Fritz Joubert Duquesne

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Frederick "Fritz" Joubert Duquesne
Capt fritz duquesne.jpg
Captain Duquesne, Boer Army picture. ca. 1900
Nickname(s) The man who killed Kitchener;[1]
The Black Panther;[2]
Aliases: Captain Claude Stoughton;[3] Frederick Fredericks;[4] Boris Zakrevsky (assumed the identity of the real-life Russian Duke);[5] Major Frederick Craven;[6] George Fordham;[7]; Piet Niacud;[7] Colonel Beza;
Born 21 September 1877
Cape Colony
Died 24 May 1956(1956-05-24) (aged 78)
New York City
Allegiance Boer and German
Service/branch primarily Espionage
Years of service 1899–1901 (Boer); 1901 (British); c1913-1942 (German)
Rank Captain
Commands held Duquesne Spy Ring[8]
Battles/wars Flag of Transvaal.svg Second Boer War:
Siege of Ladysmith
Battle of Colenso
Battle of Bergendal
— Plot to sabotage Cape Town[2]
Flag of the German Empire.svg World War I
— Espionage in United States[9]
— Sinking of 20 British ships in South America, [10] including the Tennyson[11]
— Sinking of the HMS Hampshire (claimed)[12]
— Assassination of Lord Kitchener (claimed)[12]
Flag of the NSDAP (1920–1945).svg World War II
— Espionage in United States[8]
Awards Iron Cross, 1916
Other work commando; war correspondent; journalist

Frederick "Fritz" Joubert Duquesne (/dˈkn/; 21 September 1877 – 24 May 1956), sometimes Du Quesne, was a South African Boer soldier, prisoner of war, big-game hunter, journalist, war correspondent, stockbroker, saboteur, spy, and adventurer whose hatred for the British (due to their treatment of Boer women and children) caused him to volunteer to spy for Germany during both World Wars. As a Boer spy he was known as the "Black Panther", but he is also known as "the man who killed Kitchener", since he claimed to have sabotaged and sunk HMS Hampshire, on which Lord Kitchener was en route to Russia in 1916, although forensics of the ship do not support this claim.

As a German spy, he went by the code name DUNN. In 1942, he and 32 other members of the Duquesne Spy Ring were convicted in the largest espionage conviction in the history of the United States.

Early life[edit]

Fritz Joubert Duquesne was born to a Boer family of French Huguenot origin in East London, Cape Colony in 1877 and later moved with his parents to Nylstroom in the South African Republic, where they started a farm.

When he was 17 years old, Duquesne went to London for university. After graduation, he attended the Académie Militaire Royale in Brussels. His uncle was Piet Joubert, a hero in the First Boer War and Commandant-General of the South African Republic (1880–1900).[13]

Losses due to the British[edit]

Duquesne joined the British army in South Africa. He passed with troops through his parents' farm in Nylstroom, finding it to have been destroyed under Kitchener's scorched earth policy. He also learned his sister had been killed and his mother was dying in a British concentration camp. Duquesne was horrified and outraged, and made it his life's work to take revenge on Kitchener and the British. Kitchener was a target in Duquesne's failed act of sabotage in Cape Town.

Second Anglo-Boer War[edit]

He was one of the craftiest men I ever met. He had something of a genius of the Apache for avoiding a combat except in his own terms; yet he would be the last man I should choose to meet in a dark room for a finish fight armed only with knives. Next to Theron I believe Duquesne the greatest scout the Boers produced.

Frederick Russell Burnham, DSO, Chief of Scouts, British Army[14]

When war broke out in 1899, Duquesne returned to South Africa to join the Boer commandos. He was wounded at the Siege of Ladysmith and received the rank of captain in the artillery.[15] Duquesne was captured by the British at the Battle of Colenso, but escaped in Durban.[15] He joined the Boers again for the Battle of Bergendal but they had to fall back to Mozambique, where they were captured by the Portuguese and sent to an internment camp in Caldas da Rainha, near Lisbon.[15]

At this camp, he charmed the daughter of one of the guards, who helped him escape to Paris. From there, he made his way to Aldershot in England. He joined the British army and got posted to South Africa in 1901 as an officer.[15]

