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Call For Trent Park Museum

Discussion in 'WWII Today' started by GRW, Apr 11, 2016.

  1. GRW

    GRW Pillboxologist WW2|ORG Editor

    Oct 26, 2003
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    Stirling, Scotland
    Let's hope the museum idea takes off.
    "Trent Park, a stately home in north London, will soon be developed into luxury homes. But during World War Two, this grand red-brick building housed one of the most secret and significant British intelligence operations.
    And historians and local politicians say a substantial part should be preserved as a museum.
    Nearly 60 captured German generals were held at Trent Park, their conversations secretly monitored and recorded. There were even microphones hidden in trees to catch their exchanges as they strolled through the extensive well-tended park, part of it planted with a million daffodil bulbs - creating a vast white and yellow lawn in front of the house every spring.
    Trent Park was one of three World War Two eavesdropping centres and, campaigners say, the only one which could now be turned into a museum or memorial.

    Fritz Lustig, now 97, is one of very few surviving "listeners" (German speakers working for British intelligence), who monitored the conversations of prisoners of war.
    He worked at the other two centres, Latimer House and Wilton Park, both in Buckinghamshire. He strongly supports a museum at "Cockfosters" - the codename for Trent Park during the war.
    Fritz Lustig was one of about 100 "secret listeners" during World War Two
    Mr Lustig told me that listeners had to keep an ear across everything the Germans said - from the moment they woke until they went to sleep. The conversation was only recorded when it touched on certain sensitive topics. Then the listeners would switch on the gramophone.
    In all, according to historian Dr Helen Fry, at least 100,000 such conversations were recorded and transcribed in full and have been kept in the National Archives.
    Mr Lustig doubts the Germans knew they were being bugged. "They weren't very security conscious," he says. "The microphones were very good though - even when they turned the tap on to drown the conversations, we could still hear the words.""
  2. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

    Jun 20, 2002
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    London, England.
    I agree ( but don't hold out too much hope ).

    German historian Sonke Neitzel in recent years unearthed an incredible cache of material recorded at Trent Park and the results can be found in his books 'Tapping Hitler's Generals' and 'Soldaten', both of which are unique resources.
  3. lance shippey

    lance shippey New Member

    Oct 11, 2018
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    l was invited to Dr Helen Fry's "The London Cage" book launch on 24th Sept 2017
    at Forty Hall, near Enfield U.K. and expecting to meet Fritz Lustig, however he was
    in ill health, and was represented by his son Robin. Sadly Fritz passed away on 18th

    German historians Sonke Neitzel and Harald Welzer's book "Soldaten" give a great
    insight into 2nd. World War secret tapes of German P.O.W.'s.

    A recently published book "Castaways of the Kriegsmarine" by Naval historian DEREK
    NUDD gives a wonderful insight into Latimer House, and Wilton Park

    Lance shippey
    GRW and Martin Bull like this.
  4. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

    Jun 20, 2002
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    London, England.
    Thanks for reviving this thread, Lance ( & welcome to the Forums, BTW ! ).

    I know Forty Hall quite well - I imagine it's a nice venue for a book launch.

    In another coincidence, developers Berkeley Homes are a client of mine. Housing developers are not the most popular people in the UK so they're keen to display 'community spirit' - and it does indeed appear that a museum at Trent Park will, after all, be a reality...

    Trent Park Museum – Home of the Secret Listeners – The National 'Secret War' Museum
  5. harolds

    harolds Member

    Aug 9, 2011
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    About a year ago I read "Tapping Hitler's Generals" by Neitzel is quite a read. Monolithic those generals weren't! Not that my opinion matters, but I'd like to see a museum on those grounds.
  6. lance shippey

    lance shippey New Member

    Oct 11, 2018
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    Dear Martin,
    Thanks for the news. re. Trent Park. l look forward to the opening of the museum.
    l believe a new book is currently being written, about the interrogations at Trent

    I have a particular interest in Trent Park, and Latimer House, as my father, Marine
    Frank Shippey R.M. served at Plymouth div. and H.M.S. Spartiate (St Agnes Hotel)
    Glasgow, before joining H.M.S. Duke of York on the 20th August 1941. He would
    remain serving as R.M. on D.of Y. until 14th March 1945. After the sinking of German
    battleship Scharnhorst, survivors were transferred from H.M.S Scorpion , and H.M.S.
    Matchless to H.M.S. Duke of York. for their journey to Scapa Flow.

