tv World War II Spies and Codebreakers CSPAN December 29, 2016 4:51am-5:57am EST
c-span and c-span.org or listen to it on the free c-span radio app. author and journalist max hastings talks about his book "the secret war -- spies, ciphers and guerrillas." mr. hastings argues the rise of electronic and radio communication made codebreakers equally if not more important, than spies on the ground. this hour-long talk is part of a multiday conference at the national world war ii museum in new orleans. >> good morning, everyone. it's a great pleasure and honor to be here amongst all our attend eaees and speakers for t wonderful day and the whole weekend we've got line up for
you. as master of ceremonies, it's my responsibility to introduce our speakers and to keep you informed of our schedule and any updates or additions as the day progresses. most of you in the audience are you seasoned veterans who have attended our programs before. but i do want to stress that due to the tight schedule of great programming, we will stick to the itinerary and timings as closely as we can so as to ensure that everyone gets enough time for their presentations and so that our question and answer sessions provide you all with enough opportunity to ask the speakers specifically what you want to know. i do want to point out that the speakers' biographies are in the back of your official programs so please refer to that for more personal details. the opening lecture for our espionage symposium is raymond
e. mason jr. distinguished lecture on world war ii. general raymond mason jr. served under general patton in world war ii and worked his way through the ranks following the war, including an important posting at the pentagon. after his military career, he was a successful businessman and in concert with his wife, margaret, became a generous philanthropist. a gift from the mason foundation created an endowed lecture series here at the museum. this series brings in the best and brightest historians to share their latest works and their insights with our live and online audiences. our sincere thanks go to the mason family, including the masons' son, ray mason iii, and to their foundation. our mason lecturer for the symposium is sir max hastings who is one of the most renowned
historians of world war ii. he's been a part of programs here at the museum going back to our very first conference in 2006, and he has also presented to a group of travelers that were in london with a museum-sponsored tour. sir max is here to present on his brand-new book "the secret war -- ciphers, codes and guerrillas 1939-1945." ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming our very first speaker to the stage, sir max hastings. [ applause ] >> good morning. i can't tell you what a pleasure it is to be here. i heard the word miracle used earlier on to describe what's been done here. i remember when i first came here and, like all of you, i've always been deeply committed to the study of world war ii. never when i saw how things started at the first conference
that the museum staged nine years ago did one imagine that it would have ballooned into this magnificent achievement. it's actually not a miracle. it's a man-made miracle and it's been done by all these remarkable people and such a pleasure and privilege to be here with you today and sharing in some part of this miracle. the book that i've written tells of some of the most fascinating and outlandish characters i've ever studied. soldiers, sailors and airmen who killed each other, the most conspicuous participants in world war ii. outcomes were also profoundly affected by a host of men who never fired a shot. months could elapse between big battles. every nation sieged an unceasing secret war, a struggle for knowledge of the enemy to empower its armies, navies and airforces through espionage and
code breaking. i thought i knew quite a bit about the war but was amazed by some of the tales i came across while researching the book. among my favorite vignettes there was a japanese spy chief whose exploits caused him to be dubbed by his own men, lawrence of manchuria. meanwhile, a german agent in stockholm warned berlin in saepts 1944 that the allies were about to stage a mass parachute drop. his forecast was ignored by the nazi high command and after the war it was found that his supposed sources in britain who frightined the hell out of the british secrete service were figments of imagination. the imagine was that it inspired a completely wild guess. one of russia's wartime spy chiefs earned his spurs in stalin's eyes by presenting a nationalist in rot bedam with a
handsome box of chocolates that the ukrainian crest which blew the retched recipient to pieces. in the far east, bitter hostility between the british and united states secret services reached a -- in 1945 when american black widow night fighters shot down two raf liberators because they were carrying french agents into indochina against washington's anti-colonial policy. the soviet superspy richard sorga once said spying should be done bravely. and he certainly did that. sorga began his brilliant campaign to penetrate the german embassy in tokyo in 1933 by befriending the colonel who soon after became hitler's ambassador nvd by sleeping with the colonel's wife. before sorga was finally trapped and dispatched nine years later, there was scarcely a handsome
woman in his reach whom he'd not seduced nor a german secret that went unreported to moscow. one of the most bizarre british agents was a man that very few people have ever heard of. ronald seth who in october 1942 was parachuting into estonia to start a resistance movement. seth was next sighted in paris in 1944 having become an employee of german intelligence trained to drop back into britain. this fabulously weird man's doings fill a thousand pages of mi-5, mi-6, mi-9 and hitler's all of who ended up completely baffled about whose side he was really on. it almost defies belief that the operational code name was blunderhill. the last entry in his mi-5 file is a copy of an unsuccessful 1946 application to become chief
