SPIES OF OP­ER­A­TION CI­TADEL

Bri­tish intelligence ef­forts re­vealed ev­ery de­tail of Hitler’s plan of at­tack

History of War - - ISSUE 57 - WORDS AN­THONY TUCKER-JONES

By 1943 the prog­no­sis for the re­ju­ve­nated Red Army was good. This was de­spite fric­tion be­tween Churchill and Roosevelt on the one hand, and Stalin on the other over intelligence-shar­ing and the de­liv­ery of weapon sup­plies. The Bri­tish Joint Intelligence Com­mit­tee now doubted Hitler’s chances of vic­tory, as­sess­ing that “the prospect of a Ger­man de­feat of Rus­sia has re­ceded to van­ish­ing point”. It also held the view that Hitler had passed the point where he could hope to reach a peace set­tle­ment with Stalin. Churchill was in agree­ment and wrote, “The Rus­sians, both on land and in the air, had now the up­per hand, and the Germans can have had few hopes of ul­ti­mate vic­tory.”

Thanks to the de­coders at Bri­tain’s topse­cret Bletchley Park, Churchill was fore­warned that a bat­tle was loom­ing at Kursk that sum­mer. Not only had Bletchley cracked Enigma, used by the Ger­man armed forces, but also the Lorenz sys­tem used by Ger­man High Com­mand. He re­solved to in­form Stalin but was at pains to con­ceal the true source of this in­for­ma­tion. Cap­tain Jerry Roberts, work­ing at Bletchley, ex­plained, “We were able to warn them what army groups were go­ing to be used. And most im­por­tant, what tank units were go­ing to be used... We had to wrap it all up and say it was from spies, that we had won­der­ful teams of spies, and other sources of in­for­ma­tion.”

It has been spec­u­lated that Bletchley intelligence was also de­lib­er­ately passed through Rudolf Roessler and his ‘Lucy’ spy net­work in Switzer­land, but there is no ev­i­dence to sup­port this. Churchill’s warn­ing was sim­ply sent via diplomatic chan­nels on 30 April 1943 to Moscow. Stalin did not al­to­gether trust Churchill and it is doubt­ful he took much heed of Bri­tain’s ef­forts. After all, th­ese sim­ply con­firmed what he al­ready knew. Although Soviet mil­i­tary intelligence was aware of Bletchley Park, which they called ‘Krurort’, they were un­aware of the ex­act na­ture or in­deed the scale of the work be­ing con­ducted there.

Stalin was con­vinced that Churchill’s help came with an agenda. In 1941 he had largely ig­nored Churchill’s warn­ings about Hitler’s im­pend­ing in­va­sion. His main con­cern was that if the Germans had bro­ken the Soviet cypher sys­tem then the Bri­tish had as well. How­ever, Stalin had a spy right in the heart of Bletchley – Cap­tain John Cairncross, known as ‘Liszt,’ who was pass­ing large quan­ti­ties of de­crypts to the Soviet Em­bassy in Lon­don. He worked at Bletchley from 1942 un­til the sum­mer of 1943, when he trans­ferred to MI6.

Cairncross could not be­lieve just how lax se­cu­rity was at Bletchley. Its boffins were daily in­ter­cept­ing and de­crypt­ing Ger­man, Ital­ian and Ja­panese coded sig­nals, yet the place leaked like a sieve. In con­trast, bizarrely, when it came to petty pil­fer­ing of the cafe­te­ria crock­ery and the length of tea breaks, the au­thor­i­ties were pos­i­tively dra­co­nian.

Stalin did not re­ally need Churchill’s of­fi­cial or Cain­cross’s un­of­fi­cial help, as his own mil­i­tary intelligence was al­ready well aware of Hitler’s build-up around the Kursk salient. Iron­i­cally, the intelligence pro­vided by Cairncross helped con­vince Stalin that the ‘Lucy’ spy ring was part of a de­lib­er­ate Ger­man de­cep­tion op­er­a­tion be­cause some of their in­for­ma­tion matched. It seems that Stalin could not ac­cept or ap­pre­ci­ate that Bletchley Park and his Swiss spies were ac­tu­ally draw­ing on the same sources within the Ger­man High Com­mand.

