tv Rhodri Jeffreys- Jones The Nazi Spy Ring in America CSPAN July 31, 2021 6:00pm-7:03pm EDT
how many were selected? >> [inaudible]. >> 25 women were selected, and how many passed? 13. so do we have a little bit of information here on how well do women do things? how well did they come across on the may flower? terrific. how well did they go across the prairies and settle the west in their covered wagons? great. big families, didn't think anything about it. why can't we fly and go into space? the men today that think we can't as women do things, sorry, folks, we can do it. a woman and i'm sure eileen has tried extra hard to do her best because nobody wants to fail, but -- and failure is not a part of my makeup. i do the best i can do, and i
kick as many doors in as i possibly can, no matter where i go. :: international spy museum in washington, d.c. thank you for joining us today. despite museum doctor andrew hamman will be formally introducing new to our speaker, doctor rodrigue jeffrey jones and let's hand it over to his really fascinating men. thank you andrew, thank you rodney. >> thank you. >> so it is my distinct honor to welcome professor emeritus of the university of edinburg.
so anybody that looks at the history, intelligence, and i can't really say a bigger compliment than that he is the author of well over a dozen books. i think 17 is right. >> rep to i could talk for a long time you can look it up yourself. has expertise as far as you just listen closely and hear roger tell more about research thank you. >> thank you andrew and thank you amanda. thank you to the team. as the title of my book suggests, today's talk is
about the goal of the fbi and bringing to justice a ring of not despise in america. the story evolves around a brilliant detectives and counterspy leon, his activities can be contributed to the demise of american neutrality in the 1930s. now the political background is, as you all know in the mid- 1930s the united states was committed to neutrality. at the same time germany have recovered from its of notoriety in the first world war, urinate was making to bring you nine sites within its orbit. the neutrality acts of 35, 36, and 37 establish an arms and
trades embargo in regards to civil wars. they gave the ambassador, the german ambassador in washington the hopes he could win over the american press corps and opinion. his efforts reflected hitler's early admiration for the united states. especially very high opinion of american technology. he thought also german americans who were a numerous proportion of the american population could be used as a means of leverage to bring the united states within the german orbits. and yet at the same time hitler risked all of feeling by encouraging and initiating an effort to steal united states military secrets.
the idea was to build up german by building on america's technology where this time in the world was becoming preeminent months the technologies of the various nations. the united states was not prepared for this, counter intelligence barely existed properly at all. in american industry was not prepared for the onslaught of the knots he spies. i think one of the ways of explaining what this was about was to obtain the booty they obtain. for example the whole design of a new generation american destroyers. this proved to be because the
unites states navy change is design soon after that. but gets hold of the bomb sides operated in manhattan and developed a gyroscopic bomb site which meant it could study the delivery of a bomb to its targets meaning greater accuracy and less collateral damage. in manhattan there is an employee called herman lange and in 1937 he gave one of the spies of the german secret service the blueprint for this
bomb site. and he smuggled the blueprint onto the german check alliance , rolled it up to an umbrella for caring documents. it was quite interesting to see there's a lot of physical transports of secret documents on chips which were governed by members of the not see party by the 1930s. so the captain would take his orders from a member of the not see party. they did this in part because they no longer trusted the cables because their codes had been broken in the first world war. so they got told of the retraction system could receive the first slide please. the system on the new generation of aircraft
carriers. this is one of them to uss yorktown. the photograph taken 1939, that is the end of that image. they also obtained a code deciphering machine and i'm going to choose my words carefully here. involved in the design of the machine was a woman called agnes. now the fbi documents in the case notes that is her maiden name was, she was a german-american dissent on her father's side. according to fbi sources code breaking machine to the service for the sum of 10,000 dollars.
and the other explanation for her treachery, the fact she was agreed because the naming navy five same machine paid only 6000 tuner $50. furthermore she was an automobile accident and was unable to work. they stopped her wagers and she felt very bitter about that therefore she was prepared to sell this machine to germans. this was in 1951 interred at the arlington computer. that's one type of information the other taught which would help them to build up their armed forces for the second kind of information was much more aggressive.
