tv Book Discussion on Operation Long Jump CSPAN January 23, 2016 9:30am-10:31am EST
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>> joseph stalin, roosevelt and churchill in 1943. [inaudible conversations] >> well, good evening and thank you so much for coming. i'm susan and we are thrilled to have one of our local authors here tonight. bill yenne is the author of nonfiction books and novels. he has written numerous books on military history and has recently released a book called hit the target which we have over here and that book is
relateed to the eighth air force but tonight we are honored to have bill here to discuss his latest book with us operation long jump, bill yenne. >> thank you. [applause] >> well, thanks, thanks to paula who isn't here and john who is for inviting me tonight and thanks to all of you for coming out and -- and sitting down and listening to my story. well, you know conspiracy stories are almost as fun to write about as they are to read. well, it's not true, they're more money to write about. [laughter] >> but an assassination conspiracy stories seem to have a sort of a special resonance and people get excited and interesting in that stuff. well, i'm here to talk about
what i'm maintaining as the largest assassination conspiracy in history. churchill, roosevelt, stalin in one room with three bullets and, of course, the world history has changed. the lincoln conspiracy was a pretty big deal back in '65 but the war was over by that time and it was directed at the leadership of only one country. this particular exercise was aimed at the three-allied powers in world war ii, the three men and their staffs who -- who commanded 70 million troops who were raid against the armies of the third, so that made it an
specially big conspiracy. this took place in 1943. it was the year of the turning point of world war ii although you wouldn't have known that to look at the situation on the battle fronts. the germans had been defeated but still in control of a huge slice of the western soviet union. 1200-mile front, they controlled all of western europe, anglo-american allies had kicked to north africa but invaded italy and were expecting to make
steady progress against the germans in that peninsula but by november of 1943 when this take place they had run into a little stone wall in the form of the gustav line and had been hung up in a dangerous position and such was the situation of the war at that time. so the big three allies that were allied against the third rike, the u.s. and soviet union, well, the leaders of the churchill and roosevelt, they met several times, they met in washington a couple of times, quebec, casa blanca but they really wanted to get together
with stalin, they wanted to have a strategy for defeating the third rike. i actually had access to some of the diplomatic cables or virtually all that were running back and forth between the three guys and i sort of excerpted them and crafted them into like a conversation, actually more of an argument between the big three. roosevelt, said, you know, joe, we would like to get together. why don't you and i meet in alaska. he said no. well, roosevelt and churchill got together and they asked stalin.
we are going to be meeting in cairo, we have a conference in november, why don't you come down and meet with us there and joe said, no. churchill got biblical and talked about their being -- about setting up three tents in the desert and iraq and having the big three in a tent and have their meeting there and joe said, no. joe wanted to -- wanted to meet in iran because it was close to the soviet union and he wanted close to the soviet union because there were people inside his government that he didn't trust. well, actually come to think of it there wasn't anybody in his government that he did trust. [laughter] >> it's often not told about stalin and the list of fun facts
about the least fun man of the 20th century is that he was afraid of flying. he didn't want to go too far. the hitler trip to tehran was his one and only plane flight ever. he argued and stalin refused and finally decided that meeting stalin was worth it. so november 27th 1943, date set. meanwhile inside the third rike a guy named walter who was the guy who ran the -- the operations division of the ss. he got this idea that we should try to take him out. one room, three bullets. he took up the scheme to
assassinate the big three. in fact, he had started to organize the hit teams. the problem was he didn't know where or when this thing was going to take place. the allies argued about it about six weeks before the conference so nobody knew where it was going to be, he certainly didn't. one day got a phone call from albanian, this guy said, i hate the british and i'm for sale for the right price. why should i listen to you, because i have a job in the british embassy in ancora and
