German Shipping Companies and the Arms Trade: Deutsche Welle

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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. 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.


Secret documents point in particular to a former world market leader in the heavy-lift cargo business, the Bremen-based Beluga Shipping Company, which has since ceased trading.  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.

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