Hugo Bleicher : Nazi Germany

Hugo Bleicher : Nazi Germany


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Hugo Bleicher was born in Germany in 1899. A businessman with a good knowledge of languages, he was recruited by Abwehr during the Second World War.

Based in France he arrested Mathilde Carre and persuaded her to work as a double agent. In Paris he posed as a colonel in German intelligence who wanted to defect to the Allies. This resulted in him being able to capture Peter Churchill and Odette Sansom in April, 1943.

Working with the double agent, Henri Déricourt, Bleicher was able to infiltrate the Prosper Network. This led to the arrest of Francis Suttill, Yvonne Rudelatt, Andrée Borrel, Gilbert Norman and Jack Agazarian.

At the end of the war Bleicher was arrested by the Dutch police in Amsterdam and was imprisoned by an Allied court. In 1954 Bleicher published his memoirs, Colonel Henri's Story.


The Extraordinary Bravery That Made This Woman One of World War II's Most Remarkable Spies

A sk a World War II aficionado to name the war’s most highly decorated spy and you’re likely to get one of three answers: Dusko Popov (code name: TRICYCLE), the MI5/MI6 double agent who warned the FBI about Pearl Harbor and inspired Ian Fleming’s James Bond Juan Pujol (code name: GARBO), the crafty Spaniard who fooled the Germans with a fictional network of 15 agents or Roman Garby-Czerniawski (code name: BRUTUS), the Polish double agent who at one time had a hundred agents in his INTERALLIÉ circuit. All were terrific spies and each played a key role in deceiving the Germans about D-Day. Each was awarded the Order of the British Empire, Popov and Czerniawski as Officers and Pujol as a Member.

Yet their decorations pale in comparison to those of a courier spy named Odette Sansom (code name: LISE). She was awarded not only an Order of the British Empire (Member), but also a Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur, France’s highest decoration a George Cross, Britain’s second highest honor and five other medals. World War II buffs&mdasheven military historians&mdashlose sight of the fact that female couriers operating in occupied France had the second highest Allied fatality rate (42%, behind only Bomber Command’s 45%) of the war. But it was Odette’s commitment to honor and duty that allowed her to persevere under such perilous conditions.

Odette was a courier for the SPINDLE circuit of Special Operations Executive (SOE), the secret sabotage outfit Winston Churchill had charged to “set Europe ablaze.” She was a wife and mother of three who didn&rsquot drink, smoke or swear, and to the casual observer she was quite ordinary, perhaps even boring. Yet she was a trained killer. She feared neither danger nor dagger, interrogation nor torture. She didn&rsquot think twice about confronting German generals or commandants, and often placed principle before prudence. Like her colleagues in the SOE, she signed up for the war knowing that arrest (and execution) was a very real possibility&mdasha fate that awaited almost one in two for F Section (France) couriers.

SOE circuits were comprised of three agents: circuit leader, courier and radio operator. These three would then recruit, arm and work with local French Resistance fighters to sabotage German trains, barges, bridges and supply depots. In some cases, hit-and-run guerilla attacks were staged. To accomplish these tasks, couriers carried messages and money to their associates almost on a daily basis.

And danger was ever-present. Wehrmacht soldiers, Vichy police, Abwehr (German military intelligence) and Gestapo were everywhere: control checkpoints, hotels, cafes, trains … even brothels. To be caught with a wireless radio&mdashsomething every SOE agent would transport from time to time&mdashwas a capital offense. And as every spy knew, the Gestapo needed to turn only one operative to infiltrate a circuit and spoil the lot.

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Hugo Bleicher

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Hugo Bleicher

Hugo Bleicher was born in Germany in 1899. A businessman with a good knowledge of languages, he was recruited by Abwehr during the Second World War.

Based in France, he arrested Mathilde Carre and persuaded her to work as a double agent. In Paris, he posed as a colonel in German intelligence who wanted to defect to the Allies. This resulted in him being able to capture Peter Churchill and Odette Sansom in April 1943.

