15 May 2015

Today in 1941 - May 15 - German spy Josef Jakobs helps break newly arrived spy Karel Richter

Today in 1941, Josef was groomed by the interrogators at Camp 020 to help break newly arrived spy, Karel Richter.

Karel Richter had landed via parachute in the early morning hours of May 12, near London Colney. Richter promptly hid his equipment and himself for several days and nights. On the evening of May 14, he ventured forth and was quickly detained and questioned by a police constable. With his sketchy English, forged National Registration card (lacking an alien's stamp) in the name of Fred Synder and a Czech passport in the name of Karel Richter, he naturally aroused suspicion. The following morning, MI5 was notified of Richter's capture, and Major C.A. Dixon, the R.S.L.O. officer from Cambridge, delivered Richter to Camp 020.

Richter proved to be rather stubborn and refused to admit anything other than the fact that he was a refugee who had landed by boat several weeks ago. Major Stephens, Lieutenant Sampson and Lieutenant Short handed Richter a photograph of Josef but he denied ever having met the man. Josef was then brought into the room to confront Richter. Josef stated that he recognized Richter and had met him in Hamburg and The Hague during his spy training. A crack appeared in Richter's armour, a weakness that the MI5 officers used to their advantage.

Earlier that same day, Stephens had written a report for the Brigadier O.A. Harker, the Deputy Director General of the Security Service, in which he summarized the case for a Proposed Trial Under the Treachery Act for Josef Jakobs.

The very next day, on May 16, Stephens admitted that,
"apart from information supplied by B2 through source TATE, Richter was technically 'broken' owing (a) to information elicited from Jakobs under report from B.L. [Latchmere House] of 30.4.41, (b) identification by Jakobs and (c) confrontation by Jakobs. Without Jakobs I am doubtful whether the case of Ricther would have been cleared and yet Jakobs is on the selected list for trial under the Treachery Act in the near future."

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