Thomas J. Tunney_
Nineteen and Nineteen_
The Uncovering of a Bomb Plot_
>> _ Evidently a toast to the brotherhood for which it was prepared. It was a pamphlet of some sixty pages, measuring about four by eight inches, and cleanly printed in Italian. It was nothing less than a text-book on how to go about making bombs—a sort of guide to anarchist etiquette. It would be unwise to reproduce its instructions here in detail, as they were too accurate for the general peace, but the index which follows will give a conception of the thoroughness with which the anonymous writers in far-off Italy covered their subject...
The Second of Chapters_
The trend of events in early 1915 made it apparent that the Bomb Squad would be called upon to handle more and more cases of attempted violation of neutrality. Anyone who remembers our national mind at that time will recall that it was not yet made up and very liable to attacks of brainstorm. Every person was seeing events of unheard of violence and magnitude pass him pell-mell, giving no warning, and not waiting for comment, and he was too dazed to watch any single event with any high degree of balanced judgment or reasoning partisanship. It was a troubled hour, and one in which it behooved us of the Police Department to keep our heads cool and our eyes open. The Bomb Squad had to act as a safety valve.
By the summer of 1915 war orders placed by the Allied governments in the autumn and winter of 1914 were being filled and shipped overseas in9great quantities. By this time, too, the German navy showed no more sign of coming out of Kiel in force than it had shown for a year past. The task of delaying, diverting or destroying those shipments devolved upon the Germans in America. It took no superhuman amount of reasoning to combine the abnormal destruction of property in New York with the strong suspicion of German activity and to arrive at a decision to check up wherever it was humanly possible the sources and agencies of destruction.
Late in the autumn, in our work on the waterfront, we found a man who, we decided, was worth watching. We learned gradually that Paul Koenig was a pretty well-known figure along both banks of the Hudson, and that he carried, as chief detective for the Hamburg-American Line, a certain amount of authority. That steamship line, which within a week of the outbreak of war had attempted to send ships to sea under false cargo manifests to supply the German naval raiders, now had more time than business on its hands as its entire fleet was tied up in Hoboken. And yet in spite of the dull times which we knew had been thrust upon them, their man Koenig was curiously busy, and we became busily curious to find out why.
10We were more curious than successful at first. We assigned men to follow him and observe his habits and haunts. This was not as easy as it might have been with another man, for the Department of Justice had already tried it and had come to the conclusion that he was not worth following.
Now a good shadow is born, not made. The moment the man followed realizes or even suspects that he is being followed, he becomes a problem and either gets away or conducts himself in a way which disarms suspicion and sometimes embarrasses the pursuit. Koenig, a man of keen animal senses, was unusually quick in discovering his shadower. It used to confuse certain agents considerably to have him disappear around a corner, and when the agent quickened his pace and swept around the same corner after him, to have Koenig pop out of a doorway with a laugh for his pursuer which meant that the day’s work had gone for nothing. I have known men who were excellent detectives and poor shadows. Sometimes they were too large and conspicuous, sometimes they were over-zealous, sometimes they excited suspicion by being over-cautious; rare enough was the combination of artlessness and skill which made a man a good shadow, told him11when to saunter away in the opposite direction, when to pass his man, and how to efface himself. It is, I think, the instinct of the good fisherman who knows just how much line to run out, and just when to exert the pressure. For Koenig was a slippery fish.
Paul Koenig, the Hamburg-American employe, who supplied and directed agents of German violence in America
By a new method of “tailing” or shadowing, we learned that he frequented several popular German places in the city, such as Pabst’s in Columbus Circle, the German Club, in Central Park West, where Dr. Albert, Boy-Ed and von Papen frequently went, Luchow’s restaurant in 14th Street, as well as the good American hotels Belmont and Manhattan. Both of the hotels are centrally situated, and have several entrances, including direct connection from the basement with the Subway—one of the easiest places to lose oneself in the city. (A murderer not many months ago avoided arrest for two days by riding back and forth in Subway trains.) But such places as these were no more than the natural points towards which any German might gravitate, and we could never pick up a scrap of conversation to give us a lead in any specific direction.
The fact remained that he was busy, going and coming, and that he conducted a good deal of his business from his office in the Hamburg-American12building at 45 Broadway. We might as well have tried to penetrate to Berlin with a brass band as to have entered the building for information. But there was one advantage we could take: we could “listen in” on his telephone wire.
When the men tailing him reported in that he was in the Hamburg-American Building, and probably in his office, we cut in on his wire, and posted an officer at our receiver to take down all conversations which passed. The outgoing calls were disappointing. Koenig was no fool—or rather was a highly specialized fool—and was not careless enough to give information of aid and comfort to the enemy through such a gregarious medium as a public telephone wire. We listened for a long while, in vain....
