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Showing posts from June, 2016

The Lost Files of Abwehr Ast X

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Digging up information on the activities of World War II secret services is challenging because... well... a lot of the documents were/are secret!

The British MI5 files have been slowly released to the public domain over the last 15 years, which has been extremely helpful in researching the German spies, including Josef Jakobs.

But what about the files of MI5's German counterpart - the German Intelligence Service a.k.a. Nachrichtendienst a.k.a The Abwehr?

Good question. The answers range from: files were destroyed by Abwehr staff as the Allies invaded; files were destroyed through Allies bombing; files have gone missing; files are buried in the German Military Archives; files are buried in the National Archives in Washington DC. It's enough to give researchers pounding headaches.

Let's start near the beginning... or at least... a beginning. Back in 1971/72, three books were published about World War II espionage activities: one by one by a German, one by a Briton and one b…

Abwehr Locales in Hamburg

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Hamburg has proved to be a stubborn nut to crack. Very stubborn. During the last few years of writing this blog, I've been tackling various locales, people and objects, trying to deepen my own understanding of the role they played in the story of German spy, Josef Jakobs. Most of my blogs have focused on the English side of things, mostly because it has been easier to dig up information on those places and/or people.

I've tried several times to dig up info on some of the Hamburg hotels/restaurants/meeting places that the 1940/41 spies and Abwehr officers would have frequented. On the whole, the internet rebuffed my efforts. Given that Hamburg was bombed to smithereens in the latter stages of the war, this might not be altogether unsurprising. Maybe some of those locations ceased to exist?

But... last week, whilst researching the Beautiful Vera, I redoubled my efforts to crack the Hamburg nut... and met with some success. Here, then, are the results of my research:

Abwehr Headqu…

Tales of the Spies - The Mysterious and Beautiful Vera

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In late September, 1940, three spies landed on the Banffshire coast in a rubber dinghy. Dropped off by a flying boat from Norway, the two men and one woman would not remain undiscovered for very long.

François de Deeker (real name Karl Theodore Drücke) and Vera Eriksen (a.k.a. Vera von Schalburg, Vera von Stein, Vera de Cottani de Chalbur, Vera von Wedel, Vera Staritzky) were apprehended in a local train station. Werner Walti (real name Robert Petter) made it as far as Edinburgh before he too was arrested.

Drücke and Petter were virtually unbreakable, even by MI5's expert interrogator Tin-Eye Stephens. They were hanged in early August 1941 at Wandsworth Prison.

The story of their accomplice, Vera, is more convoluted. She was never prosecuted, a mystery which has baffled historians for decades. Was it because she was a woman? Because she had given birth to the illegitimate child of a member of upper crust English society? Because she had cooperated with MI5 and become an informer?…

Tales of the Spies - Double Agents

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If there's one thing I've learned in researching the story of Josef Jakobs, it's that sometimes you have to go sideways in order to go forwards. I've hit a lot of brick walls in my years of research, and oftentimes have experienced a breakthrough by focusing my research elsewhere.

One of the obvious sideways alternatives is the stories of the other World War 2 spies, both those who became double agents, and those who paid the ultimate price.

In the first group, the double agents, there are several who stand out. SNOW, TATE, SUMMER, MUTT, JEFF. Their stories were contemporaneous with that of Josef's and, in some cases, touched on his case directly.


The story of SNOW has been written many times. One of the primary books is that by Madoc Roberts & Nigel West and the other is a very readable version by James Hayward.

The saga of TATE has been written by a couple of Swedish writers, Tommy Jonason and Simon Olsson. There is some controversy surrounding this book fro…