The raid on Berck-sur-Mer

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You have to give it to the Brits, they don’t give up. Regardless how dire the outlook they will come up with daring stuff to overcome their struggle.

As it was the case in June 1941. They appear to be fighting the Germans on their own, Heavily outnumbered they had to come up with innovative ideas to fight the enemy. The British army send in a group of commandos assisted by French resistance on a raid on raid on Berck-sur-Mer in France.

The raid was highly successful. Media across the world reported on this daring action.

One newspaper article reported on June 18,1941 “One party of parachutists, heavily armed with Tommy guns and hand grenades, overpowered the airfield guards, rushed the control room and seized its occupants,”

New York Herald­ Tribune and New York Post, 18.6.41, repeated on WRUL.
“An amazing and daring raid by the British on a Nazi airport in the Northern
French town of Berck-­sur­-Mer. According to the Zurich correspondent of the
Herald Tribune, a detail of British parachutists landed on the airport,
overpowered forty German troops and pilots stationed there, and destroyed 30
planes. Joined by a number of Frenchmen who wanted to join the Free French
Forces of General de Gaulle, the British raiding party then made their way to
the nearby seashore, where naval motor boats were waiting to take them back
to England. The attack occurred during a heavy RAF raid on the coastal ports
of Calais and Boulogne and caught the Nazis flatfooted. Forty prisoners were
taken.”

It was believed by everyone except by the 40 prisoners, because it never happened.

The whole raid was a made up story. It was a genius bit of fake news WWII style. The man behind it was Canadian born Brit William Stephenson. Stephenson was the head of the SOE operating from New York, His job was to draw the Americans into war by propaganda. The  on Berck-sur-Mer in France was designated Sib 766.The ‘news’ wenet from London to New York, from New York to Zürich, from Zürich bakd to New York after that Stephenson’s team sent out to Dr Jan Loewenbach  the press attache at the exiled Czechoslovak government’s  consulate in New York, just to put the cherry on the cake and make it look completely genuine. The dirty news had been laundered and it was believed.

There were many more to follow. Ironically I recently saw an article in the Guardian Newspaper where they were remembering this ‘daring raid’ there was no mention that had had never actually happened.

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The story of William Stephenson and his efforts to drag the US into war is written in a very interesting book by Henry Hemming titled “Our Man in New York: The British Plot to Bring America into the Second World War”

 

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The Case of the Treasonous Dolls

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The facts of the case are odd.

Five letters were written in early 1942 and mailed by seemingly different people in different U.S. locations to the same person at a Buenos Aires, Argentina, address.

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In early 1942, five letters were written and mailed by seemingly different people in different U.S. locations to the same person at an address in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Even more strangely, all of them bounced “Return to Sender”—and the “senders” on the return address (women in Oregon, Ohio, Colorado, and Washington state) knew nothing about the letters and had not sent them.

The FBI learned about all this when wartime censors intercepted one letter postmarked in Portland, Oregon, puzzled over its strange contents, and referred it to cryptographers at the FBI Laboratory. These experts concluded that the three “Old English dolls” left at “a wonderful doll hospital” for repairs might well mean three warships being repaired at a west coast naval shipyard; that “fish nets” meant submarine nets; and that “balloons” referred to defense installations.

One of the letters, supposedly sent by a Mary Wallace of Springfield, Ohio, did indicate her home address – 1808 E High Street – but had been postmarked in New York, a place she had never been. The letter, primarily discussing dolls, contained references to a “Mr. Shaw, who had been ill but would be back to work soon.” The letter corresponded to information that the destroyer USS Shaw, which had been damaged in the Pearl Harbor attack, completed repairs on the West Coast and was soon to rejoin the Pacific Fleet.

Another letter, given to the FBI in August of that year and said to have been written by a woman in Colorado Springs, Colorado, was postmarked from Oakland, California. That letter, written in February, made reference to seven small dolls which the writer stated would be altered to look as though they were “seven real Chinese dolls”, designed to mimic a family of parents, grandparents and three children. The FBI determined that the letter was written shortly after a convoy of ships had arrived at the Mare Island Naval Shipyard in Vallejo. The letter contained certain details about the ships, that if made public, would have been detrimental to the war effort.