on defenses of the east coast of the united states around the panama canal with intent to attack should the occasion arise and the need arise. that is quite aggressive. now can we see the next image please? that is a short way of explaining about german spies. his codename was he was a german air force pilot form and 1921 over the city of versailles. he became an agent for the new agency and it 19207 was sent
to the united states. he was quite productive by 1935 when he was spotted trying to board ships in new york harbor and with a suspicious looking parcel and that parcel contained secret documents about american aircraft designs. naïvely he was told to report back in three days for questioning by the military intelligence part he took the opportunity to get in a fast car and disappear into the canadian border where he took a ship back to germany. next image please. the next image is of pfeiffer here he is with his mistress who accompanied him everywhere.
the admiral was in charge of the affair in germany, and asked to set up a special substation for the sole purpose of spying on the united states, which he did with considerable success. he is an interesting character. he had a scar on his left cheek tells you something about his social accounts. seventy german ship and battle in 1916. he had seen action. he was a respected member of the german officer class this case the naval officer. he was in charge in the period leading up to 1938, which my
book is mainly about, next image please. >> this is the ss, it's one of the passenger boats this particular vessel had a crossing of the atlantic prior to the taking of this photograph which it had been overtaken by french, british and american ships. i was very much under not seek control. if we could see the next image please, this image is by the pulitzer prize-winning cartoonist jacob burke. as you can see there's quite a bit of traffic portrayal north german is on the big german shipping company.
the nonseasonal running down affecting american jews. of course leaving with german spies. that is quite a graphic image from 1935 okay thank you, take that away please. now i would like to say something about the contribution of mi five. mi five is a british counterintelligence agency. january of 193,817th generate 38, intercepted a letter sent by a person calling himself from new york and this is how i got the story originally, i wanted to know about this letter and what it told us.
and the information request to the fbi there. happily produced, guess depends on your point of view these documents. take the letter goes from crown to dundee. it was a woman jesse jordan and her job was to transmit these letters which is to the main spy station and germany. why this security once an attempt to throw off agencies and the knighted states. so mi five intercepts the letter, it steams it open before sending it on its way. they discover there is a plot to assassinate an american
army officer he was to be lured to the hotel he would be lured by mean of eight honey chat on the german ships. a redhead and she was to lure him. at any rate she was encouraged to visit the hotel. he had access and privy to these plans. the plan was that he would arrive in her hotel room and from behind the curtain agents would pounce on the kernel and injected him with the contents of eight fountain pen what
looks like a fountain pen that is actually a syringe. in the u.s. army officer would be prostrate they would get away with the blueprints and they would leave behind the copy to implicate the congress party of the united states. this is a copy of the mi5 obtained. it seems like an unlikely plot but they thought there is a serious possibility. so they tipped off the americans and that's how the nine states got onto the case. the fbi put him in charge. now very obscure america's best detectives. much of my book rests on evidence from the files.
please image. this is an image of bearing a gun the fbi at this stage have begun to issue weapons to special agents hoover initially had been against carrying weapons he was no stranger to guns. he was an action world war. next image please. the next image is in a more pensive look. that is more typical because his contribution was a tough guy and he was touchy about that. the contribution was cognitive in the breaking up of spying. move take that off now.
he was born in a russian control town. he is a consummate liar. people still hold that against him. although on the other hand it helped him detect that and the people he was intimately, who claim to be an orphan to get sympathy of his audiences but he wasn't. he denies being jewish, he was jewish. one of the reason he denied being jewish when he was a young man is because he is courting christian girls pretty had a griffin called olga. but he tried to disguise the plan but did not get a way with it. their anti- somatic and it was that was the end of that.
