Fritz Joubert Duquesne

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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]The Duke[3]
Aliases (ca. 30 known):[4] Captain Claude Stoughton;[5] Frederick Fredericks;[6] Boris Zakrevsky (assumed the identity of the real-life Russian Duke);[7] Major Frederick Craven;[8] George Fordham;[9] Piet Niacud;[9] 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[10]
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[11][12]
— Sinking of 22 British ships in South America, [13] including: the Tennyson,[11] the Salvador,[11] and the Pembrokeshire[11]
— Sinking of the HMS Hampshire (disputed)[14][15]
— Assassination of Lord Kitchener (disputed)[14][15]
Flag of the NSDAP (1920–1945).svg World War II
— Espionage in United States[10]
Awards Iron Cross, 1916 (disputed)[14][15]
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, saboteur, spy, and adventurer. He fought on the side of Boer in the Second Boer War and his hatred for the British due to their mistreatment of his and other Boer families caused him to later spy for Germany during both World Wars. He went by many aliases, fictionalized his identity and background on multiple occasions, and operated as a conman. As a Boer spy he was known as the "Black Panther", but in World War II he joined the German Intelligence as a covert spy in the United States and operated under the code name DUNN. In FBI files he is frequently referred to as "The Duke."

As an officer and a commando in the Boer army, and later as a spy for Germany, Duquesne was captured and escaped prison several times. He was captured and imprisoned three times by the British during the Second Boer War, and each time he escaped. After infiltrating the British army as an officer, he led an attempt to sabotage Cape Town and to kill Lord Kitchener, only his team was given up by an informant and all were captured. After a failed attempt to escape prison in Cape Town, he was sent to prison in Bermuda, only there he escaped to the United States and became an American citizen. He became a spy for Germany in World War I and during this time he sabotaged and sank several British ships in South America. He also became known as "the man who killed Kitchener" since he claimed to have guided a German U-boat to sink the HMS Hampshire on which Lord Kitchener was en route to Russia in 1916 (although forensics of the ship do not support this claim). After he was caught by federal agents in New York in 1917, he feigned paralysis for two years and cut the bars of his cell to make his escape, thereby avoiding deportation to England where he faced execution for the deaths of British sailors. In 1932, he was again captured in New York by federal agents and charged with both homicide and for being an escaped prisoner, only this time he was set free after Britain declined to pursue the wartime crimes and withdrew the charges. In 1942, he and 32 other members of the Duquesne Spy Ring were caught by William G. Sebold, a double-agent with the FBI, and convicted in the largest espionage conviction in the history of the United States.

Between wars, Duquesne served as an adviser on big game hunting to Theodore Roosevelt, as a publicist in the movie business, as a journalist, as a fictional Australian war hero, and as head of the New Food Society in New York. During the Boer war, he had been under orders to kill Frederick Russell Burnham, Chief of Scouts in the British Army, but in 1910 he worked with both Burnham and then Rep. Robert Broussard to lobby the U.S. Congress to fund the importation of hippopotamuses into the Louisiana bayous to solve a severe meat shortage. Duquesne posed as many identities and he often reinvented his past at will, attaching his ancestry to aristocratic clans, granting himself military titles and medals, and producing many accounts of battles, some fact and some fictional.

Early life[edit]

Fritz Duquesne was born to a Boer family of French Huguenot origin in East London, Cape Colony in 1877 and later moved with his parents, Abraham Duquenne and Minna Joubert, to Nylstroom in the South African Republic, where they started a farm.[4] He had two younger siblings, his sister Elsbet and his brother Pedro.[4] He was a descendent of the French Huguenot naval commander Abraham Duquesne (1610–1688), and claimed his uncle was Piet Joubert (1880–1900), a hero in the First Boer War and Commandant-General of the South African Republic, although this ancestry is disputed.[16][4]

At age 12, Duquesne killed his first man, a Zulu man who attacked his mother.[4] Duquesne used the man’s assegai short sword and stabbed him in the stomach.[4] Not long after, a war party from a Bantu-speaking tribe attacked the area near the Sand river and the young Duquesne along with six other settler families fought a long gun battle, with young Duquesne killing several.[4]

