Rudolf Roessler

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In World War II espionage, Rudolf Roessler (Rößler) (b.22 November 1897-d.11 December 1958) was the central (and mysterious) figure in the Lucy spy ring. He was a German refugee who had moved to Switzerland in 1933, and was the proprietor of a small publishing firm in Switzerland, Vita Novi. Noticing his Anti-Fascist materials, he attracted the attention of two German officers, Fritz Thiele and Rudolph Von Gersdorff, who had previously been in a plot to kill Hitler. Being the Head of the German Defense Ministry's Department of Communication, they outfitted him with an Enigma Machine and a radio station, passing him off as an official German military broadcast, thus allowing them to operate freely. During the War, he managed to provide, through a Soviet espionage ring operating in Switzerland, extremely accurate and timely intelligence about German operations and intentions on the Eastern Front, usually within a day of operational decisions being made. His methods of obtaining intelligence information are still not entirely known. It was astonishingly good material, so good as to cause some considerable doubt about it in Moscow. A German Army commander who attacked the Russian-held town of Lomza in Poland, for example, was amazed to find a copy of his own orders when he occupied it. This was reported to the German High Command, yet they were unable to find the leak.[citation needed]

Roessler was eventually arrested by the Swiss police during World War II and again a few years later; he was briefly jailed. He died in the 1958 (after another bout with the police) without, so far as is publicly known, ever explaining how he had done it, or exactly who his confederates in Germany were. It has been suggested that Roessler was actually a British agent, and that "Lucy" was actually a British Secret Service operation intended to get Ultra information to the Soviets in a convincing way untraceable to British codebreaking operations against the Germans, though this has been highly contested by historians.[citation needed]


  • Accoce, Pierre, and Pierre Quet. A. M. Sheridan Smith (trans.). A Man Called Lucy; 1939–1945. New York: Coward-McCann, 1967.
  • Read, Anthony, and David Fisher. Operation Lucy: Most Secret Spy Ring of the Second World War. New York: Coward, McCann & Geoghegan, 1981. ISBN 0-698-11079-X.
  • Ernest Volkman, Spies. New York: Wiley, 1994, at pp. 237–246: "Rudolf Roessler. The enigma of Lucy".