Working with the double agent, Henri Déricourt, Bleicher was able to infiltrate the Prosper Network. This led to the arrest of Francis Suttill, Yvonne Rudelatt, Andrée Borrel, Gilbert Norman and Jack Agazarian.

At the end of the war, Bleicher was arrested by the Dutch police in Amsterdam and was imprisoned by an Allied court. In 1954, Bleicher published his memoirs, Colonel Henri's Story.

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Hugo Bleicher

Your Easy-access (EZA) account allows those in your organization to download content for the following uses:

  • Tests
  • Samples
  • Composites
  • Layouts
  • Rough cuts
  • Preliminary edits

It overrides the standard online composite license for still images and video on the Getty Images website. The EZA account is not a license. In order to finalize your project with the material you downloaded from your EZA account, you need to secure a license. Without a license, no further use can be made, such as:

  • focus group presentations
  • external presentations
  • final materials distributed inside your organization
  • any materials distributed outside your organization
  • any materials distributed to the public (such as advertising, marketing)

Because collections are continually updated, Getty Images cannot guarantee that any particular item will be available until time of licensing. Please carefully review any restrictions accompanying the Licensed Material on the Getty Images website, and contact your Getty Images representative if you have a question about them. Your EZA account will remain in place for a year. Your Getty Images representative will discuss a renewal with you.

By clicking the Download button, you accept the responsibility for using unreleased content (including obtaining any clearances required for your use) and agree to abide by any restrictions.


Hugo Bleicher

Hugo Bleicher (1899−1982) was a ruthless agent for the Abwehr (Nazi intelligence organization) assigned to identify, pursue, arrest, and turn over to the Gestapo those French resistance members and foreign agents he caught. Additionally, Bleicher was empowered to turn the arrested into double agents. He was likely Déricourt’s Nazi contact. Bleicher was extremely successful and his reputation was that he could spot an Allied spy from fifty yards.

When Déricourt returned to Paris in mid-1943, he found an apartment located at 58, rue Pergolèse. It was steps from where the Gestapo had set up their main offices, interrogation cells, and torture rooms at 84, avenue Foch. His apartment was also next door to Hugo Bleicher’s apartment. Coincidence or not?

Exterior of Henri Déricourt’s apartment building: 58, rue Pergolèse. Photo by Sandy Ross (2017).


How Churchill’s Relative Survived a Concentration Camp

During WWII, the Germans caught an Allied spy. Fortunately, she had a famous relative – British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

Odette Marie Céline Brailly was born on April 28, 1912, in Amiens, France. Her father died when she was six, just days before the end of WWI. Then an illness made her blind for three and a half years, followed by polio which made her bedridden for months.

In 1931 she married Roy Sansom – a British hotelier who took her to Britain where they had three daughters. In WWII Roy joined the army, and Odette took their children to a village in Somerset to avoid German bombing.

Although they were safe, Odette felt guilty. Her mother and brother were in Nazi-occupied France, but there was nothing she could do to help them.

Odette Sansom Hallowes.

In the spring of 1942, the Admiralty went on the radio asking for pictures or postcards of the French coastline for possible military purposes. Odette knew the area well, so she gathered what she could and wrote a letter explaining who she was and sent them off.

About a week later, she received a mysterious invitation to a shabby London hotel. Intrigued, she went along and met the novelist Selwyn Jepson – who was no ordinary writer. He was also the recruiting officer for the Special Operations Executive’s (SOE – British secret service) French Section.

With most of Europe under Germany’s thumb, Britain was isolated. It needed spies on the continent to bring back vital information. They were also required to liaise with local resistance groups and engage in sabotage operations against the Axis powers.

SOE officers in Haute-Savoie, France in August 1944 with members of the French Resistance.

Odette at first refused as she had three daughters but guilt about her family tore at her. She left her children in a convent and began training with the SOE.

They deemed her overly-hasty, impulsive, temperamental, and completely unable to admit to making mistakes. She did show determination. Better yet, she was a native Frenchwoman who knew the region. A parachute training accident nearly put a stop to the whole thing, but they were right about her determination.

