Archive for Espionage

Traitors at the Tower

Posted in 1 with tags , , , , , , , on February 26 by Old Sparky

Interesting article from the BBC about the German spies executed at the Tower of London during World War One.

Check out the audio link too for a step by step account of the dreadful deed

26 October 1915 – Irvin Guy Ries

Posted in Death penalty, Firing squad with tags , , , , , , on October 26 by Last Writes

A clutch of spies were found and executed during World War I. And it was Irving Guy Ries’s turn to die today in 1915.

American-born Ries had been found guilty of spying for German and of treason following a spate of unusual activities and dealings with known secret agent contacts.

His cover was blown open by the infant organisation MO5, which was later to morph into MI5 in 1916. The then recently formed organisation busted the covert operation to feed Germany secrets, according to the National Archives.

Ries (his alias) was court martialled and found guilty of espionage and automatically banged up in the Tower of London, where his execution was to take place. The 55-year-old sat tied to a chair facing his firing squad, which was made up of the Scots Guards before being peppered full of bullets.

Other spies before and after him received the same fate over a period of 14 months. Only two bucked the trend by being hanged at London’s Pentonville and Wandsworth prisons.

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19 October 1915 – Fernando Buschman

Posted in Death penalty, Firing squad with tags , , , , , , , on October 19 by Last Writes

Fernando Buschman

Fernando Buschman

If faced with certain death, how would you spend your last night?

In Fernando Buschman’s case, he spent the night playing his violin before kissing it and saying ‘Goodbye, I shall not want you any more,’ according to the book ‘The Trial in History’1.

And he was right, he wouldn’t be needing it again, for Buschman stood accused of spying for the Germans during World War I and was executed on this day in 1915.

Brazilian by birth, Buschman and his parents had relocated to Holland and he eventually wound up importing food between Germany, the UK and Brazil. At least, that was his story.

Spy ties

As a result he would often come to London and when the First World War kicked off the infant organisation MI5 clocked him corresponding with two dodgy addresses in Rotterdam. These addresses had been linked to known espionage activities, so the connection was immediately made.

His main focus was on Portsmouth and Southampton – apparently because he was into shipping food. But these were crucial British ports and, to this day they have strong navy presence too.

But one of the main clinchers was that Buschman was also in contact with a man known to be a key coordinator for German spies, says war researcher Stephen Stratford.

Security threat

These juicy bits of evidence were enough to ensure the Brazilian was hauled up for questioning and slung in the Tower of London on the basis that he was a threat to national security. There then followed a court-martial where he was found guilty of being a double agent.

Buschman was banged up in the Tower and it was there that he faced his death too, literally, as he refused to be blindfolded as was the normal procedure. He was put before a firing squad on this day in 1915 as one of 13 men who were found guilty and shot for espionage during the war.

1 The Trial in History: Volume I by Maureen Mulholland, Brian S. Pullan, R. A. Melikan, Anne Pullan.

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15 October 1917 – Mata Hari

Posted in Death penalty, Firing squad with tags , , , on October 15 by Old Sparky
and we thought she was supposed to be a babe...

Mata "the minx" Hari.

It’s been ages since we had a really saucy little minx on the execution block. And today’s fruity-flavoured subject doesn’t get much saucier.

Mata Hari, or Margaretha Zelle as she is more pedestrianly known, was in the firing line for the ropiest of reasons.

The French, with the help of the Brits, had levelled the crime of espionage at her. But there are doubts to this day as to whether these accusations were true or not.

That the Dutch woman was infamous is indisputable. If you’ve ever doubted the adage that sex sells, old Mata lived and breathed the premise. Her whole raison d’être was built on an insatiable love of sex and ways to manipulate men to her own ends. And boy did she start young.

Sex education

At a mere 16, she was already bed-hopping her way through life, bagging the headmaster no less, according to Pat Shipman in his book ‘Femme Fatale: A Biography of Mata Hari’.

Yet she wasn’t content to just stick out her days in Holland. She wanted more.

