11 December 2017

Egon Rammrath through the eyes of Josef Jakobs

During his interrogations at Camp 020, MI5's secret wartime interrogation centre southwest of London, Josef Jakobs shared information about the black market passport business in which he was involved. One of the other characters in Josef's account was Egon Rammrath, son of Franz Rammrath. While not of great interest to MI5's interrogators, Rammrath's existence was confirmed by Frau Lily Knips, a Jewish woman who had briefly considered procuring a passport through the services of Josef Jakobs. She eventually managed to make it to England through her own means. She was questioned by MI5 and confirmed that an Egon Rammrath existed, although she rather thought he might be a member of the Gestapo and did not warm to him at all!

We've taken a look at what we could glean from Egon's background in the previous blog post. Here, I want to add some "colour" to Egon as seen through the lens of Josef Jakobs. It's most helpful to read the first post and then take a look at this one.

Egon Rammrath
Franz Rammrath and his family before 1896.  Egon is the young boy in front, between his grandmother(?) and mother. He would have been about 4-5 years old when this photograph was taken.  (From Wilmersdorf by Udo Christoffel - Sutton Verlag, 1998 - p. 96)  (from Google Books - hope link works)
Franz Rammrath and his family before 1896.
Egon is the young boy in front, between his grandmother(?) and mother.
He would have been about 4-5 years old when this photograph was taken.
(From Wilmersdorf by Udo Christoffel - Sutton Verlag, 1998 - p. 96)
(from Google Books - hope link works)
Egon's father, Franz Rammrath was a builder and a multi-millionaire. He had donated the land upon which St. Ludwig's Church sat in Wilmersdorf, as well as the land now known as Preussen Park. Egon had 6 brothers and sisters (surviving ones?) and his brothers hold important positions in the government.

Egon studied economics at Berlin University but with the outbreak of war joined the army and became an officer. During World War I, he was chief of the Spionageabwehrdienst (espionage service?) in the Berlin District. Josef thought he was an Oberleutnant (First Lieutenant).

During the hyper-inflation period in Germany (circa 1923), Egon lost most of his father's money. He dabbled in a number of business ventures: dealer in motor cards, financier, mortgage & house agent, dealer in pictures, manager of a "fashionable" Sportsclub. At some point, he was adopted by a Baron von Buchwald.

In the late 1920s or early 1930s, Egon went to the Bank für Deutsche Beamte and got a 2.5 million goldmark credit. Unfortunately, he speculated with this money and lost all of it thereby contributing to the bankruptcy of the Bank (the bank actually did go bankrupt in the late 1920s/early 1930s). Egon was tried, found guilty and sentenced to 9 months in prison but fled to Switzerland in 1933 or 1934 to escape his prison sentence. He was arrested by the Swiss authorities for suspicious financial dealings, spent 3 weeks in prison and was then deported to Germany where he served his 9 month prison sentence.

Josef met Egon in the early 1930s through Rudolf Hoch in connection with motor-corporations. Josef bought some Mexican bonds through Egon (this would have been 1932/1933) but then lost touch, likely because Egon decamped for Switzerland.

According to Josef, Egon was very well traveled and lived with his wife and children despite having been divorced for many years. Apparently, the divorce was for taxation reasons. Josef thought that Egon had one son who was in the Army and a daughter.

Josef found Egon to be, by nature, very egotistical, suspicious and insincere. He was anti-Semitic but Josef did not think he was a member of the Nazi Party.

Given the facts that we know from the genealogical information, Josef's account isn't too far off. Naturally, this is a picture of Egon filtered through Josef's own preconceptions and experiences. Still, it does give us a bit more information about a man who seems to have been a bit of a scoundrel, not unlike Josef himself!

National Archives - KV 2/27 file on Josef Jakobs.
Dealers in Black Market Passports - Josef Jakobs and Egon Rammrath - this blog site.

06 December 2017

Dealers in Black Market Passports - Josef Jakobs and Egon Rammrath

It's safe to say that Nazi Germany was not a stable place for thousands of Jews. The Nuremberg Laws progressively stripped away the civil rights of those who were classified as Jews (either 3 or 4 grandparents who had been born into the Jewish religion). Jewish doctors and lawyers could only have Jewish clients. Jews couldn't attend the cinema. Jews were stripped of their German citizenship and banned from public office. Jews couldn't own businesses or be employed at Aryan businesses. In such an atmosphere, it is little wonder that many Jews sought to escape Nazi Germany. The first wave of Jews fled to France, Belgium The Netherlands and Denmark in the mid-1930s. Others went to Austria and Czechoslovakia. None of those locations would provide safety once the Germans invaded those countries. By the late 1930s, erstwhile Jewish emigrants were becoming desperate, easy targets for the unscrupulous. "We can help you get out of Germany... for a price, of course."

Josef Jakobs got involved with a group of unscrupulous opportunists who saw the plight of the Jews as a grand way to make money. During his interrogations by MI5 in 1941, Josef shared many details of the black market passport scheme of which he was a part, along with the names and personalities of his accomplices. A lawyer named Dr. Jürgen Ziebell was the mover and the shaker of the group. It was he who paid the bribes for Uruguayan, French or Cuban passports. But he needed clients, preferably rich clients and he relied on people like Josef to bring prosperous Jews to his offices at 202 Kurfürstendamm in Wilmersdorf, Berlin. The passports were apparently quite legal, just expensive.

Ziebell could get a passport for a client for around 22,000 Reich Marks (RM). People like Josef went out and advertised their services at a mark-up. They might say that a passport cost 30,000 RM, allowing them to pocket 8000 RM. It was apparently a lucrative business in 1938 and Ziebell had both Josef and a man named Egon Rammrath bringing him clients. While I haven't found much on Ziebell, there is a fair bit on Rammrath.

Egon Clemens Pius Rammrath
Let's start with the facts that we can glean from the genealogy websites. Egon Clemens Pius Rammrath was born on 11 July 1891 in Wilmersdorf to engineer and "Oekonomierat" Franz Josef Norbert Rammrath and his wife Henriette Clara Hedwig von der Heÿden.

Wilmersdorf as farms gave way to apartment blocks, circa 1900? (Berlin.de website)
Wilmersdorf as farms gave way to apartment blocks,
circa 1900? (Berlin.de website)
From what I can gather, "Oekonomierat" was "an honorary title conferred upon a deserving agriculturist". Franz and Hedwig lived at Brandenburgische Strasse #84 and were quite well off, owning a fair bit of land around Wilmersdorf. At that time, the village of Wilmersdorf was being absorbed into the city of Berlin. Farm fields gave way to large apartment blocks and landowners like Franz made a tidy penny.

Franz was a district-councillor for Wilmersdorf (as of 1907) and a member of the building commission that constructed the Tetlow Canal. He was apparently influential enough that one of the bridges over the Tetlow Canal was named after him - the Rammrath Brücke.