She took a boat to France on the evening of November 2, 1942, and landed at a beach near Cassis. Her mission was to reach her handler, connect with the Resistance on the French Riviera, then make her way to Auxerre in Burgundy to create a safe house for other agents like herself.

Her handler was Captain Peter Morland Churchill. He headed Spindle – the SOE network based in Cannes which covered southern France (which was not then under German occupation). Spindle was a mess due to power struggles.

Fresnes Prison. Lionel Allorge – CC-BY SA 3.0

Churchill’s chief agent, André Girard, was a temperamental artist who quarreled with their only wireless operator. Girard may also have been a double agent for the Nazis, but whatever the case, he refused to take Odette to Auxerre.

Stuck in the French Riviera, she acted as a courier for Churchill and proved herself good at her job. On November 11 Germany invaded southern France. Unable to evacuate his team back to London, Churchill sent them to a hotel in St. Jorioz village in Haute-Savoie (close to Switzerland and Italy).

There they met Hugo Ernst Bleicher – a German who claimed to have seen the light and wanted to help the resistance against Hitler. It was a lie. Bleicher was a member of the Abwehr – the German version of the SOE. The others bought the lie, but Odette remained suspicious.

She and Churchill were arrested on April 16, 1943. Odette was sent to Fresnes Prison south of Paris where she was tortured by the Gestapo – the German state police. She told them nothing – only that she was married to Churchill who was the nephew of the British prime minister.

He was not, but Odette hoped it would save herself and Churchill. Unfortunately, it did not work. She was sent to the Ravensbrück concentration camp in Germany where she was kept in solitary confinement and starved. By August 1944 she lay on the verge of death.

In December she was moved to “better” quarters next to a crematorium that blackened her cell with soot. The Allies were approaching, so Fritz Suhren (Ravensbrück’s commandant) took Odette and drove her to the Americans – hoping her relation to the British prime minister would save him.

Former prison guards on trial at the Hamburg Ravensbrück Trials.

It did not, of course. Odette participated in the Hamburg Ravensbrück Trials where she explained what she and others had been put through. Her nails had been torn out (confirmed by eyewitnesses), and it was so awful that she saw prisoners eating corpses to survive. Suhren was hanged.

Churchill was indeed treated better in the hope that he could be used as a bargaining chip in the event Germany lost. Many of his jailers were also hanged.

Odette survived her years of torture, by remembering her childhood blindness and polio. It taught her to focus on each moment. Every minute she stayed alive without breaking was a triumph. She did not think of the next hour, let alone the next day.

An SOE memorial plaque at Beaulieu Abbey in Hampshire, England. Ericoides – CC-BY SA 4.0

She divorced Samson and married Churchill (the spymaster, not the prime minister). Later she divorced Churchill to marry Geoffrey Hallowes – another SOE officer.

Odette also became the first woman to receive the George Cross and be recognized as a French Knight of the Legion of Honor. She received many other medals too.

In 1950 a film was made (based on her autobiography) about what she went through. It was simply called, “Odette.”


5. Sansom&rsquos Network Was Tracked Down by One of the Abwehr&rsquos Best Investigators

Odette Sansom&rsquos and Peter Churchill&rsquos nemesis would prove to be a seemingly unprepossessing German investigator with an unlikely background. Sergeant Hugo Bleicher, who had recently taken down the Allies&rsquo then-largest network in France, had sought to join the Kaiser&rsquos navy in his youth, but was rejected due to poor eyesight. Drafted into the army when he turned eighteen in 1917, he was sent to the Western Front, where he was captured by the British almost immediately upon his arrival. After WWI, he went to work for a German firm in Spanish Morocco. When WWII began, he was drafted into the army once again, and sent to France after its conquest as an undercover cop.

There, he demonstrated a talent for interrogating and turning captured agents &ndash without torture, but by appealing to their egos, or otherwise spotting and targeting their psychological weak spots. He became a celebrity among the Gestapo and the Abwehr &ndash German military intelligence &ndash when he used those skills in 1941 to turn a captured agent, and convinced him to snitch on his comrades. The result was the unravelling of a network named INTERAILLE,then the largest Allied network in France, and the capture of over 60 undercover agents. In early 1943, German authorities, concerned about increased Resistance activities in southern France, put sergeant Bleicher on the tail of SPINDLE, Odette Sansom&rsquos and Peter Churchill&rsquos network.


