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Postato il 04/03/2019 di cdcnet


Il complotto nazista per uccidere Churchill, Roosevelt e Stalin – E come è fallito.

(Traduzione automatica)

Imagine that an aspiring John le Carre or a latter-day Upton Sinclair were to turn his or her literary skills to inventing a plot set during the Second World War involving a top secret espionage operation to assassinate Churchill and Stalin and kidnap Roosevelt with the intention of forcing him to pull the USA out of the war, thus handing victory to Nazi Germany.
Of course, the tension in such a “counterfactual” fictional novel of espionage and intrigue would be tempered by the reader’s knowledge that no such thing ever happened. But those of a certain age who may have in their youth read Upton Sinclair’s political novels such as Dragon’s Teeth and Dragon’s Harvest will remember how brilliantly he captured the political times and the real-life characters about whom he wrote. They may remember how extraordinarily accurate were his portraits of Roosevelt, Chamberlain and Churchill – and Hitler. Suppose, therefore, that an espionage novel of the kind suggested drew for inspiration on the sensational commando operation successfully carried out in September 1943 by the dare-devil Nazi Colonel, Otto Skorzeny, to snatch Mussolini from his Alpine captivity under the noses of his guards and restore him to some semblance of authority in the ‘Republic of Salo’ in northern Italy.

The would- be Sinclair/Le Carre, having put together the rudiments of such a plot, would, in order to retain verisimilitude and maintain tension, need to ensure that the planned commando raid was foiled. The plotters, assassins and kidnappers would be professionals, expertly trained hard-men like Skorzeny. Thus, if they were going to fail, those who were to foil their plot would need to be smarter, tougher, better informed and better armed than they were. Also, for the assassination plot to succeed all three leaders would need to be in the same place at the same time. There were only two occasions during the Second World War that the ‘Big Three’ all met together; at Teheran in November 1943 and Yalta in February 1945. By early 1945 the war was all but won and there was no possibility of any Nazi strike of this kind at that late date. Yalta, in the Crimea, was anyway beyond their reach. Therefore, the only opportunity they would have had would have been in Teheran. Iran was partitioned between Britain and the Soviet-Union during the war but until 1943 the country had been formally neutral and Teheran was known as a centre for foreign espionage activities.

Writers and devotees of counterfactual history would have a great deal to excite them about such a plot. The timing would be well chosen; November 1943 came at the end of a year which had started with the real turning point in the fortunes of the war – the epic Battle of Stalingrad, followed closely by the Soviet victory over the Nazis’ panzer divisions in the Battle of Kursk – the greatest tank battle in history. Churchill spoke the unassailable truth when he said that the Red Army had torn the guts out of the German war machine. From there on the Soviet drive westward was unstoppable. In July Mussolini had been overthrown and the Axis was broken. It was now clear to all but the wilfully blind that for Nazi Germany the war was lost. So, the theme of this daring fictional plot would be to present a plausible account of how the Nazis might still be able to avoid defeat through an audacious operation such as this. The assassination of Stalin would be a body blow to the Soviets and create turmoil and panic in Moscow; Churchill’s assassination would throw Britain’s war effort off course, and taking Roosevelt captive would ensure that there would be no ‘second front’ in western Europe. But anyone familiar with the real course of events knows that no such daring escapade was planned and that it never happened. Such a plot would be completely implausible – pure fantasy. So it may seem. But this plot was not a fantasy. It was actually attempted and might have succeeded. It is worth recovering it from the obscurity to which it has been assigned in most western historiography of the Second World War for at least two interconnected reasons:

(1) The deliberate attempt for more than seventy years by the propagandists of NATO, particularly Britain and the USA, to falsify the history of the war by underplaying or ignoring the colossal role played by the Soviet-Union and the Red Army, at tremendous cost in human life, in defeating fascism and ridding the world of the genocidal Nazi regime; (2) the perpetuation of this falsification of history through the first two decades of the twenty first century by transforming the Cold War anti-Sovietism of 1947 – 1992 into the post -1992 Russophobia in an attempt to justify the perpetuation of NATO and its eastward expansion to the frontiers of Russia. This is perpetuated under the pretence that NATO’s military expansion and the encirclement of Russia is a defence against supposed Russian aggression. It would not sit easily with the propagandists of NATO to have to admit that in November 1943 Soviet intelligence agents, in thwarting a Nazi assassination attempt against Stalin and his allies, may have saved the lives of Churchill and Roosevelt as well as the Soviet leader.

