German intelligence used kids for their purposes in WWI
Crowds of homeless boys and girls gathered at railway stations, marketplaces, and especially around Russian military units back in 1914. There were a lot of those ragged little children everywhere around. There was nothing surprising about that, since it was the time, when the war was getting started. However, the sneaky ability of those poor human creatures was really something special.
Russian counter-intelligence officers detained agent Leonard Rembitsky around the deployment of a military unit. Mr.Rembitsky told a long and a detailed story. He told intelligence officers, how the Germans forced him to become their agent in order to spy in the Russian rear. He was given a task to find out the information pertaining to the Russian artillery troops, and about food prices in the city of Riga. After being forced to become a German spy, Rembitsky had to go to a spy school in Warsaw. Leonard Rembitsky was only 12 years at the moment, when he was nabbed.
The school of juvenile spies, from where a young James Bond came from, counted 72 boys and 300 girls as well as several grownup girls. All of them were enlisted contrary to their own will. When Russian intelligence officers were listening to Leonard Rembitsky’s story, no one of them had a wish to smile. Everything was more than just serious. The Germans made little spies execute all their goals and tasks strictly. As a guarantee, the Germans arrested children’s parents or close relatives. They threatened to shoot them, in case of children’s decision to run away or not to do what they were ordered to do.
When small children were given tasks to fulfil, they were also given money for that: 15 rubles for boys and 20 rubles for girls. No documents were given to them. Spy boys were dressed in black school coats with white buttons or short black jackets, black boots, gray shirts, gray pants. Spy girls used to wear black coats, black dresses, black boots, everything was black and gray, to put it shortly.
After spy children finished their “school education,” they were attached to various military units of the Russian troops. A troop number was their passwords to return from a task. Under the disguise of refugees, spy kids could get deep into the rear of the country and collect a lot of information that was extremely valuable for Germany. As a rule, soldiers missed their families, so they were happy to get a homeless girl or a homeless boy in their detachment. Soldiers treated them like their own kids. No one of them could ever guess that those little children could blow up trains and bridges. Little “angels of death” organized fires at defense factories and warehouses, they would blow up trains, throwing bombs in ovens. Needless to mention, that they were conducting very active military espionage.
The women, who worked for intelligence services, were basically prostitutes. As a rule, the Germans selected gorgeous, slim and interesting women for their espionage purposes. There were a couple of special spy schools in Warsaw. One of them trained both men and women. Basically all spy women had an experience of prostitution in their lives. The Germans would send them to the rear of the Russian army, making them use that experience.
Yet, beautiful girls and lovely children were not all that the German intelligence used in 1915 against the Russian soldiers. Various charitable and commercial organizations attempted to obtain an access to the rear too. There was an organization that rendered financial help to German captives in Siberia, simultaneously establishing contacts with them. There was a special bureau organized in China. The bureau helped German war prisoners to escape to China, where they were later provided with the passports of neutral countries. In China, the German intelligence set up an organization that would provide Austrian and German spies with fake documents. The documents were produced in Shanghai.
Another spy organization that operated during WWI particularly “worked” in the field of commerce. It was established in 1908 and by the year 1915 it embraced the whole of Russia. The so-called “company” looked like an organization of the German kind. It had its offices in Riga, Warsaw, Kiev, Odessa, Rostov-on-Don, and at Russia’s huge Nizhni Novgorod Fair. All responsible positions in that company were taken by Germans.
A company’s “spokespeople” were sent to a Russian region. They had maps with them, on which they would mark new railways, bridges and other important objects. When they came back from their “business trips,” they would write special reports and then send the entire spy material to Berlin. A group of spies like that was detained in April of 1915. They were all German women.
Economic research was the most convenient form of espionage. A senior official of the Nizhni Novgorod Fair Sergey Speransky was caught writing letters for the Copenhagen organization called Studying the Society in the Wartime. This was another organization that worked for Germany. Sergey Speransky provided the organization with detailed information about the economic activity of one of the largest trade fairs in Russia.
Of course, this is not the complete list of foreign spy ruses that was used during WWI. For instance, German and Austrian special services used special conditional characters in their written correspondence. Those specific characters would be used in postcards, letters, telegrams and even on luggage labels.
Candidate of philosophy science,
N.Rezontova, editor-in-chief of NTA Privolzhye
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov
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