Albert Schnez, Heinrich Lübke
Albert Schnez (L) WikiCommons/ German Federal Archive

A secret group of Nazi German veterans who fought with the Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS formed a 2,000-strong army to protect West Germany against the Soviets and hold back the Communists in case of civil war, according to intelligence documents.

The revelation surfaced by accident, when an historian discovered a 321-page file at the BND, the country's foreign intelligence service, while while working for an Independent Historical Commission hired by the BND to investigate its early history.

Details of the clandestine army are sketchy as the file is incomplete, according to reports.

The army, formed initially of 2,000 Nazi officers in Stuttgart, was set up after Germany's defeat in 1945.

It was led by World War II colonel Albert Schnez and Otto Skorzeny, an SS official who was drafted as the field commander to carry out the rescue mission to release deposed Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini - then held by anti-fascists.

The group, which included businesspeople, sales representatives, a coal merchant, a criminal lawyer, an attorney, a technical instructor and even a mayor, collected spy information about left-wing politicians and eavesdropped on students accused of Communist leanings.

Former German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer only discovered the paramilitary group, which had no mandate from the German government and was therefore illegal under Allied forces' laws, in 1951.

The file even detailed the shadowy army's reaction in case of a war, claiming that it would include up to 40,000 fighters.

According to Schnez, the army was supported by Hans Speidel, who would become Nato's Supreme Commander of the Allied Army in Central Europe in 1957.