An actual giant served in the Civil War

Posted On April 29, 2020 15:59:34

Featured image courtesy of Lexington Herald Leader (kentucky.com)

The people of Letcher County, Kentucky are currently raising money to build a bronze statue of one of their most iconic civil war veterans, Martin Van Buren Bates. This statue is meant to celebrate more than just his military service, however. It is celebrating his international celebrity status as an actual giant.

Martin Van Buren Bates came from a well-known family in Letcher County. According to historical records, he was born in 1837, and by the age of 13, would weigh 300 pounds. Bates would continue to grow until he was 28 years old, measuring an astounding 7-foot-11 inches tall and weighing 500 pounds. The Guinness Book of World Records lists Bates at 7-foot-9 inches tall.

The point is he was a huge guy. Records of Bates, held at the Letcher County clerk’s office, claim that one of his boots could hold a half bushel of shelled corn—28 pounds of corn.

Bates began his career as a school teacher, but upon the outbreak of the Civil War joined the Confederacy fighting with the 5 th Kentucky Infantry. He ascended to the rank of Captain due to his bravery and leadership on the battlefield.

Eventually, he was severely wounded in combat in the Cumberland Gap area, where he was captured and imprisoned at Camp Chase in Ohio.

After the war he briefly returned to Kentucky, before leaving due to violence between former Union and Confederate soldiers. He headed to Cincinnati, where he would join the circus. While on tour with the circus in Nova Scotia, Bates met Anna Swan, who just so happened to be 7-foot-11 inches tall. The two fell in love and got married while on tour with the circus in Europe.

The wedding was a bit of a spectacle with thousands attending. England’s Queen Victoria even gave the couple diamond-studded gold watches as wedding presents. The couple moved to Seville, Ohio, where they purchased a farm and hoped to settle down after their lives in the circus. The couple had a son who only survived for 11 hours, but weighed 23 pounds 12 ounces, and a daughter who weighed 18 pounds, but also died at birth.

Advocates for the statue hope to place a bronze statue in a local park to commemorate Bates. The cost of the statue is an estimated ,000, but advocates argue it is important to remember the county’s history before it is forgotten.

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MIGHTY HISTORY

Does anyone know a WWII female French Resistance fighter that later published a book about her experiences?

In 2004, I attended the 60th Anniversary of D-Day ceremonies at Omaha Beach, Normandy. I met an elderly lady that was once a member of the French Resistance. She carried with her a copy of the book, she later wrote, about her experiences. I forgot her name and want desperately to buy and read her book. Here is a picture of the woman WWII Resistance Fighter . Any help with her identity and title of her book will be much appreciated!

How about Paulette Sarcey?

Book looks to be French only though.

looks like it could be her.

Lucie Aubrac maybe. She wrote a book Ils partiront dans l'ivresse that is excellent, a movie was made as well in the 90's.

I don't believe she look like the woman in the picture though.

A quick search shows Lucie Aubrac is not the woman that appears in the photo, thank you though!

I’m not sure if it is Martha. Here is another picture taken the same day with her daughter. Mystery Resistance fighter my French is very limited as was her English so I could be wrong. This also shows her medals better.

But I can't find any bio on her except a bit here, page 9. There are also others mentioned in the doc.

Also this list of french books

I don't know if this is the woman you met, but I can only name one woman Resistance fighter with a memoir in English:

Mathilde-Lily Carre "I was The Cat" Horowitz Publications 1967 (English Edition) No ISBN. Maybe there is a later re-print.

She was the head of the 'Interallie' network, outmanoeuvred by the Hugo Bleicher of the Abwehr, she was forced to become his lover. Escaped to Britain, arrested, sentenced to hang, reprieved, arrested in France in 1945, years in prison, released 1957.