Be­trayal at Arn­hem?

BBC History Magazine - - Letters -

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

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