Discussion in 'Eastern Europe' started by TIM E, Dec 2, 2001.
What were the units involved in Operation Nordpol ?
Hello Tim, you have to give me more info on this operation--ive never heard of it--mostly due to keeping my attention on the Stalingrad sector of the Eastern Front.
Operation Nordpol=Unternehmen Nordpol is a German operation using captured Dutch agents droppped by the SOE.It is also known as "Englandspiel". These agents were forced to keep contact with England and tell them to send more agents on a prearranged spot. The Dutch agents didn't use the proper code without securitycheck, so in fact telling that they were captured, but the British just kept sending agents.It lasted from 1942 on to 1944 and cost the lives of 54 agents killed mostly in concentrationcamp Mauthausen
We really seem to have a bright crowd around here, don't we?
I just don't know how this post gets on the Russia page so maybe Tim E can give us some idea how he got to ask this question.
Popski, thanks for the enlightenment on it.
Operation Nordpol was an operation or planned operation to attack to Toropets bulge in March 1942. I am seeking any information on this operation.
Sorry Tim E
The story I referred to is also called Nordpol, very interesting but not quite what you were looking for. Sorry but I can't help you on another Nordpol.
Either way quite interesting-see what will be found:
One of the reason for the distrust was the bad experience of Operation "Nordpol" or the Englandspiel, the game with the English, an operation carried out by the Germans from March 1942 until early 1944...(!!)
The RAF lost aircraft and crews at a higher rate than on similar missions to other destinations and eventually refused to carry out the flights. The operation came to an end when the Germans started to receive only bland messages and no more agents or supplies; they realized that their seemingly marvellous run of luck was over and sent a sarcastic message of thanks in clear on April Fool's Day in 1944.
This operation was called `North Pole' by the Germans. It was directed by H.J. Giskes, an Abwehr officer, from whose book on the subject the following excerpt is taken ( London Calling North Pole ).
London Calling North Pole
by H.J. Giskes
Our expectation that Ebenezer would soon be sent new tasks by London was subjected to a difficult test. We had not yet had much experience at
this sort of thing and the quiet interval seemed all the more ominous by reason of the fact that we had incontestable proof that the London
Secret Service was carrying out operations in Holland without making use of our `good offices'.
The first of these occasions was in early April. I received a report from the _gendarmerie_ that the body of a parachutist had been found,
the man having fractured his skull on landing against a stone water trough. Investigation showed that the dead man belonged to a group of
agents who had dropped in the vicinity of Holten. In our efforts to clear up this mysterious affair we turned for help to the local Luftwaffe headquarters which gave out daily reports in map form containing details of all enemy air activity during the previous twenty- four hours. The information on which these maps were based was provided by air-observation posts and radar stations, which plotted the course,
height, circling positions, etc. of all single aircraft flying across Holland. We were agreeably surprised by the completeness and accuracy of
this information. We found, for example, that details of the operations over Hooghalen and Steenwijk on 28th February and 27th March had been
fairly accurately recorded. And we were now able to confirm that the dead agent and his companions must have been dropped near Holten on 28th
March. Through the Luftwaffe headquarters in Amsterdam we arranged for closer watch to be kept so as to establish the course of single aircraft, which we described by the word `specialists', as accurately as possible. The evaluation of these daily reports, whose accuracy steadily increased, gave us a useful line on the operations which the Allied Secret Service in England had started without our knowledge. Another indication of secret enemy activity came from Funk-Abwehr and the FuB headquarters, to the effect that a new transmitter had been heard in the
Utrecht area, whose radio link had been fixed by D/F as lying close to London. Intercepted traffic indicated that this was the same station as
that with which Ebenezer worked. And to add to it all Heinrichs came to me in the second half of April with the news that Radio Orange was once
more passing `positive' and `negative' signals.
From all this we concluded that at least one group of agents was working in Holland outside our control and that preparations for other drops had been made. All this made me very uneasy about our play-back on Ebenezer. Had London smelt a rat?
