One of the finest pieces of spy work achieved by Germany was the obtaining by a German professor of a unique set of photographs of the whole of the Scottish coast, from north to south. Those photographs showing every inlet and harbour, are now at the Reichs-Marine-Amt (Admiralty) in the Leipsigerplatz. They have been reproduced for the use of the Navy. I do not know how they were obtained. I know they are in existence, and they were taken for geological purposes.
Thefts of documents from British Government Departments are not always successfully accomplished by German agents, I was told. Some of the more astute officials are alleged, especially by the Naval Department, to have laid traps and supplied the spies with purposely misleading designs and codes.
Assiduous fishing in the troubled waters around the Wilhelmstrasse—waters that will become more and more troubled as the siege of Germany proceeds—renders the gathering of information not so difficult as it might appear.
By sympathising with the critics of the German Foreign Office in the violent attacks upon the Government by the non-official Social Democrats, a sympathetic listener can learn a great deal.
One thing I learned is that, beyond question, the German spy system, in that misty period called “after the war,” will he very completely revised. The huge sums of money mentioned in the Reichstag as having been expended on secret service have, so far as England is concerned, proved of no political value, and the topographical and personal knowledge gained would only be of service in case of actual invasion and the consequent exactions of ransoms from individuals, cities, and districts.
THE IRON HAND IN ALSACE-LORRAINE
The state of affairs in Alsace-Lorraine is one of Germany’s moat carefully hidden secrets.
In the first months of the war I heard so much talk in Germany—talk based upon articles in the Press—of how the Alsatians, like the rest of the Kaiser’s subjects, “rushed to the defence of the Fatherland,” that I was filled with curiosity to go and see for myself if they had suddenly changed. I could hardly believe that they had, for I had studied conditions in the “lost provinces” before the war.
Still, the Wilhelmstrasse propaganda was convincing millions that the Alsatians received the French very coldly when they invaded the province to Mulhouse, and that they greeted the German troops most heartily when they drove back the invader. Indeed, Alsatian fathers were depicted as rushing into the streets to cheer the German colours, while their wives and daughters “were so beside themselves with joy that they hung upon the necks of the brave German Michaels, hailing them as saviours.”
A pretty picture of the appreciation of the blessings of German rule, but was it true?