Letter Written by German Spy is Discovered

Carl Hans Lody was a German spy during the First World War. He was the first undercover operative to be imprisoned by the British during the conflict, and was eventually executed by a firing squad. Now, a letter he once wrote to guardsmen at the Tower of London has been discovered. The letter details some of the sentiments the German spy had prior to his execution at the hands of the British.

It has been one hundred years since Lody’s death, and many might be surprised by some of the key sentiments expressed in his letter to the London guards who watched over him while he was captive. There is actually a great deal of gratitude expressed on the part of the German spy, who claims that the guards were dutiful yet kind and courteous toward their prisoner. There is no apparent sarcasm or bitterness; the letter appears to have been written in earnest. Lody’s letter was written to the commanding officer, but addressed all of the guards who watched him, the Mail Online reports.

Lody wrote his letter just one day before his death. Before now, the letter was kept at Wellington Barracks. It was taken out of the Guards Museum to become part of an exhibit on World War I. The letter by the German spy will be one of many exhibit items which provides a view of the life and duty of foot guards during the war. It will specifically provide museum visitors with an idea of how these men were perceived by enemy prisoners.

It was in many ways Lody’s own fault that he was captured early in the war. He gained his position through a knowledge of the English language and the possession of an American passport, not through his talents for espionage. He was a relatively ineffective German spy, often sending messages that were written in his native language and were not encrypted. It was not long before he was captured. While he at first denied his charges, he came clean after only two days of trial.

Carl Hans Lody was a unique German spy. He was not a man who appeared to harbor any resentments against his enemy, simply a man who longed to help his home country during a time of conflict. At the end of his life, he was honest as well as congenial toward his captors. His letter will show museum patrons that guards at the Tower of London were more anything but cold, that they were capable of maintaining positive relations with their captives, even those close to execution. One item on display is even a coin that the German spy offered a guard as a tip, showing the extent of his gratitude for their courtesy.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE