The Manston Spy

One of the most notorious German spies of the Second World War period landed in Harwich on 29th August 1935.  Dr. Hermann Görtz (anglicised as Goertz) was a swarthy, thick set man, his face adorned by two sabre scars on his left cheek as a result of a duel.

Dr Hermann Görtz at the time of his capture

He was born in the port city of Lubeck in northern Germany in 1890, from a family who traditionally became lawyers, and he was aiming to follow suit until the First World War interrupted his studies. Details are scant on his war service, but it is known that he fought on the Eastern Front against Russia, was wounded around Christmas 1914, and received the Iron Cross for valour. At some point during the war he joined the German Air Force, the predecessor of the Luftwaffe. He trained as a pilot and served as a recon officer, but he also showed a talent for “interrogation” (read: torture) of captured enemies, and he reached the rank of Captain as an interrogations officer by the end of the war although there is mention that he had not been properly employed by the German Intelligence Service, but was merely on probation, in the hopes of getting a job. It is suggested that he served alongside Hermann Göring, future founder of the Gestapo and head of the Luftwaffe. The most notable moment in Görtz’s first military career seems to have come after the Armistice – he was reputed to be responsible for persuading Göring not to burn the planes in his squadron before the enemy forces could impound them.

Hermann Görtz in uniform, date unknown

When the war ended, Görtz returned to civilian life. He married Ellen Aschenborn, the daughter of a retired German Admiral who had commanded Germany’s motor boat forces during the war and had three children. Goertz completed his studies in law, earning a doctorate in international law. This led him to travel abroad frequently. In 1927 he visited Ireland, and was enchanted by the beauty of the Irish countryside. This visit may have been prompted by an academic interest in the treaties and legal relationships forming between Ireland and Britain. At conferences in America, Görtz was known to discuss these matters with members of Clan na Gael, the American society that had acted as a major fundraiser to the IRA during the struggle for independence. They, of course, were strongly on the anti-Treaty side during the Irish Civil War, and Görtz doubtless had some sympathy. Like many Germans of the time, he also regarded the treaty that had ended his country’s war as a betrayal.

In time those feelings festered like poison in the country’s heart, until it gave birth to the historical horror of the Nazi movement. In 1935 the Nazis reintroduced conscription and Captain Görtz took up his old rank again.

Arrival in England

When he arrived in England, Görtz claimed his occupation in Germany was a lawyer/novelist and he had come on holiday from Hamburg to England to follow his hobbies of photography and sketching, but in an interview by the immigration officer he claimed that he was going to Cambridge to study export law cases.  Once in the country he toured around on a Zündapp motorcycle combination and he was soon joined by a pretty nineteen year old German girl, named Marianne Emig who he claimed was his niece and appears to have used the name of Elsa Sachs.

Marianne Emig and Hermann Görtz. Date unknown.

It was said that they toured the country, going between RAF airfields.  They would find accommodation nearby and then Görtz would pretend to be landscape painting and photographing the countryside, while Marianne would try to befriend RAF personnel to get information.  Their first target was RAF Mildenhall. They stayed at the Bull Inn in Barton Mills, and then, finding out about a local boarding house at the village post office they stayed at a house called ‘The Limes.’  They moved from there in September, 1935.

Dr Hermann Görtz’s Plan of RAF Stations in the South East

They arrived in Kent on 11th September 1935 and called in at an auctioneers acting as a house letting agent, Cockett Henderson. They arranged to view several houses and called on Mrs Florence Elizabeth Johnson, a widow, on 12th September at her bungalow called ‘Havelock’ at 6 Stanley Road, Broadstairs, Kent along with a young woman, who was introduced by Görtz as his niece.  The hired the house for six weeks from 14th September paying the rent in advance of £22.1.0d. They remained there until the 26th October while Görtz studied RAF Manston and other sites of interest.  Right from the start, they invited local interest because their German motor-cycle was very unusual, and their attire was said to be, “more akin to flying than cycle riding”. 

A young RAF airman by the name of Kenneth Lewis was at home in Broadstairs, on sixteen days leave from his base at Lee-on-Solent.  Lewis and Emig met when he broke down on his motorcycle on Crow Hill, Broadstairs on his last day of his leave.  Marianne saw him, noticed his air force uniform and stopped to help.  It was the sight of the very attractive Marianne Emig, riding by on her Zündapp motorcycle that attracted Kenneth Lewis, and Marianne, knowing that he was attracted to her, played along.

Marianne and Dr Görtz invited him around for tea at Havelock when Lewis was back at Broadstairs on a weekend leave, where the German couple spent most of the time chatting to Kenneth about the Royal Air Force.  Lewis said that he was surprised that they knew so much about the Royal Air Force, but he said that Marianne had told him, “You must remember, in the next war, England and Germany will be on the same side“.  Marianne told Lewis that she was very keen on aircraft, and that she was an amateur girl glider pilot back in Germany.  She pleaded with him to photograph RAF aircraft, and to send her any other photographs he could find of Air Force ‘Flying machines’ and aerial views of Lee-on-Solent.  She told him she would pay any expenses such as the cost of films and the development of photographs.  Lewis wrote to her from Lee-on-Solent, and sent her picture postcards of the things she wanted.  These she was very happy with, but she asked him to write to her using Air Force crested note-paper and envelopes.  She also made him promise to destroy any letters he received from her.

Miss Emig wrote to Lewis on 4th and 13th October.

Lewis wrote to Miss Emig on 5th October and on 10th/11th (TBC) October when he sent her a photo of himself. On 3rd November he sent four picture postcards, two of seaplanes, one of the Air Station, Lee-on-Solent and an old type ‘3D’ aerial view.

Photos of Marianne Emig, top two of which were dated July 1935

Görtz and Emig left the country in October and returned to Germany. Mrs. Florence Johnson, who owned the bungalow, went to ‘Havelock’ in the morning of Wednesday 24th October (sometimes referred to as 23rd) to find they were gone.  She noticed a full milk bottle on the doorstep and on investigation saw a Post Office notice in the letterbox.  Mrs. Johnson went to the Post Office after seeing a note at Havelock (she had use of the garden) and was given a telegram addressed to her from Dr. Görtz in Dover.  The telegram read:

‘TWO DAYS FOR GERMANY, BACK SATURDAY -- TAKE CARE OF MY COMBINATION AND PHOTO.’

Mrs Johnson informed Mr Porter, the chief clerk of Messrs Cockett Henderson.

Another message arrived the following day, this time a postcard, postmarked ‘Ostend’ but handed in at Dover in which Görtz said:

I had on account of news I received to hurry to Germany. I will be back on Saturday to deliver you your home, clean and in order. I left my cycle-combination behind the door of the little house.  Please take care of it.

Sincerely yours Hermann Görtz

Discovery

Görtz made a fundamental error when he sent his messages, not realizing that Mrs. Johnson would actually think that the ‘cycle combination’ he referred to was his Zündapp motorcycle combination (with sidecar) rather than his overalls that he had left hanging inside the outhouse as he meant.  Görtz had taken the motorcycle with him back to Germany, so when Mrs. Johnson went back to the bungalow she was very concerned to find it missing. 

As Görtz said on his postcard that he wanted to end his tenancy at Havelock and she couldn’t find the motorbike, Mrs. Johnson informed Mr Porter, the chief clerk of Messrs Cockett Henderson and told him of her suspicions that Görtz was a spy. Mr Porter reported the missing motorbike and suspicions about the couple to D.C. F.J. Smith, stationed at Broadstairs. The tenancy was to finish at midday and Mr Porter and Mrs Johnson were due to enter the house to check the inventory. Seemingly D.C. Smith accompanied them and also believed that Görtz was referring to a motorbike which was not found, but they found a cabin trunk, a suitcase, a lady’s suitcase and an attaché case in the front bedroom and a large number of papers (all written or typewritten in German) in a bureau in the drawing room along with a typewriter and a number of books. In the lodge at the rear of the house the found a boiler suit, in the pocket of which was a ‘small but efficient’ German camera and a RAF stick as carried by Air Force ratings. Mrs Johnson had found the boiler suit in the yard and had placed it in the lodge.

As Görtz was meant to be returning that day, D.C. Smith asked Mrs Johnson to notify him when he did so that he could be interview ostensibly in connection with his registration under the Aliens Order.

On 30th October, D.C. Smith was told by Mr Porter that a telegram had been received by Messrs Holness and Ovenden, Shipping Agents of High Street Broadstairs from Görtz in Berlin where he asked about a case which he had forwarded through Holness and Ovenden which he had not received.

D.C. Smith contacted Detective Sergeant Holmes of Special Branch, Metropolitan Police, Dover who later ascertained the case in question had been sent to Berlin and Görtz had taken his motorbike with him when they left Dover on 23rd September. However the case may never had reached Berlin or was perhaps delayed as there is a reference of the agents refusing to forward it until the carriage fees of £1.11.6d had been paid.