so what you do when your girlfriend gets rid of you you join the legion. that's if you look at the legend of his record there is no record was wounded that is how he met his next girlfriend teresa who is a polish catholic so once again it came in handy to deny that he was jewish. would eventually have 3000 cases including the famous lindbergh case and came be the fda's correct detective. and indeed he tracked the not seat spy case in my book explains how i tried to read and eight thriller style with footnotes. four people were friendly
committed to a guy who posed as the crown and wrote the letter in the system shooting huffman that i mentioned was in connection with honey chat. was the person who betrayed the design of the american fighter planes. the trial in the autumn in the fall of 1938 was a spectacle. people were shocked by what it revealed. it was a gruesome entertainment the next slide please. someone who said she had been the nurse when he was fighting against polio in the 1920s. she said she'd got to note
members of the american military in particular establishments because of that assignment. after close examination of the records of the estate examined and this is lie. and celaya she claimed, that is the end of that image. who is a new tours new york semite took her to meet. [inaudible] then they proceeded to the hotel in berlin, next image please. this is the hotel and see the gates down in the left, behind it was the reconstructed hotel, it has burned down when it was reconstructed.
from there they went, next image please. that is where the german military have their headquarters and he had a desk with his back to one of those windows. so they met him in his office and look after the plan that she was to go to the united states and said up what was euphemistically in washington d.c. no expenses spared, members of the military political elites as well as naval and army officers were to be invited there in certain circles that would lead to enchantment that would lead to blackmail and them becoming spies this was part of the monohydrate complex the germans had.
much to hari a famous spy in the first world war was said to have been responsible for the death of 40000 french shoulders under soldiers executed by the french for her part in that espionage, but not nearly as important as people made out. but the germans had become fixated with the use of glamorous women hoffman sheet two. they were entranced by the idea. let ingrid vern bergman had acted in the film was very much in the american consciousness. okay let's move them. with the germans couldn't do was send spies with a needed
to use their brains. okay, i would like to turn out to the campaign run through just after suspects had been arrested and before they're put on trial in 1938 the fbi would still not say he was a jew because he that his campaign was against nancy's and anti- semitism and revealing the story of the german spies were he could not make the argument because people would say he was biased, he is a jew he would say that would make? that's an aspect of his identity that was confidential. so even before it started
started the posen after the trial was post civilized is a steward which also came out as a book. embarked on a lecture tour in 1939 even as it february 1940 he was still scheduled to give 53 more lectures each for the fee of $500 pretty been the best paid agents in the fbi but he was making a lot more money because of his activities and because he sold the story to hollywood. the movie confessions of a knotty spy came out and warner bros. studio and was released in may 1959. we see the next image please? this image was the anti-
somatic gynecologist who was the lover and here he is adjusting. this is in real life and fbi image, and the next one please. this is the publicity shot to publicize confessions of not sees. we see a jew from eastern europe warner bros. was also jewish. and here's looking at copies of the book the film is based on the book. okay think you will finish with that image now. now this campaign was pretty powerful. there were other contributors
to it there is hemingway, the novelist, it's against nasis and warned against not see spies. my argument continues this was a domestic events. these spies operate within the united states they face sensational trial taking place in new york. had an impact on opinion such as for example took place in november 1938 the not seat spy trial. public opinion changed. fight february 193965% of those polled favored the sale of airplanes in the neutrality act to france. and by 1939 when the war broke out in europe, only 2% of
those polled supported germany. 84% would be allies. i would like to mention the impact of this change in public opinion on the germans. sometimes the german ambassador had entertained the hope is opinions have changed on germany because of the neutrality acts and other events in the mid- 1930s, became federally disillusioned when the spy cases were revealed. i think it's quite interesting the first world war and neutrality the german spies of the united states were from the embassy. this time the embassy's a great fan of adolf hitler. in fact they must've had
