Tuesday, 18 May 2021

SOMERTON MAN: THIERFELDER, A TELLING TIMELINE? (ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON 13th DECEMBER 2018)


LOVEDAY Internment Camp, Riverland, South Australia

This post originally published in 2018, has been reviewed in the light of the post published on the 7th May 2021, (3 Suicides and an assassination). 

1. Wolfgang Wagner, like the subject of this post, Karl Oswald Thierfelder, was similarly tried for espionage, he was caught capturing and distributing military and shipping information, he too had been interned at Tatura at one stage. 

2. Wolfgang had given the name of HELMUT HENDON (Real name Heinz Helmut Honig) as his cousin when he first entered Australia. For those unaware, Helmut Hendon was the boyfriend of Gwyneth Dorothy Graham who had apparently committed suicide by slitting her wrists. Gwyneth was associated with George Marshall, another man who was found poisoned, his body being found in bushland overlooking Taylors Bay, Mosman. A copy of the Rubaiyat, a Methuen 7th Edition, was found with his body, it was opened and on those pages, 2 verses had been underlined.

3. It is understood that Helmut Hendon had spent time at Tatura before joining the Employment Company, he was a man known for frequent hospital visits as was Wolfgang Wagner and the subject of the post below, Karl Oswald Thierfelder.

4. They join Tibor Kaldor as one time internees and residents at Tatura internment camp.

An interesting point regarding Helmut, he spent a little time in Hospital on the very day that Pakie was run over by an Army truck in Sydney, 6th/7th May 1945. For the newcomers, Pakie ran a very successful establishment since pre-war days, the location was a known meeting place for intellectuals and the spying fraternity.

Many thanks to Rowan Holmes for his most valuable research paper on the subject.

2018 POST:


As always, it pays to review key dates and times in a matter of interest.

Accordingly, here's a brief review of the timeline of events related to Karl Oswald Thierfelder, mechanical engineer, the German internee who was tried and imprisoned on what was effectively a spying offence. Other references have been interspersed into the timeline.

1.  8th March 1938 Arrived Australia ex 'Narkunda', resided at 178 Orrong road, Toorak. Worked premises 103 William Street Melbourne

(1935  German Spy, Annette Wagner arrived in Sydney, she achieved social acceptance and even had her own radio programme dealing mostly with European fashion, intelligence agencies believed she used those broadcasts to communicate with other spies in Australia including information on shipping movements. The story here:  MORE HERE. This Wagner left Sydney in 1940. During her time in Sydney, she lived at Bakewell House, Clifton Gardens. In July 1946 Annette committed suicide whilst being interrogated in a French Police building, she jumped from a window)

2. 16th March 1939, interned Melbourne

(Approximately August/September 1939, Wolfgang Wagner of Rushcutters Bay suspected of recording ship movements in Sydney Harbour. Intriguingly Wolfgang's wife died quite young, in 1946 we think, no records traced as yet)

3. 15th April 1940 Released on parole

4. 15th April 1942 Re-interned at Loveday

5. 1st August 1942 Appealed, to the tribunal in Wayville SA

6. 8th August 1942, Returned to Loveday 

(December 24th 1942, the massively damaged USS New Orleans arrives Sydney Harbour, badly damaged and towed in, to Cockatoo Island for repair.

 January date unknown, German broadcast detailing the towing event and damage to New Orleans made from Berlin.

January 29th 1943 Doctor Evatt announces the said broadcast information via a Tasmanian newspaper article.

February 1943 through July 1943, several newspaper articles regarding the leaking of ship and military information collected by German spies in Australia

March 7th 1943, USS New Orleans, CA 32, with temporary repair leaves Sydney Harbour screened by HMAS Deloraine, RAN, J232, confirmed by recovery of letter Q on the much later recovered Somerton Man code page)

7. 5th June 1943 Thierfelder To Barmera, Riverland, Base Hospital ex Loveday.

8. 10th July 1943, Thierfelder released from Barmera Base hospital to Loveday

9. 24 July 1943, Thierfelder interrogated and in court for espionage-related activities, in custody Yatala prison Adelaide.

10. 27th November 1943, Thierfelder imprisoned for 5 years at Yatala for espionage-related offences

11. 10th Febuary 1945 Detached from Yatala to Tatura, still serving the sentence

12. $th November 1946, in Tatura camp, sentence served.