As it appeared they would not be returning for several days, D.C. Smith visited Havelock on the evening of 30th October and obtained a number of papers from the attaché case, which he showed to Mr Bradley of Alexander House, Broadstairs, presumably to help with translation. Nothing was found to show any evidence of subversive activities, but it was found that Görtz was an officer of the German Air Force Reserve.

Amongst the papers were several Ordnance maps of East Anglia, London and Home Counties, the Midlands and S.E. England; a book entitled “List of publications on Aeronautics published by H.M. Stationery Office; newspaper cutting relating to movements of warships and promotions and removals of personnel in the Royal Navy, H.M. Army and Royal Air Force; A number of picture postcards of Plymouth and district. D.C. Smith returned the papers to the house where he made a further search finding a quantity of paper that had been burnt in the drawing room fire grate, newspaper cuttings relating to sporting items. He also found a writing pad with a copy of a letter written by the young woman, to Aircraftsman Kenneth Lewis who was stationed at the School of Naval Co-operation, Royal Air Force, Lee-on-Solent. His mother, Mrs Lewis lived at St. Nicholas, Carlton Avenue nearby.

On 1st November D.C. Smith again visited the bungalow with P.C. Clayton and made a search of the suitcase (one of which Mrs Johnson had managed to open), finding a pencilled map of England and Wales, on which was marked out the RAF stations in the south east; Five German books on military manoeuvres; One German book on Aeronautics as applied to warfare; One German book relating to range finding instruments; One German book relating to Meteorological work; Large scale Ordnance maps of South East England and parts of Germany; a large number of files and papers practically all written or typewritten in German. There was also a number of letters sent to Görtz since he had left. As he found the map, took it and spoke to Superintendent Webb about the result of his enquiries.

On 2nd November, D.C. Smith again visited Stanley Road in the company of Mr Robertson of M.I.5. making another search. The forced open the cabin trunk which was locked. Along with a quantity of lady’s and gent’s clothing, they found: a book entitled “The Air Pilot”; Exercise book containing a sketch of plan of Manston RAF camp and newspaper cuttings; RAF Diary; RAF List, dated September 1935; book entitled “Aeronautics”. All but “The Air Pilot” were in a brown paper bag marked “Epworths, Broadstairs” which was hidden under the top tray of the trunk. Mr Robertson took charge of a number of the finds and Mrs Johnson was persuaded to let D.C. Smith take charge of all the property left behind. The film in the camera was developed by the Police but no images of any use were found according to D.C. Smith but other reports suggest the film in the camera was processed to reveal photographs of airfields and RAF aircraft. Mr Robertson would report that Mrs Johnson, whose late husband was Publicity Manager/Entertainments Manager for Broadstairs until his death some months ago, had fallen on “evil times” and had to let out the bungalow to supplement her income and that she was “a definitely highly-strung person”, but that D.C. Smith had the greatest confidence in her. Mr Robertson was convinced it was a case of espionage.

On 4th November Aircraftsman Lewis wrote to his mother explaining of what he considered to be two love interests, one being Miss Emig and where she asked him to send her photos of aeroplanes the camp and wants to know all about Manston when she arrived back.

Dear Mother,

Many thanks for your letter I received today. I can now see by your letter that my last one must have gone astray. I have found out that my flight which is ‘B’ Flight is going overseas to Egypt. I was going, and today was issued with tropical kit, sun hat, etc., but late this afternoon a wire came through from a place called R.A.F. Records that I was required to make up a class of Fabric workers at Manston. This means that I will be posted next Monday at Manston. As I hope to get a weekend before I go, I will come up and see you before Monday. I had a surprise today today by getting a letter from Elsie Day. She says that she has passed all her exams and wants to go out with me. She says in her letter she is quite prepared to pay her way in going 50-50. She says she is looking forward to seeing me at Xmas. Her letter is so sincere and sends regards for me I do not know what to do. I am between two fires at present as my German friend has written to me in a very nice way. She says that on coming to England she is quite prepared to take me on holiday in Germany at her own expense if I will go. This is at Xmas. I cant figure it out as before she comes to England she is going to Paris for three days. Last week she was in Berlin. At the end of the week she will stay in Hamburg for ten days. Surely this kind of travelling must be very expensive. I have explained I am only an Aircraftsman but she does not mind as she says in her last letter that her relations with me will be more than be repaid for herself. At her request I am sending her tons of photographs of aeroplanes and the Camp as she is interested in Aviation. She wants to know all about Manston when I get there and to save the expense she has offered to pay for the photographs. You can see that I am between two fires now but I expect you are pleased I am coming home as I am very interested in my new job; as it covers work with parachutes as a sideline. Could you get me a book by John TRANUM the Parachute expert, at Lanes. There is one thing my friend Marianne has impressed that any time I am short of money I have only to let her known and she will forward. She has got this idea as I told her in my last letter I could not possibly afford to stay with her in Germany or England. I do not think Mr. Reside looks a bit like the Duke. I expect he will copy his dress as he used to wear suits like the Prince of Wales.

Fondest Love from Ken,

Transcript of Aircraftsman Lewis’ letter to his mother, 4th November 1935. National Archives KV 2/1319
Transcript of Aircraftsman Lewis’ letter to his mother, 4th November 1935. National Archives KV 2/1319

On 5th November, Major H.E. Hinchley Cooke of M.I.5. attended Broadstairs Police Station and handed D.C. Smith the papers for identification which he took back and also took the camera film.

On 6th November, D.C. Smith attended M.I.5. and handed over the suit case and papers, the attaché case, file containing papers and all loose papers in the house including the letters to Major Hinchley Cooke.

Mrs Johnson informed D.C. Smith that in the afternoon of the 6th November, Mrs Lewis, the mother of Aircraftsman Lewis called at the house and demanded the return of her son’s letter by shouting through the letterbox. Mrs Johnson let her into the house although she had been asked not to answer the door to any callers. Mrs Johnson told Mrs Lewis that the Police were making enquiries regarding Görtz and Miss Emig to which Mrs Lewis accused her of introducing her son to the girl which she strenuously denied. Mrs Lewis told here that her son had sent photographs and instructions of aeroplanes to the girl and had bought these from other Air Force men in the canteen at RAF Lee-on-Solent. Her son had said he was going to marry the girl who was returning to England and taking a flat near Olympia. Mrs Lewis said that her son was not going to be mixed up in anything that would affect his job in the Air Force and would be asking ‘Major Fenn to help – Flight Lieut. Charles Fenn RAF (Retired) lived at “The Breezes”, Seaview Road, Broadstairs (very close to Stanley Road) and was a civilian instructor at the School of Technical Training, Manston. D.C. Smith thought it peculiar that Mrs Johnson was so insistent about the introduction of the girl and Lewis and for his future. It becomes clear later that Mrs Lewis would receive money from London newspapers for information on the case whereas Mrs Johnson and Mr Porter declined several “tempting” offers, so were later paid five guineas and three guineas respectively via D.C.Smith – Mrs Johnson had tried to claim a week’s rent and dilapidations from Görtz’s solicitors.

A order to ‘detain, open and produce for my inspection’ was made for any foreign letters sent to Aircraftsman Lewis as he was “known to be in touch with an agent of a foreign intelligence organisation operating in the U.K.”.

On 7th November, D.C. Smith again visited ‘Havelock’ where Mrs Johnson had found a quantity of newspapers in a linen cupboard, with a number of items relating to the RAF had been cut out of The Times and Daily Telegraph. As a result of Lewis’ letter to his mother, the arrest of Miss Emig was considered justified so instructions to do so were given. It was also considered that Lewis should be interrogated at the ‘earliest possible moment’. Squadron Leader Stammers and Major H.Cooke left for Lee-on-Solent to do so.

It was also ascertained that Görtz and Emig knew Kenneth Lewis and that Emig had been writing to him and he had sent her several photographs of aircraft.

Dr Hermann Görtz’s Plan of RAF Manston. National Archives KV 2/1319

Notes at bottom of the above plan:

a a a a a aAeroplane hangars
bHeadquarters and buildings of Sq.500
cSmall living houses
dAeroplane hanger, not used as hangar.
eHeadquarters of Station, Sq.2 No.3 T.T.School (Technical Training School) and buildings.
fStores, equipment buildings for No.3 T.T.School, No.2 Sq. (Cooperations Sq.) No.500 (Bombers), base for Sq.822 (Fleet Spotter Reconnaissance), Carrier Furious.
gPetrol Store

On 7th November, Aircraftsman Kenneth Lewis was interviewed at RAF Lee-on-Solent by Squadron Leader Stammers and Flight Lieutenant Richdale, then a statement was taken from him.

We saw A.C.II LEWIS, Kenneth.

Sq. Leader Stammers explained to LEWIS the object of our visit and having cautioned him asked him whether he was prepared to make a statement. LEWIS replied that the whole thing had come to him as a great shock, but that he was perfectly prepared to tell us all he knew.

The attached statement was then taken down on a typwriter (sic) in quintuplicate by Flight Lt. Richdale It was read to and read over by LEWIS, who declared it to be correct and was signed by him on all five copies.

