28 September 2015

Another Clue in Tracing the Enigmatic Clara Bauerle

Tondokumente der Kleinkunst und ihre Interpreten:1898-1945(Berthold Leimbach)
Tondokumente der Kleinkunst
und ihre Interpreten:
(Berthold Leimbach)
A few weeks back, I tracked down a resource that possibly had fresh information on Clara Bäuerle.

If you recall, Clara is considered by some researchers to be a potential candidate for the mysterious Bella in the Wych Elm. Several online resources, however, indicate that Clara died in Berlin on 16 December, 1942. I've been trying to dig up information to substantiate that date.

This new resource: Tondokumente der Kleinkunst und ihre Interpreten: 1898-1945 (privately published by Berthold Leimbach in 1991) had a page on Clara Bäuerle, a portion of which was visible on Google Books.
Tondokumente der Kleinkunst - page on Clara Bauerle
Tondokumente der Kleinkunst - page on Clara Bauerle

This rather obscure book isn't available in North America, so I had a cousin track it down in the Staats Bibliothek zu Berlin (Berlin State Library). After much anticipation, my cousin sent me a scanned image of the relevant page.

The image shows:
  • Top left - brief biography of Clara.
  • Top right - the standard promotional photograph that Clara handed out at concerts. This is the same image that Josef Jakobs had in his possession.
  •  Bottom part of the page is a discography of Clara Bauerle's recordings, which I had already tracked down through other means.
Soooo... what does the biography actually say? Good question.

The German reads:
Bäuerle, Claire
Als Hedwig Clara Bauerle am 27. August 1905 in Ulm geboren. Die frühen Jahre liegen im Dunklen, erst 1936 taucht sie als Schauspielerin am Stadttheater Gera auf. Es folgen Engagements in Landsberg (1937) und Pforzheim (1938). 1939 und 1941 wird ihr Name in den Bühnenjahrbüchern noch einmal erwähnt, dann nicht mehr. Bekannt geworeden ist Claire Bäuerle wohl auch eher als Sängerin (Altistin) des berühmten Orchesters von Bernhard Etté. Auch der Film holte sie sich.
Bäuerle, Claire
Born as Hedwig Clara Bauerle on 27 August 1905 in Ulm. The early years lie in darkness; she first surfaced in 1936 as an actress at the Gera City Theatre. There followed engagements in Landsberg (1937) and Pforzheim (1938). In 1939 and 1941 her name appeared one last time in the Theatre Yearbooks but nothing after that. Claire Bäuerle became most well known as a singer (contralto) with the famous Bernhard Ette Orchestra. She also appeared in movies.
Tondokumente der Kleinkunst - biography on Clara Bauerle
Tondokumente der Kleinkunst - biography on Clara Bauerle
Alas, no mention of her death but... it would appear that her full name was Hedwig Clara Bäuerle, a very interesting clue.

While MI5 was investigating Josef Jakobs' association with Clara Bäuerle, they tried to determine if she had ever been to the United Kingdom.

They found a German named Klara Sofie Bäuerle, born on June 29, 1906; arrived in the United Kingdom in October, 1930; left Warwickshire for Germany at some unknown date.  The Central Register of Aliens had been notified of her departure on June 21, 1932.

From this, it would appear that Hedwig Clara Bäuerle and Klara Sofie Bäuerle were two very separate individuals. There is no evidence that Clara Bauerle traveled to the United Kingdom during the 1930s.

As for the author of the Tondokumente book - he appears to have passed away in the 2000s.

23 September 2015

German Spy, Josef Jakobs breaks into the world of Fiction

His Majesty's Hope - Susan Elia MacNeal  (from Amazon.com)
His Majesty's Hope - Susan Elia MacNeal
(from Amazon.com)
Josef Jakobs has broken into the world of fiction. Susan Elia MacNeal, an American novelist, has written a mystery series that features heroine Maggie Hope. Maggie swirls through the espionage corners of Britain. In His Majesty's Hope, Maggie takes on an undercover mission behind enemy lines in Germany. While Maggie is tip-toeing through the minefield of Nazi Germany, a dialogue takes place in London between a man named Hugh and John Cecil Masterman (chairman of MI5's XX Committee):


“What about those who won’t turn?” Hugh asked. He knew about one captured German spy in particular, Josef Jakobs, who had parachuted into Ramsey in Huntingdonshire in January. Jakobs had been picked up by the Home Guard, who found that he’d broken his ankle when he landed. When arrested, he was still wearing his flying suit and carrying forged papers, a radio, British pounds, and a German sausage.

“He was tried in camera and found guilty under the Treachery Act of 1940. He was sentenced and executed by firing squad in the Tower of London only a week or so ago.”

“I see,” Hugh said.

“One of the other captured spies, hearing of Jakobs’s fate, has proved much more amenable. We’ve been able to persuade him to work as a double agent for us.” Masterman grimaced. “The key word to remember with double agents is disinformation. We feed them disinformation to send back to their contacts at Abwehr in Berlin. However—and this is a big however—we must also include some true information, to make the false seem credible. So it’s a game, really. A very, very high-stakes game.”

A seagull flying overhead shrieked. “Yes, sir.”

“Our prisoner’s a German, name of Stefan Krueger. You’ll be working with him.”


Published in 2013, it's nice to see that the author has given a relatively accurate, albeit brief, portrayal of Josef Jakobs. The implication that Josef "won't be turned" isn't entirely accurate. On February 2, Josef accepted MI5's demands to work against the Germans, but his long hospitalization and the public nature of his capture meant they couldn't use him. But... it's fiction, as is the Stefan Krueger character. Overall readers give it 4.4 out of 5 stars on Amazon. Seems like it might be worth a read.

