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Monday, January 29th 2018, 6:56pm

A Spectre Rising

Berlin, The Romanisches Café, Friday, 23 July 1948

Captain Alfred Burroughs, RN, was not used to the world of cloak-and-dagger operations but the intriguing photographs sent to him the previous day seemed worth the risk. He had arrived at the Romanisches Café in the late morning, and settled in to consuming tea and cake until his contact arrived, reading one of the several newspapers that the café kept in stock for their patrons. The establishment was a storied one, the haunt of writers, painters, actors, directors, journalists, and other bohemians, leavened with the tourists that flocked to Berlin in the summer months. Today it was filled with customers and the background hum of discussion from the séparées of established artists, writers, and critics melded with the coming and going of the staff and the conversations of the ordinary patrons. In some respects his singular presence at a table made him stick out like a sore thumb – but this was soon rectified by the quiet arrival of a short, rather rotund man wearing a black business suit.

“Captain Burroughs I presume?” he asked in somewhat heavily accented though perfect English. He sat down uninvited and smiled.

Burroughs cleared his throat in surprise. “Why yes… How did you know?”

“Your RUSI lapel pin,” the man answered, cryptically. “The careful observer takes in many things, down to the smallest detail. My name is Blofeld, Ernst Blofeld.” This was not the approach the British naval attaché was expecting – it was rather more direct and open. If it was a trap set by the Abwehr they certainly would have been more circumspect.

“Pleasure to meet you Herr Blofeld,” Burroughs replied affably. “I did appreciate the photographs you sent.”

“I thought you would,” Blofeld answered. “I work for the Danziger Echo.”

That rang a bell with Burroughs. It was the newspaper that had first broken the story of the submarine Wolverine when she had been interrupted in her reconnaissance of German activities in the Baltic. Its story had been picked up around the world, much to the embarrassment of HM Government. “I see…” Burroughs tried to play his cards close to his vest.

“Yes,” Blofeld continued. “As journalists we see many things, and take many photographs – which can be of interest to many people. It is a humble and somewhat un-remunerative profession. But since we are ubiquitous we are far less noticeable than a foreign submarine poking around in unfamiliar waters.”

Burroughs could see the direction the conversation was taking. The Admiralty was very interested in what Germany, and its Russian friends, were doing in the eastern Baltic and since the crash of the TEAPOT network several years ago the SIS in Germany had been crippled. But this almost seemed too good to be true.

“The snaps I sent,” Blofeld went on, “are a sample – I admit they are not much by themselves. But you should see how busily the German Navy is exercising, and the stories of what is going on in the Schichau yards at Memel.” From his pocket he took out a small paperback book – a pulp novel – and slid it across the table. “If this pleases you, send a thousand marks in small bills to Box 7, poste restante, at the Main Post Office.”

With that Blofeld arose and quietly but quickly walked away. Burroughs took the book and slipped it into his own pocket, settled his bill at the café, and took not the first, not the second, but the third cab back to the Embassy. It was there, in the quiet and relative safety of his office, that he examined it. Out fell several folded sheets of paper, summarising the work being done in the Memel shipyards, including details of the small Type XXIII submarines now being rushed to completion, as well as the new antisubmarine vessels that yard was constructing. He would now have to bring the Secret Service into the picture.


Tuesday, January 30th 2018, 6:25pm

A Spectre Rising (2) - A Difference of Opinions

Berlin, The British Embassy, Saturday, 24 July 1948

“You must be mad.” William Tanner was the MI6 chief of station in Berlin and his words betrayed the irritation of the professional when faced with the seeming success of an amateur mixed with more than sufficient disbelief. “This fellow walks right up to you, hands you a bunch of chicken-feed and asks for a thousand marks sent to him poste restante? And you want me to sign the chit for it out of my budget?”

Burroughs had anticipated this reaction, which is why he had not consulted with Tanner before making his rendezvous with Blofeld. “Perhaps it is chicken-feed,” he shot back, “but it is more than your blokes have turned up in the last few years.”

“And that’s why it’s chicken-feed,” Tanner continued “we can’t corroborate any of it. Gehlen has shut down most of our own agents and since the Polish intelligence service imploded with Pajak’s defection, horse-trading with them has been off-limits.”

“According to you then, what you can’t corroborate is useless. Have you even tried to get agents into the Schichau works? According to these reports,” Burroughs picked up the letters that had been concealed in the book, “it is one of Germany’s major shipyards for submarines – these Type XXIII boats – that could be very dangerous to the Navy.”