Cairncross had de­cided that Churchill’s gov­ern­ment was not do­ing enough to help Stalin, so he had taken mat­ters into his own hands. He was of the opin­ion that Bletchley ought to share its intelligence with all its al­lies, not just the Amer­i­cans. A Scottish Marx­ist, Cap­tain Cairncross, known as ‘The Fiery Cross’ at Trin­ity col­lege, had been re­cruited by Soviet intelligence in the late 1930s. He pre­ferred to be­lieve that the Soviet Union was a work­ers’ utopia rather than a bru­tal to­tal­i­tar­ian state. His early ca­reer in the For­eign Of­fice and then

“STALIN HAD A SPY RIGHT IN THE HEART OF BLETCHLEY – JOHN CAIRNCROSS… WHO WAS PASS­ING DE­CRYPTS TO THE SOVIET EM­BASSY”

the Trea­sury had made him a valu­able source of in­for­ma­tion.

At Bletchley Cairncross worked in Hut 3 and he reg­u­larly scooped the pro­cessed de­crypts from the floor. Adding them to his own trans­la­tions, he then hid them in his trousers. Cu­ri­ously, Cairncross was never pat­ted down by Bletchley’s guards, nor did he seem par­tic­u­larly sur­prised that he al­ways man­aged to find use­ful in­for­ma­tion on the floor, which would be of help to his for­eign friends. Once at the lo­cal rail­way sta­tion he put the de­crypts in a bag and trav­elled to Lon­don to meet ‘Henry’, his Soviet han­dler, whose real name was Ana­toli Gorsky.

In par­tic­u­lar he gained valu­able in­for­ma­tion that showed Hitler was plan­ning to pinch off the Kursk salient. What he did not know was that Leo Long, a mil­i­tary intelligence of­fi­cer work­ing in the War Of­fice, was also leak­ing Bletchley intelligence on Kursk. He was do­ing so via Soviet mole An­thony Blunt, who worked for MI5. De­spite ini­tial fears that it might be part of a de­lib­er­ate Bri­tish de­cep­tion plan, Soviet mil­i­tary intelligence deemed it to be ‘very valu­able’.

The Swiss net­work

Op­er­at­ing from Geneva, Sán­dor Radó, co­de­name ‘Dora’, and English­man Al­lan Foote de­vel­oped a con­tact in Lucerne known as ‘Lucy’ via Ger­man émi­gré Chris­tian Sch­nei­der. ‘Lucy’ was a Ger­man ex­ile by the name of Rudolf Roessler, who was a com­mit­ted anti-nazi with some ex­tremely well-placed sym­pa­this­ers within the Ger­man High Com­mand and mil­i­tary intelligence.

By pro­fes­sion Roessler was a jour­nal­ist and pub­lisher who in the early 1930s had in­curred the dis­plea­sure of the Nazis. He lived in fear of be­ing handed over to Hitler’s hench­men. By way of in­sur­ance he was also work­ing for Swiss intelligence. Radó,

Foote and Sch­nei­der, mean­while, were spies work­ing for Soviet mil­i­tary intelligence. Radó and his net­work knew secrecy was ev­ery­thing. For se­cu­rity pur­poses Sch­nei­der, co­de­name ‘Tay­lor’, was Roessler’s only point of con­tact. Although Switzer­land was neu­tral, should the au­thor­i­ties dis­cover them op­er­at­ing on Swiss soil they would ar­rest every­one.

Ev­ery time Gen­eral Zeitzler, chief of the Army Gen­eral Staff, asked for sit­u­a­tion reports from the Ger­man armies around the Kursk salient it went through Gen­eral Erich Fellgiebel. He was head of com­mu­ni­ca­tions for both the armed forces and Army High Com­mand. Along with his deputy, Lieu­tenant Gen­eral Fritz Thiele, he was an ar­dent anti-nazi. To some they were pa­tri­ots try­ing to un­der­mine Hitler, to oth­ers they were dan­ger­ous traitors in­tent on Ger­many’s down­fall. Ev­ery step Zeitzler took to for­mu­late Op­er­a­tion Ci­tadel was re­layed by Fellgiebel to ‘Lucy’ in Lucerne and on to Moscow.

