24 October 1912|
Rotterdam, The Netherlands
|Died||18 July 1946
Scheveningen, The Netherlands
Cause of death
Christiaan Antonius Lindemans (Rotterdam, 24 October 1912 – Scheveningen, 18 July 1946) was a Dutch double agent during the Second World War. He is better known under his nickname "King Kong" or in some circles as "le Tueur" (the Killer) as he undertook missions to kill.
He is blamed for betraying the plans of Operation Market Garden to the enemy and as a result caused the Allies defeat at the battle of Arnhem in 1944, the loss of the battle prolonged the war by 6 months, allowing the Russian Red Army to enter Berlin first.
Krist, as he was called by his fellow comrades, had worked for the Allies with great bravery, being personally responsible for the death of at least of twenty-seven Germans during the guerrilla war in the outskirts of Antwerp. His love for women and gambling was limitless, he didn't know the meaning of fear; unfortunately neither did he know the meaning of loyalty.
Before the outbreak of the Second World War, Lindemans worked as a mechanic at his father's garage in Rotterdam. In 1934 he was involved in a motorcycle accident which left him partly paralysed on the left side of the body and left him with a lumbering, simian-like, gait. Tall and heavily built (6 ft 3 and 260 lbs), he was nicknamed King Kong, he spoke French and German well and some English. In August 1940 he found a job as lorry driver on the Lille to Paris route carrying petrol for the German air forces. While living at Lille, and through his girlfriend, he became involved with the resistance sometime in 1941.
By 1943, his popularity as one of the leaders of the Dutch resistance was its highest. He had begun collecting jewels and other valuables from rich women to provide fighting funds for the underground "escape route" through occupied Belgium and the Netherlands into Spain and Portugal.
Lindemans served as a contact with resistance movements such as the RVV (Raad van Verzet or Council of Resistance, the RVV was engaged in both communications sabotage and protection of onderduikers or people in hiding), the CS VI group of Amsterdam (a clandestine sabotage and intelligence organisation, one of its members was Dutch officer Captain Kas de Graaf[n 1]), the Trouw (Fidelity), the Het Parool (The spoken Word), the Dutch-Paris escape line run by John Henry Weidner and for evasion networks within the jurisdisdiction of MI9.
In 1944 his younger brother Henk and his mistress Veronica were arrested in Rotterdam followed by his fiancee and the mother of his child, a French cabaret singer named Gilou Lelup at Hotel Montholon in Paris. By March 1944, he was able to make contact with the intelligence agency of the SS or Sicherheitsdienst and agreed to be their agent[n 2] in exchange for their release. From here on, he was instructed to renew contact with resistance agents and transmit back to Major Hermann Giskes[n 3](who had run the successful operation Operation North Pole) information about the resistance movement in the occupied Netherlands, France and Belgium, Lindemmans was ordered to infiltrate the British Intelligence Service and obtain information on the time and place of Day X, in the wake of D-Day's landings, lindemans said to have visited the British sector of the Normandy Beachhead, he succeeded in getting himself recruiting by IS 9 (Intelligence School 9 aka Nine Eyes), a top-secret section which worked under MI9, by the end of September 1944[n 4], he was a member of Prince Bernhard's staff and was appointed to the position of liaison officer (with temporary rank of Captain) between Dutch resistance and a British Intelligence unit commanded by a Canadian officer[n 5]
On 3 September 1944, Giskes left Brussels (en route to his next assignment) and instructed Lindemans to stay in Belgium and make contact with Anglo-Canadian intelligence, he was to offer himself as an agent, the mission was to find out what plans Canadian Intelligence[n 6] had made for the Netherlands and as soon as possible cross the lines with that information.
On 4 September 1944, Captain Peter Baker of IS 9 of the D group (Western Europe Area) arrived in Brussels en route to Antwerp in search of a Dutchman who would be able to go through the lines and to contact Allied airmen hiding in the southern part of the Netherlands (Allied pilots were to stay put as the Allied amies were preparing to move toward Eindhoven).
An Armée secrète ‘s operative named Urbain Renniers[n 7] recommended Lindemans to the job, before sending him out, Baker made a few enquiries, he then went to the 21st Army Group's[n 8] headquarters which in turn contacted Prince Bernhard’s staff, on SHAEF special forces Captain de Graaf’s recommendation, Prince Bernhard notifiy Baker that Lindemans could be trusted. From now on Lindemans had joined The Buccaneers[n 9], Baker's private army, the Jolly Roger was the unit Battle standard. On the night of 14 September, Captain Baker conducted Lindemans and a Belgian to the front near Berigen (Location of Capt Baker HQ, the British intended to drive on Eindhoven with 300 tanks from the bridgehead near Berigen), in full British battle dress uniform he crossed the frontlines through a hail of shells, the Belgian was wounded and taken to a German field Hospital, he died shortly after and for Lindemans he had rendezvous with the German HQs in the Netherlands. Lindemans first met with German Luftwaffe general Kurt Student in Vught[n 10] and then escorted to Driebergen.