Tanner had to admit that due to German vigilance he had not sought to place or develop agents in Germany’s eastern parts. Whether the Cologne station chief had any in the Ruhr was unknown to him. Since the collapse of TEAPOT, he doubted it.

“Let’s say that the information is accurate,” Tanner conceded. “It could be a trap, though I would think the Abwehr’s tradecraft would be far more professional. Our man there has confirmed that Blofeld is an editor at the Danziger Echo. This seems plot right out of a novel like The Riddle of the Sands.”

Burroughs countered, “As you say, presume the information is accurate. I’ll admit that Blofeld’s approach is unconventional, bordering on amateurish. Do we want to shut the window prematurely?”

Tanner had to admit that a thousand marks – two hundred quid – would be little enough to gain insight into the German navy’s activities in the Baltic. “I’ll predict that if we want to keep Blofeld happy he’ll want more cash for his product.”


Thursday, February 1st 2018, 1:57am

A Spectre Rising (3) - And So It Begins...

Oberpostdirektion Berlin, Tuesday, 27 July 1948

Viktor Kowalski ascended the steps of the city’s main post office with a purposeful strike. In his hand he carried a small attaché case – and the careful observer might have noticed that the case in question was coupled to his wrist by a thin chain. He walked through the main hall towards the kiosk labelled “Postlagernd” where he identified himself to the clerk and inquired for any letters left for Box 7. The clerk handed over one envelope, which Kowalski immediately placed in his case, and then locked it. Without further word he turned and exited the building with the same purposefully stride.

A half-hour and several Untergrundbahn changes later he entered a non-descript building in Müggelheim, the lower floor of which was given over to a chemist’s shop. His destination was an apartment on the second floor. He knocked on the door, which was quickly unlocked; and he found himself admitted to the working office of Ernest Blofeld.

“Was there any mail today Viktor?” Blofeld asked. His hulking servitor nodded removed the attaché case from his wrist, and presented it. Blofeld took it, placed it upon his desk, and proceeded to unlock it. He took out the envelope, examined it, and carefully slit it open. The wad of currency notes slid out onto the desk, and Blofeld allowed himself a small smile.

“We are in business,” he admitted. Of course, a thousand marks was not a great sum, but it confirmed British interest in the information he was willing and able to provide. “From little acorns do mighty oak trees grow…”


Thursday, February 1st 2018, 7:01pm

A Spectre Rising (4) - Intersections

Berlin, Lehrter Stadtbahnhof, Saturday, 31 July 1948

Once again Alfred Burroughs found himself in the unaccustomed role of espionage agent. The day before a postcard – one of Berlin’s main railway station – had arrived for him with the cryptic notation “Tomorrow afternoon”. He presumed it was a summons from Blofeld, and had worked out with Tanner that the latter would keep an eye on the transaction. The station itself was but half-filled with people shuttling across the city on a sweltering summer’s day, but there were more than enough for Burroughs to melt into the crowd as he sat at a table near a refreshment kiosk. Tanner sat opposite, reading a newspaper somewhat distractedly.

Blofeld seemed to appear out of nowhere and sat down opposite the naval officer. “You received my message,” he said, coming right to the point. “I trust that previous book was interesting enough?”

“Quite so Herr Blofeld,” Burroughs replied. “A very good read.”

“Excellent,” said the purveyor of information. “I have another one of the series you might also find interesting.” With that he withdrew a small book and placed it on the table between them. “For the same fee, you may keep it.” With that Blofeld arose, and began to walk away. Tanner got up to follow Blofeld, but found his way blocked by a large, uncommunicative man. For a few critical seconds the two of them shifted first one way and then another, and Tanner got the definite impression that the man’s actions were deliberate rather than comedic. By the time the two had sorted things out, Blofeld had faded from sight.

An hour later the two made rendezvous at the embassy, and in Tanner’s office Burroughs opened the book and found it hollowed out, disclosing several photographs of U-boats under construction.

“These must be the pictures that go with the last report,” Burroughs exclaimed. “Still think this is chicken-feed?”

For his part Tanner was not in a forgiving mood. “I’m convinced that one of Blofeld’s underlings deliberately kept me from following him. As for whether it’s chicken-feed or not, that will be up to London. How much did he say he wanted for it?”

“The same,” Burroughs announced. “Though I do expect that he will, at some point, up the ante.”


Sunday, February 4th 2018, 2:35pm

Room 39, The Admiralty, Whitehall, London, Monday 3rd August, 1948

Ian Fleming had been undecided for some time about leaving the Senior Service. He sometimes chafed at the inactivity and the fact he had been personal assistant to the Director of Naval Intelligence for almost eight years. The latest, and newest incumbent of that post was Vice-Admiral Eric Longley-Cook. He did enjoy the secretive world of intelligence however, and when a package was delivered by courier to his office that morning, he sensed it might be important.

