- Historic Sites
The Thrifty Spy On The Sixth Avenue El
Herr Doktor Albert was very careful with the Kaiser’s money. One day he saved a $1.25 taxi fare—and lost a million dollar’s worth of information
December 1965 | Volume 17, Issue 1
Von Papen made more farewell appearances than Sarah Bernhardt. On October 7, Flynn and Company foiled a conspiracy to attach time bombs to the rudders of ships headed for Allied ports. They grabbed a former German army officer and his brother-in-law starting out on the Hudson River from Weehawken, New Jersey, in a small motorboat with several of the bombs aboard. The plot was easily traced to von Papen and Boy-Ed.
Finally, early in December, 1915, the State Department, slow to bring diplomatic matters to a boil, took another look at the thick files Chief Flynn had compiled, and decided to act. Von Papen and Boy-Ed were declared personne non gratae for unwarranted military and naval activities and ordered to leave the country.
At the end of 1915, von Papen sailed for home, aboard the Dutch liner Noordam , to his career in the army, the chancellorship of his country and, eventually, the prisoners’ dock at Nuremberg in 1946. In spite of having coped for more than a year with the British proclivity for pulling Germans off neutral ships, he let himself be caught unprepared by a British boarding party. They searched his baggage and impounded a whole suitcase of receipts, check stubs, and other mementos of Dr. Albert’s pfennig-pinching spy ring. And so, as luck would have it, the records that the meticulous spy had been saving for some future meeting with the Kaiser’s auditor not only provided the Americans with the means of ejecting German spies but also gave the British enough documentation for a new white paper. Thrift is not always a virtue, after all.