The piece of paper that fooled Hitler

Discussion in 'WW2 General' started by BikerBabe, Jan 28, 2011.

  1. BikerBabe

    BikerBabe Active Member

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    BBC News - The piece of paper that fooled Hitler

    By Jon Kelly
    BBC News Magazine

    It was an audacious double-cross that fooled the Nazis and shortened World War II. Now a document, here published for the first time, reveals the crucial role played by Britain's code-breaking experts in the 1944 invasion of France.

    All the ingredients of a gripping spy thriller are there - intrigue, espionage, lies and black propaganda.

    An elaborate British wartime plot succeeded in convincing Hitler that the Allies were about to stage the bulk of the D-Day landings in Pas de Calais rather than on the Normandy coast - a diversion that proved crucial in guaranteeing the invasion's success.

    An intercepted memo - which has only now come to light - picked up by British agents and decoded by experts at Bletchley Park - the decryption centre depicted in the film Enigma - revealed that German intelligence had fallen for the ruse.

    The crucial message was sent after the D-Day landings had started, but let the Allies know the Germans had bought into their deception and believed the main invasion would be near Calais.
    It was an insight that saved countless Allied lives and arguably hastened the end of the war.

    Now archivists at the site of the code-breaking centre hope that a new project to digitise and put online millions of documents, using equipment donated by electronics company Hewlett-Packard, will uncover further glimpses into its extraordinary past.

    Behind the story of this crucial message and its global impact lies Juan Pujol Garcia, an unassuming-looking Spanish businessman who was, in fact, one of the war's most effective double agents.

    The Nazis believed Pujol, whom they code named Alaric Arabel, was one of their prize assets, running a network of spies in the UK and feeding crucial information to Berlin via his handler in Madrid.

    In fact, the Spaniard was working for British intelligence, who referred to him as Garbo. Almost the entirety of his elaborate web of informants was fictitious and the reports he sent back to Germany were designed, ultimately, to mislead.

    But agent Garbo was so completely trusted at the top level of the Nazi high command that he was honoured for his services to Germany, with the approval of Hitler himself, making him one of the few people to be given both the Iron Cross and the MBE for his WWII exploits.

    "He was no James Bond - he was a balding, boring, unsmiling little man," says Amyas Godfrey, an associate fellow at the Royal United Services Institute.
    "But he had the Germans completely fooled. They thought the information he was sending was so accurate."

    To maintain his cover, much of what Garbo fed the Germans was absolutely genuine. But when it came to the looming Allied invasion of France, his "intelligence" was anything but.

    Ahead of D-Day, the British launched Operation Fortitude, a plot to confound the Nazis about the location of the landings. Garbo was an integral part of the plan.
    To establish his credibility, he sent advance warning ahead of the Normandy landings on 6 June 1944 - but too late for the Germans to act on it.

    Then, in the days afterwards, he fed them entirely fictitious intelligence from his fake "agents" that the invasion had been a red herring and "critical attacks" would follow elsewhere - most likely down the coast in Pas de Calais. He also reported, again falsely, that 75 divisions had been massed in England before D-Day, meaning that many more were still to land in France.

    It was an account the Nazis took extremely seriously. As can be seen in the document reproduced by the BBC, it was transmitted to their high command by Garbo's German handler.

    As a result, German troops were kept in the Calais area in case of an assault, preventing them from offering their fullest possible defence to Normandy.
    But what truly gave the Allies the edge was the fact that they knew the Nazis had been duped.
    Unknown to Berlin, the Germans' seemingly foolproof Enigma code for secret messages had been cracked by Polish code breakers.

    In Bletchley Park, Buckinghamshire, some 10,000 men and women were employed deciphering the messages. And when the document above was cracked, the Allies knew they could press forward in the confidence that thousands of German troops would be tied up vainly standing guard at Calais.

    "The whole of the 20th Century might have been very different if it wasn't for this," says Kelsey Griffin, Bletchley Park's director of museum operations.

    "Churchill's official biographer, Martin Gilbert, said it was difficult to imagine how the D-Day landings could have happened without Bletchley Park.

    "We had an army of unarmed intellectuals here."