Franz Rammrath and his family before 1896. F = Franz Rammrath, J = Henriette Clara Hedwig von der Heÿden E = mother of Franz or Henriette?, C = governess? K = Egon Clemens Pius Rammrath (From Wilmersdorf by Udo Christoffel - Sutton Verlag, 1998 - p. 96) (from Google Books - hope link works)
Franz Rammrath and his family before 1896.
F = Franz Rammrath, J = Henriette Clara Hedwig von der Heÿden
E = mother of Franz or Henriette?, C = governess?
K = Egon Clemens Pius Rammrath
(From Wilmersdorf by Udo Christoffel - Sutton Verlag, 1998 - p. 96)
(from Google Books - hope link works)
Egon was their tenth child and they would have at least one more after him, for an even dozen. Of the twelve, at least two died as young children and there may have been others who perished as children or during World War I. Egon's siblings were:
  1. Franz Josef August Rammrath b1878 - no marriage or death found in records (not in photograph - would have been 17-18 at the time)
  2. Norbert Franz Wilhelm Rammrath b1880 d1882 (deceased before photograph taken)
  3. Hedwig Clara Elisabeth (G in photograph) - b1881 - no marriage or death found in records
  4. Ernst Lucas ? Rammrath (H in photograph) - b1882 - no marriage or death found in records
  5. Eleonora Clara Franziska (D in photograph) - b1884 m1906 Josef Otto Hermann Maria Kerlë
  6. Elisabetha Josepha Margaretha Rammrath (A in photograph) - b1885 m1907 Bernhard August Steffen
  7. Klara Gertrud Franziska Rammrath (B in photograph) - b1886 m1915 Gustav Walter Fischer
  8. Auguste Martha Maria Rammrath  (I in photograph) - b1888 m1913 Franz Joseph Leonhard Scheffels
  9. Catharina Carolina Hildegard Rammrath b1890 d1891 (deceased before photograph taken)
  10. Egon Clemens Pius Rammrath (K in photograph) - b1891 m1914
  11. Lothar Hubertus Heinrich Rammrath b1896 - no marriage or death (not born at time photograph was taken)
On 1 August 1914, Egon married Käthe Martha Olga Klinckmüller. Both of Egon's parents were deceased by this point (his mother passed away in 1913 and his father between 1907-1914). Egon was living at Brandenburgische Strasse #53 and listed his occupation as "businessman". A year later, the couple had apparently moved into Käthe's home for Egon is listed in the telephone directory as living at Zähringerstrasse 25, Wilberforce. Given that Käthe's father was deceased prior to their wedding, perhaps the young couple moved in with her mother.

1. Garde-Feld-Artillerie-Reg (from YouTube)
1. Garde-Feld-Artillerie-Reg (from YouTube)
Egon was 24 years old in 1915 and one could wonder why he had not already joined the German Army. He obviously did, for in 1920, he is once again listed in the Berlin phone books but this time as a businessman and a Lieutenant (Reserve) of the 1. Gard-Feld-Artillerie-Reg (1st Guard Field Artillery Regiment). His address is given as Kurfürstendamm 253, which is rather odd as that is right across from the Kaiser Wilhelm Gedächtnis Kirche. This could be explained by the fact that on 14 July 1922, Egon and his wife filed for divorce. Perhaps Egon's return from war had not been such a success on the domestic front. A year later, in 1923, he was listed at the same address with the same occupation even though, by this point, the German Army had been demobilized as part of the armistice.

There is a gap in the phone directories available online and by 1940/1941, Egon was living at Meinekestrasse 8 and working as a "Werbefachm." likely "Werbefachmann" - essentially an advertising/publicity man. Perhaps he saw his role in procuring wealthy clients for Ziebell as "publicity"?

Egon's Loose Ends
There are also some loose ends around Egon. His birth registration form has three marginal notes. On March 20, 1930, a notary made a petition to the court in Charlottenburg stating that engineer Hugo Freiherr von Buchwald (a very aristocratic lineage), living in Charlottenburg, adopted Egon Rammrath and that henceforth Egon could use the family name, Freiherr von Buchwald, without needing to use his own family name (Rammrath). A rather odd note. Was Egon the child of Buchwald? Or had Buchwald sold his name to Rammrath? Perhaps a gambling debt? It didn't last long in any event...

On 2 October, 1930, there is another marginal note that states the court in Charlottenburg determined on May 3, 1930, that the adoption was null and void and that the marginal note (granting use of the family name) had no power.

Four years later, on 27 August 1934, there is another marginal note which is convoluted in its legalese, to the point that I will need to consult a German cousin who is a notary/lawyer. It references some events in 1922 and 1933 and the use of a name (possibly Buchwald?). I'll have to get back to you on this.

Egon's marriage registration from 1914 also has a marginal note that states the couple received a divorce decree on 14 July 1922 and were divorced on 25 August 1922.

Reference list from a book (p.1093) - Käuferverhalten und
Marketing-Entscheidung - Volume 1 - André Bebié - 1978.
(as viewed on Google Books)
What became of Egon? Did he survive the war? I have found two references to articles written by an Egon Rammrath, one in 1946 and one in 1972. Is it him? Hard to say, although if it is, he would have been 81 years old at the time the second article was published in 1972. It does mention "werbung" which links to his career as a publicity/advertising guy in 1940/41.

The first article was published in Volume 2 No. 9 of Das Lichtblick, a cultural and entertainment magazine published out of Graz, Austria from 1945-1947. Hard to say if it was the same Egon Rammrath or not.

This then is what we can glean from genealogy files and other sources online. It's not a lot but it does give us a framework for Egon's life. Josef told MI5 quite a bit about Egon and I'll expand on that in the next post. One could say that Josef's tale about Egon adds some colour to this otherwise rather bland history.

Ancestry - genealogy website - births, marriages, deaths, address books. I've created a Rammrath Tree in Ancestry, for my own ease in untangling all of the children. Contact me if you're interested in seeing it.

YouTube - march of the 1. Gard-Feld-Artillerie-Reg (1st Guard Field Artillery Regiment)
Wikimedia - Rammrath Bridge over the Teltow Canal
Teltow Canal - Rammrath Bridge

22 November 2017

A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing - Germany's Medium Bomber - Heinkel HE 111

HE 111 - from wikipedia
HE 111 - from wikipedia
Last year, I wrote a post on the Heinkel 11 (HE 111), an aircraft developed in Germany in the mid-1930s as a civilian transport machine. Given the prohibitions against rearmament placed on Germany after WW1, the designers of the aircraft did an end-run by creating an aircraft that could ultimately be used as a fast medium bomber during WW2.

You can read my original post for more information on the HE 111's role in delivering spies over the shores of England. In this post, I want to share some videos I've come across that give a sense of the aircraft.

The last flying version of the HE 111, a CASA 2.111 developed by the Spanish under license, was owned by the Commemorative Air Force and crashed in Wyoming in 2003 killing both pilots.

Four actual HE 111's (not CASA 2.111s) remain (none flyable): one in Spain, two in Norway and one in Hendon, England.

The first video - He 111 Heinkel Bomber Tour and Flight Demo - was filmed in 1997 and is of the last flying HE 111. If you read the comments below the video, you'll find one from "justforever96" from about 2 years ago who has several complaints about the video. It's very long but quite informative.

There is also a German propaganda film about an HE 111 engaging with a British fighter craft. The video has an annoying watermark but is interesting.

Finally, there is the Wings of the Luftwaffe - HE 111 - in my post from a year ago, the video was broken up into 3 sections. This new link is for one single 45 minute video.

17 November 2017

Another Clue in the Hunt for Robin William George Stephens

Joan Geraldine Pearson Dowling & Robin William George Stephens (from Camp 020 - Oliver Hoare)
Joan Geraldine Pearson Dowling &
Robin William George Stephens
(from Camp 020 - Oliver Hoare)
I had a comment on one of my Stephens blogs the other day from Stephen D. Stephen had tracked down a London Gazette notice dated 22 May 1942 relating to the second "wife" of Robin Stephens.

