As a first document I got Armin Hull to produce for us an exact replica of the printed forms of the `Oath of Loyalty to the Fuhrer' sworn by German soldiers on joining the Wehrmacht. We had found a number of copies of this print among the documents captured at German staff headquarters in France and the counterfeiting presented no difficulty. But I made one change. For the name of Adolf Hitler I substituted that of Heinrich Himmler.
These forms with a new version of the Wehrmacht oath we then said had been prepared by Himmler in readiness for his assumption of power. In addition to having copies of it left around by underground agents in places frequented by W"ehrmacht personnel we published a photograph of the document in ,Nachrichten fur die Truppe with a suitable elucidation by our omniscient military commentator Oblt. J. von O. Even this document I am willing to accept today as not too far-fetched.
But the next document I asked Hull to produce for me was utterly beyond the bounds of possibility, and I ought never to have ordered it. This was a set of German postage stamps showing, instead of the head of Hitler, that of Himmler. From the counterfeiting point of view it was a masterpiece. The Himmler head was engraved in exactly the same style as the head of Hitler on the ordinary German postage stamps. Which was not at all surprising. For Hull had been producing scores of thousands of Hitler postage stamps over the past three years. We used them for our posting jobs in the Reich because our agents quite understandably felt it beneath their dignity to subsidise the German war effort with even the price of a postage stamp.
Unlike the stamp itself, however, the story that went with it was entirely unconvincing. Philatelist Himmler, it said, eager in his vanity to taste in advance the pleasures of Fuhrerdom, had secretly ordered these stamps to be made in readiness for the day of his accession. He loved looking at them. But owing to the mistake of a subordinate official a few sheets had been prematurely issued to the Post Office and the public and despite the frantic efforts of trusted Gestapo and SD agents to hunt them down and retrieve them, quite a few were still in circulation.
My friends of the underground went into operation with considerable enthusiasm for this silly Delmer stunt and posted letters and newspapers bearing the Himmler stamp in letterboxes all over Germany. S.O.E. agents delivered German newspapers with wrappers bearing the stamps with counterfeited cancellation marks to subscribers in Sweden and Switzerland who we knew were regular recipients of German newspapers. But no one noticed the Himmler stamps. Not even when in my gloom at the lack of an echo to the operation I asked that the newspaper wrappers with the Himmler stamps should be delivered to known philatelists. The trouble was that Hull's counterfeit was far too excellent, the Himmler stamp much too similar to the Hitler stamp, and the public-including the philatelists-far too unobservant. Finally, in sheer despair, my friends in S.O.E. sold some wrappers to stamp dealers in Stockholm and Zurich, and that way, the story of the Heinrich Himmler stamp did at last percolate into the neutral press. But as an operation that stamp campaign had most sadly and badly misfired.
Not, however, for the stamp dealers. A set of these Himmler stamps commands a high price in philatelistic auction rooms today. I wish I had some.
I had, however, another and more effective shot in my locker for the discomfiture of the `humane and kindly people's Friend' Herr Heinrich Himmler. This was a secret transmitter operated on short waves, ostensibly from somewhere behind the Eastern front, by an anti-Hitler group of the Waf£en SS. It fitted in neatly enough with our campaign of the Himmler double-cross.
Yes, in these last ten months of the war, even the loyal and devoted Wafhen SS had to be allocated its special Resistance Cell and Resistance broadcast in the imaginary German world of MB. The beauty of it was that the man who acted as speaker of `Hagedorn'-that was how the station announced itselfwas a genuine officer deserter of the Waffen SS. He spoke the genuine SS jargon and claimed to be the genuine emissary of a genuine Resistance group of the WafFen SS. In fact, he was so genuine, that I disliked and distrusted him from the first moment one of C's officers presented him to me. Rightly so, as it was to turn out after the war.
`Dr. Nansen'-his real name was Zech-Nenntwich-was a bright-eyed, bouncy, rosy cheeked young cavalry man who even in Austin Reed's grey flannel slacks looked as if he were wearing riding breeches. His SS Resistance group he claimed had its nucleus in the SS cavalry of which he himself had been an Obersturmfuhrer. Its secret leader, he said, was none other than the SS Cavalry Commander, Brigadier Hermann Fegelein, brother-in-law of Hitler's mistress Eva Braun and representative of the Waffen SS at the Fuhrer headquarters. Nansen himself as adjutant to Fegelein had been the second in command of the Resistance group. "Our men," he boasted to me, "will recognise my voice and obey my orders."
<< Table of Contents | Previous Page | Next Page >>
Detail from the stairs leading to the Aspidistra control room