18 September 2017

Mysterious Notebook referenced in Camp 020 Interrogations

A couple of blogs ago, I introduced another notebook mystery from the files of German spy, Josef Jakobs. During his court martial on August 4 and 5, 1941, Josef was presented with a notebook, contained in a wallet, which apparently contained dates, times and locations of possible assignations with other German agents.

KV 2/27 - National Archives Notebook presented at Josef Jakobs' court martial.
KV 2/27 - National Archives
Notebook presented at Josef Jakobs'
court martial.
I initially thought this topic would be one blog but... as I delved deeper into the details of the story, the blog kept getting longer (and longer). The threads of the tale have taken me into the files of TATE as well as Jan Willem Ter Braak and opened up some intriguing possibilities. But, I digress... in the first blog, I ended with four questions:
  1. Tracking the Notebook - Where did the notebook come from as it does not appear on any of the detailed lists that itemized the articles found on Josef?
  2. Camp 020 Interrogations - Why was Josef never interrogated about the times/dates/locations for covert "assignations" during his many months at Camp 020?
  3. Contents of Notebook - What was actually written in the notebook and were the three locales (Zoological Gardens, Derby Station, Oxford Street and Edgar Road) actually in London?
  4. Assignation Candidates - Who might have shown up at those dates/times/locations to rendezvous with Josef?
In the last blog, I tracked the notebook, as best as we can at this stage of the game. We do know that there is a notebook in Josef's court martial exhibits file (KV 2/27). What we still don't know is where it came from since it is mentioned in none of the possessions with which Josef arrived in England.

The next question... Why was Josef never interrogated about the contents of the notebook during his time at Camp 020?
2. Camp 020 Interrogation
Given how thoroughly Major Stephens and his crew interrogated Josef from February 2 to July 23, 1941, it is rather surprising that they never questioned him about the notebook. This is understandable, however, when one realizes that the notebook was not included in any of the lists that documented the possessions and objects which were discovered upon Josef at the time of his capture and arrest. The officers at Camp 020 simply did not know that there was a notebook with suspicious information that could be an interrogation topics.

There is, however, one passing reference to a notebook in the KV 2/25 file - folios 96b and 96c. On June 23, 1941, Lt. George F. Sampson was interrogating Josef about his time in Hamburg and The Hague.
"Asked the address of the Dienststelle at Hamburg, JAKOBS said it was in General Knochenhauerstrasse and he believed the telephone number to be 221692. When he asked for this number, the reply was "Generalkommando", and he then asked for Dr. Beier. JAKOBS stated that MALTEN gave him the telephone number of the Diesnststelle at The Hague, and he said that he believed he had put it down in a small notebook that he brought with him."
Sampson must have perked up his ears at news of this notebook, one that might contain the contact information of the Abwehr offices in Hamburg and/or The Hague. But... at the bottom of his report, Sampson noted: "There was no notebook among JAKOBS' effects."

Memos began to fly and the next day, Josef was hauled back in for another session with Lt. Sampson.

"JAKOBS was asked about the notebook referred to in the interrogation of 23.6.41.

He said this was a small note block, which he thought was in his wallet together with the identity cards, etc. In addition to the telephone number of the Hague Dienststelle, he had also noted some (?) private particulars regarding questions which his wife had asked him in letters. He strenuously denied having destroyed this block and said that if it was not amongst his possessions, he must have put it by mistake in the suitcase which he left behind at the Hague."
On June 27, 1941, H.P. Milmo sent a short memo to Captain Stimson, administrator of Camp 020.
"We have never seen the scribbling pad referred to by JAKOBS, and there is no record of it in the list of his property."
Thank you Mr. Milmo, we have come to the same conclusion as well. There is no record of the notebook in Josef's possessions. The interrogation of June 23, 1941, is the first time it is mentioned and, after this short flurry of follow-up interrogation by Sampson and memo from Milmo, there is no further mention of it. And yet, one month later, it was being added to the list of exhibits for Josef's court martial. Which is baffling to say the least. Some possibilities come to mind:
  1. The notebook had fallen out of the wallet during Josef's initial search by the Home Guard and lain undetected in the potato field at Dove House Farm. Once MI5 knew to look for it, it was found in the field.
    Very unlikely. The condition of the notebook is pristine and it has obviously spent no time in the outdoors.
  2. The notebook fell out during the transfer from Dove House Farm to Ramsey Police Station and lay undetected in whatever sack or box had been used to gather Josef's possessions. Upon learning of its possible existence, MI5 made inquiries with the Ramsey Police and the notebook was discovered.
    A rather unlikely scenario although not outside the realms of possibility. The list of possessions compiled by the Ramsey Police is the first definitive list and the notebook does not appear on this list. Clearly, it must have been misplaced before they drew up their list.
  3. One of the farmers and/or Home Guard members pocketed the notebook as a seemingly "innocent" souvenir. Or perhaps, one of them just pocketed it by mistake during the confusion of searching Josef and gathering up his possessions.
    This is possible but, one would think that there would be some record in the KV 2 files of MI5s search for this missing piece of evidence. And subsequent prosecution of the farmer/Home Guard Volunteer?
  4. The notebook was in the brown leather wallet all along and the Ramsey Police missed it, along with Robertson and all the other MI5 officers who handled the wallet (Marriott, Butler, Milmo, etc.).
    This seems rather doubtful given the thoroughness with which MI5 handled the possessions of spies. They were always looking for hidden compartments where secret writing materials or contact addresses in Lisbon might be secreted.
  5. Josef had hidden the notebook in his clothing during the night before his capture and it was not found in any of the searches of his person and/or clothing.
    Possible although Josef's clothing was thoroughly searched. Had he ripped open a seam and hidden it between the lining and the cloth, that would have attracted notice as well. Perhaps. We do know that Josef hid two small photographs in the lining of his coat so... it is possible that this notebook could have gone undetected as well. Although Josef swore that the notebook had been in his wallet.
  6. Josef acquired the notebook at Camp 020 (contraband from another inmate?) and wrote out suspicious-looking times/dates/locations in order that it might appear that he had been sent to meet another spy. He may have hoped that MI5 would then extend his life in order to set up a meeting between Josef and the mysterious agent.
    I admit this is a bit of a stretch, but Josef was in conversation with Richter and would have heard from him about the times/dates/locations for Richter's planned meetings with TATE. Josef may have decided that a copycat method might serve him well. And yet, the notebook was introduced as evidence at Josef's court martial, implying that MI5 believed that he had had it in his possession when he landed in England.
  7. Other possibilities? (Any suggestions gratefully accepted - either email or through a comment on this blog).
There is a gap of a month between June 23 and July 23 (1941) during which the notebook went from being "missing" to being "found". There are no further mentions of the notebook, nor its contents, in the KV 2 files on Josef Jakobs. Once it was found, it is quite likely that Stephens and Sampson would have interrogated Josef in more detail about it and its contents. If Josef was as up front with them as he was at the court martial, they may have wondered who he was to meet. Was it one of their Double Agents? Was it an unknown agent?

Before we take a look at possible conspirators, the next blog will examine the contents of the notebook (at last!).

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