On 29th April Ebenezer received instructions to collect material which would be dropped in the previous area near Steenwijk. I was pretty sure
that it would mean bombs this time instead of containers, so I took full precautions. I borrowed against the day of the drop, which was 25th April, three motorized 3.7-cm. flak guns from Huptmann Lent, the celebrated night flyer and Commandant of the airfield at Leeuwarden,
which on the day of the operation were sited round the dropping area after dark. I had the red lights of the triangle fixed on posts so as
not to endanger personnel, and arranged things so that they could be switched on from a point 300 yards distant under cover. The same was
done for the white light. The flak battery had orders to open fire in the event of bombs being dropped, or if I should fired a red rocket.
We switched on the lights as the British aircraft made its approach at about 0100. `Tommy' flew several times across the area, but clearly
missed his direction, as the lights were not being pointed at the aircraft. As he crossed the third time I went to the apex of the
triangle and shone my white light at him until he turned on his correct course. I have to thank the absence of bombs for my ability to go on
telling this story.
This drop was definite proof that London had not yet discovered our control of Ebenezer. I forgot, in my delight, the lamentations of the
young officer in charge of the flak, who had not been able to fire, and who might never again have such a prize held in his sights at a range of
The development of `Nordpol' reached a decisive stage at the beginning of May. All that we had achieved hitherto could only have been
maintained for a short while had not luck, sheer chance, and ingenuity caused to fall into our hands all the lines by which the London Secret
Service controlled MID-SOE in Holland at that time.
At the end of April London found itself compelled to join up with one another three independent groups of agents and one other isolated
individual. Since Ebenezer was included in this link-up, we very soon succeeded in identifying the whole organization.
It happened in this way. In the period February-April, 1942, MID-SOE had dropped three groups of agent in Holland, each consisting of two men and
a radio set. We knew nothing of these operations. Another single agent had been landed on the Dutch coast by MTB. The operations consisted of
Operation Lettuce. Two agents, named Jordaan and Ras, dropped near Holten on 28th February 1942. Jordaan was radio operator and was to work
in accordance with Plan Trumpet.
Operation Turnip. On 28th February 1942 Agent Andringa and his operator Maartens were dropped near Holten. The set was to be operated in
accordance with Plan Turnip. Maartens had an accident and it was his body that was found near the water trough.
Operation Leek. Agent Kloos with his operator Sebes dropped on 5th April 1942. The set was to have been operated in accordance with Plan Heck,
but it was rendered useless by damage during the drop.
Operation Potato. On the 19th April 1942, Agent de Haas, using the cover-name `Pijl,' landed by MTB on the Dutch coast. Pijl had no radio
transmitter, but was equipped with a radio-telephony set capable of working at ranges up to five kilometres. He had been sent out from
London to contact Group Ebenezer.
Since the Turnip and Heck sets could neither of them establish communication with England, these agents made contact with Group Lettuce, which was operating the Trumpet set, in order to report their mishaps to London. It was not clear whether or not London had told Lettuce to establish these contacts. A signal from Trumpet, intercepted
on 24th April and subsequently deciphered, indicated that Trumped had been in contact with Agent de Haas from Operation Potato, but that the
latter had been unable to get in touch with Ebenezer. London thereupon ordered Ebenezer to make contact with Trumpet by a signal passed to the radio set under our control, and the circle was complete.
A loose contact between different groups of agents had the disadvantage from our point of view that imminent arrests could be quickly reported to London, thus making it difficult to play-back a captured transmitter.
But if this contact became a close one, as in the present instance where Trumpet was operating for three other groups, the danger for all of them
became very great should one be discovered and liquidated by the German counterespionage. It was highly unfortunate for London that our controlled station Ebenezer had been ordered to make these contacts just at the moment when the groups which were still working at liberty had been linked up directly with one another. (I do not know all the details of how Schreieder and his section in a few days achieved the liquidation of the entire enemy MID-SOE network operating in Holland at that time.)
