The story of the intelligence war in South Africa at some level of the World Battle II is one among suspense, drama, and dogged persistence. South Africa officially joined the war on Sept. 6, 1939 by siding with Britain and the Allies and declaring war on Nazi Germany.
South African historians glean largely overpassed the intelligence war, partly on account of of the frightening paucity of reference sources on it. This lack of consideration precipitated me to analyze the matter extra. The used to be my e book Hitler’s Spies: Secret Agents and the Intelligence Battle in South Africa.
The e book gives a novel perspective on this lesser-known episode of South African historic previous.
After six years of compare at diversified archival depots in South Africa and the UK, I used to be ready to invent a novel fable of the German intelligence networks that operated in wartime South Africa. My e book moreover tiny print the hunt in post-war Europe for witnesses to aid the South African executive bring expenses of excessive treason in opposition to of us that aided the German war effort.
My compare reveals how, between 1939 and 1945, the German executive secretly reached out to the political opposition in South Africa, the Ossewabrandwag (ox wagon sentinels). This community used to be founded as an Afrikaner cultural organization in Bloemfontein in 1939. For the length of the war, the lumber became decidedly anti-imperial and an increasing selection of extra militaristic. The executive regarded it as the proverbial “enemy within.”
The Germans were especially attracted to naval and political intelligence. Ethical naval intelligence on ships from Europe and the A long way East rounding the Cape of Factual Hope, South Africa’s southernmost level, would allow German submarines to attack them.
Political intelligence could extra aid the Germans to spread sedition within the then-Union of South Africa. At the time, this used to be a dominion—a self-governing entity within the British Empire with English and Afrikaner populations. German brokers were dispatched all the way by the globe at some level of the war to have defense force and political intelligence. These brokers undermined the general Allied war effort to varying levels of success.
Hitler’s spies in South Africa
A community of German brokers used to be established in South Africa with the aid of the Ossewabrandwag. These brokers mature a diversity of channels to ship coded messages to German diplomats in neighboring Mozambique for onward transmission to Berlin. Resulting from the neutrality of Portugal at some level of the war, Mozambique, then a Portuguese colony, used to be a safe haven for German brokers and diplomats in southern Africa.
By mid-1942 a radio transmitter used to be built by the Felix Group with the aid of the Ossewabrandwag and positioned attain Vryburg, a spacious farming city in what’s now South Africa’s North West province. The Felix Group used to be headed by the agent Lothar Sittig and used to be the premier German intelligence organization in wartime South Africa. This radio transmitter sooner or later allowed for order, two-way radio contact between brokers and Berlin.
But the cooperation between the Ossewabrandwag and the German brokers did no longer dawdle unnoticed.
The British and South African authorities were acutely aware of the paunchy extent of contact and cooperation that existed between key contributors of the Ossewabrandwag and the German brokers operational in South Africa. They deliberate several unsuccessful raids on the illicit radio transmitter attain Vryburg. These largely failed on account of the doubtful loyalties of about a of the contributors fervent. By the mixed efforts of the South African authorities, all illicit wi-fi communications between South Africa, Mozambique, and Germany were intercepted and decoded.
This is evidenced by the existence of several British Security Carrier (MI5) case files at the National Archives of the UK. These are stuffed to the brim with documentary proof detailing every minute ingredient of this episode in South African historic previous.
Following the war, the South African authorities were anxious to cost known war criminals, traitors, and collaborators. Missions headed by the verbalize prosecutors Rudolph Rein and Lawrence Barrett were established to interview key suspects and have proof with the look of bringing prison expenses in opposition to known South African traitors and collaborators.
The Barrett Mission used to be in particular attracted to the charismatic leader of the Ossewabrandwag, Hans van Rensburg. He, along with a depended on inner circle, acted as the nodal level for German brokers working in wartime South Africa. A case of excessive treason used to be built in opposition to Van Rensburg.
The case used to be terminated following the 1948 electoral victory of the National Birthday party, which would dawdle on to formalize apartheid. Van Rensburg disappeared from the political scene in South Africa rapidly thereafter. The Ossewabrandwag lumber used to be dissolved in 1952.
It appears to be just like the post-war power in opposition to elevated Afrikaner solidarity proved extra crucial than charging fellow Afrikaners with excessive treason, despite the overwhelming proof in opposition to them.
After 1948 there used to be a obvious lumber in opposition to reconciliation within the Afrikaner community. This culminated within the formal establishment of the Republic of South Africa in 1961.
With the passage of time these wartime occasions all nonetheless vanished from the South African collective reminiscence. Gatekeeper mentality at archives, lacking paperwork, and the removal of key proof from public circulation mixed to stymie extra compare on this subject. The excessive treason docket in opposition to Van Rensburg, as an instance, used to be deposited on the National Archive in Pretoria in 1948. It used to be placed below embargo for an undisclosed interval. This memoir has since long previous “lacking.”
My e book proves, on the other hand, that the lacking yarn on the intelligence war in South Africa could moreover be reconstructed.
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