Chapter One: A Shady Profession
In 1800 a Londoner had the distinction of living in the most populous city in Europe, as one of 900,000 residents. London and Paris, with 600,000 residents, were the only European cities with more than a half million inhabitants. By 1900 they had grown to metropolises of 4.7 and 3.6 million citizens respectively, and sixteen additional cities had populations of a half million or more. Berlin, Glasgow, Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Vienna all had over a million residents.
The urbanization that changed the face of Europe was the product of two factors, the overall population explosion and industrialization. Between 1821 and 1871 the population of Britain nearly doubled, from 14 to 26 million. From 1900 to 1913, the German population grew by the rate of 1 million per year. The wealth and employment generated by industrial enterprise drew men from the countryside to the cities. They manned the factories which produced consumer and capital goods, worked in the steel mills, and were employed by service industries.
The nineteenth century also saw dramatic developments in the means of transportation and communications, developments which contributed to urbanization and industrialization. The telegraph first appeared in the 1840s. Steam-driven railways and ships came into service in growing numbers after 1860, driving down transportation costs. In 18 76 Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone.
The telegraph and telephone had dramatically changed the nature of communications. Until the middle of the nineteenth century, couriers, postal services, and diplomatic bags represented the major means of communication. Visual signals could be sent by semaphore flags or heliograph mirrors. The introduction of the telegraph (at midcentury) and the telephone (during the later part of the century) made it possible to communicate over great distances in short periods of time.
By 1900 urbanization, industrialization, and technological advances had already had a dramatic impact on the way people lived. These forces would also have a dramatic impact on how nations fought wars and how they spied on each other.
Marconi and the Wright Brothers
Telegraphs and telephones had their limitations. Telegraphy required specially laid land lines to carry the Morse signals, while telephone systems required wires to carry voice communications. This precluded communications with ships out of sight of land or each other, except through scouting vessels. It also limited communications to points with already established telegraph or telephone connections. Guglielmo Marconi would remove those limitations.
During an 1895 vacation in the Italian Alps Marconi read a scientific paper which suggested to him that it might be possible to transmit signals through the air, rather than through wires. His enthusiasm for the idea led him to cut short his holiday and return to his top-floor laboratory--a spare room--at the Villa Griffone.
Initial experiments seemed to indicate that while communication was possible, the range was limited to 100 yards or so at most. But Marconi discovered that raising the antenna to new heights resulted in a dramatic extension of range. On June 2, 1896, Marconi applied for the world's first patent for wireless telegraphy, which was quickly granted. On March 2, 1897, he filed the complete specifications and less than five months later the Wireless Telegraph and Signal Company opened, with the objective of developing the Marconi device commercially. A successful demonstration in August, witnessed by the king and queen of Italy, led to the Italian navy's adoption of Marconi's system. In October, he was able to establish communications between Salisbury and Bath, thirty-four miles apart.
Just as Marconi would have a dramatic impact on the new century, so would two brothers born in Ohio in the second half of nineteenth the century. Whereas Marconi sought to send voices and signals through the air, Wilbur and Orville Wright sought to send men through the air.
As a result of their research and discussions Orville and Wilbur became convinced that human flight was possible--and they wanted to play some role in achieving it. They began by exploring the problems involved in controlling a vehicle in the air. Based on wind current data they chose Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, as their testing ground.
After more than three years of effort, at 10:35 a.m. on December 17, 1903, the historic first flight took place. With Orville Wright on board, the Flyer rose by its own power into the air and, for about 12 seconds and 120 feet, engaged in full flight. The brothers made three more flights that day. The final flight, with Wilbur on board, lasted 59 seconds and traveled 852 feet.
In the Beginning
When Marconi and the Wright brothers began their scientific work few, if any, in the intelligence world took notice. Indeed, in 1900 the world of intelligence was a very small world. While the governments of Europe maintained organizations to gather political and military intelligence about their enemies and potential enemies, those organizations generally existed on the periphery of government, understaffed and underfunded. They did not regularly brief their prime ministers or chancellors on world events, and their work did not often affect the day-to-day foreign and defense policies of their governments.
