tv Agent 110 CSPAN March 26, 2017 3:00pm-3:55pm EDT
i would like to welcome you, as well as your good from c-span. i am doug swanson, visitor and service manager for the national archive museum and the producer for the noon time lecture series. before we begin today's program i would like to remind you of a few more we have coming up. thursday march 16th, damian shields presents on the unforgotten irish. this is the u.s. launch of the book and a book signing. march 27th, we will present a film screening and discussion of follow seeds which is presented in partnership with the d.c. environmental film festival. to find out more about these and our programs take one of these monthly calendar events or visit our website. our topic today is "agent 110: an american spymaster and the german resistance in wwii" by
scott miller. scott miller is an authorer and former correspondent for the wa"wall street journal.journal." his first book was a "newsweek" magazine reader selection. he spent two decades in europe and asia reporting from more than 25 countries including two postings in germany to back up which is the backdrop of agent 110. he has been on the daily show, national geographic channel and britain sky news. he has degrees in communication and masters in philosophy in international relations from the university of cambridge. please join me in welcoming scott miller to the national archives. [applause]
>> >> thanks, doug. i thought what i would do today is talk about the background behind this book, how we came to write it, and just use some of the characters along the way, describe a little bit about the final production and have time for questions and comments you have afterwards. i will readally con fes i did not set out to ride this book -- rea readily confess. i was interested originally in americans in the vietnam war. that period held an interest for me. right after the war, the french
invol invol involvement in china. i did a little research and crossed these two characters. there they are. those are the dulles' brothers. allen dulles is in the lighter colored jacket. he was director of the cia during the '50s and the period i was interested in. the gentlemen in the dark suit is his older brother, john foster dulles, who was secretary of state. when i found these guys i thought there has to be an interesting story. two brothers and i thought there has to be a good relationship
and some good way of telling the story. i really dove in and discovered quickly, allen, the guy in the light colored jacket had been in switzerland during world war ii where he was a station chief for the office of strategic services and given code number 110. my interest immediately perked up. i have always been a bit of a world war ii geek and more importantly a frustrated ski bum. we lived in germany where i was newspaper correspondent and every weekend we could we would head down to switzerland and hit the slopes so the thought of doing a book that took place in switzerland captured by imagination. allen had two relatives who were secretary of state, he served in the state department early in his career. he quit that job to make more money and went to wall street. he got a law degree and worked at the law firm sullivan and chr cron well.
he had little espionage experience when sent off for what was a big job in switzerland. my focused shift and thought maybe there was a story on what allen was up in to world war ii. i needed a lot more information and was concerned and interested to find out what sort of subordante characters might help round out the story. very quickly, a discovered -- i discovered there is a picture of allen in switzerland. you can see the alps in the background. he is accompanied by his number two in the ss bureau. very quickly, i discovered this one. that is mary bank croft. mary came from the sort of family dulles did. she was from boston, her father was publisher of "the wall
street journal," she married a figure skater who competed mt olympics but left him for what she described arnother attractin to a male. she met a swiss fellow by the name of gene and they moved to switzerland. she admitted she didn't really love gene but was really interested in his personal story. at least the story he told her. gene claimed he was part turkish. it was entirely a lie. mary loved the sense of dancer and adventure she imagined turkish people entailed. they moved to switzerland and mary through herself into swiss society. she had an outgoing personality and i think that times there was
spark with her neighbors. the sort of reserved swiss that immediately took to her. she would soon meet -- there was a picture of mary in switzerland. she met a lot of notable people including the famed psychiatrist carl jung. she met him when she developed a situation where she started sneezing in awkward positions. she was very impressed by jung who cured her. she had an attraction to him, i think, and wormed her way into a group of people that sent a lot of time with him. she became pretty well known especially among americans in switzerland and they recruited
her early when they saw the war was coming to do various jobs, state department jobs looking at german speeches and writing newspaper articles that were favorable to the american government. when dulles arrived, they introduced her to dulles and he immediately asked her to join his team and she came to sort of assume a fairly important role in what dulles was doing. then veshe became dulles' mistress. i thought here is a good character bringing a lot of dimension to the story and flusters it out. then i kept looking and i came across this guy. he is a german, a hulk of a man standing six foot four.