Known as Zelle at this point in her life, she hooked up with a soldier on leave by the name of Captain Rudolf Macleod, after she replied to his ad in the classifieds.

Things got personal alright. After just six days the rampant couple was engaged and three months on they were hitched.

Soldiering on

But just as quickly as they came together, so the couple fell apart, not least because there was no way Zelle would have been content with monogamy, not when there were so many soldiers happy to jump into the sack with her.

Naturally hubbie got a jealous-coloured cob on. But that was rich coming from him, seeing as he was at it too. Indeed, it was his free and easy attitude that landed him in a spot of syphilitic bother.

Macleod failed to confess this little detail to his wife and as a result he passed the demon seeds of STD onto her and their resultant children. In fact, it was thought that their son was killed while being treated for the damagingly virulent disease.

Well, that really put a kibosh on the relationship. They split and the hard-hearted husband even went as far as to put it about that his wife was a credit risk.

Credit crunch

Crude, yes, but the carefully chosen words did the job. Unable to get anything on tick, the lusty lady had to turn to other means to support her luxe lifestyle.

There are no prizes for guessing which talents she turned to in her hour of need. She forged ahead in establishing a searing career in selling sex. This included being a courtesan, which stretched to staging dance sessions in the privacy of people’s homes, and the rest…

The original queen of raunch had successfully reinvented herself as a top bit of totty and to add to allure of her new identity so Mata Hari was born. She blazed a trail did old Mata.

While others were retaining their modesty, this exotic dancer thought nothing of kicking off her knickers both on and off the dance floor. Her only concession to modesty was to keep her bra on. According to Tony Rennell of the ‘Daily Mail’, she was ‘self conscious about her tiny breasts’.


However, her insecurity certainly didn’t stop her trawling Europe, touting her wares and collecting moneyed benefactors as she went along, who were only too happy to sub her lifestyle.

‘Tonight I dine with Count A and tomorrow with Duke B. If I don’t have to dance, I make a trip with Marquis C. I avoid serious liaisons. I satisfy my caprices’ she said.

Love and infection

Of course all this makes you wonder what was happening about the syphilis. It must have been spreading infectiously throughout the more affluent sections of society who were only too happy to come, and see her. And while Mata was happy to sashay her way round the Continent spreading love and infection to all, the world was heading inextricably towards a war.

With war came paranoia about spies.

I, Spy?

And that paranoia came to settle upon Mata. After all, she was free to come and go as she pleased between countries and she could speak a number of languages – a spy’s ideal. And it is conjectured that she was indeed approached by the Germans to spy.

But it is a popularly held belief that despite being furnished with all the deceits and tools of the covert trade, Mata had no interest in actually spying. Like everyone before, she was happy to fleece the Germans of any riches they were keen to heap on her, but she had no intention of carrying out the deeds.

Nevertheless the Brits gave the infamous little minx a thorough once over when she docked at Folkestone. Despite finding nothing, they drew up a dossier of dodginess against the Dutch seductress.

Talk about sexed up claims, by February 1917 the French were after her and had finally cornered her in her hotel room.

Facing death

She was promptly found guilty of being a German spy and sent down to await her fate. Her appeals that the charges were trumped up fell on disinterested ears, so on this day in 1917, she calmly announced ‘I am ready’.

Such was Mata Hari’s sense of theatre that she refused to be tied to a stake or even to be blindfolded, instead facing her firing squad fully frontal.

Consequently, Mata Hari was riddled full of bullets and merely crumpled to the floor.

In a final move to ensure the bullets were fatal, a last one was despatched into her 41-year-old brain at close range.

Screen siren Greta Garbo took on the role of Mata Hari in the film of the same name…just 15 years after the execution.

Also on this day

15 October 1782 – Charlotte Goodall

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8 August 1942 – Herbert Hans Haupt

Posted in Death penalty, Electric chair with tags , , , on August 8 by Old Sparky

Herbert Hans Haupt

Herbert Hans Haupt

Enemy of the States, Herbert Hans Haupt was sent to the electric chair for his war crimes. His execution was part of a mass cull after he and seven co-conspirators were found guilty of spying for Germany in World War II.