Sq. Leader Stammers and Flight Lt. RICHDALE retained on carbon copy each, the remaining three copies I brought away with me, together with two letters written by EMIG to LEWIS, a photograph of EMIG on a motor bicycle and a sheet of notepaper containing a Berlin address.

LEWIS was cautioned not to mention a word about our interview to anyone. Sq. Leader Stammers made arrangements to have LEWIS moved there and then from Lee-on-Solent to Halton, where there are better facilities for supervision,

LEWIS said he was quote prepared to assist in any way he could and if necessary to write letters to EMIG under our intructions (sic), until she returns to this country.

Statement made by 518061 A.C.2. LEWIS. K.

in the presence of Major W.E. HINCHLEY COOKE, O.B.E., Squadron Leader F.G. STAMMERS, O.B.E., and Flight Lieut. C.R. RICHDALE. at Headquarters, R.A.F. Lee-on-Solent. on Thursday 7.11.35.

I am making this statement quite voluntarily and of my own free will after having been cautioned that anything I may say may be taken down in writing and may be given or used in evidence later.

I was born on the 12th January, 1914, at Tilbury in Essex. My father is Dr. John Herbert Stephen LEWIS, a heart specialist now practising in Harley Street, London. I have not seen my father for five years, the last time being when he came to Broadstairs to arrange for me to learn golf. My mother, Josephine Lewis nee BECKER, divorced my father about eight or nine years ago, she being given the custody of my sister and myself. My sister’s name is Eileen Anne LEWIS, she was born on the 25th January, 1913.

I went on leave from Lee-on-Solent to Broadstairs about the end of September, 1935 travelling on my motor cycle, a Wolf, m/cycle, I had sixteen days leave.

After I had been home about a week, on one Saturday morning, I was riding my cycle at the bottom of Crow Hill when I had ignition trouble. I was wearing R.A.F. uniform at the time. While I was attending to my bike I was concious (sic) of the presence of another motor cycle, I looked up and I saw a girl whom I now know by the name of Marianne EMIG. She was dressed in canary coloured breeches and riding boots, brown ones, a white helmet and zip fastened golf jacket of a light brown colour. She spoke to me in very good English with the trace of a foreign accent. She asked me if she could help me. After some conversation about the motor cycle she said “I have seen you before, you live at the top of Carlton Avenue”. She told me where she lived at Havelock Bungalow. I had to push my motor cycle up the hill and although her engine was going she also pushed her machine up the hill by my side. I told her to get on her machine and ride on but she insisted in pushing it. I was unable to get my machine to go and had to push it home but she walked the whole way home with me. At her gate she suggested that I should meet her again on the following evening (Sunday), I agreed to this.

I met her by appointment the following evening as arranged by the Clock Tower on the Front at Broadstairs. We went for a walk, I was in mufti and she was in ordinary female attire. The conversation about motor cycles. I met her at eight o’clock when it was dark. I saw her very nearly every day but always in the evening and after dark. During that week she did not mention Air Force matters at all. She asked me how long I should be at Lee and I told her that I was being transferred to Manston, this conversation took place when I had gone to Broadstairs for a week-end, about a fortnight later. I arrived late on the Friday night and by appointment went to team with Marianne arriving at the house at five. A man who I was given to understand was her uncle met me at the door, he was very friendly and very gushing. We sat down and started tea, within ten minutes he was talking freely about the German Air Force and his experience as a German war pilot working the conversation round to the Royal Air Force. He told me that they had wireless controlled airplanes in Germany similar to our Queen Bee. He himself mentioned the name Queen Bee. During the conversation Miss EMIG told me that they had been out in a motor boat on the Solent from the Isle of Wight, while they were staying at Ryde and had watched the flying boats. It was during this conversation at tea time that she first mentioned Manston, showing great interest in the Station. I was rather amazed at her knowledge of the Stations, for instance she told me that there were underground hangars there, this I did not know myself and thought that it was rather a fantastic story. She knew all about Manston, the Squadrons which were stationed there, the fact that 500 was an Auxiliary Squadron, and that Drivers Petrol were trained there. She rather sneered at the Vickers Virginia which she called large night bombers, she thought that they were very slow and had too big a wing surface. It was during this conversation that she told me that she was a girl glider pilot in Germany, and she was much interested in aviation. During the talk she asked me whether I could get another fourteen days leave and go over with her to Hamburg. I told her that I could not afford it and moreover that I should have to mind my ‘p’s and ‘q’s over there on account of present conditions in Germany. She said possibly she could help me financially and that she would speak more about that on her return from Germany next time. She then went on to talk about the Countess and girls employed in the German War Office who had been executed for spying, saying that they thoroughly deserved their fate. She made me feel very much happier about Germany and said “You must remember that in the next war Germany and England will be on the same side”. During the conversations she mentioned Hawkinge, Pembroke Dock, Old Sarum, that there was a machine gun section at Eastchurch and that Hendon was a very small station except for the Display. She seemed to have made a study of Calshot but from what she said I think she had got the Station mixed with Lee. She seemed particularly interested in Calshot and she knew that the planes flew out to cooperate with the fleet. We made arrangements that we should write to each other and she suggested that I should always write on R.A.F. paper and see that the envelope had a R.A.F. crest on the back. She then told me that I should destroy any letters that I might get from her. She said that what-even happened she would come back to England for the motor cycle show at Olympia. She gave me the impression that they were due to go back to German any day and that they kept putting off the date of departure. She said that her uncle had some very important work do to.

In one of the letters she sent me from Berlin she asked me to supply her with photographs of R.A.F. machines. I went into Lee to get some photographs and I bought three picture post cards of R.A.F. machines which were on sale in one of the shops. She also asked me for an aerial photograph of the R.A.F. station at Lee-on-Solent, I managed to get one from the shop but it was not a good one. She said in the letter that she was willing to pay for the films and developing of any amateur photographs which I could get of machines.

I have since destroyed her letter. The only two letters which I have kept are dated October 4th 1935 and October 13th. I have also kept two post cards which I have sent to my Mother. I was particularly struck by the tone of the letter dated Oct.4th, as it made it appear that I was accosting her instead of as it actually was she having accosted me. It made me very anxious to meet her to find out what she meant. In her last letter which I received on Monday the 4th November and which was posted in Berlin, Miss EMIG seemed keener than ever on my writing to her.

I have read this statement over and it is correct.

sd. K.Lewis
Lee-on-Solent

7.11.1935

Statement by Kenneth Lewis, 7th November 1935. National Archives KV 2/1319

A warrant for Dr. Görtz with that for Marianne Emig added later on 7th November was issued, and when Görtz arrived in Harwich on the ferry on 8th November 1935, he was arrested and taken to Brixton Prison. On 9th November at 9.30am Görtz made a statement at Broadstairs Police Station. At noon he was placed before the Margate Cinque Ports Occasional Court, held at the Broadstairs Police Station, and was charged with Offences against the Official Secrets Act and remanded in custody until the 18th November. He was returned to Brixton Prison.

I Dr. Hermann GORTZ residing at 74, Hornerweg, Hamburg, Germany, do hereby declare that the following caution was administered to me at Broadstairs on 9th November, 1935, by Supt.H.R.Webb.

Do you wish to say anything in answer to the charge? You are not obliged to say anything unless you wish to do so, but whatever you say will be taken down in writing may be given in evidence.

After hearing such caution and fully understanding the terms thereof, I make the following verbal statement:

I don’t think that I hurt in any way the law. In any case I did not intend to offend the hospitality I enjoy in England. These are the facts.

I came over from Germany I think on the 19th. July, 1935, via Southampton. I intended to get some stuff for a greater novel. This novel should play in East Anglia and in the German county Anglia (Schleswig-Holstein). I intended to describe two families connected by origin and later by marriages. The mutual understanding between these two families was spoilt by the Great War, nearly all the members were killed but the younger generation found their way to each other but again on the political horizon, the danger of a new European War is arising and throws a shadow on the new connected family.

After having made holidays for a month in Freshwater (Isle of Wight) Slepton in Devon (near Dartmouth), Lauceston in Cornwall, I went on my motor bicycle accompanied by Miss Marianne Emig, to Suffolk. I intended to go to some place near Great Yarmouth near the sea but when we stopped at Barton Mill between Cambridge and Thretford in an old distinguished Inn (The Bull Inn), we found we were so comfortable that we decided to stay there for a longer period and to take up our work, that is to say to get a general and historical impression of East Anglia. For a long stay the Bull Inn was too expensive and we found out near Barton Mill in Mildenhall, a very nice Guest House, the owner of which was Mr. Lewis. We were living there quite alone when I had fixed the terms for some weeks I went for some days to Germany to arrange that I should be provided with money for a longer stay. I succeded in getting permission to provide me with sufficient means to the end of the year. On the 29th August, 1935, I returned to Mr.Lewis’ Guest House. During the time I was away Miss Marrianne Emig stayed alone.