Although Great Britain was reputed to have a wide network of spies operating across the continent, the truth was far different. In 1873 the War Office had established an Intelligence Branch, staffed by twenty-seven military and civilian personnel. By that time the increased technological sophistication of armies and navies had become evident, with their use of breech-loading rifles, rifled breech-loading artillery, and armored ships. The scope of military intelligence encompassed not only weapons, tactics, and troop numbers, but technical information.
In 1882 the Admiralty followed suit, organizing a Foreign Intelligence Committee (renamed the Naval Intelligence Department in 1887). The committee received reports from the Royal Navy on the dispositions and activities of foreign warships and merchant vessels on the high seas. Port visits produced useful economic intelligence on the destinations and cargoes of foreign merchant ships.
British military attaches in Berlin, Vienna, and St. Petersburg reported on military developments in their host countries. But they did so in a gentlemanly and honorable fashion. They were not expected to engage in "secret service" and were discouraged from even the slightest involvement in such activities. One attache remarked:
I would never do any secret service work. My view is that the Military Attache is the guest of the country to which he is accredited, and must only see and learn that which is permissible for a guest to investigate. Certainly he must keep his eyes and ears open and miss nothing, but secret service is not his business, and he should always refuse a hand in it.
Nor did France have much in the way of an intelligence establishment. After France's disastrous 1870 war with Germany, which resulted in the loss of Alsace-Lorraine, a Statistical and Military Reconnaissance Section was established and given the task of collecting intelligence on the German troops occupying France's former province.
After the occupation ended in 1873 the section grew and was alternately known as the information Service (Service de Renseignement, SR) or Special Service. By 1880 the SR had agents in Berlin, Vienna, Dresden, Leipzig, Frankfurt, Cologne, and Mannheim. Among their accomplishments was the acquisition of German mobilization plans.
However, the involvement of certain members of the SR in the Dreyfus Affair resulted in the Sr's abolition as a separate entity in 1899. Its counterespionage functions were assigned to the Surete Generale of the Interior Ministry, while its foreign intelligence role was reduced. The Service de Renseignement became the Section de Renseignement, subordinate to the Deuxieme Bureau (Second or Intelligence Department) of the General Staff.
The most elaborate intelligence network at the turn of the century was that of Imperial Germany. On June 23, 1866, just ten days prior to the beginning of war with Austria, a royal decree established the Foreign Office Political Field Police (subsequently the Secret Field Police), run by Wilhelm Stieber, whose mission included "support of military authorities by procuring intelligence about the enemy army." When the war ended Stieber expanded his secret service and renamed it the Central Nachrichtenburo (Central Intelligence Bureau). In addition to hounding opponents of the regime, the bureau maintained agents in Paris, London, and Vienna.
Stieber believed that a massive espionage network was necessary to produce a complete picture of a potential enemy. He explained:
The type of isolated observation, involving only a few spies, which has traditionally been employed to spy on other nations, has produced very limited results.... [A] multiplicity of spies will enable us to penetrate to the best-protected secrets.... Moreover, the importance and accuracy of each piece of information collected by an army of agents can be more carefully analyzed in terms of the other pieces of information which verify or contradict it.
The chief of the Prussian General Staff, Helmuth von Moltke, considered Stieber's successes and the inability of the army to procure its own intelligence to be an unworthy reflection on the army. On February 11, 1867, von Moltke established a permanent competitive service, the Intelligence Bureau.
Stieber's ill-health, which forced him to resign in the mid-1870s and killed him in 1882, permitted the generals to seize control of military intelligence. By the late 1880s the Intelligence Bureau possessed a small but solid network of agents in Paris, Brussels, Luxembourg, Belfort, and other French cities. Seventy-five agents and informants operated in Russia. From 1889 on they furnished various details of the mobilization plans and deployment of the czar's armies.
In 1889 a layer of deputy chiefs of staff, or Oberquartiermeisters, was established and the Intelligence Bureau was subordinated to the IIIrd Oberquartiermeister (0. Qu. III). From that point on it became known as IIIb.
