Tag Archives: Nazi

Fun Friday Fact #15

Ian Fleming’s James Bond is allegedly based on Serbian Second World War double agent Dusko Popov.

Popov was born in 1912 in Titel, Austria-Hungary (now Serbia). He was signed up as a spy by anti-Hitler Abwehr agents [crassly the Nazi’s secret service branch] early in the war and on their suggestion he offered his services to the British. Living in London as a double agent, Popov placated his German employers by feeding them scraps of MI6-approved information, while the assignments that were given to him by his earnest Berlin counterparts proved to be of great value to the British in assessing their enemy’s strategy. The Germans were so impressed by Popov’s trail of breadcrumbs that they considered him ‘their best man in Britain.’

Whilst in London, Popov set up a ‘spy ring’, made up of members who were all MI5 operatives. Unbeknownst to the Nazis, the lavish maintenance money they paid to Popov would be spent on operations against themselves.

In 1941, Popov was dispatched to the U.S. by the Abwehr to establish a new German network, after the kind that he had apparently so successfully constructed in London. He was given a list of questions about various intelligence targets, most famously including the American defences at Pearl Harbor.

Popov explained to the F.B.I. what he had been asked to do, but his warning concerning an imminent attack on Pearl Habor was treated with suspicion by the head of the F.B.I. J. Edgar Hoover, who did not approve of Popov’s reckless ways (of which more later). During his time in America, Popov was threatened with arrest and deportation on several occasions.

Having left America, Popov became a key part of the Operation Fortitude deception campaign. After the Second World War, he was awarded with an OBE for his service to Britain, and granted citizenship. He died in 1981.

When he wasn’t selling the Nazi’s down the river, Popov enjoyed what can only be described as an extravagant lifestyle of epic proportions. Charismatic, good looking and the son of a mega-rich industrialist, Popov was paid huge sums by the Nazis, who believed that his play boy shenanigans were a necessary part of his cover. Bankrolled by the German state, he romanced his way around the world. One of his many conquests was  Simone Simon a then-famous (and already married) American actress. His code name ‘Tricycle’ referred to his enthusiasm for three-in-a-bed scenarios.

In 1941, Ian Fleming locked horns with this remorseless womaniser in a casino and was humiliated by him at the baccarat table. The legend goes that Fleming, who was at the time working for the British Navy Intelligence division, had been arrogantly showing off his money when Popov promptly slapped down $50,000 on the table, shaming the lesser man and forcing him to leave the casino in disgrace.

What a hero.

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Fun Friday Fact #11

Contrary to popular opinion, a Polish cavalry division did not charge German tanks at Krojanty, September 1st 1939.

I think we’ve all heard the story – a bunch of stalwart nincompoops hurling themselves with reckless abandon towards cold iron oblivion, armed only with stout hearts and mediaeval lances against the most sophisticated fighting force the world had ever seen.

Yes, the cavalry charge at Krojanty – one of the first attacks of the war – has become a legend. But, as is so often the case with these things, the truth is rather different. In actual fact, Polish cavalry charged against German infantry. They met with some success at first, but were subsequently forced to make a hasty retreat out of the range of the German machine-gunners. Italian and German journalists who visited the site of the battle soon after noted the bodies of Polish horses and cavalrymen, and attributed the cause of the destruction to a Panzer division, which had just arrived on the scene. As you can imagine, the Nazi press had a field day with this one, and the charge at Krojanty has since become a symbol for the futility of the struggle against the German tide.

It is sobering to reflect on the fact that Polish forces might as well have charged German tanks, so unable were they to resist the might of the Wehrmacht. Poland capitulated on September 27th and it was subsequently divided up and shared between the Nazis and their new allies the Soviet Union. The rest of Europe would soon follow suit. By 1940 the German army had swept through Denmark, Norway, France, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Britain alone remained in opposition. She was saved from certain annihilation by 21 miles of water, a sophisticated RADAR system and, most importantly, by the bravery and skill of a handful of RAF pilots. In the words of Winston Churchill, ‘Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.’

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Fun Friday Fact #7

Of all the high-ranking members of the Nazi party – many of whom were Catholics – only Joseph Goebbels was excommunicated, and he was not excommunicated for his involvement in killing millions of people (mainly Jews), as one might have thought, but because he married a Protestant woman.

Controversial. Historically I have avoided the discussion of delicate issues like religion on my blog out of respect for the fact that if I have strong opinions about the subject then so do most people. I have nothing against the religious person as he typically appears, but I do not enjoy some aspects of religious authority, and this fact deftly indicates why.

Excommunication is the ultimate Roman Catholic punishment. It removes a person from the grace of the Church and the grace of God and consigns them to eternal condemnation in hell. It is perhaps surprising to us today that Hitler was never excommunicated, indeed he was never even threatened with excommunication. Nazi Germany was a proud Christian country – standing in direct and physical opposition to the ‘godless’ Russia – and it was proudly supported by the Catholic Church and its new pope, Pope Pius XII, a fervent Hitler fan. It should be noted that the Protestant Church was as culpable as the Catholic Church, but lacked a pope to play the role of figurehead in actively bringing about its designs.

It might be suggested that one should not judge the Church(es) too harshly in this matter. Hindsight, after all, is a wonderful thing; perhaps they did not know the depths of Hitler’s mischief. I’m afraid that this simply isn’t true. Although the Catholic and Protestant Churches did stand in opposition to Hitler from 1930-33, from then on in they were as thick as thieves. Both Churches eagerly furnished their little Führer with their records to better determine which Germans were Jewish or had “Jewish” blood and which did not, so that all Jews (including those who had converted to Christianity) could be sent to concentration/death camps. Moreover the German chaplains serving on the frontline, far from being appalled by what they had seen, cheerfully arranged ‘group absolutions’ for those soldiers enacting the final solution.

Shortly after the end of WWII, the pope did excommunicate all communists; he crushed the liberal ‘Worker Priest’ movement in France. Thank God. The Nazis he left alone except when he put the Vatican to work ‘underground’ to get some of the worst of the Catholic Nazi war criminals out of Europe to safety – often in Latin America – using Church resources.

It is difficult to see how ‘Hitlerism’ could have taken such a strangle-hold on Germany without this widespread and insidious religious support. Everyday people turning to their churches for moral guidance found the men of God sitting squarely on the side of the Nazis. Rather like the aids/condoms debacle confronting the Catholic Church today, this rather shocking fact demonstrates one of the ways in which (organised) religion can obfuscate what really matters. It also warns us not to marry a Protestant, of course.

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