 

The FBI immediately opened an investigation.

It was May 20, 1942, when a woman in Seattle turned over the crucial second letter. It said, “The wife of an important business associate gave her an old German bisque Doll dressed in a Hulu Grass skirt…I broke this awful doll…I walked all over Seattle to get someone to repair it….”

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In short order, the FBI turned up the other letters. It determined that all five were using “doll code” to describe vital information about U.S. naval matters. All had forged signatures that had been made from authentic original signatures. All had typing characteristics that showed they were typed by the same person on different typewriters. How to put these clues together?

It was the woman in Colorado who provided the big break. She, like the other purported letter senders, was a doll collector, and she believed that a Madison Avenue doll shop owner, Mrs. Velvalee Dickinson, was responsible. She said Ms. Dickinson was angry with her because she’d been late paying for some dolls she’d ordered. That name was a match: the other women were also her customers.

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Who was Velvalee Malvena Dickinson? Basically, a mystery. She was born in California and lived there until she moved with her husband to New York City in 1937. She opened a doll shop on Madison Avenue that same year, catering to wealthy doll collectors and hobbyists, but she struggled to keep it afloat. It also turned out that she had a long and close association with the Japanese diplomatic mission in the U.S.—and she had $13,000 in her safe deposit box traceable to Japanese sources.

Following her guilty plea on July 28, 1944, Ms. Dickinson detailed how she’d gathered intelligence at U.S. shipyards and how she’d used the code provided by Japanese Naval Attaché Ichiro Yokoyama to craft the letters. What we’ll never know is why the letters had been, thankfully, incorrectly addressed.

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FBI Laboratory examination of all five letters confirmed that the signatures on the letters were not genuine, but were forgeries which the experts decided were prepared from original signatures in the possession of the forger. The examination also showed that the typewriter used in the preparation of the letters was different in each case, but that the typing characteristics indicated that the letters were prepared by the same person.

The conclusion reached by the FBI cryptographers was that an open code was used in the letters, which attempted to convey information on the U.S. Armed Forces, particularly the ships of the U.S. Navy, their location, condition, and repair, with special emphasis on the damage of such vessels at Pearl Harbo

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On February 11, 1944, Velvalee Malvena Dickinson was indicted by a Federal Grand Jury in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York for violation of the censorship statutes, conviction of which could result in a maximum penalty of ten years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

She pleaded not guilty and was held in lieu of $25,000 bail. A continuing investigation by the FBI resulted in a second indictment on May 5, this time on charges of violating espionage statutes, the Trading with the Enemy Act, tradingwithenemy00natirichand the censorship statutes, conviction of which carried the death penalty. She pleaded not guilty and was released on the same bail.On July 28, 1944, a plea bargain was made between the U.S. Attorney’s Office and Dickinson in which the espionage and Trade Act indictments were dismissed and she pleaded guilty to the censorship violation and agreed to furnish information in her possession concerning Japanese intelligence activities.

After pleading guilty, she admitted that she had typed the five forged letters addressed to Argentina, using correspondence with her customers to forge their signatures.

She claimed the information compiled in her letters was from asking innocent and unsuspecting citizens in Seattle and San Francisco near the location of the Navy yards there, as well as some details from personal observation. She stated that the letters transmitted information about ships damaged at Pearl Harbor and that the names of the dolls corresponded to a list that explained the type of ships involved. She furthermore stated that the code to be used in the letters, instructions for use of the code, and $25,000 in $100 bills had been passed to her husband by Yokoyama around November 26, 1941, in her doll store at 718 Madison Avenue for the purpose of supplying information to the Japanese. She repeated her claims that the money had been hidden in her husband’s bed until his death.

