Campaign Series Vietnam: General Update

As part of our usual transparency, we are letting you know of how the game will release.

Spooky turning the night into day with flares

In an effort to get the game to you sooner, we will be splitting up the game into the following:

  • Campaign Series Vietnam: 1948-1967 (which will include a little over 100 scenarios)
  • DLC #1 – Campaign Series Vietnam 1968-1979 (although the OOB’s will continue to 1985 and also include about 100 scenarios)
  • DLC #2 – Campaign Series Vietnam: Korean War (While this will focus on the Korean War, there will be some hypothetical fighting as well.
  • DLC #3 – Campaign Series Vietnam: Malayan Emergency 1948-1960

The primary reason for this is to get something for you to play sooner rather than later. I won’t offer a release date for the core game (although we’re aiming for the first half of 2021).

Why the delay? Well, we’re trying to build an exceptionally robust and realistic AI and this is a huge endeavor, especially when considering the complexity of the Vietnam War; the tactics, the strategy, the weapon systems and so on. Should we have started with East Front III for the AI? Probably, but alas, we didn’t.

That being said, the efforts we are doing on the AI is making this game like nothing you’ve seen or experienced before. As 97% of our users, based on our polls, will play again the AI at some point, we’ve focused all of our efforts to provide the best experience we can. On the bright side, once this core AI has been developed, additional games will be able to be released more regularly.

It is worth the wait and we appreciate your patience.

As an aside, while our focus is heavily on Vietnam, there is also work being done on East Front III.

Rado’s Radio Shack #6: Der Deutsche Widerstand

Campaign Series East Front III | Rado's Radio Shack

From the Director:

Perhaps members of the German “Resistenz,”  Arvid Harnack, Harro Schulze-Boysen, Kuckhoff, or others did not approach the level of “changing the course of history.” But taken together, the actions of “Der Deutsche Widerstand” against the Nazis, are impressive.

Background of Arvid Harnack

Arvid Harnack was born into a distinguished family of scholars in 1901. His father was Otto Harnack, a professor at Darmstadt. Arvid’s uncle, Adolf von Harnack, was one of Germany’s leading liberal theologians, and his cousin, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, followed their religious footsteps.

Harnack had the means to go abroad in the late 1920s, and study at the University of Wisconsin, where he met and married an American, Mildred Fish. There, he studied economics. He later obtained his Doctor’s degree at Giessen.

Central economic planning was Harnack’s main interest. He thought this was the best way to protect society against hardships and disruptions, such as the Great Depression, or hyperinflation during the Weimar Republic. These views caused him to be sympathetic to Communism, but he never joined the German Communist Party. (KPD)

In 1935, Arvid passed rigorous professional examinations, which qualified him for a position at the Ministry of Economics, in Berlin. Here, he had access to extensive economic intelligence.

Arvid Harnack

Arvid Harnack

Harro Schulze-Boysen

Schulze-Boysen was born in Kiel, in 1909 as the son of decorated naval officer, Erich Edgar Schulze.The family was steeped in Prussian aristocracy, and Harro was Admiral von Tirpitz’s grand nephew.

As an extrovert, Schulze-Boysen was very socially conscious. Although he studied political science at the University of Berlin, he was not particularly ideological, and was more altruistic, humanistic, and conciliatory.

In fact, he once mediated a potential riot at the university. In 1931 a confrontation between Nazi and Communist students occurred. Someone removed swastika ribbons from a student memorial. Both sides screamed insults, and the Rector was helpless to calm the situation. Harro intervened, and with good-natured words and gestures, strode back and forth between the parties, defusing the quarrel.

Although Schulze-Boysen did not finish his degree, he was very intelligent, and interested in writing. In 1932, at age twenty-four, Harro joined the magazine staff of “Gegner.” (Opponent) The magazine corresponded to a movement which, like Harro himself, was marked by youthful exuberance and haphazard leftist politics. There, he wrote an editorial, which was actually an anti-ideology, rebuking rash doctrinaire movements surrounding him. It was an anathema to the strict, intolerant KPD.

Excerpts from his editorial: “The battle cry arises from all sides. To add a new one would be absurd. Thousands of people speak a thousand languages, screaming their “isms” in each other’s faces, and are willing to go to the barricades for their opposition movements. . . But we believe that nobody holds the single key. Arrogance leads us nowhere, it runs contrary to real life. . .The only thing that is sacred to us is life,  the only thing that appears to be of value to us is movement.”

 Ultimately, Schulze-Boysen joined the Luftwaffe. He had enrolled in a flight academy, and sought a pilot job. Although forbidden to have an air force under the Versailles treaty, the Nazis were quietly assembling an Air Ministry under Hermann Goring. With his father’s connections, Harro joined the Luftwaffe, and became a Lieutenant. Later he was reassigned to intelligence.

Harro Schulze-Boysen

Harro Schulze-Boysen

Berlin Social Circles

The social circles of Harnack and Schulze-Boysen appreciated the arts, theatre, and sharing philosophical ideas. They each hosted gatherings, ranging from spirited singing and dancing at the Schulze-Boysens’ to the cerebral tea parties at the Harnacks’. It was the best way to find out what was going on. Public discussions were out of the question, so if people came across juicy news, gossip, or speculation, they shared it in private. They developed large social networks as a result.

Adam and Greta Kuckhoff were part of the Harnack circle. After fighting in WWI, Adam was full of theatrical energy, and wrote a play, Der Deutsche von Bayencourt. He also was involved with Eugen die Derichs, a prominent publisher, invited him to edit his political and cultural monthly, Die Tat. And, Greta blended easily into Berlin’s ranks of blond, neatly dressed Aryan housewives.

The Harnacks were introduced to the Schulze-Boysens through Greta Kuckhoff in the late 1930s.

But, not all of the Kuckhoff’s friends were aristocrats. The Siegs, for example, were blue-collar types, even though John and his Polish wife, Sophie were surprisingly conversant in literature and music. John worked for the Reichsbahn, the German state railways.

Schulze-Boysen spent much of the late 1930s expanding his circle of contacts. These included artists, students, KPD militants, and dissident officials working inside the Nazi ministries. Their beliefs were diverse, and when brought together, sparks could fly. Walter Husemann introduced Wilhelm Guddorf, a KPD official to the group. He saw that Walter Kuechenmeister, the companion of Harro’s friend Dr. Elfriede Paul, was also invited. Guddorf was appalled, protesting that Kuechenmeister was expelled from the KPD for stealing party funds.

Nazi Resistance

After Hitler’s rise to power in 1933, German society changed dramatically. A new decree suspended all guarantees of civil liberties, placing restrictions on the right of free expression of opinion, including freedom of the press, and rights of assembly and association.

Anyone that violated this decree could face arrest, and possible imprisonment, at the least. Opposition rallies and newspapers were banned, and politicians faced arrest, beatings, or death if they dared to appear in public. The SA and SS committed violence against political opponents, Jews, and KPD.

