Black Boomerang - Chapter Seven - Sefton Delmer

GUSTAV SIEGFRIED EINS went on the air for the first time on the evening of May the 23rd, 1941 - It was a rough and by no means ready performance. For 'Der Chef' had to appear without an adjutant to announce him-an appalling solecism under the social protocol of the Third Reich where even the lesser dignitaries of the Party and the Armed Services never ventured forth without having at least one aide-de-camp in attendance. Nor had I been able yet to coach `Der Chef' out of a bad habit of dropping his voice monotonously at the end of each sentence.

But there was no avoiding it. The Pioneer Corps Corporal who was to play the part of `Der Chef' was the only member of my team to have arrived so far at the discreet redbricked house in the little Bedfordshire village of Aspley Guise which had been assigned to serve as the top-secret home for Isabel - who had also now signed the formidable Official Secrets documents - me, and my team. The chief's adjutant was not yet through his security check, and we could not wait for him any longer. It was urgent we got on with the job, whether he was there or not. It was urgent because only twelve days before the impossible had become accomplished fact: Hitler's deputy, the faithful Rudolf Hess had parachuted into Scotland and presented Britain's political warriors with a priceless opportunity for causing confusion among our enemies.

And in those twelve days it had become clear that `Der Chef' must get in on the act. For, to the amazed chagrin of Dick Crossman and the rest of us, Winston Churchill was giving the B.B.C. no opportunity to exploit it. No information was being passed to the propagandists beyond the bald announcement that Hess had arrived and had been made prisoner. Worse than that, the B.B.C, and the `Luftpost', a news sheet dropped on the Germans by the R.A.F., were asked to abstain from all speculation and comment. It was almost as though Churchill feared that if the facts about Hess's `Peace Mission' leaked to the British public there would be a rush by Britain's phantom `Peace Party' to unseat him and avail themselves of Hess's services.

`Der Chef', however, was not subject to the restrictions of truthfulness and obedience to policy imposed on the B.B.C. If he had no facts, he could invent them. So it was up to him to get going and do his little bit to exploit the situation. It could in any case only be a very little bit. For in its first broadcasts a `Black Radio' can only have the tiniest of audiences, operating as if does on a short wave frequency, enjoying no preparatory publicity, and relying exclusively on the few chance knob twiddlers who may happen to tune in on it at the right moment.

Punctually at half past two in the afternoon of May the 23rd, 1941 a small black limousine drove up the larch-hedged gravel drive to our villa. A khaki-uniformed girl driver saluted smartly, and `Der Chef', still in his Pioneer Corps battle dress, climbed in, followed by me. Twenty minutes later we stepped out again in what looked like a London stockbroker's more than comfortable country retreat. Rhododendron bushes, spreading chestnuts and a few venerable monkey puzzle trees hid a lawn from which came the click of croquet mallets.

" You're sure this is the right place?" I asked the driver. And I was even more puzzled when I went inside. For there, confronting my astonished eyes, were a shiny mahogany table with books and a vase of cut flowers, a large settee and easy chairs, an elegant staircase leading to what would be the bedroom stories, and a grand piano, with a fresh and pretty blonde tinkling something that sounded like Mozart's `Eine kleine Nachtmusik'. Nothing suggested that this was a recording studio of the Secret Service.

I was just about to apologise and retreat, when the blonde got up from the piano and came towards us." G-3?" she inquired brightly, announcing our unit's code number, as she gave us the medicated smile of a dentist's receptionist. "We have everything ready for you, if you will follow me." And forthwith she led the two of us into a billiard room. The billiard table, however, was shrouded in dust covers, and the windows were shuttered and curtained. Three chromium-plated R.C.A. microphones twinkled at us invitingly under a strip of ultra-modern fluorescent lights. One microphone was suspended from the ceiling, a second topped an adjustable stand, the third stood on a very businesslike desk with two chairs in front of it.

" Let me adjust this so that you are comfortable," said the blonde, more like a dentist's receptionist than ever. "Are you going to be sitting or standing?"

Later, when Gustav Siegfried Eins and `Der Chef' had won a large audience in Germany, all kinds of theories were spread from mouth to mouth as to his identity and the location of his transmitter. One, mentioned in his reminiscences by Paul Schmidt,* Hitler's Foreign Office interpreter, was that The Chief operated from a barge on the River Spree. Another was that he kept on the move through Hitler's Europe, dodging from hideout to hideout. All theories coincided in assigning primitive and extremely uncomfortable quarters to the Chief and his intrepid signals unit. Had his listeners been able to take a peep at the surroundings in which his messages were, in fact, recorded our audience would I am sure have shrunk to zero.