constable of wilshire. he achieved some postwar success and was last heard of trying to pay for a penis enlarger. as in all my books, i have tried to paint the big picture with significance and intelligence to each nation's war effort and woven into it human stories such as those mentioned above about spies, codebreakers, guerrillas and intelligence chiefs. secret service became the war's growth industry. never in history had such huge resources been lavished upon gathering information. the united states alone spent half a billion dollars, serious money in those days, on so-called signals intelligence. of course, most of this was wasted. as late as january 1943 in the heyday, the canadian minister in britain's war cabinet expressed
his own skepticism saying that in cabinet he heard veritable secret information of real value. secret service reports were a doubtful quality and their quantility made it difficult for anyone to sift the good from the bad. he even expressed caution about the output saying that the enemy could put out deception messages just as easily as we could. today, we know that didn't happen. but it deserves noticing that a warlord could say such things. at the time, the allied secret war machine didn't always command the open-mouthed admiration conferred upon it by some 21st century writers of spy books. most books on this theme focus on single nations. i tried instead to create a global context. i wrote a lot about the russians whose dooings are unknown to mot
western readers. the so-called red orchestra, its players upper middle class, in 1945 and 1942 provided moscow with superb intelligence about hitler's war machine. they were led by astonishing personalities. the intellectual communist and his american wife mildred who all met dreadful deaths in nazi hands. their special tragedy was that they sacrificed everything only to have most of their information, including that which warned of hitler's warming invasion of russia dismissed by stalin who scorned reports unless they told of conspiracies against himself, real or imagined. the russians also, of course, spied on their allies as energetically as on their enemies. the fungus growth of communism
caused many people to embrace a loyalty that crossed frontiers and in the eyes of zealots transcended mere patriotism. more than a few people discovered virtue in treason. others betrayed for cash. claiming to serve moscow out of principle but also taking its money to pay his wine bills. the british dwell obsessively on the treason of the so-called cambridge five but fewer noticed what i called the small army of american leftists who briefed soviet intelligence. not merely about the atomic bomb but about every aspect of u.s. policy and technology. in the 1950s, mccarthy stigmatized many individuals of soviet tools unjustly. but mccarthy was not wrong in charging that for a generation,
america's greatest institutions and corporations harbored an amazing number of top people whose first loyalty was not to the stars and stripes. true, between 1941 and '45, the russians were supposedly an alliance with british and the united states. but stalin considered this a mere temporary arrangement of convenience solely for the purpose of destroying the nazis with nations that remained his irreconcilable foes. the task of many intelligence officers is to promote treachery which helps to explain why the trade attracts so many seriously weird people. a writer who spent the war in britain's secret service asserted that it necessarily involves such cheating, lying and betraying that it has a dill tiruous effect on the character. i never met anyone professionally engaged in it whom i should care to trust in any capacity. stalin agreed saying a spy
should be like the devil. no one can trust him, not even himself. spy masters were often unsure which side their agents were really on. and in some cases, doubt persists to this day. many books focus on what was found out. the only question that matters, however, is how far intelligence discoveries changed outcomes. did they prompt action in the field or at sea. all claims about spies' heroics or codebreakers successes are meaningless unless they cause things to happen. the intelligence gathering is not the science. it's a cacophony of what they call in the trade noise from which so-called signals, truths large and small must be winnowed. in august 1939, a british official wrung his hands over the british government's confused picture of relations between stalin and hitler. he wrote in his diary, we find
ourselves attempting to assess the value of secret reports somewhat in the position of the captain of the 40 thieves. when having put a chalk mark on early barbers's door, he found mugano put similar marks on all the doors in the street and had no indication which was the true one. statesman and commanders must be willing to analyze evidence honestly. a journalist who became a naval intelligence officer observed intelligence has much in common with -- on the standards which a demand in scholarshipship are those who ought to be applied to intelligence. after the war, many german journals blame their defeat on hitler's refusal to do this. good news was given priority for transmission to berlin while bad received short shrift. before the invasion of russia, the german high command produced estimates of impressive soviet arms production. hitler dismissed the numbers out of hand because you couldn't
reconcile them with his contempt for all things slovanik. the nazi defense chief eventually instructed the army to stop submitting intelligence reports that might upset the fuhr. by contrast, the western democracies profited immensely from their relative openness. churchill sometimes vented anger to those who espoused unwelcome views but in general an open debate was sustained in the allied corridors of power. i'm struck by the number of spies or nationalities whose only achievement abroad at hefty cost to their employers was to stay alive while collecting information, of which not a smidgen helped anybody's war effort. perhaps 1,000ndth of 1% changed battlefield outcomes yet that fraction was of such value that no nation grudged a life nor a