The Ger­man Gen­eral Staff and the Ab­wehr intelligence or­gan­i­sa­tion had come to the con­clu­sion that some­one high up was aid­ing Stalin. Colonel Rein­hard Gehlen, who was in charge of intelligence-gath­er­ing on the East­ern Front, noted, “Ad­mi­ral Ca­naris [head of Ab­wehr] came to my head­quar­ters at An­der­burg one day and told me in the course of a lengthy con­ver­sa­tion whom he sus­pected to be the traitor, though I be­lieve that he knew more than he was pre­pared to tell me.” Both were look­ing in com­pletely the wrong di­rec­tion. They con­vinced them­selves, wrongly, that the traitor was Hitler’s pri­vate sec­re­tary, Martin Bor­mann.

Hav­ing been con­tacted by Sch­nei­der, Radó had in­structed Foote to ra­dio Moscow to say, “Ma­jor Ger­man of­fen­sive at Kursk im­mi­nent.” Sch­nei­der re­as­sured him that more intelligence would be forth­com­ing re­gard­ing Ger­man troop de­ploy­ments and timeta­bles. If Hitler thought he was go­ing to take the ini­tia­tive he had an­other thing com­ing. If he tried any­thing at Kursk he would reap a bit­ter har­vest.

“EV­ERY STEP ZEITZLER TOOK TO FOR­MU­LATE OP­ER­A­TION CI­TADEL WAS RE­LAYED BY FELLGIEBEL TO ‘LUCY’ IN LUCERNE AND ON TO MOSCOW”

The ma­teriel link

Dur­ing the begin­ning of 1943, un­der the cover of per­pet­ual Arc­tic dark­ness, Churchill had pushed two sup­ply con­voys through to Rus­sia, but with the re­turn of the day­light he re­luc­tantly post­poned the March con­voy. Then, un­der ad­vice from the Royal Navy, he agreed that sup­plies by this route would stop un­til the re­turn of dark­ness in the au­tumn. “This de­ci­sion was taken with deep re­gret,” Churchill wrote later, “be­cause of the tremen­dous bat­tles on the Rus­sian front which dis­tin­guished the cam­paign of 1943.”

Stalin was livid, as this would de­lay the de­liv­ery of 660 fighter air­craft. Only much later did Nikita Khrushchev ac­knowl­edge, “The English helped us tena­ciously and at great peril to them­selves. They shipped cargo to Mur­mansk and suf­fered huge losses. Ger­man sub­marines lurked all along the way.” Stalin cared lit­tle that the Amer­i­cans and Bri­tish were fight­ing a des­per­ate con­voy war in the At­lantic in or­der to sup­ply their forces in North Africa and as part of the build-up for the sec­ond front.

Re­mark­ably, in re­sponse to the Amer­i­can con­voys bound for North Africa, Bri­tain and the Soviet Union, the Ab­wehr es­tab­lished a size­able spy net­work in Brazil. Wash­ing­ton used the coun­try as a hub for air fer­ry­ing ser­vices and as a cen­tral lo­ca­tion on the con­voy routes. Brazil had a pop­u­la­tion of al­most 1 mil­lion Germans, mak­ing it a fer­tile ground for es­pi­onage. Although this net­work suf­fered a col­lapse in 1942, the intelligence col­lected was clearly quite im­por­tant, as the Ab­wehr at­tempted to set up two more groups in 1943.

De­spite Hitler’s best ef­forts, a lot of equip­ment was still reach­ing the Soviet Union. The Luft­waffe is­sued a se­cret intelligence re­port on 4 April 1943, as­sess­ing that around 1.2 mil­lion tons of sup­plies had come through the Arc­tic route com­pared to just half a mil­lion via the Per­sian Gulf and the Far East. It re­ported, “Be­sides raw ma­te­ri­als, vict­uals and min­eral oil, it in­cluded 1,880 air­craft, 2,350 tanks, 8,300 lor­ries, 6,400 other ve­hi­cles and 2,250 guns.” Th­ese in­evitably had an im­pact on the fight­ing on the East­ern Front.

