23 November 2015

Pathologist Spilsbury's Notes at the Wellcome Library

Wellcome Library Reading Room
Wellcome Library Reading Room
After Josef Jakobs was executed on 15 August, 1941, his post mortem was conducted by two men: London Eastern District Coroner W.R.H. Heddy and renowned pathologist Sir Bernard Spilsbury. Both men likely took meticulous notes but trying to track those notes down has proved to be a wild goose chase.

In 2008 and 2009, a portion of Spilsbury's case notes, which he had transcribed onto index cards, were acquired by the Wellcome Library in London. The library is "one of the world's major resources for the study of medical history... and offer a growing collection of material relating to contemporary medicine and biomedical science in society". The index cards, about 7000 in total, contain just a fraction of Spilsbury's case notes. There are some temporal gaps but... it was worth a shot.

Sir Bernard Spilsbury - Index Cards (From Wellcome Library Blog)
Sir Bernard Spilsbury - Index Cards
(From Wellcome Library Blog)
In 2012, I visited the Wellcome Library in the hopes that the case notes might include an index card on Josef's post mortem.

The cards were slightly more organized than when the Wellcome Library acquired them. There were 25 boxes of index cards, arranged by date.

In reviewing the August 1941 index cards, I came across the cards for Werner Walti and Karl Theodore Druecke, two spies who were hanged at Wandsworth Prison on August 6, 1941. There was, however, no card on Josef Jakobs. This may be due to the fact that his execution was shrouded in secrecy.

The other option was case notes by Eastern District coroner W.R.H. Heddy. Those notes were not, however, held by the Wellcome Library, but by the London Metropolitan Archives. Coming up in the next post.

18 November 2015

Exporter of Stockings & Spies - Captain Julius Jacob Boeckel

What does it take to become a spymaster? What are the qualifications? For the German Intelligence Service (Abwehr) in 1940, the answer would have been, "Not much". We've already heard a bit about Major Nikolaus Adolf Fritz Ritter. He was hired by the German Abwehr in 1937 to run spy rings in the United States and England. His major qualification? He could speak American English. Ritter had spent over a decade in the United States, dabbling in various ventures and employment opportunities. He was a businessman with no actual spy training.

In 1939 and 1940, the German Abwehr began to expand their operations. Ritter was stationed at the Abwehr offices in Hamburg where he was involved in gathering information about the air forces and air operations of the United States and England. He needed some help. Did he hire someone with espionage experience? Nope. He hired a businessman.

13 November 2015

The German Spymaster and the Alabama Schoolteacher

Researching the life Josef Jakobs has led me down some very interesting side paths. I have come across many interesting characters whose lives intersected with that of Josef. Some were friends. Many were foes. Some were both. When Josef was recruited into the Abwehr (the German Intelligence Service) in 1940, he brushed shoulders with spymaster Nikolaus Adolf Fritz Ritter.

There is a bit of information about Nikolaus Ritter, a.k.a. Dr. Rantzau available online, but quite a bit more resides in some of the National Archives files in Kew.

Nikolaus Adolf Fritz Ritter

Ritter was born on January 8, 1899, in the town of Rheydt, a suburb of Mönchengladbach in the Rhineland. His parents were Nikolaus Josef Ritter and Käthe Hellhoff. Ritter's family clearly moved quite a bit during his childhood. Ritter attended the Volksschule (elementary school) in Bad Bederkesa in Lower Saxony from 1905 to 1910. From 1911 to 1914, Ritter attended the Klostergymnasium in Flensburg, just south of the border with Denmark. He finished his education at the Domgynasium in Verden an der Aller, southwest of Bremen. After making his Abitur, Ritter enlisted with the German Imperial Army. He was assigned to the 162nd Infantry Regiment and served on the Western Front. Wounded twice, Ritter was promoted to Lieutenant in June, 1918.

09 November 2015

Magazine Article Review - After the Battle Magazine - Volume 100

After the Battle Magazine - No.100  (From After the Battle website)
After the Battle Magazine - No. 100
(From After the Battle website)

The Magazine Article
From the Editor, After the Battle, volume 100, Battle of Britain Prints International Ltd., 1998, page 23.

A very brief paragraph noted that the chair in which Josef Jakobs had been executed had been placed on display at the Royal Armouries in Leed. Included a photograph of the chair in a glass case.

Since then, the chair has been moved to the Royal Armouries at the Tower of London. It is on permanent display in the White Tower.

Review Score
N/A - just a brief note on the chair of execution.

04 November 2015

Magazine Article Review - After the Battle Magazine - Volume 80

After the Battle Magazine - No.80  (From After the Battle website)
After the Battle Magazine - No.80
(From After the Battle website)

The Magazine Article
From the Editor, After the Battle, volume 80, Battle of Britain Prints International Ltd., 1993, page 2.

A brief mention of my trip to London in 1991.

Winston Ramsey, editor of After the Battle Magazine, kindly took me on tours of Latchmere House, the Duke of York's Headquarters, the Tower of London and St. Mary's Roman Catholic Cemetery in Kensal Green.

Review Score
N/A - just a brief note, along with a photograph taken in St. Mary's Cemetery.