Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia on May 19, 1974 · Page 158
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Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia · Page 158

Charleston, West Virginia
Issue Date:
Sunday, May 19, 1974
Page 158
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Page 158 article text (OCR)

by Jonathan Braun Dusko Popov, relaxing in Nassau with his wife,' Jill, has written a dramatic autobiography, "Spy/Counterspy/' on his daring exploits as a World War II double agent. '«· NASSAU, THE BAHAMAS. Jffln some ways it's an insult to my I intelligence to be known as the I real-life James Bond." TM Leaning back in a rusty old garden chair, Dusko Popov--the vacationing 62-year-old retired superspy-- peers out across the calm, deep-blue Caribbean. "Of course," he adds with a wink, "I have often wished I could be as successful with women as the real Bond." He turns to face a striking blonde in an orange bikini. "Oh, Dusko," she says in a heavy Swedish accent, "from what I know about you, you really can't complain." Popov smiles. His 30-year-old wife, Jill, is a natural beauty who could easily have walked out of the pages of any spy novel. "Nevertheless," he continues, "I suppose I'm stuck with this Bond thing. I have been ever since Bond's creator, Ian Fleming, admitted using me as a model... But most of what you read in his books is absolutely ridiculous. Take the violence, for example. Imagine what would happen if, like Fleming's hero, you went to a foreign country-here in the Bahamas, lefs say, and started shooting people. Why, you wouldn't even have to hurt someone-let alone kill him--and you'd have the police on your back in no time at all-questioning you, checking your papers, making it completely impossible for you to operate as an agent." Popov speaks from experience. As the most important and successful British.^double agent of the Second World War, he risked torture and death to help bring about the destruction, of Nazi Germany. For nearly 30 years, the world knew nothing of his daring exploits. Now, however, his dramatic story of five years in the intelligence "game"--during which he claims to have warned the FBI that Japan was planning to attack Pearl Harbor--has been published in a chilling autobiography entitled Spy/Counterspy (Grosset Dunlap). Married 12 years, Popov and his Swedish-born wife have three sons: Boris (standing), 6; Omar, 4, and Marco, 77. His career as a spy began in 1940-at a time when it seemed as if Hitler was about to bring the whole world to its knees. "My country, Yugoslavia, was neutral then," he says. "But my heart--and the hearts of most of my countrymen--was definitely on the side of the Allies. In fact, I was itching to get into the war-so when the right opportunity presented itself I simply couldn't resist." It was a unique opportunity. As the sophisticated, 28-year-old son of a wealthy family, Popov had been educated in France and Germany. During the late 1930's, while completing his doctorate of law at the University of Freiburg, he had been arrested by Germany's secret police--the dreaded Gestapo--for criticizing Nazi ideology at a student meeting. Since he had come dangerously close to ending his days in a concentration camp--he had been deported instead--the Germans reasoned he would--ironically--make a perfect spy. An ideal cover "I presented an ideal cover for them because of my liberal, anti-German background," he explains. "No one would ever suspect I was working for the people who very nearly did away with me." He was approached in Yugoslavia by a former classmate, Johann ("Johnny") Jebsen. The son of a well-connected German shipping family, Jebsen was an anti-Nazi who had joined the German intelligence network to undermine the war effort. Says Popov: "Johnny convinced his superiors--who eventually recruited me--that my anti-Nazi days were over, that aside from being a playboy, I was mainly an ambitious, young opportunist who wanted to be on the winning team. Of course, Johnny really had faith in my democratic principles. He knew I would go straight to the British-which I did." Popov was recruited as a British double agent. His assignment was twofold: to obtain information from the enemy and to feed the enemy misleading, false information. "Like most successful men," he says, "I was in the right spot at the right time. The Germans had many agents in England but they were looking for someone who could move in the right English circles. I was a first-class water-polo player, a good horseman and good at tennis. I spoke five languages, didn't drink out of the finger bowl and knew how to hold my knife and fork. The British, at the same time, were looking for someone who could really penetrate German intelligence. Thanks to Johnny, I was in a position to accomplish this. So, in a way, two wishes met--two wishes for a kind of superspy "The British were very suspicious of me at first. You could imagine how they checked up on me before I came to London. They had to be certain I wasn't really an enemy agent who succeeded in getting past their first line of defense." In London Popov was introduced to continued

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