Wednesday, September 13, 2017


"These were made by order of Himmler during the war, by expert technicians who were prisoners in the concentration camp that once stood at the side of [unintelligible]. As the allies marched in, the Nazis dumped the residue of their counterfeit fortune in the lake."

I keep replaying this voice-over narration by McGoohan but I just can't make out the name, so I don't know if he's referring to a lake or a mountain.  (It sounds like it begins "Steinberg", which makes me think he's talking about a specific mountain.)  McGoohan's clipped, precise diction sounds perfect for the German inflections.  Perhaps it's a little too perfect; I'm wondering if someone fluent in German could undestand what he's saying?

Nevertheless, even if the locations of the lake and the mountain were fictional, the basic back-story was not.

From Wikipedia:
Operation Bernhard was an exercise by the Nazis to forge British bank notes. The initial plan was to drop the notes over Britain to bring about a collapse of the British economy. The first phase was run from early 1940 by the Sicherheitsdienst (SD) under the title Unternehmen Andreas (Operation Andreas). The unit successfully duplicated the rag paper used by the British, produced near-identical engraving blocks and broke the algorithm used to create the alpha-numeric serial code on each note. The unit closed in 1942 after its head, Alfred Naujocks, fell out of favour with his superior officer, Reinhard Heydrich.

The operation was revived in July 1942; the aim was changed to forging money to finance German intelligence operations. Instead of a specialist unit within the SD, prisoners from Nazi concentration camps were selected and sent to Sachsenhausen concentration camp to work under SS Major Bernhard Krüger. The unit produced British notes until mid 1945; estimates vary of the number and value of notes printed from £132.6 million up to £300 million. By the time the unit ceased production, they had perfected the artwork for US dollars, although the paper and serial numbers were still being analysed. The counterfeit money was laundered in exchange for money and other assets. Counterfeit notes from the operation were used to pay the Turkish agent Elyesa Bazna—code named Cicero—for his work in obtaining British secrets from the British ambassador in Ankara, and £100,000 from Operation Bernhard was used to obtain information that helped to free the Italian leader Benito Mussolini in the Gran Sasso raid in September 1943.

In early 1945 the unit was moved to Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp in Austria, then to the Redl-Zipf series of tunnels and finally to Ebensee concentration camp. Because of an overly precise interpretation of a German order, the prisoners were not executed on their arrival; they were liberated shortly afterwards by the American Army. Much of the output of the unit was dumped into the Toplitz and Grundlsee lakes at the end of the war, but enough went into general circulation that the Bank of England stopped releasing new notes, and issued a new design after the war. The operation has been dramatized in a comedy-drama miniseries 'Private Schulz' by the BBC and in a 2007 Austrian film, "The Counterfeiters" (Die Fälscher).

If you speak German and would like to check out that speech, see if you can decipher what McGoohan said, it's in the 'Danger Man' episode "Under The Lake" in the very last scene.  The episode is only half an hour in length if you're interested in watching the whole thing, and as an added bonus - Roger Delgado, the original Master of 'Doctor Who' is the guest star.

Auf wiedersehen!

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