Trumpet had fallen into our hands complete with signal plan, operating and cipher material. The operator Jordaan collapsed when he discovered
the extent of the disaster. He was a well-educated young man of good family, perhaps not developed or tough enough for the most dangerous of the jobs known to secret service-- agent operating. But that wasn't his fault! Jordaan soon developed confidence in Huntemann and myself, and took the chance which we offered him of operating his transmitter, after
we had succeeded in getting him through the nervous crisis which followed his transfer to Scheveningen. On 5th May we used Trumpet to
open up a second radio link with London and passed a signal proposing a new dropping area for this group which we had found a few kilometres
north of Holten. The Line of communication developed smoothly, and evidently gave London no grounds for suspicion, for the dropping area
was approved shortly afterward, and we accepted the first drop there about a fortnight later.
A third radio link with London was established in the following manner. The signal plan for Turnip belonging to the dead operator Maartens had
been found on the person of the arrested agent Andringa. We signaled to London via Trumpet that Andringa had discovered a reliable operator who
would be able to carry out Turnip's signal plan using Maarten's set, and London gave him a trial transmission so as to test the efficiency of
this new recruit. The ORPO operator who took the test must have done it excellently, for the next signal from `over there' told him that he was
approved. But we soon had new troubles, which worried me a lot.
About the middle of May Heinrichs reported anxiously to me that he and his men suspected Lauwers of having transmitted several additional
letters at the end of his last routine period. It was in fact normal to put a series of so called dummy letters at the end of signals, and his
`overseer' had consequently not immediately switched of the set. His mistrust had, however, been aroused. Heinrichs could not himself be
present during every transmission by Lauwers or Jordaan, and he requested urgently that the two operators should somehow be replaced by
his own men. I saw the overseer concerned at once. The man declared that he did not know exactly what extra letters Lauwers had transmitted, but that they had had no meaning. The man knew quite well that any other
answer could have brought him before a court for treasonable negligence, but since nothing could be proved one way or the other we had to await
I brought in Huntemann to try and find out what had actually happened, as he was on very good terms with both the ORPO men and Lauwers. It
emerged simply that Lauwers had made some of the ORPO men much too trusting, had `softened them up' as we put it. The routine periods had
become much too comfortable, and the good treatment I had ordered for the operators, with coffee and cigarettes, had broadened into a
friendship which was proving highly dangerous. While awaiting London's reaction, I did not tell Lauwers that our suspicions had been aroused.
Nevertheless, although there were no clear indications of treachery, we soon afterward put an end to the operating of Lauwers and Jordaan by
once more using the trick of proposing a `reserve' operator-- which was immediately approved.
We were now in a position to bring in an ORPO man onto the key in place of either operator without London suspecting anything. The instruction
and employment of reserve operators drawn from the Dutch Underground must have been quite understandable to them, as it was always possible
that a mishap might occur to the No. 1 operator at any time. Profiting by these events, we did not in general use agent operators any longer.
After the arrest of agents sent across later on, their sets were operated from the outset by the ORPO without any turn-over period. In this procedure we ran the risk that the `handwriting' might have been recorded in London (on a steel tape or gramophone) and that a comparison
might easily give rise to suspicion. By means of touch, speed of operating and other individual characteristics of a transmission technique an experienced ear can detect the difference between different operators when on the key in exactly the same way as a musical ear can detect difference between the renderings of different masters.
If the radio organization of MID-SOE had observed proper security precautions we should never have been able to introduce our own ORPO operators. But since our experience hitherto had not disclosed any special degree of watchfulness on their part we took the risk. The carelessness of the enemy is illustrated by the fact that more than fourteen different radio links were established with London for longer or shorter periods during the `Nordpol' operation, and these fourteen were operated by six ORPO men!
In the course of the spring we had amassed a considerable store of knowledge about the enemy's plans, his methods of operating and his
radio and ciphering systems. With the help of this experience we could probably even have dealt with blind drops had any more taken place. If
the enemy had discovered the truth at this time, he would have had to rebuild a difficult, costly organizational structure, employing entirely
new methods. Even making allowance for the fact that MID-SOE had not the slightest suspicion of the true state of affairs, it is a fact that the
decision to drop `by arrangement' was the chief reason for the catastrophe which followed. This arrangement, which was carried out rigidly and without variation for over a year, was the really dramatic feature of `Nordpol' amid the many other mistakes of omission and commission made by our enemy.