Over the remainder of the century its funding increased, steadily, resulting in a budget greater than that of any other European intelligence service, excluding Russia. As a result, what was initially a tiny office had expanded, by 1901, to 124 officers directing agent activities from war intelligence posts in Belgium, Switzerland, England, Italy, Spain, Luxembourg, Denmark, Sweden, and Romania.
The primary mission of the Russian intelligence establishment was not the collection of foreign intelligence but the monitoring of opponents to the czarist regime--whether they operated inside or outside the country. In 1900 the Special Department, commonly referred to as the Okhrana, became the successor to a series of secret police organizations. The Special Department's Foreign Agency operated mainly in France, Switzerland, and Britain, where Russian revolutionaries and dissidents congregated.
Military intelligence was the responsibility of the Russian Army's General Headquarters. The Fifth Bureau of the First Department of the Operations Directorate was entrusted with intelligence collection and analysis. A variety of subsections studied the military forces and capabilities of Germany, Austria-Hungary, the Balkan states, Scandinavia, Turkey, and Persia. Military attaches reported directly to the Fifth Bureau.
In contrast to Russia and Germany, at the turn of the century the United States had neither an extensive domestic intelligence operation nor an extensive foreign intelligence network. As was the case with Britain, the first permanent intelligence organizations established in the United States were those organized by the U.S. Army and Navy. In this case the Navy was first, establishing the Office of Naval Intelligence in 1882. Under the provisions of General Order No. 292, the ONI was "to collect and record such naval information as may be useful to the Department in wartime as well as peace." To provide intelligence for ONI the commanding officer of every ship was ordered to appoint an intelligence officer to report to ONI on harbors, fortifications, and foreign vessels.
In 1885 Secretary of War William C. Endicott is said to have requested information on the military of a European nation, possibly Germany or Russia, from Adjutant General R. C. Drum. Endicott was surprised to discover that Drum had neither the information nor the means of obtaining it. The result, as the story goes, was that Drum established a Military Information Division (MID) to collect "military data on our own and foreign services which would be available for the use of the War Department and the Army at large." The entire division consisted of a single officer and a single clerk.
Subsequent years saw each organization deploy a network of attaches. ONI representatives established themselves in Paris, Berlin, Rome, Vienna, and St. Petersburg. In 1887 Army attaches were posted to Berlin, Paris, London, Vienna, and St. Petersburg. The Army's attaches contributed to the MID's ability, in 1891, to summarize the numbers and types of arms in the arsenals of eleven European countries.
But by 1900 one of the new intelligence organizations was in disarray. When Captain Charles D. Sigsbee became head of ONI in February 1900 he sent a memo to his immediate superior in which he claimed that ONI was in a shambles. According to Sigsbee's memo the forms sent to officers at sea were outdated, and the information sought would not allow ONI to answer broad tactical or strategic questions. In addition, the officers themselves had received little specific intelligence training. Things did not improve in the next few years. In 1903, near the end of Sigsbee's tenure, the Navy reduced the number of professional naval officers assigned to ONI-from seven to five.
His Majesty's Secret Service
Before the first decade of the new century was over the intersecting fears of war and foreign spies would contribute to the expansion of many nations' espionage operations. Britain's policy of "splendid isolation" fell to the pressures of international politics. The 1900 German Navy Law was an explicit challenge to British naval supremacy, providing for the construction of nineteen new battleships and twenty-three cruisers over the next twenty years. Britain settled its colonial problems with France in 1904. The Anglo-French Entente was followed in 1907 by the Anglo-Russian Entente, along similar lines. Meanwhile, France and Germany confronted each other over Morocco in 1905. The alliances that would face each other in the first world war had started to come together.
February 1904 marked the beginning of a series of changes in British intelligence. The Intelligence Department, minus its Mobilization Division, was rechristened the Directorate of Military Operations. Intelligence, in one form or another, was the responsibility of three of the four sections of the new directorate. MO2 was the Foreign Intelligence Section, MO3 the Administration and Special Duties Section, MO4 the Topographical Section.
The Foreign Intelligence Section began expanding almost as soon as it was formed, experiencing the largest increases in officers and total personnel of all the sections. Before the year was out two further subsections were added to cover the United States and the Far East. "Special Duties" included censorship, counterintelligence, and, apparently, clandestine intelligence collection.