Although the Red Army viewed its Lend-lease ve­hi­cles as a bless­ing and a curse in equal mea­sure, there was no get­ting away from them. By 1943 20 per cent of Stalin’s tank bri­gades had Lend-lease ve­hi­cles, while around ten per cent were com­pletely equipped with them. Of great­est value to the Red Army were the trucks and lor­ries, which greatly aided the Red Army’s mo­bil­ity. War cor­re­spon­dent Alexan­der Werth wrote, “From my per­sonal ob­ser­va­tion I can say that, from 1943 on, the Red Army un­ques­tion­ably ap­pre­ci­ated the help from the West – whether in the form of Aira­co­bras, Kit­ty­hawks, Dodges, jeeps, spam, army boots, or medicines. The mo­tor ve­hi­cles were par­tic­u­larly ad­mired and val­ued.”

Diplomatic rum­blings

Aside from Churchill and Roosevelt, Stalin was par­tic­u­larly an­gry with US Am­bas­sador Ad­mi­ral Wil­liam H. Stan­d­ley. He, along with the Amer­i­can cor­re­spon­dents in Moscow, made it known that they felt the Soviet press and in­deed the Soviet gov­ern­ment was not show­ing enough grat­i­tude for Amer­i­can and Bri­tish help. Stalin was moved to write to Henry Cas­sidy of the As­so­ci­ated Press, say­ing rather tartly, “As com­pared with the aid which the Soviet Union is giv­ing the Al­lies by draw­ing upon it­self the main forces of the Ger­man Fas­cist armies, the aid of the Al­lies to the Soviet Union has so far been

lit­tle ef­fec­tive.” When this let­ter was pub­lished an af­fronted Stan­d­ley flew to Wash­ing­ton to clar­ify ex­actly what had been sent and how much of it had been suc­cess­fully de­liv­ered.

On his re­turn to Moscow in Jan­uary 1943 he made it his mis­sion to get the Sovi­ets to show some ap­pre­ci­a­tion. None was forth­com­ing – not even from For­eign Min­is­ter Molo­tov. Two months later at a press con­fer­ence Stan­d­ley dropped a diplomatic bomb­shell, say­ing that the Rus­sian peo­ple had no idea of the help they were get­ting, which would not en­cour­age Congress to re­new aid if it was not ap­pre­ci­ated.

Soviet cen­sors were en­raged but were au­tho­rised by Stalin to is­sue Stan­d­ley’s state­ment on 9 March 1943. Stalin ap­pre­ci­ated that a pub­lic re­la­tions war was go­ing on and that for the sake of the bigger pic­ture he needed to give ground. The chief cen­sor, Kozhemi­ako, was fu­ri­ous, as his mother had died of star­va­tion in Len­ingrad. One of his col­leagues cursed, “We’ve lost mil­lions of peo­ple, and they want us to crawl on our knees be­cause they send us spam. And has the ‘warm­hearted’ Congress ever done any­thing that wasn’t in its in­ter­ests? Don’t tell me that Lend-lease is char­ity.” No one, though, was go­ing to defy Stalin and the fol­low­ing day the Soviet press be­gan to re­port on the gen­er­ous aid sent by their al­lies.

De­spite the dis­parag­ing re­marks about spam, like ev­ery­thing else it played its role in Stalin’s war ef­fort. “There were many jokes go­ing around in the army, some of them off-colour, about Amer­i­can spam,” re­called Khrushchev. “It tasted good none­the­less. With­out spam we wouldn’t have been able to feed our army. We had lost our most fer­tile lands – the Ukraine and the north­ern Cau­ca­sus.” What he did not men­tion was that some of the canned pork was also sent to feed Gu­lag in­mates.