When he was 13, he was sent to school in England, and when he was 17 years old, Duquesne went to London for university.[4] After graduation, he went to Oxford University for a year and attended the Académie Militaire Royale in Brussels, although a 1913 letter from Duquesne to Stephen Allen Reynolds states that after England he was sent to Europe to study engineering, but on the ship met an embezzler named Christian de Vries, and the two decided to take a trip around the world.[4] All sources agree Duquesne was an excellent fencer and that he later took part in many matches at the New York Adventurers Club.[4]

Second Anglo-Boer War[edit]

See also: Second Boer War

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[17]

When war broke out in 1899, Duquesne returned to South Africa to join the Boer commandos as a lieutenant, attached to the staff of Commandant General Piet Joubert in Pretoria.[18] He was wounded with a bullet through his right shoulder at the Siege of Ladysmith and promoted to the rank of captain in the artillery.[19][13] Duquesne was captured by the British at the Battle of Colenso, but escaped in Durban.[13] He joined the Boers again for the Battle of Bergendal but they had to fall back to Portuguese East Africa (now Mozambique), where they were captured by the Portuguese and sent to an internment camp in Caldas da Rainha, near Lisbon.[13] For Duquesne, this would become the watershed event, as historian Ronnie states, "life would never again be the same for him... In a few months he would be launched on a forty-year career as a professional spy and counterfeit hero -- a man who would constantly reinvent himself to suit the needs of the moment."[20]

At the internment camp in Portugal, he charmed the daughter of one of the guards, who then helped him escape to Paris. From there, he made his way to Aldershot in England. He then infiltrated the British army and was posted to wartime South Africa in 1901 as an officer. He passed with troops through his parents' farm in Nylstroom, finding it to have been destroyed under Kitchener's scorched earth policy.[13] He also learned his sister had been raped and killed and his mother was dying in a British concentration camp.[13] As Ronnie states, "the fate of his country and of his family would breed in him an all-consuming hatred of England" and "would turn him into what (Duquense biographer) Clement Wood called: a walking living breathing searing killing destroying torch of hate."[20]

As a British officer, Duquesne returned to Cape Town with secret plans to sabotage strategic British installations and to kill Kitchener. He recruited 20 Boer men, but was betrayed by the wife of one. On 11 October 1901, while attending a dinner for Sir Walter Hely-Hutchinson, the Cape Colony governor, he was arrested in full dress uniform for "conspiracy against the British government and on espionage."[21] He was court-martialled as a lieutenant in the British army and sentenced to be shot along with his conspirators.[20] The other 20 members of his team were executed by firing squad the next day, but as a plea-bargain his sentence was reduced to life in prison and in exchange Duquesne agreed to divulge secret Boer codes and to translate several Boer dispatches.[22] According to Ronnie, "for the rest of his life he swore he never betrayed the Boer cause but actually created new codes that would mislead the British."[23]

He was imprisoned in Cape Town in the Castle of Good Hope, a fortification built by the Dutch in 1666. 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.[22]

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.[24] 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.[25] On 25 June 1902, Duquesne and Nicolaas du Toit travelled by ferry to Bailey's Bay, Hamilton Parish, Bermuda to meet Anna Maria Outerbridge, a leader of a Boer Relief Committee.

Outerbridge 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.[26] 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.[27]

Gold mystery[edit]

Pre-1919 pictures of Duquesne

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. In 1900, some of this gold was sent by train to the small Lowveld town of Machadodorp and on to Mozambique to be 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.[22]

Suspicions about the gold intensified once the British Army occupied Pretoria in June 1900 and discovered that approximately 800,000 pounds had been removed from the South African Mint and National Bank between 29 May and 4 June 1900.[28] A final tally showed that about 1.5 million pounds were missing from the central bank.[28] In modern times there have been reports in South Africa about discoveries of the missing gold buried by Duquesne.[29][30]

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 and other newspapers by writing adventure stories.[13] The Second Boer War ended in 1902 with the Boers signing the Treaty of Vereeniging, but with his family dead and because of his war crimes, Duquesne never returned to South Africa. While in New York, he published a novel in the French newspaper Le Petit Bleu, and two other novels published in South Africa.[4] In 1908, he was written up in Men of America as a travelling correspondent sent to locations such as Port Arthur to report on the Russo-Japanese War, Morocco to report on the Riff Rebellion, and to the Belgian Congo to accompany Sir Arthur Jones on an expedition, but no corroborating evidence has been found.[4] In June 1910 he married Alice Wortley, an American, but their marriage would end in divorce eight years later.[4]

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. After the war, Burnham remained active in counterespionage for Britain, and much of it involved keeping track of Duquesne.[31] In 1910, 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, and Broussard selected Duquesne as an expert.[32] In support of this plan, Broussard introduced H.R. 23261, also known as the American 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.[33] Theodore Roosevelt backed the plan, as did the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Washington Post,[34] and the New York Times,[35] which praised the taste of hippopotamus as “lake cow bacon”.[36][37] Duquesne's expert testimony on this subject before the House Committee on Agriculture is recorded in the Congressional Record.[22][38] The bill fell just short of passing and the New Foods organization was disbanded.