It would appear that Joan Geraldine Pearson Dowling may not have married Robin Stephens, but simply undergone a legal surname change in 1942. This would explain why I have been unable to trace a marriage registration for Joan and Robin.
Excerpt from the London Gazette - 22 May 1942
Excerpt from the London Gazette - 22 May 1942
The Gazette entry states:
NOTICE is hereby given that JOAN GERALDINE
PEARSON DOWLING of 36 Grafton Street, Lincoln
a natural born British subject intends after the
expiration of twenty-one days from the date of
publication hereof to assume the name of Joan
Geraldine Pearson Stephens.—Dated 19th May 1942.
     CHARLES ROBINSON and SON, 2, Lampton
(042) Road, Hounslow, Solicitors.
This discovery solves one lingering mystery. Still chipping away at the mystery of Robin Stephens' death registration (date, location, circumstances, etc.). Thanks to Stephen D. for sharing this discovery!

13 November 2017

The Disappointing West Mercia Police Files on Bella in the Wych Elm

Worcestershire Constabulary
Last month, I ordered the West Mercia Police files on the Bella in the Wych Elm case. The price was a bit steep but... the idea of actually being able to access historical documents on the case was too tempting. The archivist at the Worcestershire County Archives admitted that the files contained quite a bit of duplication. That is a bit of an understatement!

So, here's what you get for £250...

ITV Crimestalkers VHS recording - 1994 - 10 minutes
"Uses a mix of acted reconstructions, interviews with witnesses, still images, World War II film and commentary by Mr John Stalker to tell the story of the discovery of the remains of a woman's body in a wych elm in Hagley Woods and speculate on possible course of events which led to the woman's death. Reconstruction of the events surrounding the discovery of the body with interviews with Bob Farmer and Bob Hart, two of the boys who discovered the body. Exploration of the witchcraft ritual angle including interview with Terry Wardle author of "Bygone Birmingham". Commentary on the writing which appeared on walls in the West Midlands about "Bella". Express and Star Newspaper Office records room with presentation of the "Anna" letter including interview with Jonathan Leake of the Express and Star. Exploration of the spy ring angle including film clips of parachutists and bombing of Coventry during World War II. Reconstruction of possible murder scenario." (from the Worcestershire County Archives catalogue of the West Mercia Police files on Bella in the Wych Elm)
The most interesting piece of the video is the statements from two of the boys (now elderly men) who found the skull in the Wych Elm. The rest of the video has some obvious inaccuracies and I'll do up a transcript of the video in a later post.

Original Documents
This is the mother load of documents but it has a few problems. Folders 2 and 3 are missing and were not included with the batch of documents sent to the Worcestershire Archives from the West Mercia Police. What did they include? Why were they not released? Questions with no answers.

There are many duplicates within the original documents as some reports and memos were produced in triplicate (or quadruplicate) in typical police fashion.

Whoever scanned the documents also tended to scan the reverse if it contained any writing. The documents written during the war often used recycled paper so the reverse side of the Bella documents might include various documents from the 1910s or 1920s which have no bearing on the Bella case.

Folder 1 - This folder contains the forensic examiners report and a variety of other police documents dealing with the shoes and the chalk writing. There is nothing in here related to the finding of body and/or the interviewing of the four boys or any other witnesses.

Folders 4 to 11 - These folders primarily deal with tracking down possible victims including some gypsies.

Folder 4 contains interviews with Una Hainsworth and statements from individuals who knew Jack Mossop. Folder 5 traces a woman by the name of Van Raalte. Folder 6 traces the contacts of Mary Lavin and Dinah Curley who were considered possible victims. Folder 7 deals tracks some gypsies in the area and chalk writing on walls. Folder 8 is focused on Mary Lee/Lea/Wenman/Beavers, a traveler reported missing by a couple of soldiers. Folder 9 has a bunch of press clippings about the case. Folder 10 traces various missing persons named Bella or Isabella. Folder 11 has information on Julian Mossop.

Loose - three loose pieces of paper that appear to come from the newspaper clippings folder.

Plastic Wallets -  There are a series of wallets that contain photographs of the wych elm, the skull, the lower jaw the reconstructed skeleton, the shoes, the ring and chalk writing on various walls and fences. Another series of wallets contain letters dealing with the case including the Anna to Quaestor letters as well as several with "tips" and information on possible victims/suspects of the case. Some letter writers claiming paranormal powers.

Ring Binder 1 - Murder at Hagley Wood - Bella file
The files from this binder contain an introduction and 10 sections. It appears to contain photocopies of the original documents although I have not gone through it in any great detail other than to rotate document images.

Ring Binder 2 - Photos and Press Cuttings
These all seem to be photocopies of the original photographs and newspaper clippings.

There are no files that document the finding of the body or interviews of the four boys. This is most disappointing as primary documentation is the holy grail of any investigation. The forensic examiner's report is included which is nice.

The Worcestershire County Archives noted that the police files included over 1400 scanned images. Given that the two binders are essentially duplicates of the Original Documents... and taking into account the "in-triplicate" tendency of the police and the presence of "recycled paper" scans.... we're probably looking at something more like 500-600 unique document scans.

One noticeable omission is the lack of any MI5 references within this set of files. Given Anna's claims of a spy ring, one would think that copies of reports, etc. would have been sent to MI5. If such was the case, there is no lingering reference within these files.

Over the next few weeks/months, I plan to examine the files in more detail and see what facts can be extracted from the documents and the press clippings.

08 November 2017

The New and Improved Wandsworth Prison Museum

Old Wandsworth Prison Museum (Londonist site)
Old Wandsworth Prison Museum
(Londonist site)
Back in 2008, the Duke of Kent cut the ribbon on the official opening of the Wandsworth Prison Museum. The tiny museum, tucked in an old garage was stuffed to the ceiling with artifacts and documents from the more than 150 year history of  Wandsworth Prison.

The volunteer curator, a serving prison officer named Stewart McLaughlin, has tended the museum and its artifacts before and after that date.

In 2014, the museum shuttered its doors for several years while plans were put in motion for an expanded museum. Earlier this year, the new museum finally opened its doors.

New Wandsworth Prison Museum (Photo courtesy of Wandsworth Prison Museum)
New Wandsworth Prison Museum
(Photo courtesy of Wandsworth Prison Museum)
Located off on Heathfield Road, in the north parking lot, the new building is much more spacious. Unfortunately, due to limited resources and the voluntary nature of the curator's position, the museum is only open by appointment. On the other hand, several Open House events have taken place since the museum reopened and there is always the potential for more.

I asked Stewart if he could send me some photographs of the museum and particularly the display around Josef Jakobs and the wartime spies. He kindly complied.

Below is a photograph of one of the display panels. It includes some page copies from the After the Battle magazine volume #11 - the volume that dealt with the World War 2 spies sent from Germany. The story of Karel Richter and his execution struggle (from After the Battle) are the two top images of the display. There are also two photographs in the top part of the display, one of Double Agent SNOW and one of Josef Jakobs, a copy of the photograph that I shared with Stewart.
Displays in the Wandsworth Prison Museum (Photo courtesy of Wandsworth Prison Museum)
Displays in the Wandsworth Prison Museum
(Photo courtesy of Wandsworth Prison Museum)
A slightly better image of the above panel, including the photograph of Josef, as well as Double Agent SNOW. The text above Josef's photo outlines, briefly, his story from capture to execution.
Displays in the Wandsworth Prison Museum (Photo courtesy of Wandsworth Prison Museum)
Displays in the Wandsworth Prison Museum
(Photo courtesy of Wandsworth Prison Museum)
A neighbouring panel has some information on Karel Richter who was executed at Wandsworth Prison on December 10, 1941.
Displays in the Wandsworth Prison Museum (Photo courtesy of Wandsworth Prison Museum)
Displays in the Wandsworth Prison Museum
(Photo courtesy of Wandsworth Prison Museum)

For those who are interested, the following websites all deal with the Wandsworth Prison Museum - both the old and the new version. There are many more photos of other artifacts in the museum which might be of interest. Many thanks to Stewart for sharing the above photographs with me.