All means of communications, newspaper and radio came under close government scrutiny. Even printing materials, like typewriters, or paper were restricted.

As a result, Arvid Harnack and Harro Schulze-Boysen decided to “resist.” They wanted to counter immoral actions by the Nazis. They sought ways to communicate information to outsiders as a way to possibly bring about change, even the downfall of the Nazis. Others in their circle wrote anti-Nazi flyers, and hid them inside boxes of powdered detergent.

Embassy Contacts

In late 1937, the US State Department appointed Donald Heath as first secretary in Berlin. He became a close friend of Arvid and Mildred Harnack, who conveyed economic intelligence. The US did not have the OSS yet, and their intelligence capability was weak. However, Heath was also assigned an intelligence role as monetary attaché, reporting directly to US Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau.

Harnack systematically acquired a reliable overview of Germany’s economic capacity, production, and reserves. He also evaluated the German foreign trade situation, at any given time.

In the summer of 1939, Arvid and Mildred Harnack traveled to Washington DC, on official assignment to guarantee international copper and aluminum supplies to Germany.  But, the Harnacks also hoped to recruit American support for their cause. Harnack wrote a secret memorandum to the State Department, offering assistance against the Nazis. But, US officials rejected this offer.

Harnack also had Soviet Embassy contacts in Berlin. Sergei Bessonov, a leading economist, became his acquaintance in 1932, and ultimately invited them to the Soviet Union for a three-week study tour.

However, Stalin’s purges decimated the GRU, NKVD, and diplomatic corps as well, including embassy staff in Berlin. Boris Gordon, one of Arvid Harnack’s first acquaintances, was summoned back to Moscow in 1937, and executed. Sergei Bessonov was recalled to Moscow, and arrested the same year.

Bessonov withstood months of interrogation, and finally succumbed to torture, including sleep deprivation. The diplomat “confessed” to being an emissary for Trotsky, and was sentenced to fifteen years in prison. He was shot on September 8, 1941.

Organization

The Harnack and Schulze-Boysen “networks” were much less formal than the Rote Kapelle operations in  Belgium, France, and Switzerland. The structure was neither formalized nor hierarchical. The members lacked intelligence discipline, and attempted to engage in political activism, such as clandestine publishing. This is risky activity for intelligence agents. With this in mind, the table below shows the key players in the network.

Germany Espionage Groups

Germany Espionage Groups

Aleksandr Korotkov

In mid 1940, the  Soviet Union realized how badly Stalin purges hurt its intelligence services. It tried to rebuild the GRU, NKVD efforts in Germany. In September, a surprise visitor called on Arvid Harnack, speaking in fluent German. He brought greetings from an old friend at the Soviet embassy, which immediately aroused Harnack’s suspicion. The visitor turned out to be Aleksandr Korotkov, a NKVD officer, alias “Alexander Erdberg.”

Harnack’s first intelligence contact was recalled to Moscow and executed. He was replaced by an agent who died on the operating table, and the next agent was appointed through nepotism, and was incompetent. The thirty-one year old Korotkov seemed more dynamic, and effective. He asked Harnack to reestablish intelligence links with the Soviets.

Harnack was reluctant, but finally agreed. Over the following nine months, Harnack provided Korotkov with extensive, detailed information, which Korotkov relayed to Moscow from the Berlin Embassy. Harnack was given the code name: “Korsikanets.”

The first message sent to Moscow included information from an unnamed Wehrmacht staff officer OKW.  The information conveyed was:

Germany would go to war against the Soviet Union the following year. A preliminary step for the military action against the USSR will be the occupation of Romania, which is currently under preparation and will take place over the next few months.

 When Stalin received this information, he called in his intelligence chief (and Korotkov’s boss), Lavrenty Beria, and asked him his opinion. Beria told Stalin what he wanted to hear: “I will drag this Korsikanets (Harnack) to Moscow and jail him for disinformation.”

Korotkov and Harnack had to regroup. Harnack met with Schulze-Boysen and others to assemble more information. Korotkov was summoned back to Moscow.  Despite Stalin’s reaction to the initial report, Moscow was hungry for more. In December 1940, the Soviet deputy director of foreign intelligence, Pavel Sudoplatov, drew up a ten-point list of requests of Harnack.

Harnack brought Schulze-Boysen into the operation, code name “Starshina,” and also Kuckhoff as a sort of deputy, under alias “Starik.”

Aleksandr Korotkov

Aleksandr Korotkov

Predictions for Operation Barbarossa

Starting in January 1941, Harnack furnished Korotkov detailed updates of German plans for Operation Barbarossa. Some of the key messages were as follows:

The Luftwaffe was ordered to start large-scale photographic reconnaissance flights over the Soviet border. The German high command had ordered the Military-Economic Department of the statistics administration to prepare a map of Soviet industrial flights.

However, Stalin refused to believe an invasion was imminent. He filtered every bit of information through his flawed prism, despite concrete evidence that invasion plans were under way. But, German reconnaissance flights, predicted by Harro in October 1940, produced a massive collection of aerial photographs of Soviet military targets. Soviet intelligence informed Stalin of fifteen German violations of Soviet airspace.

Other evidence of an impending attack came from economic data. Harnack furnished this through his own work at the Economic Ministry:

In addition to the occupation forces there was only one active division in Belgium, thus confirming the postponement of military action against the British Isles. Preparation for an attack against the USSR has become obvious. This is evident from the disposition of German forces concentrated along the Soviet border. The rail line from Lvov to Odessa is of special interest because it has European-gauge tracks.

 Schulze-Boysen provided information about German plans being almost complete. Korotkov informed Moscow that:

German air strikes would start with economic and military targets. Four rail lines and junctions will be paralyzed in the first wave of attack.

Initial objectives of the attack will be industrial targets, especially in the Donetsk basin, and engine works, ball-bearing factories, and aircraft factories in Moscow.

There were already German troop concentrations on the Romanian side of the Soviet border.

A message sent mid April:

The general staff is continuing its preparations against the USSR with its previous intensity, as can be seen in its detailed designation of bombing targets.

 One problem arose when Korotkov found that Schulze-Boysen had contacts with German communists within his social circles. After Korotkov informed Moscow, they advised that Harnack and Schulze-Boysen should break off all involvement with Communist Party affairs, as well as any kind of political activity. This is consistent with disciplined intelligence agent practice.

Schulze-Boysen’s May 9 report was even more ominous:

It is necessary to warn Moscow seriously of all the information pointing to the fact that the question of an attack on the Soviet Union is decided, the jump-off is planned for the near future, and with it the Germans hope to resolve the question “fascism or socialism.” Naturally, they are preparing the maximum possible forces and resources.

