SPECIAL OPERATIONS EXECUTIVE, 1940-1946
Series 1, Special Operations in Western Europe
Part 1: France: The Jedburgh Teams and Operation Overlord, 1944-1945,
Part 2: France: Political and Planning Files, Circuits and Missions, 1940-1947
Part 3: Germany, 1936-1945
Part 4: Holland, 1940-1949
Part 5: Italy, 1941-1948
Extracts from Documents - Part 3
Long term role of German section of SOE. Memorandum dated 10 September 1944
“From all the general discussions taking place at the moment, it appears more than likely that the main long term role of the German section of S.O.E. will be in some way connected with C.I. work. It seems that we may be requested to use our resources to counter any underground movement arising in Germany.
With the approval of A/CD, I have already sent out instructions to my representatives in the field authorising them to use any suitable channels to obtain the fullest information about any underground movement being established in Germany and about possible methods of combating it. Special attention is to be paid to the various Youth Movements.
If this policy develops, it looks as if fully trained X Section personnel now in the field, and additional German-speaking S.O.E. personnel, may be eventually required for real active work in Germany.
This is a very definite change in our role, and if S.O.E. is to make itself really valuable to the C.I. Committee, then the personnel concerned will have to be highly trained in the work in question.
I strongly recommend that immediate steps should be taken to provide adequate training facilities at Group ‘B’ for this new type of work...”
SOE memorandum arguing in favour of Operation Foxley
“At the Council meeting held on the 27th June 1944, I urged more vigorous action in the prosecution of operation FOXLEY. Since then an unsuccessful attempt has been made by a section of the Germans themselves to carry out this operation for us. By studying the German reactions it is possible to see more clearly what results may be expected from the successful execution of operation FOXLEY…
There is abundant evidence to prove that Hitler is regarded by a large section of the German population as something more than human; it is this mystical hold which he exercises over the German people that is largely responsible for keeping the country together at the present time. As long as Hitler continues to live among them, the people will have faith and, having faith, they will remain impervious to logical argument or demonstrated fact…
One of the commonest arguments directed against the execution of FOXLEY is that, if Hitler is murdered, he will become a martyr. From the short term point of view this is unlikely to have any appreciable effect; from the long term point of view, whatever happens, it is obvious that Hitler will become a legendary figure and his mode of death will not materially alter the situation.
On the other hand, as long as Hitler remains alive, he will retain the outward loyalty of the majority of the Generals and General Staff owing to the oath they have taken to him personally. The Party will remain in power and the awkward Wehrmacht, composed of Army proper and S.S. Formations, will function, if not harmoniously, at least with a semblance of efficiency.
Although the majority of the senior officers of the German Army now recognize that they have been defeated in the military field, and the vast majority of the population are utterly weary of the war and have more than an inkling that the military situation is nearly desperate, they still believe, or at least attempt to reassure themselves that there is yet hope. This belief, illogical though it may be, is based entirely on their faith in the genius of Hitler. Remove Hitler and there is nothing left.”
From a report on German ‘Extermination Camps’ (Vernichtungslager), May 4, 1945
“My official business in Lublin brought me into touch with a French captain, Maurice Lequeux, who had been captured by the Germans in 1943 while engaged upon sabotage work under the direction of London. I interrogated him closely and was most impressed, as was my colleague F/O Floyd, by his character and intelligence. What he told me about the concentration camp at Oswiecim, where he was imprisoned during 1944 and up to its evacuation by the Germans in January this year, was confirmed by another ex-inmate of the camp, Dr Olga Lengel, whom I also met in Lublin. Both these people carry tattoed on their forearms their concentration camp number.
Oswiecim (on the Vistula, West of Krakow) was a much bigger camp than Maidanek and far more people were murdered and burnt there. Instead of one furnace there were five, with five chimneys, as well as two ditches each 120 ft. long, 25 ft. wide and 12 ft. deep, in which the bodies were burnt. There were always four furnaces working (the fifth being in reserve for boom periods) and the ditches too were used continuously except for the two or three occasions each month when the ashes were emptied. At Oswiecim the ashes from the ditches and the furnaces were transported in lorries and emptied into the Vistula.