For those wishing to book a tour of the museum - you can contact Stewart McLaughlin here.

Londonists - In Pictures: Wandsworth Prison Museum
London Historians - Wandsworth Nick
Making the Marrow - Open Day at Wandsworth Prison... Museum. Just the Museum.
Prisoners' Education Trust -Save Wandsworth Prison Museum

Google Satellite view of Wandsworth Prison (red star) and Wandsworth Prison Museum (red marker)
Google Satellite view of Wandsworth Prison (red star) and Wandsworth Prison Museum (red marker)

03 November 2017

London Bus Route 11 - Favourite Bus of Spies

Bus #11 passing around Trafalgar Square
(London Bus Museum)
The title of this blog is a bit of a stretch... it's hard to say if Route #11 was the favourite bus of spies but it was definitely the route that showed up twice in the MI5 files (so far).

When double agent TATE (Wulf Schmidt) radioed the German Abwehr in Hamburg that he desperately needed more money, they suggested a complicated rendezvous on Route #11 which involved Victoria Station. TATE replied that Route 11 didn't pass by Victoria (rather strange as it most certainly did) and suggested Route 16 instead.

One of the bus tickets found in Engelbertus Fukken's possession after his death. (National Archives KV 2/114)
One of the bus tickets found in
Engelbertus Fukken's possession
after his death.
(National Archives KV 2/114)
Around the same time, in early 1941, undiscovered spy, Engelbertus Fukken was taking Route #11 from Liverpool Station to Ludgate Circus and back. The tickets for his journey were found amongst his possessions after his suicide in an air raid shelter in Cambridge in late March 1941.

MI5 made enquiries and learned that the tickets actually had quite a bit of information contained within them:

Ticket #7974 (2d) - This ticket was issued on the 10th., March 1941, on a Route 11 Bus, leaving Liverpool Street on a journey westbound. The time of issue of the ticket would be a few minutes after 2-6 p.m. on the same date. The ticket would be available to Charing Cross.

Ticket #7374 (1 1/2 d) - This ticket was issued on the 10th., March, 1941, on a Route 11 Bus, leaving Shepherds Bush on a journey eastbound. The ticket was issued a few minutes prior to 3-26 p.m. on the same date, in the vicinity of the Bank or Ludgate Circus and would be available to Liverpool Street. (KV 2/114 - 18a)

Interesting that two different spies were connected with Route 11. There could of course be a very simple explanation...

Route 11 was, and still is, London's most famous bus route and with good reason. The route, originating near Shepherd's Bush and terminating at Liverpool Street, passed many of London's most famous sites. If one wanted to take a sightseeing tour of London, Route 11 was an excellent choice.

It passed through Chelsea, stopped at Victoria Station, wandered past Westminster (including Westminster Abbey, Parliament, Big Ben and Downing Street),  skirted Trafalgar Square and trundled past St. Paul's Cathedral and the Bank of England before terminating at Liverpool Street.

According to the London Transport Archives, the route, every day from 1941 to 1970 (with the exception of Coronation Day - 6 June 1953) was: Shepherds Bush, Hammersmith, Fulham, Waltham Green, Chelsea, Sloane Square, Victoria, Westminster, Trafalgar Square, Aldwych, Ludgate Circus, St Paul's Cathedral, Mansion House, Bank and Liverpool Street.

A reconstruction of the route based on those stops would most likely look something like the map below.

Google Map - showing location of Route #11 stops in London (purple markers) and likely route (blue line)
Google Map - showing location of Route #11 stops in London (purple markers) and likely route (blue line)
(Map available here)

Engelbertus must have been an adventurous soul to venture out onto the London bus system with his less-than-stellar identity papers. Was he to meet someone? Did he make other trips to London in the months before his death, trips for which he did not keep the tickets? Hard to say, but a tantalizing mystery.

London Transport Archives - thanks to Tony Kemp for previously researching the wartime route for Route 11 buses.
London Bus Museum - sounds like a fascinating place to visit
National Archives - KV 2/114
Self-Preservation Society - anything and everything to do with old buses.

30 October 2017

A New Book - Double Agent CELERY by Carolinda Witt

Double Agent CELERY by Carolinda Witt
(from her website)
It seems that there are a slew of books coming out in recent years about wartime espionage and the characters involved. One of the newest, hot off the press books is entitled Double Agent CELERY - MI5s Crooked Hero by Carolinda Witt.

It turns out that CELERY, whose real name was Walter Dicketts was quite a character. He had six children via four wives and two mistresses - and none of the children knew of each other. The author of the book is one of his grandchildren who knew nothing about her grandfather until her mother passed away in 2007. Carolinda discovered another Dickett's grandchild on a genealogical forum and began to uncover the unbelievable story of Walter Dicketts.

Carolinda's book is being published today, 30 October 2017 (at least in the UK) by Pen & Sword books, with a foreword by Nigel West. The book will only be available in Canada in January 2018, so I will have to be patient.

The official write-up of the book on Carolinda's site states:
As Britain braced itself for the onslaught of a German invasion in February 1941, MI5 sent a handsome, womanising confidence trickster with a photographic memory, entrepreneurial flair, and nerves of steel to Lisbon to pull off the seemingly impossible.

MI5 wanted double agent Celery, an ex RNAS Officer called Walter Dicketts to persuade the Germans he was a traitor—then extract crucial secrets. With the clock ticking and his life on the line, Dicketts had to outwit his Nazi interrogators in Hamburg and Berlin and return safely to Britain—this time as a German spy. In what must count as one of the most heroic events of WW2, Dicketts managed to pull of the impossible only to discover he had been betrayed before he even left for Germany. It was a miracle he even survived…

Fluent in German and French, Dicketts was worldly and intelligent, charming and charismatic, and devastatingly attractive to women. Of his six wives, two were mistresses, and his six children knew nothing about the existence of the others. Sometimes rich and sometimes poor, Dicketts was an odd mixture of hero and crook, lover, and cad. The difficulty for others was in establishing who he really was.

His granddaughter Carolinda Witt pulls together family and official records, anecdotes and memories, police records and newspaper articles to tell the almost unbelievable true story of the most mysterious and fascinating British double agent during WW2.
It sounds rather intriguing. CELERY was involved with SNOW and it was their February 1941 trip to Lisbon  that tipped MI5s hand in retiring SNOW from his double agent duties. MI5 was never certain whose side SNOW was on. CELERY was indeed lucky to escape Germany with his life.

When the book becomes available over here, I'll post a review after I've read it. Stay tuned.

25 October 2017

Media Review - Casefile True Crime Podcast - Who Put Bella in the "Witch' Elm

Casefile - True Crime Podcast - Case 4 - Who put Bella in the 'Witch' Elm (2017)

Original Air Date - 30 January 2016
Casefile - True Crime Podcast - Case 4 on YouTube
Duration - 31:48 minutes
Host - Anonymous

Yet another podcast on Bella in the Wych Elm! This one is put out by a team of Australians and is actually quite good. The team has several researchers who obviously know their stuff.

Although this is posted on YouTube, there are no still images which is, in many ways, a good thing, as they don't distract from the overall story. In the 13 O'Clock podcast, reviewed earlier, the still photos often had nothing to do with the case and their inclusion simply muddies the waters as we wonder... "Are those photos actually associated with Bella in the Wych Elm?".

