Rotterdam during World War I a center of international spies. Especially German and British spies operating in the largest port city in the neutral Netherlands. A city with busy shipping- and passenger traffic and filled with people of different nationalities is the ideal place for spies.


Foto: Stadsarchief Rotterdam

Foto: Stadsarchief Rotterdam

Spies Map
In the City Archive Rotterdam is the 'spies map' to find, a map of the Germans. The card was found in the police archives preserved in the City Archives. It is drawn up by the Germans 'Graphische Darstellung der Büro feindlichen Spionagen's'. The map clearly shows that the Rotterdam espionage center. Ramifications of running the networks to Maastricht. There are English, Russian, Belgian and French offices and contacts listed.

Germans in the White House
In the White House in Rotterdam is already before the First World War, an office of the German Intelligence Service, at the Consulate General of Germany which is located there. From the White House's spy networks in the Netherlands, as they are on the map, Captured.

One of the spies from the White House is working Hilman Dierks. He began his career as a professional soldier and soon after the outbreak of the war in 1914 used as spy. In december 1914 Dierks comes to Rotterdam under the pseudonym Richard Sanderson. He gives the address Proveniersstraat 72a on. He also says he representative of the company is in colonial goods Tjarks & Lühring.

Edwin Ruis, Spies Nest 1914-1918 (Just Publishers 2012)

Edwin Ruis, Spies Nest 1914-1918 (Just Publishers 2012)

Britse marine
Under the guise recruits Dierks secret agents for the German consul in Rotterdam. These agents, most young men, are used to collect information about the British Navy. Dierks is in June 1915 arrested on suspicion of espionage. The court acquit him, but he is nevertheless expelled Netherlands. These appeals Dierks sentenced in absentia to one year in prison. The punishment he is not out, he will still be seen a few times in Rotterdam and The Hague, but knows how to evade justice.

With part of the fifteen officers recruited by Hilman Dierks went less well off. Eight of them are caught in England and seven must eventually kill workers.

Britons on Boompjes
The British run their business information from the office of the

on Boompjes 76a. The office is headed by Richard B. Tinsley. His right hand is the Russian Dimitry the Peterson, which carries the nickname 'T'. The German spies card stand Tinsley and T listed, Like other secret agents who work from Rotterdam: Lesdain, Would be perceived as, Van Dijk Korsten, Müller & Co. De Amsterdamse agent van Tinsley is ene Kurt Alfred Tobiansky d’Althoff. In the capital are more British secret agents active: Charles Tripp, A.J. Cook en Carl Wilmer. The UK network has further branches in Utrecht, Heerlen, Maastricht and Vlissingen.

The central figure in the Dutch side's François van 't Sant. In 1906 He is employed by the Rotterdam city police. Four years later, he will be taking over the River Police. In this function he comes into contact with the intelligence network. It will play a big role in his life.

Netherlands was neutral in World War I but so will have plenty to do with the British and German intelligence services that operate around the port of Rotterdam. The Dutch secret service – de GS III (sectie III van de Generale Staf) is interested in the activities of the British and the Germans. GS III appeals to Van 't Sant.

Who manages to get all kinds of data over water, including through the recruitment of secret agents. The data are interesting for Dutch, but of great importance for the British secret service with which the Netherlands has a cooperation. The secret activities of police Van 't Sant will be largely paid for by the British. To maintain the appearance of neutrality, maintenance Van 't Sant also relationships with the representatives of the German intelligence service in Rotterdam.

Rotterdam packed
Mata Hari is the most famous Dutch First World War who was executed for spying. In 1917 she was killed by a French firing squad after being found guilty of high treason, spying for the Germans.

The Rotterdam Heicke Janssen and Willem Roos are not nearly as well known, but these two sailors were executed during World War I for espionage. Op 30 juli 1915 they stand before a firing squad in the London Tower. Janssen and Roos spy not apply for Netherlands, they work for the Germans. They spy for the Germans under cover of the firm Dierks & Co in Den Haag, in reality the Nach Richtung-Abteilung of the German secret service, led by Hilmar Dierks, die al in december 1914 from Rotterdam does its job.