pound, dollar, ruble, unexpended in securing it. until the 20th century, commanders could discover their enemy's motions only through spies on direct observation. counting men, ships, guns. then came wireless communication. the scientific intelligence officer wrote about this. there has never been anything comparable in any other period of history to the impact of radio. it was as near magic as anyone could conceive. in washington, berlin, london, moscow, tokyo, electronic yv eefsdroppers were probing the intentions of their foes without benefit of telescopes or men in false beards. until halfway through the global struggle, the signals intelligence competition was much less lopsided in the all s
allies' favor than legend suggests. hitler had his own leslie parks and arlington halls. the germans wrote important codeses with consequences for both the battle of the atlantic and the north african campaign. during the spring and summer of 1940, they were reading 2,000 british naval messages a month. even after ciphers were changed, u-boat chief still achieved regularly reasonable breaks into convoy traffic, although only about one signal in ten was read quickly enough to concentrate his submarines against them. the postwar american study of german intelligence concluded the enemy possessed at all times a reasonably clear picture of atlantic convoys. in ten days of march 1943, when the germans were for a time ahead in the siga contest, they lost one in five of its ships, a
disastrous attrition rate. yet such costly failures sometimes have perverse consequences. several times became fearful the british were reading u-boat codes and all the inquiries. in the end, however, he allowed himself to be reassured by the convoy traffic's vulnerability. he reasoned that if the royal navy was clever enough to read the german hand, its chiefs would have stopped this costly hole in their own communications. had the allies conduct at the battle of the atlantic shown -- it would have slammed shut the window open by the brilliant allied codebreakers. as for the land war, the first three years, german allied signa were about the same place. in 1941, leslie park warned the british high command that
messages were being decrypted. in the desert, the africa thought british wireless discipline very slack and attributed to this some of -- one of the desert fox's intelligence officers wrote fleefully his chief often had a clearer picture of what the british commander in chief planned than did his own officers. he considered it a major disaster when in july 1942, new zealand troops overran and destroyed his radio interception unit. worse for the germans, washington changed its diplomatic codes. for months, ronald had been reading what he greatfully called his little fellow with the american military attache who reported almost every detail about british deployments and intentions. after the united states repaired this gaping security breach, the germans never again found such a superb source.
for the rest of the war, hitler's men broke only lower allied codes though they were able to piece together a lot of information about troop movements using the same techniques as the british and americans did. the german outstation in athens, for instance, once read a message for british paymaster in palestine instructing a division moving to egypt to leave behind its filing cabinet and this enabled a big red pin to be shiftod german maps. later they discovered the 82nd airborne division had been shipped from italy because they cracked a message about one of its paratroopers facing a paternity suit. they received warning of one impending attack in italy by decrypting a signal demanding a rummishing for the assault units. we should acknowledge that german codebreakers had important successes before thinking our forefathers' lucky stars that the enemy did not, in
the end, match the stellar achievement of the men and women of leslie park, the united states navies, op20 g. pearl harbor's rockies dxford a thomas dyer were in a class of their own. a brilliant oxford professor who served as the intelligence chief wrote in an important 1945 secret report, it must be made quite clear that ultra and ultra only put intelligence on the map. until decrypts became available in bulk in summer 1942, in williams' words, intelligence was the cinderella of the staff. preultra skepticism was often well deserved. i found a 1940 war diary of the middle east intelligence section. such comically silly snippets as
all cabaret artists have been ordered to leave egypt by the end of may. ultra when it came fully on stream bore an authority that no mere spy could match. an oxford historian turned intelligence officer noted afterwards, of all the great intelligence traps of the conflict, not one was directly or exclusively due to the secret service. and that applied on both sides of the atlantic. the allies' ability to read the voluminous radio reports to tokyo, japan's ambassador in berlin detailing his conversations with hitler and other leading nazis provided a far more credible insiders view of the nazi high command than any spy could have achieved. the codebreakers transformed the very nature of espionage. one key reason the democracies did intelligence better than the
dictatorships is they gave free reign to clever civilians. when the british official history of intelligence began to be published about 30 years ago, i went to the launch party, and i suggested to its chief author, professor harry hensley who was himself a veteran of lechly park but it seemed to see enlisted only for the duration achieved much more than did the secret service professionals. hensley replied to me impatiently, of course they did. you wouldn't want to think that in peace time the best brains of our society were wasting their lives in intelligence. i've always thought this was important. before 1939, most secret services got by or at least didn't do much harm. run by second rate people. once the struggle for national survival began, however, intelligence became part of a guiding brain of the war effort. battles could be fought by men of quite limited gifts.
