Chapter 13: Wall Street Swastika: Putlitz to the Rescue
The German Embassy in London, otherwise known as Prussia House, seemed to be a seedbed of sedition and intrigue. They took up temporary residence at Winston’s London town house, Morpeth Mansions, to attempt to unravel what was going on. There was an uptick in activity there around the clock since the Wall Street Crash. That much was obvious.
After they had crashed the gambling party they had to be more cautious. No more would they be invited to the more Nazi-leaning events. They needed to find somebody who could slip in and out unimpeded and get information for them what the Nazis in London were up to, what their communications with Germany were like, and what was going to happen next so they could try to avert it or combat it.
Winston made a point of reaching out for contacts among his own contacts. He had the Prof down from Oxford to lunch one day. He suggested an old college chum of his name Putlitz. He had recently attended an Oxford alumnae event. Putlitz, an employee of the German Embassy in London, had been at the cocktail party. He had done nothing but complain about the rising power across the North Sea.
Winston, always a treasure trove of ideas, had another brilliant one. He summoned his wife, Clementine, down to London from the family estate at Chartwell in Kent. She was to arrange a dinner. The only guests were to be Colonel Sir Edward Ware, Mrs. Byrne, the Prof from Oxford, and this man from the German Embassy, su Putlitz. In other words, he invited only other members of the Lawrence map plot. He was clearly going to discuss business.
Putlitz shook his hand heartily and told Winston he had heard about him as a backbencher MP who almost all alone among the government and the British upper class was an enemy of the Nazis. Putlitz was dressed in the old style in a rather fussy fashion. He was a member of the German nobility, thus the “su” in his last name. He was from an old Prussian family with an estate in the country not far from Berlin, in fact situated about halfway between Hamburg and Berlin. He had always been proud to serve at the German Embassy since his family had much business and London and had spent much time there. He had a townhouse not far from Morpeth Mansions. But recently the German presence in England had been corrupted by Adolf Hitler, who was some sort of upstart from Austria who had appeared in Germany not long after the Great War. He had been imprisoned in Bavaria after the Putsch in 1923. Putlitz had thought he would never heard about the bastard again. And now here he was during the past few weeks creating an uproar all over Germany.
“Yes, and holding gambling events in the German Embassy in London of all things!” shuddered Clementine as she directed the server to present another glass of vintage wine to Putlitz.
“Edward always told me that the German Embassy was a staid place full of respectable people!” Dora agreed.
Edward nodded.
“That was under the old ambassador!” Putlitz cringed visibly. “But these days no one has any manners or sense of tradition anymore, least of all this Adolf Hitler character. He would not be above turning the Embassy into a brothel if it would provide enough money for his nefarious political activities.”
“Especially since the German government has been forced by Hitler to appoint Herr von Wessel as the commercial attache at the German Embassy,” Edward added. “That man has financed Hitler since before anybody ever heard about him. He goes back to 1918 and 1919 before Hitler even knew he was going to be a Nazi, Herr von Wessel had joined the party.”
“And that awful wife of his, Frau von Wesel, is even worse,” Winston wriggled his nose.
Clementine shook her head and sighed.
“This is why we need you to work for us,” Winston leaned closer to su Putlitz. “I can’t really pay you much for all the danger you will be risking, but we need the information badly if we are to do anything to counteract this rising star of the Nazi Party.”
Putlitz agreed. “That is why I came here tonight. I want to do something about it even if it costs me my family fortune.”
“That is the sort of fellow we need to hear from!” Winston called for his box of cheroots and offered one to su Putlitz. They toasted to Putlitz’s success.
“My family has always backed the old traditions,” Putlitz assured them. “And England has always been our greatest friend.”
Dora and Edward were having dinner with Winston and the Prof at Morpeth Mansions about one week later when su Putlitz sent a message by a trusted messenger to Winston. Winston tore it open and read it through silently first. Then he read it aloud as Dora leaned as close as she could to hear better:
“I want to warn you that Herr von Wessel and his wife, Frau von Wessel, are up to something big. And this is particularly heinous. Herr and Frau von Wessel are inviting the Prince of Wales to a private dinner to meet Nazi Party officials being sent there from Germany. The Prince is known for his lack of discretion and can be easily influenced and in addition has a big pocketbook. This private dinner at the Embassy is scheduled for this Friday. Sorry not to give you more notice. But we don’t want to involve a crowned head in what should be a major scandal.”