Then came a call which offered possibilities. A man’s voice told Paul Koenig that it thought Paul Koenig was a “bull-headed Westphalian Dutchman,” and added other more lurid remarks. The conversation was short, but while it lasted indicated that someone was not pleased with Mr. Koenig. Within the next few days the same voice called “P. K.” again and told him several things it had forgotten to mention, all pointing to the fact that the owner of the unknown voice had been misused.
We hunted up the number from which the disgruntled calls had been made. It was a public telephone pay-station in a saloon. Crucial events can almost always be traced to some trivial circumstances—the poem “for the want of a nail the battle was lost” is an illustration of what I mean. We are not dealing here with possibilities but with facts, yet I cannot sometimes help speculating on the extent to which German atrocities might have been carried in New York and Canada, if we had not found a bartender with a good memory in that saloon. Yes, he remembered a fellow who had come in there at certain times to telephone. Yes, he came in once in a while. Didn’t know his name, but thought he lived around the corner at such and such a number. At that number we found out the man’s name—the bartender’s description had been accurate. The name was George Fuchs.
So to George Fuchs we mailed a letter, typed on the stationery of a wireless telegraph company, suggesting that we had a position for which we believed he was the proper man, and that we would be pleased to have him call at the office of the company, at an appointed hour, to discuss the work and wages. Fuchs did not show up at the appointed hour, which disturbed the plans momentarily,14but when he did arrive, he was greeted cordially by an executive of the “company” who proceeded to get acquainted with the applicant. The manner of the wireless person was so disarming, his German was so good, and his certainty that Fuchs was the man for the job so taken for granted that the two adjourned to a nearby restaurant. (Detective Corell had a very good working knowledge of German.)
“Who did you say you were working for?” Corell asked, across the crater of Fuchs’s glass of beer.
“That bull-headed Westphalian Dutchman,” Fuchs sputtered. “He is some relative of my mother’s. She was a Prussian, though, Gott sei dank!”
Corell laughed at the right time, and in the conversation which ensued drew out the man’s grievance against Koenig. In September Mr. and Mrs. Koenig had paid a visit to the Fuchs household in Niagara Falls, N. Y., where Fuchs lived with his mother in the Lochiel Apartments. The wonders of the Falls had received proper attention from the strangers, and Koenig showed some interest in the Welland Canal, the channel through which shipping circumnavigates the Falls. He said that the waterway was closely guarded, otherwise15he would like to go over and have a look at it, and suggested, as a convenient substitute, that Fuchs go over to Canada and take some snapshots of the locks for him.
“Why don’t you go yourself?” Fuchs asked.
“They would probably pick me up if I did,” Koenig replied.
“Well, that’s just why I won’t take any camera over there with me,” Fuchs rejoined. “But I’ll go if you want a report.”
The bargain was closed. Fuchs, Koenig said, was the very man, as he was known on the Canadian side as George Fox, was an American by birth, and would not excite suspicion. So at 7 P. M. of September 30—slightly more than a year since Horst von der Goltz and Captain von Papen had made their first abortive attempt to destroy the Canal—“Fox” registered at the Welland House in Welland, close by the waterway. There he spent the night. The next morning he went to Port Colborne, the Lake Erie mouth of the Canal, and during the balance of the day followed its course northward, making mental notes of the shipping and the construction and guarding of the locks. By night he had reached Thorold, where he found a room, jotted down his observations, and spent the night. The next day he covered the balance of the 27 miles to Lake Ontario, noting the number of locks, and the fact that there were two or three armed soldiers on guard at each. With his head full of good ideas for bad plans he reached Niagara Falls again that night—October 2.
Koenig was enthusiastic over his report, but when Fuchs had written it down he decided that it would be hazardous to have such a document found on his person. “Mail it to me at Post Office Box 840 in New York. Sign it just ‘George’—nobody would know who that was even if they did find it.” He went back to New York. Fuchs heard nothing from him for a few days, except that action had been deferred. Then the country cousin began to importune the city cousin, and Koenig suggested that he come down to New York to work for him. Which Fuchs did, and on October 8 was placed on the payroll of the “Bureau of Investigation” at eighteen dollars a week. Koenig arranged that Fuchs was to hire men who would row a boatload of dynamite across the upper Niagara River to smuggle it into Canada, and he had meanwhile arranged with two others, Richard Emil Leyendecker, his chief assistant, and Fred Metzler, his secretary, to carry out a definite plan to sever the main artery of lake traffic by blowing it to pieces.