    A directive had come down to the Marines, that the survivors should be treated as
    survivors, rather than P.O.W.s (In order that the food rations would be better} My
    father was one of six marines, charged to guard the survivors. One of whom my
    father got to know, and spoke fluent English, albeit with an American accent. This
    was a young man, born in Yugoslavia, and at the age of two, was taken to Canada.
    He attended school in Canada, however had to speak German at home. Prior to
    the start or WW11, the family were suffering ill feeling in Canada, as they were German.
    The father had been fired from his job, so the family left Canada, via the U.S.A. and
    returned to Yugoslavia, the Germany. The teenage boy, was then to join the German
    navy, and sent to serve on Scharnhorst. He was one of the 36 survivors from a crew
    of 1968.

    On arrival in Scarpa Flow, my father was along with 5 other R.M.'s were tasked with
    escorting the survivors from Scotland to Latimer House and Wilton Park, where they
    would undergo interrogation, before being sent as P.O.W.s to Canada, and the U.S.A.
    My father met Prime Minister Winston Churchill, on arrival at either Latimer House, or
    Wilton Park. and asked by Mr Churchill "What have the prisoners been given to eat,
    whilst on the D.of York ? The answer my father gave was "The same as the Navy
    received Sir." This was not the first time my father came in contact with Mr Churchill,
    as the D.of Y. had transported him to Norfolk Virginia, to meet President Roosevelt.
    I have been researching where the meeting between my father and Mr. Churchill took
    place. Latimer House OR Wilton Park. which would have been around the 4th January

    Of the 36 survivors, 1 was exchanged via the Red Cross, and was used by the German
    Propaganda machine on his return to Germany. 27 were sent to P.O.W. camps in the
    U.S.A. and 7 sent to Canada, The final survivor either was sent to Canada, making 8
    to Canada. but l have found no evidence of his removal to Canada.

    I would be interested in hearing of information pertaining to Winston Churchill's visits
    to Latimer House and Wilton Park around 4th January 1944. These are not noted on
    a diary of appointments l located on a Canadian website,

    Lance Shippey.
    Martin Bull likes this.
  7. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WWII Veteran

    Feb 15, 2007
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    I walk in Trent Park once a week, with my daughter, and am fully acquainted with the mansion and it's past history.

    I sincerely hope that the new owners of the property carry out their proposed plans to start a museum on the site that will make visitors aware of the history of the house, including it's WW2 story.

    German POWs in Trent Park

    I shall watch this thread with much interest

    Last edited: Oct 14, 2018
  8. lance shippey

    lance shippey New Member

    Oct 11, 2018
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    In September 2019, I was fortunate to be invited by Dr. Helen Fry, to her book launch, "The Walls Have Ears"
    at Trent Park. and learned that the Museum will go ahead. I was privileged to rub shoulders with some of the
    surviving members of the British Intelligence Service of WW2. whilst sipping "Pink Gin" and enjoying a piece
    of delicious cake. Helen will be releasing her next book later this year.
    GRW likes this.
  9. lance shippey

    lance shippey New Member

    Oct 11, 2018
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    The Pollack / Diffring Family. Koblenz, Rheinland Pfalz. Germany.
    Born 20th Dec 1916. Alfred Oskar Diffring was born in Koblenz
    a.k.a. Anton Diffring died 19th May 1989 in Chateauneuf - Grasse, France.
    a.k.a. Anthony Israel Diffring
    a.k.a. Tony Diffring to his friends.
    His father Solomon [Solly] Pollack born 06th Nov.1877 A jewish store owner on Loehrstrasse
    died 04th Apr 1989 40, Koblenz. survived WW2 by being
    His mother Bertha Diffring Non Jewish. Spent time in Switzerland due Tuberculosis
    Much of Alfred's childhood, together with his two sisters, Ruth Margot Sara Pollack, and Ilse Sara Pollack
    was with a governess. The family was successful, however things would take a turn for the worse.
    1929 There were 709 Jews in Koblenz. this fell to 669 in 1933, and 309 in 1939.
    1933 saw a boycott of Jewish business's In July 1935, the wife of the Burgermeister [ Mayor] was thrown
    out of the NSDAP. for buying from a Jewish store. Koblenz had interested the NSDAP, with a "Thingplatz"
    being built in front of the Electors Palace,
    1938. Jews were told that by 01st Jan 1939 Jewish men must have the name "Israel" and woman the name
    "Sara" on their identity cards. From Autumn 1938 Jewish families had to have the letter "J" in their passports.