13. 3rd January 1947 To Rushworth No.3 Camp, 

14. 9th August 1947, released, worked at Regent Motors, 86 Sturt Street, Melbourne no residential address found to date.

15. 24th November 1947, repatriated to Germany

What caught my attention was the apparent link between the USS New Orleans timeline which was followed a short while later by the German broadcast, Doc Evatt's news article, more news talk on German spy activity and the arrest, interrogation and imprisonment of Thierfelder on charges specifically related to the recording and passing on of sensitive shipping and military movements. Is that all coincidence?

Why was Thierfelder hospitalised?

A month in Hospital seems a lengthy stay? Was the hospitalisation a cover for interrogation?

We are following up on a number of promising leads and will be posting more.
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10 comments:

  1. Gordon,
    I wonder if some of these Germans weren't working for the Russians rather than for the Nazis? Thierfelder was treated very leniently all things considered. But if he was a Soviet agent then it would make more sense. What happened to the Germans when they went back to Germany? Did they end up in East Germany? A study of their post WW2 careers could be illuminating. Maybe they ended up as STASI agents (ie fundamentally communist sympathisers).
    As for Berlin getting news from Canberra within a day or two. This is described in detail in Des Ball and David Horner “Breaking the Codes”. Intelligence was gathered by Australian Communist Party (CPA) folk and passed to the leaders of the ACP who passed it onto the Soviet Embassy in Canberra. From there it went by cable to the Russian embassy Manchuria who then sent some of the intel to the Japanese, who then forwarded it on to the Germans. The Russians were deliberately helping the Japanese so as to prolong the Pacific War. In other words the sources of Nazi intelligence in Australia were CPA members.

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  2. Hi Byron, yes, I agree that it is likely that some would have been working for the Russians, in fact in the Red book post some while ago, we noted some of the German's from Iran were down as 'friendlies' because they were aligned with the Russians. Must check our friends against that list. Not sure just where they ended up, they both left on the same ship however.

    Clive has done some excellent work at NAA in Adelaide, we managed to find some interrogation notes, lengthy but not much meat in them. One interesting thing, Clive noticed that one of them mentioned a Miss Fry on 5 occasions during the interview, in fact on one or two of those occasions he used the name 'SPRY' that got my attention :) As Clive says, it's probably an innocent slip but who knows. The good General Spry was up in the same part of the world and at the same time as Major William Jestyn Moulds of interesting signature fame. I tend to agree with you that the shipping movement deal is just as likely likely to be of interest to the Russians. Will be updating some more when I receive more info on Major Moulds.

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  3. Bakewell House - The Theosophical Society - The Communist Party - Jessica. Another list of maybes.

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  4. I believe Wolfgang Wagner was Hellmut’s cousin. He arrived in Australia in 1939 with his wife Charlotte Hirschberg and their two daughters. Charlotte did indeed die young (1907 – 19 Aug 1947). By 1949, Wolfgang was living with a much younger Eva Hirschberg (born 13 June 1929 Breslau, Germany) who had just arrived with her mother Alice, via South Africa. By 1968, Wolfgang is working a public servant! He’s still living with Eva and possibly their son, who is studying medicine.

    Could you guys share the naa file number that you’re working from? I would love to have a look! MISCA

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  5. Misca,
    I will email source information for you. Good to hear from you...

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  6. Thanks to Miscas post, I was able to complete the family trees of Wolfgang, Charlotte and Hellmut BTW. You might find Charlotte's interesting.
    Tibor's is almost complete, sans his stepfather...
    There's a few other interesting characters on the Somerton Man geni.com project page now.

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  7. Hungarians alphabet is larger and we are using the names slightly
    differently.

    Tibor Káldor is the correct way to type.There are a few Káldor on the FB,
    have you tried to reach out to them? Some of them might be a family tree
    fan... ...Káldor is a really rare name.

    we are using the names in the Japanese/Korean fashion, family name first.

    His father name is Julius Schoen.
    Julius is not a Hungarian name but it is quite often associated to the name
    Gyula (check wiki about it). We use the German style alphabet, so his name
    in Hungarian should be written as Schön Gyula. It was common, but after the
    war a lot of them was changed to Szép (which is the Hungarian translation
    of the german word Schön).