The concern of many British officials with collecting foreign intelligence was more than matched by the fear of foreign spies. From the beginning of the century Britain was the subject of a variety of invasion and spy scares--often promoted by novelists and journalists to whom such scares meant good business. Whereas France was perceived as the likely enemy in 1900, after 1904 Germany was seen as the prime menace. Not surprisingly, in 1905 author William LeQueux "discovered" a "great network of German espionage spread over the United Kingdom."
Fear of a Hun invasion was further exacerbated by advances in battleship technology and the November 1907 announcement of an accelerated German naval building program. Those fanning the flames in the autumn of 1907 included Leo Maxse, editor and owner of the influential National Review, and Colonel Charles Repington, the military correspondent of The Times. With support of some of the Tory leadership, they convinced the government to establish a subcommittee of the Committee of Imperial Defence (CID) to study the invasion threat. The result was not what Maxse and his allies expected: the study showed surprise attack to be impossible.
The conclusions of the CID neither convinced ardent proponents of the invasion threat nor eliminated fears of a German espionage network operating across Britain. Among those convinced of massive German infiltration of Britain was a friend of LeQueux, Lieutenant-Colonel James Edmonds, who became responsible in 1907 for counterintelligence and the organization of an espionage network in Germany.
Edmonds took his conclusions to R. B. Haldane, the secretary of state for war, who in March 1909 established and chaired a new CID subcommittee to examine "the nature and extent of the foreign espionage that is at present taking place within this country and the danger to which it may expose us." The subcommittee membership was composed of eleven other high-ranking officials, including the First Lord of the Admiralty, the Home Secretary, the permanent undersecretaries of the Treasury and the Foreign Office, the Commissioner of Metropolitan Police, the Director of Military Operations, and the Director of Naval Intelligence.
Edmonds presented to the subcommittee a variety of evidence concerning German espionage in Britain, much of it misinterpreted or fabricated. However, at the third meeting of the subcommittee Haldane suggested that there was sufficient evidence to issue a report. The rest of the committee agreed:
The evidence which was produced left no doubt in the minds of the subcommittee that an extensive system of German espionage exists in this country, and that we have no organization for keeping in touch with that espionage and for accurately determining its extent or objectives.
The committee also concluded that Britain's foreign intelligence system was inadequate. The Director of Military Operations, Major-General John Ewart, admitted during the meetings of the invasion subcommittee in 1908 that "the existing machinery for obtaining information from Germany and the Continent generally during peace or war" was seriously deficient. General Staff assessments of probable German invasion plans were based on "hypothetical assumptions." The Naval Intelligence Division (NID) agreed. When Rear-Admiral Esmond Slade became Director of Naval Intelligence in October 1907 he discovered that the naval "secret service . . . was not organized in any way."
Attempts had been made by military and naval intelligence to develop some agents, but they did not amount to much. At the beginning of 1907 there was not a single British agent operating in Europe. Before the end of the year Edmonds had received approval from the Director of Military Operations to organize an espionage network in Germany. The initial attempts were highly amateurish. Edmonds asked friends visiting Germany to ask the local police for the names of British residents. His first agent was provided by Courage and Company brewers, which pressured its Hamburg representative to gather "information as to naval and military matters in connection with harbor works, number of ships, railway arrangements, movement of troops, etc." Over the next two years the reluctant spy was never given a specific assignment. After his trips in 1908 and 1909 he simply invented whatever he thought would please the War Office.
Slade's NID was also active in the espionage arena. In March 1908 Slade sent an NID officer into Germany to make contact with a potential spy. A year later, he reported that there were "three or four agents in our employ, most of whom work for the War Office and Admiralty jointly."