everybody who knew him described him as being arrogant and difficult to deal with. he had risen through the german security and police services. he had begin in the gestapo in the early days. his career in the gestapo didn't go well. he was a schemer and plotter and decided to advance his career by spreading a rumor about the head of the gestapo telling people he thought he was a communist. he was drummed out and lucky he wasn't thrown in jail. he was able to land a job in another arm of the german intelligence services in a group that did intelligence for the german military. his attitude toward the german and the nazis was rapidly changing at this point. in the gestapo he had seen how
nasty the nazis could be. i think also, of course, he would never admit it but i get the feeling he was just kind of pissed off his career had not gone as well as he hoped and so he began to prod against the nazis. they sent him to switzerland where he immediately reached out to the british who were very skeptical of him and he tried to establish contact with the americans who were worried. he was not a trust worthy guy. at best, he was a double agent. he quickly met dulles and dulles was willing to meet him and they developed a good relationship. this was perfect aside from these two characters what was
good is both survived the war they wrote about their experiences. mary wrote an autobioography which was published in the '80s and left unpublished versions at radcliffe university. van hahn wrote an autobiography working on it during the war and what made it really interesting is it turned out mary helped him write it. the fact she did so was one of dulles' schemes. he wanted to learn as much as we could so working with mary he asked her to help him translate the book and work on bits and pieces of it. he produced a very, it wasn't an entirely accurate in places, but an account of what it was like to work with dulles. at this point, there is good characters, good story, it is a good time. i just have to figure out what the narrative thread is.
what is the plot to this book. there were lots of great antidotes and spy stories but i felt like they didn't link. i tried to look at dulles' antipathy toward the soviets. the united states was an ally of the soviet union at this time but dulles didn't buy it and spent a lot of the war warning the united states that the soviets were not to be trusted and they were aiming to dominate europe after the wrote. i wrote the book along those lines and showed it to my editor who thought that is a good idea but maybe there is a better one looking at the activities of the resistance. i sort of did what any good author or journalists would do with the author made the suggestion i thought that can't be true. if it were good i would have
thought of it. it turned out my editor was dead right. there was a really good story to tell with the resistance and the story of the resistance moved and dub tails closely with what dulles did. that sort of led us to the become that we have now. there is a picture of dulles taki taking -- taken about this time. he always had the pipe with him. dulles arrived in switzerland in in november of 1942. his cover, and everybody had some cover, he traveled under his real name and everyone knew it was allen dulles but his official explanation for being in switzerland was that he was a special assistant to the american mission, american head
of mission in barren. he claimed and i think correctly so he was the last american to enter switzerland before the germans sealed off the border. he was in a lot of ways marooned there during the war. he could not leave for several years and wasn't able to receive much help. a few agents were able to sneak through from italy but he didn't have great deal of interaction. this is the house he selected. he lived on the first floor which served as the office. he chose this particular location, this picture was taken, i think, around 1933 in the old quarter on a street called the harem goth. there was a busy shopping street on the end of the street so there was a lot of foot traffic going back and forth and he figured that would provide cover for people coming to visit him
there at the front door. he occasionally saw what he suspected were german agents across the street monitoring the coming and going. even better was the house, you cannot see it in the picture, but the backyard slopes down toward a river and was covered with a vineyard. a lot of contacts came up through the cover of the vineyard to knock at the backdoor and she was able to meet people that way without anybody woo was monitoring the front to know what he was up to. dulles arrived in switzerland with some contacts. he had been in the american diplomatic core and legal profession. he knew some people and was able to look them up off the bat and found out interesting things. but it was a slow slog to build up the network that he wanted to achieve. he employed a couple techniques.
one was simply to buy intelligence. dulles bragged to everybody about how well financed he was. word quickly got around the small town that a british agent once remarked dulles may as well put a sign on the front door saying intelligence purchased here. another technique that dulles employed was to simply meet everybody who came along normally a station chief would show discretion before meeting somebody. trying to feel them out and see if they were going to feed him bogus information or if they
were dangerous. but not dulles. this is from a lesson he had learned during world war one. he had been in bane barren, and the phone range and somebody called up and said you need to talk to an american diplomat. dulles later earned the person who called was vladimere lemon. he never learned what he had to say but took the lesson to his heart and talked about the importance of not pre-judging anybody. so with that, dulles was able to sort of rapidly get to know people and applying his lenin principle it enabled him to meet this guy.