However, an investigation by the FBI refuted those claims, disclosing that while Dickinson had been a friend of Yokoyama, her husband had never met him. It was also learned that a physical examination done on him at the time indicated that his mental faculties were impaired at the time of the supposed payment. Both a nurse and a maid employed by the Dickinsons at the time emphatically stated that no money had ever been concealed there.

Velvalee Dickinson appeared in court for sentencing on August 14, 1944. Upon sentencing, the court commented:

It is hard to believe that some people do not realize that our country is engaged in a life and death struggle. Any help given to the enemy means the death of American boys who are fighting for our national security. You, as a natural-born citizen, having a University education, and selling out to the Japanese, were certainly engaged in espionage. I think that you have been given every consideration by the Government. The indictment to which you have pleaded guilty is a serious matter. It borders close to treason. I, therefore, sentence you to the maximum penalty provided by the law, which is ten years and $10,000 fine.

Still maintaining her innocence and claiming that her ,at that stage deceased. husband had been the Japanese spy, Dickinson was imprisoned at the Federal Correctional Institution for Women (now the Alderson Federal Prison Camp) in Alderson, West Virginia. She was released with conditions on April 23, 1951.

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How Neutral was Ireland during WWII-Ireland and the Third Reich.

feature-world-war-2

The Republic of Ireland was and still is a neutral country but during WWII there were many Irish volunteers who fought with the allies against the Axis power.Like The first RAF bomber pilot to be shot down and killed in 1939 was Willie Murphy from Cork. His navigator, Larry Slattery, from Thurles, became the longest-serving ‘British’ POW of the war.(pictured below in a Berlin POW hospital bed)

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On the other hand there were a great number of Irish who were sympathetic to Hitler and the Nazi regime.One of the most famous ones was the Irish playwright, critic and polemicist George Bernard Shaw.

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He despised democracy, supported Lenin, Stalin and the Soviet purges, and denied the Ukrainian Famine happened. He also supported Hitler, and denied the Holocaust happened.After Hitler’s suicide in May 1945, Shaw approved of the formal condolences offered by the Irish Taoiseach, Éamon de Valera, at the German embassy in Dublin.

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Shaw disapproved of the postwar trials of the defeated German leaders, as an act of self-righteousness: “We are all potential criminals”.

Charles Henry Bewley was raised in a famous Dublin Quaker business family (Bewleys Coffee and Cafes)and embraced Irish Republicanism and Roman Catholicism. He was the Irish envoy to Berlin who reportedly thwarted efforts to obtain visas for Jews wanting to leave Nazi Germany in the 1930s and to move to the safety of the Irish Free State.

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Inhis reports to Dublin during the 1930s he gave the impression that German Jews were not threatened; that they were involved in pornography, abortion and “the international white slave traffic”. He explained the Nuremberg Laws “As the Chancellor pointed out, it amounts to the making of the Jews into a national minority; and as they themselves claim to be a separate race, they should have nothing to complain of.” He reports that he had no knowledge of any “deliberate cruelty on the part of the [German] Government … towards the Jews”. He criticised Irish refugee policy as “inordinately liberal, and facilitating the entry of the wrong class of people” (meaning Jews). Bewley was dismissed just as World War II was breaking out, and never received a pension. However, Joseph Goebbels gave him a job writing propaganda. For a time he worked for a Swedish news agency, which was part of Goebbels’ propaganda machine.

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Dr. Adolf Mahr was an Austrian archaeologist who was Gruppenleiter (group leader) of the Dublin branch of the Nazi Party Auslandsorganisation (NSDP-AO).He arrived in Ireland in 1927 to work as keeper of antiquities in the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin.

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In 1934 Éamon de Valera appointed Mahr Director of the Museum.As the Nazi Party rose to power in Germany in the 1930s, Mahr joined in 1933 and became the Local Group Leader (Ortsgruppenleiter) in Ireland. During his spell as Nazi leader he recruited roughly 23 Germans. Mahr’s children were raised in Dublin in the 1930s but ended up in post-war Germany.

