Nazi ballerina spy stole battle plans in WWII: British files

26th August 2010, Comments 0 comments

A former ballerina working as a Nazi spy may have been behind the defeat of an Anglo-French force fighting to retake Norway from the Germans during World War II, British files showed Thursday.

The woman known as Marina Lee stole battle plans after infiltrating the headquarters of the allied taskforce sent to liberate Norway, according to declassified documents from British domestic spy agency MI5.

She then handed the details of the allies' planned counter-offensive to the Germans, who had seized control of Norway in a lighting attack in April 1940.

With the help of the plans, the Germans triumphed and the allies suffered a severe setback, the files showed.

But the papers, released to the British government's official archive, indicate despite the efforts of MI5 to trace Lee for several years after the war, she was never found and the claims could not be confirmed.

Lee's suspected involvement in the defeat emerged almost two years after the taskforce was ejected from Norway, when a captured German agent revealed details.

In January 1942, Gerth Van Wijk, who had changed sides to work for the British, recounted a tale told to him by another captured agent called Von Finckenstein. Both men were at the same London interrogation centre.

He described how the German commander holding the key Norwegian port of Narvik, General Eduard Dietl, was facing defeat at the hands of the allied force led by British commander General Sir Claude Auchinleck.

"To know the plans of attack by Auchinleck, the German Secret Service sent to Auchinleck's headquarters at Tromsoe or there in the neighbourhood a woman," Van Wijk reported.

He said she managed to "get hold of the details of the plan de campaign of Auchinleck, and then came back.

"With these details in hand Dietl was able to rearrange his defence and to defeat Auchinleck."

Finckenstein later revealed that she was Marina Lee, a married woman who was born in Russia with the maiden name Marina Alexievna.

"She was trained in Russia as a ballerina and in Oslo was for some time the head of a school of ballet. She is known among her acquaintances for her passion for telling fortunes by cards," Van Wijk told MI5.

"She is a highly valued and experienced German agent."

His account was corroborated in November 1942 by another captured German agent, K. C. Hansen, who the files said "confirmed the remarkable story told by Finckenstein".

© 2010 AFP

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