The narrator of the Casefile podcast gives a very clear, very succinct summary of the case. Although the podcast is just over 30 minutes long, they do manage to cover quite a bit of territory and touch on all the different versions of events. Even, for example, they note that the taffeta found in the skeleton's jaw was not necessarily conclusive evidence of murder. The taffeta may have fallen out with the skull when it was removed from the tree by police, and been mistakenly placed in the jaw of the skeleton by an officer who thought it came from there. They podcast also references the possibility that the boys actually pushed the piece of the taffeta into the jaw of the skeleton when they were poking it with the stick. I have come across these variations in the story before but do wonder from whence they originate. Are they in the police files? Are these accurate and factual?

The show does note the provenance of the Donald McCormick speculations and admit that his research was rather "loose". Unfortunately, they do continue to propagate the errors that Allison Vale introduced into the case in 2013. They make the error of linking cabaret singer Clara Bauerle with one Klara Sofie Bauerle who visited England in the early 1930s. They quote the birth date for Klara Sofie Bauerle, which is not actually the birth date of Clara Bauerle. It is well documented that Clara Bauerle, cabaret singer, was born 27 August 1905 in Ulm, Germany. The host also continues the Vale errors by stating that Josef Jakobs was a Czech national. This is not accurate. Karel Richter (another spy) was the Czech national, not Josef Jakobs.

The podcast then delves into the Una Mossop and Van Ralt spy theory. Van Ralt was apparently a Dutchman who spied for the Nazis and bought secrets from Jack Mossop (Una's husband). Listening to the story, I once again wonder... (1) how did Van Ralt get money from Germany to pay Jack Mossop and (2) how did Van Ralt get the secrets back to the Germans? Never mind the fact that there is not a flicker of such a spy ring in the annals of MI5.

I do like the fact that the Casefile podcast details all the different variations of the story and notes which one are weak and unsubstantiated. They touch briefly on the witchcraft theory, the possible connection with the murder of Charles Walton (Pitchfork Murder).

They end the podcast noting that the skeleton and accompanying autopsy records were lost after being transferred to Birmingham University Medical School. Was it a conspiracy or a cover-up or an accident?

Apart from the unfortunate propagation of the Allison Vale errors, this was actually a very thorough and accurate summary of the Bella in the Wych Elm case. I also liked that there was only one narrator of the podcast. When there are two narrators, they end up kibitzing back and forth which detracts from the story, to my mind. On the whole, the piece was well-researched and gives a nice overview of the case.

Review Score
4.5/5 - very well researched with only a a couple of errors.

18 October 2017

Mysterious Spy Transmissions from England to Germany

New mysteries always seem to be popping up in the quest for information on Josef Jakobs and the other World War 2 spies who arrived in England on behalf of Germany. The recent interest, both on this blog, and in the news about Engelbertus Fukken (alias Jan Willem Ter Braak) has led me down some interesting byways. Is there a possibility that Jan Willem did get some messages sent to the Germans?

Hamburg Messages
When Josef was interrogated at Camp 020, he told the officers that, during his training in Hamburg, in the Fall of 1940, he had been shown some agent messages by Boeckel (alias Dr. BEYER or BRUHNS). Josef said that Boeckel showed him the messages in order to demonstrate how they wanted the messages sent. According to Boeckel, these messages originated with their agents in England and had been sent to Germany via wireless transmitter. Josef recalled the contents of five of those messages and shared them with the Camp 020 officers.
Excerpt from a Camp 020 summary report of Josef's recollection of five messages that he saw in Hamburg,  supposedly originating from agents within England. (National Archives - KV 2/25, 94b)
Excerpt from a Camp 020 summary report of Josef's recollection of five messages that he saw in Hamburg,
supposedly originating from agents within England. (National Archives - KV 2/25, 94b)
The messages were as follows:
  1. Described the industrial buildings and factories in Coventry before the heavy air raid on that town took place. [the worst bombing took place on the evening of 14 November 1940] It was signed "107" [the agent number]. JAKOBS said he particularly remembered this number, because he asked Dr. BEYER at that time how they knew who had sent the message, and Dr. BEYER pointed to the number. He also remembered this message very well because when he saw it the papers were already full of the heavy air raid in Coventry.
  2. Apparently sent by a Swede, because it was written partly in English and Swedish. It contained a description of a factory that had recently been built here. The details were so exact that the Germans were able to pick out its position on a map. He could not remember the signature number.
  3. Described position of road barricades erected to hinder invaders. He could not remember the signature number.
  4. Contained descriptions of an aerodrome, and the message stated that the Germans could not use it because there was some kind of man-trap concealed , which turned over landing aeroplanes.
  5. Gave the names of ships lying in a certain dry dock. The names of ships seen on the sailors' caps at this particular port were also given, as the agent assumed that their ships must also be somewhere in the neighbourhood.
These messages naturally caused quite a stir at Camp 020 and within the Double-Cross system at large. Did all of these messages match up with MI5s double agents who had been transmitting information to the Germans?

Tracing the Hamburg Messages
Flt. Lt. Charles Cholmondeley
(From WW2 Database)
In early July 1941, Flight Lieutenant Charles Cholmondeley (pronounced "Chumley") conducted a thorough search of all the wireless transmissions that had been sent to Germany by MI5's stable of double-agents. Cholmondeley wrote a report which stated that, "having checked over the traffic, I find that we have no claim to Nos. 1 and 4. However 2, 3 and 5 may possibly have emanated from SUMMER and TATE".

Before we get into the three messages that Cholmondeley connected to SUMMER and TATE, it is helpful to remember that SUMMER (the Swede, Gosta Caroli) landed in the Northampton area and that, had he evaded capture, he was assigned to work in that general area. In his early transmission career with MI5, he transmitted from Aylesbury and later, from Hinxton Grange.

The second message that Josef remembered was:
2. Apparently sent by a Swede, because it was written partly in English and Swedish. It contained a description of a factory that had recently been built here. The details were so exact that the Germans were able to pick out its position on a map. He could not remember the signature number.
Here is what Cholmondeley dug up from the records of SUMMER's transmissions:
(2) 17 November 1940 by SUMMER [Gosta Caroli]
"Just back from Grantham.[A town in Lincolnshire, quite a ways outside of SUMMER's "officially assigned" stomping grounds.] Location of the factory which you gave not correct as Factory site indicated by you is Aveling and Barford [a manufacturing company on the outskirts of Grantham] where light tanks with Ford V8 engines are manufactured. [They did actually make some tracked carriers with Ford engines.] Twenty m.m. aircraft cannon are being experimentally manufactured by the British Manufacturers and Research Co. [Another manufacturer, also known as BMARC. They did make 20 mm anti-aircraft cannons.] This factory is situated west of Barford [the other company] and west not east of the railway. [This is accurate, BMARC was on Springfield Road.] 2000 employed in three shifts. Mainly Bren guns are manufactured. Going Birmingham Monday. [It would seem that MI5 portrayed SUMMER as getting around quite a bit.]
Google Map showing BMARC location (left marker),  Aveling & Barford Factory (middle marker) and  Grantham Aerodrome (right marker).  (From Google My Maps)
Google Map showing BMARC location (left marker),
Aveling & Barford Factory (middle marker) and
Grantham Aerodrome (right marker).
(From Google My Maps)
"Grantham Aerodrome is situated 2 km. south-east of the town, just before the road fork to Donnington. [Indeed it was. One can still see vague outlines of the airfield on Google satellite view.] It is built on top of a hill. It is said that it is invisible from 1000 m. up. There is one large and two small hangers 150 m. from the road. Entrances towards SSW adjoining NE of these are 6 hangars with entrances to the SSE. The landing field extends 1 km to the next cross-roads. 41 training planes and 5 Spitfires on field. No guards visible. Light Flak. NNE corner of the aerodrome."
Cholmondeley felt that the fifth message which Josef remembered could be linked up with another message from SUMMER. According to Josef, message 5:
5. Gave the names of ships lying in a certain dry dock. The names of ships seen on the sailors' caps at this particular port were also given, as the agent assumed that their ships must also be somewhere in the neighbourhood.
 The matching SUMMER transmission looked like this:
(5) 24 December 1940 by SUMMER [Gosta Caroli]
"Liverpool. In the town saw many sailors from HMS Sandwich [a Bridgewater class sloop launched in 1928] also from HMS Vernon [either a mine-laying tender HMS Skylark renamed Vernon in 1938 or the Navy's shore-based torpedo school called HMS Vernon] and HMS Australia [can't find a WW2 ship of that name - HMAS Australia commissioned 1911 was scuttled in 1924]. Heavy AA reported to be mounted on many ships in port.
Markers associated with Double Agent SUMMER
and his transmissions. Top left marker is Liverpool.
Cluster of markers along mid-right is Grantham area.
Lower right marker (orange) is SUMMER's landing
site. (Blue markers are landing sites of other spies).
(Google My Maps)
While the November transmission about Grantham makes sense and falls within the time frame where Josef would have been at Hamburg for training, the message about Liverpool is a bit of a stretch. Josef told the interrogators that he went home for Christmas and he only spent a few days in Hamburg in early January before being sent on to The Hague. In addition, Josef said that the first message, about the bombing in Coventry, stuck in his mind as the newspapers were full of details about the bombing. This would suggest Josef saw the messages after mid-November, but within a week or two of the Coventry bombing (November 14, 1940). A message sent by SUMMER on December 24 does not fit these parameters.