suspicions that their clearly annoyed of what was going on. suddenly called on the course of the trial and placed thompson, spy cases continued to crumble. he reported to berlin that german espionage and sabotage in the united states was surest way of bringing america into action on the side of her enemies and destroying the last messages of sympathy for germany. the telegraph was awarded by the prime minister connecting to the fewer. it was taken seriously at the top. but nonetheless the nancy party continues to encourage the activities of secret agents in the united states. nonetheless, germany has taken
notes of the change in opinion in america and hitler had written, right before 1939. some other consequences of the spy story in the wake of the great supply scared of the fbi was the strength was planted by hoover going to the press who was with him. after the second world war, he died there many years later. he was put out for public review and thought he was vilified by hoover he went. i think that's probably the main reason why he is so little known in the united states today. he spent the remainder of his life in exile in paris, forgotten but still a
significant figure, thank you. >> thank you so much. i like the way you described it. i read the book in preparation for today and it really does read like that. it's really well written. to some great scholarship thereto. i in strong recommending you get the spy museum online store. one of the first things i want to touch on was you mentioned j edgar hoover's campaign. to what extent does anyone know within the fbi people in
the fbi part of their history or was that story and you're trying to bring it up for more people to hear? >> the fbi has taken notes of, as you know they have got a website where you can put up all kinds of interesting details about the fbi's history. john fox over in the fbi's making great efforts in this regard. if you look at the section on through he is mentioned. is mentioned as a person who was dismissed with prejudice in that is crazy in his dismissal notes. j edgar hoover something like an dishonorable discharge from the armed forces. dismissed with prejudice. i have communication and i
said now that we know more about the accounts on the fbi website can be fortified a little bit. >> okay, i look forward to looking at that page. strikes me as a really fascinating figure. he has done all of these amazing things. he spoke seven languages, he may or may not have been in the french foreign legion, he had the kidnapping case. on if you sense of demand. why would somebody has done such amazing things and you described him as a tangle of half-truths and lies. did you get a sense of him as a man? is there an interest to come to that? >> he does come across as a
scoundrel some people have dredged up some information about him much more damaging than anything in my book. i think like a lot of people he's a mixture of good and bad. in his case the extreme is polarized. i don't think he's out to redeem himself in this campaign against nasis but he feels very strongly about it. he is a witness that firsthand and came from poland. and feels very strongly about the effect that is. you can see it needs to oppose that. he's acting from principal.
so what you have here is the development of strong moral sense inside someone whose imperfect person. i don't think that's really unique. he's one of the compatriots. but having been a ruthless and he begins to campaign for that and gives lots and lots of money away for good causes, education library and the such. nothing unusual to be a blend of good and bad. >> a fascinating figure for sure. you spoke about the prejudice
he was subject too. and i know from your book that you got a hole of a lot of fbi documents, personnel failed he also suffered from you speak more about that? >> he did suffer from example the fbi files in his personnel file which went through transition and became when he took against him. people are saying he looks funny. he did not look american. and he himself describes himself having high cheekbones
and being a russian in appearance. he's aware he looks a bit different. i don't with the conception of what american is supposed to look like but there's a huge variation in america between people. people in the fbi that looked at accents. he spoke very well but he had an accent. he was just 5-foot six tall which a lot of the fbi agent. we have to have a law degree to become an fbi special agent to be objected for that reason. he had to wait seven years. mentioned 21j edgar hoover
hotels at the sky was pre-but they had to wait until 19209 before they should get in partly because of cuts in the fbi. and also because those prejudice against him. he campaigned for j edgar hoover in 19209, 28 presidential election. he campaigned in manhattan. he spoke all of these languages he could get up and say what a great guy hoover was. there was a payoff after that. while donovan went on to become one of the more important intermediaries in getting that job and signed off on it as the assistant attorney general.