His task was to give a brief assessment of the photographs obtained by the naval attaché to Germany, Captain Alfred Burcough. The source was a man called Ernest Blofeld, an editor at the Danziger Echo newspaper. A total of £400 had secured two sets of photographs. Now their value must be determined and before the interpreters began their painstaking work, Fleming had been directed by Longley-Cook to cast his experienced eye over them.

The first set of photographs consisted of snapshots of German landing craft of various types practicing disembarkation. All were equipped with bow doors for disgorging men and vehicles directly onto the beach. One photograph had what appeared to be a Panzer IV rumbling straight off the craft onto a quayside. Some even carried camouflage paint for some of the larger exercises but Fleming noticed the weather was fine in all the photographs and the sea fairly calm, which meant care was taken to use sheltered waters and fine weather. The pictures looked genuine, interesting enough but not game changing intelligence but obtaining anything this clear and useful from the Baltic had been a dream for so long.

The second set immediately made Fleming sit upright and then hunch over the photographs with his magnifying glass. Burcough had informed London that Blofield had mentioned the Schichau yards at Memel and the Type XXIII submarines and escort ships being built there. Blofield's written report had been tantalising enough on their own. These photographs appeared to be taken inside the yard itself. It was quite unlike anything he had expected to see. The Type XXIII hulls were being built on an assembly line under cover in giant hangars and presumably joined together before launch. A close-up of one of the pressure hull sections was so clear that the diameter could be worked out quite easily to estimate the dimensions and capabilities of this new class. Another of the photographs showed a huge diesel engine being carefully inserted into the aft section of another submarine, interestingly this time outside. This 12-cylinder engine was quite clearly detailed and no doubt the technical specialists would paw over this image for days.

Fleming jotted down his notes and began drafting a memo to his boss, it was a bargain in Fleming's eyes. £400 had secured the best intelligence on German U-boats he had seen for years and he pressed his boss to back Burroughs and get the SIS to get Blofeld on their payroll.


Friday, February 16th 2018, 6:04pm

A Spectre Rising - Discussions

Berlin, The British Embassy, Thursday, 5 August 1948

Burroughs had come down to Tanner’s office in Passport Control at the latter’s request. Letting the naval officer into his private office he closed the door behind him and picked up a flimsy on his desk.

“London wants us to get more of the Blofeld material,” he announced. “They say it’s the best intelligence on German U-boats they’ve received in years.” Burroughs noted that Tanner said it with a tinge of professional sarcasm.

“Bloody right too!” Burroughs thought as he nodded agreement. “But getting more of his product is rather in his end of the court at the moment. We don’t know a damn thing about him.”

“Yes,” Tanner admitted. “And he seems to want to keep us at arms-length. I tried to follow him after your last meeting with him, but a big somebody blocked my way until Blofeld was out of sight; and I think it was deliberate.”

“Well, I haven’t received a postcard yet this week. That does seem to be his method.” Burroughs was not really a professional intelligence officer but found himself being turned into one.

Tanner paced about the office for a moment. “Tradecraft-wise it’s all pure amateur bunk. Sudden rendezvous in public places… cash sent to a post office box… What would happen if we failed to pay him for his stuff?”

“We would lose, as London called it, the source for ‘the best intelligence on German U-boats they’ve received in years’” Burroughs answered.

Tanner’s face flushed at the thought. “Well the next time you’re called to meet him we’ll be better prepared. I’ll bring a couple of extra hands with me to help track Blofeld’s movements.”

“Do you think that wise?” Burroughs countered. “If he had someone deliberately head you off the last time, we might lose him if we try and trap hm.”

“It’s a risk we’ll have to take.”


Monday, February 19th 2018, 6:43pm

A Spectre Rising - Intermezzo

Berlin-Müggelheim, Friday, 6 August 1948

The man walking down the street bore a vaguely Levantine look, heightened by the goatee and moustache. His dress however was not out of place, a sober business suit accentuated by a black Homburg. He stopped at the door of a chemist’s shop, and seemed to adjust his tie, before going in.

“Good day,” said the chemist behind the shop counter in a friendly voice, for he recognised his customer. The shop was empty but for the proprietor. “Go right on up, you are expected.”