the virtues of the sports pitch, but intelligence services suddenly needed brilliance, and both the united states and britain recruited some of the finest academic talent in their respective nations. the story is much more complicated than such silly movies as "the imitation game" suggests. far from anybody, prosecuting him as a homosexual as genius was always rex inized. the breaking of enigma was one of the most remarkable groups of people ever assembled. could have accomplished nothing without that fellowship. next, legends suggest he threw the bombs, gained open access to the enemy's communications. not so. it was indeed miraculous. britain's codebreakers who
assumed principal responsibility for cracking german as distinct from japanese traffic which was the principal responsibility of the united states, could never walk on all the water all the time. while a lot of naval messages were read from 1941 onwards, army enigma posed chronic difficulties as late as saepts 1944. lexly in october, 80%, in november, 24%. many breaks took days to achieve and reach battlefield commanders too late to influence events. for almost the whole of july 1944, for instance, during the critical battle for normandy, scarcely any enemy army traffic at all was being read. moreover, an increasing volume of the germans' most secret messages was inside but not by enigma but instead through
teleprinters which employed an entirely different system. the achievement of lechley's people in penetrating this was arguably greater than that of breaking enigma. the young man made initial discoveries is hardly known to posterity but he deserves to be almost as famous as allen churing. here's the story. the most widely used german teleprinter was -- code name tunny which transmitted in a nonmorse code language. when british interceptors started to record its incomprehensible stutter from august 1941, a team probed its significance. piece by piece, they groped toward solution of the lawrence riddle. handicap the fact while they had a sample of the enigma machine, they did not have a german teleprint transmitters. among lenchly's research was a
24-year-old chemistry student turned mathematician named bill tutt. a son of a well-known housekeeper who became a scholarship boy and progressed to trinity college cambridge. in october 1941, tutt was assigned to study. and he spent months trying to figure out what sort of machine might generate the noises recorded by the interceptors. eventually, by sheer brain power, he established that the teleprinter had two sets of fives wheels with 501 pins and a further two motor wheels between them creating a range of combinations much greater than enigma. this astounding foo ining feat m a scholarship. he hailed tutt's contribution as one of the outstanding successes of the war. so it was, though he never got
any sort of medal. establishing the machine's character was a vital beginning. but the problems remained huge in reading its traffic. the codebreaker figuratively scratching his head said that the teleprinter's output was as analogous to the other machine ciphers as a -- and an eskimo. by 1942, cracking it had become desperately urgent. the more the germans used it for top-secret communications, this less they used enigma. between july and october, by extraordinary endeavors, a team read some messages using a higher mathematical method known among them as cheeringly. different german keys were allocated fish code names. bream, octopus. some of the messages were encrypted in jellyfish. in june 1943, by brain power
alone, the part broke 15% of traffic dispatch to berlin by the enemy high command in italy. he reported in august the quality of intelligence derived from the fish keys is of the highest order. laurents was never read in anything like the same quantity as enigma but almost every decrypt was precious. the transformative development came from the creation of machines even more revolutionary than touring's bonds. max newman was born in 1897, son of a german father and english mother. he gained a formidable reputation as a cambridge mathematician. newman rejected a first approach to join blachly because the work sounded uninteresting. when he grudgingly accepted an appoint am at the end of 1942, he insisted on returning an option to leave after a year if he wasn't happy. few people, however distinguished, dared to make
such a stipulation in wartime and still fewer found it accepted. newman's first month proved frustrating that it looks as if he'd indeed quit. as a codebreaker, he was a flop, but he triggered a critical breakthrough by studying bill tutt's analysis of the teleprinter's workings and the machine might be constructed to test the thousands of possible stop positions for its wheel settings. he, himself, was put in charge of a new section to do this. his first production was called a robinson and the prototype delivered to blechly in june 1943 followed by a dozen stablemates. it operated in some fast bond. fantastic speed of 1,000 characters a second. it enabled a part to read messages by aught im, hundreds by spring 1944. its limitations were mechanical. the difficulty of synchronizing
two tapes that had to run simultaneously preventing breaks, addressing repeated vowels. churing, newly returned from a long trip to the united states, urged max newman to discuss his problems with a guy called tommy flowers who was an engineer of the british telephone research station in northwest london. flowers was impatient. he announced a far more ambitious, indeed revolutionary electronic vision. he was a brick layer's son from london's east understaend, born who won a scholarship for mechanics and science. after joining the post, worked on the auto mated phone systems until the war diverted him to building technology. flowers is considered to have made a brilliant contribution to realizing the concepts of newman
and charles williams who between them created a new wonder kristened colossus which is today celebrated as the world's first computer. it had a brain as bonds did not. it initiated production of the first model without directive. he was an obsessive, like so many of those involved with blechly. used some of his own money to buy scarce components. within ten months, his people had brought into being this huge machine which processed data at five times the speed of the robinson. it was tested in 1943 and entered service two months later to play a critical role in reading german high command traffic before d-day. the world's most revolutionary codebreaking technology was british and american. today inspiring all in the eyes of those of us who were barely -- at the end of the war, max