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.

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.[40]

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." As an agent for Naval Intelligence in South America, he was assigned to disrupt commercial traffic to countries at war with Germany.[41] Duquesne received and delivered communiques through German Embassies, and he was responsible for numerous explosions on British ships.[42] From his base in Bahia, Brazil, he planted time bombs disguised as cases of mineral samples on British ships and he was credited with sinking 22 ships.[13] Among them were the Salvador and the Pembrokeshire[11][43] Additionally, one of his bombs killed three British sailors and nearly sank the S.S. Tennyson in February 1916, and another started a fire on the Vauban.[41] After bombing the Tennyson, British Intelligence operating in Brazil arrested an accomplice named Bauer who identified Duquesne as the both the perpetrator of the crime and the ring leader.[44] Bauer further revealed that Duquesne was operating under his own name and two aliases, George Fordam and Piet Niacud.[44] His cover now blown, Duquesne moved to Buenos Aires, Argentina, and several weeks later placed an article in a newspaper reporting his own death in Bolivia at the hands of Amazonian natives.[45][46]

Duquesne evaded British intelligence in South America and returned to New York around May 1916.[47] Using the aliases George Fordam and Frederick Fredericks, he had taken out insurance policies for the cargo he shipped and he now filed claims for the "films" and "mineral samples" lost with the ships he sank off the coast of Brazil, including the British steamship Tennyson.[48] The insurance companies were reluctant to pay and began their own investigations which would go on for another year. In June 1916, he says he left for Europe under orders from German intelligence.[14]

The next confirmed appearance of Duquesne is in Washington, D.C., in July 1917, not long after the U.S. declared war on Germany.[49] He had contacted Senator Robert Broussard with whom he had worked on the bill to import hippos into Louisiana. Not knowing that Duquesne was now a German spy, Senator Broussard attempted to help him obtain a position with General George Washington Goethals, the acting U.S. Army Quartermaster and former chief engineer of the Panama Canal, but he was not successful.[50] Additionally, Duquesne filed patents for an underwater electromagnetic mine which he then attempted to sell to the U.S. Navy.[51][52]

Duquesne was arrested in New York on 17 November 1917 on charges of fraud for insurance claims. At the time of his arrest, 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.[53] The letter indicated that Captain Duquesne was one who has rendered considerable service to the German cause.[53] 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”, and the American authorities agreed that they would extradite Duquesne to Britain, if the British sent him back afterward to serve his sentence for fraud.[54][55]

The Man Who Killed Kitchener[edit]

Duquesne's most celebrated claim is to have sunk the HMS Hampshire in June 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.[14] 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.[14] 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.[14] 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.[4]

1919 to 1939[edit]

FBI file photo

After his arrest in New York, and while awaiting extradition to Britain on murder charges, Duquesne pretended to be paralyzed. He was sent to the prison ward at Bellevue Hospital. On 25 May 1919, after nearly two years of feigning paralysis and just days before his extradition, he disguised himself as a woman and escaped by cutting the bars of his cell and climbing over the barrier walls to freedom.[56] 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."

The London Daily Mail published the following on 27 May 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 fled to Mexico and Europe, but in 1926 he moved back to New York and assumed a new identity as Frank de Trafford Craven.[4][57] He worked for Joseph P. Kennedy's Film Booking Offices of America (FBO Pictures), and later RKO Pictures, as part of the publicity staff.[4] As part of this job he 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.[4]

On 23 May 1932, police arrested Duquesne in the Quigley building in New York.[58] He was interrogated and beaten by the police and charged with murder on the high seas. [59] 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.[58] Police did not believe Wood and agent Thomas J. Tunney was brought in to positively identify Craven as Fritz Duquesne, the same man he had arrested in 1917.[58] Duquense was charged with homicide and as an escaped prisoner.[58] He was defended by Arthur Garfield Hays, who had also been one of the attorneys in the famous Scopes Trial.[60] 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.[4]