By Sunday, November 7, Fuchs had been occupied in several odd jobs for Koenig, such as spying on outward-bound cargoes along the waterfront, doing special guard duty at Dr. Albert’s office, and going over to Hoboken to frighten a poor German agent named Franz Schulenberg, who had come on from the west to collect money from von Papen. On that Sunday he was sick and did not report for duty. He asked for his regular pay, however, and Koenig refused it, doubting that Fuchs had really been too ill to report, and holding that illness should never interfere with service to the Fatherland. This created bad blood between the two. On November 22 Koenig discharged him for “constant quarrelling with another operative, drinking, and disorderly habits,” and announced that he would not be paid for his services of the previous day, when he had refused to go on duty in a river-launch. That $2.57 due Fuchs had poisoned his soul against Koenig, and he had grown so bitter that the result we already know—evidence was at last in our hands for an arrest.
It was a case for federal prosecution, obviously, so we called in Captain William Offley and Agent Adams, an able operative of the Department of Justice. A few hours later Koenig was placed under arrest. He resented the intrusion, and snapped to Barnitz: “Anyone who interferes with Germans or the German Government will be punished!” His house up-town was searched and that search disclosed, among other matters, an item which is unquestionably one of the richest prizes of the spy hunt in America.
It was Paul Koenig’s little black memorandum book—a loose-leaf affair, scrupulously typewritten, and brought down to within a day of his arrest. A fanatic on office efficiency might have conceived it, but none but a German would have kept it posted up. For it told the story of his Bureau of Investigation with a devotion to detail almost religious.
The Hamburg-American Line probably never thought that when they assigned a shrewd ruffian named Paul Koenig to investigate an alleged case of wharfage graft in Jersey City away back in 1912 they had established a “Bureau of Investigation.” But Paul Koenig knew better. He surrounded his lightest activities with an air of mystery and efficiency true to the best of amateur-detective tradition. He called his first case by a mystic number, he conferred the ominous alias of “xxx” upon himself, hired a man named Fred Metzler as his secretary, and convinced himself that he and Metzler were a bureau. In the light of the all-absorbing importance which his bureau held for him, we are not surprised (and we must not smile), when we see chronicled neatly in his little black book that on May 13, 1913, he rented a room at 45 Broadway for “new offices,” on May 24 his first private telephone was installed, on Nov. 19 a steel cabinet was purchased for the files of the department, on May 28 of 1914 the adjoining room was added to Room 82, and Room 82 was converted into a private office for the chief, and on July 14 a new safe was purchased and placed in the office. It may be that the assassination of the Archduke Ferdinand had something to do with that last item, for it is certain that the Hamburg-American Line knew that war was coming well in advance of the declaration. At any rate, we find that on July 31, 1914, before England and Germany had actually gone to war, and on the same day that the director of the Hamburg-American in New York received instructions from Berlin that war was coming and that he was expected to supply German naval vessels in American waters—on that day Paul20Koenig began his war duties by placing a special guard on all the piers and vessels of the Line in New York Harbor.
Up to this time the cases Koenig had handled were matters of shipping—stowaways, fires, steerage rates, charges against ships’ officers. On August 22 he became a German military spy. We find it entered in his own words:
“Aug. 22. German Government, with consent of Dr. Buenz, entrusted me with the handling of a certain investigation. Military attaché von Papen called at my office later and explained the nature of the work expected. (Beginning of Bureau’s services for Imperial German Government.)”
The “certain investigation” consisted in sending two men to Canada to spy on the Valcartier training camp where the first Canadian Expeditionary Force was being mobilized, and to report to the military attaché their state of readiness, in order that he might try some means of keeping them at home if it were not already too late. What von Papen had in mind was dynamiting the Welland Canal; it failed, but the case is of momentary interest to us here because it marked the beginning of a service on Koenig’s part which grew very fast and extended in many and diverse directions.
The Bureau was divided into three parts, the pier division, the special detail division, and the secret service division, or “Geheimdienst.” No one was allowed to forget that P. K. was head of all three. In his rules and regulations he records, among other gems, these:
“#2. In order to safeguard the secrets and affairs of the department prior to receiving a caller, hereafter my desk must be entirely cleared of all papers excepting those pertaining to the business in hand.
“#9. All persons related to me, however distant, will be barred from employment with the Bureau of Investigation. This does not apply to my wife.
“#6. It has been found detrimental to the discipline of the Office to invite direct employees of the Bureau to my residence or other place socially, or to accept their invitations, therefore this practice must cease. This ruling does not apply to agents of the Secret Service Division nor to direct employees if engaged with me on an operation which requires either social entertainment or travelling.”
