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Showing posts from May, 2020

On the trail of Blackmarketeer Josef Emil Roos

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A year and a half ago, I did a series on Josef Jakobs and his involvement in a blackmarket passport scheme in Berlin. The scheme was orchestrated by a German lawyer, J├╝rgen Ziebell, and involved selling fake passports to Jews desperate to escape Nazi Germany. Many of the fake passports were from Finland and supplied by Finnish bootlegger Algot Niska.

The link above provides a summary of the blackmarket passport business, but I posted a separate blog with links to all of the characters involved in the scheme.

There was one triad of individuals who were involved in securing Irish naturalisations for Ziebell: Johannes Hans Wolpe, Josef Emil Roos and Lincoln Allan Smith. While I had found quite a bit on Wolpe, I had only found brief mentions on Roos and Smith. There was one intriguing reference in an MI6 report on Roos which noted that he had been hanging out with one A.A. Tester in Greece.

I did some shallow digging on Arthur Albert Tester and discovered that the individual in question w…

Research during a Pandemic

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A few weeks ago, I took advantage of the free digitized files from the National Archives at Kew. I had a happy little downloading streak bouncing between several different email addresses that I own. The archives limits downloads to 10 files/day/registered user with a maximum of 50 files every 30 days. I admit I did a bit of an end-run around that and used three registered accounts to download the 100+ files that I had my eye on. With the first swarm of files done, I'm doing a more detailed sift through of the KV 2 (Security Service/MI5) files to see if I missed anything.

Having said that... I've noticed a few things. While the KV 2 files have a very good digitization rate... the other KV sections are hopeless. The KV 2 files are the Personal Files or the files of individuals. The other KV sections deal with organisations and subjects and... while I have a bunch that I would love to download.... No luck. I keep coming up against this implacable notice... "This record has …

Bella: A Mystery within a Mystery

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While listening to some podcasts on the Bella in the Wych Elm mystery, I was struck by one claim which didn't sound right. This extract is from the Unsolved Murders: True Crime Stories podcast, Episode 165 (part 1 of their Bella trilogy). The excerpt below comes from around the 16:30 mark of the podcast.

Narrator: The final and most promising item was a woman's identification card. The investigators were relieved and briefly hoped that the skeleton belonged to the woman named on the card, but when they visited the address on the card they found its owner was still alive.

[Dramatization]
**sound of knocking at door**
Woman: Hello?
Officer: Hello ma'am, sorry to bother you at home. Your address was listed on this identity card and we wondered if you knew the owner.
Woman: Oh thank you, that's my card!
Officer: Yours?
Woman: Yes, I've been missing it for months. Wherever did you find it?
Officer: That's just it, this card was found in Hagley Wood.
Woman: Hagley Wood,  you …

Podcast Review - Unsolved Murders - Who Put Bella in the Wych Elm

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I discovered a veritable treasure trove of podcasts the other week and quickly found a whole bunch related to Bella in the Wych Elm. I thought I would start with a trilogy from Unsolved Murders: True Crime Stories, produced by Parcast.

The three part series starts with an overview of the murder and the various theories (gypsies, witchcraft, etc). The second episode looks at the Charles Walton murder in Lower Quinton and the third episode examines the espionage theories.

I was unable to find the exact publication date for these podcasts. Given the number of podcasts and the hosts' statement that the podcasts are published every Tuesday, counting backwards leads us to a likely air date of September 2019.

Episode 165 - Who Put Bella in the Wych Elm - Part 1 (50 minutes)
This episode starts with a dramatization of the boys finding the skull in the wych elm. It's an inventive way to start a podcast except the American accents take away from the reality of the dramatization. And Brit…