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

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

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

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

Synopsis

The episode of the opportunistic valet of Britain's ambassador to neutral Turkey during World War II--dubbed "Cicero" for the eloquence of the top-secret material he appropriated from his employer Sir Hughe Knatchbull-Hugessen and sold to the Nazis--is a staple of intelligence lore. Yet this remarkable and sometimes comical story has often been recounted with little regard for the actual facts, most prominently in the popular film Five Fingers. Now, historian and former intelligence officer Richard Wires presents the first full and objective account of the Cicero spy episode, offering closure to past discrepancies and credible solutions to remaining mysteries. Copiously documented, The Cicero Spy Affair provides readers with the true chronology of events and places them in an international context. It is a story set in the hotbed of intrigue that was wartime Turkey, replete with a dramatic car chase, a series of colorful mistresses ever loyal to their lover the spy, and an old-school British ambassador whose documents are photographed at night as he plays the piano in the drawing room and/or slips into a sleeping pill-induced slumber.

Excerpt

In the extensive literature about espionage affairs and intelligence activities during World War II the episode known as Operation "Cicero" has gained prominence and popularity, because of its remarkable character and ironies. For more than four months during the winter of 1943-1944 the valet of Britain's ambassador in neutral Turkey photographed secret papers that his employer failed to safeguard properly; by selling his undeveloped films to a representative of German intelligence in Ankara for a reported total of $1.2 million the servant became history's then most highly paid spy. The access to one of its opponents' most important embassies marked Germany's outstanding achievement in an otherwise poor record of secret service work. But little came of the success. Many of the documents were extremely valuable, but the dictatorship never used the information effectively; the enterprising spy escaped being caught but soon discovered that his money was mostly counterfeit. References to the affair have become a staple of intelligence lore, usually with emphasis on the most sensational elements and often with little regard for the actual facts, but there has not yet been a full and objective account of the episode. A careful and comprehensive analysis of the available evidence and troublesome issues is needed, not only to identify and counteract the distortions and misconceptions so commonly found but also to examine the extraordinary events and conflicting views within their larger historical context.

My interest in the affair began with the first published accounts of both the espionage and counterfeiting operations, and it continued over the years because of reminders through travels and other contacts. While staying with friends one summer in rural Austria I visited the nearby caves at Redl-Zipf, where the forgery team had been hurriedly . . .

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