Alongside his BBO assignement Lindemans had received a Dutch BI (bureau of information, The Dutch exile government's intelligence service and MI-6 counterpart) order, once in Eindhoven he was to tell resistance fighters at The Philips Company also known as Eindhoven Philips, that they should hold back information on the development of V-2 rocket and a cyclotron[n 11] until the Allies reached them unless they considered it to be a strategic imperative. In that case they were to hand their intelligence to Lindemans on his way back through the lines possibly part of the Melanie Mission[n 12], a joint operation between the Office of Strategic Services and the BI, the Melanie Mission was to collect military, economic and industrial intelligence. Saturday 16 September. He went for the safe house of resistant police officer Inspector Kooy, his address had been given to Lindemans via Baker by Dutch intelligence liaison officers. Kooy started to suspect Lindemans, he had him searched and when a copy of the Deutsche Zeitung in den Niederlanden and a pass signed by Major Kiesewetter (Giskes's subordinate) were discovered in his pocket, Lindemans answered that he had picked up the paper on the road and the pass was forged, Kooy had him locked him up in a coal cellar near the police station .
Lindemans was released on Tuesday, 19 September, one day after the Allies entered Eindhoven[n 13] by Baker who was absolutely furious that one of his best agents was detained, Kooy produced the items discovered, Baker's reply that the newspaper meant nothing and the pass was a fake. On 23 September, Lindemans was debriefed and cleared of any suspicion by Captain de Graff. (A coded telegram was sent to the BI HQ in London noting that Lindemans was all right)
Since the war various authors have speculated that Lindemans' information led Field Marshal Model (Model's Tactical HQ was located in Oosterbeek, in the neighbouring of Arnhem) to reposition the II SS Panzer Corps (commanded by General Bittrich) under the cover of darkness to positions overlooking likely Airborne targets, mainly bridgeheads, near Arnhem.
According to Lindemans, the Allies wanted to attack Eindhoven. More specifically, Lindemans' information stated that the Allied attack would be north of Eindhoven and would consist of Airborne troops eventually backstopped by Allied armor.
Capture and death
On 26 October 1944, Lindemans was denounced as a German spy by a fellow Abwehr agent named Cornelis Verloop[n 14] nicknamed Satan Face. Verloop claimed[n 15] that Lindemans had betrayed Operation Market Garden to intelligence officer Kiesewetter on Friday, 15 September at the Abwehr station in Driebergen. "King Kong" was arrested on 28 October 1944 at Prince Bernhard's headquarters located at Château Wittouck outside Brussels and was soon afterwards transferred to Camp 020. After an intense two-week interrogation by MI5 agents, Lindemans made a full and detailed confession[n 16]He was then returned to Dutch custody where he was jailed in Breda[n 17] Prison in March 1945 and in Scheveningen until summer 1946. He allegedly committed suicide by swallowing 80 aspirin in a psychiatric ward[n 18]before his case could be heard.
On Tuesday, 17 June 1986[n 19], Dutch pathologist Martin Voortman positively identified a skeleton exhumed as that of Christiaan Lindemans, according to Voortman, the skeleton had an irregularly healed break in its left ankle, corresponding to Lindemans' medical records. The body[n 20] was recovered[n 21]at dawn the same day from Rotterdam Crooswijk cemetery from a coffin sandwiched between those of Lindemans's parents.
In 1997, Lindemans' suicide note surfaced and had provided satisfactory evidence that Lindemans took his own life.
Prison, rumours and escape
In the summer of 1946, a Dutch newspaper published an article on a prison break which occurred at Scheveningen Prison, three men being held at the camp for political delinquents escaped, one of the escapees was the notorious Christiaan Lindemans, the mysterious Tower of London prisoner, a previous escape attempt by Lindemans from the same place had been thwarted., he may have been allowed to escape to South America after a body-swap.
The Prince Bernhard impersonation
The following event took place days (17-18 September) before the liberation of Eindhoven.Preceded by Sherman Tanks, Baker entered the dutch town of Valkenswaard, accompanied by Charles Muller[n 22], a French officer, the two mens were driven through the town in a impressive Cadillac limousine, quickly attracting devoted followers.With his horn rimmed spectacles and his London-tailored uniform, Baker bore an uncanny ressemblance to Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands and as expected, a large and enthusiastic crowd started to cheer at Baker who politely replied waving his hands in royal manner.At the end, Baker had to take refuge at the Irish Guards’s HQ at Aalst near Eindhoven where some British and American journalists were waiting to interview the Commander-in-Chief of the Dutch Forces.
Baker did acknowledged in his memoirs that pictures were taken that day. It is possible that the enduring myth that Lindemans and Prince Bernhard were acquainted before Operation Market-Garden started found its origin in the Baker-Lindemans connection.
- In the fall of 1943, Lindemans helped De Graaf escape from the Netherlands en route to London.
- The Germans gave Lindemans the code name of Christiaan Brand.
- After the war, Giskes was recruited by the Gehlen Organization.
- 23 September, date of the first meeting between Lindemans and Prince Bernhard at Chateau Wittouck also known by the name of Chateau Rubens.