that's where all the -- all the diplomatic cables are coming through and the embassador, well, he's not a light sleeper. in fact, he has insomnia so he takes sleeping pills, not just the kind of sleeping pills that you and i might take, but some of the serious stuff that michael jackson used to abuse. when he's asleep, he is out. so how much do you want. finally he said, why not, we will take a chance so the entail started flowing, he would creep into the embassador's room at night when he was in his bed and take pictures of all of the cables and the documents with his little camera and he was
in fact, the -- in the book you'll sigh the first picture in the little photo section it's an autographed photo from adolf hitler inscribed to his friend the shaw. they were exchanging pictures and the germans were pretty excited. so in fact, this was such a big deal that the british and soviets in 1941 at a time when german armies were closing in on moscow, they took time out to invade and occupy iran because of the german networks inside this country. that's how big a deal this was and so all during the war and
before the war they were sending agents in and out. fact they had long range aircraft flying out of crimea and dropping troops throughout the war, supply drops, thousands of miles, extremely long-range planes. gu290's, i know we have one aircraft buff in the room. and it was this long jump more inserting agents to iran that was the source of the name, operation long jump. so inside tehran you have a city with international spyies. you have the germans, you've got the british, they were active throughout that region before --
well, ever since world war i, back to the 19th century. that was an important part of their influence between the suez canal and india so they had a strong presence. thanks for coming. they had a strong presence there. what about the americans? well, you probably heard of norman, the family's general, you may have heard of his dad who was the head of the new jersey state patrol who was the guy who cracked the lindberg case. who does the shaw, the new shaw
because the british depotsed -- deposed shaw. they got him to hire to run. so this was the presence of the british and the americans. what about the soviets, well, they were present too. they sent in the ikvd. these were the same guys who made their reputation back in the 30's, rounding up people and sticking them and when the
soviets knew that the big three conference was going to take place, then they flooded tehran with nkvd. now these guys, you heard in the movies about sometimes you've got the cops and the secret police rounding up the usual suspects, nkvd rounded up sufferable suspects and unusual suspects and in fact, there's a famous quote in 1937 that they picked up every second man and a lot of women. this is their strategy and they brought that to tehran. they brought their jails and dungeons. they were set all over te h, --
tehran. ballooning jump was >> this takes us to a small circumstance -- circle and there were some couple lebanese and some iranians, there was an iranian french guy and then there was polish refugee girl who actually was the smartest one in the whole bunch but that was another story and how the polish refugees got to iran is another story but, anyway, this existed before the war and
passing through iran before the war an coming in contact with these people there was a young american named peter ferguson. he was kind of a cowboy. he felt for this polish girl. ferguson and kavalka, one of those boy-girl things, the usual tension. hi wanted it to go somewhere and she didn't, so they got mad and he went home. he has gone home. the war started and his dad who was well connected, he knew somebody who knew somebody got him a job at the office of strategic services.
so meanwhile, you know, he got his interview, what have you done in life, well, i hitchhiked in iran. okay, you're going back to iran. he ends up back in iran. back in this little thing going on with his would be-girlfriend. i don't want to spoil it. it's in the book. meanwhile ida has befriended another polish refugee girl, somewhat younger and her name is wanda polik. she works for mercer, 1930's became a 1940's.
he was a double agent. he was recruited in the 1930's by the german military intelligence and hired on with them and started supplying them with information because he was -- he moved between europe and the middle east and with his business dealings and so he was able to supply them with a lot of information. meanwhile as a young man he had studied in england. he had the same kind of for the british. he didn't mention that in his interview with the advair. he met an english play right.
yeah. and he was -- he spent time in switzerland and it was while he was in switzerland these two crossed path, well, you might want to take a look at doing some work for mi6 and he jumped at the chance. that's how mercer became a double agent. he had employed this younger polish girl as a housekeeper at his house and she worked there and she was befriended and became part of this circle of friends, this group of young people who would hang out and go to coffee shops like people do. part of the social scene.