After his release, Duquesne remained associated with the Quigley family, and he talked for hours about the methods he used to blow up ships.[61] 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.[62] The experts verified his command of languages, that he was widely traveled and a skilled impersonator.[63] While the chronology was imprecise, everything Duquesne told Quigley that could be verified proved to be correct.[62]

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 3 December 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 8 February 1940, Ritter sent Sebold to New York under the alias of Harry Sawyer and instructed him to set up a shortwave radio-transmitting station to establish contact with the German shortwave station abroad. Sebold, code-named TRAMP, was also instructed to contact Duquesne, code-named DUNN.[4][64][65]

Second World War – Duquesne Spy Ring[edit]

Main article: Duquesne Spy Ring
The 33 convicted members of the Duquesne spy ring (FBI print)

Once the FBI discovered through Selbold that Duquesne was again in New York operating as a German spy, director J. Edgar Hoover provided a background briefing to President Franklin Roosevelt.[66] The dossier from that time gave a summary of now Colonel Duquesne's prior history and stated that, "no information, whatsoever, concerning the whereabouts and activities of Duquesne since June 6, 1932, is possessed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation."[66] FBI agent Raymond Newkirk, using the name Ray McManus, was now assigned to DUNN and he rented a room immediately above Duquesne's apartment near Central Park and used a hidden microphone to record Duquesne's conversations.[67] But monitoring Duquesne's activities proved to be difficult. As Newkirk described it, "The Duke had been a spy all of his life and automatically used all of the tricks in the book to avoid anyone following him... He would take a local train, change to an express, change back to a local, go through a revolving door and keep going on right around, take an elevator up a floor, get off, walk back to the ground, and take off in a different entrance of the building."[68] Duquesne also informed Sebold that he was certain he was under surveillance, and he even confronted one FBI agent and demanded that he stop tracking him, a story confirmed by agent Newkirk.[69]

The FBI leased three adjacent rooms in Times Square.[70] One room would serve as double-agent Sebolt's office from which he would receive intelligence reports from Abwehr spys that would later be censored by the FBI and partially transmitted by Sebolt via coded short-wave radio to Germany.[70] The other two rooms were used by german-speaking FBI agents who would listen in with headphones and record the meetings using a motion picture camera behind a two-way wall mirror.[10][70] The first time Duquesne arrived at Sebolt's office, he surprised the FBI agents by conducting an examination of the office, opening chests, looking in corners and around mirrors, and pointedly asking Sebolt, "where are the mics?"[71] Once Duquense believed he was safe, he raised his pants leg and removed documents from his sock, such as: a sketch and photo of the M1 Garand automatic rifle, a drawing of a new light tank design, a photo of a U.S. Navy Mosquito boat, a photo of a grenade launcher, and reports on U.S. tanks he had observed at bases in West Point and Tennessee.[72] Duquesne also described sabotage techniques he had used in earlier wars such as small bombs with slow fuses he could drop through a hole in his pants pocket, and he commented on where he might use these devices again.[72]

Arrest and Conviction[edit]

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.[10] They were found guilty in what was the largest espionage ring conviction in the history of the United States.[10] 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.[10] 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.[73] In a 1942 memo to his superiors, Admiral Canaris of the Abwehr reported on the importance of several of his captured spies by noting their valued contributions, and he writes that Duquesne "delivered valuable reports and important technical material in the original, including U.S. gas masks, radio-controlled apparatus, leak proof fuel tanks, television instruments, small bombs for airplanes versus airplanes, air separator, and propeller-driving mechanisms. Items delivered were labeled 'valuable', and several 'good' and 'very good'."[74]

The 64-year-old Fritz Joubert Duquesne did not escape this time. He was sentenced to 18 years in prison, with a 2-year concurrent sentence and $2,000 fine for violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act.[55] He began his sentence in Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary in Kansas, along with fellow German spy Hermann Lang.[75] In 1945, Duquesne was transferred to the Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield, Missouri, due to his failing physical and mental health.[76] In 1954, he was released owing to ill health, having served 14 years.[55] His last known lecture was in 1954 at the Adventurers Club in New York, titled "My Life -- in and out of Prison.[76] He died at City Hospital on Welfare Island (now Roosevelt Island) on 24 May 1956 at the age of 78 years.[55]

The legend[edit]

Fritz Duquesne under the alias: Captain Claude Stoughton. Printed on U.S. War bonds in World War I.

