A local story in the Cambridge press to the effect that a suicide had been found was quickly stifled. So why was Liddell deluding himself — and posterity? Moreover, this examination took place on August 7, , so it was impossible that Busch could have picked up the news of ter Braak from the Daily Sketch. He had a somewhat jaundiced view of espionage operations. Captain J. At each step in his fight he is surrounded by incompetence or knavery. In the end he is accused of defeatism, fails to secure promotion, and retires in disgust.
Busch wanted to volunteer information to the allies about German agents in the UK, and, on his contributions on the LENA spies, he was judged as being a useful witness. This sounds like a very contemporaneous clarification. The conclusion is clear: MI5 was very aware of these identities when the interrogation report was read.
He very selectively uses this report: he is keen to have the story of ter Braak tidily taken care of. We do not know, of course, in exactly what form the report came to him, yet, despite having a reminder about a Sudetenlander and a Dutchman right in front of him, he confuses the two, and comes to a completely different conclusion from that at which his subordinate officers arrived. It is as if he wanted to help leave a record for posterity that ter Braak was just another run-of-the-mill LENA spy who was quickly captured, and of course Liddell would not want the success story of the Double-Cross Operation to be tarnished by any suggestion that the Abwehr had seen through it all.
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I happen to think that this overlooked episode makes my case that ter Braak was poorly manipulated by MI5, and constituted an embarrassing story that MI5 wanted to bury, even stronger. The research continues, and I look forward to including Mr. I am also now trying to track down some of the sources — for both Krivitsky and ter Braak — in the papers that Deacon left behind.
And that is another hunt of a very individual kind. Lastly, we have a previously unrevealed artefact to display and discuss. This month, Mr. Cookridge Archive, about items relating to ter Braak. The Librarian not only responded promptly, but actually enclosed a PDF containing a document from the archive see below. This could be a remarkable find, as it appears to be the transcription of a wireless message, originally sent by ter Braak in the winter of , and then forwarded to Berlin by the Abwehr station in Hamburg.
Then follows another intercepted message from Hamburg to Berlin at the end of January, reporting what the agent has told them.
Might they perhaps confirm that the agent had succeeded in contacting his controllers in Hamburg, and tell us something about his activities? Have expended much money on costs of sickness and living. Large groups of troops to be found around here, also the Somerset Light Infantry Camp closely guarded by Bren gun posts.
Equipment has been secured via We thus have to try to verify both the genuineness of the article i. And we immediately are faced with problems. The text appears to have been written by a native German, yet it contains multiple errors. But was he inventing or copying? Maybe this was a literal transcription of the coded message: after all, ter Braak was a Dutchman, not a German, and may have made mistakes that the transcriber faithfully replicated. Was another transcriber also the translator? The script at the top, in English, is in the same hand as the body.
But we should also remember that Cookridge had been born in Austria, as Edward Philo, so he would have been immersed in German script, and would not have been likely to forget the habits drilled into him. So perhaps the items were falsified by a third party, and passed on to Cookridge, who wrote them out in his own hand?
A Play Analysis
I have not yet inspected raw decrypts held at Kew. The content, however, is also shady. Cookridge may have misunderstood the time of arrival, and embroidered his story. If we can believe what the archive tells us, it would have been impossible for ter Braak to have acquired new accommodation, and already spent that much money, if he had been in the country for only a day or two.
The second date, January 27, occurs just before the day that ter Braak informed the authorities, under stress, about his new ration-card. It is all very strange. Why would anybody bother to create these items, if they were never used? In which case, if the messages were intercepted and decrypted, why did the location-finders and the Special Branch not start combing the rental properties in southern Cambridge? But is that what my contact was told, to fob him off?
Yet Mr. On January 13, , he assaulted and nearly killed his guard, and tried to escape. He was re-captured, but his role as a double-agent was over, and he had to be eliminated. Leonard Mosley claimed he was hanged in early February. So the second message here represents the confirmation that Hamburg received from SUMMER actually from the operator of his wireless set, as part of the Double-Cross deception that he had to go underground, and that Agent in fact the MI5 plant Sam McCarthy has concealed his equipment.
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Cookridge and others, such as Stanley Firmin, Donald Stokes, and Bernard Newman must have been briefed on the now well-known cases held in camera, but also on ter Braak, who was of course never put on trial. Much of that passed on into the lore of WWII history, but has now slowly been dismantled owing to the releases of the MI5 files concerning the agents themselves. The secret was strenuously protected, and not publicly revealed until And the precise mission of ter Braak, and whether he successfully made any transmissions, remains an unsolved puzzle.
Could Claude Dansey possibly have been behind all this, pulling the strings?