newman, who stubbornly resisted joining blechly park said to his staff, isn't it sad to think that the price of peace is to know that none of us will ever do anything as interesting as this again. decrypt from both enigma andularents were known as ultra. they enabled u.s. and british generals to plan their operations in the second half of the war with the confidence available to no previous warlords in history. while ultra was a marvelous tool it was not an excalibur, magic in vict ryes. knowing the enemy's hand did not diminish its strength until late 1942, again and again, the british learned why the enemy incontinui intended to strike. this didn't save them from losing the battles that follow. the u.s. navy could only begin promptly to exploit op 20 gs,
superlative feat in breaking the japanese code in 1943. the japanese convoy code. in 1944, a year later, when the u.s. navy cured the chronic technical failures of its submarine torpedo. whether on air, at sea or in the air, hard power was indispen indispensable to exploitation of secret knowledge. from 1942 onwards, the british especially exploited ultra to promote deceptions. colonel dudley clark, famous by the spanish police who once arrested him dressed as a woman uncovered an operation in the african desert in 1942. farc created fictional british
divisions. but such couning didn't save the eighth army from the fortnight of hard fighting that proved necessary to break through the africa corps. in berma, peter fleming, brother of ian fleming, the creator of james bond, went to elaborate thanks to leave -- where the enemy were bound to find them. when the japanese got this stuff, they took absolutely no notice. the british and americans have always been justly proud of their deception successes, especially before and after d-day. but others also played this game, notably the russians, with awesome ruthlessness. ian fleming's thrillers are said to bear no relation to the real world of espionage, yet when i was reading contemporary reports and memoirs while researching this book, i was struck by how uncannily their tone echoed the
mad, monstrous, imagined dialogue of such people in "from russia with love." some of the plots executed by stalin's spymasters were no less fantastic than fleming's. undwarfed in scale those of the western allies. for instance, in december 1941, a personable young man named alexandra denianov skied into the german line southwest of moscow and announced he represented a pro-hitler resistance movement committed to restoring the czars. german intelligence embraced him. and a few months later parachuted him back into russia as a source. devaniov soon reported he'd become a communications officer at red army headquarters and for more than two years thereafter, he passed fabulous information to hitler's eastern front intelligence chief acclaimed as
germany's most brilliant wartime intelligence officer. he cherished the network of which demianov was the key figure. he reported through an intelligence officer code named agent max. meanwhile, max's dispatches had another fascinating audience in britain. historian hugh trevor roper spent the war monitoring. he never concealed his contempt for them. one of his milder descriptions, a colony of kooks and bureaucracy. a bunch of dependent bum suckers held together like a cluster of bats in an unswept bar. yet i decide while researching this book that the unloveable, snobbish, rude, arrogant trevor roper was one of the most remarkable british intelligence officers who from 1942 onwards
knew much more about hitler's secret services than did anyone in germany because he was privy to the identity of all the double agents being kroecontrol out of london. by courtesy of blechly this officer pored over the early dispatches and then warned the russians they had a security leak the size of the grand canyon. when they took no notice, trevor roper decided that max must be a double installed by stalin. in november 1942, the operation, the russian envelopment of the russian sixth army which changed the course of the war. at the same time as uranus further north, the red army launched a second big offensive operation mars, which posterity's heard fondness about because it was a ghastly failure. mars' blood-stained failure with a loss of 77,000 russian dead
caused the british in london to conclude that agent max couldn't conceivably be working for moscow because he warned the germans that it was coming enabling them when shift reinforcements northwards to meet them. nobody reasoned these rational men serving a western democracy could have sacrificed 77,000 russian lives to promote a deception. but stalin did. the evidence now seems incontrove incontrovertible. message max's source was demionov. the personal authority, the germans were told of operation mars to divert german forces from uranus. now this seems to me one of the most remarkable intelligence stories of the war. as for the allies, blechly park and arlington hall were among the most remarkable institutions
the world has ever known forming a key part of the narrative of our two nations achievement in the conflict. it remains weird, almost beyond imagining, that the germans never recognized the vulnerability of enigma and laurents. they received endless clues and tips. in my book, i tell the story of how in may 1942 a german warship in the indian ocean captured the australian freighter and found aboard top-secret allied reports baseod intercepts which reported to berlin but no one rang alarm bells. in 1943, a swiss intelligence officer used information apparently from an american source to inform the -- that the allies had broken the u-boat code. again, nor action followed. the russians, while still hitler's friends told the german embassy in washington which in turn informed the japanese that
the diplomatic code was being read by u.s. intelligence. yet all these alerts, together with others from berlin's own cryptographers were simply dismissed. a mental laziness prevailed. while the third reich executed allied spies and saboteurs, its officers remained oblivious of the most deadly of all threats to its security. a few thousand english and american geeks laboring respectively in a basement at pearl and suburban corners of buckingham, virginia. the only explanation is hubris to believe their anglo saxon enemies whom they so often humbleod the battlefield would be that clever. we can say confidently that the codebreakers exercised far more influence on the war than did any spy. but though some historians try to suggest that it shorten the
struggle by several years, i'm pretty skeptical about that. ultra was a british/american tool while the russians did moist of the heavy lifting. it seems no more feesible to measure its contribution to the timing of victory than that of radar or winston churchill and franklin roosevelt. one of churchill's most profound observations was made in october 1941. in response to demands from the raf for 4,000 heavy bombers to be built, they would defeat germany in six months. the prime minister wrote back saying that while bombers were being built as quick as possible, he deplored efforts to place unlimited confidence in any one means of securing victory. he declared, all things are always on the move simultaneously. this is a tremendously important comment on human affairs, especially in war and in intelligence. it's impossible justly to