The IRA supported the Nazis in WW2 (the real ones, not just rhetorical ones). They ran safe houses for Nazi spies, aided Nazi intelligence, and even helped Nazi bombers. They planned to bring about a Nazi German invasion of Ireland, and would no doubt have been installed as a quisling government had Germany occupied Ireland.Chief-of-Staff of the IRA at this time was Seán McCool.

Hitler would of course have done to Ireland what he did to every other country. In the Wannsee Conference notes of Jan 1942, Ireland’s 4,000 Jews were listed for extermination. No doubt Irish quislings would have helped in this, as quislings helped in every other country.

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Luckily, the IRA failed in their plans, and the Jews of Ireland were not exterminated.

Andrija Artuković (19 November 1899 – 16 January 1988) was a Croatian lawyer, politician and senior member of the Croatian nationalist and fascist Ustaše organisation, who held the Interior and Justice portfolios in the Government of the Independent State of Croatia during World War II.

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He signed into law a number of racial laws against Serbs, Jews and Romani people, and was responsible for a string of concentration camps in which tens of thousands of civilians were murdered and mistreated. On 18 May 1945, British extradited some Croatian ministers and Prime Minister Nikola Mandić to the Yugoslav authorities. Artuković was not extradited, but he was released soon with remaining ministers. He left the British occupational zone, then went via the American to the French occupational zone, where his family was. With a Swiss passport under the pseudonym of Alois Anich, he traveled to Ireland. In 1948, he left Ireland with his wife and children, and entered the United States on a tourist visa and settled in Seal Beach, California.

Helmut Clissman was a German spy, active in Ireland during World War II.When war broke out in 1939, Mr Clissmann was ordered, along with other Germans living in Ireland, to return to Germany. This was later seen by the German intelligence services as a bad mistake, but they tried to use his expert knowledge to find out the strength of the IRA and whether Germany could use it to launch guerrilla attacks and sabotage in Northern Ireland.

Mr Clissmann also played a role in the release of Frank Ryan from a Spanish jail where he was under sentence of death for fighting on the republican side in the Civil War. Mr Clissmann knew Ryan as an IRA activist when in Ireland.

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He died on the 6th of November 1997 in Dublin.

Hermann Görtz (15 November 1890 – 23 May 1947) was a German spy in Britain and Ireland before and during World War II.

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In the summer of 1940, Görtz parachuted into Ballivor, County Meath, Ireland (Operation Mainau) in an effort to gather information. He moved in with former IRA leader Jim O’Donovan.

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His mission was to act as a liaison officer with the IRA and enlist their assistance during a potential German occupation of Britain. However, he soon decided that the IRA was too unreliable. On landing, he lost the ‘Ufa’ transmitter he had parachuted with. Goertz, attired in a Luftwaffe uniform, then walked to Dublin. He was not apprehended despite calling into a Garda barracks in Co Wicklow, asking for directions to Dublin. Goertz made it to Dublin and a “safe-house” at 245 Templeogue Road, Templeogue. 

In May 1940, the Irish police raided the home of an IRA member of German descent, Stephen Carroll Held, who had been working with Görtz, at his house at Blackheath Park, Clontarf. They confiscated a parachute, papers, Görtz’s World War I medals, and a number of documents about the defence infrastructure of Ireland. The papers they took included files on possible military targets in Ireland, such as airfields and harbours, as well as detailed plans of the so-called “Plan Kathleen”. This was an IRA plan for the invasion of Northern Ireland with the support of the Nazi military. Held had brought this plan to Germany prior to Görtz’s departure but his superiors had dismissed it as unfeasible.

Görtz went into hiding, staying with sympathizers in the Wicklow area and purposefully avoided contact with IRA safehouses. He remained at large for a total of eighteen months. When another IRA member, Pearse Paul Kelly, visited Goertz’s hiding place in Dublin in November 1941, police arrested them both.

