The M Room: Secret Listeners who Bugged the Nazis in WW2 Paperback – 20 Nov 2012
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Top Customer Reviews
My only criticism is that by about half way through you become aware of a lot of repetition and also a tendency to mention something of interest but then not elaborate, leaving the narrative skirting on the surface. Nevertheless a hugely interesting read.
Ms Fry is already the author of a number of books; her focus is on the history of Jews in Britain and on the Second World War. Here the two themes come together in the shape of Jewish refugees who served as `secret listeners' in MI 19's camps where German PoWs were left to chat to each other in bugged quarters, thus inadvertently amplifying whatever information they had given under formal interrogation. Through this runs the career of cellist Fritz Lustig, who with other `enemy aliens' was interned on the Isle of Man, allowed to enlist in the Pioneer Corps, and in 1943 was transferred to secret listening.
The sources for the book are chiefly the transcripts of this bugging released to the National Archives in 1999 under WO 208 (already mined by Sönke Nietzel in 'Soldaten') and AIR 40, which codes also cover summary reporting and other matters. There are tens of thousands of pages of paper in these records and Ms Fry is to be congratulated on creating a coherent and digestible narrative from them for the lay public.
The story of the bugging of PoWs starts in 1939 in the Tower of London where the `M Room' housed the initial listening operation. The supply of useful PoWs meant that larger quarters had soon to be sought, and the Hertfordshire mansion Trent Park was taken over and equipped with secret microphones and recording equipment in 1940, Latimer House and Wilton Park being added to the programme soon afterwards. When thoroughly milked the PoWs were moved on to make room for others. The programme continued beyond the end of the war for interrogation of senor German personnel. Farm Hall in East Anglia was used in 1945 for a similar process with captured German nuclear scientists.Read more ›
Its as well that Britain had people like Col. Kendrick, who foresaw what was coming, & were able to prepare accordingly. The story also shows how the human ego trumps rational thought. It was a pity that the evidence obtained at Trent Park & the other centres was never used to prosecute obvious war criminals, but, one supposes, the authorities didn't wish to expose all they knew in case it happened again. The only fault I could find was with the editing & proof-reading of the manuscript, because too many little errors have been allowed to remain in the text. For historians researching the darker corners of WW2 this is a useful book.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Bletchley Park like the rest of Bletchley is in Buckinghamshire. At least it has been as far as locals can remember. A relative worked there for years. I was born in Bletchley.Published 3 days ago by Mrs E P
This is a real insight as to how intelligence was gathered from PoWs during the war. There is a suggestion that this also reduced the war by 2 years and how we found out about... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Mr. P. Fox
During World War II, British intelligence bugged POW camps, listening for any secret intelligence they could gather. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Jeff M
Amazing stuff. A real pager-turner, full of characters and insights and extraordinary locations. I found this a very novel angle on World War 2, and so refreshingly different from... Read morePublished 4 months ago by RH
I had an ulterior motive for reading this book. A family relation, Edward McGrath (Uncle Teddy) was a fluent German speaker and academic who spent his war years at Bletchley Park,... Read morePublished 4 months ago by elaandthejs
This book is an intriguing and eye opening account of listening secretly into the conversations of many rank and file German POW's, in World War 2 to collect invaluable... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Larry H
What an extraordinary story!
In three stately homes requisitioned during WW2 as upmarket prisons for German POWs, ‘secret listeners’ (pro-British Germans and Austrians), were... Read more
The extraordinary story of military eavesdropping during World War Two, and the teams that listened in to the conversations of over 10,000 German POWs. Read morePublished 4 months ago by B. Willis