As a side note, MI5 must have had quite the cover story for SUMMER to justify such far afield trips as Grantham and Liverpool. Mind you, as it turns out, double agent CELERY (a.k.a. Walter Dicketts) and double agent BISCUIT (a.k.a. Sam McCarthy) also apparently visited Grantham in the fall of 1940 on behalf of SNOW. (referenced in West & Madoc as well as Hayward) There is also some evidence that CELERY or BISCUIT were also taking on "missions" on behalf of SUMMER. Mind you, I am not a SUMMER or TATE expert. Interesting that Cholmondeley did not mention CELERY, BISCUIT or SNOW... Oh what a tangled web...

As for the third messages that Josef had seen, Cholmondeley figured that TATE or SUMMER was the most likely source for those.  Josef said that the third message:
3. Described position of road barricades erected to hinder invaders. He could not remember the signature number.
Cholmondeley found a series of messages, dated late October to early November which could correspond with the message Josef had seen. The maps below shows the main points described in the six transmissions (TATE is reddish markers, SUMMER is orange markers). The cluster from SUMMER are for an area between London and Oxford. The cluster from TATE center on an area north of London, near Hendon, coincidentally very close to Karel Richter's landing site (blue marker).
(3) 24 Oct 1940 - 25 Oct 1940 - 26 Oct 1940 by SUMMER [Gosta Caroli]
"Road blocks on all approached [approaches] to Thame. Searchlight and machine guns 5 km on the Thame-Aylesbury road near railway viaduct. Nearby in large field many obsolete cars to prevent landing. Strong road obstructions and tank stops of steel girders 2 km from Aylesbury and 400 m behind it there is a gun emplacement. I did not see any new airfields on the way.

"Main road between High Wycombe and Princes Risborough 1.5 km from Wycombe near the railway bridge, just past the fork to Oxford is a moveable barbed wire barrier. After passing the "Red Lion" at Bradenham there is, on the right side of the road, what I believe is as light A.A. gun emplacement. Close observation is not possible as there is a guard in the block house, but it looks as if a number of these emplacements extend round the hill on the right side of the road. On the road round the hill to Lacy Green and Speck (Speek)? I could see further road obstacles and gun emplacements.

Locations described in messages of TATE and SUMMER.  TATE messages are red/purple markers.  SUMMER messages are orange markers.  Blue marker is Karel Richter's landing site.  (Google My Maps)
Locations described in messages of TATE and SUMMER.
TATE messages are red/purple markers.
SUMMER messages are orange markers.
Blue marker is Karel Richter's landing site.
(Google My Maps)
"Details of locality refer to a journey along the main road from Thame to Aylesbury".
TATE also reported on similar blockades, tank traps and pill boxes in a series of messages about the Hatfield/Hendon area north of London.TATE was ostensibly based in a rooming house in Barnett, so this makes sense.
 (3) 30 Oct 1940 - 2 Nov 1940 - 5 Nov 1940 by TATE [Wulf Schmidt]
"Many factories damaged between Western Avenue and North Circular Road. Bomb 15 m. from centre cross-roads north Circular Road and Hendon Way. Much activity Hendon aerodrome...

"Barnett by-pass plane traps every 250 km. Barricades every 1.5 km usually old motor cars and barbed wire. Pillboxes at roundabouts. Pillbox junction Barnet Road and by-pass 2 km S. Hatfield aerodrome camouflaged represent advertising kiosk. Rumour new night flying bomber crew 6 or 7 and super armament.

"Tank traps on all main roads leading to Bignells Corner on Barnet by-pass also one pillbox commanding these four roads. All roads to Hatfield aerodrome are partly blocked and all fields within about 5 km round have wire traps across them."
Cholmondeley concluded that "in the case of (2) and (5), I feel the evidence is fairly good and leads definitively to the supposition that the messages were those sent by SUMMER, since JAKOBS particularly noted that in (2) the message was apparently sent by a Swede and in (5) there is direct reference to sailors' caps." Cholmondeley did not apparently feel that message (3) matched any particular SUMMER or TATE message exactly.

Major Thomas A. Robertson, the head of MI5's Double Cross system sent Cholmondeley's report on to Major Stephens at Camp 020. Robertson noted that while Cholmondeley thought that Messages 2, 3 and 5 could have emanated from SUMMER or TATE, Message 2 was problematic. SUMMER apparently transmitted in German and yet Josef had said that the message was a mixture of Swedish and English. Gosta Caroli (SUMMER) was Swedish so... not outside the realm of possibility but... he only transmitted in German, according to MI5. Regarding Message 5, the report from Liverpool, Robertson noted that Josef referred to sailor's caps which also occurred in SUMMER's message. This is a bit of a conundrum, since SUMMER's message, as contained with Cholmondeley's report, makes no mention of sailor's caps.

WW2 Sailor's cap with HMS tally.  (From Surplus & Outdoors)
WW2 Sailor's cap with HMS tally.
(From Surplus & Outdoors)
Interestingly, while some of the tallies (ribbons or bands) around sailors' caps had "HMS Ship's Name" on them, others simply said "HMS". This was a wartime security precaution - an attempt to confound German agents or sympathizers. Strange that MI5 would have sent such a message to the Germans. Unless, of course, British sailors, safe in a British port, were permitted to wear tallies with their ship's name.

So, we have five messages, two of which likely emanated from SUMMER or TATE and three which have no known double-agent source.
Message 1 - a message that described industrial buildings and factories in Coventry prior to November 14, 1940. Josef saw this message after November 14 but the news of the Coventry bombing was still fresh in the papers. MI5 admitted that this message had no known connection to any Double Agent transmissions.

Message 2 - sent in a mixture of Swedish and English - likely from SUMMER about his visit to Grantham (although CELERY went in early November too).

Message 3 - a fairly generic message about road barricades - likely emanated from either SUMMER or TATE.

Message 4 - a message describing an aerodrome with man traps to prevent the landing of German aircraft. MI5 admitted that this message had no known connection to any Double Agent transmissions.