>> host: whitby fair to say he was that here you if you want to put it like that of the book? >> guest: yes he is the hero of the book. there is an element of antihero at first because you have to acknowledge that he did not always tell the truth. you have to acknowledge she was very keen on self-promotion. i think it is in the fbi he was regarded at extremely brilliant but difficult to get along with. when he became the best paid special agent that was it there's no further advancements because he is not promotion material. this guy was never going to be an administrator. who's the very personification and literature.
the guy does not pretend with the establishment he's a maverick member of the police force that would never be promoted. he is that kind of guy. the fbi probably regarded him that he was. >> i mean, i think he is such a fascinating figure. i think it would make for a great movie. i am sure. >> seriously. [laughter] [laughter] okay, so just want to shift focus a little bit and move up to the title of the book. i just wonder to what extent were some of the figures you speak about not spies or to what extent were they just german spies? where are some of the figures you discuss in the book were the ideologically ordered
these just happen to be german nationalists or people that wanted to support the german effort? >> i think it is a mixture they really wanted to remain a professional espionage intelligent agency. that is how it's regarded was not a not see, i don't know if he was involved eventually and covering up a plot from hitler's life and was executed for having been there. it's anti- hitler. and a number of the officers and others regard themselves as traditional german army officers first and perhaps not
see second there were more like fellow travelers than ideological nasis. but the not see party had gone from the beginning the penetration and some of the agents that was obliged to run in the united states. all of the agents were members of that not see party. [inaudible] was in agent for example was a very, very nasty and tight semite. he was maneuvering and successfully getting help from the authorities to get out of property owned by family in germany, that was a surname. he managed to get their property x appropriated and then he goes into eight
gynecological practice it was found by jews. he published anti-semitic pamphlets, he had a black list of jews of newark he was quite an important spy in new york he actually helped him to escape and after that he was quite a leading figure in new york. this was heartfelt. see what i believe there's quite a lot of questions i am just going to make one final comment which is one of the charters i found really interesting was the one on the hotel. that sounds like a fascinating place. i believe it's now an apartment complex.
you speak about some of the things that go on there is fascinating. >> guest: it is i have vivid memories of the hotel when i arrived in the united states with my then wife in 1971 we stayed there. we slept for a while she looked out the window and screamed my thought my god she seen something horrendous. in fact she always screamed she could see macy's in the shop. [laughter] back to my old interest at the hotel. that was quite bizarre the attempt to entice colonel was tipped off because the americans got a tipoff from the british so this never happened.
the plot was so improbable. this was a letter sent in germany. and my guess is more seasoned members would have vetoed. we went i remember seeing at the hotel and i remember that was where jackie robinson was in 1947 when he got the call from the brooklyn dodgers to become the first player to break the color barrier. anyway, over two questions. >> caller: we have a very wide ranging number of questions. i'm going to dive right in. individual wants to know how well does the fbi and mi spy work together?
>> guest: this tipoff that mi five gave to the fbi is an example of the special relationship at work. but that special relationship was always open too. the fbi i'm sorry the mi five and mi six in fact only gave the americans information if they thought there is a strict need for this to happen. it is because they thought they were about to be killed that they handed on the information. they gave the information with strict instructions that the identity of the go-between jesse jordan's identity be kept secret. but immediately the information got to the united
states. they blame the nypd the new york police force for doing this. and mi five felt that. when the trial came out there should have been two key witnesses. one was this guy i mentioned who had become an fbi informant gave them a lot of information. the other key witness was meant to be jesse jordan, jesse jordan have been trading secrets for the british and she was in prison the americans thought maybe she could be released giving testimony at the trial in new york. the mi five is not keen on this. he said the district attorney
from and gave his daughter a holiday in paris. he traveled to scotland to contribute jesse jordan think he could take back the statement. but the scottish legal authorities proved to be very difficult. is it typical scottish manner he had to pay all the expenses and they said no no. they were not able to utilize that evidence at all. so the cooperation from mi five was real but it was contained as it were he was limited. on the main trial it came into the heavy during the trial for being biased george cedex who is an attorney launched a massive attack. but in the end the jury decided to believe it.
