By Sarah Helm
From an award-winning journalist comes this real-life cloak-and-dagger story of Vera Atkins, considered one of Britain’s premier mystery brokers in the course of global struggle II.
As the top of the French component of the British detailed Operations government, Vera Atkins recruited, informed, and mentored targeted operatives whose activity was once to arrange and arm the resistance in Nazi-occupied France. After the conflict, Atkins courageously dedicated herself to a deadly look for twelve of her so much adored girls spies who had long gone lacking in motion. Drawing on formerly unavailable assets, Sarah Helm chronicles Atkins’s notable lifestyles and her singular trip during the chaos of post-war Europe. Brimming with intrigue, heroics, honor, and the horrors of struggle, A existence in Secrets is the tale of a grand, elusive girl and a travel de strength of investigative journalism.
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Extra info for A Life in Secrets: Vera Atkins and the Missing Agents of WWII
I asked when she had realised that some of the agents were not coming back. Her thoughts seemed to be moving on, but she was hesitant about whether to give voice to them. She turned and looked me straight in the face. Her expression was now quite blank, almost cold. I was quite sure she wanted me to leave. ” After a few moments during which I fully expected her to rise and usher me out of the room, Vera suddenly turned and looked at me again. “I went to find them as a private enterprise. I wanted to know.
Without the help of all these people I could not have followed Vera's trail. LIST OF CHARACTERS SOE LONDON Vera Atkins(FV, later F Int, later F) Nicholas Bodington(FN, senior staff officer) Major R. A. Bourne-Paterson(F Plans, Planning Officer) Maurice Buckmaster(F, head of the French Section [F Section]) Nancy Fraser-Campbell(later Roberts) (secretary, later staff captain) Colin Gubbins(M, later executive director of SOE [CD]) Leslie Humphreys(first head of F Section) Gerry Morel(F Ops, Operations Officer) John Senter(head of SOE security directorate) Penelope Torr(F Recs, Records Officer) SOE AGENTS (WOMEN) Yvonne Baseden(W/T operator for SOE circuit) Yolande Beekman(alias Yvonne, W/T operator for SOE circuit) Oenise Bloch(W/T operator for SOE circuit) Andrée Borrel(alias Denise, courier for Prosper) Madeleine Oamerment(alias Martine Dussautoy, courier for France Antelme, Prosper subcircuit) Noor (Nora) Inayat Khan(alias Madeleine, call sign Nurse, W/T operator for Prosper subcircuit) Cicely Lefort(courier for SOE circuit) Vera Leigh(alias Simone, courier for Prosper subcircuit) Eileen Nearne(wireless operator for SOE circuit) Stmia Olschanesky(courier for Prosper subcircuit) Eliane Plewman(courier for SOE circuit) Lilian Rolfe(W/T operator for SOE circuit) Diana Rowden(courier for SOE circuit) Yvonne Rudellat(alias Jacqueline Gauthier, courier for Prosper subcircuit) Odette Sansom(later Churchill, later Hallowes, courier for SOE circuit) Violette Szabo(courier for SOE circuit) Pearl Witherington(alias Pauline, courier for Wrestler circuit, later organiser) SOE AGENTS (MEN) Jack Agazarian(W/T operator for Prosper subcircuit) France Antelme(alias Antoine, Prosper subcircuit) Francis Cammaerts(organiser of Jockey circuit) Henri Déricourt(alias Claude, alias Gilbert, air movements officer) Henri Frager(alias Paul, alias Louba, organiser of SOE circuit) Fmile Garry(alias Cinema, alias Phono, organiser of Prosper subcircuit) John Macalister(alias Valentine, W/T operator for Archdeacon circuit) Bob Maloubier(alias Paco, sabotage instructor, SOE circuit) Gilbert Norman(alias Archambaud, call sign Butcher, W/T operator for Prosper subcircuit) Harry Peulevé(alias Jean, W/T operator for SOE circuit) Frank Pickersgill(alias Bertrand, organiser of Archdeacon circuit) Marcel Rousset(alias Leopold, W/T operator for SOE circuit) Robert Sheppard(alias Patrice, sabotage instructor, SOE circuit) Maurice Southgate(alias Hector, organiser Wrestler circuit) John Starr(alias Bob [and known as Bob Starr], organiser for SOE circuit) Brian Stonehouse(alias Celestine, W/T operator for SOE circuit) Francis Suttill(alias Prosper, organiser of Physician circuit, known as Prosper circuit) GERMAN PERSONNEL Theresia Becker(chief wardress, Karlsruhe prison) Franz Berg(crematorium stoker, Natzweiler concentration camp) Hugo Bleicher(alias Colonel Heinrich, Abwehr intelligence officer) Josef Goetz(radio expert, Avenue Foch) Hans Josef Kieffer(counterintelligence chief, Avenue Foch) Horst Kopkow(senior counterintelligence officer, Berlin) Christian Ott(Karlsruhe Gestapo officer) Johann Schwarzhuber(camp overseer, Ravensbrück concentration camp) Peter Straub(executioner, Natzweiler concentration camp) Fritz Suhren(commandant, Ravensbrück concentration camp) Max Wassmer(Karlsruhe Gestapo officer) SELECTED FAMILY MEMBERS Phoebe Atkins(wife of Guy), sister-in-law Ronald Atkins(son of Ralph and Hedy), nephew Zenna Atkins(daughter of Guy and Phoebe), niece Arthur Rosenberg, uncle Fritz Rosenberg(son of Arthur and Nina), cousin George Rosenberg(son of Arthur and Nina, twin of Hans), cousin Hans Rosenberg(son of Arthur and Nina, twin of George), cousin Hilda Rosenberg(formerly and later Atkins), mother Karen Rosenberg(née Gehlsen), wife of Fritz Max Rosenberg, father Ralph Rosenberg(later Atkins), brother Siegfried Rosenberg, uncle Wilfred Rosenberg(later Guy Atkins), brother Prologue I met Vera Atkins just once.
I shuffled around a little and looked through some drawers that I had not yet inspected. ” The files contained the original documents relating to Vera's investigation into the disappeared agents. I pulled out a flimsy piece of brown paper. It was a statement made by Franz Berg, a crematorium stoker, who had witnessed the killing of women agents in the Natzweiler concentration camp. I knelt on the floor to read. At the end of the statement, I saw that Berg had been interrogated by Squadron Officer Vera Atkins in April 1946.
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