Message 5 - a message about ships in dry dock and ship names on sailor's caps - MI5 thought this might be a SUMMER transmission from 24 December 1940 but, as mentioned above, it is unlikely Josef would have seen this particular transmission. He likely saw all five messages in mid to late November in Hamburg. Which means that this particular message is also not connected to a known agent transmission.
We are left with three possible scenarios out of this:
  1. MI5 didn't do a very good search of their double-agent transmissions and missed the ones that would match 1, 4 and 5.
  2. Messages 1, 4 and 5 may have originated with Juan Pujol Garcia (later double agent GARBO). Garcia got himself recruited as a German spy and while supposedly based in England, was actually living in Lisbon. Using newspapers and travel books, Garcia sent bogus reports to Germany about his "spying" in England, without ever leaving the comforts of his Iberian home. His messages were so accurate that when MI5 learned of them, they panicked and thought there was a spy on the loose in England. Garcia used secret ink, not wireless transmissions - so he is an unlikely candidate.
  3. Messages 1, 4 and 5 may have originated with a German spy unknown to MI5 - perish the thought. MI5 was quite confident, in late 1940 and early 1941, that they had scooped up all... or rather... most of the German agents.
    Engelbertus Fukken (alias Jan Willem Ter Braak)
    Engelbertus Fukken (alias Jan Willem Ter Braak)
    • There was the notable exception of Engelbertus Fukken (Jan Willem Ter Braak) who landed near Milton Keynes in early November 1940. MI5 did discover his parachute, which he stuffed in a hedgerow rather than buried, and knew that at least one spy had eluded their clutches. Fukken settled in Cambridge and remained at large until committing suicide in an air raid shelter in late March 1941. Upon discovering his wireless transmitter, MI5 couldn't decide if he had managed to successfully contact the Germans, or not. Could Messages 1, 4 and 5 have emanated from Fukken? The timeline would be about right, although he would have had to travel from Cambridge to Coventry within a few weeks of landing. Not outside the realm of possibility.
    • On the other hand... if one spy eluded capture, could there be another? Fukken committed suicide in a very public location, with his wireless transmitter conveniently deposited at Cambridge railway station's Left Luggage counter. Could another spy have evaded MI5s capture and then committed suicide in a far less public location? There is always the intriguing Trow Ghyll skeleton mystery which leaves one wondering. While Yorkshire is quite a ways from Coventry and the normal stomping grounds of Germany's spies... one does wonder. There is also the case of the Spy in the Attic, near Liverpool. 
    • Perhaps the messages originated from a British-born spy, someone who didn't need to parachute into England and risk capture. Perhaps some Nazi-sympathizer had a secret wireless transmitter with which they sent messages to Germany. This is a bit of a stretch and raises many questions. Where would the transmitter have come from? How would the Germans know on which frequency to listen for the transmissions? What sort of code would the agent have used that was known to both him/her and the Germans?
    • Which leads us to Double Agent, or is it Triple Agent or Quadruple Agent, SNOW, a Welshman who had been recruited by the German Abwehr and then MI5 and then the Abwehr... SNOW was a difficult agent to manage, for both sides. MI5 and the Abwehr always had doubts about whose side SNOW was really on... although some have said that SNOW was always on the side of SNOW! Could SNOW have sent some clandestine messages without MI5's knowledge? CELERY (Walter Dicketts) was of the firm opinion that SNOW had another line of communication with the Abwehr (other than the wireless sanctioned by MI5 (West & Madoc, p.108). In March 1941, after SNOW's trip to Lisbon, MI5 considered the possibility that he was communicating with the Abwehr via a means of which MI5 was unaware (West & Madoc, p. 168). It thus isn't outside the realm of possibility.
Another unsolved mystery, and one that likely haunted MI5 as well. At least two, and likely three of the messages, seen by Josef could not be traced to any known Double Agent. Who could have sent those messages? Were they from Engelbertus Fukken? SNOW? Or another, undiscovered German agent?

One last caveat is in order... this is all based on the assumption that Josef was telling the truth - something that is hard to establish with any degree of certainty. But if he did tell the truth, we have an intriguing mystery.

National Archives - Secret Service files - KV 2/25 94b, KV 2/26 100b and 103a
SNOW - Nigel West & Robert Madoc - p. 107-108, 168.
Double Agent Snow - James Hayward.

16 October 2017

Was Josef Jakobs Jewish?

A few weeks ago, I had a question from one of the readers of this blog. The reader wanted to know why I never talk about Josef Jakobs being Jewish. That is actually a very good question! And one that I hope to answer in this blog.

Court Martial Statements
The idea that Josef was Jewish originated during his statement at his court martial on August 4th and 5th. Before Josef even reached the stand, his attorney, White was cross-examining Lt. Col. William Edward Hinchley Cooke.

White asked Hinchley-Cooke if he knew that Josef was of Jewish origin, Hinchley-Cooke said “No.” White then said that the name “Jakobs” was, of course, Jewish, but Hinchley-Cooke said “Not necessarily.” He said that while some Jakobs’ were Jews, he had met others who were Christians. White said that the accused’s grandfather was a Jew and that his grandmother was a Christian, and his parents were Christian, but that he did have a Jewish strand.

White asked if the fact that the accused’s grandfather was a Jew would make him non-Aryan in the eyes of the Nazis, but Hinchley-Cooke said not necessarily, otherwise, the accused would not have been promoted to a commissioned officer in the Great War. If he was Jewish, and if the Germans knew that he was of Jewish descent, then he would not have been given the commission in the 4th Foot Guards. When pressed, Hinchley-Cooke acknowledged that it might have happened, but it would have been unusual, as even during the Great War, the Germans were very strict with Jews.

When Josef was brought before the court to be questioned, he stated that he was not a member of the Nazi Party and, according to the Nuremberg Law, would be considered a non-Aryan because his grandfather was a Jew. His grandmother was a Christian, as was his mother, and he himself was Roman Catholic. He also referenced the fact that his father-in-law was Jewish.

The prosecuting attorney, A.A.H. Marlowe cross-examined Josef about his family. Josef acknowledged that he was married with three children and that his wife was not a Nazi, and that she had a Jewish step-father.

Note that in one instance, Josef says his "father-in-law" was Jewish and in another instance he has a "Jewish step-father". Given that there was a translator and a transcriptionist involved, this is likely a miscommunication. In actual fact, Josef's step-father-in-law (his wife's step-father) was Jewish.