i am sorry the picture has imperfections. his family gave it to me and it has a little wear and tear. that is a german minister of and he was a clerk but by the end of the war he became what was probably america's most important intelligence asset during the entire war. he was a dedicated anti-nazi and i think he also had a real taste for adventure he liked the idea of bogue a spy. this position offered him an opportunity to see a lot of top secret german documents. all three branches of the german
military would update the foreign ministry with what they were doing and he had an opportunity to read these documents and decide what was passed on to who. he started coming in to the foreign ministry on sundays when it was quiet and everybody was at home. he would take notes on these top secret documents in almost unreadable hand writing and where you can imagine the stress me was under. he started collecting the documents but didn't have anybody to give them to. he had a friend in switzerland who reached out to the brits who were not interested. the british had recently been fooled by a similar offer and lost two agents. this looked like, you know, a similar ruse and they were not going to fall for it. cobo was able to make contact
with dulles shortly after dulles arrived they had a midnight meeting in an apartment and dulles was, at first, skeptical but coba produced about 180 documents on that particular day including ones that described german codes. he talked about a german agent that was operating in ireland and one of the coolest things was map of hitler's headquarters on the eastern front. he sketched it out on a piece of paper and said here is where hitler holds his briefings. here is the railroad tracks and the theater and the whole thing and you can so that little piece of paper at the national archive up in college park. it is really cool. by the end of the war, he supplied the u.s. with about 2,000 documents and undertook tremendous risk and despite having zero training in intelligence and transporting these documents back and forth
between berlin and switzerland. he originally made copies and simply tied them around his leg with twine under his pants to get them to switzerland and later developed more sophisticated techniques. but he ended up surviving and the nazis never figured him out. it was an amazing accomplishment. what really got dulles' interest was the stories he was told about the german resistance and the underground. at first, dulles was suspicious of the guy who was a german agent afterall. but they were meeting together one afternoon, one evening actually, in the villa, a couple red leather chairs and they were having a drink and he reached
into the his pocket and pulled out a little black book. from the become he read a top secret american cable that had recently been sent from switzerland to washington. there was no way that the germans should have been able to get their hands on this let alone been able to decipher the phot code. dulles couldn't believe it. this is one very revealing and worrying information. with this knowledge, the americans started using the codes they knew the germans could read to send bogus information and changed it for their real correspondents. but dulles came to trust him. the fact you could read your ene enemy's codes isn't something you dpifb -- give away.
there were two resistance movements in germany. one was led by the german military. this guy, despite his sour expression, is lewdvic beck. he had been the chief of staff of the german army until 1938 when he resigned in protest over hitler's ambitious plans. he represented a number of officers who were posed to hitler and want today do something about it.
he also learned about this member of the group who was an eternal optimist and offset the negativity of the office core at times. he was probably too optimistic for his own good and a bit naive and it did not serve him well in the end. members of the group worked most interestly, i think with cunaris. he is in the trench coat with the fur lining. he was the head of the military intelligence. he had started the war in the early days and was a hitler backer like a lot of people were in the early days because hitler was trying to make up were the horrible treaty of versailles. as the war went along, he began to hate the nazis and used his position to plot against the nazis and he carved out a number of important jobs for people who were trying to overthrow hitler and hatching plots against him. it is an amazing thing. here we are in the center of r
berlin and there is a nest of people trying to overthrough him. dulles learned about the second group led my james graph motea. if there is any hard core millitarian historians out there you will recognize this being a famous name in german military history. he was a lawyer by training and opposed the nazis from the
earliest days. he set-up a group called the cry battle circle. this organization was younger than the officers, eclectic, much more liberal. they initially had a lot of qualms about if it is was morally right to kill hitler. maybe a coo would be okay. they met in small fells around german an and had discussions about what sort of economy or political system germany could have after the war. they tried to write things down to avoid security processes but they took them to the countryside when a -- and hid them in a beehive which i thought was genius. dulles learns something
important from both groups and that was they really wanted american help in deposing hitler. they wanted a promise from the americans that they would treat germany well after there was a coo or hitler had been replaced. they remember how horrible it was after world war one and how they were not going to risk their necks deposing hitler if he was going to do the same thing. dulles was unable to offer those assurances and so the resistance did everything they could to try to convince the americans of their sincerity. they started by playing to dullesal well known hatred of the associate i've union. they began to supply dulles with information that suggested the russians were helping. it was legit but served their
needs. despite the fact that the united states wouldn't help them, they continued with their schemes and there were several attempts to knock off hitler that came close. hitler had amazing instinct for avoiding assassination or a coo. there was a plot on july 22nd, 1944. this was led by a relative newcomer to the resistance. he is in the light colored
jacking. he had always opposed hitler and decided the only way to get rid of him was to murder hill. yol not go into it in great depth because i think it is well known. there was a movie a couple years ago with tom cruise who actually bore a resemblance to him. hitler survived that attack. he was injured and people were killed in it but hitler survi d survived. what followed was bad for the resi
resistance and bad for dulles. in the weeks and months that followed, thousands are rounded up around germany and hundreds were executed. include many members of dullts circle of informants. it didn't look good for dulles for some time. he was receiving surrender letters and dulles dismissed them as coming from spy people trying to save their own neck. dulles wondered what would happen to his station. all that changed in the very first part of 1945.
