The thrilling true story of the daring double agents who thwarted Hitler’s spy machine in Britain and turned the tide of World War II.
After the fall of France in the mid-1940s, Adolf Hitler faced a British Empire that refused to negotiate for peace. With total war looming, he ordered the Abwehr, Germany’s defense and intelligence organization, to carry out Operation Lena—a program to place information-gathering spies within Britain.
Quickly, a network of secret agents spread within the United Kingdom and across the British Empire. A master of disguises, a professional safecracker, a scrubwoman, a diplomat’s daughter—they all reported news of the Allied defenses and strategies back to their German spymasters. One Yugoslav playboy codenamed “Tricycle” infiltrated the highest echelon of British society and is said to have been one of Ian Fleming’s models for James Bond.
The stunning truth, though, was that every last one of these German spies had been captured and turned by the British. As double agents, they sent a canny mix of truth and misinformation back to Hitler, all carefully controlled by the Allies. As one British report put it: “By means of the double agent system, we actually ran and controlled the German espionage system in this country.”
In The Spies Who Never Were, World War II veteran cryptographer Hervie Haufler reveals the real stories of these double agents and their deceptions. This “fascinating account” lays out both the worldwide machinations and the personal clashes that went into the greatest deception in the history of warfare (Booklist).
This compact survey of Allied double agents in WWII begins before the war, when British Intelligence "turned" Arthur George Owens, a Welsh engineer working for the Nazis. Owens's conversion inspired the formation of Britain's Twenty Committee (aka XX or Double Cross), which controlled the messages sent by double agents, as well as the country's systematic policy of using German intelligence agents for deception. As diverse as they were duplicitous, the double agents include Dusko Popov, a Yugoslav said to be the model for James Bond; Eddie Chapman, a British sociopath; Elvira Chaudoir, the daughter of a Peruvian diplomat; and Juan Pujol, a Spaniard nicknamed Garbo for his expertise at disguise. The author portrays these agents and others with a novelist's eye for character and suspense, revealing, for example, that Pujol's wife nearly blew his cover because she was tired of living in wartime England and that Popov might have prevented the attack on Pearl Harbor if not for a personal clash with J. Edgar Hoover. Haufler (Codebreakers' Victory) is a natural raconteur, and his stories may serve to spark new readers' interest in deeper study of WWII counterintelligence.