Oswiecim seems to have resembled Maidanek except that it was on a bigger scale and the work there was more rationalised. The principle was similar and the sequence - shower, gas, oven - was the same. The Germans introduced some refinements into their treatment of the prisoners. The inmates of any particular shed on which a ‘selection’ (‘Auswahl’) was to be held for that day’s burning were always told some hours ahead in order that they could think about what was coming to them. The ‘selection’ was completely arbitrary, the inmates of the shed parading past a seated German who jerked his thumb left or right to indicate whether the individual was to be burnt that day or not. Children who were ‘selected’ were always sent to take farewell of their parents.
In many cases the victims were naked when they set out for the gas chamber. Captain Lequeux saw one parade of 2,000 women stark naked marching ‘to the gas’ with the German band at their head playing tangos and fox-trots. In cases where they were dressed, they were given numbered checks for their clothes in the shower room and, passing to the gas chamber, filed past a notice which said in several languages: ‘Keep hold of your check as otherwise you may not get your own clothes back when you come out.’ The people were packed so tight in the gas chamber that Captain Lequeux believes 75 per cent of them died of simple asphyxiation; the rest were finished off as at Maidanek, with Zyklon. They were so tightly jammed together that to pull the bodies out when the door was opened large iron hooks were used...”
Plan for a Revolt in Dachau and Surroundings. PW Paper 25
“PW is certain that when the Allied armies are approaching and in any case before GERMANY collapses orders will be given to kill all the inmates of concentration camps. He is very anxious to do something for his former fellow-sufferers. The plan he proposes is as follows, and is based on his intimate knowledge of the camp in 1943:
a) The guard complement was 1 battalion Totenkopf SS. There are big barracks in the camp intended to house the Waffen SS, probably as much as a Standarte… In April 1943 and a long time previously these barracks were not inhabited, and PW feels certain that owing to the present man-power shortage they are still empty.
b) Inmates in 1943:
German political prisoners 3,000
Members of the International Brigade
in Spain brought from France 800
Priests, practically all of whom were Catholics,
marked by a Cross and a P on their clothes 800
German ‘Berufsverbrecher’ (criminals),
asocial elements 500
Besides these there were about 3,000 prisoners working at other places on fatigue duties.
c) Actual plan:
The first thing would be to inform the prisoners who could be of military assistance in an uprising of their impending liberation. PW would like to be dropped by parachute, and to contact Scharführer ANGERER, with whom he was on good personal terms and of whose full co-operation he is certain. For this purpose he would visit him at his home in the village of DACHAU. If PW wore SS or some other uniform he would not be at all conspicuous. If ANGERER was no longer there he would contact prisoners on fatigue duty in MUNICH or elsewhere. He would also send word to Hans MEILER, who knows all about everything and everybody in the camp, as he has been there for eleven years. MEILER was sent to DACHAU after an attempt on HITLER’s life. MEILER is the Lagerläufer (camp runner) and thus has opportunities of seeing everybody. He is held in high esteem by the prisoners, and is a very energetic, capable, and politically reliable man...”
Note by Lt. Col. H N Saunders on possibility of post-war resistance from
Nazi underground movement, dated 22 June 1944
“3. We have received several reports, both from our own sources and from other sources, indicating that preparations are being made in GERMANY to organise ‘underground’ movement to carry on the fight in the event of defeat.
4. A recent report from an apparently reliable source indicates that HIMMLER was placed in charge of the preparations for post-war underground work.