I shall have to put my best men and women on the job. Leave a Comment. Tagged as Ter Braak.
Alert readers will have noticed that I received important communications from Roland Philipps the biographer of Donald Maclean and from Jan-Willem van den Braak the biographer of the Abwehr spy Jan Willem ter Braak , whose work is being translated from the Dutch for publication in the UK. The doggerel can be found at DiaryofaCounterEspionageOfficer.
After I had put Part 3 of this saga to bed at the end of September, some thoughts that I had vaguely touched on in earlier episodes returned to me with more vigour: What if the mistakes over ter Braak and the controversial report by Walter Gill which effectively concluded that domestic wireless interception was not necessary were both deliberate exercises by MI5 and its partners?
These may be utterly fanciful notions, but they have a modicum of sense about them, as all such exploits at face value are very difficult to explain. One has to assume that agencies like MI5 and the Abwehr were continually thinking: how will our enemy counterpart think and act? And, if some sensible insight were applied, each intelligence section should have assumed that its counterpart, because of native influences, might in some circumstances act in a different fashion.
There is a symmetry in some of the things undertaken by each organisation, as they strain to develop measures to confound the forces trying to counter them. Yet one can also spot asymmetrical aspects, driven by the idiosyncratic nature of each force, including their overall motivations and objectives, the personnel they selected, the territorial dimensions, and the cultural drivers behind their operations.
It is hard not to suppose, however, that the policies of each were not somehow affected by their knowledge of what their adversaries were doing with their own offensive activities. The focus of my research in this series has been the detection of illicit wireless. It is worth recording here that the primary purpose of what is commonly known as RDF Radio Direction-Finding, but implicitly including Location-Finding had, before the war, been the interception and decryption of government e.
Initially, precise location was not as important as content. As countries started to perform intelligent traffic analysis, however, the origin — and mobility — of transmitting stations, especially military units, became much more significant, often providing intelligence even though the underlying messages could not be decrypted. Then, as the combat started, organisations had to start to apply their knowledge to the possible threat of illicit stations operating behind their own lines.
With all three combatants, the techniques for long-range triangulation were well-developed by the time war broke out, and thus could in principle be quickly adapted for identifying illicit domestic transmissions. Such a set-up was possible in the United Kingdom, but not in the expanding German Reich. Moreover, the finer granularity required for locating individual wireless sets at building-block or house level demanded new mobile equipment and techniques not explored in long-range location-finding. As I discuss the strategies and challenges of the three espionage forces, and attempt to assess their effectiveness, I shall be considering them under the following criteria:.
June constitutes the major chronological dividing-line in the conduct of wireless espionage. In the light of my research, I have deviated from the temporal Phases identified in my first post in this series, which had Phase 1 completing at the end of , and Phase 2 winding down in June The Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union immediately changed the German attitude in Soviet counter-espionage from one of wary passivity to aggressive pursuit. The Russian stance in illicit communications switched from cautious dormancy to careless urgency. For Britain, it signalled that any planned invasion of the island nation had been postponed indefinitely: the timing coincided with the transfer of RSS to SIS, and the implementation of the new structure in MI5 under David Petrie.
The date has less significance for SOE: it was still in an experimental, groping stage in the summer of , with only two radio-stations established in France by that time. My analysis thus presses forward in this dimension of espionage and sabotage to address the continued struggles of the unit into I now summarise the activities of the three agencies in this period before delving into more detail.
I have shown how the greatest intensity of Nazi attempts to infiltrate British territory occurred in the autumn of Operation LENA , with a couple of reconnaissance landings by Jakobs and Richter occurring in the spring of — i. Yet this was not primarily an espionage organisation, like SIS whose network had been almost completely destroyed at the outset of war. It was an outfit committed to sabotage, and, while wireless communication became a critical part of its operational infrastructure, the technology was used more to arrange for shipments, drop-offs, and pick-ups, and only secondarily as a mechanism for providing intelligence.
Sabotage operations also drew more obvious attention from the enemy: furthermore, in the first two years of its existence i. The experience in responding to illicit SOE transmissions in France may have given the German counter-espionage agencies a leg-up when the Soviet apparatus fired up in the summer of , but, as will be shown, the evidence for this is shaky.
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When Hitler invaded the Soviet Union, all Soviet agents in place in Germany were immediately activated to provide intelligence about Nazi war-plans. Yet they had not been completely dormant before then. The situation was in fact more complex than that. As early as May , however, when Paris fell, Moscow suspected that relations with Nazi Germany — despite the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact — might deteriorate, and diplomatic representatives e.
Kobulov in Berlin started building networks of informers, not only in Germany but also in Poland and Czechoslovakia.