    It was considered beneficial, to have the Pollack Children move away from the town of Koblenz, to the large
    city of Berlin, where they hopefully would be less identifiable than in Koblenz. The children arrived in Berlin
    in 1929. in 1937 Isle would attend the Reimann School in Berlin.Alfred were spend time in Berlin, and then
    Vienna, They would emigrate to Great Britain in 1939. using the name of their mother "Diffring", as refugees.

    Alfred [Anton] was termed as "Male Enemy Allien" but exempted from Internment as refugee on 13th Oct.
    1939. He lived at Sussex Gardens, London W2. stating his occupation as actor. with a police registration no.
    769603. There were over 55,000 refugees, and the majority of "No Risk" They were left alone until the
    German invasion of France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. In May 1940 Churchill said
    "Collar them all" I

    In 1940, Anton, had appeared in two films made in Great Britain. "Convoy" and "Neutral Port". On 21st June
    1940, his exemption of Internment was revoked, after a circular on internment was issued. It was thought
    that with the risk of invasion, Internees and captured enemy should be sent to Canada. The camps would
    be paid for by the British government. 6437 civilian interness, merchant navy, and refugees were sent to
    Canada. They should be all released by 1946.

    06th May 1942. Alfred {Anton] was listed as Enemy Alien No 9006 in Canada. however he was released
    25th Jan 1943 as a Censor of P.O.W. Mail
    04th Jun 1944 Appeared in Play at Alexandra Theatre, Toronto "Aren't we All" 7 days.
    03rd Jul .1944 Appeared in Play at Alexandra Theatre Toronto "Mr and Mrs North " 6 days
    18th Sep 1946 Left Buffalo Canada, for New York, listing friend Donalda McGreachy, speech therapist,
    and actress as his contact in Toronto, and Robert Henderson, Friend, and actor as his
    contact in New York.
    09th Nov 1946 Again Buffalo, and arrival in New York.
    Oct 1946 Appeared in "Player from Abroad" New York
    Nov 1947 Appeared in "Faust"
    1949 Living in Manhatton 319 East 50th St Plaza.
    25th Feb 1949 Sailed on S.S. Veendam New York / Burmuda / Southampton
    08th Mar 1949 Arrived at Southampton.
    1950 Spend time at Berewyk Hall, White Colne, where his sister Ruth Maria Dando has settled.
    1951 living Westburn Terrace, London
    1954 Appears in Film with fellow Jewish [Austrian] actor Reggie Nalder, whom fled to G.B. 1940.
    1955 BBC German Service under Austin Harrison, start programme. "London Calling" also
    Including "Letters without Signatures" A programme concerning the G.D.R. and the
    feelings and views of East Germans on the failing of communism behind the "Wall"
    Photographs of the Broadcasters at the BBC. which would last until 1970, suggest that
    Anton was one of the team. [Require confirmation of this ?]
    1958 Anton arrives in San Francisco on Board Pan Am Flight PA121, and travels to Hollywood
    Staying at the Knickerbocker Hotel. His profession is given as Film Director.
    1961 to 1965 Address given as Hogarth Court Hampstead, and Burgh House Hampstead.
    1965 Address given Nordend strasse, Munich.
    Anton would move to Rome, then to France, where he died in the village where his sister,
    Ilse was living in Chateauneuf-Grasse, She was famous artist Jacqueline Diffring.
    1989 Antons ashes were brought back to Britain, and buried in White Colne.
    GRW likes this.
  10. lance shippey

    lance shippey New Member

    Oct 11, 2018
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    I would like to hear from anyone who knows which POW camp in Canada, Anton worked as Mail Censor ?

    Also anyone who can confirm Anton's involvement in the BBC German Service programmes. I have already
    contacted the BBC. and they say that there is no record of the people featured in the photograph used in
    a recent television documentary made for BBC4 T.V. The German Director of the programme does however
    say, "there is certainly a good likeness" between the photograpgh, and the images online of Mr Diffring.

    The Programme featured on Nov. 7th at 20.00hrs 2019. entitled LONDON CALLING - Cold War Letters.

    It is ironic that just two years after the death on "Koblenzer" Anton, the Berlin Wall would fall, and three
    pieces of the wall, placed near the Deutsches Eck, to mark the second unification of Germany.

    Lance Shippey

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