5. The same report stated that ‘short term plans envisage partisan fighting in GERMANY by SS, SA and Hitler Youth. Children are to be used for courier and intelligence work. Dumps of arms and ammunition, hand grenades, machine guns and small arms and ammunition, have been created in the ALPS, the BLACK FOREST, the THURINGIAN FOREST, the ERZGEBIRGE and the HARZGEBIRGE. The partisan movement is divided into GAUS, each of which will be able to function as an independent unit, with, however, co-operation between the leaders.
Long term plans include schooling, probably political, of the future leaders of the underground movement. This training is taking place mainly at the NAZI ORDENSBURGEN, and is believed to aim at providing political tactics for the fight to keep NAZI ideas alive.
The underground political movement will be financed by sums of money already transferred to SWITZERLAND.
The Party’s intelligence service is to be run not by official or semi-official bodies, but only by commercial houses abroad which are already being penetrated by specially trained NAZIS’.
6. As the power of the SD (SICHERHEITSDIENST) seems to have been greatly extended, it seems reasonable to suppose that this all pervading department will organise and lead the underground movement throughout GERMANY...”
The Himmler Postage Stamp. Letter from Lisbon from David Walker, appearing in ‘The Daily Mirror’, Tuesday, February 29, 1944
“A stamp collecting expert here has just shown me the most valuable stamp produced in the present war - a simple six pfennig German one, but bearing Himmler’s head instead of the German Chancellor’s.
Some time ago, one batch of letters and cards arriving from Germany carried this stamp, but the issue must have been suppressed immediately.
According to the latest issue of the Swiss paper ‘Journal de Geneve’, to reach here, the discovery of this stamp has altered the balance of internal power in Germany.
The implication is that it formed part of a secret issue being made by Himmler himself in view of a future climb to complete power in the Reich.
The effect of the discovery of these stamps in Germany has been to reduce Himmler’s power, leaving him Minister of Interior only in name, while increasing the influence of Martin Bormaan, who is now the second most important figure in Germany. The German radio has admitted the authenticity of the stamp, and a complete purge has been made in the central postal administration at Stuttgart, whence the cards and letters bearing this issue all came...”
Interrogation of 2nd Lt. Baker-Byrne, alias Robert Phillippe Bosquet,
28 December 1944. Operation Vivacious. Attempted sabotage of factory producing V2 rocket components in Berlin.
“Source was supposed to be dressed as an O.T. Meister of the Todt Organisation. He discovered that the O.T. people in Germany wear very shabby outfits, usually old Wehrmacht uniforms with no badges. In BERLIN, however, the O.T. workers are dressed as smartly as any unit of the German Army. They wear the badges of their rank and salute their officers. Source soon realised that his own dirty uniform, muddy boots and lack of badges would be very noticeable when he reached BERLIN…
He also gathered that the Berliners do not consider the present air raids half so bad as those of 1943 and source feels that they should have one or two crushing raids of the 1943 type. When source said that the war did at least one good thing in that everyone now had a job, he was told that many of the factories were not working full time because of the shortage of material. The factory on the corner (i.e. source’s target), they said, was only working half time for this very reason. Some of these factory workers took sandwiches to this pub at lunchtime and ate them with a glass of beer. There were some 35 to 40 workers altogether. As the publican’s dog became too interested in his chocolate ration which he was carrying in his Wäschetasche, source thought it safer to leave.
At 8.30pm source arrived at the target for action. He believes that the general idea of the plan he was to carry out was well-conceived, but his attempt failed chiefly because he found it impossible to carry out the job alone. It necessitated forcing three doors and preparing charges, all of which required at least one man to watch and one man to do the job. He had been told to find help locally if possible but, as his appearance, papers etc. were wrong, he had not time to do this as he wanted to get away as soon as possible. Source stresses that agents going into Germany should be well aware of the fact that the dress, equipment, documents and discipline of the German Army are 100% smart and efficient and that there is no slackening in any of these respects.