The visitor wordlessly walked to the back of the shop and walked up the stair, and then down a short corridor; reaching it, he knocked, and upon its opening found himself confronted by Viktor Kowalski. Blofeld’s servitor allowed him entrance and from the back office Blofeld cried “Kronsteen! Good to see you.”

Tev Kronsteen paid heed to Blofeld’s demeanour – which he hoped reflected the true state of Blofeld’s mind. “The matter in Zagreb has been settled Herr Blofeld”.

“Excellent!” replied Blofeld. “Then it appears that we have uncovered another useful source of financing. There was no difficulty with the insurers?”

“No,” Kronsteen admitted, reaching into the ticket pocket of his jacket and withdrawing an envelope. “They were quite willing to part with £900 in order to get the paintings back.” He laid the envelope on Blofeld’s desk; the latter examined it and expressed satisfaction.

Six weeks previously an English country home had been robbed of a number of Old Master paintings – none by major artists, but valuable nevertheless. While Scotland Yard had quickly exhausted its interest in recovering them, the insurers had not, and they had jumped at the opportunity at recovering them. While officially the kudos were due to the Zagreb police, the ransom now lay on Blofeld’s hands.

“You are certain that our friends in England will be available in the future?” Blofeld inquired.

“Yes,” Kronsteen replied. “They recompensed themselves of other items more readily disposed of. Should I return to England to make arrangements for another venture?”

“Not immediately,” Blofeld admitted. “Your skills may be needed here shortly.”


Thursday, February 22nd 2018, 3:31am

A Spectre Rising - Miscalculations

Berlin, The British Embassy, Monday, 9 August 1948

Burroughs rushed down to the Passport Control office and announced to Tanner, “Another postcard.” The latter looked at it – it was cheap tourist stuff, showing one of the many eating establishments in the Haus Vaterland.

“It’s ‘The London Pub’,” Tanner exclaimed. “How ironic.” The Haus Vaterland was an amusement venue in the Potsdamer Platz featuring a number of restaurants each themed to a different country or time. Tanner looked at the reverse of the card. “Tomorrow at noon” it read.

“That does not give us much time,” Burroughs acknowledged. “Do you still want to try and trail Blofeld?”

“If London wants to make permanent arrangements with him, we need to get away from these off-the-cuff meetings in public places.” Tanner had been adamant on that point – he was, after all, the intelligence professional. “It’s too easy for you, or me for that matter, to be picked up by the Abwehr with the goods on us.”


Thus the following day saw Burroughs keep a rendezvous at the Haus Vaterland, sitting in ‘The London Pub’ with a pint of bitters before him. Despite his best attempts to watch the passing crowds Blofeld suddenly appeared at his table and sat down. “Good day Captain Burroughs”.

“Herr Blofeld,” replied the naval officer. “Your product has been well received, and we wish to establish a more permanent and – secure – relationship. Meeting in a public place like this…”

“Amuses me,” Blofeld replied. “I has been my experience that it is often better to hide in plain sight than to slink about in shadows. What can be sinister about two old friends meeting for a drink in the midst of Berlin’s mid-day crowds?”

Burroughs tried to think of something to day but before he could do so Blofeld produced a book from his pocket and laid it on the table. “I think you will find this an interesting volume. If so, please remit five thousand marks to the usual address.” And with that, Blofeld rose and walked away.

Tanner had brought two of his assistants and posted them to cover Burroughs from two different directions, intent on tracking Blofeld when he departed. Scott was ensconced at one of the tables in ‘The London Pub’ itself, and had watched the entire transaction; he rose and followed Blofeld out into the mezzanine around which the various restaurants were sited. Jones was standing at a kiosk seeming to admire the souvenirs on sale. He too began to pursue Blofeld, keeping Scott in his sight ahead of him. For his part Tanner crossed the Burroughs table, where the latter informed him of their brief conversation.

“Damn,” Tanner muttered. “You go back to the embassy and I meet you later. Right now I want to find friend Blofeld.”

Scott was carefully weaving his way through the crowd, his eyes fixed upon the back of Blofeld’s head. He failed to see the rather large knot of schoolchildren shepherded by a tall well-dressed man in a goatee crossing his path until he was engulfed by them. By the time he sorted himself out Blofeld had escaped his sight, though he tried to pick up the trail by heading in the direction he had been going in.

Jones saw Scott get caught up in the gaggle of children and lose the scent. No such problem afflicted him; he saw Blofeld turn a corner and quickened his pace to try and catch up. He was rewarded by seeing Blofeld duck into a stairwell that led to the floor below. He followed him through the door and was about to descend the stair when out of the darkness came a cosh that laid him out cold.