The Historical Evidence for “Operation Long Jump”
It has to be said that the Nazi plan to carry out a daring commando raid in Teheran, to assassinate Churchill and Stalin and kidnap Roosevelt, sounds so incredible that I was reluctant to believe that it could have actually been attempted. Needless to say when it has been mentioned at all in western histories of the war it has been largely dismissed as a Soviet invention, a ruse designed solely for the purpose of persuading Churchill and Roosevelt, for the duration of the conference, to relocate their stay in Teheran from their hotels to the Soviet embassy where they would be safe from attack. It would also render them dependent on Stalin for their security and, of course, enable the Soviets more easily to spy on them. Stalin, according to this account was exploiting the tremendous prestige that the Soviet armed forces had attained in the eyes of his western allies, following their victories at Stalingrad and Kursk, giving him the advantage in demanding the speedy opening of a second front. Most histories of the Second World War with which I am familiar, including those that deal in detail with the deliberations of wartime conferences, do not mention Operation Long Jump (the name given to their secret operation by the Nazis themselves) at all. There is no reference to it in Alexander Werth’s generally excellent Russia at War (1964). Likewise, Herbert Feis makes no mention of it in Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin: The War They Waged and the Peace They Sought (1957). However, it is dealt with in detail by the late, great British historian John Erickson in The Road to Berlin, volume two of his magisterial Stalin’s War with Germany. For those who may be unfamiliar with Erickson’s work, a word or two is in order if only to forestall the knee-jerk reactions of pro-NATO apologists jumping to dismiss his account of the episode as the gullibility of a “useful idiot.”
A.J.P. Taylor – who was very sparing in dispensing praise for any other historian – wrote of Erickson’s magnum opus “John Erickson has mastered all this material, interviewed many survivors and written the outstanding book in any language. Erickson’s two volumes are in a class by themselves, books of the first importance.” (Emphasis added). The two volumes were written over two decades and published in 1975 and 1983. His research was meticulous, drawing extensively on both Soviet and German sources; he interviewed numerous military personnel from ordinary soldiers to top generals and, alone among western historians, he was given access to the Soviet military archives. The two volumes, which run to 1,700 pages are probably the most detailed account of The Great Patriotic War ever written. In 1983 the Soviet Ambassador to Britain, who was himself at the centre of policy-making, told the Labour MP Tam Dalyell that Erickson was held in the highest esteem by “all the serious people in Moscow of his generation.” His epic history, which reads almost like a blow by blow account of Russia at war from Barbarossa in June 1941 to the fall of Berlin in May 1945, is a masterpiece entirely devoid of the prejudices and ideological presumptions that constitute so much of Western cold-war history. For this reason I find Erickson’s detailed account of the Nazi assassination plot completely convincing. So what was “Operation Long Jump”?
The Teheran Conference: targeting the ‘Big Three’
Teheran was proposed by Stalin as the venue for the first meeting of the “Big Three”. He had no wish to travel far beyond the Soviet borders for the conference. His prestige with the other two leaders was at an all-time high. He had rejected Churchill’s suggestion that the three should meet in Egypt or Cyprus, both of which were part of Britain’s colonial empire. Teheran was not far from the Soviet border and all three countries had legations there. It was agreed that the conference should be held in the heavily guarded Soviet embassy compound in Teheran, which was close to the British legation but some distance from the U.S. legation. According to Erickson Stalin arrived in Teheran “forewarned by Soviet intelligence that a special German commando was bent on killing him, along with the two other members of the ‘Big Three’.” The Soviet leader may not have been in possession of all the details of the planned operation, which, according to Erickson, emerged later. But he had travelled by train from Baku and made the last part of the journey in a plane with fighter escorts flying above, in front and on either side. He persuaded Roosevelt to relocate from the U.S. embassy to a villa provided for him in the Soviet compound.

Leopold Trepper: Head of The Red Orchestra, easily one of the most effective and heroic antifascist intelligence operations in WW2. The network was chiefly comprised of Jewish communists working for the Soviet-Union. He should be a household name, but isn’t.