Source found that the main entrance to the building was locked, so took a side entrance through one of the blocks of flats. He had been told that the factory was on the first floor and from here he heard voices and saw lights. He went for a drink to a small pub about 800 yards away and over the radio heard a pre-air-raid-alarm - something to the effect that a strong force of enemy planes was approaching such and such a point in Germany. Some of the people rushed out to shelters and source made his way back to the target and waited approximately half an hour. He had nowhere to prepare his charges, so decided to prepare them inside the factory. The entrances to the flats were brightly lit and source noticed plenty of lights in the windows and also in the streets outside. There seemed to be no strict black-out. Source had prepared two pieces of strong wire for picking the door locks and examined the first of these which did not prove to be very tough. He went back to the main entrance to have another look round and suddenly heard some women shouting, 'Burglars', whereupon two policemen appeared. Source could have killed the two policemen, but he realised that it would take at least 10 minutes to pick the three locks and prepare his charges, by which time the alarm would most certainly have been raised. He decided then that the job could not possibly be done single-handed, so took the main entrance and walked out into Prenzlauer Allee and sauntered down the street, trying not to appear in a hurry. Fortunately, there were some heaps of debris on the pavement, also there were plenty of people about, so he was easily able to avoid two shots which were fired after him. He escaped via Belforter Strasse to Lothringer Strasse where he boarded a tram to Moritz Platz. He walked about 200 yards and threw away the two pieces of wire into a drain. He took another tram and alighted at the next stop where he had a beer at the nearest pub...”
Report on the Interrogation of Johann HOCH alias Joseph HARLANDER on
19 May and 30 May 1945. Operation COLAN
The object of operation COLAN was to sabotage the following railway lines by means of simultaneous derailment of trains:-
1. The double track line BIETIGHEIM - HEILBRONN.
2. The double track line BIETIGHEIM - ILLINGEN.
...Mission 1 was to be carried out by two saboteurs, HOCH and TAPLICK. (The latter was arrested after the operation had been completed, as will be explained in HOCH’s report.) Both operators carried the necessary demolition stores in two legbags. HOCH was dressed as a German Army Sergeant and TAPLICK as a German Air Force Corporal (Unteroffizier). Both operators had instructions to withdraw after the operation to Switzerland via MUNICH and SCHAFFHAUSEN…
3. MOVEMENTS AFTER LANDING, AND APPROACH TO TARGET AREA.
As he did not see his companions, HOCH made his way to the agreed rendezvous at 864575. On the way there he met TAPLICK at 856571…
Leaving TAPLICK at the edge of the wood, HOCH and VONDERHEIDT (the latter was responsible for Mission 2) decided to make a short recce. They saw what they took to be a radio location station consisting of four masts with some huts nearby (at approximately 859589). They also saw some disused A.A. positions and concluded that the troops had recently moved off. They returned to the original rendezvous and HOCH prepared some coffee and took the precaution of placing the Tommy cooker well into the ground so that the flame should not be seen…
Between 0400 and 0500 hours the three operators made ready to go to their operational bases. HOCH and TAPLICK left VONDERHEIDT at approximately 870565 and they proceeded in a S.W. direction towards the edge of the wood at 850542. On the road they noticed signs of military transport hidden in the woods. They exchanged words with an Army N.C.O. and learned that a division (whose number was 200?) was stationed in the neighbourhood…
An army car passed them and then a bus full of SS men. The SS Captain asked them where they were going and HOCH replied ‘To our M.T. H.Q. in the next village.’ He had the impression that the SS Captain was going to offer them a lift.
Suddenly they saw VONDERHEIDT crossing the road and making for a wood. (This was at approximately 8563.) They gave no sign of recognising one another, and HOCH and TAPLICK continued in an easterly direction but avoiding the villages of MICHELBACH and PFAFFENHOFEN (9052). Shortly after seeing VONDERHEIDT they heard several shots and wondered if he had run into difficulties. They were controlled by a ‘country’ policeman to whom they outlined the details of their cover story; viz HOCH was on a duty journey to MUNICH via HEILBRONN and had been getting lifts as the railway services were so bad. TAPLICK elaborated his story of being shot down and was asked if he had reported the fact and given up his parachute. He replied in the affirmative but was not asked for the name of the aerodrome. The policeman was quite satisfied with these explanations and gave them directions for reaching LAUFFEN (0353) and KIRCHHEIM (0350).