As a British officer, he returned to Cape Town with plans to sabotage strategic British installations. He recruited 20 men, but was betrayed by the wife of one. He escaped the death penalty by volunteering to give (phoney) Boer codes to the British, but was still court-martialled and sentenced to life in prison. The other 20 members of his team were executed by firing squad.[16]

He was imprisoned in Cape Town in the Castle of Good Hope. The walls of the castle were extremely thick, yet night after night, Duquesne dug away the cement around the stones with an iron spoon. He nearly escaped one night, but a large stone slipped and pinned him in his tunnel. The next morning, a guard found him unconscious but uninjured.[16]

Duquesne was one of many Boer prisoners sent to Bermuda. He was one of an estimated 360 prisoners interned on Burt's Island, the second smallest of the then-five self-governed internment islands.[17] The 5' 10" "23-year-old" passed himself off as an American, and was noted for his "fresh" complexion and "well set up", "gentlemanly" appearance by the Burt's Island Commandant (spokesman and representative for the other Boers), Captain C.E.M. Pyne.[18] On 25 June 1902, Duquesne and Nicolaas du Toit travelled by ferry (legally, as the war had ended) to Bailey's Bay, Hamilton Parish, Bermuda to meet Anna Maria Outerbridge, a leader of a Boer Relief Committee.

She was so well known for trying to assist Boers in escaping that the military searched her house whenever there was an escape, the Colonial Assembly outlawed assisting and harbouring escaped prisoners of war, and on Guy Fawkes Night, an effigy of her, not Guy Fawkes, was burnt.[19] Outerbridge arranged for one of the men to escape while turning the other over to the military, and Duquesne was sent to the port of St. George's where another Boer Relief Committee member, Captain W. E. Meyer, arranged transportation out of the colony.[20]

Marriage and family[edit]

About this time, he met and married Alice Wortley. Duquesne was considered a very attractive man, but mysterious. When her family discovered he required her to have numerous abortions, they advised her to divorce him, which she did.

Pre-1919 pictures of Duquesne

Frederick Russell Burnham[edit]

To my friendly enemy, Major Frederick Russell Burnham, the greatest scout of the world, whose eyes were that of an Empire. I once craved the honour of killing him, but failing that, I extend my heartiest admiration.
Letter signed: Fritz Joubert Duquesne, 1933,
One warrior to another.
[16]

For many years, starting in the Second Boer War, Duquesne was under orders to assassinate Frederick Russell Burnham, a highly decorated American who was Chief of Scouts for the British Army. In 1910 the two men met in Washington, D.C., while separately lobbying Congress to pass a bill in favor of the importation of African game animals into the United States (H.R. 23621).[16] After returning to the United States, Burnham remained active in counterespionage for Britain and much of it involved keeping track of Duquesne.[21]

Gold mystery[edit]

Some of the largest gold mines in the world were within Boer territory. Prior to the Second Boer war, much of this gold was sent by rail through the neutral Portuguese harbor of Lourenço Marques (now Maputo), Mozambique to pay for arms and munitions. Apparently, in September and October 1900, some of this gold was shipped to the Netherlands for Boer exiles fleeing the Transvaal, including President Paul Kruger. Duquesne took command of one large shipment of gold that was to be sent by wagon to Lourenço Marques; the gold never made it to its destination. While in the bushveld of Mozambique, a violent disagreement broke out among the Boers. When the struggle ended, only two wounded Boers and Duquesne, and the tottys (native porters), remained alive. Duquesne ordered the tottys to hide the gold in the Caves of Leopards for safekeeping, to burn the wagons, and to kill the two wounded Boers. He gave the tottys all the oxen, except for one which he rode away. What happened to the gold remains a mystery.[16]

Duquesne was also a confidence trickster and may have started this "gold mystery" rumour for his personal reasons. The gold records of the Transvaal Republic Mint, as well as the relevant records of the gold mining companies then licenced by the Kruger government for tax purposes, both of which have been exhaustively examined by adventurers seeking validation of the "missing Kruger millions", show no "missing" ox-wagons full of gold. In any event, during the period claimed for this "journey," the Transvaal Republic was bankrupt and Kruger was departing for Holland to [unsuccessfully] raise funds with which to prosecute the war. Duquesne juxtaposed and used these events to identify as a trusted member of the Transvaal Republic political core, which was far from the truth.

