Emperor of Spies

Like all neutral capitals in Europe, Stockholm became a natural hub for intelligence activities during the Second World War. One of the most active participants in the search for critical information was the Japanese Military Attaché, Makoto Onodera. In a limited edition of 100 numbered copies, Dr.C.G.McKay, an acknowledged expert on the history of intelligence activities in Northern Europe and the author of the now classical study From Information to Intrigue (Cass,London, 1993) and co-author with Bengt Beckman of Swedish Signal Intelligence 1900-1945 (Cass,London, 2003)has given a concise, stimulating and elegant account of Onodera’s “intelligence bourse” based on co-operation with other intelligence services some of which-like the services of Germany and Poland- were at war with one another. Based on archival sources in many countries and equally on McKay’s own knowledge gained through conversations and correspondence with a generation of intelligence officers now dead, his book entitled Emperor of Spies Onodera’s Wartime Network in Northern Europe, apart from being a book collector’s item of some value, deserves a place in the library of professional students of the history of intelligence. Individual copies cost £25 plus postage and can be ordered not later than September 1, 2020 and as long as the initial stock lasts, by sending an email to the UK printer handling distribution at suzy@spiegl.co.uk

Major Choynacki’s Ace: the Solution to an Old Puzzle of Wartime Intelligence

Major Choynacki , a member of the Polish intelligence service based in Berne became both a legend and a threat for German counterespionage because of the importance and accuracy of his reporting. Wilhelm Flicke, a Sigint specialist who was familiar with the case, spoke glowingly of the Pole outshining the British Secret Service as ”the sun outshone the moon”. It was clear from Choynacki’s traffic that he had at least one source placed at the very centre of the German High Command and Hitler personally ordered an investigation to find the traitor.

The interest in Choynacki’s ace was reawakened much more recently with the revelations of a Cambridge historian, Paul Winter, who discovered documents showing that British intelligence had received most valuable intelligence via the Poles from a highly placed spy called sometimes KNOPF / AGENTS 594. Winter’s research caught the attention of the world’s press and soon the feats of this mystery man were circling the globe thanks to the internet. But there was one major omission in Winter’s article: he was quite unable to identify the source behind the covername and ended by lamenting that unless SIS opened its archives, the problem would never be solved.

Happily this lament proved premature. Thanks to my own investigations, the identity of KNOPF/AGENTS 594 is no longer a mystery. As always, however, the solution of one problem generates another. A more detailed account of my investigation will be presented later.

Major Choynacki’s Ace

The Swedish Legation in London and the Leak Problem

In July 2013, I attended a conference at Nuffield College, Oxford on Intelligence and the Neutral Countries during the First and Second World Wars. As regards Sweden, there were two contributors: Jan-Olof Grahn who spoke about Swedish SIGINT and I who spoke about the conflict which arises from the possible leakage of information to the enemy through a neutral mission situated on the territory of a belligerent and  a neutral country’s own need to collect intelligence.

The Swedish Legation in London and the Leak Problem

A Friend Indeed: the Secret Service of Lolle Smit

The Dutch businessman, Lolle Smit is an excellent example of how important Allied secret agents of the Second World War have been totally forgotten. Although there is no reason to doubt the importance of his work-after all he received an O.B.E from Britain for it soon after the war – there is no mention of him even in disguised form in the Official History of the SIS by Professor Jeffery. Smit’s activities first became know to me when I was carrying out research on Raoul Wallenberg. Yet while Wallenberg has achieved the position of secular saint and is the chief subject of an ever expanding list of films, TV programmes, books and articles, very few people have ever heard of Lolle Smit. This was why in August 2010, I wrote my essay on Smit in a belated attempt to give honour where honour was due..

Lolle Smit



My name is Craig McKay otherwise known as C.G.McKay /Craig Graham McKay/”CG”/”Den Gamla”. Growing up in the company of people who had gone through two terrible wars, I soon became interested in the history of intelligence and statecraft  during the first half of the twentieth century.  My regional focus has been on Scandinavia and the Baltic States where I have specialist knowledge and I am the author of two fairly well-known books,  “From Information to Intrigue” (1993) and  “Swedish Signal Intelligence”(2003), the latter written with Bengt Beckman. In addition,I have published a great number of articles and reviews in the learned journals and have given lectures on intelligence history at universities and other institutions.

The object of my site is partly to gather together in one place some of my older essays. Thanks to technology, it also allows me to place new material – essays, remarks or book reviews- directly on the web without having to wait two years for some academic journal  to print it. Two years at my time of life  is not something to be taken for granted.

 I also hope eventually, if not immediately, to publish  new essays by other people on such subjects as secret intelligence, counterintelligence,  technical intelligence (incuding SIGINT etc),special operations, economic warfare, political warfare or secret diplomacy.  Prospective essay writers who ideally should have already demonstrated their knowledge of the field, are encouraged to send  their essays (in English) in the form of a PDF file  attached to an email and marked “For The Adjudicator” to
The backbone of their work should be based on documents in public archives and the authors should have something new and interesting to say about the subject .The essays should normally be about events in the period between 1900 and the death of Stalin but certain exceptions may be allowed.  Authors must use their own name: no pseudonyms are allowed. They must affirm clearly that the essay is their own work and that they have carefully indicated all the sources they have used. Essays should be prefaced by a short summary of  the subject matter and the main point the author is trying to make.The decision whether to publish  an essay or not will be conveyed by the Adjudicator. No reason will be supplied for refusal and there is no Court of Appeal. After some reflection, I have decided  to exclude on-site comments on the material published here. Such dialogues and debates are best conducted elsewhere and in other forms. As far as I am concerned, it is the provision of new material in the form of analytical essays based on archival research which is the main priority on this site.
Finally I believe that scholars have an important role in educating the public at large simply by making their research available on the web. Hopefully it will in particular stimulate the curiosity of a younger generation of scholars and encourage them to pursue their own historical investigations. At the same time, it goes without saying that people who make use of material on this site for online comment or for any other scholarly or journalistic purpose should,as a matter of common decency, acknowledge this in what they write. As the Good Book  and Chaucer  agree : “the labourer is worthy of his hire.”

McKay’s Notes on the Case of Raoul Wallenberg

My work on Raoul Wallenberg has concentrated on his mission to Budapest rather than on his subsequent fate in Russia. I have chosen to examine various assertions, claims and plain simple innuendo to the effect that this mission may have involved other than purely humanitarian goals. In particular, I have looked both at possible connections with various secret services – not simply the OSS- and at possible hidden economic motives. As a result, I have investigated in some detail a string of peripheral3 figures, many of whom are hardly mentioned in more orthodox presentations of Raoul’s mission. Although I have found nothing to suggest that he acted as an important secret agent with a task radically different from his explicit humanitarian mission to aid the Jews in Hungary, I have unearthed substantial archival evidence showing that he did have interesting contacts with several people who were working for the secret services- Cheshire in Stockholm and Lolle Smit in Budapest – are two fascinating examples. But is this really surprising? As I have had occasion to remark on numerous occasions, it would have been impossible for any neutral businessmen to travel about wartime Europe without contacts with at least one secret service and more probably with several.

Notes on the Case of Raoul Wallenberg