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- The Secrets of the German War Office - 5/34 -
days. What better than a group photograph of her dear and new friends? How she would treasure it! Strangely enough this did not please the guests. Photographs were dangerous. Suppose, in some way, the _Okrana_ got hold of them. They breathed easier, though, when Theresa, calling in the photographer--the best in Lausanne, she assured them--instructed him to deliver all copies to Mr. Goluckoffsky, her dear father-in-law to be. So the revolutionists grouped themselves on the hotel lawn; the photographer pressed the bulb; and everybody laughed.
As quickly as the photographer could print his proofs they were delivered to Theresa; that night she and her "brother" left Montreux. In two days the names of all the revolutionists in young Goluckoffsky's handwriting and their pictures were delivered to the chief in Brussels. A substantial fee was paid Theresa, besides, and she must have smiled; some of those young Russians are delightful.
So much for an example of the clever work done by Brussels. The German Service, in which I served on and off for twelve years, has three distinct branches--the Army, Navy and Personal, each branch having its own chief and its own corps of men and women agents. The Army and Navy division is controlled by the General Staff of Berlin (Grosser General Stabe), the most marvelous organization in the world. The Political and Personal branch is controlled from the Wilhelmstrasse, the German Foreign Office, the Emperor in person, or his immediate Privy Councilor. The Army and Navy divisions confine themselves to the procuring of hidden and secret information as regards armaments, plans, discoveries, etc. The political branch concerns itself with the supervision of meetings between potentates, cabinet ministers and so forth. The Personal branch, under the direct control of the Privy Councilor, is used by the Emperor for his own special purposes and service in this branch is the _sine qua non_ of the service.
The Personal consists of all classes of men and women. Princes and counts, lawyers and doctors, actors and actresses, mondaines of the great world, demi-mondaines of the half world, waiters and porters, all are made use of as occasion arises. It may well happen that your interesting acquaintance in the salon of an express steamer or your charming companion in the tearoom of the Ritz is the paid agent of some government. Great singers, dancers and artists, especially of Russian and Austrian origin, are often spies. Notably Anna Pavlowa, famous for light feet and nimble wit, said wit being retained by the Russian government at 50,000 rubles per annum. When Mlle. Pavlowa travels in Germany, she has the honor of a very unostentatious bodyguard, the government being anxious that nothing should happen to _them_. Perhaps Mademoiselle may remember a little incident at the Palais de Dance in Berlin--Anna _vs._ He of Lichtenstein.
Or perhaps Mademoiselle will recall a little episode in the Eis Arena in Berlin during a certain New Year's Eve carnival when the restoration--not the loss--of her magnificent gold chatelaine bag caused her much embarrassment. The chatelaine in question being dexterously commandeered by an expert in such matters of the Secret Service squad.
It happened that the Personal Branch of the German Secret Service was exceedingly interested in that gold bag. Mademoiselle had been carrying on an affair with a young ordnance officer of the Potsdam garrison. Now the Service does not like to see officers, especially those of the ordnance, becoming involved with ladies like the Pavlowa. On this particular night he had presented her with the new bag and she had been injudicious enough to have kept in the golden receptacle a dangerously compromising letter that he had enclosed. Injudicious, dear lady! Corsage or stockings, Mademoiselle; but vanity bags--never!
I have reason to believe that the following incident cost the Pavlowa a rather remunerative engagement in Berlin.
Celebrating the coming of the New Year, Mademoiselle and her party were feasting in the Ice Arena. I happened to be at near-by table, and saw everything; as well as later hearing the inside of it.
The gold chatelaine lay on the table at her elbow. Upon observing its position, the waiter--a secret agent on the case--deliberately tipped over a champagne glass that stood within a few inches of the bag. Of course, Mademoiselle was worried lest the wine run over on her gown and while thus preoccupied, the waiter, stammering apologies, mopped up the table cloth with his serviette--mopped up the wine and cleverly covering the bag folded it in the napkin and hurried away. In two minutes he had opened it, abstracted the letter from the young ordnance officer; and was back, apologizing to the Pavlowa.
"Your pardon, Mademoiselle," he said, handing her the gold chatelaine." In my haste I picked up this bag by mistake. I suppose it is yours."
With a slight start she said "yes," took the bag and hurriedly opening it felt for the letter. To her dismay it was gone. I saw her eyes narrow a little and then I marveled at time cleverness of the woman.
"No," she suddenly said, "that is not my bag. I never saw it before. I advise you to find the owner."
Clever Anna! You sacrificed the costly gift, but you went over the frontier just the same.