As a covert spy and saboteur, it was necessary for Duquesne to manipulate people, assume new identities and cover stories, and to go to extremes such as when he pretended to be paralyzed for two years in order to escape extradition on murder charges. It is known that he was handsome, charismatic, intelligent, fluent in several languages, and as FBI agent Newkirk states, "the Duke was a very interesting talker but he always had to be the center of attention."[77] However, he sometimes took his deceptions further than seems necessary.

Captain Claude Stoughton[edit]

With the advent of World War One, Duquesne's stories of great white hunters and African safaris no longer fascinated the American public and he was dropped from the lecture circuit.[32] To get back on stage he needed new material, so he re-invented himself and pretended to be an allied war hero, Captain Claude Stoughton of the Western Australian Light Horse regiment, a man who claimed to have "seen more war than any man at present" and claimed to have been "bayoneted three times, gassed four times, and stuck once with a hook."[32] Duquesne appeared before New York audiences dressed in uniform as Stoughton to tell them war stories, promote the sale of Liberty Bonds, and to make patriotic speeches for organizations such as the Red Cross.[32] As Mooallem explains it, "Captain Stoughton's career took off. His talks made decent money, his heroism earned him respect, and ladies found him alluring," and "the Black Panther was an adrenaline junkie... his invented persona had such magnetism and such possibility, in fact, that he began deploying his alter-ego in a wide variety of personal appearances... it is possible that Duquesne simply liked attention, the performance."[32]

Film Accounts[edit]

  • The Man Who Would Kill Kitchener, by François Verster, a documentary film on the life of Fritz Joubert Duquesne that won six Stone awards, 1999.
  • The House on 92nd Street, which won screenwriter Charles G. Booth an Academy Award for the best original motion picture story in 1945. Based on the FBI Duquesne Spy Ring case with major changes story and characters.
  • Duquesne Case: Secret. (public domain) J Edgar Hoover narrates this 1941 documentary in which the members of the Duquesne Spy Ring are secretly filmed talking with Harry Sawyer (FBI Agent William Sebold) while exchanging money and blueprints. Duquesne looks around the room before removing military diagrams hidden in his sock. Hoover narrates: "Colonel Duquesne", "the most cautious of them all."
  • The Duquesne Case, Deutsche Welle Newsreel, ca. 1950. (German; also translated into English, albeit poorly, and posted to YouTube).
  • In June 2014, RatPac Entertainment and Class 5 Films acquired the non-fiction article American Hippopotamus, by Jon Mooallem, about the meat shortage in the U.S. in 1910 and the attempts made by Duquesne, Burnham, and Congressman Robert Broussard to import hippopotamuses into the Louisiana bayous and to convince Americans to eat them. The movie will highlight the Burnham - Duquesne rivalry. Edward Norton, William Migliore and Brett Ratner will produce this feature film.[78]


Duquesne on safari (photo from Field and Stream, 1909)
Duquesne poses with his kill (photo from Field and Stream, 1909)

Duquesne authored the following works:

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Wood 1932.
  2. ^ a b Burnham 1944, p. 11.
  3. ^ Duffy 2014, p. 154,156,188,205.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s Evans 2014.
  5. ^ Tunney 1919, p. 217.
  6. ^ Ronnie 1995, p. 138.
  7. ^ Ronnie 1995, p. 141.
  8. ^ Quigley 1999, pp. 30-31.
  9. ^ a b Tunney 1919, pp. 236-38.
  10. ^ a b c d e f FBI 2013.
  11. ^ a b c d e Current History 1920, p. 405.
  12. ^ West 1932, p. 33.
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h Reprobate 2013.
  14. ^ a b c d e f g Wood 1932, p. 312-323.
  15. ^ a b c Ronnie 1995, pp. 349-350.
  16. ^ Wood 1932, p. 41.
  17. ^ West 1932, pp. 33-34.
  18. ^ Ronnie 1995, p. 16.
  19. ^ Ronnie 1995, p. 18.
  20. ^ a b c Ronnie 1995, p. 15.
  21. ^ Ronnie 1995, p. 37.
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