The War Office and Admiralty networks were not adequate in the eyes of the foreign espionage committee. The Admiralty was suspicious that the Germans were secretly accelerating their shipbuilding program--stockpiling guns, turrets, and armor well in advance of actually building the hulls. Since building the guns, gun mountings, and armor was more time-consuming than building the hulls, such a stockpiling effort could cut the three years required to build a ship to two and a half or two. In addition, it was suspected that construction was being started in advance of the dates scheduled by the German Navy Law--in advance even of the authorization of funds by the Reichstag. The consequence of such subterfuge could be dramatic: instead of a 16:13 battleship ratio in favor of Britain in 1912, Britain was facing the possibility of a ratio anywhere from 17:16 to 21:16 in favor of Germany.
It was in this atmosphere that the CID's espionage committee recommended the formation of a secret service bureau to serve three purposes: to serve as a barrier between the military services and foreign spies; to act as the intermediary between the military service departments and British agents abroad; and to take charge of counterespionage.
The Secret Service Bureau began operations on October 1, 1909, under the nominal supervision of the War Office. Originally organized into a Military Branch and Naval Branch, within a month the Secret Service had undergone an internal reorganization, with home and foreign sections replacing the military and naval sections, respectively--possibly because the Military Branch was primarily concerned with counterespionage while Britain's foreign agents were primarily operating in ports and dockyards and reporting naval intelligence. In 1910 its two sections separated, with the Home Section being placed under the Home Office and the Foreign Section under the Admiralty, then its chief customer.
Selected to head the Secret Service's foreign section was a short, thickset naval officer, Commander (later Captain Sir) Mansfield George Smith-Cumming. Born on April 1, 1859, Cumming served on patrol in the East Indies, took part in operations against the Malay pirates, and was decorated for his role in the Egyptian campaign of 1882. According to his naval record, he was "a clever officer with great taste for electricity," who had "a knowledge of photography," "speaks French," and "draws well."
However, Cumming not only had health problems, but he increasingly suffered from severe seasickness--a rather unfortunate malady for a sailor, In 1885 he was placed on the retired list as "unfit for service."
Cumming established both the Secret Service Bureau foreign department and his own London flat at the top of 2 Whitehall Court in "a regular maze of passages and steps, and oddly shaped rooms," which could be reached only by a private elevator. In Cumming's office was a plain work table, a big safe, some maps and charts on the walls, a vase of flowers, one or two seascapes, and various mechanical gadgets, including a patent compass and a new sort of electric clock.
Cumming himself could have emerged from the pages of a novel. Known as "C," as the chief of the secret service is still known, he wrote only in green ink. Having lost a leg in an accident, he got around the corridors by putting his wooden leg on a child's scooter and propelling himself vigorously with the other. Visitors were treated to the spectacle of Cumming stabbing his wooden leg with his paper knife to emphasize the point of an argument. By his own admission, he considered secret service work "capital sport."
Cumming's priorities were naval, his resources limited. As a postwar report admitted, the Foreign Section was unable to employ full-time agents and was forced to rely on "casual agents"--agents whose performance was unsatisfactory.
The most productive of the part-time agents were a small group of men in the shipping or arms industries who either regularly traveled to or resided in Germany and combined their business travels with part-time intelligence work. Much of that intelligence work did not involve actual espionage. Instead, Cumming's part-timers collected a wide assortment of newspapers and journals published in Kiel, Wilhelmshaven, Danzig, and Berlin. They also observed the harbors and waterfronts of Hamburg and Bremen, homes to major shipyards, and of Kiel.
The most successful of Cumming's known networks was run by Max Schultz, a naturalized Southampton ship-dealer. During his travels in Germany in 1910-11 Schultz recruited four informants, the most important being an engineer named Hipsich, in Bremen's Weser shipyards. In the two years Hipsich operated before being detected he had the opportunity to inform the British about Germany's battleship plans and apparently handed over a large collection of drawings.
Cumming's German network provided an abundance of technical intelligence on the German navy--on topics from fire control to range finders. While the bulk of reports were based on published information, that information would not have been noticed except for Cumming's network. Agent reports proved to be of great value in keeping the Naval Intelligence Division informed of the status of the Hochseeflotte (High Seas Fleet) and U-boat construction programs. They often provided the only data on the final stages of battleship construction or U-boat speed and endurance trials. In early 1911 agents provided the Admiralty with "a full and illustrated description" of the new heavy shell introduced a year earlier, as well as "an account of its [impressive] performance against many varieties of armoured targets."