    The intercepted document - in its original, freshly-released, German language version - is all the more extraordinary for having been found by volunteers digging through Bletchley Park's archives.

    One of them, retired civil servant Peter Wescombe, 79, recalls the excitement of realising its significance for the first time.
    "It was like turning up a crock of gold," he remembers. "It was absolutely wonderful."

    It is a find archivists at the site, run by the Bletchley Park Trust, hope will be repeated after HP donated scanners and experts to provide technical expertise to the digitisation project.

    Many of the records at the centre have not been touched for years, and the charity hopes that by putting them online in a searchable format they can "crowdsource" the expertise of historians and amateurs alike.

    And surely then many more real-life tales of deception, double-crosses and painstaking effort will emerge.

    Cheers,

    Maria.
     
  2. mikewint

    mikewint Well-Known Member

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    Maria, I had heard/read some of this, reminds me of the Mechelen Incident:
    On 10 January 1940, a German Messerschmitt Bf 108 made a forced landing at Maasmechelen, north of Maastricht, in Belgium. Among the occupants of the aircraft was a Luftwaffe major, Hellmuth Reinberger, who was carrying a copy of the latest version of Aufmarschanweisung N°2 (complete plans for the German invasion of France). Reinberger was unable to destroy the documents, which quickly fell into the hands of the Belgian intelligence services. The Belgians quickly informed the allied forces who never acted on the information
     
  3. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Vainly? I don't think so. Nothing required the Allies to make their primary invasion at Normandy. If Ike's staff were competent then they had invasion plans for multiple locations sitting in the file cabinet.

    Calais was the best place to land. If Calais had been weakly defended that's exactly where the June 1944 Allied invasion would have taken place. Perhaps with a secondary invasion at Normandy rather then in Southern France.
     
  4. Aaron Brooks Wolters

    Aaron Brooks Wolters Well-Known Member

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    Excellent find Maria!:thumbright: Thank you for sharing!:cool:
     
  5. mikewint

    mikewint Well-Known Member

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    Dave, the British General Staff appointed Lt. Gen. Frederick E. Morgan to be Chief of Staff (COS) to a still to be appointed Supreme Allied Commander (SAC) and gave him responsibility for planning the attack. By April 1943 Morgan had established an organization to carry out that task and had named it COSSAC after the initials in his new title.
    During the summer of 1943, COSSAC had formulated a tentative plan of attack that involved a force of from three to five divisions. That assault would depend for supply upon the development of two prefabricated harbors, called MULBERRIES, that were to be positioned along with breakwaters composed of scuttled ships just off the invasion beaches. The MULBERRIES would give the Allies a measure of flexibility by allowing them to provision the force moving inland without having to rely upon the immediate capture of an established port.

    As COSSAC developed that plan, the question of where to land posed problems. The site would have to be within the range of fighter aircraft based in Great Britain but also on ground flat enough to construct the airfields that would become necessary once the invading force moved off the beaches and out of the range of its initial fighter support. The landing zones themselves would have to be sheltered from prevailing winds to facilitate around-the-clock resupply operations and would have to possess enough exits to allow the invading force to proceed inland with as little difficulty as possible. Similarly, the area behind the beaches would have to include a road network adequate to the needs of a force that intended to move rapidly. Since the region would ultimately form a base for the drive across France toward Germany, a series of large ports would also have to be close enough to facilitate the unloading of the massive quantities of supplies and ammunition that would be necessary to sustain the attack.

    The most appropriate location, COSSAC's planners decided, lay directly across the English Channel from Dover in the Pas de Calais region. The area fulfilled many of the Allies' requirements and offered a direct route into the heart of Germany. Since the enemy had recognized that fact, however, and had already begun to construct heavy fortifications along the coast, an alternative had to be found. The most suitable stood farther to the west, along the Normandy coast near Caen and the Cotentin Peninsula. That region contained major ports at Cherbourg and Le Havre and offered a gateway to ports at Brest, Nantes, L'Orient, and St. Nazaire. Allied planners believed that the Germans would undoubtedly sabotage Cherbourg, forcing the invaders to place heavy initial reliance upon the MULBERRIES, but the damage could be repaired and the region itself was less strongly defended than the Pas de Calais. Offering, as well, a satisfactory opening into the French interior, it became the site of the invasion.
     
