Nazi Official Sent 'Stupid' Spies to Britain on Purpose

Intelligence official wanted to sabotage Hitler, says historian

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 22, 2014 2:40 PM CDT

(Newser) – Who would send ill-prepared spies on a vital mission knowing they were bound to screw up? Nazi intelligence official Herbert Wichmann, that's who—at least according to one historian who argues that Wichmann and his circle were trying to sabotage Hitler's plans. In Operation Sealion: Resistance Inside the Secret Service, Monika Siedentopf writes that Wichmann sent a dozen spies to Britain in 1940, ostensibly to lay the groundwork for a Nazi invasion, the Guardian reports. But most were soon arrested for foolish things like cycling on the wrong side of the road or ordering a pint of cider in the morning (when wartime rules didn't allow landlords to serve booze before lunch). As UK records put it, the spies were nabbed "because of their own stupidity."

In fact, Wichmann purposely chose spies for Operation Lena who were lacking in intelligence but brimming with excitement for National Socialism, the book says. Turns out he was linked to Wilhelm Canaris, an intelligence official and conservative resister of the Nazis, as well as the Stauffenberg group that tried to kill Hitler in 1944. After the war, the British gave Wichmann a key job in Hamburg shipping, and the MI5 called him and his group "good Germans, but bad Nazis." In other Nazi-related news, a restaurant in Taiwan has apologized for calling a pasta dish "Long Live the Nazis," the Jerusalem Post reports. After taking heat from German and Israeli officials, the restaurant manager changed the dish's name to ... "Long Live Purity," Jezebel notes. (Click to read about an American couple who saved dozens of Jewish children from the Nazis.)

In this Dec. 5, 1931, file photo, Adolf Hitler, leader of the National Socialists, is saluted as he leaves the party's Munich headquarters.
In this Dec. 5, 1931, file photo, Adolf Hitler, leader of the National Socialists, is saluted as he leaves the party's Munich headquarters.   (AP Photo, File)
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