Originally born in Germany, his family emigrated to Chicago in search of work in 1923, when he was four years old. They were naturalised seven years later and Haupt grew up an American.

During the Second World War, Haupt teamed up with a couple of mates and they tried to trek across the world. One didn’t get very far after he was stopped at the Mexican border, but the other two managed to secure German passports and they were away.

They ended up in Germany where Haupt got an Iron Cross after he noticed a British warship. HIs mate joined the army whereas Haupt was sent back to the States to subvert from within. Code named Operation Pastorius, 12 Germans were schooled at the Brandenburg Sabotage School and they were trained to blow up factories that were tasked with making war supplies.

Some saboteurs then landed back in America and Haupt immediately went back to Chicago to see his parents and girlfriend. Meanwhile two of the crew shopped the whole sabotage scheme to the FBI. Haupt was trailed back to his parents and they were all arrested. His parents were deported back to Germany while Haupt went to a military tribunal in Washington. The two informers were deported back to Germany.

But Haupt was not so lucky. He, along with six others, was found guilty of being spies, and they were sentenced to death despite not actually having sabotaged anything. They were all sent to the electric chair in the District of Columbia’s biggest en mass electrocution to date.

A mere 22 years old, Haupt’s last letter to his dad was never delivered, but it read, ‘Try not to take this too hard, I have brought nothing but grief to all of my friends and relatives who did nothing wrong, my last thoughts will be of Mother.’

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27 July 1920 – Arthur Goslett

Posted in Death penalty, Hanged with tags , , , , , , on July 27 by Last Writes

When a polygamist amasses marriages, it stands to reason he’s not bothered about finding legal ways to get shot of extraneous wives.

Murder most foul

The man in question was Arthur Andrew Goslett, who was strung up for his foul methods.

That Goslett was keener on some of his spouses than others was apparent, as the unfortunate Evelyn Goslett found out. Her body was found in the River Brent, in north London.

Naturally the blame fell squarely at Goslett’s door and he was soon taken in to explain himself.

Spy suspect

Funnily enough, the engineer was already known to the fuzz. The South African had not long been accused of spying during World War I, which he’d hotly denied. However, eventually Goslett had been let off.

Similarly, he tried the same tack with the murder charge. Indeed, Goslett was to deny it a number of times during a series of statements, but his story began to unravel. Each version started to differ slightly, and the suspicious inconsistencies meant that he was had up for trial at the Old Bailey.

There, Goslett was unable to prove his innocence and the 44-year-old was sentenced to death.

John Ellis did the honours at Pentonville gallows on this day in 1920.

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26 June 1981 – Werner Teske

Posted in Death penalty, Shot with tags , , , , on June 26 by Old Sparky

We’d love to know what was going through Werner Teske’s mind at the point he was told he could be executed at any time. Other than a bullet, that is.

For no sooner than Teske was told that his appeal had been denied, he had a single shot fired into the back of his head. He’d been executed for laying the groundwork for his eventual defection from East Germany across the border to the West.

I, spy

Up to the point of his incarceration, Teske had been working for the East German secret service – aka the Stasi – reporting on espionage abroad. Given the sensitivity of his work, that was maybe why the authorities came down hard on him when he was found out.

Whatever the reasoning, the Stasi took him to trial and he was sentenced to death. On appealing against his decision, Teske awaited the outcome – his life was literally in the balance.

When it came he was taken to a room where he was given the fateful news. And on that devastating announcement, probably, before the news even had time to sink in, Teske was dead, shot in the head at Leipzig Prison. It is thought that the East Germans wanted to make an example of him. But then why was he done away with so secretively?

Card’s marked

As a warped epilogue to this story, the 39-year-old’s execution was kept so secret that even his own wife had no idea.

She was unceremoniously informed after her identity card was returned with a note, which pointed out her sudden change of marital status.

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