Jules C. Silber

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Jules Crawford Silber (1880-?) was a German spy working as a censor with the United Kingdom during the First World War. He was born in Breslau, Silesia[1] and was known for having never been arrested.


Little is known of Silber's early life, the names of his parents, his birth date, or his place of birth. When he was conscripted into the British Army in 1915 in the United Kingdom, he declared that he "exceeded about thirty years of age”. This would place his birth date at sometime around 1880. As a teenager, he departed Germany for South Africa, where he learned to speak English, Afrikaans, and Zulu.

During the Second Anglo-Boer War, the British used his services as an interpreter and agent of the censure. 1,500 prisoners of war were sent to Ceylon. In India, Silber accompanied them as an agent for the censure for 18 months. He was stationed in the city-garrison of Abbottabad, not far from the Afghan border. Following the Treaty of Vereeniging, the repatriation of the prisoners began and Silber returned to South Africa, where he resided for 2 years.

He later emigrated to the United States. Silber lived there for a few years. In 1914, war was declared between the United Kingdom and Germany. This awoke Silber's patriotism. He traveled to the United Kingdom, where he offered his services to the post office as a censor. With this position, he could obtain information useful to the German war effort. While in New York, he gave the address of the letter-box to the German ambassador.

Not holding a passport to go to London, he traveled through Canada, where security was more lax because Canadians were considered to be British citizens. Carrying official British documents that showed his service in South Africa and India, none of which mentioned his nationality, he spent some time in Montreal while trying to pass as French Canadian to fool the British.

He set sail for England on September 19, 1914, arrived 10 days later without a passport, and was interrogated in Manchester. Eventually he was permitted to enter the United Kingdom and traveled to London later that evening. Although he had yet to commit any acts of espionage, he had already carried out an impressive exploit, because he was a German who had managed to get into the United Kingdom during the war.

Foiling the investigations of MI5, he obtained a position at the office of the censure, after an interview with an old colonel who had already served in the Punjab region. They discovered several common interests, and Silber began his work as censor on October 12, 1914.

Using mailed window envelopes that were stamped, he was able to forwardmicrofilm to Germany that contained increasingly important information, due to the fact that he was regularly promoted. He ended up in the position of chief censor, which enabled him to analyze all the suspect documents. Once the war ended, Silber had to wait until 1925 so that the restrictions concerning the continental voyages were reduced to be able to return to his home country.

Autobiography and biography[edit]

He finished his days in Germany after having written an autobiographical account of his life, entitled The Invisible Weapons in 1932.[2] Based on this autobiography, the author Ronald Seth wrote The Spy Who Wasn't Caught, a book recounting the exploits of this master of espionage who was forgotten because he was probably the most intelligent and sneaky of all. The French version of this book, published in 1968, was titled Le Plus Anglais des espions allemands (The Most English of German Spies).


  1. ^ Campbell, Christy Band of Brigands p39
  2. ^ Adams, Jefferson. "Appendix." Historical dictionary of German intelligence. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press, 2009. 420. Print.
  • Jules C. Silber, The Invisible Weapons, Hutchinson, 1932, Londres, D639S8S5.
  • Jules C. Silber, Die Anderen Waffen : Mit Zwei Faksimilies, Korn, Breslau, Germany, 1932. D639S8S48
  • Jules C. Silber, Les Armes invisibles. souvenirs d'un espion allemand au war office de 1914 a 1919, Payot, Paris, 1933. A collection of memories, studies, and documents to better serve the history of the first world war.
  • Colonel Walther Nicolai, Der Deutsches Nachrichtendienst
  • Lieutenant Général Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck, Die Weltkriegespionage