Posts

Physician to Rudolf Hess and Josef Jakobs

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Every once in a while, I go back to old cases where I've hit a brick wall and try a different tack. Perhaps some new records have been released? Perhaps I just have a fresh perspective and can see things differently? I never know what I might find. This latest revist is that of Lt. R.W. Taylor, the physician who wrote prescriptions for both Rudolf Hess and Josef Jakobs when they passed through the gates of the Tower of London. My earlier blog looked at the prescriptions themselves and while I had found a Lt. R.W. Taylor M.B. ( Medicinae Baccalaureus ) who had received an Emergency Commission on 21 October 1940... that was about it. I had found a Ronald Wentworth Taylor who went on to become an obstetrician in the 1950s and 1960s, but I wasn't confident that this was the same as our Lt. R.W. Taylor. Here are the results of my latest excavations. Not Ronald Wentworth Taylor Well, we can at least lay this possibility to rest. Ronald Wentworth Taylor was born 28 October 1932 in Li

New Release of Berlin BMD Records

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While searching Ancestry a few months ago, I noticed that the array of Births, Marriages and Deaths from Berlin had been expanded. Births were now available up to 1906, Marriages up to 1936 (formerly 1920) and Deaths up to 1955 (formerly 1935 I think). Quite a bonanza! I had high hopes of tracking down the death of Josef's sister, Maria Jakobs who, we think, passed away sometime between 1943 and 1952, but... no luck. It is always possible that she married during that interval or... that the family simply lost touch with her and that she lived far longer, but in isolation from the rest of the Jakobs family. While I struck out in tracking down Maria Jakobs, I did take the opportunity to try and track down the fates of some other Berlin characters. Egon Clemens Pius Rammrath Several years ago I wrote a couple of blog posts on one of Josef's colleagues in the black market passport scam: Egon Clemens Pius Rammrath. Egon Rammrath and Josef Jakobs Egon Rammrath through the Eyes of Jos

From the Mailbox

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Last May/June, I received a series of emails from Anat F. who had found my blog on Fritz Lasch , one of the desperate individuals who purchased forged Finnish passports from Algoth Niska. Anat was able to share a bit more information about Fritz's wife, Basia, and their two sons. Fritz Lasch & Family In August 1938, Fritz purchased three supposedly legitimate Finnish passports from Algoth Niska. That fall, Fritz, his wife Basia Beila (née Sudarsky), and their two sons, Heinrich Isaac and Ernst-Jakob, escaped to Amsterdam and onwards to Paris. Their relieve was short-lived. In April 1939, after learning of false Finnish passports circulating throughout Europe, the Finnish authorities called Fritz to the Finnish embassy. What transpired there, we don't know. Only that in November 1942, Fritz was deported to Auschwitz and then onwards to Riga where he likely perished. The mystery in the story was how Basia and her two sons had survived. I was able to track Heinrich Isaac Lasch

Spy Radios - Teasing apart a Decades Long Puzzle

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 A few years ago, I reached out to the Military Wireless Museum's Ben Nock for assistance with deciphering the schematics of Josef Jakobs' wireless radio transmitter. After examining the electrical circuit diagram, Ben concluded that the set was an SE 88/5. A few months ago, I received an email from Thomas Hoeppe , a Bavarian amateur radio enthusiast. His passion is rebuilding wartime espionage radios and he was particularly fascinated by the radios used the Operation LENA spies on their missions to England. Thomas has quite a network of contacts in the amateur radio field, including the Cryptomuseum site (run by Dutchmen Paul Reuvers and Marc Simons), Arthur O. Bauer (a Dutchman who runs a website platform upon which he presents his decades-long research into German wartime technology) and... Rudi Staritz, a nonagenarian (soon to be a centenarian) who actually worked for the Abwehr in Stahnsdorf and later on the Eastern Front. Thanks to the research presented on Arthur O. Bau

