Deceiving Hitler

Double Cross and Deception in World War II, Terry Crowdy, Osprey Publishing.

Hindsight is 20/20 but it seems clear that from a military perspective Germany would have fared better in World War II had it operated a more effective spy network. That’s the impression one gets from reading “Deceiving Hitler,” which chronicles the exploits of the numerous captured German spies who chose to double-cross Hitler (as opposed to being executed), and did their part to communicate misleading information to Germany about Allied troop movements, plans and operations. 

In this intricately-detailed new book, Crowdy recounts not only the activities of double agents like Juan Pujol García (known as Garbo, on account of being “the best actor in the world”), he also delves into the even more fascinating exploits of the British ‘A’ Force. This secret unit manufactured and maintained scores of fake aircraft and vehicles, leading the Germans to overestimate England’s military strength, while also tricking the Luftwaffe into wasting resources by bombing targets of no strategic value, thereby saving countless lives. 

“Deceiving Hitler” also includes the saga of ‘Major Martin’ (a corpse disguised as a British officer), arguably the most infamous operative of all. As we now know, Martin’s body was dumped into the ocean off the coast of Spain, a briefcase full of phony invasion plans secured to his belt. Picked up by Spanish authorities, the ostensibly top-secret documents were forwarded to German High Command, diverting the attention of Nazi leadership away from future invasion sites. 

Filled with complex, intertwined stories “Deceiving Hitler” is aimed at the hardcore history buff, yet still accessible enough for the casual reader interested in tales of espionage. It’s yet another reminder why “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer” has such enduring value.