The biggest double agent of the Second World War
Declassified documents published Wednesday in the United Kingdom allow Juan Pujol Garcia, a Spanish double agent who mystifies Nazi Germany to be discovered in a new light by providing him with false information about the landing in Normandy. Juan Pujol Garcia, code-named “Garbo”, was one of the nuggets of MI5, the British intelligence service. “The biggest double agent of the Second World War, and perhaps of all the twentieth century,” said the British historian Christopher Andrew.
The spy was so effective that the Hitler regime gave him the Iron Cross. Garbo illustrated himself during the extensive disinformation campaign organized to deceive the Germans as to the place and date chosen for the landing on June 6, 1944. He had given them information that Normandy was “a large-scale diversion operation” and that D-Day would actually take place in the Pas-de-Calais (north of France), writes Tomas Harris, the agent In a note dated 13 June 1944, among the documents made public by the British National Archives. The Catalan, apparently motivated by a hatred of communism and fascism with its roots in the Spanish Civil War (1936-39), began his intelligence career by supplying the Germans, from Lisbon where he lived, with false information about the UK. To make his lies more credible, Juan Pujol Garcia draws from various sources of information at his disposal, a “Blue Guide (a tour guide), a map of England, outdated train schedules,” explains a note from MI5 Dated 12 July 1943.
He also manipulates his wife
“He had a simple and lively style, great ingenuity and a zeal of passion and idealism in his work,” adds the MI5.
Recruited by the British, the double agent disembarks clandestinely in London in 1942. But this new life hardly appeals to his wife, Araceli, who on 21 June 1943 threatens to leave him and go to the embassy, Spain to reveal its activities to the Franco regime. Later, an agent of the MI5 discovers “sitting in his kitchen, the gas taps wide open”. Tomas Harris tells how Garbo is building a reputable plan to make his wife believe that the woman described him as “extremely emotional and neurotic”, that he was arrested because of his behavior in order to calm him down and Prevent it from starting again.
She was even taken to an interrogation camp to visit Garbo and apologize two days later, vowing never to “do anything that might compromise” her work. “The extraordinary ingenuity with which he designed and carried out this plan may have saved a situation that might otherwise prove unmanageable,” Harris said. After the war, the spy went to Angola, simulated his death and started a new life in Venezuela, where he died in 1988.