 And, on 11 May, another report:

The First Air Fleet will be the main component for operations against the USSR. It is still a paper organization except for units of night fighters, anti-aircraft artillery, and the training of components specializing in “hedge hopping.” Its status on paper does not mean, however, that it is not ready to move, since according to the plan everything is on hand—the organization is prepared, aircraft can be moved in the shortest possible time. Up to now, the headquarters for the First Air Fleet was Berlin but it has been moved to the Königsberg area. Its exact location, however, has been carefully concealed.

 At this point, Korotkov anticipated that he would have to leave Berlin soon and would not be in direct contact with the network. He provided a radio transmitter to Greta Kuckhoff, and they assigned Hans Coppi to become the radio operator, for direct transmissions to Moscow. The radio transmissions were never successful, however as the group did not have an experienced radio technician.  

 Stalin arrived at his office on 17 June to unwelcome news. Vsevolod Merkulov, the head of NKVD, , presented Stalin with a stunningly detailed report:

All of the military measures in preparation of the armed attack against the USSR are completely finalized. The attack can be counted on to begin at any time. … The primary targets of the German Air Force are: the electrical power station SWIR 3, Moscow Enterprises, various airplane parts manufacturing facilities (for electrical equipment, ball bearings, and aircraft bodies) as well as KFZ repair workshops. Hungary will take an active part on the German side in the military operations. German planes, mainly combat aircraft, can already be found on Hungarian airfields.

Clearly, the Harnack and Schulze-Boysen networks had furnished some excellent intelligence to the Soviets. But, once the invasion began, and Korotkov returned to Moscow, the information flow dried up, at least for a while.

Sukolov Contact

By late summer 1941, the Soviets ordered their Brussels operation to help them reestablish radio contact with their prime sources in Berlin. The Director in Moscow sent a radio message to Brussels, ordering Kent to go to Berlin and find out what the problem was. But their message, although encoded, contained compromising information:

“Go to Berlin to Adam Kuckhoff or his wife in Wilhelmstrasse 18,* tel. 83 62 61, second stairway to the left, upper story and explain that you were sent by a friend of Arvid’s and Harro’s, that Arvid knew as Alexander Erdberg… Suggest to Kuckhoff that he arrange a meeting with Arvid and Harro.”

 Leopold Trepper was incredulous at this security breech.  “It’s not possible. They have gone crazy!” he exclaimed. Catastrophe was not certain, but Trepper suspected it. The German Abwehr’s III F group had already begun intercepting, and recording messages from Trepper’s Brussels outpost two months earlier, and was hard at work deciphering the code.

It took Kent (Sukolov) two months get to Berlin. He arrived on 29 October 1941, and contacted other Soviet agents there. Then he called Schulze-Boysen at the home number sent by Moscow. Libertas answered, and agreed to meet him in a subway station.

She explained the problem with the broken radio, and arranged a follow-up meeting with her husband. The couple brought Kent back to their apartment for a four-hour meeting. Schulze-Boysen offered his visitor a long menu of military intelligence, which Kent carefully recorded in his notebook.

Kent returned to Brussels and prepared a series of transmissions to Moscow with Harro’s information. Over the month of November Brussels transmitted the following information:

Location of Hitler’s headquarters in East Prussia, known as the Wolfsschanze.

Information on Germany’s chemical warfare preparations.

Germans plans to move on the Caucasus.

Data on German aircraft production and losses sustained in combat.

 Kent was also in touch with Kurt Schumacher, and arranged with them for the transmission of reports by post to Brussels. This link enabled Sukolov to receive reports from the German groups and to relay them by wireless to Moscow.

Demise of “Der Deutsche Widerstand”

Although Schulze-Boysen handed the Soviets a treasure trove of valuable intelligence, this had unintended consequences. When Kent returned to Brussels, he gave the information to Mikhail Makarov (“Alamo”) and Anton Danilov (“Desmet”) to transmit. The began sending messages to Moscow in marathon sessions, breaking every possible security precaution by staying on the air for long sessions every night, for seven days straight.

This offered the Sonderkommandos an easy means of homing in on the signal. They tracked the transmissions, and carefully recorded the coded content. They also arrested Makarov, Danilov, Sofie Posnanska, and Rita Arnould.

Trepper and Robinson were left without radio contact in France. The Brussels network was broken up. Victor Sukolov and Isidore Springer fled to France. But, Rita Arnould talked, giving away names and critical information about their communications system.

Each piece of intelligence that Abwehr found yielded a harvest of arrests. The Germans spent months assembling the data, and trying different approaches to break the Soviet code. Eventually, by mid summer 1942, they met with success.

Working their way through stacks of intercepted messages, the Sicherheitsdienst or SD had now taken over the investigation. And, they found a transmission from Moscow, providing the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of Adam Kuckhoff and Harro and Libertas Schulze-Boysen.

On 31 August 1942, the Gestapo made its first move, arresting Harro Schulze-Boysen in his office. No one in his family was notified. Other arrests followed swiftly. On 7 September, the Gestapo  tracked the Harnacks down at the seaside, where they were on a holiday with history professor Egmont Zechlin and his wife.

On 9 September, Gestapo agents arrived at a Berlin station in time to locate Libertas Schulze-Boysen on a westbound train, and escort her off. Over the fall of 1942, German authorities detained over 120 people in connection with the case.

In December 1942, a trial began for thirteen major Rote Kapelle defendants, among them the Schulze-Boysen, the Harnacks, and the Schumachers. Other defendants included journalist John Graudenz, radio operator Hans Coppi, and Erika von Brockdorff. All were convicted. Most were sentenced to death, but Mildred Harnack and Erika von Brockdorff were given long prison sentences.

On the evening of 21 December 1942, the condemned prisoners, including Harro and Arvid were conveyed to Plötzensee, and allowed to write their farewell letters. Arvid recited the story of the Nativity according to Luke, then sang his favorite hymn, “I Pray to the Power of Love.”  And then, they were executed by hanging.

References

“The Rote Kapelle – The CIA’s History of Soviet Intelligence and Espionage Networks in Western Europe, 1936- 1945”, Paul Kesaris, University Publications of America, Inc.

“The Red Orchestra”, Anne Nelson

Campaign Series East Front III | Rado's Radio Shack

Alexander “Sandor” Radó alias DORA


Rado’s Radio Shack is the latest series of articles by David Galster that provides an overview of Soviet run spy networks in Europe during World War 2. The articles provide some interesting historical background information for Campaign Series: East Front III.

Rado’s Radio Shack #5: Soviet Espionage in Holland

Campaign Series East Front III | Rado's Radio Shack

From the Director:

The Winterink “Hilda” group and Gouwlooze’s “Dutch Information Service” formed a network operating in Holland. This article describes key individuals and wireless operations conducted there.

Ringleaders Winterink and Gouwlooze

In 1938, Johannes Wenzel contacted Daniel Gouwlooze, and requested an agent from the Dutch Communist Party. Anton Winterink was sent to Belgium, where Wenzel trained him on wireless transmission. Winterink learned quickly, and in 1939, he assisted Wenzel in Brussels.

