05 May 2014

Article Review - Jerusalem Post - Hitler's Jewish Agents - 9 April 1999

There are many snippets of articles about Josef Jakobs on the internet. Most limit themselves to the now familiar question: "Who was the last person executed in the Tower of London?". Some, however, delve into his past with a bit more detail and are worthy of a closer look.

Article Review - Jerusalem Post - Hitler's Jewish Agents - 9 April 1999On 9 April, 1999, the Jerusalem Post published an article entitled Hitler's Jewish Agents, written by Bernard Wasserstein. The article was written shortly after the release of some MI5 documents to the National Archives and mentions Josef Jakobs.

One of the strangest cases of an enemy agent captured by the British during the war was that of Josef Jakobs, a Luxembourger of partly Jewish origin. He was parachuted into Huntingdonshire in the heart of the English countryside in February 1941 and was immediately arrested with incriminating espionage equipment on his person.

At his trial he claimed that he had helped German Jews emigrate in the late 1930s, that he had been arrested by the Nazis as a Jew and sent to a concentration camp.

On his release, he had been "approached by a Jew with a view to joining the secret service." He agreed to do so, he said, to get out of Germany. He maintained that he had come to England not as a spy but with the intention of working for the anti-Nazi resistance.

His story was not accepted. He was sentenced to death and shot in the Tower of London on August 15, 1941.
As with many articles, this one contains a few inaccuracies.

While Josef Jakobs was born in Luxembourg, he was born to German parents and his citizenship was German. At his court martial he claimed that one of his grandfathers was Jewish, but research to date indicates that the only possible Jewish connection might be a great grandmother. Jakobs never claimed that he was sent to a concentration camp because he was Jewish, but rather because he was involved in blackmarket passport activities.

This particular news article is of particular interest as it was used as a primary source for the chapter on Jakobs contained within the book Tales from the Tower of London (Diehl & Donnelly).

Review
3/5 - moderately accurate


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