The account given to Erickson by his Soviet interlocutors is most extraordinary. But anyone familiar with Soviet espionage in Nazi-occupied Europe during the war will be aware of the expertise, dedication, courage and political commitment of members of the “Red Orchestra.”(1) Comprising an international network of radio operators, men and women of many nationalities, some of whom operated at the centre of the regime itself, who worked tirelessly for the defeat of Nazi Germany and its allies. Some of these agents had been working under assumed identities inside Germany and elsewhere in Europe since the earliest days of the Nazi regime. Although they were not part of this network, two such agents are central to the exposure and failure of Operation Long Jump. They were Ilya Svetlov and Nikolai Ivanovich Kuznetsov.
During the 1930s Kuznetsov, under the adopted name of Oberleutnant Zieber, had successfully penetrated the German army high command and, during the war, operating in the Ukraine he had provided the Soviets with valuable military intelligence about the enemy. A key part in the Long Jump story was played by Sverlov. He came from a family that had supported the Bolsheviks as far back as the civil war. In the complex story of his life, his family became close neighbours of a German immigrant family named Schultz who had come to pre-revolutionary Russia and settled as farmers near Baku. In the 1920s the young Sverlov became a Komsomol organizer, undergoing training with the OGPU. He and the Schultzes’s son, Friedrich, became close friends. Friedrich had relatives in Germany and around 1928 he was invited to go and live with a recently bereaved uncle In Munich – an invitation he was reluctant to accept. The upshot of this was that Ilya recounted the story to the OGPU who persuaded Friedrich and Ilya to change identities. Ilya was sent to Munich as a long-term “sleeper” serving the OGPU. Relevant to this decision was the fact that the German uncle, Hans, was an early adherent of the Nazi party with close links to some of its leading members. Ilya spoke fluent German. The German family had very tenuous links with their Russian relatives. They had never seen him before and obviously had no knowledge of his Komsomol or OGPU connections. Ilya became “Walter Schultz”. His uncle, whose father had died fighting against the Bolsheviks, set about obliterating his Russian background and adopted him to replace a recently deceased son. Sent to study at university in Berlin, “Walter” Svetlov/Schultz, with a recommendation from Rudolf Hess, joined the Nazi party and the Sturmabteilung (S.A.) later making his way into the Abwehr (German military intelligence) under Admiral Canaris, where he was placed in the Eastern section. His first major assignment was in 1941 following the German invasion of the Soviet-Union. It was to Iran!
Operating as a double agent (in the guise of director of a Swiss textile business), for the Abwehr he successfully set up sabotage operations to block any Soviet incursions into Iran, but then, for the OGPU, informed the Soviet command of the location of the explosive dumps. When Soviet forces moved into Iran in the autumn of 1941 they destroyed the dumps and rounded up the saboteurs. Despite his “failure”, with his OGPU identity undetected he returned to Germany. In 1943 he was sent again to Iran to prepare the ground for Operation Long Jump. The Abwehr, still basking in the afterglow of Skorzeny’s recent audacious Alpine commando operation to “rescue” Mussolini from his captors, now intended to pull off another such operation on a far grander scale. In this, Svetlov/Schultz was assigned a key role. A heavily armed German airborne commando group was to be flown into Iran and dropped by parachute. From the landing point they would be conducted to Teheran where they would be hidden to await the signal for their operation to begin. It was to be carried out with lightning speed before anyone realised what was happening. In overall charge of the mission was Walter Schellenberg, second in command to Himmler and head of Nazi foreign intelligence. His key man in Teheran, a Nazi agent named Alexander Ghuszak, needed a contact from Schultz. Schultz supplied the name of someone who apparently had the right pro-Nazi credentials. Schellenberg was satisfied and Schultz was assigned a key role in Operation Long Jump. He was to return to Iran under his earlier Swiss identity to prepare the landing site and lead the commandos from there to Teheran where, in secret locations close to the Allies’ diplomatic buildings, they would await the order to act. He was ordered not to contact the Abwehr and to remain “in quarantine”. In due course Schultz signalled Berlin that all the plans were complete and preparations for the air-drop in place. But both he and “Oberleutnant Ziebert” (Kuznetsov ) had now communicated all the information about Long Jump to Soviet intelligence in Baku and Moscow. Two Moscow intelligence officers, Major-General Pankov and Colonel Andeyev left immediately for Teheran. When Ziebert/Kuznetsov who had been recruited to take part in the operation, suddenly disappeared it was assumed that he had isolated himself as Schellenberg had instructed Schultz to do. The truth was that his cover was about to be blown.

At this critical juncture Schultz’s luck ran out. For the operation he had been assigned, as an assistant, a German woman agent and radio operator who would pose as his wife. As the airborne commando operation was about to be launched she began to have suspicions about Schultz and prepared to communicate them to Berlin. An SS officer had been sent to assist her in the operation. But before he and the radio operator could communicate further with Berlin Schultz put the transmitter out of action and alerted Pankov to the incoming German aircraft transporting the commandos.

Austrian-born Otto Skorzeny (center, binoculars) quickly became Germany’s most intrepid commando. At 6’4″ he cut an impressive figure. Here he basks in the glory of having rescued Mussolini.