It was very ev­i­dent to Alexan­der Werth from his con­tacts that the USA’S gifts were go­ing to have an im­pact on the im­pend­ing fight­ing at Kursk. He wrote, “On 11 June I recorded a con­ver­sa­tion with a Rus­sian cor­re­spon­dent who had just been to Kursk. He said the Rus­sian equip­ment there was truly stu­pen­dous; he had never seen any­thing like it. What was also go­ing to make a big dif­fer­ence this sum­mer was the enor­mous num­ber of Amer­i­can trucks; th­ese were go­ing to in­crease Rus­sian mo­bil­ity to a fan­tas­tic de­gree. The Rus­sian sol­diers were find­ing them ex­cel­lent.”

“STALIN, PUB­LICLY AT LEAST, DE­SPISED SPIES AND DIS­PAR­AGED THEIR IN­FOR­MA­TION. HE SAW THEIR AC­TIONS AS PURELY PO­LIT­I­CALLY MO­TI­VATED”

It is also pos­si­ble that intelligence on

Hitler’s panz­ers was passed to Stalin by John Cairncross. His de­crypts al­legedly en­cour­aged the Sovi­ets to de­velop more pow­er­ful shells in re­sponse to Ger­man ar­ma­ment reports. It is likely that Bletchley was well aware of Hitler’s con­stant de­mands for up­dates on his brand new Pan­ther tank and Fer­di­nand tank de­stroyer. Cer­tainly Churchill was alerted to what he called “the new ‘Tiger’ tanks”. In light of the Tiger I ap­pear­ing in the sum­mer of 1942, it was hardly new by the sum­mer of 1943 so he must have been re­fer­ring to the Fer­di­nand.

Stalin was aware of the prob­lems Hitler was suf­fer­ing with Pan­ther pro­duc­tion thanks to the ‘Lucy’ spy ring and the wealth of clas­si­fied intelligence it was pro­vid­ing. On 15 April

1943 Radó trans­mit­ted to Moscow Hitler’s com­plete or­der of bat­tle for Ci­tadel. Just two days later he help­fully listed the cre­ation of new panzer and in­fantry units. Then on 28

June Radó pro­vided a sum­mary of Pan­ther man­u­fac­ture, mean­ing Stalin knew that Hitler had just three or four bat­tal­ions. Stalin, pub­licly at least, de­spised spies and dis­par­aged their in­for­ma­tion. He saw their ac­tions as purely po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated or based on fi­nan­cial gain: they could not be trusted. None­the­less, what ‘Dora’ was say­ing was cor­rob­o­rated by intelligence from Soviet par­ti­sans be­hind Ger­man lines and by Red Air Force re­con­nais­sance flights.

Even in Ger­many the prepa­ra­tion of th­ese new weapons for Op­er­a­tion Ci­tadel seemed to be com­mon knowl­edge. Jewish aca­demic Vic­tor Klem­perer, liv­ing in the city of Dres­den, jot­ted down in his di­ary in early July, “We are now pro­duc­ing whole se­ries of ‘Tiger’ tanks; and all of it, arms and men, is go­ing east on a mas­sive scale, a train ev­ery fif­teen min­utes! Our of­fen­sive is sure to start in the next few weeks." Armed with such in­for­ma­tion, Stalin al­ready had a low-tech so­lu­tion to Hitler’s panz­ers. “Be­cause the Germans had much bet­ter qual­ity equip­ment and su­per-tanks like the Tiger,” said Cap­tain Jerry Roberts,

“the Rus­sians needed greater quan­ti­ties of ar­moured ve­hi­cles in or­der to com­pete.”

Also on 28 June, cour­tesy of the ‘Lucy’ net­work, Stalin re­ceived the Luft­waffe’s or­der of bat­tle for Ci­tadel. This meant the Red Air Force knew ex­actly what it was up against. John Cairncross claimed he played a role in Stalin’s sur­prise pre-emp­tive air strike at Kursk. He said that the Ger­man lan­guage intelligence “I sup­plied was gen­uine, giv­ing full de­tails of Ger­man units and lo­ca­tions, thus en­abling the Rus­sians to pin­point their tar­gets and take the en­emy by sur­prise”. In the event, though, things did not go to plan in the air.