In June 1939, Wenzel asked Gouwlooze for another recruit, and Adam Nagel, a photographer, was sent. Nagel (alias Velo) and Winterink worked for Jeffremov in Brussels throughout most of 1940.

Late in 1940 Winterink, was ordered to return to Amsterdam to form a Dutch group. Winterink’s group, code name “Hilda,” continued to receive orders from Jeffremov, but established a communication connection to Moscow.

Anton Winterink (alias Tino) was born 5 November 1914 at Arnhem, Holland. He was a leading functionary of the Rote Hilfe organization in Holland, but in 1938, he gave up that job to devote full-time to intelligence work.

Winterink’s network included Nagel, Wilhelm Voegeler, a W/T operator, Jakob Hilbolling, a courier, and a safehouse keeper, Hendrika Smith, a member of the Dutch Communist Party. They provided Moscow with information on German troop movements in Holland, and reports of political and economic interest.

Daniel Gouwlooze

Daniel Gouwlooze was born 1901 in Amsterdam. He  was a Dutch Jew, and had originally been employed as a carpenter. In 1930 he became manager of Pegasus, which specialized in publishing Communist literature. Gouwlooze, aliases “DANN,”  “DAAN,” had been an active Communist since 1925, and in 1932, he became a member of the Executive Committee of the Dutch Communist Party. In 1934, he was arrested in connection with a plot to assassinate Queen Wilhelmina.

In 1936, Gouwlooze formed the “Dutch Information Service,” a group organized for the purpose of providing information to Moscow. Gouwlooze served as the link between this service and the Dutch Communist Party. Gouwlooze went to Moscow, where he was trained in intelligence.

Back in Amsterdam, Gouwlooze established a W/T service between Amsterdam and Moscow. His  W/T operators were August Johannes van Proosdy and Jan de Laar, both of whom had received technical training in Moscow. Jan Wilhelm Kruyt, parachuted into Holland in June 1942, with a W/T set. Although he was intended to set up a separate network, he ended up working for Gouwlooze.

Gouwlooze had contacts with KPD (German Communist Party) members in Berlin, and Comintern members in Belgium, France, and Great Britain. He provided assistance to Johann Wenzel’s communications service in Brussels, providing recruits, and W/T links with Moscow when Wenzel’s lines failed.

The German Emigre Group

Connected to Gouwlooze was Wilhelm Knochel, alias “Alfred.” He trained a group of German emigres in Holland. He sent them back to Germany to collect intelligence. Couriers would bring the information to Amsterdam, where it would transmitted by wireless to Moscow. Knochel’s couriers were Cilly Hansmann, and Charlotte Garske. But, there were problems with this communication.

In early 1942, Knochel, made his way to Berlin from Amsterdam, and established contact with his emigres. His connections indirectly extended to members of the Schulze-Boysen circle. Knöchel soon launched his own publication, Der Friedenskämpfer (“The Fighter for Peace,”) offering detailed accounts of German atrocities across the eastern front.

Knochel’s group detailed mass executions of French, Czechs, Germans, and Norwegians across Europe. They listed specific military companies carrying out mass shootings of Soviet POWs in Leningrad, and civilians in Lvov.

It is not known whether Knochel ever met John Sieg (Schulze-Boysen circle,) but Knochel and Sieg’s groups established contact, and exchanged micro-photocopies of materials through intermediaries Elisabeth Schumacher and Wilhelm Guddorf.

Other members of Knochel’s group were Erich Garske, Alfred Kowalke, Wilhelm Beuttel, Afons Kaps, and Willi Seng, aliases “August” and “Kurt.” Seng assisted with the Der Friedenskämpfer publication, with Garske as an illustrator.

Courier transfers from Germany to Holland were risky, and Knochel wanted to establish a separate W/T operation in Germany. Gouwlooze sent his W/T expert, van Proosdy to Germany to help.

Van Proosdy obtained a cover with the Quastenberg firm in Berlin, but was arrested by the Germans shortly after his arrival in Berlin. Knochel and other members of his group were arrested in early 1943 and later executed.

Cover of Der Friedenskämpfer

Cover of Der Friedenskämpfer

Holland Espionage Groups

Holland Espionage Groups

Arrest of Dutch Information Group

The Germans broke van Proosdy by interrogation, and in July 1943 began a round-up of his communist contacts in Holland. Jan de Laar was the first to be arrested. In August 1943, Gouwlooze’s deputy, Jacobus Dankaart, was arrested. A W/T operator recruited by Dankaart, Lambertus Portegies-Zwart, escaped arrest, as did Gouwlooze.

In autumn 1943, Gouwlooze learned that Dankaart was interned in a hospital at The Hague. At great personal risk, he assisted Dankaart’s escape. In the process, however, he left a trail of clues. In November, Gouwlooze was arrested in Utrecht.

Compromise of Winterink “Hilda” Group

In June 1942, the Germans located the Wenzel operation in Brussels, using radio direction-finding equipment. Both he and Jeffremov were arrested.  Wenzel and Jeffremov both broke under German interrogation. Jeffremov revealed the names of his subagents.

One of the subagents, Maurice Peper was arrested. He was a courier, and had contacts with Winterink. Ultimately, through Jakob Hillbolling, Winterink was arrested.

Winterink was taken to Brussels. He resisted interrogation for two weeks before he agreed to cooperate. Beginning in September 1942, the Germans played Winterink’s radio back against the Soviets. This operation was called “Beam Tanne.” Moscow, however, was not deceived, because both Nagel and Daniel Gouwlooze had warned them.

References

“The Rote Kapelle – The CIA’s History of Soviet Intelligence and Espionage Networks in Western Europe, 1936-45”, Paul Kesaris, University Publications of America, Inc.

“The Red Orchestra”, Anne Nelson

Campaign Series East Front III | Rado's Radio Shack

Alexander “Sandor” Radó alias DORA


Rado’s Radio Shack is the latest series of articles by David Galster that provides an overview of Soviet run spy networks in Europe during World War 2. The articles provide some interesting historical background information for Campaign Series: East Front III.

Rado’s Radio Shack #4: Trepper’s French Group

Campaign Series East Front III | Rado's Radio Shack

From the Director:

After Leopold Trepper escaped from Belgium in summer 1940, he started another network in France.

With help from Leon Grossvogel, another cover company, SIMEX came into existence, along with sub-groups Andre, Harry, Professor, Artzin, Lyons, and Marseilles. This article provides an overview of the new Trepper organization.

Leopold Trepper Background

Trepper was known by several aliases, including “Mikler,” and “Le Grand Chef.” Born into a Jewish merchant family near Zakopane Poland, in 1904, he left school in his teens to work in the mines of Kattowitz. He was a labor activist, and joined the Communist Party, and by the time he was twenty-two, he was jailed for heading a revolt at Dombrova.