Görtz was interned until the end of the war. He was first detained in Mountjoy Prison but later moved to Custume Barracks, Athlone with nine others.

 

Hermann Goertz was released from jail in Athlone in August 1946. He went to live in Glenageary and became secretary of a charity called Save The German Children Fund. He was rearrested the following year and served with a deportation order by the Minister for Justice. He claimed to have been in the SS rather than a lieutenant in the Luftwaffe in an attempt to prevent his deportation but this claim was disproved by Irish Military Intelligence (G2) which also “promoted” him to Major when sending him messages allegedly from Germany. On Friday May 23, 1947 he arrived at the Aliens’ Office in Dublin Castle at 9.50am and was told he was being deported to Germany the next day. Although it had been stated to him that the Irish government had specifically requested that he not be handed over to the Soviets, he committed suicide.

The Irish Times reported that he: “Stared disbelievingly at the detective officers. Then suddenly, he took his hand from his trouser pocket, swiftly removed his pipe from between his lips, and slipped a small glass phial into his mouth. One of the police officers sprang at Goertz as he crunched the glass with his teeth. The officer got his hands around Goertz’s neck but failed to prevent most of the poison – believed to be prussic acid – from passing down his throat. Within a few seconds, Goertz collapsed.”He was driven to Mercer’s Hospital and died there shortly after arrival.

Görtz was buried three days later in a Dublin cemetery.

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In 1974 his remains were transferred to the German Military Cemetery at Glencree, Co. Wicklow.

Other notable Nazi’s who sought and found refuge in Ireland were Otto Skorzeny and Dutch War Criminal Pieter Menten.

https://dirkdeklein.net/2016/10/17/otto-skorzenyhitlers-scarfaced-henchman-irish-farmer-and-mossad-hitman/

https://dirkdeklein.net/2016/02/18/forgotten-history-war-criminal-pieter-menten/

Controversially,de Valera formally offered his condolences to the German Minister in Dublin on the death of Adolf Hitler in 1945, in accordance with diplomatic protocol.This did some damage to Ireland, particularly in the United States – and soon afterwards de Valera had a bitter exchange of words with Winston Churchill in two famous radio addresses after the end of the war in Europe.

 

 

 

The Venlo Incident

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I always considered myself to be a bit of WWII buff, but it was only until I started this website I realized how little I actually knew about World War 2.This case is a good example.

Venlo is a town in the province of Limburg in the Netherlands, in the south east of the country.Bordering to Germany in the east and Belgium in the west and south. The same province I was born and grew up in(albeit in the southern part) and yet I had never heard of ‘the Venlo incident’ an event that happened tomorrow 77 years ago.

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The Venlo Incident was a covert German Sicherheitsdienst (SD-Security Service) operation, in the course of which two British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) agents were abducted on the outskirts of the town of Venlo, the Netherlands, on 9 November 1939.The incident was later used by the German Nazi government to link Britain to Georg Elser’s failed assassination attempt on German Chancellor Adolf Hitler at the Bürgerbräukeller in Munich, Germany, on 8 November 1939 and to help justify Germany’s invasion of the Netherlands, while a neutral country, on 10 May 1940.

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In early September 1939 a meeting was arranged between Fischer and the British SIS agent Captain Sigismund Payne Best. Best was an experienced British Army intelligence officer who worked under the cover of a businessman residing in The Hague with his Dutch wife.

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Subsequent meetings included Major Richard Henry Stevens, a less-experienced intelligence operative working covertly for the British SIS as the Passport Control Officer in The Hague, Netherlands.

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To assist Best and Stevens in passing through Dutch mobilised zones near the border with Germany, a young Dutch officer, Lieutenant Dirk Klop, was recruited by Chief of the Dutch Military Intelligence, Major General van Oorschot. Klop was permitted by van Oorschot to sit in on covert meetings but not take part due to the neutrality of the Netherlands.