while, one day it was a nice day, a day not unlike today, it was late september, nice fall day, beautiful fall day, decided that they were going to go for a picnic and so this group of fends went to a picnic and they were having a good time, they were probably drinking a little something or another and getting a little bit relaxed and they noticed that where is wanda, she said she was going to take a walk. how long ago was that she certainly should have been back by now, but she wasn't, they looked hard and they couldn't
find her and finally they found somebody that said, oh, yeah, we saw a girl like that and there were these russian guys pushing her into a car so nkvd which was indescriminate. they were picking people up at random, our friend has been taken by the soviets, what are we going to do? can you help us? and he said, all right, i'm going to -- i'll make a call. i know some people who know some people and so he called his contact with mi6 at the british embassy in tehran and said,
well, this thing happened, what do you know, okay, i can find out and he found out. well, i am -- i am sorry to say that your friend is in kvd custody at such and such a place. they set up all these jails and dungeons all over town. yeah, she's in jail at this particular address and it's the nkvd and you -- i hate to say it but you have to kiss this girl good-bye so he came back to this little circle of friends and said, that's the situation, i'm sorry, nothing we can do.
so ferguson, this cowboy says we can't let this stand. he was an oss agent. he had learned his trade. a lot of these oss men did in those days by watching the movies and he knew what you needed to do. we are going to brake her out of jail. [laughter] >> he was one of those guys that knows everybody in town, so they set up and lured the guards away. they went to the jail, it was lightly guarded, they broke in and found wanda in her cell and they got her out and as they
were taking her out of this dungeon, you can picture this in a movie, somebody says, well, you know, if we take just her they'll know that we came for her and she'll be in big trouble when she gets out. we have to let everybody go. they went around and opening cells, they let everybody that the nkvd had swept up and thrown in this particular jail, they let them all out and earnest mercer is standing watching all of this and all of a sudden -- and he's a german speaking and all of a sudden he hears someone
behind him that's speaking german. and he turns around and he's greeted in german by walter shellinberg's operation long jump advancement who had parachuted and had gotten into the city and picked up in one of the sweeps. the nkvd had no idea who he was. it was just some guy that spoke german and they had no idea that he was the advanced man for this -- the thing they were guarding against most. and he gets let out of jail, and this is where the story really gets interesting. this is where it gets really interesting but i don't want to spoil it so i'm going to -- [laughter] >> i will entertain questions. thank you.
[applause] >> i had a question. >> yes, sir. yeah, he was part of the -- he was one of the ss -- he was the -- well, the label that he enjoyed the most, in fact, he used it for his eventual memoirs was the most dangerous man in europe. he was probably the most -- the most ruthless and most effective of the -- of the ss special operation's team leaders, when the allies invaded italy and the
king decided to end the factious government, locked him up in this hill top prison, actually it was a resort hotel out of season but they locked him up there. [laughter] >> was the guy who led the special operation's operation to get him out of there. an amazing story. i won't get into all the details. they used these in landing airplanes and he got within -- within 24 hours, within 18 hours, they had berlin shaking hands with hitler. that was the kind of stuff that skortzini did. he was one of the people who was likely to have been involved in this thing but it's -- after the
the war, there were a lot of denials about this whole operation. in his memoirs largely deny any involvement in it but in later conversations he admitted that, yeah, he had been part of it but he did not actually go to tehran. that would have made a great story. maybe in the version story it would have. ..
operation they didn't care. >> your description of close german ties with iran how could they have helped in the first place knowing the danger created by that and how could the russian secret service and german spies have listed in that city at the time? >> prior to the conference after the invasion it was a very effective occupation, and i got ahold of the memoirs of the guy, probably the lead agent in iran and his story about how they clamped down when the british came in they clamped down hard and fast and so did the soviets
so the iranians, you had a lot of pro german iranians and a lot of them were waiting for the german army to get close enough that they could come into iran and liberate it from the soviets and the british. you also had pro ally iranians but mainly, who once the british and the americans, especially the british and the americans were there spending money and doing infrastructure projects because the americans ran the railroad through iran to take supplies into the soviet union so once they got in there, a lot of public opinion shifted toward the allies. that was the environment and the
germans largely went underground at that point. >> a couple questions, you mentioned -- the second question is in argentina at -- >> actually -- >> did he end up in argentina? >> two questions there. the first one, admiral cabarrus who was in charge up their, they got along as well as the fbi and the cia. the tension between them was more serious. interestingly enough, this was one of the few operations where they actually cooperated.