The necessary qualifications of an agent vary of course with the class of work to be done. We can dismiss the waiter and porter class, as they never receive independent commands and work only under direct supervision on minor details without knowing why. The trusted agent handling important matters and documents must needs be a person of intelligence, tact and address. He must be a linguist and, above all, a man of resource and a close student of his fellow men. In the woman agent charm and tact, beauty and manners, _à la grande dame_, knowledge of the world and men are essential. The pay varies, but is always good. Expenses are never questioned, the money being no object. For instance, I spent on a mission through the Riviera 20,000 marks in fourteen days. My fixed salary towards the end was 10,000 marks a year, besides twenty marks a day living expenses when not at work, which was automatically tripled irrespective of expenses when out on work. Besides, there is a bonus set out for each piece of work, the amount of which varies with the importance of the case in hand. I received as much as 30,000 marks ($7,500) for a single mission performed successfully.
The risks are great, so are the rewards--if successful. If not, then one pays the usual price of failures, in this case only more so. For in the event of disaster no official help or protection could or would be granted and quarter is neither asked nor given. The work is interesting and fascinating to those of an adventurous turn of mind and not overly nervous about their health or squeamish in regards to established ethics. I would not suggest the Secret Service as a means of livelihood for a nervous person. At times it is arduous and strenuous work and mostly undertaken by men and women who fear neither man nor devil. It is not compatible to longevity. As a rule, the constant strain of being on the _qui vive_, playing a lone hand against the most powerful influences often unknown, having one's plans upset at the last moment and continually pitting one's own brain against some of the acutest and shrewdest minds of the world, the knowledge that the slightest blunder means loss of liberty, often of life, is wearing, to say the least.
I have known men and women, courageous to a degree, who have broken dowm under the strain; sooner or later one is bound to succumb. I have known of a dozen men and women who have mysteriously disappeared, "dropped out of sight," caught or killed--_not always by their opponents_.
To cite but two cases, one of a woman, the other of a man.
Olga Bruder was a spy. She worked for Germany and for the Service Bureau in Brussels. A few years ago it was announced in the European newspapers that a woman known as Olga Bruder had committed suicide in a hotel at Memel on the Russian border. Fraulein Bruder had been sent after the plans of a Russian fort. In Berlin they learned that she had obtained them, but becoming involved in a love affair with a Russian officer was holding them out, planning to restore them to him. Also, contrary to the service regulations, she knew four foreign agents well. Later reports from Danzig revealed the fact that she had become enamored with a sectional chief of the Russian Service and that she was about to give up everything to him. So Olga Bruder committed suicide. _She was poisoned_.
As for Lieutenant von Zastrov, an ex-army officer in the German Secret Service, he was killed in a duel. Zastrov was suspected of flirting with Russian agents--only suspected. He knew too much to be imprisoned. He was a civilian and under the German law entitled to a public hearing. Had he still been a military man, a secret tribunal would have been possible, but being the scion of an old aristocratic house and knowing official secrets, it was not wise to put him in against the regular machinery of elimination. So Zastrov was challenged to a duel. He killed the first man the Service chiefs sent against him, yet no sooner was that duel over than he was challenged again. In half an hour Zastrov was dead.
Yes, your own employers often think it advisable at times to eliminate a too clever or knowing member of their service, unless that same member has procured for himself a solid good "life insurance" in the nature of documentary evidence of such character that to meddle with him brings danger of disclosure. Of late there have been no attempts on my life.
Chapter III. Into the East
Reclining in my deck chair on the N. D. L. liner _Bayern_, bound for Singapore, I was smoking a pipe and idly speculating. I had cultivated the acquaintance of my table neighbor, a Japanese, Baron Huraki, and was at the moment, expecting him to come up the companionway and take his place in his deck chair beside me. Instead came two officers of the Second Siberian Rifles, strolling along the deck. It was obvious that, although it still lacked three hours of noon, these gentlemen had been quite frequently to the shrine of Bacchus. I had no fault to find with that, as long as they did not interfere with my own personal comfort. When they began tacking along, talking at the top of their voices on that part of the deck known by experienced travelers to be reserved for repose and reading, however, they began to irritate me. When one of them threw himself into the Baron's chair and displayed that beastly annoying habit of continually wriggling and creaking the chair, meanwhile shouting to his companion at the top of his lungs, I lost all patience. It only needed Baron Huraki's appearance and quiet request for the evacuation of his deck chair, and the insolent stare and non-compliance of the Russian, to make me chip in with:
"Damn it, sir! You don't own the whole world yet."
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