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Fischer brought to the early meetings participants posing as German officers who supported a plot against Hitler and were interested in establishing Allied peace terms should Hitler be deposed. When Fischer’s success in setting up the meetings with the British agents became known, Sturmbannführer (major) Walter Schellenberg of the Foreign Intelligence (Counter-Espionage) section of the Sicherheitsdienst began coming to the meetings.

Walter Schellenberg

Masquerading as a “Hauptmann (captain) Schämmel”, Schellenberg was at the time a trusted operative of Heinrich Himmler and was in close contact with Reinhard Heydrich during the Venlo operation.

At the last meeting between the British SIS agents and the German SD officers on Wednesday 8 November, Schellenberg promised to bring a general to the meeting on the following day. Instead the Germans brought the talks to an abrupt end with the kidnapping of Best and Stevens.

For different Germans, the covert meetings might have meant different things. Dutch historian, Bob de Graaf wrote:

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“Hitler, who was kept informed, might have hoped that sooner or later Dutch neutrality would be compromised. Himmler, continually on the outlook for a peace settlement with Britain, might have had hopes that the contacts with MI6 would lead to a compromise, whereafter the Soviet Union, in Himmler’s mind Germany’s real enemy, could be faced with confidence. To Schellenberg the game meant gathering information about British intelligence activities in Germany. By studying the files he had become especially interested in a so-called ‘observer corps’ the British were running against the German Luftwaffe. What Schellenberg expected from the meetings were names, as many names as possible of agents working for MI6. To Heydrich, who liked intelligence games for the sake of it, the Spiel with Best and Stevens might have meant anything. But in the light of his continuous efforts to get at Canaris’ throat, he might have hoped for revelations about a connection between British officials and a German opposition, which was rooted in Wehrmacht circles”

Early on 9 November 1939, Schellenberg received orders from Heinrich Himmler to abduct the British SIS agents, Best and Stevens. German SS-Sonderkommandos (SS Special Units) under the operations command of SD man Alfred Naujocks, carried out the orders.

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Best was at the wheel of his car when he drove into the car park at the Cafe Backus for the meeting planned for 4 pm with Schellenberg. Stevens was sitting beside him while Lieutenant Klop and Jan Lemmens (Best’s Dutch driver) were sitting in the back seat. Before Best had time to get out of the car, Naujock’s SD men arrived.

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In a brief shootout, Klop was mortally wounded. After being handcuffed and stood against a wall, Best and Stevens, together with Jan Lemmens were bundled into the SD car. Klop was put into Best’s car and both cars were driven off over the border into Germany.

Best recalls a full body search was performed on him when they reached Düsseldorf en route to Berlin. At Düsseldorf one of the men who had taken part in the kidnapping told Best the reason for the action was to catch some Germans plotting against the Führer who were responsible for the attempt on his life the night before.

Lieutenant Dirk Klop was admitted to the Protestant Hospital in Düsseldorf. A doctor on duty recalled years later Klop was unconscious when admitted and died the same day from a gun wound to the head.

A different account (with conflicting details) of the Venlo Incident is told by Günter Peis in The Man Who Started The War, and by Walter Schellenberg in his memoirs. For instance, Best did not know that Schellenberg, still posing as Major Schämmel, was waiting at Cafe Backus at the time of the kidnapping by Naujocks and twelve SD men. When one SD man mistook him as Best, Schellenberg narrowly escaped being shot.

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(Picture above is a 1948 Reconstruction of the Venlo_Incident)

Prior to the assassination attempt at the Bürgerbräukeller in Munich on 8 November, Naujocks and his squad had been sent to Düsseldorf to support Schellenberg. Even before his private train had returned from Munich to Berlin,

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Hitler ordered the British SIS officers in the Netherlands be brought to Berlin for questioning. Himmler issued the order to Schellenberg early in the morning on 9 November.

Though Georg Elser, a suspect being interrogated in Munich by the Gestapo, insisted he had acted alone, Hitler recognized the propaganda value of the assassination attempt as a means to incite German public resentment against Great Britain.

