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The M Room: Secret Listeners who Bugged the Nazis in WW2 Paperback – 20 Nov 2012

4.3 out of 5 stars 36 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 298 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (20 Nov. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1481020080
  • ISBN-13: 978-1481020084
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.7 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 246,923 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
This book good gives a great insight into a hidden aspect of the war. Fascinating to hear some of the transcripts recorded and to discover many new facts about the war and about some of the opinions of those involved.
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.
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Format: Paperback
(author's review copy)

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.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As an American born at the beginning of the war, I have always been fascinated by stories of what it was really like and what made a difference. Helen Fry has taken a subject virtually unknown for many decades and brought it to light. Most of those secret listeners have passed on without ever being truly honored for the secret work they did. The M Room tells the tale and tells it well. Fritz Lustig, one of the few still living listeners, a Jewish refugee who came to London in 1938 finally found a way to serve his adopted country by listening to Nazi prisoner of war officers who revealed important information when they had no clue they were being listened. Quite a fascinating chapter in World War II history.
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Many distingushed authours about the Second World War have refered to matters with words such 'Information from POWs' or 'A POW was overheard to remark..'Maybe the most famous was R.V. Jones' 'Most Secret War' and the X gerat and Knickerbine RDF systems. He says 'We could not find the equipment and had all but given up when a POW was overheard to say 'The equipment is there, but the English will never find it'. This drove us to greater efforts'. In this book the scource of that 'Overherd remark' is finally revealed. The M Room is another story of men and women working in secret to bring about Allied Victory in WW2. No heroics, no recognition just quiet dedication. Written in a informal non judgemental style, the book presents the history of Allied interigation of POW's. Futher it cast light and clarification on what and how information was obtained and used in such diverse manners as the Black Propoganda radio transmissions ( Churchill's Wizard's), the location and subsequent actions against the Nazi V weapon sites, and the guidance of those investigating war crimes for Nuremberg. It is a must read for those intrested in the political and intillegence warfare of WW2. A lot of ideas will need to be rethought.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A good tale, well told, that throws light upon a branch of the wartime intelligence services that has been in the shadow of Bletchley Park until now.
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.
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Put 59 German generals inside the walls of a British prisoner of war camp in WWII and they are going to gossip. What they didn’t know, is that their rooms were bugged and British spies were listening in on their conversations: the preparation of the V1s, V2s and atomic bombs, as well as Nazi atrocities in concentration camps and on the battlefield. From the many thousands of pages of transcripts taken from M Room (M for mike), author Helen Fry has created a compelling and highly-readable account of this little-known activity in London’s Trent Park.
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