Elyesa Bazna bigraphy, stories - Spies

Elyesa Bazna : biography

28 July 1904 - 21 December 1970

Elyesa Bazna (Albanian: Iliaz Bazda, born July 28, 1904 in Pristina, Kosovo - December 21, 1970 in Munich, Germany) was a famous World War II secret agent. An Albanian from Kosovo who spied for the Germans during the Second World War, and was widely known by his code name Cicero. Principally motivated by a feeling of power, he sold information to the Germans through their attaché Ludwig Carl Moyzisch (and then through the ambassador Franz von Papen), in Ankara, Turkey in what became known as the Cicero affair. The information that he leaked is believed to have been potentially among the more damaging disclosures made by any single Second World War spy, but conflicts inside the highest echelons of the German government meant that little if any of it was acted upon.


Of Albanian origin, Elyesa Bazna was born to Albanian parents in Kosovo (at the time part of the Ottoman Empire) and moved to Turkey at a very young age. He served as a valet first to the Yugoslav ambassador to Turkey and then to a German counsellor who fired him for reading his mail.

From 1942, Bazna was the valet of the British ambassador Sir Hughe Knatchbull-Hugessen in Ankara. Sir Hughe had been the British ambassador in Riga, Latvia until the Red Army extinguished its independence in 1940. The embassy in Riga shared a building with the ambassador's residence and there he developed the habit of taking secret papers to his home. Bazna began photographing these secret British documents in Ankara on 21 October 1943. He approached Ludwig Moyzisch, an attaché at the German Embassy in Ankara, indicating that he wanted £20,000 for fifty-six documents he had initially photographed. He became a paid German agent in 1943 and was given the codename "Cicero".

He claimed that his hatred of the British was because his father had been killed by a Briton. This was untrue. His father died peacefully in his bed.Take Nine Spies by Fitzroy Maclean, published in 1965 His real motive may have been money, or perhaps that he was also working for the British.

Bazna cherished no illusions. He admitted that he came from a poor background, with minimal education, no polish, little imagination and unprepossessing appearance. But he had the courage to take chances and was happy to get out when the going got dangerous. He was also cheated by his Nazi paymasters who paid him in counterfeit sterling.

End of spying career

In the meantime, Bazna found it increasingly difficult to carry out his spying activities. A new alarm system in the British Embassy required him to remove a fuse whenever he wanted access to the ambassador's safe. In addition, Moyzisch hired a new, shapely secretary named Nele Kapp (known in the book as Elizabeth or Elsa for short), the daughter of a German consul and anti-Nazi who had spent most of her early life in Calcutta and Cleveland. Nele was neurotic and difficult to work with and Moyzisch decided that she had to go. What he did not know was that this was actually an act. Nele hated the Nazis and had been supplying information to the British and the American OSS. She eventually defected and was helped by an OSS agent to board the Taurus Express from Ankara to Istanbul, but alighting before the city, she was taken to an air base that the RAF was then building in Turkey. From there she was driven to Izmir and then by Greek caique to Cyprus and thence to Cairo, where she was furious to learn that she was to be interned as a German. She eventually reached America where she settled in California and married an American. Fearing Miss Kapp would pinpoint his operation, Bazna left Sir Hughe's service. Although she knew that he telephoned the German most Fridays when the code room doors were locked so that he could report to Berlin, she knew him only as 'Cicero' and that he had a British connection.

Fritz Kolbe, a German diplomat and courier based in Berlin who had become an American spy after a meeting in Bern, Switzerland with the OSS, also provided information about 'Cicero'. It seems clear that MI6 would have had all the information that they needed in order to identify Elyesa Bazna, if they had wished to do so.

Living octopus

Living octopus

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