In addition to Germany, Rotterdam, Brussels, and St. Petersburg were targets of Cumming's spies. Richard Tinsley, code-named T, headed Cumming's operations in Rotterdam. Tinsley had developed a successful shipping business, which he used as a cover for his intelligence work. But Ivone Kirkpatrick, a future permanent undersecretary at the Foreign Office, found T "a liar and a first-class intriguer with few scruples."
Cumming's Belgian network was both larger and more disreputable than the Dutch network. Henry Dale Long, code-named L, served as chief of operations in Brussels from 1910. However, the Brussels network did business with a free-lance Brussels intelligence service that sometimes sold fabricated intelligence, including bogus German invasion plans. Cumming was persuaded to spend 600[pounds] to purchase an alleged German codebook which a wartime cryptanalyst later showed to be a "pup of the poorest class."
While the names of Richard Tinsley and Henry Dale Long are relatively unknown, the chief British agent in St. Petersburg became the inspiration for numerous books and a twelve-part television series. Much of what has been written by or about Sidney Reilly is myth. Reilly, it has been claimed, "wielded more power, authority and influence than any other spy," was an expert assassin "by stabbing and shooting and throttling," and possessed "eleven passports and a wife to go with each."
Reality was less sensational. Born Sigmund Georgievich Rosenblum in 1874, Reilly was the only son of a rich Russian Jewish father. Sometime in the 1890s he emigrated to London, breaking off all contact with his family in the process, and changing his name to Sidney Reilly. At the beginning of the new century he moved to Port Arthur, headquarters of the Russian Far Eastern Fleet, where he worked as a partner in a timber sales company. By the time Reilly returned to London, on the eve of the Russo-Japanese War in 1904, he had become an international adventurer, fluent in several languages. It is possible, although by no means certain, that Reilly provided the Naval Intelligence Division with intelligence on the Russian Far Eastern Fleet during his years in Port Arthur.
After completing a course in electrical engineering at the Royal School of Mines he entered Trinity College, Cambridge, in October 1905 as an advanced student, using a fake certificate from Roorkee University in India. Reilly left Cambridge after two or three years and proceeded to invent a different postgraduate career, boasting that he had a doctorate from Heidelberg. That was only one of many personal fantasies, some of which he began to believe. Eleanor Toye, one of his secretaries, claimed that "Reilly used to suffer from severe mental crises amounting to delusion. Once he thought he was Jesus Christ."
But Reilly's aptitude for intelligence work won him the admiration of both C and Winston Churchill, undersecretary for colonies in 1905 and subsequently Home Secretary and First Lord of the Admiralty (in 1911). The first British diplomat to arrive in Soviet Russia, Robert Bruce Lockhart, while not having a particularly high opinion of Reilly's intelligence, found his courage and indifference to danger "superb." It was probably soon after the creation of the Secret Service Bureau that Reilly established himself as a successful commission agent for the Hamburg shipbuilders Blohm and Voss. It is unlikely that Reilly provided Cumming and the British Admiralty with information on every new design or modification in the German fleet, as has been claimed, but his performance did not prevent his being rehired in the midst of the First World War.
The Kaiser's Spies
While British agents sought to uncover German capabilities and intentions, German agents were operating in Britain, France, and Russia. In France, Germany had a long-standing agent whose service had begun in 1866. In June 1866 Baron August Schluga brought to Berlin the order of battle of the Austrian army, along with the profiles of some of the more important Austrian army commanders.
Schluga, then twenty-five was a slim, blue-eyed blond, born in Zsolna, Hungary. He had joined the Austrian infantry and fought "very bravely" at Magenta and Solferino in 1859. Although described as a capable officer suited for a general staff post, he resigned in 1863, just before taking the examination for the Austrian War School, claiming that he would manage the estates he would acquire through marriage. His credentials as a former officer apparently allowed him to penetrate the Austrian army headquarters and gather the information he brought to Berlin.
