Bugging Hitler’s Soldiers
During times of war, high grade intelligence is as vital as firepower. During World War II, the MI19, an intelligence department of the British war office, set out to exploit over 4,000 German prisoners of war in the most ambitious surveillance operation ever attempted.
Three stately homes in the British countryside were converted into prison camps: Latimer House, Wilton Park and Trent Park. These estates were meticulously wired for sound. Bugging devices could be found in lamps and fireplaces and behind mirrors. In fact, even the trees were bugged. Watch this PBS documentary to find out how 100,000+ hours of taped secret conversations helped the Allies win World War II.
The listening rooms, hidden in basements and attics, were filled with what was at the time state of the art recording equipment. Captured generals and soldiers were brought to these bugged locations where listeners sat ready and waiting for them to start talking. The British were convinced that if they could understand the mindset of the German soldiers— how they thought and what made them tick— they would be at an advantage. The Germans never imagined that the lavish treatment was actually part of an ingenious plan to catch them off guard.
The “guests” at Trent Park were generals who resided there until the war ended. These men were indulged with comfort and luxury such as day trips to London with the occasional luncheon at fancy restaurants and garden parties. They were even supplied with a radio, books, and newspapers in order for them to stay in touch with the outside world, and speak freely about what was going on.
Over 100,000 hours of recorded conversations between soldiers were secretly recorded and then transcribed word for word and these conversations reveal the hearts and minds of Hitler’s soldiers.