After eight months in prison, and unable to find work, Trepper went to Palestine to join the Zionist movement. There, he began an apprenticeship as a spy. In 1928, he went to France and joined the Rabcors, a Communist group providing information to Moscow.

The French Commissaire dismantled the Rabcors in 1932, and Trepper escaped to Moscow. Between 1932 and 1935, he attended the KUMNZ University, (Communist University of the National Minorities of the West) and also joined a closed community of Communist agents-in-waiting. Trepper received intensive instruction in Soviet intelligence.

In 1936, Trepper was technical director of Soviet intelligence in Western Europe, and  returned to Paris, France. His first successful mission, was the discovery of the traitor responsible for the arrest of the “Phantomas.”

In the autumn of 1938, Trepper, alias Adam Mikler went to Brussels with his wife Sarah Orschitzer. He worked with Leon Grossvogel, who he had known in Palestine. They set up the Belgium network and the cover company, “Foreign Excellent Raincoat Company.”

In 1940, Trepper escaped Brussels and set up a new network in France. In early 1941, he sent information about German troop transfers to the Russian border, ostensibly preparing for an invasion. The Abwehr tracked him down, and arrested Trepper on November 24, 1942 from a dentist’s chair.

Trepper managed to escape in 1943, and went underground. After the war, the Soviets imprisoned him in Lubyanka until 1955. He settled in Jerusalem in 1974, and died in 1982.

Leopold Trepper

Leopold Trepper

Formation of Trepper Group in France

When Leopold Trepper fled from Belgium to France in July 1940, he had already accumulated a great deal of experience and contacts in France. Paris was his base from 1936 to 1938.

Trepper renewed his direct contact with Moscow by getting in touch with the Soviet Military Attache in Vichy. The attache supervised his efforts to build an organization, and directed him to pursue military intelligence targets. Trepper’s assistants were Leon Grossvogel and Hillel Katz.

Although he was not the leader of any group, Hillel Katz (alias Andre Dubois, alias Petit Andre) was Trepper’s secretary, and played a leading role. With the help of Grossvogel and Katz, Trepper  developed acquaintances with people favorable to the Soviet Government or sympathetic to the Communist cause, and recruited them as agents.

SIMEX

SIMEX, was a cover business established in Paris through Grossvogel’s efforts. (The name was derived from S for Societe, IM for import, and EX for export.) In the new firm, Trepper appeared as Jean Gilbert. It was Grossvogel’ s task to build a sound and respectable business, while Trepper handled clandestine activities, using the firm for cover. SIMEX eventually spread far afield, and at the time of its 1942 demise, had  representatives in Germany, Scandinavia, and the Balkans.

The SIMEX business had general dealers and contractors handling utilities and operations needed by the German occupation. They dealt extensively with the Todt organization. The firm provided the network direct contact with German industrialists and businessmen, and gained valuable privileges in the course of its business, such as freedom of movement in occupied territory.

Grossvogel ran the business end SIMEX, but he feared that his status as a Jew might cause suspicion with German contacts. He withdrew from the firm and directed his efforts to the clandestine communications of the network. In his place, Alfred Corbin, a Communist sympathizer, took over the directorship.

Before business deals, Corbin asked suitable questions to the German clients. In this way, much intelligence was gathered, while saying very little. Care was taken that negotiations were always conducted with persons in important or responsible positions.

The “Grand Chef” played this role with great skill and delicacy, without anyone suspecting that he was a highly accomplished Soviet intelligence officer. Instructions were always sent out as business communications, or similarly disguised, leaving no evidence of their intelligence nature.

SIMEX representatives sold the idea that “a businessman who wants to be superior, must be informed about everything, and must continually keep abreast,” and “without a sound inquiry, no business transaction can be carried out successfully.” With this tact, they acquired cheap, dependable sources of information in Belgian and French business circles, with excellent camouflage.

Seven Networks

The organization had seven separate groups or networks in France, each active in its own field, and under its own chief. Trepper’ s seven groups were constructed centrally, with parallel but completely independent networks in which only the group leader had direct contacts with the “Grand Chef.” They had regular meetings and a system for the Grand Chef to reach group leaders at predetermined locations. This communication method was not possible in the other direction, however. Stringent measures of security and compartmentation were built into the organization.

The groups were as follows:

(1) “Andre” (Andre Grossvogel): Information concerning economy and industry; the wireless communication of the organization.

(2) “Harry” (Henri Robinson): Information from French military and political circles, from Vichy intelligence (Deuxieme Bureau), from the Central Committee of the illegal Communist Party, and from U.K. and Gaullist circles. (In contact with Trepper only after September 1941.)

(3) “Professor” (Basil Maximovitch): Information from White Russian emigrant circles; special contacts with various sections of the German Wehrmacht.

(4) “Arztin” (Anna Maximovitch): Information from French clerical and royalist circles; special contact with Bishop Chaptal.

(5) “SIMEX” (Alfred Corbin): Information from German administrative departments and firms; financing of the organization.

(6) “Romeo” (Isidor Springer): Leader of the Lyons group; contacts with US and Belgian diplomats.

(7) “Sierra” (Victor Sukolov): Leader of the Marseilles group; information from circles around Darlan and Giraud; contacts with French authorities and administrative departments.

Trepper's French Group Organization

Trepper’s French Group Organization

Wireless Transmission Capability

From the time he escaped from Belgium in summer 1940, through 1941, Trepper used the Belgium radio network, operated by Wenzel for transmission to Moscow. The search for radio operators for French operation was assisted through the military attache in Vichy, who helped Trepper in recruiting. A list of active Communists identified Hersog and Marian Sokol, and they were selected to be trained as W/T operators.

Grossvogel was responsible for establishing a reliable wireless line and supervising the operators. Three W/T sets were made available to the organization, although only one was ever used. One set belonged to Robinson, but was unusable. The other was an American set which was operated by the Sokols. The third was a set was given to the Girauds by the French Communist headquarters, and never used.

By April 1942, the Sokols were transmitting, but were not able to contact Moscow directly, and their messages went to London first, and then relayed to Moscow.

The Sokols were arrested in June 1942, and so Trepper had to transfer this function back to the Jeffremov network in Brussels, operated by Wenzel.

Documentation and Passports

Agents had to move in and out of several European countries, and so obtaining passports was critical to espionage operations. Many networks used forgers, such as Abraham Rajchmannn in the Belgium network.

Trepper used the alias Adam Mikler when he arrived in Belgium. He carried Canadian passport #43761, issued in Ottawa 12 July 1937. Canada is one of the few countries that issues by mail and does not require a personal appearance before an official. The requirement is to visit a travel agency, have a reasonable cover story, lie under oath, and pay a $5 fee.

However, Canadian records tell a different story. According to the immigration authorities, no person by the name of Adam Mikler has ever entered, resided in, or left Canada.