We cycled together through the country and visited the remarkable places such as Ely, Kings Lynn, Norwich, Bury, St.Endmunds and so on. In Mildenhall we saw the Aerodrome there being constructed. As I was a War aviator and am still piloting for sport and therefore am strongly interested in aviation, I was interested in the construction of the Aerodrome and I regretted that there were no aircraft there during my stay.

One day on the way to Ely I passed by chance another Aerodrome being constructed (just started). It is the Aerodrome of Feltwell. A few days later I read in the ‘Morning Post’ the names of the new Aerodromes being in construction or soon to be constructed and of the enlargement of the Royal Air Force.

I found out that the greater part of these new Airports was lying in East Anglia, Norfolk, Suffolk and Lincoln and so I saw that my idea of the story in my novel was reality.

This interested me so deeply that I went to some of the Airports given in the newspapers and in my understanding I saw a new Air-front against Germany and I remembered some words of the last British War Minister, Lord Hailsham, that the British Frontier is on the Rhine. This impressed me deeply.

In connection with my novel I now intended to collect stuff for a popular essay about the enlargement of the British Air Force, especially in view of the new Eastern Airports. In the Guest House of Mr.Lewis I had seen one day the Royal Air Force List. One day when I went to London and later on to Hatfield to see the King’s Cup Race, I went to the book-stall of the Air Ministry, Kingsway, the address of this book-stall was printed on the Air Force List I saw in the Guest House. In the stall I asked if I was allowed as a foreigner to buy the Air Force List and I gave them my full name and address. The man in charge told me that everybody could but it and he offered to send me the monthly supplements. As I had never seen such a kind of book and I as I found out that we in Germany lack such a publication, I bought this book and the Air Force List and he gave me a list of the official publications. This story can be proved by the man who sold me the books. In this book was a sketch of every Royal Air port and was followed by a description.

I returned to Mildenhall and continued my work on the novel and in my leisure time and during good weather I motor cycled to different Air ports named in the List which were not far from Mildenhall, such as Bircham Newton, Duxford near Cambridge and Norwich.

I must say I only had a look at the Aerodromes from the public roads. I saw the difference between the old Aerodromes and the new Aerodrome being constructed at Mildenhall and I saw also the collected experience since the old ones were constructed.

In the middle of September I had finished my work on my novel which I intended to do in East Anglia, but firstly I intended to go to a suburb of London to continue my historical researches in the big libraries, but as the weather was exceptionally fair in September and as it was not urgent for me to go to work immediately in the library on my novel because I could go already into the story itself. I decided to stay another month in the country near to the Sea. I tried to find out a nice place and drove from Folkestone to Westgate and decided to stop at Broadstairs as Folkestone was too big.

I took a furnished house known as ‘Havelock’, Stanley Road, Broadstairs, as I was sick of boarding houses. There I lived until the 23rd October, 1935, I think. I had hired the until October 25th but as I had sudden difficulties of the transfer of money from Germany to England, I had to go to Germany immediately as I was short of ready money and I knew that it was impossible to get money sent. I was willing to return at ones to Broadstairs to delivery the bungalow and go to a suburb of London, such as Richmond.

During my stay at Broadstairs I visited also the Royal Air Force Camp at Manston. I saw that this Air port was a very old one and a little out of date. I saw especially here the developments from the old Air ports built during the War time and the new one I had seen at Mildenhall. My idea was to explain in my essay the tremendous development that had taken place in Aerodrome construction since the War time and one day I rode to Manston. At the time flying exercises were taking place. I rode across the Aerodrome by the public road and stopped at the cross-roads where the bus shelter is and looked around and I intended to make some sketch of the Aerodrome to be able to describe my ideas about development. Before doing that I read the Bye-laws of the Aerodrome shown there. There was nothing written that it was forbidden to stay on the Aerodrome or to make notes or sketches. As a foreigner I was never-the-less uncertain and I went to an airman on duty on the fire car and asked whether I was allowed to stay here to watch the flying and to make some notes, I added I ask because I am a German and he answered, I could stay and do what I liked on the public road and so I made quite open a sketch of the Aerodrome which I improved when I got home. During the sketching, Airmen were passing by and may have looked at me, I didn’t hide anything.

During my stay at Broadstairs, I visited other Aerodromes such as Hawkinge and Eastchurch, always in the same way by driving on the public roads. In Eastchurch I came unwittingly on Royal Air Force ground. An Airman told me that I was on forbidden ground and I apologised.

Referring to the book ‘The Air Pilot’ I hoped to get a similar one published in Germany with the help of my club.

One day Miss Emig got a letter addressed ‘Miss Sindapp’ from a certain Kenneth Lewis. We both didn’t know this young man and he said in the letter than he was admiring Miss Emig for the smart riding and that he was interested in motor cycles and he asked in a very polite form and asked if he could see her with my permission, or get in correspondence with her. Miss Emig showed me this letter and I was very glad she had found a young man with whom she could talk and write English, as she was trying to learn this language. Miss Emig invited him to tea when he was on leave in Broadstairs. He told us he was an Airman on duty at the Aerodrome at Lee-on-Solent. One Saturday he came in for tea and we had a talk. He asked if he was allowed to continue the correspondence and as Miss Emig intended to go to Germany for some time, she gave him her address.

He asked her if he could send some photographs and did so. These are the photographs which were found in my possession.

The notes on my novel I took to Germany to talk with the publisher. During my stay I completed another short novel and that is with my papers, it is called ‘Giacinda’ and I worked over a drama which is also amongst me papers. There may be another novel amongst the papers I left at ‘Havelock’.

I, Hermann GORTZ, do hereby declare that the above statement has been read to me and that I fully understand the same. In token thereof I hereby subscribe my name.

(Signed) H.Gortz.

The above statement was written down by me at the request of the said Hermann GORTZ this 9th. day of November, 1935 and he afterwards signed it in my presence.

(Signed) F.J.Smith, D.C. 218, 11.40am
Witness (Signed) H.R.Webb, Supt.

Statement made by Dr.Hermann GORTZ at Broadstairs Police Station on 9th November 1935. National Archives KV 2/1319.

On 12th November 1935, Aircraftsman Kenneth Lewis was interviewed at the Air Ministry in the presence of Major W.E. Hinchley Cooke CBE and Flight Lieut. C.R. Richdale. He was requested to continue to write to Miss Emig. They asked him to ask her to send a photograph of herself and let him know when she proposed to come back to England and to let him know the address to which she proposed to go so they could fix up a joint visit to the motor-cycle show.

Marianne Emig did not return to England. On 18th November Görtz was transported from Brixton to Court in Margate at the Town Hall. He was remanded in custody to appear again on the 26th November 1935 at Margate, detained and sent for trial at the Old Bailey.

Charges brought against Görtz on 18th November 1935. National Archives KV 2/1319

In a statement made by Görtz on 18th November at Margate Police Station, under caution, he amended his initial statement. In part of this, he stated the following regarding his visit to Manston:

I said in my statement that I asked for permission on the Manston Aerodrome to make some notes. I like to give in this point some more details. To the best of my recollection it was in the beginning of October one afternoon about two o’clock when I arrived with Miss Marianne EMIG with my motor bike at the aerodrome. In the morning we had been at Westgate and Margate for pleasure and were driving through the Aerodrome. We saw there some flying. There were two or three of the smaller machines on the Aerodrome, they were starting and landing. The hangar which is situated near the cross-roads was open. When we reached the cross-roads, one or two machines were just brought into this hangar. There was only one machine in the air. As this machine was strongly banking I was fond of watching it. At the same time I had the idea to get the impression of the whole Aerodrome and its buildings. I have already explained in my first statement that I thought this Aerodrome was an example of an Aerodrome built up without general idea of planning for the future. Having watched for a while the flying I felt a little uneasy as some Airmen were looking at me and Miss EMIG, so I went with her to the Airmen on duty on the fire car and I said, according to the best of my recollection, “I am German” or “I am an foreigner”, “Am I allowed to stay here and watch the flying”. The Airmen answered (I cannot recollect the exact words) “Stay on the road” and then I asked again, “I am a sort of journalist, may I make some notes” and he answered in the sense that on the road I could do what I liked. After this answer I went back to my bicycle on the road and made a provisional sketch. Whilst I was doing this the last plane came down, run to the hangar and the pilot stepped out. It was an Officer according to my recollection, a tall blonde man, he might have been a little over 20, he had one ring on his sleeve and long trousers. He went I think to a building which looked liked the Mess and on his way he came very near to me. He was followed by an Airman carrying his flying combination. He looked at Miss Emig and me and I am convinced that he saw that I was drawing. He said nothing and passed by.

My recollection of the Airman I cannot remember, he had one or two stripes.

I hope this description will help me to find out the two gentlemen who saw me drawing and I am convinced they will help me if they remember.

A few days after having made the sketch, I improved it at home as I have already said in my first statement, the idea was that I intended to talk over with my publisher of the essay whether it should be good or useful to bring this sketch as an example of the Aerodromes build in the War time. It was quite easy for me to improve this sketch, as I had in the book called, “The Air Pilot”, a sketch of the exact situation and boundaries of the Air Port. I might mention that I did not pay attention to many details.