He had an elaborate and complicated outlay of badges, shields and photographic identification cards for each operative, for which each operative stood the expense. His meticulous attention to detail, and the diligent caution which he observed at all times is indicated in a list of aliases which he set forth in the memorandum book. In 26 cases listed he used 26 different names—none of them his own. For example, in what he called “D-Case 250,” in dealing with an operative named “Sjurstadt” Koenig was known to Sjurstadt only as “Watson”; in D-Case 316, when he negotiated with his agent von Pilis (a propagandist who was later interned, by the way) Koenig was “Bode.” He devised a new name for himself for every new case, and sometimes used two or three names in dealing with different individuals in the same case. Naturally a man of as many identities as Koenig had to keep a record of who he was, and so his list of aliases furnished the government with an excellent catalogue of the pies in which he had his tough fingers. Each of his own employees in the Secret Service Division was known to him in three ways: by his Christian (or rather, his German) name, by a number, and by a special pair of initials. Thus Richard Emil Leyendecker, the art-woods dealer associated with him in the Welland Canal affair, was Secret Agent Number 6, known as “B. P.”; Otto Mottola, a member of the New York Police Department was Secret Agent Number 4, known as “A. S. (formerly A. M.).” The connections of the bureaus were mentioned in his reports by numbers, the Imperial German Embassy being 5000, von Papen being 7000, Boy-Ed 8000, and Dr. Heinrich Albert, the commercial attaché of the embassy, 9000.
Secret Service Division_
Safety Block System_
Operatives of the S. S. Division, when receiving instructions from me or through the medium of my secretary as to designating meeting places, will understand that such instructions must be translated as follows:
For week Nov. 28 to Dec. 4 (midnight)
A street number in Manhattan named over the telephone means that the meeting will take place 5 blocks further uptown than the street mentioned.
Pennsylvania R. R. Station means Grand Central Depot.
Kaiserhof means General Post Office, in front of P. O. Box 840.
Hotel Ansonia means Cafe in Hotel Manhattan (basement).
Hotel Belmont means at the Bar in Pabst’ Columbus Circle.
Brooklyn Bridge means Bar in Unter den Linden.
For week Dec. 5 to Dec. 12 (midnight)
Code to remain the same as previous week.
For week Dec. 12 to Dec. 19 (midnight)
A street number in Manhattan named over the telephone means that the meeting will take place 5 blocks further downtown than the street mentioned.
Secret Service Division_
Rules and Regulations_
#1. Beginning with November 6th, no blue copies are to be made of reports submitted in connection with D-Case #343, and the original reports will be sent to H.M.G. instead of the duplicates, as formerly.
#2. In order to accomplish better results in connection with D-Case #343, and to shorten the stay of the informing agent at the place of meeting, it has been decided to discontinue the former practice of dining with this agent prior to receiving his report. It will also be made a rule to refrain from working on other matters until the informant in this case has been fully heard; and all data taken down in shorthand. (11-11-15)
#3. Beginning with November 28th, 1915, all operations designated as D-Cases will be handled exclusively by the Secret Service Division, the Headquarters of which will not be at the Central Office, as heretofore. This change will result in discontinuing utilizing operatives or employees attached to the Central Office, Division for Special Detail and Pier Division. On the other hand, great
Random Pages from “P. K.’s Little Black Book”_
In the same way he disguised his meeting places. In his instructions to the Secret Service Division we find this:
“Operatives of the S. S. Division when receiving instructions from me or through the medium of my secretary as to designating meeting places will understand that such instructions must be translated as follows:
“For week Nov. 28 to Dec. 4 (midnight).
“A street number in Manhattan named over the telephone means that the meeting will take place 5 blocks further uptown than the street mentioned.
“Pennsylvania R. R. Station means Grand Central Depot.
“Kaiserhof means General Post Office, in front of P. O. Box 840.
“Hotel Ansonia means café in Hotel Manhattan (basement).
“Hotel Belmont means at the bar in Pabst’s Columbus Circle.
“Brooklyn Bridge means bar in Unter den Linden.”
Each week he rearranged this code, so that anyone who thought that cutting in on a telephone call meant knowing where Koenig was bound was not likely to find him there. The man knew his German New York, and had numerous convenient meeting places where he could meet an agent and converse undisturbed, such as a German hotel at Third Avenue and 42d Street, or a German bar at Broadway and 110th Street, or a lodging house at South and Whitehall Streets, near the lower tip of the island, or a saloon connected with a Turkish bath in Harlem. He not only made it almost impossible to trace him by tapping his own wire, but his operatives were instructed to call him from pay-station telephones in locations where there was not one chance in a million of identifying the person who had called. Fuchs, of course, was the one-millionth chance, but Fuchs was no longer obeying Koenig’s orders, was persistent, and careless. Altogether Koenig had built up a system of caution on paper which almost beat the game, and which enabled him to conduct a large volume of business.
