When Armin Hull went to Germany in the summer of 1945 his German driver told him how he had lived for six weeks on our Cheese coupons, while he was on the run from the Gestapo. He had no idea that he was talking to the forger in person. But the legend of the `clumsy' British forgeries spread by Goebbels has persisted in Germany to this day.
" Tell me, Herr Delmer," a young German recently asked me in Hamburg, "when the British dropped those counterfeit ration tickets why did they not make a better job of it? Why did they drop cards that were so poorly faked that no one could use them?" I told him. I must confess that the success of the other R.A.F. job, the Werner Molders letter undertaken early in 1942 came as a surprise to me. For before launching it I had the greatest misgivings about entrusting any `black' job to the R.A.F.
Colonel Molders, one of the most publicised fighter aces of the Luftwaffe, had been shot down by German flak near Breslau in the last days of 1941 - It was almost certainly an accident. But of course we did not leave it that way when we learned of the peculiar circumstances of his end from a captured Luftwaffe officer.
Werner Molders, said the officer, was a devout Catholic. He had become outspokenly critical of the anti-Christian Nazi regime after a British air raid on Miinster, when the Nazis had insisted on taking over a convent there and expelling the nuns from it, among them his sister. Himmler's SD had just begun to investigate Molders' `treasonable outbursts' when he was shot down and killed as he was coming in to land on the airfield at Breslau.
Clearly this ambiguous death of one of the most popular heroes of the Third Reich was bound to be much discussed in Germany and I determined to exploit it with every means at our disposal. On `Gustav Siegfried Eins' `The Chief' delivered himself of a thundering denunciation of Himmler's Bolshevik canaille who had so treacherously murdered this shining light of German manhood.
Next I decided to fake a letter allegedly written by Molders expatiating on the doubts he and his comrades felt about fighting for the atheist Hitler. I conceived it as a piece of `evidence' with which to back up the Gustav Siegfried campaign. But in this instance, the typed word was to have a greater resonance than the broadcast of `Der Chef'.
As the addressee for the letter, supposedly written by Molders, we selected the Roman Catholic Provost of Stettin, with whom, so the opening sentence of the letter was made to suggest, Molders had been corresponding for some time. The `Molders' letter', as it came to be known throughout Germany, was defeatist. Sadly Molders told the Provost how more and more of his comrades were being killed. The letter was rebellious. Rebellious against the Party, whom Molders referred to not as `the Party' or `the Nazis' but as the `godless ones'. And it informed the Provost that more and more of Molders' Luftwaffe comrades were turning away from the `godless ones' and seeking religion.
" There is nothing more beautiful for a man than to have struggled successfully through all this slime of lies, injustice and perversion in order to find his way to knowledge, to light, to the true faith." The letter suggested that Molders knew he was being hunted by `the godless ones' and that his days might be numbered.
" If on my last journey no priest can be present," he concluded, "then I leave this earth in the knowledge that in God I shall find a merciful judge. Write again soon, my dear fatherly friend, and pray for your Werner Molders." It was urgent to have this moving document distributed in Germany before the Molders story had lost its actuality. If we waited for a normal S.O.E. delivery, it might be months before it got through. So with considerable qualms I decided that for this once we would risk dropping a `black' job by the R.A.F. To make an air dropping plausible, I added a short introduction from an anonymous Luftwaffe man and had the whole thing roneoed on a copy Hull had made of some Luftwaffe signal sheets we had found among a haul of captured documents. To any German picking up the sheets it would look, I hoped, as though they had been dropped by one of the night fighters sent up to chase off the R.A.F. bombers.
The R.A.F. men must have made a wonderfully lucky shot with their drop. In no time at all the `Molders letter' was all over Germany. Courageous priests read it from their pulpits. The aged Field Marshal von Mackensen, shocked by the antiChristian contempt for religion shown by the Nazi regime, had it copied out and sent to his friends. The B.B.C. and the Soviet Radio picked it up.
Goebbels denounced the letter as a forgery. He made Molders's mother denounce it too. But no one would believe them. For it was in keeping with the character of young Molders to have written such a letter. He alone could have denounced it convincingly, and he was dead-murdered, so everyone believed, by the Nazis themselves.
The Molders letter was such a success that about a year later I asked the R.A.F. to drop another leaflet for me which purported to come from German fighter pilots. But this time, although the R.A.F. dropped several thousands of it `white' leaflets, of course, were dropped by the million-I got no reaction at all. The Goebbels' propaganda took no notice of it and I could find no prisoner who had ever come across it or heard of it. And yet it seemed to me an excellent job. The only difference from the Molders letter was that this time we had not multigraphed our text on Luftwaffe signals paper but had printed it on ordinary newsprint.
I did not mind our failure too much. For I transferred the operation to our radio and there it soon harvested its full measure of `comebacks'. The leaflet-I give its full text in the appendix*-was an appeal by German fighter pilots to the public and their comrades of the army against their Commander-in-Chief Major General Adolf Galland who had complained of their lack of fighting spirit.
I did not commit another `black' job to the Air Force for dropping until very much later in the war, when the Germans themselves were having to supply their troops from the air and were dropping leaflets to them. I shall tell about that when I come to it.