I am convinced that I could get better details of the situation of the Aerodrome without making any sketch. I saw in London by chance in a stationer’s shop, a map on which the Aerodrome at Hendon was shown and according to my recollection I saw many details of the Aerodrome on the map. As I was not interested I did not compare it with reality. It was a larger Ordinance map on a large scale, the scale must have been between 1/100,000 and 1/25,000 (this would be the measurements in Germany).

One day I asked in Broadstairs and Ramsgate for such a map, but I could not get one. I didn’t want it especially for the situation of the Aerodrome but only as I like to have a good map.

Extract from National Archives KV 2/1319

It is clear from that Marianne Emig was writing to Görtz when he was in prison. One letter of 30th November 1935 suggested her copies of the letters from Lewis would contradict Lewis’ statements. She also writes that Görtz’s motorcyle needed very expensive repairs.

I still have two letters of Lewis. These letters will put right all questions. One letter I showed already to english newspaperman. They were rather astonished to read the contrary of Lewis’ statement. I sent already a letter to the German embassy in London enclosed attested copies of these Lewis’s letters and asked them to give these letters to your defendant Mr Cairns. I enclose also copies for your (Lewis’s first letter).

Marianne also wrote to Lewis including one on 25th November 1935 noting that she was surprised to see Görtz had been arrested and asking if Lewis could help the situation. We hope to be able to analyse these letters in the future.

In a letter dated 6th December 1935, in National Archive’s KV/2/1319 addressed to the Director of Public Prosecution (Sir Edward Tindal Atkinson KCB, CBE), a currently unknown writer raises significant concerns over the evidence given by Aircraftsman Lewis.

The Trial

His trial began at the Central Criminal Court on 4th March 1936, before Mr. Justice Greaves-Lord.  Görtz was defended by Mr Reginald Powell Croom-Johnson, King’s Counsel and Member of Parliament for Bridgwater in West Somerset. The charges were feloniously making a sketch, plan or note of the Manston Royal Air Force Station, calculated to be useful to an enemy, with a further indictment against the defendant of conspiring with Marianne Emig and others unknown in making a sketch, plan, or note of Manston Royal Air Force Station.  Dr Görtz pleaded ‘Not Guilty’ to these charges.  He described how he had come to Britain between 1929-1931 in his professional capacity as a lawyer, to fight the lawsuit for Messrs Siemens against the British Government. Siemens lost the case, and he told how he had to fight for his remuneration on returning to Hamburg. The company refused to re-engage him, and also denied him his fee of £7,500, a small fortune in those days, as he had been unsuccessful in winning the suit. He was left almost penniless. His creditors in Hamburg began to press him for £500 that he owed them, and so he came to England to write a novel to earn money. Whilst collecting material for the novel, which would be based in East Anglia (Britain) and Schleswig-Holstein (in Anglia, Germany), he stayed near Mildenhall. He said he stayed in the Mildenhall area and was very impressed by the number of new aerodromes that were being built.  It was then he decided to write a book entitled “The Enlargement of the British Air Force” and that was the reason for his interest in R.A.F. bases and aircraft.  Görtz said that he was a war aviator and was still piloting for sport, and was strongly interested in aviation.  However, he claimed that he didn’t know Aircraftsman Lewis, and certainly did not ask Lewis to write to him. 

After reading reports linking them to Görtz, Siemens wrote denying any association with him.

Copy of letter from Siemens. National Archives KV 2/1319

The prosecution however, told the magistrate that a letter in Görtz’s trunk was an application for work with the German Air Ministry.  It explained that Görtz had worked as an Air Intelligence and Interrogation Officer in 1918, interrogating allied prisoners.  He told the German Air Ministry that he was particularly suitable for employment in the Intelligence Service, saying that “I was successful in my methods of interrogation … There was hardly an aviator from whom I was unable to get more or less important statements … I am even now in contact with military aviators on the Active List“.  In fact, a copy of the ‘Royal Air Force Active List’ had been found in Görtz’s possession upon his arrest.  The German Air Ministry rejected Görtz’s application and so he decided to go to Britain on his own account to study the Royal Air Force, and later using what he had discovered to make a new application with the Air Ministry.  Backing up this idea were phrases Görtz had used in letters to his wife back in Germany, “We are writing a big report – much depends on it.”  and “I should like to place myself at the disposal of the SS.  I should like to show that they were wrong in refusing me.

The MI5’s director, Guy Liddell, linked Dr Görtz with Paul Rykens, the Dutch Chairman of Unilever.  Liddell said that his association with Görtz had put Rykens in an unfavourable light, and that he had asked the Foreign Office for their files.  Rykens had been in contact with the Abwehr chief, Admiral Canaris, and it may be that Görtz had a message from the Abwehr for Rykens.

Prosecution counsel produced Dr. Görtz’s diary which he said contained a number of entries which were some of the RAF Stations that Görtz visited; Mildenhall, Duxford, Hunstanton, Hatfield, and Martlesham.  He also told the Jury that Görtz had the address of the Nazi Organisation in London in the back of the book.

Daily Sketch – 17th November 1935

The hearing by this time attracted national headlines as Görtz was the first spy to be tried in Britain since the First World War, and was referred to the Old Bailey in March 1936. The trial lasted from 4th to 9th March. The Jury decided that Görtz had committed offences against the Official Secrets Act, regardless of whether he had been ordered to do so, or had done it on his own initiative. It took under an hour for the Jury to find Herman Görtz guilty on both indictments on 9th March 1936, and he was sentenced to four years penal servitude, one year of which was down to pleading not guilty, which he served in Maidstone Prison.

His accomplice in this action, Marianne Emig, had stayed in Germany to see her family and never returned to England to face charges.  It is thought that she refused to return to give evidence at Görtz’s trial in case she was also arrested.  An order was made on 14th March to prevent her from entering the country.

It seems that no charges were brought against AC2 Kenneth Lewis (No. 518061), but he was invalided out of the service on 27th March 1936 after having been found unfit for further service. He had attended the trial with his head swathed in bandages, having been operated on for mastoid glands.

Aircraftman Kenneth Lewis taken at a Cafe during the luncheon interval in the trial at The Old Bailey on 4th March 1936. This photo was listed on eBay in April 2024, however the seller decided to use our article in its entirety to help sell the photo, without seeking or gaining our permission, nor adding any credit to the site.

There is an refuted allegation mentioned from authorities in Jersey that he had been apprehended for selling photographs of military importance while serving with the RAF and had been dismissed, but in a letter to the Chief Constable of Kent, Colonel Sir Vernon Kell (co-founder and first Director of the Security Service) reported that:

“Kenneth LEWIS was a witness for the prosecution in R. v. GOERTZ and there was no suggestion at any time that he was in any way implicated, being regarded as rather more a fool than a knave.”

From a letter to the Chief Constable of Kent, Colonel Sir Vernon Kell, dated 1st June 1939. National Archives KV 2/1321

It seems Lewis may have been plying the occupation of itinerant photographer and authorities in Jersey were concerned about his possible past. It was also reported that he had been approached by a pro-Soviet Norwegian. Although it was considered that his handwriting was identical, the authorities thought his photo suggested this might be a different person. He was dismissed as not being of interest to bring in for questioning.

On 26th April 1936 an article in “The People” detailed that Görtz expected to be freed soon in exchange for a British espionage prisoner. Belin denied any negotiations.

Mrs Johnson would appear to have spoken to to the Daily Express a year into Görtz’s sentence, despite her previous avoidance of discussing with the press, with their article suggesting Görtz did not realise that his arrest was a result of a misunderstanding of his telegram to her.

Written on 31st May 1947 a letter that appears to be from Captain M.O.L Lynton at the Schleswig-Holstein Intelligence Office in Kiel, brings together details of Marianne Emig’s activities.

Dear Russell

Reference to our telephone conversation this morning, herewith very briefly the facts of the case Marianne Emig as far as we have collated them.

On Thursday May 29 we were approached by Mallotte of PRISC informing us that one of his former employees at ICU Hannover had reported to him with a request to see Keith on a matter of some urgency. It appeared that this young Lady had seen a copy of the “Daily Mail” of Saturday May 24 which carried pictures of Doktor Goertz, a German spy about to be extradited and who had just committed suicide, and of herself, described as his assistant in espionage activities and as being looked for by the British Authorities. Thereupon it appears that she got in touch with Major Conn of RIS Hannover whom she had known when working in that area, and he in turn had referred her to Peter Ramsbotham, since at present she is living in Hamburg. Peter Ramsbotham being on leave, she had come up to see Keith whose name she had been given by Conn as an alternative. I thereupon interrogated her and this, briefly, is her Lebenslauf.

