23 March 2019

Mystery Spy GOOSE/GANDER - Kurt Goose

Every once in a while, I chip away at lingering mysteries. A recent email exchange with Tony Percy (www.coldspur.com) about Kurt/Karl Grosse/Goose reignited my curiosity about this mysterious spy.

I wrote an earlier blog post about his capture and short-lived career as a double agent but there are still many unanswered questions.

One of the primary ones is... what was this guy's real name? I did some digging in Ancestry, trying various combinations of his name and birth year (1911). Eventually, after many (many) dead ends, I came across this...
Bremen passenger list entry for Kurt Goose
Bremen passenger list entry for Kurt Goose
It's a passenger list record from Die Maus website (Bremen passenger lists). A German gentleman named Kurt Goose departed Bremen on 1 August 1936, bound for New York and ultimately Berkeley CA where he was a student at the University of California. Kurt was 25 years old (born around 1911), single and living in Berlin. His relative was his mother, R. Goose of Hohenzollerndamm 91, Berlin.

This looks pretty promising. From other information in the MI5 files, we do know that Kurt was born in 1911 in Berlin, and that he studied geology in the 1930s at the University of California.

I did a bit more digging on the Berlin address books website. The address of Hohenzollerndamm 91 would be in Schmargendorf (southwest of Wilmersdorf) and the address books website helpfully allows one to search by address. Which yielded this.... A widow, R. Goose living at Hohenzollerndamm 91.
Berlin address book entry for Hohenzollerndamm 91, Schmargendorf, Berlin with entry for R. Goose, widow
1936 Berlin address book entry for Hohenzollerndamm 91, Schmargendorf, Berlin
with entry for R. Goose, widow
I jumped forward to 1939 and had a look at Hohenzollerndamm 91 but... no Goose at that address for that year. Searching by last name yielded this:
1939 Berlin address book entry for Goose, Rose, widow, living at Kronbergerstrasse 26
1939 Berlin address book entry for Goose, Rose, widow, living at Kronbergerstrasse 26
This could be Kurt Goose's mother again, Rose Goose, a widow living at Kronbergerstrasse 26 (just around the corner from Hohenzollerndamm 91). She is a Generaldir[ktor?]. [I've had an email subsequent to this blog being posted, from Traugott Vitz, who suggests that as a widow, Rose would have kept the title of her husband (Generaldirektor) as it would have been quite extraordinary for that time period if the title referred to Rose].

Another version of a Berlin address book from Ancestry, has this entry for 1938:
1938 Berlin address book entry for Rosa Goose
1938 Berlin address book entry for Rosa Goose
Likely the same woman given the address. However, in the 1939 address book available on Ancestry, it looks like Rosa has moved to Grunewald. And continued to lived there in 1940 and 1941. The phone number stayed the same:
1939 Berlin address book for Rosa Goose (from Ancestry)
1939 Berlin address book for Rosa Goose (from Ancestry)
But... by 1942... there is no Rosa Goose listed in the Berlin address books. And a search by street name yields no Goose living at Egerstrasse 1 in Grunewald
1942 Berlin address book for surname Goose
1942 Berlin address book for surname Goose
The trail runs cold... at least for Rosa Goose.

Another form of digging, this one for Kurt Goose, yielded the following gold nuggets of information from the University of California, Register 1936-37, Volume II.

On page 137, there is an entry for Kurt Karl Goose, in the list of graduate students for U.C. Berkeley.

Extract from list of Graduate Students at University of California (Berkeley) 1936-1937, page 137
entry for Kurt Karl Goose
On page 414, of the same volume, there is a supplementary list which has his name again.
Extract from Supplementary List of Students at University of California (Berkeley) 1936-37, page 414  entry for Kurt Karl Goose
Extract from Supplementary List of Students at University of California (Berkeley) 1936-37, page 414
entry for Kurt Karl Goose
It would seem that this is pretty good proof that our friend GANDER was Kurt Karl Goose, born in Berlin, who studied Geology at the University of California (likely Berkeley). One mystery solved...

[Thanks to Traugott Vitz for contributing some suggestions on Rose Goose and her address book entries!]

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