Churchill and Roosevelt, who had enough on their hands plan­ning the Mediter­ranean cam­paign and the war in the Far East and Pa­cific, found Stalin’s in­grat­i­tude per­plex­ing. On 10 June Stalin wrote to Roosevelt with an air of petu­lance, say­ing, “You and Churchill have de­cided to post­pone the An­glo-amer­i­can in­va­sion of West­ern Europe till the spring of 1944. Now again we’ve got to go on fight­ing al­most sin­gle handed.” He then tried bul­ly­ing Churchill by warn­ing, “The preser­va­tion of our con­fi­dence in the Al­lies is be­ing sub­jected to se­vere stress.”

This was the fi­nal straw for Churchill, who on 27 June 1943 pointed out that Eng­land had fought alone un­til June 1941. Then, bizarrely,

and con­trary to Bletchley intelligence, he said, “You may not even be heav­ily at­tacked by the Germans this sum­mer. This would vin­di­cate de­ci­sively what you once called the ‘mil­i­tary cor­rect­ness’ of our Mediter­ranean strat­egy.” Quite what Stalin made of this mes­sage is any­one’s guess.

In Switzer­land the ‘Lucy’ spy ring’s days were num­bered. By June 1943 Foote was aware that he was be­ing watched by the lo­cal po­lice. Three months ear­lier the Ab­wehr had placed Radó and most of his co-con­spir­a­tors un­der sur­veil­lance. He had not helped mat­ters by hav­ing an af­fair with one of his fe­male wire­less op­er­a­tors, who was half his age. The women con­cerned was also see­ing an Ab­wehr agent. Foote had wanted to re­duce the rate of his trans­mis­sions but Moscow re­fused. Ger­many was now putting diplomatic pres­sure on the Swiss to ar­rest them, and it was be­com­ing in­creas­ingly dif­fi­cult for the au­thor­i­ties to turn a blind eye. In terms of Kursk, though, their work was more than done.

An intelligence vic­tory?

Just how much value did Stalin gain from his spies in Bri­tain and Switzer­land? While their es­pi­onage work was ex­cit­ing and dan­ger­ous, the an­swer is very lit­tle. By the time de­crypted intelligence reached Moscow it was of­ten days if not weeks out of date. John Cairncross, Leo Long and An­thony Blunt liked to think they were in­stru­men­tal in chang­ing the course of the war. This was a de­luded view. Sán­dor Radó and Rudolf Roessler were fed in­for­ma­tion di­rect from the Ger­man High Com­mand, but whether this was bet­ter than the intelligence gained from the Lorenz de­crypts at Bletchley is un­known. Stalin had nu­mer­ous sources of intelligence and his spies were just one small part of the Sovi­ets’ vast in­for­ma­tion-gath­er­ing op­er­a­tion.

Churchill’s un­der­stand­able re­luc­tance to re­veal the source of his intelligence in­evitably did lit­tle to en­hance its cred­i­bil­ity in the eyes of the Krem­lin. Fur­ther­more, by the time in­ter­cepts had been de­crypted, units were of­ten long gone, hav­ing been re­de­ployed else­where. Stalin got much bet­ter intelligence from his par­ti­sans be­hind en­emy lines mon­i­tor­ing Ger­man-con­trolled air­fields, rail­ways and roads. Like­wise, the Red Army ran its own ra­dio in­ter­cept op­er­a­tions and the Red Air Force con­ducted reg­u­lar pho­to­graphic re­con­nais­sance flights.

None­the­less, the role of Enigma and Loren­zderived intelligence passed to Stalin of­fi­cially or un­of­fi­cially should not be com­pletely dis­missed. If Moscow was never ready to ac­knowl­edge the part played by Lend-lease equip­ment, then it was cer­tainly never go­ing to ac­cept it won the war be­cause of Bri­tish and Amer­i­can-sup­plied intelligence and in­for­ma­tion.

