azdak (azdak) wrote,
azdak
azdak

What-are-you-reading-Wednesday

I'm currently reading "Walter Schellenberg: The Memoirs of Hitler's Spymaster" (Schellenberg was head of Amt VI, the SS foreign intelligence service). It's a very strange book, not least because, for all that it has two scholarly introductions vouching for its accuracy, it reads for all the world like the script for a downmarket James Bond movie. Take this bit for instance:

"After supper at a well-known restaurant, we went to an obscure bar near the Alexanderplatz. I noticed that the barman looked a most sinister individual. Mueller* ordered the drinks and handed me mine. Our conversation was casual, mainly about Heydrich's plane**, until suddenly Mueller said to me, 'Well, how was it at the Ploener Lake? Did you have a good time?' I looked at Heydrich: his face was very pale. I pulled myself quickly together and asked him if he wanted to know about my excursion with his wife.

In a cold, sibilant voice he said, 'You have just drunk some poison. It could kill you within six hours. If you tell me the complete and absolute truth, I'll give you an antidote - but I want the truth.'"

And there was me thinking real spies were all Smiley-style little grey men with briefcases, but it turns out that they are JUST LIKE the Man from UNCLE, with mysterious poisons and antidotes disguised as funny-tasting martinis and tiny secret cameras with lenses disguised as cufflinks and dangerous picnic excursions with their boss's wives.

Or there's this bit:

"At the beginning of August Hitler gave instructions for the liberation of Mussolini from his place of internment. But we had not the faintest inkling of where he was. Therefore, Himmler summoned some of the practitioners of the 'occult sciences' arrested after the flight of Hess to Great Britain and had them closeted in a Wannsee country house. These quacks were given orders to find out the whereabouts of Mussolini. (This, incidentally, cost my department a considerable amount of money, for the 'scientists' had an insatiable appetite for good food, good drinks and good tobacco). Nevertheless a 'Master of the Sidereal Pendulum' succeeded at last in locating Mussolini on an island west of Naples [....] Later on he was brought to a small mountain hotel on the summit of the Gran Sasso d'Italia, from which he was liberated by German parachutists.***"

I tell you, it wouldn't suprise me in the slightest if the MfU scriptwriters had read this book from cover to cover.


*Head of the Gestapo
**"Indeed, my lord, it is a most absolute and excellent plane"
*** Led by Otto Skorzeny - who I presume Schellenberg doesn't mention by name because he didn't like him - who says in his autobiography that he found out where Mussolini was being held because one of the carabinieri on the island wrote about it to his fiancee.
Tags: 17 moments of spring
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