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WW2 Spies

Undercover operations, double agents, saboteur missions and unlikely allies - take a look at our selection of books on WW2 spies.

Total Espionage
Germany’s Information and Disinformation Apparatus 1932-40

By Curt Riess

The Nazis made use of many people and organizations: officers' associations who were in touch with many who left to help organize the armies of South American countries, and in the USA there were the Friends of the New Germany.

German consulates sprang up and aircraft would make unusual detours to observe interesting parts of foreign countries. News agencies and various associations dedicated to maintaining contacts with particular countries were encouraged to supply information.

Film studios would send large crews abroad to shoot documentaries as well as perform acts of espionage. Foreign nationals were bribed or blackmailed; and pro-fascist groups in foreign countries were supported via the Auslandsorganization.

All Germans living abroad were encouraged to report their observations to the authorities, particular attention was being focused on engineers, technicians, scientists and people in other professions who were particularly likely to obtain valuable information; however, other Germans abroad were also used, even cabaret singers, waiters, language teachers, as well as Germans travelling abroad as tourists.

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Silver: The Spy Who Fooled the Nazis
The Most Remarkable Spy of The Second World War

By Mihir Bose

Silver was the codename for the only quintuple spy of the Second World War, spying for the Italians, Germans, Japanese, Soviets and the British.

The Germans awarded him the Iron Cross, Germany's highest military decoration, and paid him £2.5 million in today's money.

In reality, Silver deceived the Nazis on behalf of the Soviets and the British. In 1942, the Russians decided to share Silver with the British, the only time during the war that the Soviets agreed to such an arrangement.

This brought him under the control of Peter Fleming who acted as his spy master. Germans also gave Silver a transmitter that broadcast misleading military information directly to Abwehr headquarters in Berlin.

Silver was one of many codenames for a man whose real name was Bhagat Ram Talwar, a Hindu Pathan from the North West Frontier province of then British India. Between 1941 and 1945, Silver made twelve trips from Peshawar to Kabul to supply false information to the Germans, always making the near-200-mile journey on foot over mountain passes and hostile tribal territory.

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The Nazis Go Underground

By Curt Riess

Written in 1944, thus contemporary to the events of the Second World War and Nazi Germany, The Nazis Go Underground describes how the Nazis planned and organised their descent into the underground as early as 1943.

At this stage of the war, the situation for the Third Reich looked grim. With Bormann and Himmler as its architects, the Nazi party would go underground and prepare for World War III from the shattered ruins of Berlin. German generals were anxious to get the war over. They knew the war was futile, would end in total defeat and questioned Hitler's suicidal military tactics.

Survival as an institution, as a political force, for them, was essential.

The Nazis concocted a system by which they would continue to have close contacts with members of the aboveground legitimate government after the end of the war. They would make sure to have some of their men, dependable ones, remaining in the official apparatus of the government, to be able to coordinate operations and policies. It was therefore believed that Nazi Germany could once more rise from the ashes after defeat in the Second World War.

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Churchill's and Stalin's Secret Agents
Operation Pickaxe at RAF Tempsford

By Bernard O'Connor

Following the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, Churchill and Stalin secretly agreed that Britain would infiltrate Soviet agents into occupied Western Europe.

Liaison began between the NKVD and the SOE, each country's secret service. Transported in convoys across the Arctic Ocean and often attacked by German U-Boats, thirty-four men and women arrived in Scotland.

To stop people finding out that Britain was helping the Communists, the agents were given false identities and provided with accommodation and training at remote country houses in southern England, including Beaulieu. Codenamed PICKAXES, they were sent for parachute practice at Ringway aerodrome, provided with documents, cover stories and wireless sets and sent on clandestine missions into France, Belgium, Holland, Austria, Germany and Italy. Whilst most were sent from RAF Tempsford, Churchill's Most Secret airfield, one was sent by boat across the Channel and another by submarine into Northern Italy.

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Digging for Hitler
The Nazi Archaeologists Search for an Aryan Past

By David Barrowclough

In the build-up to the Second World War, the Nazis established a band of specialists, the SS-Ahnenerbe, under the command of Heinrich Himmler and Hermann Wirth. Their aim was to prove the superiority of the Aryan race and with it the right of the Germans to rule Europe.

The occult figured as a key feature in many of these increasingly desperate research efforts. Expeditions were sent to Iceland, Tibet, Kafiristan, North Africa, Russia, the Far East, Egypt, South America and the Arctic.

The chief administrator was Dr Wolfram Sievers who conducted medical experiments on prisoners in concentration camps and was responsible for the looting of historic artefacts considered 'Germanic' for 'return' to Germany.

He rewarded those academics that took part with high military office while those academics that criticised the SS-Anenerbe were carted off to concentration camps where they faced certain death.

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