At this point the story acquires the nail-biting tension of a climactic movie car chase. Schultz’s “wife” fled the scene, driving furiously back to Teheran with the smashed transistor, pursued by Russian cars. In a desperate attempt to shake them off she crashed her car into a bridge and was killed. Major-General Pankov alerted a Soviet fighter squadron as the commandos’ plane took off from an airbase close to the border in Turkey. He then reported to the squadron that a JU-52 without markings had crossed into Iranian territory from Turkey. Despite warning shots being fired the JU-52 held to its course. Pankov ordered it to be shot down. The Soviet flight commander reported “The aircraft is burning and has exploded.” When Pankov’s team investigated the site of the crashed aircraft they found wreckage scattered over a thousand yards. According to Erickson “[T]he ground was littered with bits of small arms, automatic weapons and mortars, among which ammunition continued to explode.” German sympathizers in the frontier area were rounded up and handed over to the Soviet garrison at Kazvin. Erickson also says that Operation Long Jump had initially been offered to Otto Skorzeny who, after briefly considering it, turned the offer down. Perhaps he sensed that to confound Soviet intelligence operatives he would need greater skills and better luck than required to snatch Mussolini from his captors.

Teheran and After
All honest accounts of the proceedings of the Teheran conference attest to the commanding role played by Stalin and to the consummate skill with which he dealt with Churchill and Roosevelt. His intense displeasure at the continued delay of the long-promised “second front” in Europe was neither concealed nor was it feigned. Neither was his assurance that with or without it the Soviet expulsion of the now crippled Axis forces from the whole of Eastern Europe was unstoppable.
My purpose here has not been to recount any of the details of what occurred at the conference in Teheran, but only to throw light on the extraordinary episode recounted in Erickson’s The Road to Berlin. It may well be asked whether this story, which many may dismiss as at best a mere footnote to the history of the war, has any relevance at all today. I think it is instructive for these reasons: first, the need to admit that all states, for good or ill, operate “intelligence services”; they use spies, agents and double agents, against their perceived enemies and against their allies. Those governments who rail against others who spy against them while they themselves claim to occupy some “moral high ground” simply demonstrate their hypocrisy. During the Second World War such spy networks operated on both sides. Unless one were to argue that all such espionage from whichever side was morally indefensible, (or as is argued by some Trotskyist groups that the war was an imperialist war on all sides and therefore it was insupportable) then it follows that every effort needed to be made by the intelligence services of the anti-Axis alliance to assist the defeat of Nazi aggression. This is perhaps no more than a statement of the obvious. Secondly, it has been widely recognized, not least by the Nazis themselves, that the foreign espionage and intelligence services of the Soviet-Union and, until 1943, of the Communist International, were extraordinarily efficient and effective as well as being composed of many highly motivated and professional anti-fascists. Often, the information they revealed about the enemy played a decisive part in determining decisions taken at the highest level which had significant consequences for the outcome of the war.


A good example of this is the German journalist, Richard Sorge, who, as a Nazi party member worked as a journalist in Tokyo. But, like Svetlov/Schultz he was actually a Soviet intelligence officer. He was a dedicated Marxist who had worked undercover for the Comintern for many years. In the winter of 1941, when the Germans were at the gates of Moscow and some of the best Soviet divisions were still in the far east because the government feared that Japan would follow Hitler in breaking the neutrality pact signed with the Soviets in April 1941, and launch an attack in the Far East. Sorge learned that Japan would respect the pact and not attack. He communicated the news to Stalin and the Soviet High Command was able to withdraw 18 divisions and thousands of tanks and aircraft from Siberia and transfer them to the defence of Moscow. There they acted decisively against the Wehrmacht, which was unable to match them in the bitter winter conditions of 1941, thus saving Moscow. Sorge was exposed by the Germans to the Japanese authorities in Tokyo. He was tortured and executed. In 1964 he was posthumously awarded the title “Hero of the Soviet-Union.” Anyone familiar with Leopold Trepper’s account in The Great Game: Memoirs of the Spy Hitler Couldn’t Silence (McGraw-Hill 1977), of his many years as leader of the “Red Orchestra”, in charge of the network of radio operators working under the noses of the German army in Belgium and France during the war, will be left in no doubt about the dedication and effectiveness of these agents.

Their exploits are part of the wider story of the heroism, internationalism and high moral principles that motivated a generation of communists and anti-fascists from many different countries and backgrounds in the 1930s and 1940s. It led so many to join the international brigades in Spain, and, between 1939 and 1945 to put their lives on the line in the resistance movements in Nazi occupied Europe. They are seldom mentioned today but I can think of no more fitting epitaph for all of them than that penned by New York Times correspondent Herbert Matthews in his tribute to the volunteers of the International Brigades: he described them as “the finest group of men I ever knew or hope to know in my life.”
During the war the efforts of those like Svetlov/Schultz, Leopold Trepper and the countless other unsung heroes and heroines who dedicated their lives – and all too often gave their lives – in the struggle against fascism, by assisting the Red Army’s titanic struggle, must not be forgotten.

Mike Faulkner
March 2019


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