  6. Gnomey

    Gnomey World Travelling Doctor
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  7. RabidAlien

    RabidAlien Active Member

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    I've heard the story of Garbo before (and I remembered it!!! That's a surprise in and of itself...and cause for celebration!), I'm wanting to say it was mentioned in "A Man Called Intrepid", but I've loaned that book out and can't verify. I've always thought that Garbo was one ballsy guy....IIRC, he first went to the Germans to offer his services, but they turned him down because he didn't fit the profile. He then went to the Brits after forming his "circle" of imaginary informants, and showed them what he could do. The Allies took him up on his offer, and the rest is history. Gotta love it! It would make for a really good suspense movie.

    Anyone know what the website they're hosting all these docs is? Scanning all of those docs....man, that's gonna be quite the repository!
     
  8. aircro

    aircro Member

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    About Garbo, he wasn't only double agent in England and inforormations they send to Germany is served by British intelligence agencies - I read a long time ago A.C.Brown's 'Great Deception of the Second World War 1-4'.
     
  9. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Exactly. The Allies had a plan to invade at Calais. Strong German defenses were the reason for landing at Normandy instead. Remove most German units from Calais and that's where the main Allied landing takes place.
     
  10. mikewint

    mikewint Well-Known Member

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    Dave, I would again disagree. Read the above again. You do not do what your enemy expects. The allied forces never had any intent to land where the Germans expected but they did everything they could think of to make the Germans believe that Calais was the intended landing zone. One would think that the Germans would have known better have just attacked France through the impossible Ardennes
     
  11. ctrian

    ctrian Banned

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    The ''germans were so dumb we tricked them and won the war '' story has been debunked years ago.First from zetterling's ''Normandy 1944'' book and recently from Mary Barbier's ''D-day deception: Operation Fortitude and the Normandy invasion'' .Yes disinformation played a part but writing whole books on the subject and claiming that it was vital for the normandy victory is simply crude propaganda
     
  12. RabidAlien

    RabidAlien Active Member

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    Nobody's claiming that disinformation won the war. It was the grunt on the ground with a two-week beard that won the war. Disinformation did, however, play a vital role in the Allies' victory.
     
  13. ctrian

    ctrian Banned

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    No it wasn't vital, because the Anglo-Americans already had overwhelming superiority in men ,tanks,artillery,aircraft etc.I understand that an author wants to sell books but a better case can be made for the strategic effects of German disinformation plans like Sealion and case Kremlin.
     
  14. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    And how do you suppose they got "overwhelming superiority in men ,tanks,artillery,aircraft etc" on the ground in Europe?
     
  15. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    Huh, how do you come up with that?

    Disinformation is important and vital in any conflict. Has been from the beginning of time to even the most modern wars.
     
  16. ctrian

    ctrian Banned

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    Duh let me think , maybe it has something to do with having a much larger population than Germany and half the german army fighting in the East?
     
  17. ctrian

    ctrian Banned

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    Agreed,but in 99% of cases it passes by unnoticed by the intended target, so in the end all you have is a bunch of guys congratulating each other for something that had no effect on the enemy.I dont want to be argumentative but these books/articles/tv shows saying that super disinformation plans managed to fool the enemy high command and win the war etc etc are simply exaggerating to generate sales and to play up the western allies.
     
  18. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    DUH like, maybe the Allies getting a toe-hold at Normandy had a little something to do with that?

    I know, it sounds a little far-fetched, doesn't it? Probably propeganda, huh?
     
  19. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    Where do you get the 99% number?

    How do you figure that it had no effect on the enemy? If the enemy believes something different, then disinformation is doing its job. Planting false information to the enemy is a normal part of combat.

    Have you ever sat in on Intel briefs?

    And not wanting to be argumentative? You are doing a good job in how your formulate some of your posts...
     
  20. ctrian

    ctrian Banned

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    I dont understand what you're trying to say.How could the allies NOT outnumber the germans?

    I mentioned some books before,read,learn.If the enemy does what is logical then why do u you attribute that to ''disinformation'' ?
    I'v read a lot on intelligence in ww2.So i get mad when i read things that are patently false.
     
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