Books: Operation North Pole

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LONDON CALLING NORTH POLE (208 pp.)—H. J. Giskes—British Book Centre ($3.50).

The decisive moment for Operation North Pole came at 2 p.m. on March 15, 1942. At that moment H. M. G. Lauwers, a Dutch agent of British Intelligence, sat in a German police headquarters near The Hague with his hand on the radio key that was his link with London. The Germans wanted to make the link theirs; Lauwers, recently arrested, had agreed to cooperate. Suspecting that Lauwers might doublecross them, the Germans were ready to jam the signal at the first misplaced dot or dash. But Lauwers had no intention of straying from his captors' text; his British instructions, he says, called for him to garble every 16th letter. By omitting the prearranged errors, he would be informing London that he had been caught.

Lauwers sent, and London replied. German Intelligence had established direct contact with the British Secret Service.

A question remained: Who was fooling whom? Three days later, London ordered that a zone be prepared for an "important drop." In the early hours of March 28, at an isolated spot near Steenwijk, the Germans signaled in a twin-engine bomber on a triangle of lights. Silhouetted against the moonlight, the bomber swept down to 600 feet, as the Germans wondered if the important drop would turn out to be bombs. An instant later, five "gigantic black shadows" parachuted down—four containers of material, and an agent. The British had seemingly forgotten their own verification checks, and handed over the key to their Dutch communications.

A Deadly Hoax. In London Calling North Pole, Lieut. Colonel H. J. Giskes, onetime chief of German military counterespionage in The Netherlands, tells how he masterminded Operation North Pole and supplied the British Secret Service with the kind of secret service it is unaccustomed to getting. For 20 tragic months the deadly hoax continued, as German Intelligence handled the Dutch operations of British Intelligence and received almost 200 drops of men and material. "Tons of the most modern explosives . . . thousands of automatic firearms with enormous quantities of ammunition, and mountains of machine pistols and machine guns" were dropped into waiting German hands. Posing as resistance men, German reception committees greeted 54 British agents, pumped them of the secrets they knew, then threw them into jail. The Nazis executed 47, despite Giskes' promise that their lives would be spared.

To buttress London's confidence, Giskes produced "results" which the British would learn about from other sources. He planted in the Dutch press articles about spurious exploits, staged a spectacular explosion of a junk-laden barge in the Maas River at Rotterdam, and even returned some downed British flyers through Spain, secretly chaperoned by German agents.

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