The functions of his departments were clearly defined. The pier division guarded the piers and vessels of the Line, and furnished him information of sailings from the New York waterfront, which he in turn passed on to the naval attaché, Boy-Ed. Through this division he was able to keep in touch with the waterfront element for whatever service of violence might be necessary, and to keep a fairly complete record of shipping. The special detail division was assigned to the guarding of von Bernstorff’s summer place at Cedarhurst, Long Island, Dr. Albert’s office in the Hamburg-American building, von Papen’s office at 60 Wall Street, and the Austrian consulate in New York. This division conducted every week a test to determine whether or not Dr. Albert was being shadowed. We find entered in his notes on his operatives this:
“H. J. Wilkens is commended by me for good service rendered thus far as attendant on Dr. Albert. This commendation is based on a note received from the latter under date of November 12, reading as follows:
“‘Dear Mr. Koenig:
“‘The service rendered by your bureau’s operative, H. J. Wilkens, have proven entirely satisfactory.
(Signed) H. T. Albert.’”
Apparently Koenig’s performance of his duty to the German cause encouraged the high officials of the German government in the United States to rely upon him, for these posts were gradually placed under his direction during the summer of 1915, the Embassy at Cedarhurst on July 3, Dr. Albert’s office on Sept. 1, von Papen’s office on Oct. 26, and the Austrian Consulate on December 15—three days previous to Koenig’s arrest, and less than a week after Captain von Papen, who was returning to his own country by the request of our country, had called P. K. to the German Club to “express his thanks for the services this Bureau have rendered to him.” “At the same time,” the little notebook confides, “he bid me Good-Bye.” We find these functions mentioned with a suggestion of reverence.
But the autobiography of Paul Koenig resumes its dark shroud of mystery when it turns to the functions of the division of secret service. There he is the dominating figure, a sort of cross between a Dr. Moriarity and a gorilla, a slippery conniver one minute and a pugnacious bully the next, convicted by his own complimentary reports. It was in handling the “D-cases” already mentioned that he employed his many false names, his secret numbers, his elusive places of appointment, and his essentially Teutonic discipline. The nature of the work of this division may best be suggested by citing a case which appears rather often in his records—Case D-343.
may not be in my interest. The stenographer of the Central Office, however, will continue to write out checks as heretofore, but the check-book itself, will always be kept under lock and key. (11-23-15)
#11. Operatives of the Pier Division in future will carry as their means of identification only the Bureau’s identification card, on the reverse side of which a photograph of the bearer will be pasted, with my signature written above and below the photo. The front side of the card will also bear my signature. These men will not carry any more shields, as in the past. Any changes in the personnel of the Pier Division, such as attachments and detachments, will be brought to the attention of the Marine Superintendent or other Superintends at whose piers they are stationed. There will be special operatives selected to check up operatives of the Pier Division and employees of the piers, who will not be named to anyone in advance, but who will, at Intervals, make their inspections, carrying with them as their means of identification, a commission consisting of a letter on Company’s stationery, setting forth their authority, which will be duly signed by me and counter-signed by one of the Company’s Vice Directors. These special operatives
are to be known as Central Office men, and do not come under the jurisdiction of the Pier Division. (11-23-15)
#12. Beginning with today, specific plans have been decided upon as to the best manner in which to keep newspapers and clippings dealing with the war and political subjects. Clippings that refer to D-Cases of this Bureau will continue to be placed in the private files, together with their respective reports. An exception to this particular rule may be made in the event that there are too many clippings at hand, in which case they may be bound together and kept separate, as is being done in the case of operation D-#332. Other clippings are to be mounted on cardboard, and the name of the newspaper and date typewritten thereon. Articles of interest that cover an entire page or more will not be clipped, but will be kept whole in a temporary folder in view of binding same later. This, also applies to copies which deal with matters on which reports have been rendered. (12-7-15)
Random Pages from “P. K.’s Little Black Book”
covering G. G. Station #3 on Sunday, November 21st, from 10 A.M. until 5 P. M. Contrary to the list of assignments for the Pier Division he did not do guard duty at the Hoboken Piers during the night of November 20th to 21st. In order to be at his new post, G. G. Station #3, he was given this night off with pay, to be charged to Case #242. Wages while on duty at G. G. Station #3 will be the same as heretofore.
H. v.Staden on November 22d, at 10 A. M., reported to Central Office duty as instructed. He will work jointly with Opt. W.H.M., his salary to remain unchanged.
H. Pearsall, on Saturday, November 20th upon being instructed by Opt. H.J.W. that he was to be assigned to the Pier Division, declared that he refused to accept this post, and tendered his resignation. According to a written report submitted by Opt. H.J.W., H. P. acted insolently, and belittled this Bureau’s service. As H. P. did not tender his resignation to me personally or by mail, I did not take cognizance of what he told Opt. H.J.W. regarding leaving the department, but discharged him at once upon hearing of his conduct. His services ended on November 21st at 10 A.M. While he has been an alert watchman, he has often proven to be a cranky, quarrelsome employee, who was the cause of a great deal of trouble while on the piers.
