© The Boston Globe 2001. Used by permission.
The Secret History of World War II
PART VI: THE RESISTANCE
by Mark Fritz / Globe Staff / August 26, 2001
Page 7 of 11
Continued from page 6
The biggest obstacle to the resistance, he said, was the British government, whose differences with the United States over colonialism and over which resistance groups to support caused an intelligence-sharing rift before World War II was over.
Washington cabled Dulles in September 1944 to tell him that the British had made contact in Switzerland with envoys from Thailand, where rebels had overthrown a pro-Japanese government. It was suggested that Dulles try to make his own Thai contacts.
"Please do not, however, pass any word of this on to Zulu," the cable said. Zulu was the code name for Britain.
Did the Germans and Japanese know that the OSS was involved in the resistance? A poached German report from November 1944 shows a figurative lightbulb blinking above the heads of Nazi counterintelligence. "From captured enemy orders and papers, it has been learned that the enemy intelligence service has tried to infiltrate single agents and teams to build up resistance groups in the rear of the present German front."
It noted that parachuted spies would be wearing phosphorescent scarves; blowing special whistles; and transporting air-dropped weapons, explosives, and food. In order to counter attempts to intercept spies dropped behind the lines, Nazi intelligence said the enemy may drop life-size dummies built to blow up upon capture.
A top secret report by US Navy Captain Lester Armour to OSS headquarters in July 1945 suggested that, despite the capture and torture of US agents around the world, the Axis never got a broad view of resistance operations. But it did manage to torture and kill a lot of captured agents trying to find out, including 19 operatives in Slovakia.
The report said that the killings in Slovakia were ordered by Reinhard Heydrich's successor, Ernst Kaltenbrunner, and "since the interrogation was concluded in a few hours, little knowledge could have been beaten out of the men.
"German knowledge of OSS was fragmentary, uncollated, incorrect, and diffuse," Armour wrote. "As we have no record of any Japanese penetration of OSS, there is nothing to indicate that their knowledge is any greater than the Germans."
The OSS also learned that the Germans were sharing intelligence with Japan about Allied influence on resistance groups. Considering Detachment 101's success, that wasn't necessarily a bad thing.
"Japan probably knows of our resistance aid as a result of our work in Burma, and this knowledge would probably help rather than hurt us," London's OSS bureau cabled Donovan's office.
But much of the resistance was of the home-grown variety. In Holland, neighbors offered to hide Willem Kraal's grandmother to protect her against the Gestapo's roundup of Jews, but she refused. "We were stupid," says Kraal, 65, who now lives in San Pedro, Calif. "Maybe not stupid. We just couldn't believe the things that were going on."
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