An exasperated Tanner rescued Scott from what was appearing to be a wild-goose chase, and the back-tracked to the corner where Jones had followed Blofeld; they tried the stairwell door and found Jones trying to raise himself from the landing. “He got away…” Jones said, his voice trailing off.


Back at the embassy Tanner went immediately to Burrough’s office in the Chancery. He knocked and waited for the latter to unlock the door. He entered and explained that Blofeld had eluded them; obviously the spy had anticipated their attempt to trail him. “I hope what he passed us was worth it.”

“You tell me,” Burroughs said with a tinge of excitement. He proffered several folded sheets of paper. “A report on the German Navy’s training for underway replenishment, with photographs!”

“I think that they are worth the five thousand marks he’s asked for.”


Saturday, February 24th 2018, 12:13pm

Room 39, The Admiralty, Whitehall, London, Thursday 12th August, 1948

Ian Fleming had just returned from lunch and found the latest report from Burcough laying on his desk. He opened the envelope and wondered what Blofeld had managed to lay his hands on this time.
He had heard about Blofeld's independent streak, perhaps reflected in the codename given to him by SIS, Maverick. He wasn't worried about the mechanics of operating Blofeld as an agent. He was only interested in what he produced and if it was of high quality to justify the prices paid.

The report concerned the German Navy’s training for underway replenishment, the latest methods used and details of recent exercises. Three photographs were enclosed; one of the newer tankers in harbour, presumably in a Baltic port; a photograph taken about a cruiser showing an refeulling and resupply operation underway and an interesting photograph of a U-boat being given succor by a tanker, possibly while stationary rather than underway but certainly in open water.

Fleming mused who Blofeld's contact might be within the Navy. Certainly someone was able to access a range of secrets from within the Marinestation der Ostsee (Baltic Naval Station). Fleming grabbed another report from his desk. Studying the typescript of similar observations obtained by another operation he was able to verify at least some of the report Blofeld had obtained and he graded it as genuine and marked some areas of interest for the analysts to dig further into.

Fleming considered their good fortune in obtaining a source of reliable information. He again urged the SIS paymasters to set aside a fund to pay for further deliveries should they occur.


Saturday, February 24th 2018, 6:26pm

A Spectre Rising - Irons in the Fire

Berlin, The Hungarian Legation, Tuesday, 10 August 1948

Major Lazlo Farkas carefully examined the photographs he had obtained the day before from Blofeld, the enterprising entrepreneur of secret intelligence. He had been summoned to meeting at the Hackesche Höfe market through the usual method and had received a small parcel containing a book, in whose pages were concealed a neat, hand-written report giving significant details of a new aircraft being developed by Państwowe Zakłady Lotnicze in Warsaw, as well as the several photographs that lay on his desk.

Though perhaps more of a civil airliner so little was known of Polish aviation developments that any new information was of interest to Colonel Homlok, who in his own way was an entrepreneur. Still the report with the photographs was worth the seven thousand marks he had posted off that morning – if only to keep open the flow of information from Blofeld’s diverse sources. He chaffed at the man’s independent attitude towards tradecraft, and Farkas was certain that eventually the Abwehr would discover what he was up to. Not that they would take him in for trafficking in stolen information – Blofeld did not seem to deal in German secrets – but rather that the Germans would usurp his access to Blofeld for their own ends.

Nevertheless Farkas wrote up his own cover report which, with the photographs, would go via the next courier to Budapest, where Colonel Homlok would decide its eventual disposition.


Sunday, February 25th 2018, 6:59pm

A Spectre Rising - Diversification

Berlin, The French Embassy, Friday, 13 August 1948

René Mathis found the envelope on his desk when he arrived that morning. Officially he served as the embassy’s assistant military attaché, which was a somewhat rather thin cover for his true work for the Deuxième Bureau. Of course, none of his efforts were directed against France’s German allies, but rather his brief was to backstop the Abwehr’s counter-espionage efforts and to keep his eyes and ears open for information flowing from other sources. Like all the capitals of Europe Berlin played host to many nefarious individuals; thus he was not that surprised when he opened the envelope and found it to contain several carefully drawn sketches, which a covering note indicated were of recently completed Italian defences in the Ligurian Alps.

The note also read, “If you like the product be at the Englische Kirche zu St. Georg tomorrow afternoon at half-past noon.”