I congratulate myself on having ridden this Bureau of an ignorant, stubborn and hot-headed man of the caliber of Pearsall, whose last words to stenographer F. Metzler were that he would not trust me for a dollar. While it is understood that this former employee is disbarred from reinstatement, he will never be given any sort of a recommendation, nor will I receive him. He is to be kept out of the office entirely.
George Fuchs was dismissed from the Bureau’s services on November 22d at 4.30 P.M. The reason for his discharge is general conduct displayed on Company’s piers, constant quarreling with another operative, drinking and disorderly habits. He will receive no pay for the night of November 21st to 22d, during which he refused to join Opt. J.P.C. in his duties on Company’s Launch #4.
William McCulley, on November 16th at 3 A.M., was appointed Chief of the Secret Service Division, his duties to commence on Sunday, November 28th, at 9 A.M. Salary $28. per week. Upon his word he promised to remain in this capacity for at least six months and to be at my disposal at all hours. He is to take a residence in New York City, and will be known as “William MacIntyre” at the Headquarters of the Secret Service Division to be established on December 1st, 1915.
R. E. Leyendecker, on November 23d, at 11 P.M., was appointed Assistant to the
Random Pages from “P. K.’s Little Black Book”_
Rule number 1 of the division stated:
“Beginning with Nov. 6 (1915) no blue copies are to be made of reports submitted in connection with D-Case 343, and the original reports will be sent to H. M. G. instead of the duplicates, as formerly.”
“H. M. G.” we learned from the key to special personages for whom the division was conducting investigations, was von Papen himself. Rule 2 reads:
“In order to accomplish better results in connection with D-Case 343, and to shorten the stay of the informing agent at the place of meeting, it has been decided to discontinue the former practice of dining with this agent prior to receiving his report. It will also be a rule to refrain from working on other matters until the informant in this case has been fully heard, and all data taken down in shorthand.”
The book revealed that in D-Case 343 Koenig’s alias was Woehler, and his agent’s name Schleindl. In his notes on operatives Koenig had written that “Friedrich Schleindl ... who was first known as Operative #51, and later as Agent C. O., beginning with October 21st will be called Agent B. I.” This enabled us to interpret a further regulation of the division, to this effect.
“Agent B. I. has been requested not to call again at the Central Office, this ruling to take effect immediately. Other arrangements will be made to meet him elsewhere. Whether or not the stenographer of the Central Office will continue to write reports covering D-Case 343 will be determined later.”
Rule 4 read:
“Supplementing Rule 2, it has been decided that I refrain from drinking beer or liquor with my supper prior to receiving Agent B. I., for the reason that I wish to be perfectly fresh and well prepared to receive his reports.”
And Rule 3 contained this passage:
“... great care is to be taken that operatives and agents of the Secret Service Division remain entirely unknown to members of the Central Office and other divisions. These regulations do not apply to D-Case 343, which has been handled since the beginning of July (1915) with the knowledge of employees not belonging to the Secret Service Division. Until more favorable arrangements can be made this practice may be continued.”
Here clearly was an unusually important case. The notes indicated that Koenig was receiving frequent reports of great value from this Schleindl, had been receiving them for at least five months, was reporting them to von Papen, and intended to safeguard his obtaining further information. When a German voluntarily forswears his beer, something serious is on foot.
Lieut. Barnitz, with Detectives Walsh and Fenelly, arrested Schleindl the same day we closed in on Koenig. In his pocket was a cablegram referring to Russian munitions. He was a German reservist, born in Bavaria. At the outbreak of war he was a clerk in the National City Bank of New York, and lived away up in the Bronx, and in the first reaction to war he reported at the German Consulate for duty. Months passed, and he had not been called upon, when one night he met a German who told him to report at the Hotel Manhattan to meet another German named Wagoner. “You’ll find him in the bar,” added his informant.
“Wagoner,” who was Paul Koenig himself, met the youth, and playing on his patriotism drew from him the information that he had access to many cablegrams to and from the Allied governments through the bank concerning the purchase and shipment of war supplies. Offering Schleindl a retainer of $25 a week, Koenig told him to steal from the files all such messages he could lay his hands on, together with copies of express-bills showing when the goods were delivered to the piers for shipment, all data relating to the prices paid, detailed descriptions of the purchases, and any other particulars which would help the German Government to complete its knowledge of what supplies America was shipping abroad. Schleindl grew quite enthusiastic in the work. Starting with light thefts, he gradually grew bolder, until he was in a position to steal documents night after night, take them to his appointment with Koenig, have them copied, and arrive at the Bank early enough the following morning to put them back where they belonged. Friday night was the regular appointment, but often messages of big shipments came in and he relayed the news at once to his chief. The extra $25 a week practically doubled his earning power, and made devotion to the Fatherland very attractive—so much so that he began to be afraid that Koenig, who was merely the receiving station for his reports, and who took no risks himself, would receive more than his share of credit. If there were any iron crosses to be given out, or any ribbons for foreign service, Schleindl felt that he had earned his, so he forwarded to his brother in Austria from time to time stenographic31notes written in the Bavarian dialect which would be especially difficult of translation. In order to evade the censor he tore them into scraps and sifted them into the folds of newspapers which went unmolested through the British mail censors at Kirkwall. These scraps, pieced together and translated into reports, were forwarded by his brother to German officials.