    His mother's name is Rosa Breuer. Rosa is not a Hungarian name. It can be
    Róza or Rózsa. We have another two names close to this, and it is written
    as Rozál(ia). so her name could be

    Breuer Róza
    Breuer Rózsa
    Breuer Rozál
    Breuer Rozália

    Jozsef

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  8. Josef.
    We've got Guyla and Ross's siblings and ancestors thanks to Roy C Grant and others.

    This is what he have so far on Tibor's tree
    https://www.geni.com/people/Dr-Tibor-Kaldor/6000000173240028219

    Tibor has a notation in one document that his surname change occurred in 1910. There's no marriage entry in Hungary around that time, so the inference is that Roza remarried in Austria, which is where she was deported from to Lodz, and eventually died by throwing herself from the fifth floor window which is detailed in the chronicles of the Lodz Ghetto. A descendant of Lord Kaldor, the Economist, responded that Roza didn't marry any of their family. So I left it there, until more information comes to light.
    Regards Peter

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  9. For those new to this blog, the Tibor Kaldor story was found by this blog when researcher Clive Turner came across an article in the Adelaide Advertiser dated 14th December 1948. In it the Police revealed the finding of the body of a man in the Victoria Hotel in Hindley Street Adelaide. It later transpired that he had been poisoned. That article kicked off a prolonged research project which lasted at least 2 years with both Clive and myself working hard at following up various leads and information from here in Australia and in the UK as well as Austria. In amongst the results we had found birth details and parentage with names of his biological father, his stepfather and his mother. We also found information not mentioned in the Geni site, one example being Tibor's time at University, he had in fact attended Graz University and his subject was languages, that information came from a helpful lady from Austria I believe. His address in Melbourne was 10 The Avenue, Windsor, close in to the city, He was apparently a boarder at that address, the owner being a music teacher. he would often advertise his services as a German Language teacher but would state that he was a Phd from Vienna University. Tibor had been aboard the Dunera, one of the 'Dunera boys' comprising of 2000 men and boys of mostly German Jewish heritage who had been arrested and deported some to Australia and others to the Isle Of man and Canada. You may read elsewhere that he was deported from the UK because he refused to join the military, that is, I think, incorrect, to my knowledge there was no such requirement but would be happy to look at whatever documents support that view. Approximately 900 of these men disembarked un Melbourne with some being sent to Tatura and others to Loveday in the Riverland of SA. Loveday was the camp where those of extreme views were held.

    To cut a long story short, after a relatively short stay at the Hay internment camp in NSW, (less than 6 months), Tibor and the rest of the Dunera Boys were marched out to Tatura camp in Victoria. Most were released by early 1942 after Churchill acknowledged that their original deportation was a huge mistake. However, Tibor was not released into Melbourne until 1945. That was an unusual circumstance. More to follow.

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  10. Part 2. Tibor Kaldor.
    The next few years saw Tibor actively searching for work as a language teacher and whatever other jobs he could find. It is believed that he moved from Windsor and to a place not fa from Mentone. His final job was as a process worker at a metal working factory that once had been involved in armaments production but in the peacetime years it had adapted and was turning out items more allied to the tourist trade, souvenirs etc. For reasons we have yet to discover, Tibor suddenly booked a rip and accommodation via a SA tourism office in Melbourne, that trip was to take him to Adelaide and eventually to the Victoria Hotel in Hindley Street Adelaide. Clice followed up and was able to view the Police file on Tibor which included a 2 page last letter in which he gave specific instructions on what should be done with his belongings and his remains. He left a small sum of money to be divided amongst the staff at the hotel.

    It was at this point in our research that things took an unexpected turn. I examined the last letter and put the first paragraph through an online acrostic decoder, that decoder spat out the name DANETTA. Subsequently, other documents associated with the Somerton Man case were found yo have the same acrostic name hidden in the text and each time it followed the exact same structure, that being seven consecutive numerically associated letters that spelled out the name DANETTA. All of this information is contained in various posts on this blog, I will publish the list here in the next day or so.

    PETEDAVO> A couple of things of interest. Jozsef is Hungarian living in Austria and, I understand, that he may have found relatives of the Kaldor family.

    The statement on Geni that it was thought that Tibor was killed with his mother is a red flag as I am sure you are aware. Is there any further information about that?

    Some good work on your behalf Pete!

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