Canadian passport #43761 was issued on 7 July 1939 to one Michael Dzumaga, born in Winnipeg on 2 August 1914. This man fought in the Spanish Civil War as a volunteer in the Mackenzie Papineau Brigade. In 1946, Dzumaga was not in possession of his passport, which he claimed was lost while he was in Spain. 

 It appears that passport #43761 was an authentic Canadian passport, but fraudulently altered by the Soviets, and then used by Trepper. This type of document forging was common within the intelligence services.

Conclusions

Trepper was a very knowledgeable spymaster, and was able to create and operate relatively large networks within hostile countries. His association with the Belgium and French networks required creating cover companies, and setting up communications systems.

The French network had good contacts through SIMEX, and probably provided good information to Moscow. This information was probably about the German troop movements within France, and may not have had much direct application to the German armies on the East Front.

References

“The Rote Kapelle – The CIA’s History of Soviet Intelligence and Espionage Networks in Western Europe, 1936- 1945”, Paul Kesaris, University Publications of America, Inc.

Campaign Series East Front III | Rado's Radio Shack

Alexander “Sandor” Radó alias DORA


Rado’s Radio Shack is the latest series of articles by David Galster that provides an overview of Soviet run spy networks in Europe during World War 2. The articles provide some interesting historical background information for Campaign Series: East Front III.

Rado’s Radio Shack #3: Trepper-Sukolov Spy Ring

Campaign Series East Front III | Rado's Radio Shack

From the Director:

The Trepper-Sukolov Group operated in Belgium, and this article is an overview of their somewhat complex history.

Belgium Advantages

The Soviets favored Belgium as a spy base because it was close to other countries, and had good commercial cover opportunities. Businessmen could travel freely on the continent, and to the British Isles without attracting attention. The authorities were somewhat indifferent to espionage, as long as it was not against Belgium. For these reasons, the GRU used the country widely in the 1930s as a training ground and base for its agents.

Soviet Spy Network Development

Spy networks had to be created, and the Soviet intelligence approach was for Moscow headquarters to send lists of spy candidates to the diplomatic representative. These contained the persons’ necessary background information. Strict care was observed to reject people who had been outspoken in public as Communist sympathizers. Their suitability and dependability was already established by the Director.

They were mobilized by an induction order designating a time and place for them to appear, along with detailed instructions for recognition signals, methods, and cover. Their intelligence officer contacts received similar orders. This system was practical for filling slots in networks with clocklike precision.

The Belgian networks of the Rote Kapelle were made up of: (1) Agents who had been working for the Comintern for many years, such as: Johannes Wenzel, (2) Soviet officers, such as: Leopold Trepper, and  (3) Agents recruited by Trepper, such as Herman Isbutsky.

The following table shows many that were active in the Trepper-Sukolov Group in the years from 1938 through the end of 1941. Trepper was the leader from December 1938 to July 1940. He fled to France when Germany invaded the Low Countries. His Deputy, Victor Sukolov stayed and rebuilt the network under the German occupation, until he was compromised, and forced to escape in late 1941.

A third network picked up the pieces and operated under Konstantin Jeffremov. It was marginally effective. In Summer 1942, it was detected and its members arrested and imprisoned. An organization table of the Trepper-Sukolov network follows.

Trepper-Sukolov Group Organization

Trepper-Sukolov Group Organization

Cover Companies

The first “cover” company for the network was the The Foreign Excellent Raincoat Company.

Trepper started this cover before the spy operation was launched. He believed that satisfactory spying could only be accomplished with a commercial cover. This could finance the espionage, and help avoid suspicion. Cover firms, or “shadow enterprises” had existed many years before in Europe, and were employed successfully during World War I.

Trepper turned to Leon Grossvogel, a former Comintern agent that had been employed by the Brussels firm, Roi du Caoutchouc, since 1929. In 1935, he managed the foreign subsidiary, the Excellent Raincoat Company. But, he was unpopular with his employers and in 1937, he became the firm’s traveling inspector.

Grossvogel proposed setting up an independent subsidiary company in the same business. His employers agreed and put up half the funds, and held half interest. Grossvogel owned half, and appointed Louis Kapelowitz, Abraham Lerner, Moses Padawer, and Jules Jaspar as Directors. The new company was the  Foreign Excellent Raincoat Company.

Germany seized The Foreign Excellent Raincoat Company when it invaded Belgium in 1940. And, with the departure of Trepper and Grossvogel to France, a new cover company was needed.  In March 1941, Viktor Sukolov set up and registered SIMEXCO in Brussels, with he and Nazarin Druilly as principal stockholders.

This was a “sister” firm to SIMEX, that was set up in France by Grossvogel. SIMEXCO was a genuine business and was granted telephone and telegraph facilities by the German authorities. The business was in general dealings and contracting supporting German occupation.

Sukolov set up a W/T operation, and established good communication with the new Trepper Group in France. Likely, many of Trepper’s intelligence messages to Moscow were sent through this W/T.

Sukolov fled from Brussels in December 1941 to France, and Nazarin Drailly took over the company management. The 1941 SIMEXCO profits were 1090000 Francs. Later, in July 1942, after the spy operation was detected by the German III N Ast, the firm was sold to Louis Thevenet, who was not not involved with espionage.

Important Intelligence Provided

The Belgium operation’s main value was in wireless transmission to Moscow. They could operate transmitters without suspicion more easily than in other countries, like Germany, Switzerland, or France. Couriers could enter and leave Belgium more easily also.

In particular, Sukolov received reports from the German Harnack and Schulze-Boysen groups via courier, and to relayed from Belgium by wireless to Moscow. And, as stated earlier, Sukolov was handling W/T to Moscow for the Trepper Group in France in 1941.

Among the reports produced by the German groups and passed to Moscow by means of Sukolov ‘s transmitter in Brussels were the following: a. Information about the strength of the Luftwaffe at the outbreak of the Russo-German war. b. The monthly production figures of the German aircraft industry for June and July 1941. c. Advance information about the German attack on the Maikop oil fields. d.Figures on the losses of German parachutists in Crete.

The W/T operators were Johann Wenzel, Mikhail Makarov, and Anton Danilov. Wenzel’s W/T was in Brussels, and Makarov’s was in Ostende, but the facility was destroyed by German bombing in May, 1940, and he fled to Brussels and set up his own W/T there. Danilov was an assistant to Makarov.

Through his contacts with Bulgarian diplomatic circles, Trepper was able to tour the war-torn areas of Belgium in mid-May 1940, on the assumption that he was checking the damages to his business resources. He then wrote a lengthy report on his observations and discussions with people enroute, and forwarded it to Moscow.

“Andre” (Grossvogel), provided information concerning economy and industry, and “Romeo” (Isidor Springer) had contacts with US and Belgian diplomats.

As a member of SIMEXCO, Jean Passelecq became an active agent in the Sukolov network, supplying military intelligence to Sukolov himself, Isbutsky, and Drailly.

