The Cicero Spy Affair: German Access to British Secrets in World War II

By Richard Wires | Go to book overview

3
The Volunteer Spy

Among the basic principles recognized by all modern intelligence agencies are suspicion of those who volunteer their services and distrust of information they obtain too easily. The individuals are generally adventurers, crackpots, or infiltrators sent by opponents: the material is probably unimportant, planted, or falsified for some deception. Common sense and experience have given such guidelines so much authority that professional agents and analysts often dismiss or mishandle the occasional exceptions. Even then, error in judgment seldom has a major impact on the course of events. The doubts and reactions of many top officials in Berlin with respect to Cicero and the photographs he provided were to have great significance. Yet given the circumstances in which the spy first appeared and offered his films, the caution and disbelief which followed seemed reasonable and sound.

★ ★ ★

Elyesa Bazna was born on 28 July 1904 in the small Balkan town of Pristina (Prizren) in the western Ottoman Empire. 1 Because his landowning father not only identified with Turkey but also taught privately the Muslim religion, the family moved several times as the declining Ottoman state lost its outlying regions through successive defeats, settling in Constantinople just before World War I destroyed all remnants of empire. While some relatives profited from career opportunities the 1918 peace and revolution made possible, Bazna rebelled at school discipline and took advantage of the turbulence in occupied Constantinople, finding temporary work with a French military transport unit, where he learned to drive. There followed other jobs and repeated troubles with the police over thefts of weapons and cars, crimes that were neither patriotic nor political in nature. Finally another incident and

-29-

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The Cicero Spy Affair: German Access to British Secrets in World War II
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • 1 - The "Notorious" Case 1
  • 2 - Turkey and the Powers 13
  • 3 - The Volunteer Spy 29
  • 4 - Selling the Secrets 43
  • 5 - Germany's Intelligence Labyrinth 57
  • 6 - Questions and Doubts In Berlin 69
  • 7 - Operation Bernhard 85
  • 8 - Cicero's Outstanding Period 97
  • 9 - The Contest for Turkey 113
  • 10 - Searching for an Agent 129
  • 11 - Cicero's Last Achievements 143
  • 12 - An American Spy 159
  • 13 - Dénouement and Aftermath 173
  • 14 - The Affair in Retrospect 187
  • Notes 205
  • Filmography 243
  • Selected Bibliography 247
  • Index 259
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