In the United States[edit]

Fritz Duquesne, 1913
Alice Wortley Duquesne, 1913

Having escaped from Bermuda, Duquesne landed in New York City, where he found employment as a journalist for the New York Herald. He became known as a traveling correspondent, big game hunter, and storyteller whilst in New York. He was sent to Port Arthur to report on the Russo-Japanese War, as well as Morocco to report on the Riff Rebellion. The Second Boer War ended with the Boers signing the Treaty of Vereeniging. With his family dead, Duquesne never returned to South Africa.

In 1910, Duquesne, Frederick Russell Burnham, and Congressman Robert Broussard founded the New Food Supply Society to import useful African wildlife into the U.S. as a solution to a serious American meat shortage.[22] In support of this plan, Broussard introduced H.R. 23261, also known as the Hippo Bill, which sought the appropriation of $250,000 to import hippopotamus into the Louisiana bayous both as new food source and to control the water hyacinth then clogging southern river systems. Theodore Roosevelt backed the plan, as did the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Washington Post, and the New York Times which praised the taste of hippopotamus as “lake cow bacon”.[23] Duquesne's expert testimony on this subject before the House Committee on Agriculture is recorded in the Congressional Record.[24][25]

During this time Duquesne became Theodore Roosevelt's personal shooting instructor and accompanied him on a hunting expedition. He published several newspaper articles on Roosevelt's hunting trip to Africa, safari big game hunting in general, and the heroic accomplishments of white peoples in Africa. Duquesne became a naturalized American citizen in December 1913. Later, he was paid to give lectures to American audiences about World War I; he appeared in Australia uniform claiming to be "Captain Claude Stoughton" of the Western Australian Light Horse regiment.[26]

First World War[edit]

Capt. Duquesne in German uniform

After meeting a German-American industrialist in the Midwest around 1914, Duquesne became a German spy. He was sent to Brazil as "Frederick Fredericks" under the disguise of "doing scientific research on rubber plants." In 1916, he placed an article in a newspaper, reporting his own death in Bolivia at the hands of Amazonian natives.[27] From his base in Rio de Janeiro, he planted time bombs disguised as cases of mineral samples on British ships; he was credited with sinking 22 ships. Among them were the Salvador; the Pembrokeshire; and the Tennyson.[28] One of his bombs started a fire on the Vauban. The London Daily Mail published the following on May 27, 1919:

"Col. Fritz du Quesne, a fugitive from justice, is wanted by His Majesty’s government for trial on the following charges: Murder on the high seas; the sinking and burning of British ships; the burning of military stores, warehouses, coaling stations, conspiracy, and the falsification of Admiralty documents."

Duquesne was arrested in New York on 17 November 1917 on charges of fraud for insurance claims. He had taken out insurance policies and filed claims for the "mineral samples that were lost" with the ships he sank off the coast of Brazil, including the British steamship Tennyson, which he sank on 18 February 1916. Duquesne had in his possession a large file of news clippings related to the bomb explosions on ships, as well as a letter from the Assistant German Vice Consul at Managua, Nicaragua.[29] The letter indicated that Captain Duquesne was one who has rendered considerable service to the German cause.[29]

By this time, the British authorities were also looking at Duquesne as the agent responsible for "murder on the high seas, arson, faking Admiralty documents and conspiring against the Crown”. American authorities agreed that they would extradite Duquesne to Britain, if the British sent him back afterward to serve his sentence for fraud.