Sukolov Group after German Invasion of Belgium

Sukolov Group after German Invasion of Belgium

Victor Sukolov, alias “Kent”

Victor Sukolov was born 7 November 1913 in St. Petersburg into a Jewish family, with name Anatoly Markovich Gurevich. He had many aliases, but the main ones were “Kent” and “Sierra.” In his teens, he was a factory worker and Komsomol member. He also had a gift for languages, and wanted to develop this for intelligence work.

Sukolov volunteered for the Spanish Civil War, hoping it would boost his career. He made the rank of Captain, and afterward was extensively trained  in espionage techniques by the GRU in Moscow. He learned about equipment, photography, and chemistry.

In 1938, he was posted to France. He visited Berlin in April 1939 to reactivate the Schulze-Boysen network, and initiate a courier service between Germany and Belgium. In July 1939, Sukolov entered Belgium as Uruguayan student at the University of Brussels. He used the cover name Vincent Sierra.

He delivered money and W/T technical information to Alexander Rado in Geneva in March 1940.  Sukolov worked as Trepper’s assistant in Brussels until Trepper fled to France in July 1940. At that time, Sukolov was placed in charge of the Belgian network. As head of SIMEXCO, he was able to travel freely, and in 1940 and 1941 he made trips to France, Germany, Switzerland, and Czechoslovakia on intelligence missions.

Members of the Belgium network were arrested in December 1941, and Sukolov escaped to France with his mistress Margarete Barcza. In January 1942 Sukolov reactivated a group of Czech agents in Marseilles, with cover of a branch of SIMEX, run by Jules Jaspar and Alfred Corbin.

He was arrested in Marseilles in November 1942. Ultimately, he was taken to Gestapo headquarters in Berlin for intensive interrogation. Agreeing to to cooperate, March 1943 Sukolov’s W/T playback to Moscow began. This continued until May 1945 from various locations.

The French captured him at Bludenz, Austria, 3 May 1945. He was turned over to the Soviet authorities, and ultimately imprisoned at Vorkonta. He was released in 1956, and afterward lived in St. Petersburg. He died in 2009.

Victor Sukolov in old age

Victor Sukolov in old age

Courier Techniques

Couriers were used extensively by the networks. Most couriers were aware of their package contents but some were used as “dummies.” The network chief usually sent couriers to fixed rendezvous points in neighboring countries, to make contact with Moscow couriers.

The courier system was slower than other means of communication, but was more secure for bulky documents, microfilm, or equipment.

Many techniques camouflaged intelligence material appearance for secure delivery. Agents were told to never appear to be handing over anything unusual to the contact. They used everyday objects for concealment, such as fountain pens, cigarettes, pocket or wrist watches, or match boxes. Reports were hidden between newspaper pages, which were pasted together. They could be concealed in shoe soles, or underneath trunk labels.

References

“The Rote Kapelle – The CIA’s History of Soviet Intelligence and Espionage Networks in Western Europe, 1936-1945”, University Publications of America, Inc

“Anatoly Gurevich”, Wikipedia

Campaign Series East Front III | Rado's Radio Shack

Alexander “Sandor” Radó alias DORA


Rado’s Radio Shack is the latest series of articles by David Galster that provides an overview of Soviet run spy networks in Europe during World War 2. The articles provide some interesting historical background information for Campaign Series: East Front III.

Rado’s Radio Shack #2: Rote Drei

Campaign Series East Front III | Rado's Radio Shack

From the Direktor:

The Switzerland intelligence network, known as the Rote Drei, (Red Three) provided Moscow with much information on the German Army, its plans, and operations. The ringleader, Sandor Rado, coordinated the efforts of three sub-group leaders, codenames Sisi, Pakbo, and Long. In addition, he oversaw at least four radio operators, in various locations in Switzerland.

Sandor Rado Background

Rado was a Hungarian from Ujpest, near Budapest. He was born into a Jewish family in 1899, and after graduating from the gymnasium, was drafted into the Austro-Hungarian Army. He attended officer training school, graduating in 1918, and was afterward assigned to an artillery regiment.

During this time, he also studied law  as a correspondence student at the University of Budapest.

The academic environment, and political mood of the time influenced him to join the Hungarian Communist Party. After the fall of the monarchy, and subsequent Communist takeover in Hungary, he was assiged as a cartographer for a Hungarian Red Army Division.

Eventually Rado became the commissar for the division’s artillery, and was involved in fighting anti-communist insurgents. But, when the Hungarian Communist regime fell in September 1919, Rado fled to Austria.

At the University of Austria, he studied geography and wrote on military topics for the  German-language Magazine Kommunismus, published by Hungarian political refugees. In July 1920, he established Rosta-Wien, an information agency, which he used to spread propaganda broadcasts from the Soviet Union.

Later, Rado moved to Germany, and prepared for the Communist uprising there. But, the badly planned revolution failed, and he went to the Soviet Union in 1924, where he worked for World Economy Institute of the Communist Academy.

In 1926, he returned to Germany, and established the Berlin cartographic agency “Pressgeography”. Hitler’s rise to power in 1933 caused him to flee to Paris. There, he formed an independent anti-Nazi press agency, “Impress.”

With the arrival of Prime Minister Pierre Laval, French policies became more sympathetic to Nazi Germany, and suspicious of Communists and left-wing activists. Rado began planning to move to another country. During this time, the deputy chief of Soviet military intelligence, Artur Artuzov approached him, and recruited Rado as an intelligence agent to spy on Nazi Germany.

Rado first sought residence in Belgium, but having his request denied, he obtained approval on a residence permit in Switzerland. Geneva was his choice because the League of Nations was there, with potential information contacts. In Geneva, Rado set up a cover business, GeoPress Agency, ostensibly to make maps.

Forming the Spy Ring

Starting in 1937, Rado began obtaining contacts and information on the Italian military, and its support of General Franco in the Spanish Civil War. The “Center,” as the GRU HQ was called, was interested in information about Italian troop transfers to Spain.

In La Spezia, Italy, Rado observed three warships loading troops and supplies. He was even able to gain access to board the cruiser, “Giovanni delle Bande Nere.”  He passed this information to his Paris handler, codename “Koyla.”

Later, Koyla authorized Rado to be the group head in Switzerland. A new contact, Otto Puenter was introduced and assigned to Rado to contact other sources. Puenter’s codename was “Pakbo.” Thus began the spy ring, with Rado, codename “Dora” as the leader.

In the years 1938 and 1939, Rado developed the group. He gained two other sub-group leaders,

Rachel Duebendorfer, codename “Sisi,” and Georges Blun, codename “Long.”

Ultimately, the sub-group leaders made contacts with well-connected sources, that provided very valuable information. In the years of 1939 to 1941, there were at least nine sources: Codenames Poisson, Gabel, Louise, Salter, Agnessa, Grau, Taylor, and two others that were not identified.