and get on a regular swiss passenger train. wolf made a couple of startling declarations to dulles. first that he was willing to surrender the entire fs force in italy to dulles which alone was tantalizing. he said he was buddies with the person in charge of the german army in italy. this was explosive stuff. they are talking about the surrender of a million men and the end of an entire front and more important from dulles and the americans perspective is what it meant for fighting in the alps. in the closing stages of the war, the americans convinced them that the germans were going to make a last final stand in the mountains of autria -- austria and italy. there were suggestions germans were building factories, hauling out tunnels and there was a commander unit being established called the warewolves which is great name for a commander unit. it was wrong and the americans fell for a pr scheme that joseph thought up. but it real thinkin th war fighting and all the advantages the american military enjoyed was nullified in the mountains. when they saw an opportunity to
end the fighting that is something they had to jump on. this is them together looking at a map of italy. the only problem was that the soviets found out pretty quickly that dulles was talking to senior german officers. i think it is fair to say that stalin blew a casket. he worried the three of them would cut a deal and gang up on them and this looks exactly like
the thing he had feared all along. what followed were weeks of bitter transmissions between stalin and roosevelt where stalin accused the americans of operating behind their back and roosevelt tried to calm him down but roosevelt got irritated and a lot of historns lo-- historia looked to these extremes as the beginning of the cold war. wolf grossly oversold the position of dulles. finally the most dangerous for wolf was the head of the fs in germany found out he had been talking to dulles and essentially took wolf's family hostage in germany and said you better get your tail back here and we will have a serious chat about what you have been up to. with considering trepidation, wolf went back to berlin and got chewed out and kind of their talk ended with wolf being ordered to go see hitler himself. wolf left an interesting account going to see hitler in the underground bomb shelter hitler lived in. wolf spun a story that was part true and lie.
he said i have been meeting with dulles. butt he said it wasn't to surrender but to cut a piece deal between germany and the use and claimed dulles heard of roosevelt and he could communicate with roosevelt. hitler calmed down and thought maybe that was a good idea. that was hitler's main hope for how the war would end. the americans and soviets would have a falling out. he was never convinced the communists and capitalists could really get along for very long. he sent wolf back to italy. wolf said he was just happy to get home with his head still on his shoulders. he began new negotiationegotiat
-- accomplishments diminished when they surrendered. but he refused to destroy at italian artwork and factories because he was talking to dulles and it ended five days early is probably saved thousands of liv lives. dulles stayed on after the war but his heart wasn't really in it. he kind of disagreed with american occupation policy. the americans laid down very strict rules that barred anybody who had been aoegs association associated with the nazi party from participating in the government. and dulles didn't agree. his prime concern was the soviet union and wanted to make sure germany got back on its feed and you had to turn to ex-nazis to achieve that was the price you had to pay. he once said you cannot even make the train run on time in germany without the help of ex-nazis. he spent a lot of time not
war. so that was something. dulles eventually left germany in the fall of 1945 when the and returned to his law practice in new york. he still was pretty much living in the past. other lawyers there said he remains very pharmaceuticafixat and spent as much time reminousing with old friends. he got active in the council on foreign relations and used that laplatn
platform for treating germany well and not trying to punish it excessively for the war. he advised congress establishing a new intelligence service in what eventually became the cia. and offense course he was the firs civilian to rector the cia in 1953. that concludes my prepared remarks. i would be happy to answer questions. if you want to ask you need to make your way to a mike are phone on either side. >> what happened to mary band croft? >> i am glad you asked that question. i have a bonus slide. that is mary there are her legs crossed and she is sitting with clover dulles who was dulles' wife. it turned out clover came to switzerland and joined dulles why the war was on. they had an unhappy marriage i think it is safe to say and clover sometimes got in his hair. he asked mary, can you, become buddies with my wife and take care of her? which was a pretty bold move but mary volunteered and clover quickly, clover was astute and figured out what it been going on and told mary, you know, i know what is going on and i think the quote was something like and i approve. she and mary became pals. they were both very interested in the jung and studies his writings and in the closing
dates of the war they took a tour on had northern border of switzerland to look across into germany and mary wrote about their trip together and the horrible things they could see in germany. they remained friends long after had war mary moved to new york and continued to study jung and wrote books and wrote the autob autobiography of the spy in the 1980s. i wish i could have met her but she seemed like an interesting character and someone comfortable in her own skin and also spoke her own mind.