2020 - A Year in Review

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Well... I'm not sure what to say about 2020 except that it wasn't boring. From the flooded basement in February to Covid-19... it has definitely been a year of the unexpected. I'm hopeful that 2021 will bring a bit more routine but... who really knows. We, at least, still have our health and a health stock of toilet paper. In the meantime, I thought I would do a bit of a year review. Other than a few weeks during the flood/mud of basement adventures, I managed to maintain my goal of publishing one blog post a week. And, in reviewing the list of published blogs, I managed to cover a fairly wide variety of topics related to Josef Jakobs. Some closely related... some more tangential. At one point, I thought that I might be running out of blog topics but, after re-organizing my notes from various lists... I find that I have a good 100 blog topics in various stages of creation - from ideas to rough sketches to almost ready drafts. No shortage of something to write about it would

Book Review - They Came to Spy - Stanley Firmin - 1947

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The Book They Came to Spy: An Account of Nazi Espionage in Great Britain. Stanley Firmin. London-Hutchison. 1947. Background For over a year, I've been meaning to review Stanley Firmin's 1947 book, They Came to Spy , but somehow, there is always another blog that seems more pressing. But, today is the day. Mind you, I should add a caveat. While I thought that I had actually purchased this book, that turns out not to be the case. Last year (2019), fellow researcher Tony Percy kindly sent scanned pages from one of Firmin's chapters that relate to Josef Jakobs. Given what I've read therein, I'm not sure spending $30 CAD on the book is a worthwhile use of my research funds! As Percy wrote on his blog from February 2019 , the book is "wildly inaccurate". Summary Chapter 11 of the book is titled "The Parachutist who wore Spats" and refers to Josef Jakobs who, in addition to being dressed in a suit and carrying a briefcase also had grey spats

Court Martial of Josef Jakobs - Stenographer - Sgt. Bertram Anthony Balment RAOC

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Royal Army Ordnance Corps I'd never heard of the tooth-to-tail ratio before. It's the ratio of the number of combat soldiers (tooth) to the number of soldiers involved in a support capacity (tail). I guess I knew that every army needed support and logistics but, in my mind, when someone is a soldier, that means they are in a combat role. Such is not the case. While numbers vary depending on the era and the army, the ratio can vary from 15% to 40%. Which means there are generally a lot more support soldiers in an army than combat soldiers. In this latest blog, I want to revisit the story of Quartermaster Sergeant Bertram Anthony Balment of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps, who served as the stenographer at the court martial of German spy Josef Jakobs. I had done a brief post about Balment and the court's interpreter (Lt. W.J. Thomas) five years ago, but the piece I wrote on Balment was minuscule. I've since dug up some more info.... Balment Origins Bertram Anthony Balment

From the Mailbox

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Several months ago (April!) I received an email from a German researcher, Heinz-Jörgen K.-v.H. who has been tracing the lives of the Katz family. Those who follow this blog might recall that Lily (née Katz) Knips was a Jewish widow living in Berlin, who in 1938, was introduced to Josef Jakobs by friends. Josef tried to convince her to buy a "legitimate" passport/visa (actually forged) from Ziebell in order to escape to England. Lily managed to escape without availing herself of Ziebell's shady services and joined her grown-up son in London in April 1939. She left behind her sister - Elsa (née Katz) Majewski (deported to Sobibor on 13 June 1942) - and their father - Jakob Katz (died on 15 April 1942 in Hannover's Jewish hospital after a long illness). Heinz-Jörgen had come across my post on Lily Knips and wanted to share some information about Jacob Katz's siblings. "Perhaps you'd be interested in a little visit to Mollenfelde, a village not far from Gött

Court Martial of Josef Jakobs - Waiting Member - Major Robert Christopher Alexander, Irish Guards

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Irish Guards badge A few years ago, I posted a blog giving a bit of background about the officers who served as the Members of the Court at Josef's court martial in early August 1941. I was able to track down fairly good info on all but one of the officers, drawing a blank on Major R.C. Alexander, Irish Guards, Guards Depot, one of the Waiting Members. I was unable to dig up any further info for my book on Josef, The Spy in the Tower, published in 2019. But a few months ago, I gave Major Alexander another try... Tracking down Major R.C. Alexander Part of the problem with Major Alexander was the fact that I had no first names to work with. So, I decided to sift through the British Army Lists for the period 1941-1942. I tracked down the section for the Irish Guards and... voila... found this entry in 1942 (Part 1 Volume 1). British Army List, 1942, Part 1, Volume 1 - Irish Guards Given that Alexander was made a Brevet Major on 2 July 1941, my next step was to sift through the Gazett