Both 4 July 1916 in Mainz, she completed high school there and together with her parents moved to Hamburg in 1934; her address in Hamburg still is Besenbinderhof 47. In January 1934 she found employment with Doktor Goertz in Hamburg, who at that time was established as a lawyer specialising in litigation cases entailing American and British law. The offices were situated at Rathausstrasse 29, and she acted as his secretary until June 1935. The main case throughout that time appears to have been a litigation case between the British branch of Siemens an the American firm of Protos. According to her story, Goertz was defrauded by his partner of the fees payable by Siemens and brought to the brink of financial ruin, to the point where in June 1935 he decided to relinquish his legal practice, which he turned over to one Doktor Roehl, and decided to revert to writing, in which field he appears to have made a name for himself in Germany. Emig claims that in order to collect material for a book dealing with Anglo-German relations, Goertz decided to travel to England, and offered to take her along as his Secretary. It did not seem clear from her initial statements how Goertz intended to carry this trip through financially, and Emig at first alleged that he intended to live from hand to mouth by his writing while in England; nor was it very clear in her subsequent tale of their English travels why the necessity for a full-time secretary should exist. It appears that Emig’s parents were quite naturally opposed to the scheme, but that she talked them into it and left for England with Goertz in July 1935. For the next month they travelled extensively in a motor cycle combination, touching the Isle of Wight, Devon, Cornwall, Oxford, Cambridge, Mildenhall, Manton (sic), etc., almost always within striking distance of R.A.F. installations. She had mentioned previously that Goertz, a last war flyer, was still and aviation enthusiast and displayed great, though allegedly innocuous, interest in flying generally. At the end of July Goertz, returned to Germany for a fortnight, during which time Emig ‘swanned’ about on her motor cycle on her own, and inter alia made the acquaintance of a young R.A.F. Pilot, one Kenneth Lewis, who later became a star witness in the trial against Goertz. According to Emig, her relations with Lewis were entirely innocuous and entirely engineered by the latter. She appears a little diffident about her relationship with Goertz, but there seems to be very little doubt about that. Altogether throughout the interrogation she stressed the angle of a “youthful and foolish prank” on her part which she now regretted. During Goertz’ absence in Germany she lived on money left to her by him. On his return the pair went to London and from there to Broadstairs where they lived as a married couple at a bungalow belonging to one Mrs. Johnson until the end of October 1935. Throughout this this time Goertz did little writing and apparently took numerous photographs of landscapes etc., Emig is emphatic that she never saw or wrote anything on his behalf which could give rise to suspicion, and seemed very determined to make Goertz appear as a temperamental and somewhat scatter-brained literary dilettante.

In October 1935 Goertz again return (sic) to Germany and at her request took her along, since her parents were apparently getting somewhat anxious about her prolonged absence. Goertz returned to England after a weeks’ stay in Germany while Emig remained with her parents waiting Goertz’ instructions to rejoin him. Instead of this she got a letter from Wormwood Scrubs informing her that Goertz had been arrested on arrival at Harwich on suspicion of espionage and instructing her to remain in Germany for the time being. Emig stayed in Hamburg and was repeatedly interviewed by correspondents of the “Daily Express”, “Daily Mail”, Reuters, etc, who were looking for ‘copy’ pending the approaching trial of Goertz. Emig claims that for the next weeks and months she attempted to gather evidence on Goertz’ behalf that his activities in England had been entirely innocuous. In March 1936 Goertz was tried and was condemned to four years penal servitude, which, Emig at first stated, came as a great surprise and shock to her, since it was obviously a ‘miscarriage of justice’. She also told an unlikely tale that the entire case Goertz was based on denunciations by his fraudulent partner who had already ruined his legal practice. Goertz went to Maidstone gaol and Emig claims that from then on until his release she heard from him on him on the average once or twice yearly.

Meanwhile, Emig obtained a job with the Woermann shipping line in Hamburg in July 1936 and remained with them until October 1939; having been laid off in October 1939 she obtained another secretarial post at Gut Krumbeck with one Doktor Lampe in December 1939 until April 1940. In May 1940 she obtained yet another secretarial post with the Luftwaffe Bauleitung at Langeroog, and later at Hesedorf, where she remained until November 1940, leaving this post at her own request. In January 1941 she found employment with the architect Konstanty Gutschow in Hamburg and remained there until September 1944. It appears that in 1944 she was exempted from Dienstverpflichtung in order to attend an interpreter’s school in Hamburg for French and English, which she joined in October 1944, and where she remained until March 1945. In May 1945, shortly after surrender, she became secretary-interpreter to Col. Haddock, Hamburg Port Controller. In June 1945 she became an interpreter at No. 2 Port Operating Group, Hamburg (later No. 10 Port Operating Group) and remained there until January 1946. In February 1946 she moved to Hannover to become secretary-interpreter to successive C.Os of 30 ICU (Lieut Col Nolanm Lieut Col Riddell, Lieut Col Bayer) until September 1946 when with the help of Peter Von Zahn, head of Radio Hamburg, she obtained a post with the Jugendfunk Radio Hamburg, where she is still employed.

According to Emig, she met Goertz again for the first time in March 1939 in Berlin where she spent a weekend with him and where no mention was made of his activities in England; she met him again briefly in May 1939 and last heard of him by letter in July 1939, when he informed her that he had managed to rejoin the Luftwaffe and had once again become a soldier. Emig states that from that time onwards she never had any more contact or knowledge of Goertz until she saw the copy of the “Daily Mail” describing his death.

Since the story showed obvious discrepancies and loop-holes I spent some time trying to pick it to pieces, and the following facts emerged to which Emig admitted:

a) She definitely knew in June 1935 before leaving for England that Goertz was going there on a “mission” dealing with espionage. She still maintains that she knew no details, nor who exactly his employers were, and she still asserts that during her stay in England with him she had absolutely no knowledge of what this espionage consisted of. She denies having actively helped him in obtaining information, beyond possibly acting unwittingly as a “cover”. She maintains that her parents had no knowledge of this. Personally I am reasonably certain that Emig was actively engaged in collating information with Goertz if, perhaps, only on the technical side i.e. developing photographs, making notes etc.

b) On her return to Germany in 1936 she met one Doktor Herzlieb of the German Foreign Office and had a long interview with him, during which the case Goertz was discussed and which left her in no doubt as to Goertz’ real activities. She was extremely reluctant to remember any details of this conversation, and since I am no (sic) aware of your requirements in this respect I did not press the point.

c) She categorically denies ever having been approached by Goertz or any other German agency subsequent to 1936 with any kind of proposal dealing with Abwehr or espionage activities. Against this statement there is the fact that she appears to have led a peculiarly unfettered existence during the war, and was specifically exempted from military service to attend the interpreter’s school, and that her previous record was known to the German Foreign Office.

All this is somewhat sketchy information buy may enable you to obtain an outline in order to take further steps if necessary. I should say that Emig is an ingenuous though not a particularly effective liar relying very much on her good looks and general “jeune fille” appearance and attempting to explain away the Goertz incident as a youthful lapse which she has regretted ever since; admittedly a possible explanation. She certainly does not appear to be the type who could successfully operate on her own initiative but she seems to have all the qualifications of an excellent assistant, and quite likely has acted as such in some agency after 1936. She has now returned to Hamburg with instructions to make a full and written report of all her activities since 1934, and to await further orders. By arrangement with Radio Hamburg she has been temporarily laid off pending clarification of the case and is now living at her Hamburg address.

I am sending a copy of this letter to Hamburg RIO and suggest that they take over the case as well as collect the written report by Emig.

Letter from Captain M.O.L Lynton at the Schleswig-Holstein Intelligence Office in Kiel. 31st May 1947. National Archives KV 2/1322

On 1st October 1947 Marianne Emig was removed from the Suspect Index but given the number of jobs she had under the “Control Commission” continued to be “of interest”.

Release and action in Ireland

Herman Görtz was released from prison in February 1939 (after serving three of the four years) when he was 48 and deported back to Germany via a ship from Grimsby to Hamburg before the start of the Second World War.  He was met there by Nazi officials and was keep to see his wife in Kiel, but he was told he was to accompany them to Berlin by train “to account for his failure in England”. The Authorities there were obviously impressed by his determination and loyalty to the German Intelligence Service, especially when they discovered he had made friends with members of the IRA. Despite his blunders over his “combinations”, Görtz was recalled to service as a Second Lieutenant in the Lehr Regiment Brandenburg on 19th January 1940 under the command of Abwehr II.   At last, Görtz had realised his ambition of becoming an Abwehr undercover agent.

While in prison, he formed a few links with the Irish Republican Army and, because of these, he was parachuted into Eire in September 1940 – just a few months after his release.

The IRA had been outlawed in 1936 by Eamonn de Valera, but a strong anti-Treaty and anti-British feeling still ran deep in a lot of Irish people. One of the leaders of this remnant, Stephen Hayes, had sent a plan (known as Plan Kathleen) to the Nazi leadership. It proposed landing German troops near Derry, and having them (along with IRA troops in Leitrim) swoop east across Ulster and conquering it. Somehow this would then trigger a coup in Dublin and allow them to install a new government loyal to the Axis. It was a profoundly stupid plan on multiple counts, but the Nazis decided that the willingness to plan for this at least showed potential. And at worst it would be a distraction from their own plan (Operation Green) to invade Ireland in the secondary phase of their planned invasion of Britain. The success of the IRA in attacking the Magazine Fort in Phoenix Park the previous Christmas also gave the Nazis hope that they could be used as an effective strike force on military targets. As such, they authorised Goertz to travel to Ireland in May 1940 in what they called “Operation Mainau”.