Schleindl’s zeal had led him into other channels of German activity. At college in Germany he had had a friend named Alexander Dietrichens, later known variously as Willish, Sander, Glass, and Lizius—one of those Riga Russians of German parentage who have served Bolshevism so eminently in Russia. In 1915 Dietrichens was in America, and the two renewed their friendship. He said he was eager to serve the Fatherland, and that he only wanted to know who was supplying munitions to the Allies to start a campaign of destruction against them. He suggested the Du Pont factories at Wilmington, and asked the young bank clerk to come along. Schleindl, impressionable and emotional, had not the courage. He confessed to me that he wept at the thought, and that he asked Dietrichens whether any harm could come to him if the explosion killed anyone. “Very likely,” Dietrichens answered cheerfully. Schleindl then declined, but he helped the dynamiter to the extent of keeping an occasional bomb or a package of dynamite for him during the day in his locker or under his desk at the bank. The main cache where Dietrichens stored his explosives was near Tenafly, New Jersey, but when Schleindl and I visited it, in a deserted spot almost a mile from the nearest building, the shanty was empty.
Schleindl was tried, convicted and sentenced to an indeterminate term in the penitentiary, for the theft of documents. Koenig pleaded guilty to the charge, but sentence was suspended on him owing to the greater importance of the Welland charges.
The Schleindl and Dietrichens cases are only two examples of many to which the little black book gave clues. It suggested investigations into many others, for it was a real storehouse of names, and knowing Koenig’s close relationship with the highest German authorities in the United States, it contributed a large number of items to the bill of complaint against Germany which provoked the President’s Flag Day warning of 1916. Koenig’s mere mention of the name of “Horn” in D-Case 277 gave evidence of the German sponsorship of the attempt of Werner Horn to blow up the Vanceboro bridge in February, 1915; the name “Stahl” in D-Case 328 indicated by Koenig’s own hand that it was he who paid Gustave Stahl for the false affidavits that the Lusitania had carried guns; the name “Kienzle” in D-Case 316 was the name of a man who was involved in trying to blow up vessels sailing for France and England; the name “Hammond” in D-Case 357 led to the disclosure that the Bureau of Investigation, although chiefly engaged in spying and destroying plots, sometimes ran other and more delicate errands for von Bernstorff.
Posing this time as “W. H. Becker” Koenig called on one J. C. Hammond, a writer and publicity man who had offices at 34th Street and Broadway. To Hammond he stated that from the standpoint of the Germans in America two newspapers were taking irritating and unfriendly attitudes. These were the New York World and the Providence Journal. Both papers had taken, soon after the outbreak of war, definite stands on the American issues involved, and both pursued the subject in a typically thorough fashion, the Providence paper obtaining much of its information from sympathetic British sources, and the World having an influential position politically which led it across the trail of what the newspaper men call “big stories.” The Providence Journal in fact emerged from comparative obscurity during the early months of war with startling charges against German agents both here and abroad, supported by evidence which seemed incredible though of sound origin. These stories were republished widely through the country. It was undoubtedly having a powerful effect upon the public, for the country, dazed with the fact of war, was ready to take sides against the nation which was apparently guilty of the worst acts. Some of those charges were true, and although they seemed at that time so fantastic as to be almost impossible, the members of the German Embassy knew they were true and squirmed inwardly every time a fresh one burst out. The World had a habit of not only spreading exciting news articles over its front page, but lending color to them by publishing photographs of supporting documents to prove their authenticity. So von Bernstorff and the attachés, after having tried to bring influence to bear in many subtle ways to curb the publications, called in Koenig, and he made his little pilgrimage to Hammond’s office.
He offered the publicity agent a large sum of money to find out what exposures the two papers had still in the ice-box, ready to release. Later, he increased this to a blanket offer of any sum which Hammond should name, provided the latter could induce the papers to turn over to him the articles and affidavits in their possession. The offer was not accepted. Hammond did not bite at the offer of a later reward of $100,000 which Koenig hung up to silence the publication of anti-German news in certain other large newspapers in the country, nor did he, as Koenig requested, go to England to visit Rintelen, to find out where Rintelen had left a trunk full of valuable papers when he fled the United States.
