Dušan Popov

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Dušan "Duško" Popov
Popov photographed in New York in 1941.
Allegiance Kingdom of Yugoslavia Naval Ensign of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.svg[nb 1]
United Kingdom Flag of the United Kingdom.svg[nb 2]
Nazi Germany Flag of the German Reich (1935–1945).svg[nb 3]
Service VOA[1]
Active 1940–1945
Operation(s) World War II
Award(s) Iron Cross
Order of the British Empire
Codename(s) Duško

Birth name Dušan Popov
Born (1912-07-10)10 July 1912
Titel, Austro-Hungary (present-day Serbia)
Died 10 August 1981(1981-08-10) (aged 69)
Opio, Alpes-Maritimes, France
Nationality Serbian[3]
Religion Eastern Orthodox Christianity
Residence Opio, Alpes-Maritimes, France
Parents Milorad Popov, Zora Popov
Spouse Jacqueline (1946–1961; divorced)
Jill Jansen (1962–1981; his death)
Children Dino, Boris, Marko and Omar
Occupation Intelligence officer
Alma mater University of Belgrade
University of Freiburg

Dušan "Duško" Popov OBE (Serbian Cyrillic: Душан Душко Попов; 10 July 1912 – 10 August 1981) was a Serbian triple agent. During World War II he worked for the military intelligence and counterintelligence of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia under the code name "Duško".[1] He also worked for MI6 under the code name "Tricycle" and the German Abwehr under the code name "Ivan".[2]

Early years and education[edit]

Popov was born 10 July 1912 in Titel, Austria-Hungary (now Serbia), to a wealthy Serbian family. He had an older brother, Ivo – also a double agent, professionally trained as an attorney, before World War II – and a younger brother, Vladan. The Popov family moved to Dubrovnik when Duško was very young.

He spoke fluent German and had many highly placed German friends, but secretly despised the Nazis after earlier unpleasant brushes with them during his university years in Freiburg.[4] Popov had earned a Ph.D. in Law there, and then returned to Dubrovnik to briefly open his own law firm.[5]

Origins and operations of 'Tricycle'[edit]

When a university friend, Johann "Johnny" Jebsen, approached him to work for the Abwehr, he informed Clement Hope, passport control officer at the British legation in Yugoslavia. Hope enrolled Popov as a double agent with the codename Scoot (he was later known to his handler as Tricycle), and advised him to co-operate with Jebsen.[6]

Once accepted as a double agent, Popov moved to London. His international business activities in an import-export business provided cover for visits to neutral Portugal; its capital, Lisbon, was linked to the UK by a weekly civilian air service for most of the war. Popov used his cover position to report periodically to his Abwehr handlers in Portugal. Popov fed enough MI6-approved information to the Germans to keep them happy and unaware of his actions,[7] and was well-paid for his services. The assignments given to him were of great value to the British in assessing enemy plans and thinking.[7] His most important deception[citation needed] was convincing the Germans D-Day landings would be in Calais, not Normandy, and was able to report back to MI6 that they fell for this deception, which corroborated Bletchley Park's decryption of Lorenz cypher machine messages.[citation needed]

Popov was famous for his playboy lifestyle, while carrying out perilous wartime missions for the British.[8]

Allegations regarding Pearl Harbor[edit]

In 1941, Popov was dispatched to the United States by the Abwehr to establish a new German network.[9] He was given ample funds and an intelligence questionnaire (a list of intelligence targets, later published as an appendix to J.C. Masterman's book The Double Cross System). Of the three typewritten pages of the questionnaire, one entire page was devoted to highly detailed questions about US defences at Pearl Harbor on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. He made contact with the FBI and explained what he had been asked to do. During a televised interview, Duško Popov related having informed the FBI on 12 August 1941, of the impending attack on Pearl Harbor. For whatever reason, either the FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover did not report this fact to his superiors,[10] or they, for reasons of their own, took no action in regard to this apparent German interest in Pearl Harbor. Hoover had a distrust for Popov considering the fact that he was indeed a double agent. MI6 had given the FBI in New York a notice that he would have been showing up. Popov himself has said Hoover was quite suspicious and distrustful of him and, according to author William "Mole" Wood, when Hoover discovered Popov had taken a woman from New York to Florida, he threatened to have him arrested under the Mann Act if he did not leave the US immediately.

