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Alias Bäumchen: the Abwehr's informers

Abwehr identity record of Jean-Paul Dubois alias Bäumchen, undated. © SHD

The special services archives include documents discovered by the occupation troops in Germany after the end of the war. Among them are several hundred individual files in the names of French men and women, civilians and soldiers, prepared by section III F of the Abwehr in Paris. These agents helped the Abwehr to monitor and penetrate resistance organisations and the enemy special services. They were commonly known as V-Männer (Vertrauensmänner) or ”trusted men”.

Corps 1

It is difficult to be sure whether this documentation is comprehensive or if it represents only part of the archives of section III F (counter-espionage). The individual files are very varied - they may contain only a single document or several dozen. However, they always include an identification card prepared by section III F in the following cases: people recruited as intelligence agents, people who had requested an Ausweis and individuals who had attracted attention in some way.

From occasional informer to established agent

In general, the records relating to official intelligence agents mention a pseudonym and/or code name (F, E or GV followed by a number between 7000 and 9000). The letter F corresponded to ordinary agents, E to particularly well-placed agents and GV to double agents. The codes were only used in correspondence and accounting documents exchanged within the Abwehr - the informers themselves did not know the codes they were allocated. For occasional agents and people who had requested an Ausweis or attracted attention to themselves, the records only state basic personal details, address and sometimes the name of the German officer responsible for activating them or via whom the Ausweis was requested.

Corps 2

The files of ”established” agents are more comprehensive and often contain other types of documents: information sheets with an evaluation of how the person serves, declarations or enlistment deeds in which the agent swears to remain silent about their work, expense notes and intelligence reports (often handwritten) drafted by the agent.

A very active agent: Jean-Paul Dubois, alias Bäumchen

The documents presented here come from the file of Jean-Paul Dubois, alias Bäumchen (see slideshow). His identification card has a code number: F 7023. This tell us that this French agent, born in 1885 in San Francisco, a journalist by profession, was recruited in October 1940 by Captain Brunner. The words Anfrage an Abw on the card show that a request for information about him was sent to the central Abwehr headquarters in Berlin, as was the case for all informers recruited. His file is large and particularly interesting: it contains a number of reports he sent to the Abwehr. Bäumchen was a meticulous, well-organised man, as shown by the report he wrote when he was recruited (see slideshow). He describes precisely how he intends to work by using his relationships in the worlds of diplomacy and journalism, as well as the help he expects from the German services in conducting his clandestine activities, including facilitating travel.

Bäumchen, like many other intelligence agents working for the Abwehr, carried out a number of missions in the southern zone and in North Africa, reporting each time on what he saw and heard. This was the case, for example, when he travelled to Lyon at the end of 1940. In his report, he passed on factual information, including details about individuals (mentioning several notable figures in passing), but he also supplied his general feeling about the city and the state of mind and political sentiments of the population (see slideshow).

These documents prove beyond doubt that Bäumchen was a very active agent. Not all the individual Abwehr files conserved in the collection are so rich and detailed. Some, containing just a single identification record with no pseudonym or code name, are inconclusive about whether the person actually worked for the Germans. These German archives were analysed in detail by the French special services after the war. Their work led to a number of investigations and enabled them to expose a number of individuals who had previously managed to escape justice.

These archives now constitute a valuable resource for researchers who want to find out more about these people who were particularly keen to collaborate with the occupier.

Frédéric Queguineur

Archivist at the Defence Historical Service

Manager of the Second World War special services archives

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Agent Bäumchen's complete file is conserved under the record number GR 28 P 9 11746. The other files on agents working for section III F of the Paris Abwehr are all identified and referenced with record numbers GR 28 P 9 11500 to GR 28 P 9 12345. The collection can be consulted in the reading room.

  • Fiche d?identification à l?Abwehr de Jean-Paul Dubois alias Bäumchen, sans date. © SHD

  • Fiche d?identification à l?Abwehr de Jean-Paul Dubois alias Bäumchen, sans date (traduction). © SHD

  • Rapport de Bäumchen au moment de son recrutement (extrait), 1940. © SHD

  • Rapport de Bäumchen sur la ville de Lyon (extrait 1), 1940. © SHD

  • Rapport de Bäumchen sur la ville de Lyon (extrait 2), 1940. © SHD