Code­breaker Cap­tain Jerry Reynolds was in lit­tle doubt that in­for­ma­tion sup­plied by Bletchley Park played a vi­tal part in short­en­ing the war and has­ten­ing Hitler’s fi­nal de­feat. He pointed out that Churchill “gave the Rus­sians full de­tails of the plans three months be­fore the bat­tle took place and al­lowed them to de­ploy the max­i­mum num­ber of tanks and win the Bat­tle of Kursk.”

Un­til his dy­ing day Reynolds cham­pi­oned the un­sung he­roes of Bletchley: “Most peo­ple in Bri­tain are un­aware of the Kursk story and its enor­mous sig­nif­i­cance, and of the ma­jor con­tri­bu­tion made by the Lorenz de­crypts to its suc­cess­ful out­come. I won­der whether the Rus­sian au­thor­i­ties ever re­alised the im­por­tance of the help that Bri­tain had given.”

It is very no­table that Rus­sian gen­er­als Khrushchev and Zhukov said that they were tipped off that Ci­tadel was about to com­mence against both the Cen­tral and Voronezh Fronts by pris­on­ers cap­tured just hours be­fore. It is highly im­prob­a­ble that lowly pri­vates from the Ger­man army and the Waf­fen-ss would be privy to such in­for­ma­tion. Even if they were, it seems a con­ve­nient co­in­ci­dence that the two fronts re­ceived the same warn­ing at about the same time from the same type of source.

It may be that Khrushchev and Zhukov wanted a plau­si­ble rea­son for open­ing fire be­fore Hitler at­tacked. Could it be that Stalin and his com­man­ders al­ready knew the ex­act day and hour that Op­er­a­tion Ci­tadel was due to com­mence? This is more than likely.

Was this knowl­edge de­rived from Bletchley’s intelligence? It is im­pos­si­ble to tell. Be­sides, Stalin would never have ac­knowl­edged such timely as­sis­tance.

Ul­ti­mately the bat­tle had been brew­ing for months, and for the Red Army it was just a case of sit­ting tight un­til such time as Hitler chose to at­tack. Cer­tainly a man with se­cret doc­u­ments stuffed down his trousers was not re­ally go­ing to have much bear­ing on such de­ci­sive events.

Crack­ing the un­crack­able Lorenz ma­chine meant that Churchill was able to pro­vide Stalin with ev­ery de­tail of Hitler’s preparations for Kursk

In early 1943 Churchill sup­plied Stalin with weapons and vi­tal intelligence. The Soviet dic­ta­tor was not grateful and sus­pected Churchill of skul­dug­gery

By 1943 Bletchley Park’s code­break­ers had not only cracked Enigma, em­ployed by the Ger­man armed forces, but also the Ger­man High Com­mand’s Lorenz codes Ad­mi­ral Wil­liam H. Stan­d­ley, US Am­bas­sador to Moscow, caused an almighty row with Stalin on the eve of Kursk

Rudolf Roessler, above, op­er­at­ing in Switzer­land, was fed intelligence by anti-nazi sym­pa­this­ers in the Ger­man High Com­mand Gen­eral Erich Fellgiebel passed intelligence to agents ‘Lucy’ and ‘Dora’ in Switzer­land

For­mer Bri­tish spy John Cairncross, who worked for Soviet mil­i­tary intelligence, claimed his ac­tions helped shorten the war

The ‘Big Three’ of Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill at the Tehran Con­fer­ence, 1943. De­spite the con­fer­ences be­tween the pow­ers, there was sig­nif­i­cant mu­tual sus­pi­cion and tension A four-ro­tor Ger­man Enigma ma­chine. The Enigma was con­sid­ered un­break­able, but Al­lied intelligence was able to crack its code and in­ter­cept mes­sages

Hitler, along­side Evan Braun, ap­pears ex­hausted from the strains of lead­er­ship

The code-break­ing op­er­a­tion at Bletchley Park gave the Al­lies un­prece­dented ac­cess to Ger­man com­mu­niqués

Cap­tain Jerry Roberts said that Bletchley Park’s work was cru­cial in stop­ping Hitler at Kursk

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