One single control group, dropped blind and unknown to us in Holland, with the sole duty of watching drops which had been arranged, could have
punctured in an instant the whole gigantic bubble of Operation `Nordpol'. This unpleasant possibility was always before our eyes during the long months of the play-back, and it kept us from getting too sure of ourselves. We could never forget that each incoming or outgoing
radio signal might be the last of the operation.
The decision of MID-SOE was confirmed when the period form 28th May to 29th June brought three dropping operations, for which the `reliable'
groups Ebenezer and Trumpet had to provide the reception parties. The operations were:
Operation Beetroot (via Ebenezer). Agents Parlevliet and van Steen dropped near Steenwijk. Duties-- to instruct in the Eureka apparatus,
guiding beacons for aircraft. Radio communications in accordance with Plan Swede.
Operation Parsnip (via Trumpet). Agents Rietschoten and Buizer dropped near Holten on 22nd June. Duties-- organization of armed resistance in Holland. Radio in accordance with Plan Marrow.
The duties prescribed for parties Beetroot and Marrow were of such importance subsequently that I will discuss them in detail. The beetroot
party was welcomed on its arrival by Underground representatives who were in fact Dutch police working for the SIPO. The arrests were made
after dawn, by which time the reception party had had time to find out what the duties of the group were to be. Actually this plan broke down
in the case of Beetroot, but was highly successful in all the remaining cases. On subsequent occasions we often discovered important details from the enemy's side, particularly about their secret operational
intentions. For example, a single operation including the numbers under
instruction, their nationality, the teaching staff, standards of ability, etc. Later on our knowledge extended into an accurate picture
of the inner circle of leading personalities `over there'.
Group Parsnip, which had been dropped on 22nd June near Holten, had a normal assignment, namely, the organization of a sabotage group in
Overijssel. Parsnip was consequently played back normally by the customary process of opening up communication, agreeing on dropping
points and accepting drops. It was noteworthy that the operator Buizer was, on London's orders, also supposed to transmit for Potato (De Haas),
Potato having previously worked through Ebenezer. Ebenezer's burden had been lightened in this way because London considered it to be the most
reliable of its links and intended soon to use it for an important special task-- the blowing up of the aerial system of the Kootwijk radio
At the beginning of July London told Ebenezer to make a reconnaissance to see whether the aerial system could be blown up by demolition
commando under Taconis. In a series of signals exact details were given of the method by which the whole system could be destroyed by means of
small charges placed at special points along the mast anchors. I accordingly sent out a reconnaissance party of our people under Willy,
who were to conduct themselves exactly as if they were members of the Underground, to find out in what way it would be possible, by day or
night, to approach the aerial system, and how the operation could then be carried out. The precise state of affairs as reported by Willy was
then signaled to London. We reported a rather small guard, and an inadequate watch over the surrounding area. The demolition of the
anchors would not present much difficulty. London signaled back that Taconis must make his preparations in such away that the demolition
could be carried out on the night following the receipt of the prearranged signal.
Toward the end of July we reported that Taconis and his men were ready, and were told by London to stand by, but on no account to start anything
before receiving the signal. By the time this signal came I had already thought out reasons for `failure'.
Two days later Ebenezer passed the following message to London: ``Kootwijk attempt a failure. Some of our men ran into a minefield near
the anchors. Explosions followed, then an engagement with the guards.
Five men missing. Taconis and remainder safe, including two wounded.'' And the next day: ``Two of the five missing men returned. Three others
were killed in action. Enemy has strengthened guard on Kootwijk and other stations. Have broken off all contact. No signs yet that enemy is
on our track.'' London signaled back somewhat as follows: ``Much regret your failure and losses. Method of defense is new and was not
foreseeable. Cease all activity for the present. Greatest watchfulness necessary for some time. Report anything unusual.''