Monday, February 26th 2018, 5:11am

Berlin, Englische Kirche zu St. Georg, Saturday, 14 August 1948
Mathis showed up at the rendezvous a half-hour early, curious to scope out the ground before meeting his mysterious contact, eventually hovering across the street at the building of the 'Anglican Hebrew Christian Testimony to Israel'. He'd toyed with the idea of requesting assistance or backup from either another agent of the Deuxième Bureau - or possibly a German policeman - but Mathis was unable to roust any of the former on such short notice, and was reluctant to involve the latter just yet. After all, espionage was a form of business - and even allies like the Germans served as a form of competition, albeit of a less lively sort. Even with allies, it was always important to have a proprietary line of information that you could broker in exchange for something you yourself couldn't normally acquire yourself.

Of course, that had not stopped Mathis from taking the precaution of drawing a Walther PP from his stash of tools. Perhaps that was an unnecessary bit of dramatic flair... but the letter had reached his desk on the inauspicious date of a Friday 13th. Doubtless, it was either some clever joker's prank or a meaningless detail irrelevant to the actual matter at hand.

Five minutes before time, with no sight of any suspiciously-lingering characters, Mathis finally snapped his pocketwatch shut and strode to the front door of the church. "Just waiting for a friend," he told the attendant, taking a seat halfway back in the sanctuary, admiring the building's interior.


Monday, February 26th 2018, 9:22pm

Meetings, Meetings...

Berlin, Englische Kirche zu St. Georg, Saturday, 14 August 1948

Mathis sat quietly in the pew he had taken half-way back on the epistle side of the church, wondering when the individual who had invited him to the rendezvous would arrive. While the door to the building did not open he heard the faint footsteps of someone approach from behind him and slide in beside him.

“Good day Monsieur Mathis,” said the short, rotund man wearing a grey business suit. He spoke in good but accented French in a whisper appropriate to a church. “My name is Blofeld, and I trust you found the sketches interesting.”

“Interesting enough to bring me here,” Mathis replied. “Dare I ask how you came by them?”

Blofeld smiled. “A friend vacationing in Italy made them,” he answered. Mathis raised one eyebrow indicating his doubt of such a naïve story. “Does it truly matter?” Blofeld concluded.

“Only to confirm their validity and veracity,” Mathis re-joined.

“I have little doubt that the Deuxieme Bureau, if not your military intelligence colleagues can do that swiftly; they may already have – at least from the exterior of the bunkers. But that is of little consequence. They are but a sampler.” Blofeld gave a wry smile.

“A sample?” Mathis went on. “You seem very generous with information Herr Blofeld.”

“Trust in important in matters such as these,” Blofeld suggested. “You have trusted me by coming here today, and I will trust you will be sufficiently motivated to pay for the goods already delivered to you. If that proves to be the case, send a thousand marks in small bills to Box 7, poste restante, at the Main Post Office.”

Blofeld was obviously an amateur; his suggestion violated every tenet of espionage tradecraft. Mathis wondered if this was a singularly inept attempt to entrap him. “And if I do not?” he asked.

“Then,” said Blofeld, “I have misjudged the honour of a Frenchman and you have lost an opportunity to gain further information. The decision is yours.”

With that Blofeld rose from the pew and started noiselessly back down the aisle. It was then that Mathis noticed his crepe-soled shoes; a very useful precaution when walking across the flag-stone floor of what was in many respects an echo chamber. Perhaps, he thought, Blofeld was less of an amateur than he was willing to credit.


Thursday, March 1st 2018, 3:34am

A Plot Revealed

Berlin-Müggelheim, Tuesday, 17 August 1948

Sitting in his lair Ernst Blofeld contemplated the progress made in implementing his grand scheme. Thus far his plans to exchange useful pieces of intelligence for ready cash had found their mark with the Hungarians, the British, and now the French – and while the sums garnered were not yet substantial in their own right, the operating capital thus generated were being ploughed back in other directions.

The knock at the door announced an expected visitor. Kowalski ushered in a short, thin, rather seedy-looking individual, who wore rather thick spectacles, and removed his hat as Blofeld rose from his desk.

“Kruger,” said Blofeld in a commanding tone, “what progress have you made?”

The man hesitated, “I have brought a sample from the current plates… but the proper paper…” He reached into his jacket pocket and withdrew a worn note-case; opening it he handed Blofeld a banknote. “The paper I used to print it would give it away of course, but the facsimile is quite good.”

Blofeld examined the Italian 100-lire note and allowed himself a small smile. “Sit down Kruger,” he ordered as he returned to his desk, opened the left-hand drawer and pulled forth a magnifying glass and a small folder, from which he withdrew a genuine 100-lire note. He compared the two for several minutes before pronouncing his satisfaction with Kruger’s work.

“You are quite correct Kruger; if the paper was the proper sort, I doubt that your work could be distinguished from the real thing.”