The Man Who Killed Kitchener[edit]

Duquesne's most celebrated claim is to have sunk the HMS Hampshire in 1916 thus killing Lord Kitchener. It is established that Duquesne was tried and convicted for his unsuccessful attempt to kill Kitchener in South Africa during the Second Boer War, but the less established account that Duquesne succeeded in assassinating Kitchener in 1916 appears in his 1932 biography by Clement Wood, The Man Who Killed Kitchener, the life of Fritz Joubert Duquense. Duquesne reported to Wood that he posed as the Russian Duke Boris Zakrevsky and joined Kitchener in Scotland.[30] While on board HMS Hampshire with Kitchener, Duquesne supposedly signalled the German submarine that sank the cruiser, thus killing Lord Kitchener, but Duquesne claims he made his own escape using a life raft before the ship was torpedoed and was rescued by the submarine.[30] He claimed that he was awarded the Iron Cross for this act and he appears in several pictures in German uniform wearing an Iron Cross in addition to other medals.[30] The authenticity of his claims has been challenged by modern biographers, and the German records that would confirm or deny at least parts of these accounts are now missing and were presumed destroyed during the war.[31]

1919 to 1939[edit]

FBI file photo

After his arrest in New York, and while awaiting extradition to Britain, Duquesne pretended to be paralysed. He was sent to the prison ward at Bellevue Hospital. On 25 May 1919, after nearly two years of feigning paralysis, he disguised himself as a woman and escaped by cutting the bars of his cell and climbing over the barrier walls to freedom.[32] Police Commissioner Richard E. Enright sent out the following bulletin:

"This man is partly paralysed in the right leg and always carries a cane. May apply for treatment at a hospital or private physician. He also has a skin disease which is a form of eczema. If located, arrest, hold and wire, Detective Division, Police Headquarters, New York City, and an officer will be sent for him with necessary papers."

About a year later, Duquesne appeared in Boston, using the pseudonym "retired British Major Frederick Craven". He is known to have used several more names, among them "Colonel Beza", "Piet Niacud," and "Captain Fritz du Quesne" (his real name and rank).

In 1926, Duquesne moved back to New York and assumed a new identity as Frank de Trafford Craven. He worked for Joseph P. Kennedy's Film Booking Offices of America (FBO Pictures), and later RKO Pictures, as part of the publicity staff. As part of this job Fritz, daringly, moved back to Manhattan, where he was well known under his real name. In 1930, Duquesne moved to the Quigley Publishing Company, a producer of movie magazines, and he called himself Major Craven.[31]

On May 23, 1932, police arrested Duquesne in the Quigley building. He was interrogated and beaten by the police and charged with murder on the high seas. [33] Duquesne claimed it was a case of mistaken identity and that his name really was Major Craven. Clement Wood had recently published a biography of Duquesne, The Man Who Killed Kitchener, so the police asked Wood to identify the man in custody. Wood insisted that the man was not Duquesne, but rather Major Craven whom he had known for five years. Police did not believe Wood and Duquense was charged for homicide and as an escaped prisoner. He was defended by Arthur Garfield Hays, who had also been one of the attorneys in the famous Scopes Trial. After Britain declined to pursue his war crimes, noting that the statute of limitations had expired, the judge threw out the only remaining charge of escape from prison and released Duquesne.[31]

After his release, Duquesne remained associated with the Quigley family and he talked for hours about the methods he used to blow up ships.[34] To verify the stories, Quigley had Duquesne meet with several experts, the most prominent of whom was Fr. Wilfrid Parsons, SJ, editor of the Jesuit magazine, America (magazine).[35] The experts verified his command of languages, that he was widely traveled and a skilled impersonator.[36] While the chronology was imprecise, everything Duquesne told Quigley that could be verified proved to be correct.[35]

Duquesne in office of William Sebold (posing as Harry Sawyer), FBI photo, 25 June 1941

In the spring of 1934, Duquesne became an intelligence officer for the Order of 76, an American pro-Nazi organization, and in January 1935 he began working for U.S. government’s Works Progress Administration. Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, head of the Abwehr, Germany’s division of military intelligence, knew Duquesne from his work in World War I and he instructed his new chief of operations in the U.S., Col. Nikolaus Ritter, to make contact with Duquesne. Ritter had been friends with Duquesne back in 1931 and the two spies reconnected in New York on December 3, 1937. Ritter employed several other successful agents across the U.S., most notably Herman Lang who delivered to the Germans the blueprints for the Top Secret Nordon bombsight, but he also made the mistake of recruiting a man who would later become a double-agent, William Sebold. On February 8, 1940, Ritter sent Sebold to New York under the alias of Harry Sawyer and instructed him to setup a shortwave radio-transmitting station to establish contact with the German shortwave station abroad. Sebold was also instructed to contact Duquesne, code-named DUNN.[31]