A fortnight later London sent Ebenezer a congratulatory message for the Kootwijk party, adding that Taconis would receive a British decoration for his leadership. The medal would be presented to him at the earliest
The attack planned on the Kootwijk transmitter was clearly aimed at the destruction of the radio link by which the German Admirality
communicated with U Boats on the Atlantic. When some days later the English made their landing attempt on the French coast near Dieppe we
saw another reason why Kootwijk had been intended to be destroyed. Somewhat late in the day, the german Admirality hastened to carry into
actuality the form of defense for the aerial system which we had conjured up in our imagination.
By arrangement with IC of the Wehrmacht staff, Rittmeister Jansen, I had a reference to the Kootwijk affair published in the Dutch press. The
article referred to criminal elements who had attempted to blow up a wireless station in Holland. The attempt had been a failure, and
captured sabotage material had pointed to enemy assistance. The law-abiding population was warned once again against committing or
supporting such acts. I hoped that my opponents in London would receivethis report by way of neutral countries.
A description of OPeration Marrow which follows covers the decisive phase of `Nordpol' from June, 1942 until the spring of 1943.
We knew from the first conversations on the night of the drop what the tasks were which had been given in London to the leader of Marrow,
Jambroes, and his operator Bukkens, in broad outline. The plans of MID-SOE, revealed by interrogation, were on a big scale which underestimatedthe Abwehr potential on the German side. Typical of this was the misunderstanding of the true position in Holland concerning the morale
of the population. There is no doubt that the willingness of the mass of the people to participate directly or indirectly in preparations for underground warfare did not correspond with London's expectations. It
was not until one to two years later that morale grew gradually more favorable toward such plans as a result of the military defeats of the
Third Reich, the growing Allied superiority and repressive German actions both against the population and against the economy of the
western occupied areas.
By the terms of Plan Marrow, Jambroes, who was a Dutch Reserve officer, was to establish contact with the leader of the organization OD
(Ordedienst) and get them to provide men to carry out the plans of MID-SOE. Sixteen groups, each of a hundred men, were to be organized all
over the country as armed sabotage and resistance nuclei. Two agents from London, a group-leader-com-instructor and a radio operator, were to
take over the leadership, organization, training and arming of these groups. No doubt this plan looked fine from an armchair in London. But
its fulfillment was postponed indefinitely by the fact that Jambroes never met the leaders of the OD.
It soon became clear to us that we could not play back Jambroes' task, because as we did know who were the leaders of the OD we would not be
able to tell London what Jambroes had discussed with them-- when Jambroes himself was all the time under arrest. So we had to put it to
London that the task originally assigned to Jambroes was impracticable,and take action in accordance with what we imagined to be the true state of affairs. We now proceeded to overwhelm London with a flood of reports about signs of demoralization among the leaders of the OD. The
Leadership, we said, was so penetrated by German informers that direct contact with its members as ordered by London would certainly attract
the attention of Germans. When the replies from London began to show signs of uncertainty and instructed Jambroes to be careful, we started a
new line. This proposed that Jambroes should make contact with individual and reliable leaders from OD area groups, so as to form the
sixteen groups planned by consultation with the middle and lower OD levels. Our proposal met with some objections, but was finally recognized in a practical manner by the increasing of the support
through agents and material given to Group Marrow and its supposed component organizations.
The build-up of the Marrow organization began in August, 1942. Naturally at no time were links established with OD groups or with their leaders.
On the contrary, we assured London repeatedly that we were making use of more reliable and security-minded individuals. The development of thesixteen Marrow groups had soon made such apparent progress that between the end of September and November London sent across seventeen agents through our hands in Holland, most of whom were destined for Marrow
groups. Five were operators with independent radio links. We had these five lines in working order by the end of November, operating in
accordance with Plans Chive, Broccoli, Cucumber, Tomato, and Celery. Each of these five groups set to work and were soon able to give dropping points to London, which were approved and supplied continuously with materials. At the beginning of December we signaled a progress
report of the existing state of the Marrow groups to London. According to this, about fifteen hundred men were under training, attached to
eight Marrow groups. In practice, these training detachments would have urgent need of such articles as clothing, underwear, footwear, bicycle
tires, tobacco and tea. We accordingly asked for a supply of all these articles, and in the middle of December we received a consignment in
thirty-two containers totaling some five thousand kilos, dropped in four different areas in the course of one night.