“Yes Herr Blofeld… you promised that the proper paper would be forthcoming…” the forger’s voice sounded a note of professional disappointment.

“That should be resolved soon,” replied Blofeld. “Quite soon.”


Thursday, March 8th 2018, 8:49pm

A Double-Cross

München-Bogenhausen, Thursday, 18 August 1948

The nondescript Hanomag lorry pulled up to the loading dock of the warehouse at mid-day; from it emerged the driver and Blofeld’s operative, Tev Kronsteen. The latter walked up the stair to the door of the loading dock and knocked. The rolling door opened upwards and he saw a small knot of men lounging; it was clear that the warehouse, or at least this part of it, was unused.

“It’s about time you got here,” said one of them, obviously the leader of the crew. “Do you have the money?”

“Of course, if you have the goods…” Kronsteen replied.

The leader walked to a large crate sitting on a pallet-jack. He prised up the top of the crate to reveal packages of carefully-wrapped paper, each bearing the name Giesecke & Devrient. “It’s all right here.”

Kronsteen checked to make certain that all was correct. The gang had diverted part of a shipment of banknote paper destined for Italy – which would now be used to further Blofeld’s schemes. “Excellent,” Kronsteen pronounced in a clipped accent. He drew an envelope from his jacket pocket and handed it over to the gang leader. “Ten thousand marks,” he said.

The gang leader shook his head. “Twenty thousand” he countered.

Kronsteen seemed to consider the criminal’s double-dealing. “I thought there was an agreement”.

“There was, but I’ve made a new one.” The gang leader gave an evil grin. “The price goes up to thirty thousand if you keep delaying.”

Kronsteen looked in the direction of his driver and nodded imperceptibly. He again reached into his jacket but this time drew a small, silenced pistol from a shoulder holster, shooting the gang leader twice. Kronsteen’s driver dropped two of the other criminals with quick-double taps while Kronsteen dealt with the last.

“Is there no honour among thieves?” asked Kronsteen. While his driver carefully dragged the bodies into the recesses of the warehouse Kronsteen himself closed up the crate of paper and wheeled it into the lorry. He also thoughtfully retrieved the unopened envelop of cash that should have been the gang’s payment, had not greed got the better of them. He thought it would be at least several days before the bodies would be found, if not longer. By that time they would have delivered the paper to its new destination.


Monday, March 12th 2018, 5:33pm

A Surprise Package

Berlin, The British Embassy Saturday, 21 August 1948

Alfred Burcough sat at his desk and carefully unwrapped the latest parcel Blofeld had handed over; Bill Tanner stood by expectantly. “Come on,” the latter said impatiently.

Blofeld had changed his pattern somewhat; he had set up a meeting at the famous Berlin Tiergarten as Burcough had expected, but instead of handing over the intelligence product directly, he had merely handed over the key to a luggage locker at the Bahnhof Berlin-Spandau, with the information that Burcough could find it there – and that the fee for this particular batch of information would be ten thousand marks. The size of the parcel on his desk explained to Burcough why the hand-over had been indirect.

When he had finished opening the rather large envelope the British naval attaché found himself in possession of a thick book entitled Bedienungsanleitung für das Zieldarstellungsdrohne As292, several sheets of written notes, and a packet of photographs.

“Good Lord,” Burcough exclaimed. “I think we’ve hit the jackpot.”

Tanner grasped the book. “My German isn’t the best, but these are the operating instructions for an antiaircraft target drone.” Air intelligence was out of their immediate sphere of knowledge, but the level of detail the book contained was amazing.

Burcough examined the photographs and skimmed the report Blofeld had submitted. It described an exercise recently held in Silesia by a Luftwaffe antiaircraft unit; how the drone and the different radar units had been used; and, most importantly, some information regarding the operational frequencies. “This certainly isn’t chicken-feed” Burcough pronounced.

Tanner was not in complete agreement. “This equipment is not new – the publication date on this book is 1946 – but it is something we have little information on. There is no doubt that the boffins will drool over it – if only to confirm what they already know.”

Given the previous instructions from London to continue contact with Blofeld there was no doubt that they would be meeting his price, whatever their reservations.


Saturday, March 17th 2018, 6:55pm

Plots, Plans, and Lots of Money

Berlin-Müggelheim, Tuesday, 24 August 1948

The streetlamps cast their pale illumination over the street outside the chemist’s shop use upper floor held the headquarters of Blofeld’s ever widening operations. A knock at his door announced an expected visitor; Kowalski admitted Kruger and closed the door behind him.

