Kempner: Cicero affair
The author of this article is Robert M.W. Kempner, Chief Prosecutor of prominent Nazis at Nuremberg following World War II. It reads as follows:
Robert Kempner’s Writing
The secret conferences in Moscow, Teheran and Cairo in 1943 were not as secret as they were thought to be. Thanks to a spy employed in the British Embassy in Ankara, Hitler learned a great deal about these fateful meetings within a few days after they were held.
I learned about Operation Cicero, the cover name for the Ankara job, by accident. As chief prosecutor of Nazi diplomats at Nuremberg, I examined, among masses of other documents, the German Foreign Ministry's secret correspondence with the German Embassy in Ankara. My curiosity was aroused by the many references to Operation Cicero. On seeking further information I was told by Horst Wagner, the Foreign Office liaison with the intelligence service, that Cicero was the "biggest thing" in which his department had ever engaged. General Walter Schellenberg, the chief of civil and military intelligence, acknowledged that his "greatest success" had been due to Operation Cicero. It was not until I located Ludwig Moyzisch, however, that I learned the whole fantastic story.
Moyzisch, a slight, self-effacing little man, was a former Viennese journalist who joined the Nazi Party and was made Commercial attaché. One of his duties had been to direct the regional operations of German intelligence. He was suspected of being a war criminal because of a letter that Franz von Papen, German Ambassador to Turkey, had written to Gestapo Chief Heinrich Himmler, commending Moyzisch for "excellent service." After being questioned by the British, he had gone into hiding in the French zone of his native Austria. Found again by my office, he was eager to clear his name. The deposition he gave me seemed incredible at first. Checked and rechecked, it turned out to be entirely true.
On the night of October 26, 1943, Moyzisch, who occupied a house in the German Embassy's compound in Ankara, was awakened by the insistent ringing of his telephone. Frau Jenke, wife of Ambassador von Papen's second-in-command, was on the line. Her husband wanted Moyzisch to come to the Jenke house at once. Meeting Moyzisch at the door, Jenke said: "There's a fellow in the living room who has something interesting in your line. He's an Albanian named Diello. When you've finished talking, see him out and lock the door."
In the living room Moyzisch found a small man with sharp, unpleasant features. “I can do your government a valuable service," the man said. "But I want to be well paid for it. I can get you photographs of the most important documents in the British Embassy. My price will be 5000 pounds sterling for every document." Moyzisch told me that his first impulse was to show Diello to the door. Yet the man's boldness in demanding such a preposterous fee intrigued him.
"How do I know you're not a British agent?" asked Moyzisch. "Other people will pay me if you don't," said Diello with an impatient flourish in the direction of the Russian Embassy "You'll have to take my word that what I'm offering you is worth the price."
He declined to talk it over further. "I know you can't come to a decision until you've talked with your Ambassador," he said "I'll give you until the afternoon of the 28th to make up your minds." That was less than two days. Moyzisch protested that he would need more time, but Diello said that he would telephone exactly at five on the day named. If the answer was "Yes," he would meet Moyzisch in a certain park at 10 o'clock that night and hand over undeveloped photographs of four top secret documents, in return for which Moyzisch would give him f20,000. With that, Diello left.
How did you like my former butler?" Jenke asked Moyzisch the next morning. Moyzisch indicated his bewilderment. “Diello's now the butler of the British Ambassador," said Jenke with a smile. "I think he once wanted to be an opera singer. At any rate, he's much too clever to be a butler. That's why I let him go.
Jenke agreed with Moyzisch that f20,000 then more than f80,000 - was a tremendous price to pay for unknown material. But he pointed out that if the documents were as good as Diello seemed to think, they could scarcely afford to pass them up. At Jenke’s suggestion, Moyzisch submitted a memorandum on the subject to the Ambassador. Later that morning Von Papen dictated an urgent radiogram to Ribbentrop in Berlin, requesting him if he approved, to forward f20,000 at once. The money arrived the next afternoon by plane.
Moyzisch met Diello the night of November 28th 1943. The latter accepted the money without comment and handed over a small aluminum container of film. Moyzisch hurried back to his office and called in the photographer whom the Gestapo had assigned him for secret work. Von Papen and Jenke joined him.