Our information indicated that a new party of agents had completed their
training at the secret schools in England about the middle of January, in preparation for action in Holland. From 18th January to 21st April
1943 seventeen more agents were dropped by MID-SOE and met by our reception parties. This time again the majority were group leaders and
instructors for Marrow and other sabotage groups. One party of two men had intelligence tasks. Another two-man party was given the task of
establishing a courier line from Holland via Brussels and Paris to Spain, and a single woman agent who arrived had been given intelligence
duties. The newcomers included seven operators with independent radio links.
The agents supplied in the spring of 1943 fulfilled the requirements of personnel for the MID-SOE groups which had been planned in Holland. With my few assistants, I was faced with the problem of keeping London's operational maps supplied with information about the multifarious
activities of nearly fifty agents, and it seemed impossible that we could keep this up for long. To meet our difficulties an attempt had to
be made to get London to agree to a reduction in the number of working radio links which were now available. We accordingly proposed `for
reasons of greater security' to close down some of the Marrow transmitters. These sets, we said, would form a reserve in case some of
the active transmitters and their operators should be knocked out by German action. We subsequently arrived at the position where all the
Marrow sets only Marrow I to Marrow V remained in operation.
Although several times between the autumn of 1942 and the summer of 1943 we had reported one of our controlled transmitters as having been
knocked out by German action, we had been compelled at times to operate as many as fourteen lines simultaneously. A reduction in radio traffic
was essential for the one reason alone that we had a maximum of six ORPO radio operators at our disposal for handling the entire radio traffic
with London, and these men were being continually worked up to the very limits of their capacity.
This account of how agents were dropped direct into our arms has not yet described any efforts by MID-SOE to get knowledge of the true state of
affairs in Holland. Though there was no lack of trying, these attempts never made allowance for the fact that a possibility did exist that the
entire communication network and all the agents sent in were in German hands. The most noteworthy enemy attempt at control, which may perhaps
have been one of a number we did not recognize as such, occurred at the time of Operation Parsley on 21st September 1942. There was little doubt
that the agent who was dropped, a certain Jongelie, cover-name `Arie', had a control task. Shortly after his arrest Jongelie declared that in
order to confirm his safe arrival he must at once signal to London: ``The express left on time.'' By saying this he put his SIPO interrogators in a quandary, a situation which they were meeting for the first time.
I had spent the night of the Parsley operation in the dropping area, which lay a few kilometres east of Assen, and had returned to The Hague
at about 0700. At nine the telephone bell roused me from my slumbers, and the head interrogator of Schreieder's section IVE informed me of
what Jongelie had just said. He added that this message would apparently have to be dispatched at the first routine period at 1100.
Half an hour later I was sitting opposite Jongelie in the Binnenhof. He was a man of about forty, with a broad, leathery face, who for a long
time had been chief operator for the Dutch naval headquarters in Batavia. After a short conversation it was quite clear that Jongelie had
developed some Asiatic cunning during his long period of service in Indonesia. With an unnaturally immobile face, he answered my pressing
questions repeatedly with the statement that he must pass the message ``The express left on time'' at 1100 or London would realize that he was
in German hands. Finally I pretended to be convinced. Seemingly deep in thought, I said that we would pass his message at 1100-- and then, as I
suddenly raised my eyes, a gleam of triumph appeared in his. So this was treachery! At 1100 we passed the following message: ``Accident has
occurred in Operation Parsley. Arie landed heavily and is unconscious. He is safe and in good hands. Doctor diagnoses severe concussion.
Further report will be made. All material safe.'' Three days later we signaled: ``Arie regained consciousness for short period yesterday.
Doctor hopes for an improvement.'' And the next day the message ran: ``Arie died suddenly yesterday without regaining consciousness. We will
bury him on the moor. We hope to give him a worthy memorial after victory is won.''