attribute any outcome of anything to a single factor. the historian paul kennedy argues that much of the wartime intelligence story among all nations is a failure. he's written, even if one can readily concede the allied record on intelligence was much better, it is easier to demonstrate what a smooth logistics helped to win the war than to show where intelligence led to victory. a bit of truth in this, but the evidence suggests to me that secret knowledge made a more important contribution, especially at sea in the pacific and the atlantic. ultra's exposure of germany's u-boat codes with a nine-month interruption in 1942 and the american codebreakers warning that the japanese were targeting midway were colossal achievements. between 1939 and '45, secret war was still in its infancy. the victories that decided
outcomes were secured by great armies, fleets, air forces and the gon21st century, it seems e less plausible that mass uniformed forces would again clash in arms. by contrast, the importance to national security, intelligence, eavesdropping, codebreaking, kourn counterinsurgency have information been greater. cyberwarfare is the latest stage. it would be extravagant to suggest it's become redundant. in ukraine, president putin fights tanks. moscow's secret services also employ subversive tactics that would command the immediate understanding and applause of the war time soviet and kdb. scrutiny of communications 4 become the foremost western weapon in combath nonstate entities both within our own front and abroad.
those who wring their hands in dismay about the snooper state seem unable to recognize that the old clear historical delineation between the state of peace and the state of war is defunct, probably forever. the revelations of edward snowden, the former american national security agency geek who disclosed vital secrets of western eavesdropping from the sanctuary of russia, did not serve as arlington hall. snowden inhabits a new universe in which old evolutions of conflict and also patriotism are no longer universally recognized. the balance of tactics and loyalties and struggles between nations has changed, is changing and will continue to change. secret war as it was practiced by the nation that fought in 1935-45 struggle is likely to be future hybrid war. finally, in my book, i describe some episodes that reflect human frailty and absurdity, we must
never forget in every aspect of the global conflict, the stakes were life and death. hundreds of thousands of people, many nationalities, risked their lives. and many indeed sacrificed them often in the loneliness of dawn before a firing squad to gather intelligence or advance guerrilla campaigns. no 21st century take on the personalities and events, successes and failures of those days should diminish our respect. and maybe reverence for the memory of those who paid the price for waging secret war. thank you all very much indeed. [ applause ] i'm very happy to try and take some questions. but shout like mad because i'm
fantastically deaf. >> if you raise your hand, tom gibbs and myself will bring a microphone to you. >> i'm going to leave you guys to decide who to go to. >> we'll start right back here to your right. sir max. >> yeah. >> thank you. >> thank you, sir max, for a wonderful talk, and for a wonderful book which i am about two-thirds of the way through. some point in my life, i heard that or read perhaps that a thing that helped the blechly park people in their decoding was the practice of german military people to either begin or end their messages with a salutation like heil hitler, is
that true? >> codebreaking depended on the germans making mistakes. if they used procedurally, enick -- enigma as it was designed to be used, then it was very hard to break it quickly. but when they made mistakes or what often happened, the beginning of each day, very often, a wireless operator would send a test message and breaking the test messages pruf s proved important. a very brief test message. very often that gave them the break into the messages. but it was always mistakes and reputations. you're right about the salutations. >> sir max, we have a question right here. bill from mississippi. >> so max, if i heard you correctly, you questioned the generally accepted belief that the ultra secret shortened the
war. would you expound on that. >> have you brought a sleeping bag? one has to remember that the russians killed nearly 80% of all the german soldiers who were killed in the second world war. and ultra made a difference in the west. but what's extraordinary, and you'll find in the documents of the second world war and especially at the end of the war, a lot of american officers and british officers, senior staff who wrote secret reflections, they found it amazing that in the northwest europe campaign when we were achieving these -- when we had this amazing access to communication, that the germans were still able to pull such surprises as they did. and everybody has made the point that the electronic intelligence was there to show what the germans were doing but it was misread chiefly because the staff were human. they were absolutely convinced
they got the germans on the route. the thought of the germans doing something idea of germans doing something unexpected they weren't looking properly at the staff. on the other side, one has to remember if you start on the basis that most of us are pretty confident, once the united states is in the war, the allies were going to win the war eventually. the question is when was eventually? the pacific war was dramatically accelerated by these two developments, but the code-breaking and one way midway and what's striking is after midway the u.s. codebreakers had no matching success against the japanese fleet for many, many months, and america lost a lot of those island battles or at least very heavy punishment in a lot of those naval battles of 1943 because it didn't have the codebreaker. the next big break was the submarine break when they got into the so-called, that did make a big difference. in europe it was the other way around and it was the battle of
the atlantic. yes, it made a difference. it would have been far harder to get the stuff across the atlantic, and indeed to run d-day had the allies not been able to win the battle of the atlantic which the codebreakers contributed to, but if you look at the land battle fought in northwest europe, the officers were most closely involved with themselves amazed at the end of the war at how limited a contribution it made. so in perspective do i come back to this churchill line which i think is frightfully important about all things always being on the move smoothly. i don't think any sensible historian, would attribute the outcome of the war so it's always -- i think it the idea when some people said it shortened the war by two years i just can't buy that. you can't quantify things like that. >> in the back to your right. philip here. >> okay. >> yes.