On the second day of the court martial, during his summing up, White has this to say:
Perhaps the most important thing of all is that he is a Roman Catholic. I submit this detail has a ring of truth. He said that one of his objections to the Nazis was that he could not take his children to Church on Sunday mornings and that they had to go shooting. We all know the importance which the Roman Catholic attaches to the upbringing of his children. Does not that bear a ring of truth? Why invent that of all things ‘I cannot take my children to Church’. He is a non-Aryan. The whole story is full of Jews. His wife’s father-in-law, his own father [The transcript says “his wife’s father-in-law, his own father” but this could be a mistake by White or a mistake by the transcriptionist. In actual fact, it was his wife’s step-father which would have been Josef’s step-father-in-law who was Jewish. Josef never claimed that his "father" was Jewish.], his business associates, and the man with whom he was landed in prison in Switzerland. It is a Jewish circle. It does not require any evidence placed before this Court to tell you that the Jews hate the Nazis. It does not require any stretch of imagination to imagine a man of Jewish origin should have every reason to detest the members of that party.
 Marlowe, during his summing up notes:
He [has] apparently Jewish blood in him somewhere, to have a wife who is in some way connected with a Jewish relation...
As White noted earlier... Josef's story has a lot of Jewish threads running through it. In the early 1930s, he worked for a Jewish publishing house and later invested money with a Jewish stockbroker. In the mid-1930s, he and a Jewish man ran a gold counterfeiting operation in Switzerland... and spent time in prison there after being caught. In the late 1930s, Josef became involved in a black market venture that sold foreign passports to desperate Jews in Berlin... and he spent time in a concentration camp after being caught. Apparently, it was even a Jewish friend who suggested that Josef join the Abwehr. His wife's step-father was Jewish. Finally, he claimed that his grand-father was Jewish. This was an intriguing claim given that in all his previous statements to MI5, he never once played the "I'm Jewish" or "I'm not an Aryan" card. He always stated that he was a Roman Catholic. He was carrying a Catholic badge when he was first captured. In the days before his court martial, he requested that he be visited by a Catholic priest. He was ultimately buried in a Catholic cemetery. The court martial was the first time where Josef indicated that he might have Jewish blood in him. Was this the claim of a desperate man seeking to win the sympathy of the court martial tribunal? Possibly. Before we look at the validity of his claim, we need to take a look at the Nuremberg Laws that determined who was considered Jewish and who was considered Aryan in Nazi Germany.

Nuremberg Laws & Racial Classification
On September 15, 1935, the Nazi party passed two laws that would alter the face of Germany: Law for the Protection of German Blood & Honour and Reich Citizenship Law. According to the ideology of the Nazi party, racial purity was of critical importance for the future of the German nation. The Jewish race was seen as inferior to the Aryan race and needed to be expunged. The problem was... how did one determine who was Jewish and who was Aryan?

Over the centuries, Jews had integrated into German society. Some no longer practiced Judaism, others had married Christians or even converted to Christianity. To complicate matters, the Nazi party rejected the traditional idea that Jews were defined as members of a religious or cultural community. According to the Nazis, Jews were a race of people defined by birth and blood, even though there was no scientific basis for such a definition. So how to define a Jew?

The legislators of the Nazi party decided to use family genealogy to define race. They would look at the grandparents of an individual. Some hard-core Nazis wanted to go even farther back, up to the great-grandparents or great-great grandparents, but more moderate Nazis prevailed. Individuals with three or more grandparents born into the Jewish religious community were considered to be Jews by law. Their grandparents, born into a Jewish religious community, were considered to be "racially" Jewish. Their "racial" status was passed on to their children and grandchildren. This despite the fact that the Nazis ostensibly claimed to reject a racial definition based on religion. But they had to start somewhere... so it started with the grandparents.

Under the Reich Citizenship Law, Jews (those individuals with 3 or 4 Jewish grandparents) were not citizens but simply "subjects of the state". This law impacted tens of thousands of people who did not consider themselves Jewish and who might have no religious or cultural connections to the Jewish community. Even those people whose grandparents or parents converted from Judaism to Christianity could be considered Jewish. From one day to the next, these people were stripped of their citizenship and deprived of basic rights.

These laws naturally created a fair bit of confusion and several follow-up decrees were required to bring some clarity to the issue. On November 14, 1935, a supplement to the Nuremberg Laws of September 15, 1935 was issued. This supplement created the racial categories of:
  • Jew (3 or 4 Jewish grandparents)
  • Mischling - 1st Degree (half Jew - 2 Jewish grandparents)
  • Mischling - 2nd Degree (quarter Jew - 1 Jewish grandparent)
  • German (no Jewish grandparents)
According to Hitler, when someone was more than 50 percent Jewish, they were beyond the point of saving and were evil. While Mischlings (half-breeds) were not considered full-Jews, they still had certain rights curtailed, primarily whom they could marry. They could also be tipped into the "Jewish" category if they belonged to the Jewish religion or were married to a Jew. Even a Mischling of the 2nd Degree, if they looked or behaved Jewish, could be treated like a Jew and deported to a concentration camp.

After the laws were put into force:
  • Jews could only marry Jews or half-Jews
  • Half Jews could only marry Jews or other half-Jews
  • Quarter Jews could only marry Aryans
Interestingly enough, Hitler made sure that the legal definition of "Jewishness" excluded Jesus Christ and himself. While there was no concrete proof that Hitler was Jewish, his father was illegitimate and Hitler wanted to cover all of his bases.
Nuremberg Laws - racial classification chart
Nuremberg Laws - racial classification chart
If a Jewish person had married an Aryan person prior to September 15, 1935, they were afforded some protection and many were able to escape being sent to the concentration camps.

An excerpt from the November 14, 1935 supplement clearly states that "a grandparent is offhandedly considered fully Jewish if he has membership with the Jewish religious body":
Cf. §5 (1) "Jude ist, wer von mindestens drei der Rasse nach volljüdischen Großeltern abstammt. § 2 Abs.[atz] 2 Satz 2 findet Anwendung." (translated: A Jew is defined as one who descends from at least three (racially) fully Jewish grandparents. § 2 section 2 sentence 2 is applying.), whereas §2 (2) says: "Jüdischer Mischling ist, wer von einem oder zwei der Rasse nach volljüdischen Großelternteilen abstammt, sofern er nicht nach § 5 Abs.[atz] 2 als Jude gilt. Als volljüdisch gilt ein Großelternteil ohne weiteres, wenn er der jüdischen Religionsgemeinschaft angehört hat." (translated: A Jewish Mischling is defined as one who descends from one or two (racially) fully Jewish grandparents, unless he is considered a Jew in accordance with § 5 (2). A grandparent is offhandedly considered fully Jewish if he has membership with the Jewish religious body.), see: Erste Verordnung zum Reichsbürgergesetz vom 14. November 1935 (First ordinance on the Reich's Citizen Act of 14 November 1935)
These laws generated a huge upsurge in genealogical research in Germany. All of a sudden, one needed to be able to prove one's non-Jewish ancestry, at least up to the grandparent level. Church offices and courthouses saw a huge upsurge in people requesting their ancestral birth, baptismal, marriage, death and burial records. One can only imagine the anxiety with which people awaited the results of their ancestral lineage. It literally could mean the difference between life and death.

Josef Jakobs' Ancestral Lineage
If we return to Josef and his claim that one of his grandparents was Jewish, we now see that he would have been classified as a Mischling (half-breed) 2nd Degree. He was also a staunch Roman Catholic and it is unlikely that he would have been considered to "look" or "behave" like a Jew. Although... given his continuous brushes with the law, one could wonder if he would have been labelled "undesirable" from that perspective.

Ultimately, the real question is... was one of his grandparents Jewish? Detailed genealogical research by the author has uncovered an unbroken series of Catholic baptisms/marriages/burials in Josef's ancestral lineage, well into the 1600s. Josef's claim that one of his grandparents was Jewish is false. In all likelihood, he was playing the Jewish card in a bid to garner some sympathy at the court martial.

The claim that Josef Jakobs was Jewish is not accurate. This claim does not appear often in the literature and I am only aware of the 1999 article by the Jerusalem Post which claimed that Josef was Jewish. It is interesting that some articles will claim that Josef was Jewish while others will claim that he was an agent for the Gestapo. From one extreme to the other. Josef was neither Jewish nor a member of the Nazi Party's Secret State Police (Gestapo - Geheime Staatspolizei). He was an unlucky family man caught in the cogs of war.

Josef Jakobs Court-Martial File – August 4, 1941.

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum - Nuremberg Laws
Jewish Virtual Library - The Nuremberg Laws - Background & Overview
Jewish Virtual Library - Was Hitler Jewish?
Encyclopedia Britannica - Nürnberg Laws
Wikipedia - Mischling