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Alias George Wood

Fritz Kolbe (alias George Wood) espionage services,
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George Wood

CONFIDENTIAL

he had picked up the night before at the German legation. It was arranged that his code name would be Georg Winter (but among the British and Americans he immediately became George Wood; in the cable traffic he was called Wood or 674 or 805). He would find a way to get out again or at least send information somehow. If he got a trip to Stockholm he would call at the legation and introduce himself as Georg Sommer. As a password to new contacts generally he would use a contraction of his birthdate of 25 September 1900--25900. He would address messages to a fictional Georg Mertz or Anita Mertz. Another Alsatian doctor, whose wife's parents lived in Chicago, Albert Bur of Ober-Ehnheim (now Obernai ), did a lot of traveling around Europe and in fact was in Bern at the moment; he might provide one channel of communications. (As it turned out; none of these arrangements was ever used.)
Too Good To Be True
Early the next week Kocherthaler sent word that "George" got safely home and Dr. Bur was back in Ober-Ehnheim. Meanwhile the British MI-6 man, in Geneva, was informed, and he agreed to send cables paraphrasing the 16 telegrams and giving background on the source to the headquarters of both services in London.   Dulles would cable the non-documentary information to London and Washington. (Later, when the "kappa" cable traffic, as Kolbe's reports were code-designated, became extremely heavy, the burden continued to be shared between OSS and MI-6. Communications from Bern were a critical problem. Until late in 1944, when the Swiss dared wink at the operation of a "secret" radio transmitter, only commercial channels were available; the legation's code had proved insecure; OSS had manpower for cipher work only by virtue of being allowed to use interned American airmen; and there was no pouch service at this time, though a slow clandestine system for sending out microfilm was set up later.)
The big question of course was authenticity, and even if authentic whether it was a matter of feeding in known textual material to help break the Allies' codes when it showed up in their communications. "Wood" himself had been convincing, and Dulles' expert on German affairs, Gero von Gaevernitz, could with great confidence vouch for his intermediary Kocherthaler. But from farther away it looked too good to be true. The British in London urged "great caution" and asked for the exact date of the first meeting with Kolbe; they were
CONFIDENTIAL

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Posted: May 08, 2007 08:05 AM
Last Updated: Aug 05, 2011 08:46 AM