sir max, the code-breaking was, you know, one cause of winning the battle of the atlantic. i've read that having airplanes that closed the gap in the atlantic was another major cause. >> yeah. >> could you, you know, present your position overall on, you know, why we won the battle when we did? >> well, that comes back in the end to the point i made about hard pour, that the whole tide turned in 1943 because a lot of things happened simultaneously. first of all, the allies were cracking all this stuff. secondly as you said long range aircraft became available. thirdly, the british were deploying much larger numbers of escorts. fourthly, they had improved assets and fifthly the united states put in escort carriers which were able to use air parts close range and the british got somewhat irritated with the americans because they thought the americans were too aggressive so that when the americans had a signal that the
ubrekts were going to refuel in the mid-atlantic, quite often the british wouldn't leave them alone because they were frightened of giving away the ultra secret and the americans were sending the aircraft to whack them and on balance the truth was somewhere in between and probably by that stage of the war the british were too cautious and the american tactics served very well. all of these things happened at on once. you had five big quantitative developments and suddenly you had the hard power to use that knowledge. >> sir max, to your left, towards the back here. we have murph from north carolina. >> good morning, sir. you mentioned certainly novelists you thought inadvertently or advent entally had captured the tone or the research that you drp. after i purchased your book and, of course, copies for all of my extended family also, i wonder if you could suggest some contemporary novelist that might
have given -- given an accurate flaherty work that you observed. >> a novelist -- i think robert harris' novel "enigma" i'm slightly influenced bying fact that he's a close friend of mine, of course, but robert is a brilliant novelist, and i think it's catching the move that he caught the move very well and one thing that can be sobering, a close friend of mine, anne roberts, a british politics roy jenkins and roy said one of the things that none of the novels at all the movies will ever accept. they were told incredibly little about what the outcome of what they did actually achieve, so they would work all day and all night decrypting the signals and then they would chuck them in the out basket and disappear and very often nobody would even bother to tell them what the he le l had they achieved and what had an impact and the people who
ran blatchely were begging the chiefs of staff to send one or twoed a miles or generallies down to tell all these geeks sitting there, not in very comfortable working conditions about what the work was doing but nobody took much notice, but my point is in the end in order to make a movie that's going to get an audience worldwide, in order to write a novel that's going to sell like robert's novels you have to play a little bit with the truth. have you to make it seem like they all knew what the consequences of the successes and failures were. sure a very few people at the top. trees, the ordinary guys, even some very bright ones, didn't have a cloou and the germans did much worse. the brilliant thing the british did, the british and the americans recognized that the people who were breaking codes, all these academics, you had to just leave them to be eccentric and to be weird and wonderful and not put them into unifor. the germans did recruit some very clever academics,
especially mathematicians as codebreakers but they made them all lance corp rolls and put them in uniform and the rather distinguished professors did not like it. >> right in the front row to your right. >> could you talk a little bit about the role of klaus fuchs who could be said who gave the greatest secret away. seems like he got in the country very easily and was able to move around. is that just an intelligence failure? >> one of the things i've said in my book, i mean, fuchs and two or three others, again, probably about four key people who gave away the most important secrets of the atomic bomb of whom fuchs was certainly one of the four, arguably the most influential, but one of the things we have to recognize, here was the refugee from germany, and we have to remember that refugees from germany did some fantastic things for the benefit of the allied war effort and one of the things that i've said in my -- in my book, there's always a very delicate balance to be drawn about
security. now it was much more difficult, very difficult to penetrate the security of the soviet union or at a later war north vietnam but in order to achieve this you have to have a fantastically repressive society. now, the united states remained an amazingly open society in the middle of the war, and, for instance, harry hopkins, i don't think for a moment his intentions were maligned but he confided a lot of stuff to the soviet union ambassador because he and the administration were terribly keen to show willing to the russians that they weren't hiding all this stuff from them but actually the fbi were quite alarmed by some of the stuff that harry hopkins told the russians and when you drought balance of these things i would argue that what the united states and britain gained from remaining reasonably open societies and not repressive