The subgroup leader Sisi, or Rachel Duebendorfer would later find a source, codename “Lucy,” with contacts in the German High Command. This was a 1943 development. Lucy, identified as Rudolf Roessler, got information from sources, with codenames “Werther,” “Teddy,” “Olga,” and “Anna.”

The identity of these was never confirmed by direct testimony or documentation. However, a CIA study suspects these were: General Hans Oster, Abwehr chief of staff Hans Bernd Gisevius, German politician Carl Friedrich Goerdeler, and General Fritz Boetzel, Intelligence Chief for Army Group Centre. These sources became available to Rote Drei in 1943, useful in the battle of Kursk.

Rachel Duebendorfer, "Sisi"

Rachel Duebendorfer, “Sisi”

The following table describes the basic organization of the Rote Drei regarding sources and sub-group leaders.

Rote Drei Code Names

Rote Drei Organization

Intelligence Gathered 1939-42

Here are some important messages that Rote Drei transmitted to the “Director” in Moscow between 1939 and 1942. They predicted both the invasions of Poland and Russia by the Germans.

In 1939, Gabel provided: “. .  disposition of  Italian army land and air units, Italian military industry and shipbuilding, and arms for Franco.”

In 1939 Poisson sent: “Hitler government was preparing to seize Danzig (Gdansk)”

and 1940: “According to the Japanese attaché, Hitler said that after a quick victory in the West, a German-Italian offensive would begin on Russia.”

In 1941 Geodress sent: “Rommel said: The time of our action against Russia is just around the corner … We do not expect much resistance.”

In 1941 a Swiss Factory Official reported: “On the Soviet-German border there are about 100 infantry divisions, of which one third are motorized. In addition, there are 10 armored divisions In Romania.”

In 1941 Louise learned: “Germany now has 150 divisions in the East.”

In late 1941 Agnessa said: “SS divisions on Eastern Front were almost completely destroyed,  and selection of replacments underway.”

In 1942 Salter said: “Romanian government promised the Germans six more divisions for spring offensive.”

In 1942 Taylor reported: “The numbering of  German units that  were in battles in the East Front southern sector, especially between the Don and the Donets, as well as in the Donbas and the Crimea: Panzer divisions: No. 75 11, 14, 16, 22; etc . . .”

In 1942 Grau said: “From December 7 until early March, there was no sending of Hungarian reinforcements to the Eastern Front. At the beginning of the new year, Hungarian divisions were recalled from Ukraine. In early March, on the right bank of the Dnieper were 5 Hungarian divisions and the 41st Motorized Brigade.”

In 1942 the Uruguayan Ambassador said: “a skirmish (political) between Hitler and Mussolini: the Fuehrer accused the Italians that they were badly helping him in the fight against Russia. He demanded 25 mountain divisions for the Eastern Front and 30 divisions for Greece, Yugoslavia, Holland and Belgium.”

Radio Transmission Network

In 1940, Rado contacted Alexander Foote, an English Soviet agent in Switzerland who had worked for Ursula Kuczynski’s network in 1938. Foote became a radio operator for Rado’s intelligence network, and in March 1941 managed to establish radio communication with Moscow Center from Lausanne. Foote, codename “Jim” became the first radio operator for the Rote Drei.

Later, Rado recruited Edmond Hamel, a radio shop owner in Geneva, as an additional operator, codename “Edward.” Hamel’s wife, Olga also agreed to train as an operator, codename “Maud.” Hamel furnished his own radio equipment.

Margarita Bolly first served as a courier, but she began training on Morse code and by the summer of 1942 was a wireless operator for the group, under codename “Rosa.” She also worked from Geneva, with a radio transmitter set up in a separate apartment, with Rado paying the rent. Ultimately, the group had two transmitters in Geneva, at separate locations, and one in Lausanne.

In March 1940, the “Center” sent a technician, codename “Kent” (Victor Sukolov,) from Brussels to Switzerland for a brief period to help organize radio transmission equipment and procedures. He also provided codebooks for encryption and trained Jim on the procedures.

In addition, Kent gave tips on transmission. They were required to compose radiograms in German, using Morse code. Each operator had a separate callsign. The radio wavelengths, and transmission times were to be varied, as a defense against direction finding.

Typical Radio Message

Here is the plaintext for an early message sent from Rote Drei:

21.2.41. To the Director.

 According to data received from the Swiss intelligence officer, Germany now has 150 divisions in the East, In his opinion, Germany’s attack will begin in late May.

 Dora.

Encryption

The Red Army had fairly standardized encryption methods, but there were mostly done manually using code tables out of codebooks. The 8th Department of Intelligence Directorate, GRU was responsible for encryption methods.

Soviet agents operating ‘illegally’ (with no diplomatic cover) did not have access to a regular supply of codebooks. A simpler system was to memorize a simple letter to figure conversion table, using a six-letter keyword to encode their messages.

The letters of the keyword were assigned numbers according to their position in the alphabet. The keyword was changed at intervals from Moscow. For example, “Talmud” would become 513462. The unused digits 7, 8, 9, and 0 are used as the tens of the cipher digraphs. Then the alphabet would be A= 1 B=70 C=71 D=2 E=71 and so on.

Keywords sometimes came from literary works, and in one instance the Director ordered Sisi to use

“The Storm Over the House”, Ebers Publishing House, page 471, with additional instructions.

This explanation on the next page is from the book, “Compromise of Soviet codes in WWII.” It shows this procedure in more detail, although it uses the Cyrillic alphabet. The Rote Drei probably used the Latin alphabet, since they were ordered to transmit in German.

Rote Drei was able to get some codebooks, and it may have been that that they also use tables like the one shown below to encode messages. The letters, numerals, and punctuation are in the cells of a 10×10 table. Commonly used words are also placed below letters. The rows and columns are numbered in a random sequence, which changes frequently. A letter is encoded by taking the row number first and then the column number. This is a 2-digit system. The Cyrillic letter T = 38.

Code Table

Coding Instructions

Conclusions

The Rote Drei network was in Switzerland, and had a good size for information gathering. With four radio operators and three transmission sites, they had backups in case one was compromised. This group provided advance warning of the impending German invasion of Russia in 1941, with at least three independent sources providing warnings. So it seems that the Rote Drei provided good intelligence to the Soviet Union in the early years of WWII. Rado received the Order of Lenin in 1943.

References

“Under the Pseudonym Dora”, Sandor Rado memoirs

“Alexander Rado”, Wikipedia

“Rote Drei Communist Espionage Network”, Arthur Bauer

“Red Orchestra”, Wikipedia

“Compromise of Soviet Codes in WWII”, Christos T.

Campaign Series East Front III | Rado's Radio Shack

Alexander “Sandor” Radó alias DORA


Rado’s Radio Shack is the latest series of articles by David Galster that provides an overview of Soviet run spy networks in Europe during World War 2. The articles provide some interesting historical background information for Campaign Series: East Front III.