>> boyer on the english connection were they involved with any of william stevenson's efforts to get the u.s. to come into the war? >> guest: no he wasn't. as i mentioned earlier, he was blacklisted by j edgar hoover. he could not have any connection with stevenson through that channel. but then he did manage to get himself into the army. general smith the director of the cia in the war had the responsibility trying to deal with war criminals. he put them in charge of an office to track down and he did a great job.
he applied computer technology to tracing down the suspects. that was a job he did in paris. so he had no connection with stevenson and that, he did good work in the war in spite of the efforts. >> that was true in paris? >> guest: yes. one of the questions was what did he do in paris? so after he was? sue to first of all there is the war, he looks -- networks for the army the united nations for agency which help track down not the war criminals. when he finished he became security guy, the billionaire who lived in france. he did a little bit of work a
happy retirement. especially amongst american muslim veterans who lived in paris. the dismissal with prejudice in the 1960s, hoover finally withdrew the prejudice phrase. >> fascinating. a couple of questions about agnes driscoll. where are the documents that substantiate that she sold the machine? also is she still buried in
arlington cemetery? >> she is still buried in arlington cemetery. the documents i have which are reports was it senior guy in the fbi was based on the evidence of sources. we do not know for sure she did this. it seems very plausible. those not documents when i don't have them. i got in touch with john fox again at the fbi said can you find these documents for me? take a look.
>> i just want to say we love john fox and work with them closely. great to hear his name. [inaudible] [laughter] right we will get the archives open right away. operating in the eastern part of the united states or they tried to bid into the rest of our large country? >> the controlled by pfeiffer in the station operated exclusively. but quite broadly from the south side that's covered. independently, because of the
nasis are not able to run their own spies. the little brother that his brother to san francisco. and from sense print san francisco they tried to bring pressure to bear in chemical works information to national security. this goes a german-american. they tried to get that secret information. when it supplied the information on they still refused to submit to black mail they killed him and to send my naked bodies but yes,
it did operate in san francisco. >> how accurate is the moving confessions of eight knots he spy? >> guest: it's pretty accurate. there's a scene in scotland do do with the letter sent by crown. of course it's a movie particularly with these. there is a british story the reason the letter was discovered is the local postman got very suspicious seeing all these expensive stamps from the united states with letters received by jesse jordan. sharp eyed and clever they are
sending letters but this was a big thing in the movie it's open to the state level with the propaganda story provided by the british. generally speaking yes. >> maybe we can screen it will make in a at our theater once again. okay this is my question. i love hearing about the role of umbrella concealment and this was actually a syringe. i know you have written so many books. do you have a favorite concealment device along these lines it was inspired by the real stuff. >> guest: i think you've got me there.
i've never engage in this kind of work myself. i must confess to a lack of ingenuity and curiosity. in the days of micro technology not microtel was developed. the fashion to give women a mike tickets conceal up their skirts. it just slipped slighted around. >> fair enough. it is a skirt mike. i'm sure we could come up with. eight skirt mike great. this has been so interesting. thank you andrew for leading the conversation with our wonderful speaker, really a
pleasure to have you here with us from abroad. that's where the exciting things for us about doing these virtual programs that we can have an esteemed person like you to be with us today. >> watch a book tv now on sundays on cspan2. or find it on online anytime apple tv.org predicts television for serious readers. ♪ ♪ >> this week we are looking back to this date in history. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ one event filled day and leningrad for vice president nixon and his party escorted by deputy premier, vice president devotes a good part of his tour to handshaking. company news manner mind of a typical american election johnson. some of the russians were
started by u.s. campaigning tactics. in some places on the vice presidents, on the streets it and they factories encountered partyline hecklers. mostly crowds approved big, friendly and demonstrative. many thousands of russians got mr. x is a message of despite the official press. ♪ ♪ a high spot of the day and leningrad was inspection of the soviets nuclear power icebreaker. given a superficial to her. the admiral rickover who commands america the atomic submarine program demanded to be shown just as much as he'd been permitted to see at savannah. after a hard showdown debate, nixon won the point. the admiral was the first american ever to see the reactor. he spent two hours aboard on the vice president mingled with the shipyard workers. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ mr. nixon told the crowd the