Görtz was given a radio transmitter (a Telefunken transmission), a 9mm Browning automatic, some invisible ink, and a large amount of money (enough money to “Provide him with lavish spending for a few years”).  He also had a suicide capsule hidden away.  He was given the code name ‘Gilka’.  After delays due to bad weather Görtz left Germany on 4th May 1940 in a Heinkel He-111 Medium bomber and parachuted from the aircraft at 1,500 metres over Ballivor, County Meath. 

He was clad in his Luftwaffe uniform and medals, standard practice for spies parachuting in. If he had been caught landing in civilian clothing, it would have been a clear violation of international conventions, and he could legally have been shot out of hand.

Goertz landed in a field outside the village of Ballivor, on the western edge of County Meath. He later claimed that this was a mistake and that he had planned to land in Tyrone, though this was almost certainly untrue. The remote location let him land undetected, though he was unable to find the second parachute that came down with him to bring his radio set because of the bad weather. It also included a shovel that he should have used to bury his parachutes. German parachutes of that date were quite primitive and heavy loads needed their own parachute. This was not ideal, especially as Goertz was wearing a full Luftwaffe dress uniform. The plan was obviously for him to radio his contact and have a change of clothes brought to him, but that was clearly no longer an option. So Hermann instead decided to brass it out, and (still dressed in full Luftwaffe uniform) walked eighty miles south to the nearest isolated address he could remember. Amazingly, it paid off – along the route he even called into a Garda station for direction, and the policeman on duty gave them to him. Doubtless he could not believe that anyone could be so bold.

Görtz now needed to make contact with the IRA.  While in Berlin he had met the Irish Writer and IRA man Francis Stuart  who told him that he could seek refuge at Stuart’s wife’s house in County Wicklow.  Although the house was eighty miles away he walked the entire way, asking directions as he went.  Unbelievably, he marched into a Garda station in Poulaphouca wearing full Luftwaffe parade uniform and his First World War medals.  The constable listened to his request, gave him directions and sent him on his way.  Görtz reached Stewart’s home, Laragh Castle, Co. Wicklow, on 9 May, where he was taken in by Isuelt Stuart, Francis Stewart’s wife.  He stayed in the house that day while Isuelt found more suitable clothing for him.  The IRA called at the house that night and collected Görtz.   Seamus O’Donovan took him to his house in Shankill, County Dublin and talked to Görtz about the state of the IRA.  O’Donovan was the IRA’s Chief Bomb Maker and had made several trips to Germany, particularly to the Abwehr’s Headquarters. O’Donovan took Görtz to another IRA safe house for about a week, and then on the 19 May he went to stay finally with Stephen Held.

It was at Held’s house, on 21st May, 1940, that Görtz met with the leaders of the IRA.  Stephen Hayes, IRA Chief of Staff, Seamus O’Donovan, who handled all their bomb-making programmes, and Stephen Held were present.

Following the requirements of Operation Mainau, Görtz put forward the Abwehr request that the IRA cease operations in Southern Ireland and instead concentrate their resources against British Forces in Northern Ireland.  Hayes agreed with that request and said that the Irish Government had made contact with the IRA with the idea of incorporating them within the Irish Defence Forces. At that meeting they also discussed ‘Plan Kathleen’, an operation put together by the IRA, copies of which were taken to Germany for consideration in April, 1940.

Görtz said of this plan:

“We discussed the plan of a German invasion of Ulster on the basis of ′Plan Kathleen′ which Held had brought to Germany.  I did not tell Hayes what I really thought about the plan but used the discussion about it only as a pretext to learn something about the real strength and state of readiness of the IRA. I said that the plan was the subject of a lively discussion in Germany but that one needed more military intelligence about Ulster before the plan could be executed. Thereupon Hayes asked what sort of information was needed….  Hayes then told me that the IRA had no weapons for any sort of major action. When I learnt of all that was needed in the way of weapons, I wondered exactly what was the military value of the IRA.  I told Hayes flatly that the landing of a consignment of arms was just as impossible on the Ulster coast as on that of Éire. The one possibility was delivery on the high seas and that would only be feasible for small quantities.  Hayes jumped at this idea.  I immediately regretted having spoken about this at all because my remark led to wild and fantastic IRA discussions as to which island could be used for U-boat replenishment and which impossible bogs and mountains could be used as airfields.”

Plan Kathleen required 50,000 German troops backed up by 30,000 IRA volunteers.  Görtz had found, by questioning that most of the IRA men would be unarmed, but in addition to this he was surprised and appalled to learn from Hayes that the IRA had only 5,000 sworn in members, of whom 1,500 were in Northern Ireland. Hayes said that he could rely upon 10,000 Northern Irish and 15,000 Southern Irish volunteers when Kathleen was begun.  Görtz said that the IRA had underestimated the strength of the British Forces in Ireland, and had no idea how the coastline was defended.

Plan Kathleen also had no set plan of how the German Troops were supposed to invade, and how it would be possible to keep the seaways open between France and the invasion beach-heads in Northern Ireland.

Hayes asked Görtz for money for the campaign in Northern Ireland and he handed over $16,500 in American currency, and as regards armament from Germany, Görtz said that he later sat down and made possible plans for the shipping and landing of arms in Ireland.  Görtz kept $10,000 dollars for his own activities, but this may have been fairly risky as it is thought that the notes were forgeries, made in Germany.

Görtz was not impressed by the IRA and especially by Stephen Hayes:

“I do not think it is necessary for me to describe the disappointment which I felt when I met Stephen Hayes, although I had already been warned. I expected someone like Léon Degrelle, leader of the Belgian Rexists, or like the leaders of the Breton independence movement, or the Ukrainian leaders with whom I had become acquainted in Berlin.  Hayes was an ex-footballer.  At first he showed himself as a man of good personal qualities but that is not enough for the leader of nationalist extremists.  Later his character deteriorated.  I think from alcohol and fear.” 

Görtz received a nasty shock two days later on the 23rd May.  While he was away visiting contacts his safe house was raided by the Garda.  The owner of the house, Stephen Held, was arrested and they discovered an enormous amount of incriminating material.  They had found Görtz’s parachute, codes and ciphers, a typewriter, maps, and a copy of Plan Kathleen with Görtz’s handwriting notes, his Luftwaffe identifying badges, World War I medals, and details of Irish harbours and defence installations.

Both Stephan Held and Isuelt Stewart were arrested and charged with ‘assisting an unknown person to commit certain acts prejudicial to public safety’.  Articles of men’s clothing were found in Görtz’s room, and the police had evidence these clothes were recently purchased by Mrs Stewart, whose husband was at present believed to be in Germany.  The prosecution claimed that these clothes were obtained for Görtz.   Although Isuelt later confessed to the charges, she was acquitted after a month in remand.  Ian Stewart, Iseult’s son and aged fourteen at the time, remembers the whole episode well.  He remembers his mother and Herman Görtz going to Brown Thomas’s store to replace his uniform with more suitable clothing.  They used some of Görtz’s faked American money which they exchanged at Brown Thomas.  Ian Stewart said that Görtz spent a lot of time at Laragh Castle, slipping into the house under the cover of darkness and having meals with the family.  Stewart says that his mother fell in love with Görtz, and carried on corresponding with him after the latter went to prison.

The question of the parachute is rather interesting.  Finding Görtz’s parachute in Held’s home at first sight seems unremarkable, but Görtz dropped by parachute 80 miles from Iseult Stewart’s house and a deployed parachute is quite difficult to pack away, and almost impossible to carry undetected for such a distance over Irish roads.

The discovery of Plan Kathleen in Görtz’s room at Stephen Held’s house was to help cement the relationship between the Irish Free State and the British.  The Kathleen documents were immediately sent to MI5 in London and this action accelerated joint military operations under the title of ‘Plan W’.  This plan was a response to a possible invasion of Ireland by Nazi Germany.
The Abwehr very quickly learned that there had been a major problem with Operation Mainau in Ireland.  Dr. Eduard Hempel, head of the German Legation had kept them informed and they recorded in the Abwehr war diary on 25th May:

“According to a wireless report of the Stefani Agency and enemy broadcasts, ‘Operation Mainau’ has been unsuccessful. According to them “Gilka” appears to have reached his destination. The transmitter , some items of equipment and the money which he took with him were apparently seized in the house of an Irish agent, through the latter’s stupidity. Unfortunately this Irishman also had in his possession plans for a rebellion  which had no connection with ‘Operation Mainau’.  There is no information as to “Gilka’s” whereabouts.  Even if he is not arrested in the near future, his further activity is rendered impossible in consequence of the discovery of the transmitter and the money. If he should eventually be arrested ‘Gilka’ is in a very difficult position in consequence of his equipment being found in the same place as the IRA plans. In consequence of the failure of ‘Operation Mainau’ proposals for the parachuting of further agents are for the future to be disregarded.”