there were meetings where cabarrus was present and the interesting footnote about them is they used to go riding. they were both equestrians so they would go riding in the morning and they would go to work and fight against each other. it was a strange deal between those two. what happened? he was picked up by the allies, not -- on humanitarian war crimes but military war crimes because during the battle of the bulge in his team operated behind american lines and american uniforms which is something that is against the rules of war. he was tried for that and interestingly enough, he got a
lawyer who found a group of british operatives who had operated behind german lines in german uniforms, got him to testify so he got out of those charges. he was actually in jail and on other charges serving time, he broke out of jail in 1947 after is the war, in an allied prison he broke out of jail and was never recaptured. there were magazine photos of him drinking at a sidewalk cafes in paris and he later spent time in argentina, mainly went to spain and operated there. he had a private security consulting firm that lasted through the 1960s and he was doing work for the spanish the
government and the egyptian government and was never recaptured. he was never recaptured. eventually they just washed it away. that the notification courts in germany who ran those types of things just cut him loose for time served. >> second husband was a surveyor for the railroad, built north of the caspian sea. >> an interesting story. it is very much a german project and something the british hated this railroad and they hated it because it went from the persian gulf to the soviet union. they wanted a railroad that went from gaza in iraq, british don't iraq to india. they wanted to go east/west and
not coast to coast from the persian gulf to the caspian sea but that is the way the shop wanted it and the way they built it. it was -- it later became an important deal with the supplies that were going from the persian gulf to the soviet union. yes, sir? >> two questions. you started your first chapters sort of describing what the assassination would be like but you in the entire book never told us did you have an idea what the assassination would have been like and you gave us a hint which was that there was a german who was a russian defector and the russian germans would show up acting like russians. that is how it took place. second question it seemed like there was candy every other page, did you think you were a kid in a candy store?
>> yes. it was loads of fun and you are having fun with it, in your first question, yes, there was -- that was a component of the russians in russian uniforms, that is another part of the plot but i don't want to spoil it. spoiler inert, and i am not spoiling. one of the questions i have done a lot of radio shows about this book and one of the questions that comes up occasionally is coming from the premise of we never really read much about this, we never heard much about this, why is that?
i go back to if you have read that part of the book, you read the famous quote from franklin roosevelt at his press conference just after he arrives in washington after this whole thing, some of his comments, one of his comments i was able to carthy a chapter title out of was it would have been a pretty good haul if they had gotten all 3, but the one that is the most telling was after he described all of that, after he described terminations running all over tehran and taint the big three he says to the washington press corps, well, there's no use going into that. the washington press corps apparently a bit different than the washington press corps the
we know of didn't go into it. and this whole thing died. there were some reasons having to do with censorship and the people -- how should i say, in charge of the truth on the ground in tehran. which would be -- would suggest a reporter who did try to go into it, did try to get into that whole story back there probably would have run into some serious obstacles. more questions? all right, going once, going twice. wait, wait. >> in writing the book what is your greatest obstacle? in terms of research.
