The Ambassador in Argentina (Armour) to the Secretary of State
[Received February 29.]
Sir: With reference to the Embassy’s telegram no. 499 of February 19, I have the honor to enclose herewith a copy and translation of the report released by the Federal Police on February 1943 regarding German espionage activities in Argentina. It is interesting to note that this report confirms everything which successive Governments have denied as having taken place in Argentina. This includes the activities of espionage groups of Germany and Japan; the use of diplomatic pouches to forward espionage reports; the use of members of the crews of Spanish ships for the same purposes; the use of the Condor and Lati airlines to effect transfers of espionage agents as well as to forward reports and instructions; the use of large sums of money to employ espionage agents of many nationalities, chief among them being those of Spanish and Argentine citizenship; the use of “former” members of the Spanish Falange for purposes of espionage; the use of German and Argentine commercial houses to disguise espionage [Page 388] activities; the use of clandestine radio transmitters; the use of the German news agencies for purposes of espionage; the use of German Consulates in Spain for forwarding espionage reports; the landing of Axis agents in Argentine territory by German submarines; the use of Buenos Aires as the general headquarters for Axis espionage activities in the other American Republics and the use of Buenos Aires as the clearing house for espionage reports and instructions received from other points in this hemisphere and Europe for classification and re-distribution to their final destination, all with the participation of members of the staff of the German Embassy in Buenos Aires.
It will be seen that the enclosed report is divided into six sections as follows:
- The Becker Group.
- The Seidlitz Group.
- The Harnisch Group.
- Landing of Agents from German Submarines.
- Clandestine Radio Transmitters.
- Activity of the German News Agencies.
These sections are preceded by an introduction and a general discussion of these espionage activities. In the introduction the Federal Police makes two interesting admissions; (1) The Federal Police lacks experienced personnel, which fact seriously handicapped its investigations, and (2) The investigations were initiated only 20 days before the report was published, that is to say the investigations of German espionage activities began on January 31, 1944. As regards No. 1, this item may be of use should the United States Government offer to give the Argentines the assistance of an experienced interrogator. No. 2 is considered of interest in that it indicates the Argentine Government broke relations with Germany and Japan prior to the initiation of investigations of the espionage activities of which the two countries were accused, and therefore suggests that the real reason for the break was something other than the reason given out by the Government.
As regards the last section concerning clandestine transmitters, it should be mentioned that many months ago the Central Information Office of the Embassy uncovered several reports that a German radio transmitting station was in existence at the house in Bella Vista mentioned in the communiqué and two provincial policemen were prevailed upon to make a search of the premises. The search, however, failed to produce results. In addition the monitoring unit of the Federal Communications Commission carried out considerable activity in that vicinity without being able to locate the transmitter. All this causes the belief that it was removed from Bella Vista long before the breaking of relations, the statement of the Federal Police [Page 389] notwithstanding. As regards the farm “El Chango” at Moreno, it should be mentioned that the FCC44 monitoring unit also spent considerable time in that district as a result of requests from the Legal Attaché, without locating the station. It will be recalled that the results of the FCC investigations placed the German transmitter at one time near Chacabuco, several times near Buenos Aires, once near Rosario, and several times loop bearings indicated the transmitter to be constantly moving, probably on the Paraná and Uruguay rivers.
Regarding the statement of the Federal Police that the German agents obtained some of their information by spying in the Embassies of the United Nations, I shall take the first opportunity to request the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to furnish an explanation, especially as regards the American Embassy, including the identification of the persons who supplied the Germans with information and a description of their activities.
First Secretary of Embassy