Second World War – Duquesne Spy Ring[edit]

The 33 convicted members of the Duquesne spy ring (FBI print)

On 28 June 1941, following a two-year investigation, the FBI arrested Duquesne along with two associates on charges of relaying secret information on Allied weaponry and shipping movements to Germany. Agents successfully filmed members of Duquesne's ring as they provided information to William G. Sebold, a confidential FBI informant and double agent.[37] They were found guilty in what was the largest espionage ring conviction in the history of the United States. On 2 January 1942, the 33 members of the Duquesne Spy Ring were sentenced to serve a total of more than 300 years in prison. One German spymaster later commented that the ring's roundup delivered 'the death blow' to their espionage efforts in the United States. J. Edgar Hoover called his FBI swoop on Duquesne's ring the greatest spy roundup in U.S. history.[38] During the trial, Duquesne claimed that his actions were aimed at the UK as revenge for the crimes done to his people and his country during the Second Anglo-Boer War.

The 64-year-old Fritz Joubert Duquesne did not escape; he was sentenced to 18 years in prison. He also received a 2-year concurrent sentence and the imposition of a $2,000 fine for violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act. He served his sentence in Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary in Kansas, where he was mistreated and beaten by inmates. In 1954, he was released owing to ill health, having served 13 years. He died indigent at City Hospital on Welfare Island (now Roosevelt Island) on 24 May 1956 at the age of 78 years.

The legend[edit]

Fritz Duquesne under the alias: Captain Claude Stoughton of the Western Australian Light Horse regiment (fictitious). Printed on U.S. War bonds in World War I.

It is not known which parts of his life were fiction and which were fact, since Duquesne was a charismatic master of self-promotion as well as a famous storyteller. Different sources throughout the world mention him, albeit in different guises. It is known that he was handsome, charming, intelligent and fluent in several languages. One of his biographers described him as "a professional spy and a counterfeit hero – a man who would constantly reinvent himself to suit the needs of the moment."[39]

His charm was well-known with women, but he also made an impression on men. An Afrikaner pastor, A.J. van Blerk, who was interned with Duquesne in Bermuda, described him as "a handsome man, well developed, with bright blue eyes and beautiful black hair that hung down to his shoulders," in his book Op die Bermudas beland ("Landed in Bermuda").

On a "Wanted" poster Duquesne is described as such (facts regarding his height, weight, complexion and eye colour are erroneous): :"Frederick Joubert Duquesne alias Captain Claude Stoughton, Frederick Fredericks, Piet Niacud, Fritz Duquesne, Fordham.

Description – age 40 years, height 5' 7'’, weight 155 pounds, dark brown hair, brown eyes, dark complexion.
Duquesne is of roving disposition. He is a writer of stories, an orator and a newspaper reporter and may apply for position as such. Is a good talker. Speaks Dutch, German, French and Spanish fluently.

The life of Fritz Joubert Duquesne was the subject of a 1999 documentary film by South African filmmaker François Verster that won six Stone Awards.

The 1945 film The House on 92nd Street was also a thinly disguised version of the Duquesne Spy Ring saga of 1941, but differs from historical fact. It won screenwriter Charles G. Booth an Academy Award for Best Story.