`Der Chef', in that first broadcast, began very soberly by announcing his call sign and then dictating some code signals. "Here is Gustav Siegfried Eins . . . here is Gustav Siegfried Eins . . ." he repeated monotonously for about forty-five seconds. And then "calling Gustav Siegfried 18, here is a message for Gustav Siegfried 18 . . . calling Gustav Siegfried 18, a message for Gustav Siegfried 18 . . ." There followed a message in a number code. It was not a high grade cypher and when broken and decoded by the monitors of the Reich Central Security Office, as it was bound to be, I reckoned it would produce quite an acceptable flurry in the Gestapo dove-cotes all over Germany. For the message said: "Willy meet Jochen Friday row five parquet stalls second performance Union Theater".

There were hundreds of Union Theater cinemas all over Germany, and I fondly imagined leather-coated Gestapo thugs attending every one of them on the look-out for `Willy' and `Jochen'. The Gestapo with their radio detection instruments would be quick to fix our signal as coming from Britain. They could not ignore the possibility that Willy and Jochen were British agents, and that the message to them was genuine.

Then, at last, code dictation done, it was time for `Der Chef' to launch into his special address. He was answering queries, he said, which had followed his last message. (Of course there had been no previous transmission, but I thought it a good idea for him to talk as if there had been several, in order to cause trouble for the German Security monitors. They would be accused of having missed them.) In that message, so The Chief let it be understood, he had warned that this obscenity of a dilettante Deputy Fuhrer was about to do something idiotic and he ordered his comrades to lie low because of the witchhunt which was bound to follow the fellow's folly. He had been off the air himself for a few days as a consequence. But now the coast was reasonably clear again and he could answer the queries.

" First, let's get this straight," rasped `Der Chef', "this fellow is by no means the worst of the lot. He was a good comrade of ours in the days of the Free Corps. But like the rest of this clique of cranks, megalomaniacs, string-pullers and parlour Bolsheviks who call themselves our leaders, he simply has no nerves for a crisis. As soon as he learns a little of the darker side of the developments that lie ahead, what happens? He loses his head completely, packs himself a satchel full of hormone pills and a white flag, and flies off to throw himself and us on the mercy of that flat-footed bastard of a drunken old Jew Churchill. And he overlooks completely that he is the bearer of the Reich's most precious secrets, all of which the obscenity British will now suck out of him as easily as if he was a bottle of Berlin White-Beer." Dramatic pause.

" I must however deny one thing that some of the lickspittles in the Fiihrer headquarters are putting around," `Der Chef' went on, "namely that the fellow flew to Britain under orders of the Fuhrer. That I am convinced is quite out of the question. The Fuhrer would never have authorised a man with such an intimate knowledge of our operational plans to go into enemy country. And that is proved too, by the drastic way the Fuhrer is dealing with those who have, by their negligence, permitted this grave blow against the future of our fatherland to be struck, namely the security snoops, who, if they had been anywhere near as good as they say they are, would have stopped the poor idiot in time.

Unfortunately, however, that supreme obscenity of a Reich Security Chief, to get himself out of the mess, has seen fit to arrest a number of men-leaders of Industry, leaders of the Abwehr-true German patriots, all of them, men of the deepest national devotion and fatherland-loyalty, men whose one fault was that they misjudged the nerve strength of this so-called deputy leader and placed before him, in the last days of April, the grave misgivings which, owing to the hedge of liars and lickspittle sycophants that surround him, they had been unable to place before the Fuhrer himself."

There followed a list of alleged arrestees. But the amazing thing is, that though we invented them all, several of the men we said had been arrested, it turned out later actually had been detained on suspicion of having been initiates of Hess's schemes.

A certain Dr. Jahncke, for instance. I remembered having heard of him as the top espionage expert in Hess's office. So we put him on the list. And to my great pleasure, when I visited Germany after the war, I learned that The Chief had not misled his listeners. Nor did I have the slightest idea that when I got The Chief to talk of `a grave crisis' and `dangerous developments ahead' Germany was in fact on the verge of the most dangerous development since 1939-Hitler's invasion of Russia.

The Chief finished off his transmission with an undramatic : "That is all for now. I shall be repeating this-all being well every hour at seven minutes to the full hour. Immer sieben Minuten vor voll!"

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