From this moment Görtz tried to remain at a distance from the IRA, only contacting them when absolutely necessary:

“I lived among people of my choice and never again under the protection of the IRA.  I personally chose all the houses in which I hid or they were chosen for me by my friends.  I carefully avoided any hide-out which had anything to do with the IRA.  When I heard in one house that it had formerly been an IRA meeting place, I left it the same night.  I realised that an agreement between the Irish government and the IRA was completely inopportune.  The action against Held ruled out all hopes of bringing the IRA into association with the government.  The Held episode had, however, a good side to it: I shook off the unwanted IRA protection.  For the future, I was able to work with people whom I chose myself.”

Görtz became more and more disillusioned with the IRA.  He said that in their meetings they always discussed the same things. Also, Hayes’s assurance that they would abandon IRA action in Éire was often disobeyed, and they carried out very little useful work in Ulster.

Görtz met a number of people in the next 18 months, ranging from republican sympathisers, IRA leaders, and politicians, He had meetings with Major General MacNeill, and his cousin, Intelligence Officer Niall MacNeill, who were both fascist supporters and very anti-British.  MacNeill wanted to start a Fascist ‘Blueshirt’  organisation in Eire and used all his contacts to fulfil his objectives.  Major General Hugo MacNeill was a senior Irish army officer, and Commander of the Irish Second Division based on the Northern Ireland border.  Hugo McNeill was considered a ‘buccaneer’ by some of his officers, and this was born out by his actions.  MacNeill worked with the German Legation throughout the war, talking about cooperation between the Irish Army and the Wehrmacht, including possible armament supplies from Germany.  He had many private discussions with German Ambassador Edouard Hempel talking about a possible invasion from Northern Ireland.  The British Secret Service at first thought that the Irish Government was collaborating with the Germans, but later evidence showed that MacNeill was operating independently.  Herman Görtz had been instructed not to contact the German Legation unless it was really necessary.

After 18 months on the run, in November, 1941, Görtz was at a friend’s house in Clontarf, a coastal suburb on the north side of Dublin, when he was arrested by special branch officers along with a leading IRA man, Pearse Kelly, who was visiting Görtz at the time.  Görtz was quite indignant, protesting that he had supporters in the Irish government and Armed Forces, and claimed to be an un-official German Military Attaché.  He told them that they were arresting a good friend of Ireland.

There is some evidence to say that the Irish Special Branch allowed Görtz to remain free for such a long time in order to identify his Irish contacts, and especially to track any movement on Plan Kathleen.  As late as 1941, MI5 thought that Dr. Herman Görtz was the author of Plan Kathleen, but the author of the plan was an IRA volunteer, Liam Gaynor.

After his arrest the G2’s code breakers attempted to decipher the many letters that Görtz had tried to send home to Germany, but the code used resulted in blocks of four and five letters that could only be interpreted with the use of a cipher key.

Herman Görtz was tried by Military Tribunal, and condemned to death.  Fortunately for him, he was reprieved and instead he was imprisoned at Arbour Hill prison and later at Athlone barracks where he was interrogated, the special branch officers attempting to persuade Görtz to give them the all-important cipher key.  Some information was gleaned from Görtz during these interrogations but they still could not break the code, so G2 hatched a plot that involved intercepting messages that Görtz had been handing to a soldier in the prison for smuggling outside.  The Irish Special Branch worked on these messages with the aid of a decoding machine that had been purchased in Germany before the war.  It took a long time, but they finally cracked the code in March 1943, and used it to send false information back to Görtz, the messages purporting to be from Berlin.  The Intelligence Officers used the faked messages from Germany to obtain information from Görtz, even asking him to make a detailed account of his actions since parachuting in to Ireland.  Over time Görtz produced a massive 80 page report listing all his Irish Contacts and the work he had accomplished since he arrived in Southern Ireland.  In order to prompt him into more disclosures, a special message from ‘Berlin’ arrived promoting Görtz to the rank of Major.  Reports from the prison guards at Athlone Barracks said that Görtz was overcome by this news, weeping in his cell when he read the faked message.

It is said that Görtz became mentally unstable during the period of his internment at Athlone Barracks.  He discussed suicide techniques with a fellow prisoner, and carved a wooden tombstone for his grave.  One passage in his diary related how he considered becoming the Chief of Staff of the IRA.   Hermann Görtz was interned at Athlone Barracks until he was released on parole in 1947.  Ian Stewart relates how Görtz was taken back to Dublin Castle and was told that he was to be deported back to Germany.  Ian considered that Görtz was concerned about this because of what he thought the Americans would do to him, but it seems much more likely that he had been watching what was going on in the Nuremburg Trials and that he would be tortured or executed by Soviet investigators.  Görtz committed suicide in November, 1947, biting his suicide capsule at the Aliens Registration Office in Dublin Castle while he was awaiting extradition.  A report of Görtz’s suicide was published in the Irish Times:

“Stared disbelievingly at the detective officers. Then suddenly, he took his hand from his trouser pocket, swiftly removed his pipe from between his lips, and slipped a small glass phial into his mouth. One of the police officers sprang at Goertz as he crunched the glass with his teeth. The officer got his hands around Görtz’s neck but failed to prevent most of the poison – believed to be prussic acid – from passing down his throat. Within a few seconds, Goertz collapsed.”

He died in Mercer’s Hospital, Dublin and was buried three days later in a local cemetery.  Ian Stewart said that Görtz’s death was a great blow to his mother, of whom he said, ‘she had no more love in her life after that’. Iseult Stewart had quite an unusual life, starting with her birth.  Her mother had a long standing affair with French Journalist and Politician, Lucien Millevoye, but lost their illegitimate baby son Georges Silvère, to meningitis.  Maud was convinced that his spirit still existed.  Bizarrely, Iseult was conceived in the French mausoleum, on the grave of her dead son Georges.  She spent her childhood with her mother, Maud Gonne, thinking of Iseult as her daughter, but also as the spirit of her son, Georges.  Once they were in Ireland, because Iseult was illegitimate Maud told friends that Iseult was her niece.  Maud married Major John MacBride, whose Irish Brigade fought with the Boers against the British, but the marriage was a disaster, and Maud accused MacBride of molesting Isuelt, then aged 11 years of age.   As Iseult reached maturity she was considered a great beauty.  She was pursued by Yeats, who had already been in love with Maud, her mother.  Iseult twice rejected the fifty year old poet’s proposal of marriage.  Iseult was also the lover of Ezra Pound.  She eloped with an Irish-Australian writer, Francis Stuart, but this marriage was not a happy one.  Francis Stuart spent the war in Germany with his lover Madeleine, leaving Iseult back at Laragh Castle with the children.

Iseult was a great friend of the German ambassador, Eduard Hempel.  Hempel helped her as much as he could, sometimes buying antique items from the Castle in order to give her a small amount of money.  Ian Stewart said that Hempel also extracted some of Francis Stewart’s salary to give to the family.

It was into this existence that Hermann Görtz appeared in his dress Luftwaffe uniform.  Iseult was always pro-German, and although Görtz was by no means handsome, he filled a gap in Iseult’s life.  Isuelt was later to say of Görtz, 

“No voice has ever caressed my ears like one which I may never hear again, no smile has so inveigled me.”

He had been one of the most notorious spies of the Second World War period, who had a most unfortunate, if not tragic career. Dr Hermann Görtz was buried in Deansgrange Cemetery, Dublin, Ireland – with a Nazi Flag over his coffin. The most notable feature in many of the newspaper reports was the large involvement of women in the funeral. Several women in the crowd wore swastika armbands, and one gave a Nazi salute to the coffin. There were also wreaths from the old ladies who had sheltered Görtz when he was in hiding. 

Funeral of German spy Dr Hermann Görtz, Dublin, Ireland, May 26th 1947.

In 1974, the remains of Dr Hermann Görtz were exhumed, and he was reburied in the German War Cemetery at Glencree, Co. Wicklow.  A Nazi Flag was draped over his coffin and his headstone bears the fictitious rank of Major.

As usual there is much more information available to go through, so we hope to be able to at least pick out a few more significant details in the future.

Sources

Text from the late Ron Stilwell from his book ‘Defence Of Thanet 1939-1945’ with permission to use by us sent on 26/10/2017. We were saddened by his loss in 2019 and had hoped to be able to benefit from expertise in the local area. Also his comments here: http://sussexhistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=3590.0

Extract from the account by Plt Off. Fiona Brown WRAF

http://www.stella-maris.org.uk/goertz.phtml

National Archives material. including KV 2/1319, KV 2/1320, KV 2/1321, KV 2/1322 http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/releases/2003/november14/goertz.htm

https://headstuff.org/culture/history/hermann-goertz-nazi-spy-in-ireland/

Revisions

27th December 2022 – First Published.

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1 Response

  1. ANDREW FOSTER says:

    Fascinating

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