18 September 2015

Red Herrings in the hunt for German Spy, Josef Jakobs

Asparagus and Flying Aces - these are the two red herrings that can lead one astray in a search for information on Josef Jakobs. Google Search is a wonderful tool but it doesn't always return the best search results. There are tips and tricks that you can use to improve the search results. First, one must realize that Josef Jakobs/Jacobs is a fairly common name in Germany and the Netherlands. Fortunately, search results generally return only the more "famous" results.

Josef Jakobs - Spargelhof
Josef Jakobs - Spargelhof
One of the primary red herrings in the hunt for Josef Jakobs is a place near Berlin called "Josef Jakobs - Spargelhof" - essentially "Josef Jakobs - Asparagus-farm".

Back in 1996, some entrpeneurs purchased a rundown Bauernhof (farmyard) near Beelitz and transformed it into a mecca for asparagus lovers.

A quick perusal of their menu reveals that everything is made with asparagus. Here in Canada, the "good" aspargus is pencil-thin and green. But in Germany, spring is Spargel-Zeit... and it is thick, short and white. Just to be clear... this place has nothing to do with Josef Jakobs, the German spy.
Josef Jacobs - Flying Ace
Josef Carl Peter Jacobs
WWI Flying Ace
(from Wikipedia)

The other red herring that crops up on occasion is a World War I flying ace named Josef Carl Peter Jacobs. Born in 1894, this Josef Jacobs was one of Germany's premier World War I pilots. He amassed 48 victories (tied for 4th place amongst Germany's flying aces). During World War 2, Josef Jacobs joined the Luftwaffe Reserve but declined an invitation to join the Nazi Party. He ended up moving his company to The Netherlands in a bid to avoid the Nazis. After the war, Josef Jacobs moved to Bavaria where he eventually passed away in 1978. Needless to say, this Josef Jacobs also had nothing to do with German spy, Josef Jakobs.

So, how does one filter out search results in Google Search to have less Flying Aces and Asparagus? Fairly easy... Google Search uses something called Boolean operators to help improve search results. Before you freak out - Boolean operators are just a way to tell Google to use AND OR and NOT in searching. Here are a few examples:

Use double quotes to encapsulate a phrase or word to force Google to search for that:
  • instead of searching for Josef Jakobs (370,000 results)
  • search for "Josef Jakobs" inside double quotes (15,900 results)
  • instead of josef jakobs ramsey (5600 results)
  • search for "josef jakobs" "ramsey" (692 results)
Use minus signs to force Google to exclude certain words/phrases

  • instead of josef jakobs
  • search for "josef jakobs" -"spargelhof"
  • this will force Google to search for Josef Jakobs while excluding all references to Spargelhof
I find that these options usually work best when single words are enclosed in double quotes as well - consistency is key
  • don't do this: "josef jakobs" london - spargelhof
  • do this "josef jakobs" "london" -"spargelhof"

Google Search is a pretty smart tool but these tricks just gives you a bit more control over the results that you want to see. It can take some getting used to but once you've got it down, it'll become second nature.

09 September 2015

Retracing the Footsteps of German Spy, Josef Jakobs

During his time in England, Josef was held, or taken to, various locations in Cambridgeshire and London. In the interests of clarity, I have created a Google Map with these locations marked on it.

If you follow the link to the map, you'll find that it is interactive. Zoom in and click on the various markings for a bit of information about each location and how it played a role in Josef's case. I'll be updating the map on occasion and probably extending it to Continental Europe.

Retracing the Footsteps of German spy, Josef Jakobs Image of the Google Map.
Retracing the Footsteps of German spy, Josef Jakobs
Image of the Google Map.

04 September 2015

Book Review - Foul Deeds and Suspicious Deaths in and around the Fens - Glenda Goulden - 2008

The Book
Foul Deeds and Suspicious Deaths in and around the Fens; Glenda Goulden; Wharncliffe Books, Barnsley, South Yorkshire. 2008.

Every once in a while, I come across a "true crime" book that makes me shudder, not because of the gory crime scenes but because of the poor research. This is one such book.

First,a confession, I did not read the entire book, only Chapter 14 in which the author relates the dramatic capture of two sets of German spies in the fens of Cambridgeshire.

The first story purports to tell the tale of Wulf Schmidt (later double-agent TATE). Apparently a Home Guard Volunteer met two men in Danish uniform walking along a road near Willingham. He gave them directions to the village but was uneasy about their story. The authorities were contacted and guards from nearby RAF Oakington arrived to take the two men into custody. One man hung himself at Oakington while the other (Schmidt), was found to be a reluctant spy during interrogation at Oakington. He quickly caved and agree to become a double-agent.

Nope, sorry, none of that is accurate. Schmidt landed alone and was apparently an ardent Nazi who only broke under intense interrogation at Latchmere House. He had been preceded by his friend and fellow spy, Gosta Caroli, who had landed several weeks earlier. Schmidt learned that Caroli had already betrayed him and decided to tell the English everything.

The author next turns her attention to Josef Jakobs. On the morning of February 1, two farmers heard shots coming from a clump of trees. Again, not true. The nearest trees to Josef's landing place were several hundred metres away. They found a man lying on the ground holding a Luger pistol (it was actually a Mauser pistol). According to the author, Josef was an ardent Nazi who never made a plea for mercy. Again, not true. On February 2, Josef agreed to work as a double-agent for the English, but his long hospitalization, plus the public nature of his capture, meant that the English dismissed him as a candidate.

This book was accessed via Google Books so the Bibliography was not visible. Clearly the author has relied on out-of-date reference material.

Review Score
1 out of 5 - At least for Chapter 14 - I can't speak for the historical accuracy of the remainder of the book.