I have related this case in detail as an example of how competent tough agents, who had been appropriately prepared in London, could easily have forced us into the position where a single treacherous report would have blown the gaff. All we could do in such cases was to pretend that the
man was dead or that he had been arrested by the Germans. A series of such `accidents' would probably always have been less dangerous than the
possibility of treachery. Shortly after the Arie incident London began to press us to send Jambroes, the head of the Marrow groups, back to
London for consultation, Jambroes having to name a deputy to act for him in his absence. The request accorded with the man's earlier statements
that after three months of preparatory activity in Holland he would be required back in England. A reference to the possibilities of Jambroes'
journey was now never absent from our interchange of signals. At first we described him as indispensable due to unforeseen difficulties in the building up of the sixteen groups, and in due course we found new excuses, in which the difficult and lengthy journey by the insecure
courier route into Spain played the principal part.
Nineteen forty-two went by in this way. At the beginning of 1943 the requests from London for a personal report became more urgent and were
now broadened to include representatives from other groups. Innumerable signals passed. London began to demand information about areas in
Holland where land or sea planes could be sent to pick up couriers or agents. We were unable to find suitable areas, or, alternatively, those
which we did find and reported did not suit the gentlemen `over there'--or else we would suddenly declare them `unsafe,' whenever the
organization of a special flight seemed imminent.
On various occasions we reported a number of agents as having departed for France, who were expected every month to arrive, but naturally never did so. Finally we took the only course still open to us and reported
Jamboes as missing [...] informing London that our investigations showed that he could not be traced subsequent to a German police raid in
On 18th January 1943 Group Golf was dropped into Holland. Golf's duties were to prepare secure courier routes through Belgium and France to
Spain and Switzerland. The group was well supplied with blanks for Dutch, Belgian, and French identity cards with stamps and dies for the
forging of German passes of all kinds, and with francs and pesetas. We let about six weeks pass before Golf signaled to London that a reliable
and secure route had been established as far as Paris. The courier for the Golf groups would be an experienced man with cover name `Arnaud.' In
actual fact Arnaud was none other than my Unteroffizier Arno, who had effected an excellent penetration of the enemy courier routes by posing
as a refugee Frenchman who made his living by smuggling jewels. We proposed to London that we should dispatch to Spain via the Arnaud route
two English flying officers who were living underground in Holland in order to test the reliability of this `escape line.' Our proposal was approved, and London confirmed three weeks later that the men had arrived safely in Spain.
Through this exploit, the Golf group and Arnaud acquired much credit in London, and in the spring and summer of 1943 London gave us details of
three active stations of the British Secret Service in Paris which were working on escape routes. These were run partly by French and partly by English personnel and had their own radio links with London. Obviously we did not permit the German counterespionage in Paris to take action against these stations, once more adhering to the principle that intelligence is more valuable than elimination. My section under Major Wieskotter now had a clear view of the inner working of these important
escape lines, made possible by the well-sponsored arrival of Arnaud in the organization by reason of a signaled recommendation by London to the
The responsibility for innumerable captures of couriers and espionage material, of incoming and outgoing agents, and of espionage and radio
centers in Holland and Belgium during 1943, inexplicable to the enemy Secret Services, must be laid at the door of MID-SOE's confidence in the
Golf radio link, which had been in our hands since the day of its arrival in Holland. In actual fact Golf rendered certain services to the
enemy in order to increase this confidence.
We had proved once again the truth of the old saying: `give and it shall be given unto you.' Numbers of Allied flying personnel who had been shot down and had gone underground in Holland and Belgium had reached Spain after an adventurous journey without ever knowing, perhaps until the
present day, that they had all the time been under the wing of the German counterespionage.
On 31st August, Queen's Day in Holland, two `Nordpol' agents, Ubbinnk and Dourlein, broke out of the prison in Haaren and disappeared. I had a
short report to this effect on the morning of 1st September from Schreieder's office. Soon afterward Schreieder himself rang up in
considerable agitation to give me a seemingly endless description of the measures which he had taken for their recapture. It was clear to me
that, through this incident, the bottom had been knocked out of the whole `Nordpol' operation. Even if the fugitives did not succeed in
reaching Spain, Switzerland or even England itself, they were at large--
though perhaps only temporarily-- and would certainly somehow record their experiences since their departure from England and get this report
by some means or other back across the Channel.
