years ago this month, in 1942, the unmistakable
clatter of a telegraph key sounded in a small room
of a secluded house on Long Island. A coded message
was being hammered out by an agent code-named ND-98.
On the other side of the Atlantic, a member of the
Abwehr, the Nazi Government's most important intelligence
service, was poised to receive the message.
was ND-98’s first radio message to his German
bosses. He wasn’t sure if his message would
be acknowledged, nor if he would be accepted as
an Abwehr spy and his future revelations passed
on to key members of the government for information
others also waited in that small Long Island room,
hoping that ND-98 would be successful. They nervously
fingered their FBI badges. In fact, "ND-98"
was not the Abwehr's code-name for this particular
spy; it was the Bureau's. In real life, this man
was the owner of an import-export business who had
offered his services to the FBI as a double agent...
for money. It was an opportunity not to be missed.
wartime intelligence work. ND-98 was not
the first double-agent recruited by the FBI. Beginning
in early 1940, the FBI had identified German agents
in America, "turned" them, and successfully
used their identities without tipping their masters.
In short order, we had made good progress in learning
the modus operandi of the German intelligence services,
the identities of their agents, and ways to counter
their operations. We were also able to send false
information to the Nazi government, much like the
wider and highly successful British network of false-radio
operations against Hitler's forces throughout the
to Long Island. ND-98 finished the transmission
and leaned back in his chair. The tension in the
room crackled. Then, suddenly, the Nazi reply came
back loud and clear. Tell us about troop movements,
it said, and about arms and aircraft production.
The Bureau, in turn, was happy to comply. Through
ND-98 and his telegraph key, it sent lots of information...
all carefully prepared to convince the Nazis it
was genuine without divulging anything of real value.
and from time to time, we'd insert false information
(carefully cleared with the Army and Navy) that
would misdirect the Nazi government and aid the
Allied cause. This was the icing on the cake. In
key situations, ND-98's radio allowed us to suggest
that we were going to attack in one place on a certain
date. German military leaders, accordingly, would
mass their defenses there when, in reality, we were
attacking another location, less well defended because
of the false intelligence. ND-98 was able to help
in the many Allied battlefield successes through
the D-Day invasion at Normandy.
length of ND-98's string of broadcasts and his role
in providing disinformation at key phases of the
war made this double-agent one of the Bureau's most
successful intelligence operations during World
for use of the photo of Abwehr chief Wilhelm Canaris
meets with Nazi leaders was kindly granted by the
Museum Of Tolerance Multimedia Learning Center,
The Simon Wiesenthal Center, Los Angeles, California.
Link: FBI History