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Showing posts from November, 2014

Historic Royal Palaces - Podcast - Curious Connections: Spies and Us

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Historic Royal Palaces - Podcast - Curious Connections: Spies & Us

Taped - 14 October 2014
Original Air Date -30 October 2014
Series - Curious Connections

Duration - 59:12 minutes

Producer - Historic Royal Palaces
Clip available here



Presenters:
Sally Dixon-Smith - Tower Collections Curator, Historic Royal Palaces
Richard J. Aldrich - Professor of International Security
Charlie Beckett - Director of London School of Economics Journalism Think Tank

Review
"From the 11 spies executed at the Tower of London in 1914, to spying in today's digital age, espionage has long been an intriguing practice.
Hear Tower Collections Curator Sally Dixon-Smith and professor of international security Richard J Aldrich discuss spying techniques, digital intelligence and our own personal data during this talk recorded at the Tower of London.
This podcast is part of our Curious Connections series, which looks at contemporary issues through stories from our palaces’ past."

I have to say I ra…

Historic Royal Palaces - Podcast on Josef Jakobs

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Historic Royal Palaces - Tower Prisoner Stories - Jacobs
Original Air Date - 13 February 2013
Series - Stories from the Palaces


Duration - 4:19 minutes

Producer -unknown
Clip available here


Review
This programme was produced by the Tower of London Education Series in conjunction with the Royal Armouries.

It tells the story of German spy Josef Jakobs in miniature. In condensing the story of Jakobs into the span of less than four minutes, various inaccuracies and simplifications have crept in.

According to the program, Jakobs told the farmers who found him that his name was James Rymer. In fact, Jakobs did not give his name to the farmers and only revealed his real name, Josef Jakobs, to police officers at Ramsey Police Station. His false identity card gave the name of James Rymer, but Jakobs never claimed that name.

The programme skips directly from Josef's discovery in the farmer's field to his court martial at the Duke of York Headquarters in Chelsea. The programme thereby im…

Money Money Money - Part 2

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In an earlier posting, I examined the topic of the British currency that Josef had brought with him from Germany. While acknowledging that the Germans had introduced counterfeit English banknotes into circulation, I suggested that it was doubtful that the £1 notes found on Josef were counterfeit. Since then, I have confirmed that the notes that Josef brought to England were indeed genuine.

Captured Currency
When German agents were captured, they often carried a significant amount of British currency. MI5 needed to ensure that the evidence trail for these banknotes was traceable, as the money might need to be produced at the trial of the enemy agents. At the same time, the money that the agents brought could benefit MI5 and the Double-Cross system that it was running. How to hold onto the money (as evidence) while at the same time making use of it (for counter-espionage purposes?

In November 1940, the Bank of England and the Security Service figured out a solution to the problem.

An off…

Shot at the Tower - A Commemoration of the Spies executed in the Miniature Rifle Range

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The year 2014 is the centenary of the beginning of World War I. From August 5 to November 11, the moat in the Tower of London has been progressively filled with ceramic poppies, one for every Commonwealth soldier who died during the war (888,246).
The poppies cascade out of the Tower from two points, the Legge's Mount tower at the northwest corner of the Tower and from a point along the eastern wall.
The eastern cascade of poppies is located along that stretch of the outer wall near the Constable and Martin towers. During the two world wars, a miniature rifle range was located in the Outer Ward, between the Constable and Martin Towers.
The rifle range was torn down in the 1970s and a covered car park now occupies the former site between the Constable and Martin Towers. Until this year, no memorial has marked the site of the rifle range nor commemorated the deaths that occurred there during the two world wars.
Historic Royal Palaces commissioned a four part installation, Shot at t…

The Artifacts of German spy Josef Jakobs

Artifacts from the imprisonment and execution of Josef Jakobs are not held in a central repository. Many organizations and individuals were involved in his capture, interrogation and execution and each seems to have acquired a little fragment of the story. Unfortunately some of the fragments are lost to history.

When Josef landed near Ramsey in Huntingdonshire, he had a variety of items in his possession including spy gear, personal items and clothing. Whatever became of those items and where can one see them?

National Archives
Many of the items that Josef brought were confiscated by MI5 and some of them ended up in the National Archives files in London including:
Shell Touring Road Map of  Great Britain – apparently this has now disappearedone electric torchRation Book & Identity CardsRemains of cipher discPost card from Clara Bauerlea couple of note books in the name of Kenneth C. Howard The National Archives also holds the original hand-written German letter that Josef wrote to …

A Life Torn to Shreds

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The German spies who were sent to England from September 1940 to January 1941 were often equipped with a cipher disc to encipher their radio transmissions back to Germany.

Cipher discs were first described in a 1467 treatise by Leon Battista Alberti, an Italian Renaissance Man. Two discs, one larger than the other were pinned together and rotated around the pin. The message letters were commonly on the outside of the disc and the ciphered results were on the inside disc. Thus, using the disc at right, the word "cipher" would become "hwepgx". A variation of the Alberti cipher disc was also used during the American Civil War. The Germans took the standard cipher disc and added their own particular twist to it, adding numbers on both the inside and outside wheel. Handwritten on heavy card stock, the German cipher discs varied from agent to agent but were helpfully numbered sequentially by their spymasters.


When Josef Jakobs parachuted into England on the ev…