On 21 November Hitler declared he had incontrovertible proof that the British Secret Service was behind the Munich bombing and that two British agents had been arrested near the Dutch border.The next day German newspapers carried the story. On the front page of Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung there were pictures of the conspirators named as, Georg Elser, ‘Kaptain Stevens’ and ‘Mr Best’.

Years later Walter Schellenberg recalled in his memoirs:

“He (Hitler) began to issue detailed directives on the handling of the case to Himmler, Heydrich, and me and gave releases to the press. To my dismay, he became increasingly convinced that the attempt on his life had been the work of the British Intelligence, and that Best and Stevens, working together with Otto Strasser, were the real organizers of this crime.

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Meanwhile a carpenter by the name of Elser had been arrested while trying to escape over the Swiss border. The circumstantial evidence against him was very strong, and finally he confessed. He had built an explosive mechanism into one of the wooden pillars of the Beer Cellar. It consisted of an ingeniously worked alarm clock which could run for three days and set off the explosive charge at any given time during that period. Elser stated that he had first undertaken the scheme entirely on his own initiative, but that later on two other persons had helped him and had promised to provide him with a refuge abroad afterward. He insisted, however, that the identity of neither of them was known to him. . . I thought it possible that the “Black Front” organization of Otto Strasser might have something to do with the matter and that the British Secret Service might also be involved. But to connect Best and Stevens with the Beer Cellar attempt on Hitler’s life seemed to me quite ridiculous. Nevertheless, that was exactly what was in Hitler’s mind. He announced to the press that Elser and the officers of the British Secret Service would be tried together. In high places there was talk of a great public trial, to be staged with the full orchestra of the propaganda machine, for the benefit of the German people. I tried to think of the best way to prevent this lunacy.”

The Nazi press reported that the Gestapo had tricked the British Secret Service into carrying on radio contact for 21 days after Best and Stevens were abducted using the radio transmitter given to them. Himmler is accredited to quipping, ‘After a while it became boring to converse with such arrogant and foolish people’.

The British Foreign Office believed Himmler was involved in the secret Anglo-German contact of autumn 1939, and that the discussions, involving Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, and the Foreign Secretary, Lord Halifax, were bona fide peace negotiations.

The damage inflicted on Britain’s espionage network in Europe caused new Prime Minister, Winston Churchill to start his own spy and sabotage agency, the Special Operations Executive (SOE) in 1940.

The Venlo Incident exposed the fact that the Chamberlain government was still seeking to do a deal with Germany while exhorting the nation to a supreme war effort.

Hitler used the Venlo Incident to claim The Netherlands had violated its own neutrality. The presence of the Dutch agent Klop, whose signature on his personal papers was gratefully misused by the Germans, provided sufficient ‘proof of cooperation between British and Dutch secret services, and justify an invasion of The Netherlands by Germany in May, 1940.

Alfred Naujocks was awarded the Iron Cross by Hitler the day after the kidnapping.Walter Schellenberg gave evidence against other Nazis at the Nuremberg Trials.He died in 1952 aged 42.

After interrogation at the Gestapo Prinz-Albrecht-Strasse headquarters in Berlin, Best and Stevens were sent to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. Both were held in isolation in the T shaped building reserved for protected prisoners of the Gestapo.

While at Sachsenhausen Best claimed he corresponded via secret letters with another protected prisoner Georg Elser.

In January 1941 Stevens was moved from Sachsenhausen to the bunker at Dachau concentration camp where he remained until evacuated with Best and other protected prisoners in April, 1945.

In February, 1945, Best was transferred briefly to Buchenwald concentration camp and then to the ‘bunker’ at Dachau concentration camp on 9 April 1945. Coincidentally on the same day Georg Elser was killed at Dachau.

On 24 April 1945, Best and Stevens left Dachau with 140 other protected ‘high-profile’ prisoners in a convoy bound for South Tyrol. At the lakeside Prags Wildbad Hotel near Niederdorf, South Tyrol, they were liberated by the advancing US Army on 4 May 1945.

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