“Have you completed the samples using the paper I supplied, as promised?” Blofeld inquired, coming straight to the point.

“Yes Herr Blofeld,” replied the forger. “I have them here.” He opened a slim attaché case and handed over a small stack of bills. “I used but one sheet, wishing to obtain your approval before proceeding.”

Blofeld examined the bills – 100-lire notes – very carefully. The reproduction of the engraving was exquisite and the paper, after all, quite genuine, albeit stolen. “Your care is duly noted Kruger,” he said, “and your work excellent.” Properly passed into circulation Blofeld doubted that the notes would be discovered any time soon.

“Proceed with printing the first million lire,” Blofeld ordered. “There is no haste required though I wish to have it before the first of the month.”

“As you wish Herr Blofeld,” Kruger replied.

He called for Kowalski to show Kruger out, and put the sample bills in the left-hand drawer of his desk. He now turned his thoughts to distribution, and the next stage of his programme.


Thursday, March 22nd 2018, 3:12pm

A Cappricio Milanese

Berlin, The French Embassy, Friday, 27 August 1948

René Mathis examined the photographs and notes delivered by Blofeld at their second meeting the day before. Purportedly they were of a new Italian fighter aircraft – the notes said a successor to the Spettro interceptor – then undergoing test at an aerodrome near Milan. He had heard rumours of such work but then, intelligence officers had to sift through many rumours to find the pearls of truth. To his surprise Blofeld had asked for only a paltry two thousand marks for the information now before him – a pittance if correct. And that verification could only be done in Paris. So Mathis took up the envelope he had addressed and filled it with currency notes. Later that morning he would drop it at a post box.


Tuesday, March 27th 2018, 6:56pm

Berlin-Müggelheim, Monday, 30 August 1948

Ernst Blofeld fought back the emotions that went along embarking on the next phase of his plans. His forger, Kruger, had delivered the fake banknotes as directed; they were now concealed in the false bottom of the attaché case that laid upon his desk. The courier who would take it on the next step of its journey would soon arrive. Blofeld had no worries at this juncture, for he had placed all the pieces in place, had anticipated every contingency.

Kowalski announced the arrival of the courier.

“Ah, Senor Bandiera,” said Blofeld with a smile. “Thank you for coming.”

“It is my pleasure Senor Blofeld,” the Iberian replied, and took a seat in the chair across from Blofeld.

Bandiera had often done courier work for Blofeld; he held diplomatic credentials from his government, which gave him immunity from ordinary customs checks and allowed his to pass borders easily. Given the nature of the contents of the attaché case, this was important. Blofeld now explained the details of the mission to Bandiera.

“You will be departing on the evening flight from Flughafen Berlin-Tempelhof for Madrid, which will stop at Milan; there you will meet Kronsteen and transfer the goods to him, after which you will continue on to your final destination.” He reached into his desk and withdrew an envelope. “The first half of your fee is here; the remainder is awaiting you in Madrid, as usual.”

“Thank you Senor Blofeld. I look forward to seeing Senor Kronsteen again.”


Friday, March 30th 2018, 8:29pm

Working on the Night Train

Lubiana (Laibach), Thursday, 2 September, 1948

Tev Kronsteen had met the courier Bandiera the day before, and the hand-off of the attaché case bearing the counterfeit currency went off without a hitch. That accomplished he had boarded the express train for Venice, and subsequently changed for Lubiana in Carniola, as the Italians called their Slovene province. Blofeld had settled on Lubiana as the site for passing the first batch of false lire for several good reasons – it was within the Italian banking sphere yet far enough away from its centre to allow time for the bills to circulate before discovery – if in fact they were. Blofeld counted on the indifferent loyalty of the local authorities to extend that time. And lastly, Blofeld had previously established a shell company there ostensibly operating in the import/export trade, Compagnia commerciale internazionale Spettro as a legitimate business front.

It was the local branch of the Banca Nazionale del Lavoro, the firm’s bankers, that Kronsteen called first thing the following morning. The officials with whom he dealt were properly differential to a customer with a substantial amount of cash to deposit – but not truly surprised. Blofeld had chosen his bankers carefully as well, suspecting that the local camorra made use of it for their own questionable business dealings. With the money on deposit, Kronsteen left instructions to wire the Banco Ambrosiano in Milan with the bulk of the credits, with smaller amounts to banks in Lugano and Prague.

That evening Kronsteen departed Lubiana on the train for Wien in Germany. The laundering of Kruger’s handiwork was complete, and the accounts under Blofeld’s control were now £50,000 richer.