Friday, June 23, 2006

I Spy With My Little Eye

I've just started reading B.H. Liddell Hart's book A History of the Second World War. I have a lovely used hardback edition given to me by TFR our first Christmas together as a poor married couple. It was an incredibly thoughtful gift, very Gift of the Magi of her. But while I love the way the book looks on my shelf, in these entire 6 1/2 years, I've never bothered to read it, because it's so long, I didn't want to start and not be able to finish. But recently I decided to give it a crack.

So there I was last night, reading through the chapter on the Phoney War (hot bath + glass of port + thick book = Heaven) when I was struck by the following comment by Liddell Hart on page 38 regarding an incident in January of 1940 in which the Germans' original plan for invading France was revealed to the Allies due to the forced landing of a German staff officer's plane in Belgium in a snowstorm:

"But we know that Admiral Canaris, the head of the German Secret Service -- who was later executed -- took many hidden steps to thwart Hitler's aims..."

The reason this caught my eye is that one of the subplots of World War Two that has always fascinated me was the secret war: the resistance movements; The OSI and OSS; The Jedburghs; Berkeley Square; Bletchley Park, Enigma; The Man Who Never Was; etc. I've read several books on it, including the excellent A Man Called Intrepid. But while I'm aware of several cases in which Allied misinformation campaigns (including Operation Fortitude) almost came unraveled, only to be saved by the failure of Canaris' Secret Service to grasp things (as an aside: One amusing story was of a British expat in Spain, who was "spying" for the Germans, selling British secrets to Canaris' spies. Except he HAD no British secrets, he was a con man making stuff up. The Brits recruited him to give the Germans THEIR made up stuff). But while I wondered how Canaris could overlook so many clues so often, I'd never read anywhere before where it was implied he was actively subverting Hitler.

So a question to any readers who are bigger Dubyah Dubyah Too geeks than I: Can anyone recommend any good reading material regarding Canaris' anti-Hitler activities?

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