Canaris, Wilhelm, 1887-1945, German admiral. He occupied various positions in the German navy during and after World War I. In 1935 he was made chief of the Abwehr [military intelligence]. A conservative, Canaris at first welcomed Hitler, but Hitler's methods and the fear that a new war would destroy Germany drove him into the opposition. The Abwehr became a center of conspiracy against the regime. Under Canaris's protection, one of his subordinates, Hans Oster, helped organize opposition to the Nazi regime. In Apr., 1943, many of Oster's co-conspirators were arrested and the Abwehr was put under constant surveillance, but Canaris was not dismissed until Feb., 1944. He was arrested shortly after the attempt (July, 1944) on Hitler's life, though he was not directly involved in the plot. He was executed by the Gestapo in Apr., 1945.
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