Gerhard Conrad: A legend of the international intelligence scene as a top speaker at Premium Speakers

28. March 2022 – Katharina Schlangenotto

Gerhard Conrad is undoubtedly one of the most prominent European intelligence officers. He was an agent of the German intelligence service BND and head of the EU’s intelligence situation and evaluation center (Intcen).

His life story stimulates the mental cinema; one quickly imagines oneself in a James Bond film. Gerhard Conrad, not on behalf of the crown, but on behalf of the BND.

Gerhard Conrad – Middle East expert and mediator at the Federal Intelligence Service

During his active time as an intelligence officer, Gerhard Conrad made a name for himself especially as a mediator and Middle East expert. In 2004, for example, he played a leading role in a prisoner exchange between the Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah and Israel, which was arranged by the BND. He served as a personal representative of UN Secretaries-General Kofi Annan and Ban Ki Moon, and in 2011 was instrumental in helping to free Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit in exchange for more than 1,000 Palestinians.

Today, Gerhard Conrad is a board member of the “Gesprächskreis Nachrichtendienste” in Deutschland e.V. (GKND), an association registered as a non-profit since 2004, which strives for an objective as well as factual public discussion of intelligence topics. He is a sought-after interview partner on topics such as counterterrorism, the current war in Ukraine and the role of the intelligence services in it, as well as the question of what makes a good intelligence officer and what the tasks of the BND are.

What makes an intelligence officer?

Gerhard Conrad explains precisely and to the point. He describes the BND’s task as follows:

“The Federal Intelligence Service is there to protect the German government from serious misjudgments and actions based on the intelligence it gathers.”

An intelligence officer needs a high degree of specific expertise and case sensitivity, which “has always been difficult to develop and maintain to the necessary extent.” He believes that the BND must and will continue to make considerable efforts to recruit and train highly specialized experts in both operational and evaluative areas.

Gerhard Conrad as top speaker

In his lectures, he talks about the raison d’être of intelligence services and what distinguishes the BND from James Bond, takes a critical look at the German security architecture and “intelligence culture”, focuses on global risks today and in the future, and gives an outlook on their consequences for Germany and Europe. Furthermore, he explains how and why intelligence mediation between adversaries and enemies takes place or explains the sense and limits of international cooperation between intelligence services. Finally, in his keynote address “Why do they hate us?” he clarifies the origins, forms of appearance and action, objectives and transformations of terrorist perpetrators and groups.

Gerhard Conrad is fascinating because his background has something adventurous about it. He is the link between the hidden world of the BND and the outside. Without a doubt, he is one of the most prominent ex-agents. Experiencing the Freiburg native live is worthwhile.

Dr. Gerhard Conrad

International Cooperation, Conflict Resolution & Political Leadership