gestapos, yes, they paid a price but on the margin, yes, a price worth paying, but unless you want a gestapo on every corner, these what's going to happen. >> sir max, down to your left. we have a question from bruce from missouri. >> yeah. >> you talked about the importance of breaking the naval code in the outcome of the battle of midway. i would like your ideas on the importance of the code-break of the itinerary of admiral yamamoto and whether or not you felt that that made a significant contribution to the culmination of the war. >> that also -- that was an issue which i'm sure you know was very controversial at the time because the big question was they discovered whether the japanese commander in chief, by far japan's ablest senior strategist, where he's flying to, and they know where they are going to be able to find him, but big question is how big is was danger that the japanese were going to notice something
fishy if they suddenly see these fighters so it was a big argument about whether the risk of the japanese on their codes was compromised was worth it. in the end they took the risk, and they got away with it because japanese counterintelligence, the japanese did such an extraordinarily genius people and they made wore unbelievably bad, thank goodness and the intelligence people, the americans i suspect you know, left it to the japanese to announce yamamoto's death. the americans announced that a couple of japanese aircraft had chopped down and were given away by a whimper that they knew yamamoto was in one of them. they waited until the japanese had the big funeral in tokyo and so on and so forth whereas conversely there could have been a disit isary after midway where clever newspapers were tipping off, reporting the midway success was the result of code-breaking successes, and it
is scary what that sort of stuff can do. i mean, we interest to say, if the guys on the other side were paying attention, the west was -- the western allied nations were fantastically lucky to get away with what they did with the code-breaking. >> time for one quick question and quick answer. alex, could you please stand. >> a few months ago i went to college park to the smithsonian institution to hear james bond, i went over there, 165 people in the museum were there, sold out. i don't like -- so i listened for 80-minute seminar two gentleman about james bond and about 007, double agents.
my question is -- >> yes, i was wondering what the question is. >> every 15 minutes they have drinks. they didn't mention his fighter and not doing it for the money and doing it for the transaction. >> i think you better come and ask me afterwards when i'm not still not quite sure what the question was. >> referencing james bond, ian flemming and popov as well. >> oh, that, yes. i'm still not sure what the question is. >> may be a longer conversation. >> i can't tell you. it's always such a pleasure.
you are the nicest audience in the whole world and even though i'm an ignorant foreign visitor you're so nice for me and i'm so grateful to the opportunity to speak with you again and meet with you again. thank you very much indeed. while congress is on break this week, we are taking the opportunity to show you american history tv programs. normally seen only on weekends. we continue thursday night with a look at what happened after the end of world war ii. starting at 8:00 even with the fate of nazi and japanese war criminals after the war. that's followed by hour the war changed the u.s. and the rest of the world. american history-tv primetime all this week at 8:00 p.m. eastern. sunday "in-depth" will
feature a live discussion on the presidency of barack obama. we're taking your phone calls, tweets, e-mails and facebook questions during the program. our panel includes april ryan, white house correspondent for american urban radio networks and author of "the presidency in black and white, my up close view of three presidents and race in america." princeton university professor eddie glaude, author of why the democracy in black, how race still enslaves the american soul" and pulitzer prize winning journalist and associate editor of "the washington david maranis, author of "barack obama, the story." watch "indepot go the "live sunday noon to 3:00 p.m. eastern on book-tv on c-span 2. >> new year's night on "q&a" -- >> while people were starving van burren, he was having financing parties in the white house. it was part of the image-making where harrison was the candidate, poor man for the poor people and here was this rich man in washington sneering at the poor people.
harrison had thousands of acres and an estate and he was actually a very wealthy man, but he was portrayed as the champion of the poor. when it came to the parades and they waved hand chiefs, some gave speeches, some wrote pamphlets, and it was very shocking. they were criticized by the democrats who said that these women should be home making pudding. >> ronald schaefer, author of the book "the carnival campaign," how the rollicking of 1848 and tippy canoe changed presidential elections forever. >> c-span, where history unfields daily. in 1979 c-span was creed as a public service by america's cable television companies and is brought to you by your cable or satellite provider.
>> author pete duffy describes the story of an fbi double agent who helped unveal it a nazi spy ring. he talked about how the mission originated and how it pioneered the use of a hidden camera to gather evidence this. hour long talk is part of a multi-day conference at the national world war ii museum in new orleans. our next presenter is peter duffy. many of you are probably aware of peter's old world war ii book "the bielsky brothers" featured in the recent film "defiance" about a group of jewish partisans who fought the gnat nazis, but peter is here today to discuss another individual who combatted the nazis, an american citizen who became a mole to expose nazi spies who had infiltrated the united states to.