The name “Lewis” mentioned in the citation of another case in the little black book revealed a further variation of the services of the Secret Service Division. The United States owned a large quantity of Krag-Joergensen rifles for which in that year of peace it had no use, but which several foreign governments would have been glad to buy. Commercial bachelors who were looking for war brides all took turns paying court to the rifles, and all without success. Readers of the newspapers may recall a small tempest which raged around the alleged sale of the rifles, and the charges levelled at one after another German of the attempt to purchase. Each new charge was denied by its victim, and it finally developed that a Mrs. Selma Lewis had been involved in the negotiations, and was willing to pose as the purchaser. The “man behind” was Franz Rintelen, acting for the German Government, and the name “Lewis” here in Koenig’s notes, amplified by the full name and address of Mrs. Lewis in a small address book which we also captured, indicates that Koenig worked for Rintelen as well as the abler and more authentic members of the embassy of destruction which Germany kept in America.
I think I have made it clear that when the United States interned Paul Koenig it made prisoner one of the busiest men of the German spy system, and one of the strangest. He was physically powerful and mentally quick with a German sort of quickness. He had the most supreme self-confidence it has been my pleasure to meet, and that caused his downfall. If he had administered his bureau in a manner calculated to breed loyalty in his employees he would have been more successful, but he conceived his work as a one-man job, and made his subordinates goose-step to his tune. It is certain that had he not set down with such care every item which would be useful to the United States in unearthing his actions, no one can say how long they would have continued. Napoleon had his Waterloo, however, and Paul Koenig had his notebook, and with the same scrupulous foresight the indomitable “xxx” left that notebook where we would be most likely to find it.
#1. I have decide to refrain from chewing tobacco in the office, as it disagrees with my health, thereby interfering with my work. (12-1-15)
#2. I shall drink no more whiskey. (12-6)
HEALTH TABLE #1.
Random Pages from “P. K.’s Little Black Book”
safeguarding of the Imperial German Embassy at Cedarhurst, L. I.
Sept. 1. Bureau was entrusted with the safeguarding of the offices of Commercial Attache Dr. Albert.
Oct. 26. Bureau was entrusted with the safeguarding of the offices of the Military Attache.
Nov. 12. Began first investigation for Austro-Hungarian Government.
Dec. 13. As 6.30 P.M. Captain von Papen, German Military Attache, received me at the German Club to express his thanks for the services which this Bureau have rendered to him. At the same time he bid me Good-Bye.
Dec. 15. Bureau was entrusted with the safeguarding of the offices of the I. & R. Austro-Hungarian Consulate General.
IMPORTANT CASES HANDLED.
- 1913 -
C.#17. Investigation Re: Jersey City Wharfage Graft.
C.#24. Investigation of Baggage Department, Hoboken.
C.#32. Chinese Stowaways on S.S. “PRINZ JOACHIM”, Voy. 77.
C.#40. Investigation Re: Thefts of Cargo on the Atlas Pier, New York City.
C.#41. S.S. “FRIEDRICH DER GROSSE”, Arrival at New York July 2, 1913.
C.#49. Charges Made Against W. Barbe, Chief Officer, S.S. “CARL SCHURZ”.
C.#54. Investigation Re: S.S. “PRINZ FRIEDRICH WILHELM”, Arrived at New York on June 3.
C.#67. Fire on Board S.S. “IMPERATOR” on August 28.
C.#69. Fire Patrol on S.S. “IMPERATOR”, & etc.
C.#70. Max Ludwig Thomsen, Alias Thomspson.
C.#95. Charges Against Paul Koenig.
Random Pages from “P. K.’s Little Black Book”_
It is a rare treat, aside from its now past informative value. And it contains one real mystery which the Westphalian himself can alone clear up. The page headed “Health Rules” reads as follows:
“#1. I have decided to refrain from chewing tobacco in the office as it disagrees with my health thereby interfering with my work. (12-1-15.)
“#2. I shall drink no more whiskey. (12-6.)”
Which leads one to believe that he saw the practical value of an exemplary life. But we must wait for him to explain the page headed “Health Table,” which reads:
The “XI” is evidently November, of 1915, the “XII” December. What did he do on those dates so accurately mentioned? Did temptation lead him twice from the path on the 17th and 28th of November? If so, what could this temptation have been? Is it possible that the same conscience which made him typewrite his rules of conduct weakened, and then remorse turned about and forced him to set down his lapses from grace? Is it further possible that each of the dates cited means that Paul Koenig broke his brand new health rules ten times in November and eight times in December, and chewed tobacco in office hours?
We must wait in patience—some day his Westphalian conscience may answer.