During the first ten days of December London's signals became so dull and colorless compared with their usual quality that it did not need
all our knowledge to enable us to guess that the enemy was trying to deceive us in his turn. Hardly any doubt remained that Ubbink and
Dourlein had reached their objective. Nevertheless, we made no move, and
ave not the slightest indication that we too realized that the great bubble of the agent network and radio links in Holland had finally been pricked.
In March, 1944, I proposed to Berlin that we should put an end to the hollow mockery of the `Nordpol' radio links by means of a final
message. I was immediately told to submit a draft for approval to Abwehr Berlin, which must express confidence in victory. Huntemann and I set
ourselves to compose a message which should fulfill not only Berlin's requirements but also our reflection on the two years' hoax which we had
carried out so successfully. This message, the first to be transmitted quite openly in plain language, must not in any way fall short of the
standard of the thousand-odd cipher signals which had been previously dispatched. We sat at my desk and exchanged our first attempts at a
suitable text in order to discover something worthy of this unique occasion. Writing rather as if we were playing `consequences', each of
us composing a few sentences in turn, we finally agreed on the following:
``To Messrs. Blunt, Bingham & Co., Successors Ltd., London. We understand that you have been endeavoring for some time to do business
in Holland without our assistance. We regret this the more since we have acted for so long as your sole representatives in this country, to our
mutual satisfaction. Nevertheless we can assure you that, should you be thinking of paying us a visit on the Continent on any extensive scale,
we shall give your emissaries the same attention as we have hitherto, and a similarly warm welcome. Hoping to see you.''
The names given were those of the men whom we knew to be at the head of the Netherlands section of SOE. We signaled this draft to Berlin for
their approval. They were evidently occupied with more important matters, however, and we had to wait a fortnight until, after one or two
reminders, we received permission to transmit the message without amendment.
I passed the plain language text to the FuB station on 31st March, with instructions to pass it to England over all the lines controlled by us,
which at that time numbered ten, the next day. It had occurred to me that 1st April might be particularly apposite.
The following afternoon the FuB station reported that London had accepted the message on four lines, but had not answered calls on the
other six. [...]
Operation `Nordpol' was over.
The attempt of the Allied Secret Services to gain a foothold in Holland had been delayed by two years. The establishment of armed sabotage and
terror organizations, which might have disorganized the rear areas of the Atlantic Wall and crippled our defenses at the critical moment of invasion, had been prevented. The penetration of the Underground movement had led to the liquidation of widely spread and boldly directed
enemy espionage services. The complete deception of the enemy about the real state of affairs in Holland would have subjected him to the danger
of a heavy defeat had he attempted to attack during 1942 or 1943. The information which we had gained about the activities and intentions of
the enemy Secret Services had contributed directly to the countering of corresponding plans in other countries.
Operation `Nordpol' was no more than a drop in the ocean of blood and tears, of the suffering and destruction of the Second World War. It
remains nonetheless a noteworthy page in the chequered and adventurous story of Secret Service, a story which is as old as humanity and as war itself.
[ 06. December 2002, 03:06 PM: Message edited by: Kai-Petri ]
On the march 1942 situation not much on the Toropets area in the net, well, at least not under the name of Nordpol.
The 26.Infanterie-Division began the June, 1941 Russian campaign subordinated to Heeresgruppe Mitte, 3.Panzergruppe, VI.Armeekorps where it distinguished itself well as a front-line formation, crossing the Volga between Leningrad and Moscow in the Kalinin sector by October. In the bitter winter fighting of December 1941 thru Feburary 1942 around the Rzhev salient, the combat hardened 39.Infanterie-Regiment under Oberst Wiese, now down to two battalions, held vital positions against determined repeat attacks by fresh Siberian ski battalions. Along with the Westphalian 6.Infanterie-Division (and other newly engaged IX.Armee formations beneath General der Panzertruppe Walter Model), the units of the 26.Inf.Div. (as part of VI.Armeekorps) were able to hold the line around Toropets-Olenino, helping to prevent any further significant Soviet gain in this sector for the remaining winter period.