After making a detour round the village of PFAFFENHOFEN, HOCH and TAPLICK crossed the main PFAFFENHOFEN - GUGLINGEN road in a southerly direction (at approximately 915528) and continued in an ESE direction until nightfall when they decided to sleep in some bushes at 9650…
4. RECONNAISSANCE AND ATTACK.
At 0500 hours on 24 February HOCH and TAPLICK made their way to an eminence overlooking the tunnel (at 0351), which was to be their objective, and made a recce of the neighbourhood to see if there were any signs of activity. They had a good view of the tunnel which was about 500 metres from their hiding place. To their consternation, however, they could see working parties at the northerly exit to the tunnel and it was obvious that the line had been damaged.
It was about 1430 hours and HOCH decided to make another recce. He emptied the operational stores out of his rucksack and left TAPLICK in charge of them. Making his way north of the tunnel (i.e. to approximately 025522) he came across a Sergeant patrolling the line. HOCH got into conversation with him and said that he had been walking from HEILBRONN in the hope of catching a train somewhere on the line which would take him to STUTTGART. He offered a cigarette to the Sergeant who explained that the tunnel had been bombed the previous afternoon and that a hospital train had been derailed. A party of foreign workers, directed by railway officials, had been detailed to clear up the damage. It was imperative, the Sergeant continued, for the line to be repaired by the evening of 24 February. He explained further that two sentries had been posted at each exit to the tunnel and members of the Volkssturm were responsible for watching the rest of the line between LAUFFEN and HEILBRONN. Agents had been operating in Germany and they had received orders to guard important railway lines.
HOCH left the Sergeant on the friendliest of terms and after making a short detour returned to TAPLICK (the time was now about 1630 hours). They rested now and thought out their plan of attack. At 1930 hours the foreign workers moved off towards LAUFFEN and at 2000 hours an engine came from LAUFFEN to fetch the hospital train which had been damaged. After 2100 hours traffic seemed to be normal again although the trains did not travel very fast.
Attack. As it was impossible to carry out an attack on the tunnel they chose one of the other selected favourable points, viz. a curve about 1500 metres north of the tunnel and just over 500 metres north of the Sergeant’s patrol cabin. The point of attack was at approximately 022523 and they were able to find suitable cover in some bushes 2-3 metres high on the west side of the line. They prepared their charges and after watching for patrols (which did not cover the railway line itself, but only the paths at the side of the line) they laid their charges at 2110 hours. TAPLICK placed his charges (with 2 hours time delay) on the western line, and HOCH placed his on the eastern line. They both checked each other’s charges to see that they were in order. The weather was fine although cloudy and they do not think they were observed by any patrols. The time-pencils were squeezed at 2130 hours...”
Translated extract from ‘Wertrauliche Nachrichten des nationalsozialistischen Fuehrungsstabes der Kriegsmarine’, 29 December 1944, describing ‘Enemy Subversive Activity’ from file on PWE propaganda
“A quite devilish type of enemy subversive activity is the distribution of leaflets in the form of diaries and pamphlets in the guise of ‘Reclam’ editions, aiming not only at eliminating the German soldier and workman from the present battle, but also preventing him from pulling his full weight during the period of reconstruction after the war.
‘Sickness saves!’ is the main topic of these pamphlets and in the information pages of the diaries advice may be found on how a soldier or worker can through illness evade his duties. The enemy is here staking his hopes on man’s baser self, on that moment when, finding himself in a difficult situation, his power of moral resistance has been sapped and he may threaten to weaken. It is clear to every decent man that such moments must be overcome. This is the enemy’s chance. He does not say: ‘Desert, then you will be out of all this’, but concentrates on those who, lacking in courage or resolution, do not actually become deserters, but only seek to shun their present duties by simulating illness. The enemy looks upon these as his allies and tries to ‘help’ them by giving ‘good advice’ and he also attempts to entice others to malinger...”