After the war of 1866 Schluga journeyed to Paris, where he delivered information to the Prussian military attache. Designated by IIIb as "Agent 17," he came to be regarded by the Germans as an ideal agent. He was charming, well-educated, aristocratic, and a mystery to his German spymasters. They never knew his sources, his other activities, or even whether he lived in Paris under his own name or a pseudonym. He deflected IIIb's inquiries, arguing that their only concern should be his performance.
For the forty years between the wars of 1870 and 1914, IIIb rarely called on Schluga, protecting him from suspicion and preserving him for use in a crisis. IIIb's restraint paid off, for before the outbreak of the world war, Schluga delivered a document of enormous value. It specified how the French would deploy some of their troops on the fifth day of their mobilization. That document alone justified IIIb's existence and all the money it had spent, for it gave Germany the apparent key to defeat a French counterattack in the forthcoming war. But it would become one of many examples of intelligence not properly used by its customers.
While the Rib networks in France and Russia were extensive, the network in Britain was not. It included Dr. Max Schultz (not to be confused with the naturalized Max Schultz) and Armgaard Karl Graves. Schultz operated from a houseboat near Plymouth. He flew a German flag from the boat and threw parties where he tried to turn the conversation to naval matters. Graves was a con man who victimized the British and German intelligence services. Far better at requesting money than acquiring secret intelligence, he was subsequently fired by the head of German naval intelligence in Britain, who described him as "a double-dyed rascal."
In addition to actual spies, Germany maintained the standard network of military attaches, whose sources included the daily press, parliamentary records, service journals, cartographic publications, and even postcards. As a general rule, Germany's military and naval attaches avoided espionage work, preferring to cultivate social contacts. Imperial directives of 1878, 1890, and 1900 cautioned against illegal acts of intelligence gathering. As a result attach6s sought to establish personal relationships with foreign officers and politicians, taking part in the social life, especiary club life, of their host country.
The Czar's Spies
Russia was also interested in the military plans of its potential enemies and went to great lengths to acquire such information. While most nations' attaches refrained from espionage activities, those of Russia did not. The military attache in Denmark and Sweden from 1908 to 1912, A. A. Ignat'ev, controlled a large network of agents within Germany. In 1914 Colonel Bazarov was declared persona non grata in Germany after his agents had been detected. Colonel Zankevich, attache in Vienna, was expelled when Austrian counterespionage unmasked his network, which included a retired sergeant major, a policeman, a lieutenant at the military academy, and other officers.
From 1905 Russia's most productive spy in the Austro-hungarian military establishment was Colonel Alfred Redl, who also sold information to the French and Italian secret services. From 1900 until his exposure in May 1913 Redl served first as a deputy chief of the Evidenzburo, the military and counterespionage organization in Vienna, and then as intelligence chief of the Army's VIII Corps, headquartered in Prague. Redl may have been blackmailed over his homosexuality, although the Russians made quite substantial cash payments.
In addition to photographing secret documents for his Russian masters Redl also disclosed the identity of Austrian agents. Redl sold Russian intelligence Plan 3, the Austrian mobilization plan against Russia, and betrayed details concerning a critical network of fortresses along the Galician border with Russia. The Austrian military council concluded that Redl's espionage activities had helped "deal a heavy blow" to Austrial's military strength, "destroying the solid constructive work of many years." The secrets Redl betrayed led the Austro-hungarian general staff to change codes, railway timetables, and other plans on a massive scale.
Redl did not live to see the damage he had done. In the early hours of Sunday morning May 25, 1913, Colonel Alfred Redl blew his brains out in a room at the Hotel Klomser, in the fashionable Herrengasse district of Vienna. He was permitted to "judge himself" after interrogation, during which he claimed to have spied only for a year or so and provided only some manuals and the Army's VIII Corps's mobilization plan. That evening's papers carried an official communique which announced Redl's suicide and claimed he had suffered a nervous breakdown. But the next day Berlin and Prague newspapers carried accounts of his espionage activities.
In addition to the spies in the field the cryptanalysts at home could be an important source of intelligence. Traditionally the deciphering or decoding of the communications of a foreign government required that a copy of the communications be obtained--by theft, by recruitment of a foreign government source, or by obtaining copies of the cable at the cable or telegraph office. Marconi's invention would dramatically change that.
