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

By Richard Wires | Go to book overview

7
Operation Bernhard

Bazna's insistence that the huge sums he demanded be paid in British currency posed no real problem for his contact's superiors in Berlin. Nothing in fact could be easier or cheaper to satisfy than just such a request: through the circumstance of having been referred to an SD agent, he had stumbled upon a deep financial resource. The only difficulty was that the willing providers dealt in fake money. Perhaps he ought to have become suspicious when the amounts he sought were not seriously challenged, but he remained unaware until after the war that nearly all his notes were bogus. His self-importance and greed probably convinced him that his pleased employers felt that his services warranted the outlay. Yet the over-confident and trusting Cicero became the biggest and most publicized victim of the Nazis'wartime scheme to counterfeit enemy currencies.

Operation "Bernhard" evolved as a secret project of the SD's section F. Its success combined elements of audacity, coercion, and ingenuity in overcoming technical problems, and the quality of its specimens and the magnitude of its production were impressive. In the beginning, Nazi leaders planned to circulate large quantities of the worthless money in order to undermine the British and other economies. Later necessity forced them instead to use the counterfeit notes to finance critical purchases in neutral countries and also intelligence operations in foreign and occupied areas -- such as paying someone like Cicero.

Schellenberg came to control the distribution of all the counterfeit pounds, like those supplied to Moyzisch. The manner in which he acquired and oversaw the forgery project illustrates well the nature and pattern of power struggles at the top echelons of the regime. Only through his responsibility for both the Cicero and Bernhard operations can the spy affair's financial dimension be understood. The huge

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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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