Operation Fortitude[edit]

In 1944, Popov became a key part of the Operation Fortitude deception campaign. However, when his Abwehr intelligence handler, Johann "Johnny" Jebsen – who was also a double agent (code-named "Artist") and a close friend  – was arrested by the Gestapo in Lisbon, the British feared Popov had been compromised and ceased giving him critical information to pass along to the Nazis. Jebsen, who was of Danish descent, had been born in Germany. He and Popov became fast friends because of their mutual distaste for National Socialism while they were both studying law in Freiburg. In fact, it was Jebsen who had originally recruited Popov to join him in counter espionage in an attempt to bring about the downfall of the Third Reich. When it was later discovered that the Abwehr still regarded Popov as an asset, he was brought back into use by the British. Jebsen's death at the hands of the Nazis had a profound emotional impact on Popov.

Personal life[edit]

While in the USA, Popov was noted as a ladies' man. He lived an extravagant lifestyle and had an affair with the well-known French actress Simone Simon.[11][12] He published his memoirs, Spy, Counterspy, in 1974. Popov has been cited as an inspiration for Ian Fleming's James Bond.[13] Fleming's code number for James Bond was based on Popov's claim that every time he needed some advice he would call his uncle, Milivoj Popov, who lived at Miloša Velikog 46 in Belgrade (today Kneza Miloša 50),[14] the phone number for his apartment being 26-007.[15] Today that building is one that was part of former Embassy of United States in Serbia and the number is not listed in the telephone directory any more, because the embassy used three adjoining buildings (street numbers 46, 48, and 50) and merged them into one.[14]

Popov died in 1981, aged 69. He was survived by his second wife, Jill Jansen, and three sons.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ He worked for his native country agency until the end of the war.
  2. ^ Supporting agency until end of the war.
  3. ^ Although Dušan Popov was a British agent, he joined Nazi Germany's secret agency Abwehr before the start of World War II. Later he worked for the MI6 against Abwehr until the end of the war.
  1. ^ a b Попов Душан – ТРИЦИКЛ (1912-1981)
  2. ^ a b Miller, Russell 2004, pp. 1.
  3. ^ Doerries, pp. 141.
  4. ^ St. Louis, Regis; Landon, Robert (2007). Portugal, p.144. Lonely Planet. ISBN 1-74059-918-7.
  5. ^ http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=68716694
  6. ^ Nigel West, 'Popov, Dusan (1912–1981)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, May 2008
  7. ^ a b Howard, Michael Eliot (1995).Strategic Deception in the Second World War, p.16. W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 0-393-31293-3.
  8. ^ The Defence of the Realm: The Authorized History of MI6.
  9. ^ nationalarchives.gov.uk – Dusko Popov – Record Summary
  10. ^ Jeffreys-Jones, Rhodri (2007). The FBI: A History, p.110. Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-11914-3.
  11. ^ BBC 9 May 2002.
  12. ^ CNN 8 May 2002.
  13. ^ Kalle Jokinen, 007:n esikuva kaatoi naisia ja jymäytti Bond-kirjailijaa, Iltalehti, 6 June 2014 (Finnish)
  14. ^ a b Amerikanci prodaju staru zgradu ambasade
  15. ^ Phonebook for Belgrade (1934), p. 154.



  • Miller, Russell (2004). Codename Tricycle: The True Story of the Second World War's Most Extraordinary Double Agent. London: Secker & Warburg. ISBN 0-436-21023-1. 
  • Doerries, Reinhard R. (2009). Hitler's Intelligence Chief: Walter Schellenberg. New York: Enigma Books. p. 141. ISBN 978-1-929631-77-3. 
  • Loftis, Larry (2016). Into the Lion's Mouth. New York: Berkley. p. 384. ISBN 978-0-425281-81-9. 


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