But that change was not anticipated. And the cryptanalysis of stolen communications was considered of so little importance to most countries that only France, Austria-hungary, and Russia had fully organized central cryptanalytic bureaus before the war.
France had five cryptanalytic bureaus--in the ministries of war, navy, foreign affairs, interior, and posts and telegraphs. The key bureau was the Foreign Ministry's Cabinet Noir, which had functioned intermittently since the days of Cardinal Richelieu. Revived during the 1880s, by the early 1890s it was able to decrypt a significant number of the English, German, and Turkish diplomatic telegrams transmitted by telegraph cable.
In 1912 the cryptographic and cryptanalytic bureaus of the Ministry of War were merged and placed directly under the Minister of War. There were only two codebreakers assigned to the bureau in peacetime, but they were not the only military cryptanalysts. By the beginning of the century a Commission de Cryptographie Militaire (Military Cryptographic Commission) had been formed. The approximately ten members of the commission remained in their units and were to devote themselves to cryptology in their spare time.
Work was never lacking. Material came pouring in from a variety of sources. The most important were the telegrams delivered by the Ministry of Posts and Telegraphs. Other sources were the military radiograms sent by the neighboring countries during peace maneuvers and intercepted by special intercept stations on the eastern frontier.
Commission members spent part of their time on general theoretic studies as well as the computation of linguistic statistics. At other times they worked on German radio messages transmitted, and intercepted, during peacetime maneuvers.
The commission members also devoted considerable time to the detailed analysis of cipher systems as they were used during peacetime and might be used during war. They relied not only on statistics concerning frequencies but on information obtained through spies, deserters, members of the Foreign Legion, or from German military manuals. The resulting confidential memoranda described the systems, statistical data, instructions for cryptanalysis, and other necessary instructions to be distributed directly among the mobilized cryptanalysts in the event of war.
Other nations maintained extremely primitive cryptanalytic capabilities. The German Ministry of Foreign Affairs maintained a cryptanalytic bureau, although to a very limited extent, apparently due to a lack of experts. Czarist codebreakers, located in both the foreign and interior ministries, could trace their origins back to at least the first part of the eighteenth century. The bureau apparently had success with the Turkish, British, Austrian, and Swedish codes.
The Wright brothers believed that the monetary rewards for their work would be provided by governments, not the commercial sector. Their flying machines would be of tremendous value, they believed, in time of war. Reconnaissance was the mission they had in mind for the aircraft.
Lieutenant-Colonel David Henderson shared the Wright brothers' vision. Henderson, who served as the third and last director of military intelligence during the Boer War, also wrote Field Intelligence, Its Principles and Practices (1904). In 1908 Wilbur Wright surprised Europe with record-setting flights in a power-driven airplane and David Henderson began thinking about the wartime use of airplanes. It was not a coincidence that Henderson, who believed that "reconnaissance is the method of most vital importance," became one of the founding fathers of British military aviation.
In the years leading up to World War I, Henderson's views would be supported by a variety of events. While the first photographs taken from an airplane were probably taken from the plane piloted by Wilbur Wright in the vicinity of Rome in 1909, it was the French who produced the first high-quality stills taken from an airplane, and the Italians who first made use of the airplane for reconnaissance. In October 1911, during the Italo-Turkish War, a Captain Piazza of the italian army flew a visual reconnaissance mission over Turkish troops near Tripoli in North Africa. On February 24 and 25, 1912, he photographed Turkish positions from his monoplane.
In the years leading up to World War I the majority of British officers, like their French and German colleagues, viewed reconnaissance as the primary mission of military aircraft, balloons, airships/dirigibles, and airplanes in a future war. That airships and airplanes could be employed to attack the enemy was appreciated to some extent, but reconnaissance was viewed as the clear primary mission. A 1912 British War Office memorandum recommended the establishment of a military flying school because of the importance of aerial reconnaissance. The first-priority mission for airplanes in support of ground forces was to be reconnaissance (primarily visual), followed by the prevention of enemy reconnaissance, communications, observation of artillery fire, and attacks on the enemy.
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