By Sarah Helm
In the course of global struggle the particular Operation Executive's French part despatched greater than four hundred brokers into Occupied France -- at the least a hundred by no means back and have been suggested 'Missing Believed Dead' after the conflict. Twelve of those have been girls who died in German focus camps -- a few have been tortured, a few have been shot, and a few died within the fuel chambers. Vera Atkins had helped arrange those ladies for his or her missions, and while the conflict used to be over she went out to Germany to determine what occurred to them and the opposite brokers misplaced in the back of enemy lines.
But whereas the lady who conducted this striking challenge seemed quintessentially English, she used to be not anything of the kind. Vera Atkins, who by no means married, lined her existence in secret in order that even her closest kinfolk knew nearly not anything of her prior. In A lifestyles IN secrets and techniques Sarah Helm has stripped away Vera's many veils and -- with extraordinary entry to reputable and personal papers, and the cooperation of Vera's relations -- vividly reconstructed a unprecedented existence.
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Extra resources for A Life In Secrets: Vera Atkins and the Lost Agents of SOE
59 The first German agent prosecuted after the passing of the 1911 Official Secrets Act was Heinrich Grosse, who was successfully convicted at the Winchester Assizes in February 1912. Like Schultz, Grosse had a criminal background which failed to deter the Nachrichten-Abteilung from recruiting him. Indeed his past ingenuity as a criminal may actually have been seen as a positive indication of his aptitude for espionage. He was sent to Portsmouth to inquire into local naval fortifications, submarines, guns and mine-laying cruisers.
77 In the spring of 1911, however, Hentschel broke contact with Parrott, apparently after quarrelling over Parrott’s affair with his wife and their respective shares of the money from Berlin. 80 Though Melville had earlier been reluctant to shadow suspects personally,81 in July 1912 he shadowed Parrott on a ferry to Ostend, where he met a man who was ‘evidently a German … Age about 35 to 40. Height 5 ft 9 inches – hair and moustache medium dark. Dress light tweed jacket suit and straw hat. 83 Two other would-be naval spies detected by letter checks during 1912 were also not put on trial in order not to reveal intercept evidence in court.
Will you show them to Lloyd George [Chancellor of the Exchequer] when he dines with you tomorrow night? I should add that Kell is thoroughly trustworthy and competent, and that of course the names and addresses of almost all the persons referred to are known. The information is of course secret. 50 Beginning in September 1911, Kell kept a carefully compiled, cross-referenced index of the intercepted letters between Steinhauer and his agents in Britain. An in-house MI5 history written in 1921 noted that though the original letters had been destroyed, a surviving index to them contained 1,189 entries for the period from 1911 to 1914.