Bibliography[edit]

Works[edit]

Duquesne on safari (photo from Field and Stream, 1909)

Books[edit]

Duquesne poses with his kill (photo from Field and Stream, 1909)
  • Throttled!: The Detection of the German and Anarchist Bomb Plotters by Thomas Joseph Tunney and Paul Merrick Hollister.[40] is on Duquesne and can be read on Wikisource. Boston: Small, Maynard & company, 1919.
  • The man who killed Kitchener; the life of Fritz Joubert Duquesne, 1879– by Clement Wood. New York, W. Faro, inc., 1932.
  • Sabotage! The Secret War Against America by Michael Sayers & Albert E. Kahn. Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1942
  • Taking Chances by Frederick Russell Burnham. Chapter 2 is about Duquesne. Haynes Corp, 1944.
  • Counterfeit Hero: Fritz Duquesne, Adventurer and Spy by Art Ronnie. Naval Institute Press, 1995 ISBN 1-55750-733-3

Films[edit]

External links[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Wood 1932.
  2. ^ a b Burnham 1944, p. 11.
  3. ^ Tunney 1919, p. 217.
  4. ^ Ronnie 1995, p. 138.
  5. ^ Ronnie 1995, p. 141.
  6. ^ Quigley 1999, p. 30-1.
  7. ^ a b Tunney 1919, p. 236-38.
  8. ^ a b FBI 2013.
  9. ^ West 1932, p. 33.
  10. ^ Burnham 1944, p. 19.
  11. ^ Wood 1919, p. 332-337.
  12. ^ a b Wood 1932, p. 312-323.
  13. ^ Wood 1932, p. 41.
  14. ^ West 1932, p. 33-4.
  15. ^ a b c d Reprobate 2013.
  16. ^ a b c d e Burnham, Frederick Russell (1944). Taking Chances. Los Angeles: Haynes Corp. p. 293. ISBN 1-879356-32-5. 
  17. ^ Benbow, Colin (1994). Boer Prisoners of War in Bermuda. Bermuda: Island Press Limited. p. 18. ISBN 0-9697893-0-0. 
  18. ^ Benbow 1994, p. 40
  19. ^ Benbow 1994, p. 28
  20. ^ Benbow 1994, p. 38
  21. ^ Lott 1977, p. 67-70.
  22. ^ Mooallem 2013.
  23. ^ Eplett 2014.
  24. ^ Burnham 1944, p. 11-23.
  25. ^ Miller 2014.
  26. ^ Tunney, Thomas Joseph; Paul Merrick Hollister (1919). [s:Throttled! Throttled!: The Detection of the German and Anarchist Bomb Plotters]. Boston: Small, Maynard & company. 
  27. ^ "CAPTAIN DUQUESNE IS SLAIN IN BOLIVIA; Hostile Indians Descend on His Expedition and Kill Soldier of Fortune. CAREER FULL OF ROMANCE Boer Scout at 17, He Swam to Liberty from Bermuda – Trailed Roosevelt Up the Amazon". New York Times. 27 April 1916. ISSN 0362-4331. 
  28. ^ Current History 1920, p. 405.
  29. ^ a b "UNDER $50,000 BAIL AS NATION'S ENEMY; "Captain Duquesne" Indicted Following Alleged Insurance Fraud Bomb Explosions. APPROVED IN GERMAN NOTE Said to Have Posed as British Army Captain at Recent Twilight Club Dinner". New York Times. 15 December 1917. ISSN 0362-4331. 
  30. ^ a b c Wood, Clement (1932). The man who killed Kitchener; the life of Fritz Joubert Duquesne. New York: William Faro, inc. 
  31. ^ a b c d Evans 2014.
  32. ^ "'PARALYTIC' FLEES FROM PRISON WARD; Captain Fritz Duquesne, Who Feigned Helplessness, Escapes from Bellevue". New York Times. 28 May 1919. ISSN 0362-4331. 
  33. ^ Quigley 1999, p. 30.
  34. ^ Quigley 1999, p. 32.
  35. ^ a b Quigley 1999, p. 31.
  36. ^ Quigley 1999, pp. 31-32.
  37. ^ "FBI History". Timeline. Federal Bureau of Investigation. 200. Retrieved 2 May 2007. [dead link]
  38. ^ "Obituary. Fritz Joubert Duquesne". Time Magazine. 24 June 1956. ISSN 0040-781X. 
  39. ^ Ronnie, Art (1995). Counterfeit Hero: Fritz Duquesne, Adventurer and Spy, Naval Institute Press, Annapolis. ISBN 1-55750-733-3.
  40. ^ Chapter 9

References[edit]