there had been a newspaper article written in a swis newspaper shortly after dulles arrived and it said allen dulles is here, he is a well known diplomat and the article said he was a special person from roosevelt which was slightly different from roosevelt's cover story. dulles was at first horrified there was a newspaper article about him but he realized if people want to believe that i will let them. the germans bought that and they wrote a rather lengthy report. i think it was in january or february in 1943, a few mongs after he arrived saying dull us was there. they said in switzerland, and he is just here on roosevelt's behalf and we think he is most interested in the german economy. it really wasn't sort of very late in the war, before they kind of figured out he was oss. they really clung to this mistaken identity. they knew he was doing espionage but didn't know much about his network. there was a report the germans did in the sum was work resistance so they had a pretty good idea what he was about and up to. but they were lacking a lot of the detail certainly. >> how did dulles get the information he was gathering back to the united states so they could take advantage of it? >> that was a constant problem. they had originally, because switzerland was surrounded by the germans and the occupied italians on all sides, they originally experimented by
giving documents to diplomats from neutral countries who would take it to france and spain and fly it out from there. those documents tends to go missing from time to time so that didn't work well. they would transmit some things over the telephone and knew the swiss intelligence service was monitoring their phone line. the swiss monitored everybody. the swiss knew there were a lot of spies in their country. they were find of willing to look the other way but wanted to know what everybody was up to. there were people in the swis intelligence service who were pro-american and some pro-german. you could not transmit much secret information over the telephone. dulles used a simple code and would send things back and forth by telegram but the coding was
always difficult and the swiss helped them out. there were pilots and air crew who had found a way to switzerland which was neutral maybe crashing along the border or snuck into switzerland or a plane developed mechanical trouble and they would land in switzerland and the swiss wouldn't return them to the u.s. but allowed them to stay in their country. dulles had friends in the swiss intelligence and they let the air crews work with dulles on a lot of the coding of the secret documents. later in the war, this was one of the coolest thing as they thought of when they were g getting a lot of micro films they convinced a railroad engineer who went between leon, france and geneva to build a special compartment in this train. it was near the broiler and they
would put documents or microfilm in the secret compartment and it had a lever on it so if it was inspected they could hit the lever and it could fall into the boiler and avoid detection. it would go to france and met boy the members of the french underground who bicycled it down to the mediterranean and then on boats taken to a location where it was flown to london and sent on to washington. they did that for the bigger documents they had that were difficult to tran scribe. >> aside from hitler's intuition did you develop any theories why an assassination attempt wasn't
successful? >> you cannot but marvel at how brave the guys in the resistance were because if you got caught, and almost all of them did, you were looking at a pretty grisly death. but hitler, it is in explicit. there was an individual in the book who in 1939 he invented a plot where he was going to blow hitler up. this story illustrates how lucky hitler was. he was going to blow up this beer hall hitler was speaking in. the guy got a job in a construction factory and was able to steal dynamite used for the bomb and he was a carppente and created an accurate timing device. he would go to the beer hall at night, hide in the bathroom until everybody left, came out with his toolbox and carved out a hollow in one of the support posts on the platform where hitler was going to speak.
he put the bomb in there. everything worked perfectly. but there was bad weather in the munich area and hitler's pilot said i don't think we can fly back to berlin so hitler called off the speech 10-15 minutes early and the bomb went off as timed with a tremendous explosion and killed a number of people when the roof collapsed. hitler would have been killed but it was just a matter of bad weather. i could go on and on about similar twists of faith that spareded -- spared hitler. it was incredible. anybody else?
>> do you have a sense for if the july 20th or other plots against hitler had succeeded would that have hastened the end of the war? >> i think, yeah. i am sure so because the people who wanted to replace hitler were very keen to end the war. i think they probably -- and this is the fun of history playing the what if game. but i think that the americans, if hitler had been replaced, and a new german government came and said let's quit his non-sense it is hard to imagine any american governments who turn too cold a shoulder to those kinds of officers. you know, it is hard to imagine otherwise that the war wouldn't
have ended much more quickly. >> just a follow up. you think it would have been something other than unconditional surrender in that case? >> you know, there is a lot of theories that dulles was kind of with a wink and a nudge was telling the germans that it is america's dated policy we will not negotiate with you but there was documents from a german source that said you guys get rid of hitler and i will make sure you are looked after. i think politically how could you continue with the war if you have people saying we got rid of hitler, we hate him, and want to be your friends how do you say no, we will fight you until the bitter end. it is hard to imagine otherwise. it is fun to talk about, though. >> thank you so much, everybody.