From a report on German Counter-Espionage Methods, compiled for the benefit of SOE agents
“6. The Germans have developed the informer system to almost a fine art. Not merely do they expect the local police to report to them anything of any C.E. significance, but they also employ an army of paid civilian informers who are chiefly paid on results. In many cases these police informers come from the ranks of local Fascist parties and are, therefore, actuated by the fear of the hostile attitude of the bulk of the local population around them, as well as by personal ambition to achieve a position of local authority. In Norway, for instance, the Germans have often released criminals from prisons in order to use them as informers. They also offer rewards to casual informers (i.e. not regular paid informers), varying from small sums for the denunciation of a local mayor up to huge rewards offered for information about the killers of Heydrich.
7. The German C.E. organisation also, undoubtedly, employs black lists, and many of the names on these are based on denunciations made by local quislings…
8. Far more dangerous, however, is the German use of ‘agents provacateurs’. All the evidence goes to show that he is making a very extensive use of these people and on an ascending scale. For instance, both in Norway and in Belgium there is plenty of evidence of fake escape organisations who pretend to offer facilities for escape to this country, with dire consequences to all who take the bait. It has been found that one man alone has been guilty of selling at least fifteen of his countrymen to the Germans in this way for the equivalent of a few shillings a head. There have been plenty of instances also of Gestapo agents calling on householders and pretending to be British pilots or allied agents of one kind or another. Where they have succeeded in deceiving the householder, the latter has had to pay the price. Even where they have not succeeded, however, they have made local inhabitants very chary of offering help to strangers, so that they have achieved at least some result for their German masters. At the other end of the scale, the Wehrmacht are alleged to have succeeded in inducing genuine unsuspecting patriots to establish sabotage organisations in order to attract to them members of other secret organisations...
10. The extremist form of provocation is the deliberate penetration of hostile organisations by means of persons who offer themselves for recruitment, even inside the enemy’s territory. Here again German C.E. methods are extremely bold and, therefore, dangerous. At least one of the continental ‘stellen’ has specialised in sending agents to this country with no other object than to penetrate our organisations, and it must be confessed that their task is not always as difficult as it should be. The usual technique is to send over such agents as escapees, who are anxious to join the national forces of their country in this country, and trust to their being recruited by our secret organisation. The only remedy, of course, is the utmost care in recruiting…
11. One of the most dangerous forms of penetration undoubtedly is the offer of services locally, especially by somebody who has obviously been in one or other of the allied organisations and is, therefore, able to ‘talk the language’. One of the worst instances recently consisted in the offer of technical help - in this case, W/T communication - of which the organisation at that time was desperately short. At Beaulieu the danger of accepting all such offers is constantly stressed, yet cases of acceptance do undoubtedly still occur in the field...”
The “Other” Germans
“With the European War in its penultimate phase the tempo and pressure of events are forcing the German political emigration to show itself in its true colours. With few exceptions and regardless of their former party affiliations the refugees are rallying to the defence of the German Reich after it shall have been purged of the influences of the Nazi regime. The principal motives evident are an abiding fear of Soviet Russia and a keen desire to preserve the unity of the German peoples.
The Social Democrats are particularly vociferous. They look upon themselves as the logical successors to power in Germany and they plan to assume this power by means of a revolution carried out by the ‘other’, or ‘good’ Germans, which shall complete the work which the Revolution of November 1918 failed to complete. For the Germany which shall emerge from this convulsion they demand a ‘soft’ peace and a place of parity within the European comity of nations; as an alternative they conjure up the bogey of a Red Reich, a puppet state of the Soviet Union...”