When the enlarged photostats were ready, the trio found that the documents were indeed worth what had been paid for them. One was a list of British intelligence agents in Turkey. Another was a summary of an American report on the exact types and quantities of U.S. armaments thus far delivered to Russia. Another was a copy of a memorandum that Sir Hughe Knatchbull-Hugessen, the British Ambassador, had just sent to London. It gave full details of his latest conference with the Turkish Foreign Minister, whom he was trying to persuade to declare war on Germany. Last were photostats of a preliminary report on the decisions reached at the current conference of Allied foreign ministers - - Hull, Eden and Molotov - - in Moscow.
Von Papen's eyes lit up. "We seem to have employed a very eloquent little man," he said. "We can't call him Diello, because that happens to be his name. Cicero was an eloquent man too. Let’s call him Cicero." And Cicero he was from that moment onward.
The photostats were sent to Berlin by special courier. Ribbentrop immediately showed them to Hitler, who said that he wanted to see all the material Cicero could obtain. Ribbentrop instructed Von Papen to employ him permanently--though, if possible, at more reasonable rates. After considerable haggling, Cicero agreed to take f15,000 for every 20 frames of film that were legibly exposed. This fee was later reduced to f10,000. But altogether, during the next five months, he collected over 1,000,000 in pounds sterling.
In answer to repeated questions, Cicero one day told Moyzisch how he was able to photograph so many secret documents. Knatchbull-Hugessen was a music lover. When Cicero told him that he knew a number of Italian operas by heart, Sir Hughe was highly pleased. He often asked Cicero, after that, to sing him certain arias. Cicero became his valet as well as his butler. One day when he was cleaning a pair of the Ambassador's trousers, he discovered a key in one of the pockets--the key to the Ambassador's safe. Realizing that he could make a fortune out of his employer's forgetfulness, he immediately had a duplicate key made.
Cicero bought a camera and began to photograph the most important-looking documents in the Ambassador's safe. He usually took his pictures when Knatchbull-Hugessen was out of town, but he sometimes operated at night when the Ambassador was asleep.
Moyzisch was both fascinated and repelled by Cicero's personality. He learned that Cicero's father had been killed by the British. But the man's sole interest was to make as much money as possible. He was a German spy simply because he thought that the Germans would pay more for British secrets than anybody else.
Cicero's information was invaluable to the Germans. His photostats of the British report on the Teheran Conference revealed the discussion about the Second Front. From photographs of Sir Hughe's memoranda on the Cairo Conference, Hitler learned that both the British and the Russians were determined to force Turkey into the war.
Von Papen's task was to combine bribes with threats to keep Turkey neutral. In carrying out this task he depended so much on Cicero's information that he overplayed his hand. Numan lenemencioglu, the anti-Nazi Turkish Foreign Minister, became increasingly suspicious, and finally he told Knatchbull-Hugessen that there must be a spy operating within the British Embassy.
Sir Hughe immediately coded a radiogram--a copy of which Cicero photographed and promptly delivered to the German Embassy--informing London of Menemencioglu's suspicions. Whitehall flew down an elaborate burglar alarm, which Cicero did to install. In doing so he learned how to disconnect the alarm so that he could go on rifling the Ambassador's safe without being caught.
Suddenly, in April 1944, everything exploded in the German Embassy's face. The previous January, Moyzisch had hired a pretty new secretary, Nelly Kapp, daughter of a former German Consul in Bombay. On April 6 she disappeared. It was later discovered that she was an anti-Nazi and had been working for the British intelligence service. It was she who denounced Cicero to Knatchbull-Hugessen.
Shortly after the Normandy invasion, Turkey severed diplomatic relations with Germany and prepared at last to enter the war on the side of the Allies. Von Papen returned to Berlin - - in disgrace, it was thought. But, shortly after, he was decorated - - as was his attaché, Moyzisch.
Moyzisch told me that he saw Cicero only once after his expulsion from the British Embassy. It was later rumored that he had emigrated to a Latin-American country, where he was living under an assumed name.
Ludwig Moyzisch, who had confined himself to the accepted practices of espionage, was cleared of any suspicion of war crimes and returned to his little village in the Tyrolean Alps. The story of the spy Cicero has an ironic twist. Most of the money (the equivalent of over $1,000,000) paid to him by the Nazis turned out to be worthless counterfeit English pound notes.
Source: Kempner, Robert M.W. The Highest-Paid Spy in History, in the book, Secrets & Spies, Readers Digest Association, Inc., pp.299-303, (1964).