Betrayal at Arnhem?
Antony Beevor’s assignment of blame for the Arnhem disaster to poor planning ( Arnhem: A Disaster in the Planning, June) ignores the story told by the SOE’s (Special Operations Executive) cryptographer Leo Marks in Between Silk and Cyanide (Harper Collins, 1998). Marks recounts how he deciphered a signal in Dutch – which he could not understand – containing the word
Arnhem; how he suspected, correctly, that the Dutch SOE was controlled by the Gestapo; and how his Dutch files were seized the day war ended. His implied view is that Arnhem had been compromised from the start. It was decades before he was allowed to publish his redacted story.
Nor does Beevor question why the German division at Arnhem, which wreaked havoc on the paratroopers, were there, ostensibly but unbelievably for rest and recuperation while Montgomery and Patton’s armies were advancing towards the Rhine. Nobody seems interested in Leo Marks’s worries. Malcolm Levitt, London Antony Beevor replies: Leo Marks was not right about a number of things and he was wrong about this. He was probably influenced by a false account, published shortly before, which claimed that a Dutch renegade known as ‘King Kong’ had betrayed the plan of Operation Market Garden. Every German source admits they were taken totally by surprise, and if the Germans had known, Generalfeldmarschall Model, the commander-in-chief of Army Group B, would not have chosen the Hotel Tafelberg as his headquarters less than 5km from the British drop zones. When the gliders and parachutes were spotted, Model was convinced they were coming for him!
Allied paratroopers are dropped over Arnhem in 1944. There was more to this Second World War mission’s failure than poor planning, argues Malcolm Levitt