen-based in Beluga shipping company, which has since ceased trading. Four of its ships are explicitly named. Loading and stowage lists show that the shipping company repeatedly planned and shipped armaments – and one man, a BND officer with the code name “Klaus Hollmann,” was always involved. The German parliament only found out about the BND’s involvement in the arms deliveries through the makers of this film and is now trying to get to the bottom of the affair. Intelligence experts see this as an important step in averting further damage to German Democracy.
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