The plea put forward by the German spy, Lieut. Carl Lody, at his court-martial in London, was that “he would not cringe for mercy. He was not ashamed of anything that he had done; he was in honour bound not to give away the names of those who had employed him on this mission; he was not paid for it, he did it for his country’s good, and he knew that he carried his life in his hands in doing so. Many a Briton was probably doing the same for Britain.”
He was even spoken of in our House of Commons as being “a patriot who had died for his country as much as any soldier who fell in the field.”
To be a really effective spy, a man has to be endowed with a strong spirit of self-sacrifice, courage, and self-control, with the power of acting a part, quick at observation and deduction, and blessed with good health and nerve of exceptional quality. A certain amount of scientific training is of value where a man has to be able to take the angles of a fort, or to establish the geological formation, say, of the middle island under the Forth Bridge, which was shown by Graves to be readily adaptable for explosion purposes.
For anyone who is tired of life, the thrilling life of a spy should be the very finest recuperator!
Quite another class of spy is the traitor who gives away the secrets of his own country. For him, of course, there is no excuse. Fortunately, the Briton is not as a rule of a corruptible character, and many foreign spies in England have been discovered through their attempts to bribe officers or men to give away secrets.
On the other hand, we hear frequently of foreign soldiers falling victims to such temptation, and eventually being discovered. Cases have only recently come to light in Austria where officers were willing to sell information as regards a number of secret block-houses which were built on the frontier of Bukovina last year. Details of them got into the hands of another Power within a few days of the designs being made.
Apparently when suspicion falls upon an officer in Austria the case is not tried in public, but is conducted privately, sometimes by the Emperor himself. When the man is found guilty, the procedure is for four friends of the accused to visit him and tell him what has been discovered against him, and to present him with a loaded revolver and leave him. They then remain watching the house, in order that he shall not escape, and until he elects to shoot himself; if he fails to do so, in reasonable time, they go in and finish him off between them.
The espionage system of the Germans far exceeds that of any other country in its extent, cost, and organisation. It was thoroughly exposed after the war with France in 1870, when it was definitely shown that the German Government had an organisation of over 20,000 paid informers stationed in France, and controlled by one man, Stieber, for both political and military purposes.