Sunday, March 1, 2020

A Germany Scientist Who Leaked Secrets to the Allies: A WWII Story

by Cindy K. Stewart

Oslo, Norway Today. Photo by Sean Hayford O'Leary via Flikr & Wikipedia

Two months after WWII began, German mathematician and scientist Hans Ferdinand Mayer checked into the Hotel Bristol in Oslo, Norway. Dr. Mayer was an anti-Nazi from Germany, and he purposely planned a trip to Scandinavia to leak information about the Nazis’ weapons systems and latest technological development projects. Mr. Mayer was employed by Siemens & Halske AG, an electrical engineering company which specialized in communications engineering that was headquartered in Berlin, Germany. He was director of the communications research laboratory.

Hotel Bristol - Circa 1930
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Dr. Mayer borrowed a typewriter from the Hotel Bristol and typed a seven-page report, detailing German military secrets for the purpose of bringing down the Nazi regime. He sent a letter to the British Embassy in Oslo on November 1st. Mayer asked the British military attaché to request that the BBC World Service use a coded phrase at the beginning of its German-language program if the attaché wanted the report. The code was given in the broadcast, so Mayer mailed the report.

Because of its origins, the British entitled the communication the Oslo Report. Because it was sent anonymously and included detailed facts about many types of German weapons, the report appeared "to good to be true," and British intelligence was very skeptical. They assumed the report was planted by the Abwehr, the German military intelligence, to distract or mislead the Allies.

It was providential that a young British scientist, Dr. R. B. Jones, who had recently been placed in charge of scientific intelligence, believed the report and forwarded it to MI6 in London. The report detailed information about German methods of attacking fortifications, newly developed air-raid warning equipment, and the location of the Luftwaffe's laboratories and development centers. Mayer also shared about the development and location of Germany's first aircraft carrier and the ongoing development of remote-controlled long-range rockets. 


HMS Royal Oak in 1937. Public domain. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Dr. Mayer described two types of new torpedoes - acoustic and magnetic - and how to counteract them. Only a few weeks earlier, the Germans had torpedoed and sunk the HMS Royal Oak battleship when it was anchored in British home waters at Scapa Flow, and 835 men and boys were killed. Dr. Mayer instructed the Allies on how to protect themselves from this type of attack. Because many of the weapons were still in development, some of the information was incomplete and some later proved to be inaccurate; however, the Oslo report allowed the British to develop countermeasures and contributed to their victory in the Battle of Britain the following year.

After delivering his report, Dr. Mayer returned to Germany and was arrested by the Gestapo in 1943 for listening to the BBC, which was strictly forbidden, and for criticizing the Nazi regime. He spent the remaining years of the war in five different concentration camps until he was freed by the Allies. The Nazis never learned about the existence of the Oslo Report, and Mayer's authorship wasn't revealed until after he and his wife had died, as stipulated in Mayer's will. He lived to be eighty-four years of age and died in 1980. 


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Sources: 

https://hotelbristol.no/om-hotel-bristol/var-historie/

https://www.warhistoryonline.com/world-war-ii/oslo-report-german-scientist-gave-away-nazi-military-secrets-britain-almost-ignored.html

http://www.v2rocket.com/start/chapters/peene/oslo_report.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hans_Ferdinand_Mayer


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Cindy Stewart, a high school social studies teacher, church pianist, and inspirational historical fiction author, placed second in the 2019 North Texas Romance Writers Great Expectations contest, semi-finaled in the American Christian Fiction Writer’s Genesis contest, and won ACFW’s First Impressions contest in the historical category. Cindy is passionate about revealing God’s handiwork in history. She resides in North Georgia with her college sweetheart and husband of thirty-eight years and near her married daughter, son-in-law, and four adorable grandchildren. She’s currently writing a fiction series set in WWII Europe.


8 comments:

  1. Wow! This man was very brave to do what he did. Thanks for telling his story.

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    1. Thank you, Connie! Appreciate your comments. :)

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  2. Very interesting post! I am not familiar with this man or his story.

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    1. Thank you for stopping by, Linda. I just recently learned about the Oslo Papers while researching for my next book.

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  3. Thank you for sharing your very interesting post!

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  4. Great post, Cindy. I grew up during WWII, and I love reading about heroes who went out of their way to do the right thing despite the fact it might cost them their lives. Dr. Mayer was one of those heroes. So glad to learn his story.

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    1. It's great to hear from you, Martha! Thank you for dropping by and commenting, and I'm so glad you enjoyed the post. :)

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