>> if you go by my house during that time you probably noticed the black suv across the street. that had nothing to do with it. biggest obstacle was the fact that for so long nobody went into this. it was something -- obviously people writing about current affairs in 1943 had some pretty big fish to fry so a failed assassination plot doesn't measure up to stalingrad and the normandy invasion the next year and all of this stuff. there was a real paucity of information. i did have as i mentioned
earlier the diplomatic cables between the big three as they are discussing that. all of these various it allusions to it from churchill, mentioned it, roosevelt mentioned it, stalin's biographers mention that, pull all the resources together. once the memoirs of mike riley, who was the head of the white house details of the secret service, essentially roosevelt's bodyguard. and he was there. be within and out of tehran and he was on the ground during this
whole operation and he knew a lot and mentions alive in his memoirs. also a lot of -- i will give one example, there was one particular german operatives named frans meyer, he was the ssi, sort of the s s station chief if you will in iran before the war and as the war began. so i sort of picked up all the little threads that mentioned him. i got ahold of the memoirs of bernhardt schulz, who was the
station chief out there in iran at that time and he writes a lot about putting that together, there was this guy, the press attache at the polish embassy in tehran. he end ed up teaching over at berkeley, he wrote a lot about that period and he mentions -- i am using mayor as an example because two weeks ago, i got an e-mail, people send me e-mails occasionally, one man in this room sends me e-mails about my book. so i got an e-mail from this guy named randolph churchill, so i start looking at up and he really is the grandson of winston churchill. so we are exchanging e-mails at
time figuring it out and he hook me up with the churchill society so i know it is really him and also the curator at chartwell, the churchills home and i am e-mailing her. we are not quite facebook friends yet. randolph -- we are on a first name basis because he calls me bills alike call him randolph, he says bill, we have something here, i won't pretend to do a british accent, we have something here at chartwell but might interest you, it is this iron cross given to my grandfather. it was taken off of a german who was captured, who was captured
in tehran around the time of the conflict and he said would you like to see this? i could e-mail you a picture. what am i going to say? don't worry about it. i said please do! he sends me this thing and it has been framed and there's a label on the bottom and his name is on it? frans meyer's on iron cross. this is sort of the challenge was digging through all of this stuff. there was a hungarian journalist in the 60s based in paris and who did a lot of study of this thing and he interviewed a lot of members of the s s hit teams in the 60s when these guys were
still alive. there was a lot of stuff there so the challenge was finding all of this stuff and that was also one of the exciting things about this. so yes, sir? >> i guess people ask what you working on next, it is about that polish girl? or something else? >> i am working on some other things. i have got several things in the works. a book about the japanese invasion of the united states, another thing that didn't happen, there were a lot of things around at and so those -- that is what i'm going to say and i do a lot of aviation
history so i have a couple aircraft books i am working on. >> where invasive declassified? >> they were declassified some time ago. they are buried. you have to dig to find them but when you find them there is nobody guarding them. a lot of that stuff is online at the department of state website if you know where to go and what to look for. and i spend time in washington d.c.. one of those people the goes into those desperately dark faults and does things that i could tell some stories but i don't want to spoil it. >> is it inappropriate to ask you to tell us a little bit
about the russian fighter pilot? i love this story. i wonder if people you know that book. >> this is one of my previous books was published in the u.s. and the u.k. three years ago and just this month it came out in the czech republic they send me a copy of it. another book to go on my shelf and i can to read. the title of the book is the height rows of stalingrad. white rose of stalingrad was a young woman in her 20s, young woman in her late teens. she was barely 21. most of her career was when she was 20. who became the highest scoring female aerator of all time. she flew with the soviet air force in world war ii, obviously
she fought at stalingrad is how she got her name. surname, the nickname is a misnomer. her name -- she was -- lie -- she painted a white lily on the side of her fighter plane and the liftoff of, these guys are not going to identify flowers, lasting a fighter pilot is going to do is identify species of flowers. was white, she would get the white rose of stalingrad and that was a nickname. she shot down at least 12 and as many as 18 liftoff of aircraft
mainly during stalingrad and in the spring during spring offensive into the ukraine when the soviet army's were pushing back toward kiev. her's was quite an amazing life. she grew up in the soviet union under stalin. when i mentioned earlier how the end came, rounding up every second man, her father was the second man. teamwork in the transportation ministry. that didn't keep him out of trouble and he end ed up as a second man. never came home from the gulag. but she was a pilot, wanted to fly, to fight the germans and so she did it. an amazing life, amazing story. and just a few days after her
21st birthday she was on patrol over eastern ukraine. the time i wrote the book it was a very peaceful part of the world and it sort of got not peaceful in the last year or so. the place where it a shot down a malaysian airliner was only about ten miles from the wreckage of her plane was eventually discovered. she once flying there and never came back. last time they saw her she was being chased by a commission it through the clouds and it was 25 years before they found the wreckage of what they assumed was airplane and recovered her
body. we have been at this about an hour. if there are no more questions. [applause] and i am happy to sign books. the young man behind the register will be happy to sell them to you. i would also like to thank my friends from c-span. this was not our first time together. we worked another show at the aviation museum a couple years ago so we are old friends. so you can relive this night on c-span. it is optional. >> when will it be on c-span? >> that is a good question.
