Posts

Showing posts from September, 2018

The German Spy and the Russian-Jewish Chessmaster

Image
It always amazes me, the tangential relationships I discover that touch on the Josef Jakobs story.

On 13 June 1941, during an interrogation with Camp 020 officer, Lt. George F. Sampson, Josef mentioned that:
Dr. Paul List, a Russian Jew who immigrated to Germany, can confirm that I am anti-Nazi. List is a professional chess player and owned a club in the Café Berlin in the Kurfürstendamm in 1931 and then later a club in the Café Trumpf. (The National Archives, KV 2/25, no. 94b) A few months ago, I did a bit more digging on the mystery Dr. Paul List, just to see if the guy existed and if there was any truth to Josef's story. Here's what I found...

Dr. Paul List
Paul (Pavel) M. (Odes) List was born 6 December 1887 to Jewish parents in Memel (Klaipeda) Lithuania. Paul lived in Lithuania and apparently studied at the Wilna University until 1908, when he moved to Odessa, Ukraine to study at Odessa University.

Paul was already a respected chess player and contributed to the revival …

Robin W.G. Stephens and the Wana Column (1920-1921)

Image
I have written a series of blog posts about Robin W. G. Stephens as he played a pivotal role in the Josef Jakobs story as commandant of Camp 020 interrogation centre. A couple of months ago I had a fascinating email exchange with Nick Hinton, a former commander of the 2nd Gurkha Regiment, and now involved with The Royal Gurkha Rifles Regimental Association (RGRRA). Hinton has been researching the story of Robin W.G. Stephens who, before becoming involved with Camp 020 during World War 2, served with the Gurkhas the late 1910s and early 1920s.

From Stephens' biography on the Frontier Medals site, we know that, on 15 April 1919, he was commissioned into the the 2nd Battalion of the 2nd Gurkha Rifles as a Second Lieutenant. That same bio notes that on 12 June 1920 (after being promoted to Lieutenant), Stephens was detached from his regiment and served as General Staff Officer 3 with the Wana Column until 15 October 1921, and again from 3 November 1921 to 27 December 1921. The Wana C…

New Fiction Book - Traitor, Lodger, German Spy by Tony Rowland (2018)

Image
The Book
Traitor, Lodger, German Spy, Tony Rowland. APS Publications, 2018.

You can't spend years researching one of the WW2 spies (Josef Jakobs) without getting sucked into the stories of the other spies! One of the most fascinating stories is that of Jan Willem ter Braak, the alias of Dutchman Engelbertus Fukken

He landed via parachute in early November 1940, near Bletchley Park. He made his way to Cambridge where he managed to fly under the radar of the authorities for several months. In late March, 1941, likely after running out of funds, Ter Braak shot himself in a Cambridge air raid shelter.

At least that's the official story. There are many unanswered questions about Ter Braak: did he manage to contact the German Abwehr using his wireless transmitter, what was his mission, were other spies dispatched to England to supply him with funds, was it really suicide, how could he have escaped MI5s watchful eyes?

While non-fiction writers are left to piece together very flimsy fr…

Adventures in Publishing - Manuscript Submitted to The History Press

Image
Today was D-Day... submission day of the manuscript. The last few weeks have been serious nose-to-the-grindstone... tidying up all the loose ends and doing multiple re-reads and corrections. After all that activity, it was kind of anti-climactic to hit the "Send" button with two documents (manuscript and photo captions) and twenty photographs. There were no sparklers or choirs singing at 5:55 am but it felt good.

I have a strong suspicion that this is simply the eye of the hurricane and that there will still be much work before a hold an actual book in my hands. But for the moment, I will relish this moment of accomplishment and a sense of completion.

I did have a heck of a time paring down the photographs to a mere twenty. I had so many options and had to prune ruthlessly, which was hard.

The same could be said of the manuscript. I had incorporated many lovely mini-bios of the interesting characters I have encountered in researching Josef's story (and published on this…