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The Nazi's Most Unusual Agent

The Nazi's Most Unusual Agent

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Published by TarredPigeon

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Published by: TarredPigeon on Dec 02, 2012
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Darkness had gathered over German-occupied Athens, Greece, on October 10, 1941, as the sleek Mercedes sedan carrying two passengers in the backseat sped toward the municipal airport. One of the men was Hans Müller, an Abwehr officer, and the other was Paul Ernst Fackenheim, who had received several decorations for valor as a German Army officer in World War I and who later became a prosperous hardware dealer in Berlin. At the Athens airport, Fackenheim boarded a black-bodied German transport plane, which took off and set a course for a pasture outside Haifa, one of the chief ports of Palestine (later Israel). Soon the former businessman bailed out of the aircraft and floated toward the ground in a parachute. He was the Nazis' most unlikely secret agent of the war: a Jew. Fackenheim's weird odyssey into the murky world of espionage had begun a few weeks earlier, when Field Marshal Erwin Rommel's vaunted Afrika Korps had been stalled by British forces in the Germans' drive to reach Egypt. In Berlin, Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, the chief of the Abwehr, had been given the task of recruiting an agent to report on the strength of British reinforcements being collected in the Middle East for a counteroffensive against Rommel. Canaris's aides concluded that the spy would have to be Jewish so he would be warmly received by Zionists when he arrived in Palestine. So an Abwehr officer went to the Dachau concentration camp and interviewed Paul Fackenheim, an inmate. The Jew was flabbergasted to be taken off a rigorous work detail, escorted to a room in the administration building, and interviewed by a courteous Abwehr officer. His amazement increased when the Abwehr agent called him Herr (Mister), a courtesy never accorded to Jews in Germany. Soon the interviewer was convinced that Fackenheim was the ideal man for the espionage job. He was highly intelligent, had been known for his great energy, and spoke several languages fluently, including Hebrew. In fewer than twenty-four hours, Fackenheim was given a haircut, and his tattered prisoner garb was replaced by a new civilian suit, shirt, tie, and shoes. The espionage recruit was escorted to Berlin, then flown to Athens, where he was given a brief course in spying techniques, operating a suitcase-size radio set, writing with secret ink, and identifying British tanks, airplanes, and unit insignias. Then he took a practice parachute jump and was assigned the code name Paul Koch. As he rode through the night toward the Athens airport, Fackenheim had no way of knowing that he would be a pawn in the lethal rivalry between the Abwehr and the Sicherheitsdienst (SD), the intelligence arm of the elite Schutzstaffel (SS), the black-uniformed private army led by Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler. An SD agent tipped off the British to the time and place of Fackenheim's arrival outside Haifa. However, the British were told that the parachutist would be a prominent SS general, Obergruppenführer Erich Koch. The purpose of the SD machination was to discredit Admiral Wilhelm Canaris in the eyes of Adolf Hitler by arranging for the secret espionage mission to be botched. Then, the SD leader Reinhard Heydrich hoped, the Abwehr would be absorbed into the SD and he would become chief of a single German intelligence agency. As such, Heydrich would become the Reich's second most powerful figure after Hitler. Above the dark countryside outside Haifa a green light flashed on in the German transport plane, and Paul Fackenheim bailed out. Hardly had he parachuted to earth than he became

and it appeared that Fackenheim would be shot. At dawn. checking identity papers in an effort to nab the presumed SS general. They refused to believe his story that he was but a small-time spy who had agreed to his mission only to escape death at the Dachau concentration camp.blogspot. the charges were dismissed. at almost the last moment.com/search/label/Intelligence%20War . who would be tried for espionage and possible execution because he had been wearing civilian clothes. they arrested him. Finally. She testified that she had known Paul Fackenheim and his parents many years earlier in Germany. He could discern dim figures dashing about. Consequently.aware of the headlights of numerous vehicles parked on an adjacent road. Then. Some of the British officers clung to the notion that Fackenheim was indeed the SS general Erich Koch. The trial was rapidly concluded. As envisioned by Heydrich. Fackenheim managed to slip out of the British trap. then took the conveyance into Haifa. Soon he became aware that British military police were posted at almost every corner. Consequently. and Fackenheim survived the war in a British internment camp http://worldwartwobalkanslevant. where he melted into the crowds. As soon as his interrogators saw that his forged identity papers listed him as Paul Koch. Fackenheim was taken to a jail outside Cairo and grilled intently by British intelligence officers. the Irish lawyer who had been appointed to defend him somehow located an elderly Jewish woman living in Haifa. the British High Command in the Middle East was eager to capture this dangerous German general. he lined up with residents at a bus stop. and hear orders being shouted in English. Fackenheim entered a British headquarters and told the officer in charge that he was a Jewish refugee from Germany who had landed in a boat on a Haifa beach the previous night. the British had concluded that a high-ranking SS general would be parachuting secretly into Palestine to orchestrate a huge sabotage operation or to instigate a massive Arab uprising.

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