i don't know. will put out an e-mail wedge [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] >> interested in american history? watch american history television on c-span3 every weekend 48 hours of people in the events the help document the american story. visit c-span.org/history for more information. >> no one on the right has attracted more vitriol from the
left, more intense vitriol from the left than dick cheney with the possible exception of the man who served in the white house george w. bush, or richard nixon. i think there are variable logical reasons for that. here is a man who stood at or near the pinnacle of power in this country who really from the watergate era to 9/11 and iraq and beyond and you don't stick around at those levels unless you are really good and really effective and i think that is why the left has had such an obsession with dick cheney and you see this even in barack obama's comments today, he called dick cheney in response to this interview and reporting on it was widespread, the worst president of his lifetime. that is a joke obviously but it speaks to diss extraordinary influence in our time and the central role he occupies in the intellectual universe of barack obama. >> dick cheney is in the left's head. >> and under their skin.
>> tell me about getting the interview. having been press secretary in the bush administration and the end dick cheney was a reluctant interviewer. how did this come about that you got a chance to spent several hours with him longer than even he agreed to nt opens up about everything? >> there's a back story here as you know from our dealings way back when. i covered the bush cheney white house for fox news in real time, travel the world with dick cheney on the air force one blue and white fleet of airplanes, we went to europe together, the middle east, these are situations you're hitting ten countries and eight days and went to iraq, afghanistan and pakistan. on the last of those trips in 2005 in pakistan as is the custom fox news was supposed to get an interview with the principle, the vice president, on the ground on that trip. dana-of cnn got her interview. happen jeanette snowy mountain
in pakistan, she was upset because she felt the setting wasn't right and steve schmidt who was running press for vice president cheney later changed fame and announce they were cutting the trip short because of was believed the vice president in his role as president of the senate needed to cast the tie-breaking vote in what was then a 50/50 senate and schmidt and others, you're going to get this interview with the vice president, won't forget the role, you are going to do this and as soon as the wheels of air force two touchdown outside washington everybody not named james rosen forgot about james rosen and scheduled an interview with dick cheney. >> i wouldn't have forgotten. >> this did not involve you regrettably. fanned the next time the vice president sat down with fox news was in february of 2006 for a dramatic sit down with our chief anchor rikki room for the purpose of explaining how and why the vice president had come
to issue his friend in the face and a hunting trip in texas and as i said in my office and watch the interview i thought it will be a long time before you sit down with this man if ever. fast forward nine years. i ran into the cheneyes at a party in washington and after doing some good-natured ribbing from the vice president about my recent notoriety as the subject of an fbi investigation i said i have a lot phone interview, the pakistani from 2005, i am still waiting. he remembered. if we were to amortize the 7 minutes i would have received with you in the 2005 i think today would be something like 28 hours of nixon's time interview. talk to liz, let's do something, let's have lunch the two of us for two hours where we sketch out the history of what dick cheney might look and sound like. in the end we agreed to do six hours, two hours a day for three straight days. no subject was off-limits. e