- Lindemans was assigned to a junior Canadian officer by Lieutenant-Colonel Maurice Louis De Rome, OBE, ED, of the Royal 22nd Regiment and Special Forces Detachments (SFD) attached to the 1st Canadian Army, in July 1948, De Rome was promoted to chief of staff, Quebec Army Command with HQ in Montreal.De Rome accompanied British officer Captain Baker to his first meeting with Lindemans.
- Lindemans was to find out the status of the Belgian resistance in the forthcoming of an Allied attack and Allied plans for infiltrating agents behind German lines.
- Renniers, was one the leaders of the Belgian secret Army in Antwerp, he provided Lindemans with a written statement for his bravery exibited during the liberation of Antwerp.
- IS 9 (WEA) was attached to the intelligence staff of Montgomery's 21 Army.
- Inspired by The Pirates of Penzance.
- Student denied that he ever met Lindemans.
- Commissioned by the Reich Postal Office for its laboratory in Miersdorf near Zeuthen.The RPM was headed by Wilhelm Ohnesorge.
- The Melanie Mission reached Eindhoven on 21 September 1944.
- Baker expressed admiration for Lindeman's courageous and devoted conduct displayed after his release.
- Cornelis Johannes Antonius Verloop, born in 1909 in The Hague.He joined the French Foreign Legion in 1935, he deserted to join the Abweher as an active intelligence operative, he was involved in the mock arrest of British traitor Harold Cole (December 1941). He was the one who put Lindemans in touch with Giskes, Verloop crossed into the liberated section of North Brabant on Abwehr instructions.
- Verloop was questioned by Dutch counterintelligence officer Oreste Pinto, to prove that he could be trusted. Verloop named some members of Pinto's staff including British officer Captain Baker, the intelligence had been passed to him by Kiesewetter.
- Lindemans files and confession went missing prior to his death.
- Pinto was ordered back to SHAEF HQ to be congratulated on his catch by a Very Important Person with a soft American accent.
- Psychatric wing of the Scheveningen prison also known as the Orange Hotel.
- Ordered by Rotterdam mayor Bram Peper on a request by resistance veteran, Haarlem city councillor Belinda Thone.
- According to Dutch General Practitioner Dr Hans.C Moolenburgh, Lindemans's autopsy revealed unexplained high levels of Arsenic.
- Lindemans surviving brother and two daughters witnessed the exhumation.
- Muller was made a Lieutenant in Baker's unit.
Under the auspices of MI6, MI9 HQ were located at Wilton Park in Beaconsfield later known as camp 20 described as a special camp who hold prisoners with high intelligence value, with offices (Room 900) at the War Office.
Intelligence School 9, a cover for MI9's field activities.
The Special Forces Detachments were created by SHAEF and SFHQ to facilitate cooperation between military organizations and resistance groups.
The Bureau Inlichtingen (BI) had the task of collecting intelligence, Dutch officer Jan Marginus Somer (1899-1979) was head of the Bureau.
The Bureau Bijzondere Opdrachten (BBO) had the mission to carry out specials operations, the head of BBO was Dutch Major-General J.W Oorschot, assisted by officers Klijzing and De Graff.
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- The Sword of St.Michael:The 82nd Airborne Division in World War II, by Guy Lofaro, published by Da Capo Press.
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- Was Arnhem Betrayed ?, by Loe de Jong, article published in Encounter, June 1981
- The Lindemans affair, by Anne Laurens, published by Allan Wingate 1971 , p.179
- "Trial of King Kong Vital But File Has Disappeared". The Miami News. 16 June 1950. p. 8.
- "Trial of King Kong Vital But File Has Disappeared". The Miami News. 16 June 1950. p. 8.
- "Experts bid to solve riddle of Arnhem traitor". The Glasgow Herald. 16 June 1986. p. 4.
- "As Chance Would Have it, A Study in Coincidences", by H.C Moolenburgh, published by The C.W Daniel Company Limited, 1998
- "Exhumation confirms war traitor is dead". The Glasgow Herald. 18 June 1986. p. 4.
- "The Courier", Examination confirms identity of double agent's body, 17 june 1986
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- "My Testament", p.113-4
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- The Courier Mail, 25 May 1950, No thumbscrews were needed to make King Kong talk
- The Courier Mail, 26 May 1950, The Scarlet Pimpernel Of Holland Wilts
- The Advertiser, 6 June 1950, Traitor Of Arnhem-3
- The Miami News, 15 June 1950, Hold on King Kong Gained Through Girl
- The Miami News, 18 June 1950, Suicide Ends Career Of King Kong After Last Romance And Escape Attempt
- The Straits Times, 18 June 1950, page 10, King Kong makes confession
- The Sydney Morning Herald, 31 August 1950, Traitor Of Arnhem
- The Sydney Morning Herald, 1 Sept 1950,Traitor Of Arnhem
- The Southeast Missourian, 18 February 1953, Nazi Spy Cheats Justice After Betrayal Of Allied Paratroops
- Tmes Daily, 25 May 1953, The Incredible Nazi Spy Named King Kong