The Eye Of The Needle | Chapter 13 of 56

Author: Ken Follett | Submitted by: Maria Garcia | 133564 Views | Add a Review

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6

IT LOOKED LIKE A MANSION, AND, UP TO A POINT, that was what it was—a large house, in its own grounds, in the leafy town of Wohldorf just outside North Hamburg. It might have been the home of a mine owner, or a successful importer, or an industrialist. However, it was in fact owned by the Abwehr.

It owed its fate to the weather—not here, but two hundred miles southeast in Berlin, where atmospheric conditions were unsuitable for wireless communication with England.

It was a mansion only down to ground level. Below that were two huge concrete shelters and several million reichsmarks’ worth of radio equipment. The electronics system had been put together by a Major Werner Trautmann, and he did a good job. Each hall had twenty neat little soundproof listening posts, occupied by radio operators who could recognize a spy by the way he tapped out his message, as easily as you can recognize your mother’s handwriting on an envelope.

The receiving equipment was built with quality in mind, for the transmitters sending the messages had been designed for compactness rather than power. Most of them were the small suitcase-sets called Klamotten, which had been developed by Telefunken for Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, the head of the Abwehr.

On this night the airways were relatively quiet, so every one knew when Die Nadel came through. The message was taken by one of the older operators. He tapped out an acknowledgment, transcribed the signal, quickly tore the sheet off his note pad and went to the phone. He read the message over the direct line to Abwehr headquarters at Sophien Terrace in Hamburg, then came back to his booth for a smoke.

He offered a cigarette to the youngster in the next booth, and the two of them stood together for a few minutes, leaning against the wall and smoking.

The youngster said, “Anything?”

The older man shrugged. “There’s always something when he calls. But not much this time. The Luftwaffe missed St. Paul’s Cathedral again.”

“No reply for him?”

“We don’t think he waits for replies. He’s an independent bastard, always was. I trained him in wireless, you know, and once I’d finished he thought he knew it better than me.”

“You’ve met Die Nadel? What’s he like?”

“About as much fun as a dead fish. All the same he’s the best agent we’ve got. Some say the best ever. There’s a story that he spent five years working his way up in the NKVD in Russia, and ended up one of Stalin’s most trusted aides…. I don’t know whether it’s true, but it’s the kind of thing he’d do. A real pro. And the Fuehrer knows it.”

“Hitler knows him?”

The older man nodded. “At one time he wanted to see all Die Nadel’s signals. I don’t know if he still does. Not that it would make any difference to Die Nadel. Nothing impresses that man. You know something? He looks at everybody the same way—as if he’s figuring out how he’ll kill you if you make a wrong move.”

“I’m glad I didn’t have to train him.”

“He learned quickly, I’ll give him that. Worked at it twenty-four hours a day, then when he’d mastered it, he wouldn’t give me a good-morning. It takes him all his time to remember to salute Canaris. He always signs off ‘Regards to Willi.’ That’s how much he cares about rank.”

They finished their cigarettes, dropped them on the floor, and trod them out. Then the older man picked up the stubs and pocketed them, because smoking was not really permitted in the dugout. The radios were still quiet.

“Yes, he won’t use his code name,” the older man went on. “Von Braun gave it to him, and he’s never liked it. He’s never liked Von Braun either. Do you remember the time—no, it was before you joined us—Braun told Nadel to go to the airfield in Farnborough, Kent. The message came back: ‘There is no airfield in Farnborough, Kent. There is one at Farnborough, Hampshire. Fortunately the Luftwaffe’s geography is better than yours, you cunt.’ Just like that.”

“I suppose it’s understandable. When we make mistakes we put their lives on the line.”

The older man frowned. He was the one who delivered such judgments, and he did not like his audience to weigh in with opinions of its own. “Perhaps,” he said grudgingly.

“But why doesn’t he like his code name?”

“He says it has a meaning, and a code word with a meaning can give a man away. Von Braun wouldn’t listen.”

“A meaning? The Needle? What does it mean?”

But at that moment the old-timer’s radio chirped, and he returned quickly to his station, so the explanation never came.

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Alice
Great book, nicely written and thank you BooksVooks for uploading

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