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Showing posts from July, 2014

Josef Jakobs - A Victim of the Treachery Act - Part 3

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During World War II, several individuals were charged under the Treachery Act. The vast majority of them were found guilty and executed. A few escaped with their lives. Remember that during the House of Commons discussion on May 22, 1940, the Members of Parliament were told that the Treachery Act would only be applied in serious and grave cases of espionage and sabotage. They were also reassured that the death penalty was not necessarily a given as offenders could be charged jointly under the Treachery Act and the Defence Regulations (2A & 2B). The First Four Spies In early September 1940, four spies landed from two rowboats along the Kent coast. All four were quickly captured, imprisoned and eventually charged under the Treachery Act. They were tried in a civilian court in late November 1940. Their circumstances were all slightly different. Jose Waldberg (German) had managed to set up his transmitter on the beach and actually sent a message back to Germany. He was found gui

Josef Jakobs - A Victim of the Treachery Act - Part 2

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Old House of Commons - was destroyed by German bombs in 1941 (from Wikipedia) Josef Jakobs was charged under the Treachery Act of 1940. Prior to its promulgation, suspected spies and saboteurs could be charged under the Official Secrets Act or the Defence Regulations, neither of which offered the death penalty as a punishment. On May 22 and May 23, the Treachery Act bill was rushed through the House of Commons and the House of Lords before receiving Royal Assent. Treachery Act in the House of Commons, May 22, 1940 When the House of Commons was presented with the Treachery Act on 22 May, 1940, there was a fair amount of discussion surrounding its implementation. While the vast majority of MPs supported the implementation of the Act, there were several MPs who had concerns about the Act and raised their voices in courageous protest. Eleanor Rathbone Miss Eleanor Rathbone (Combined English Universities) questioned the mandatory death sentence. She wanted to know what

Josef Jakobs: A Victim of the Treachery Act, 1940 - Part 1

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German spy Josef Jakobs was charged under the Treachery Act, 1940, tried by court martial and executed by firing squad on 15 August 1941. In total, 16 spies were executed within England during World War 2 under the Treachery Act, yet many others were spared. What was the Treachery Act and how did it come to pass? Emergency Powers (Defence) Bill In August 1939, with war looming on the horizon, Britain passed the Emergency Powers (Defence) Bill. The Bill allowed the government to do whatever it felt was necessary to pursue the war effectively on the Home Front. A Loop-Hole The Bill did not include any provision for the death penalty should anyone breach the Defence Regulations with intent to assist the enemy. At the time, it was thought that any such acts could best be dealt with under the Treason Act of 1351. It was only later that the government decided that the Treason Act was far too antiquated and cumbersome to handle potential espionage or sabotage cases in the modern war (al

Book Review - Camp 020 by Col Robin Stephens, editted by Oliver Hoare

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Camp 020: MI5 and the Nazi Spies (book cover) The Book Camp 020: MI5 and the Nazi Spies, Lt Col. R.W.G. Stephens, introduced and edited by Oliver Hoare, Public Record Office, 2000. Review This book might not be what you would expect, in that it is not a "book" per se. In the 1990s, MI5 declassified a document entitled A Digest of Ham written by Lt. Col. R.W.G. Stephens, the former commandant of Ham (a.k.a. Camp 020). The document forms the core of this book, prefaced by an introduction to World War II espionage and the Double Cross system by Oliver Hoare. While the introduction is quite readable, the document by Stephens is sometimes a challenge, particularly the section on case histories. After a while, all of the case histories begin to sound the same. Part of the challenge is Stephens' unique writing style. Stephens was known as a ferocious, xenophobic interrogator with a flair for the dramatic. His comments about Camp 020 inmates are liberally peppered with

Film Review (Part 2) - Tales from the Tower (2001) by Ardent Productions

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The Film Tales from the Tower was released in 2001 by Ardent Productions, a film company based in England. It was produced for the American market and aired on The Learning Channel. Producers: Robin Bextor, Edward Wessex (also known as Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex), Larry Lamb and Peter Koper. Directors: Paul Bryers and Robin Bextor. Writers: Daniel Diehl and Mark P. Donnelly (who later published a book with the same title in 2004). N.B. This video should not be confused with the National Geographic production, Bloody Tales from the Tower, released in 2012, which was an excellent production. Review For the transcript and video, please go here . The section on Jakobs was about 15 minutes long, and from start to finish, was exceedingly aggravating to watch. Inaccuracies abounded, and the entire account was fictionalized and dramatized so as to be virtually unrecognizable from historical fact. While the MI5 interrogation files had not yet been released at the time that

Film Review (Part 1) - Tales from the Tower (2001) by Ardent Productions

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The Film Tales from the Tower was released in 2001 by Ardent Productions, a film company based in England. It was produced for the American market and aired on The Learning Channel. Producers: Robin Bextor, Edward Wessex (also known as Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex), Larry Lamb and Peter Koper. Directors: Paul Bryers and Robin Bextor. Writers: Daniel Diehl and Mark P. Donnelly (who later published a book with the same title in 2004). N.B. This video should not be confused with the National Geographic production, Bloody Tales from the Tower, released in 2012, which was an excellent production. Background The three-part documentary series did not receive favourable reviews. This was not altogether surprising given that Ardent Productions had a reputation in the British independent film industry as a "sad-joke" ( The Guardian ). Shortly after In 2002, Prince Edward resigned from the company and in 2009, Ardent Productions liquidated its assets. Investors