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COUNTESS VON SCHAUMBERG

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Full Name: Hilda von Schaumberg
Nationality: German
Organization: German Intelligence
Occupation Agent

Creator: Unknown
Time Span: 1917 - 1917

ABOUT THE SERIES

       Countess Hilda von Schaumberg is an agent with German Intelligence.
       The period of time of her recorded adventures as an operative spans 1916 to 1917. We learn at the very beginning of that first recount that she had obviously been with that department, a division of their Foreign Office, for some time because she remarks how on July 5 of 1914, the Kaiser and his advisers had a meeting discussing preparations for war and one of the topics was how the Countess should move immediately to take up residence in Berne, Switzerland, something she did three days later.
       [For a history recap, on June 28, 1914, Archduke Ferdinand of Austria and his wife were assassinated while on a state visit to Belgrade, Serbia. On July 23, Austria-Hungary presented Serbia with a list of 10 demands that were intentionally made unacceptable to force a war. Five days later, it declared war on Serbia. Russia had already vowed support of Serbia and went on a war footing. Germany declared support for Austria-Hungary and insisted Russia demobilize and when it did not, declared war on Russia on August 1. The next day Germany invaded Luxembourg and Belgium and things went downhill from there.]
       The fact that the Countess was moved to a neutral country just two weeks after the assassination showed how ready the High Command was for the upcoming conflict. It is interesting to read when she says that "we ladies of the German secret diplomatic service are under no compulsion [to obey]. We may decline to follow any suggestion from headquarters; but we never do." It will be from that Switzerland that she will operate though as we will see from her accounts, she spends virtually no time there from the first adventure on.
       We learn almost nothing about the Countess's past other than she is quite young (early 20's). We hear no references to a husband so her title is likely to have been inherited. Where her titled lands, if any, were is also not mentioned.
       What is stated is that she is considered by everyone she knows to be of exceptional beauty, something she makes not pretense of modesty about. It is mentioned on one way or another that it is her good looks and breeding and status that she gets accepted into the many different societies she must infiltrate on her missions. It is also stated more than a few times that it is her superior intellect that gets her out of some of the tight situations she lands in.
       The adventures we have of the Countess end before the fall of the German Empire. What happened to her at that point remains a mystery.

NOVELLAS AND SHORT STORIES

Number of Stories:10
First Appearance:1917
Last Appearance:1917

       The earliest publication I have yet found of these series of adventures of Countess von Schaumberg was September, 1917 in the San Francisco Chronicle. Each Sunday another "assignment" (my term only!) was told of the lovely spy's various missions. The order of these adventures, based on the content, is not the same as the printing sequence, however.
       Subsequent to that newspaper's running of the stories, one or more other newspapers in the country issued their own versions of the tales. El Paso, Texas, came out with some of the stories starting the second week of October.
       The beginning of 1918 would see a good number of more newspapers all over the country run the tales as well. As with the Texan's rendition, some would carry the entire line but some would only release a few of the available adventures.
       In most cases, the actual text would be consistent but on some occasions paragraphs would be omitted, likely for space reasons. Additionally, some newspapers would merge texts so that one day's release might be all of one adventure and a portion of the next.
       Most versions would see a bold and/or capitalized article headline with a smaller sub-banner and occasionally a sub-sub-banner. There was not consistency from paper to paper as to what was put in these leaders so likely it was at the discretion of the local editor and not the issuing syndicate.


       In all cases, though, one observation that floored me was that nowhere was it plainly stated or shown that these were (likely) fictionalized accounts or excepts. For the most part they looked exactly like everything else in the paper, complete with occasional photographs of battle scenes or important people. On any given instance, that day's adventure would look exactly like other articles, lying indistinguishable from, for example, a piece on the "Annual Grape Festival to be held Oct 6" or a "Boy Scouts Recruiting Campaign" or an advertisement for the "Best Liver and Bowel Laxative for Family Use".


Note: the titles given to each of these "assignments" are totally my invention. Obviously, the cover images are fake as well.

1 The Seduction of Lenin Assignment The Seduction of Lenin Assignment
Written by Unknown
Copyright: 1917

It falls to the lovely Countess to become friends with the exiled Bolshevist leader Lenin and to convince him, when the October Revolution deposed the Czar, to take considerable German funds back with him to Russia on the condition of ending Russia's participation in the War.
Click here to read the story.

2 The Australian Minerals Assignment The Australian Minerals Assignment
Written by Unknown
Copyright: 1917

Learning that an English investor was heading to Australia to possibly back a newly invented improvement in mining minerals vital for the war effort, it is the mission of the Countess to win the investor's confidence and find a way to keep him from backing the invention and to open the chance for Germany to land trade agreements.
Click here to read the story.

3 The Brazilian Rebel Assignment The Brazilian Rebel Assignment
Written by Unknown
Copyright: 1917

For many years thousands of Germans had made a home in Brazil and that country's government was very close to Germany. Now, however, a new President there was decidedly pro-English and it falls to the Countess to head there to befriend a rebel leader and provide him with considerable armament.
Click here to read the story.

4 The Kunani Revolution Assignment The Kunani Revolution Assignment
Written by Unknown
Copyright: 1917

The Countess von Schaumberg becomes closely involved with the desires of the rebel leader of the Brazilian region he calls Kunani. That man, Lopez, is wanting to attack and take over a neighboring area but needs armament. The Countess's offer to him to arrange the smuggling of a large number of guns and ammunition has a much different purpose.
Note: this is really an extension of the previous assignment.
Click here to read the story.

5 The Czarina Assignment The Czarina Assignment
Written by Unknown
Copyright: 1917

The Countess von Schaumberg is given a fairly simple assignment. She is to take the position of a maid of honor to the Russian Czarina and to monitor developments in the Russian court, acting as "a kind of supervisor over our numerous spies in and about the Muscovite court". It will be her first introduction to Rasputin.
Click here to read the story.

6 The Rasputin Assignment The Rasputin Assignment
Written by Unknown
Copyright: 1917

The Foreign Office instructs Countess von Schaumberg to find a way to use Rasputin and his extremely powerful influence over the Czarina's family to convince Nicholas II to put out of the War. This will have her come up with a plan to entice Rasputin by appealing to both his enormous ego and his every ravenous pocketbook.
Click here to read the story.

7 The Zimmermann Letter Assignment The Zimmermann Letter Assignment
Written by Unknown
Copyright: 1917

The countess is teamed with former Foreign Minister Zimmermann to convey to the Mexican government an offer, the gist of which is that if Mexico were to join with Germany, she would see the return of California, New Mexico, and Texas. The task of the Countess is to get the signatures of either President Carranza or General Villa.
Click here to read the story.

8 The Pancho Villa Assignment The Pancho Villa Assignment
Written by Unknown
Copyright: 1917

Having run afoul of the government of Mexico and failing to get a signature on the Zimmermann treaty, the Countess von Schaumberg falls back on to Plan B and heads to an important meeting with General Pancho Villa.
Click here to read the story.

9 The Egyptian Assignment The Egyptian Assignment
Written by Unknown
Copyright: 1917

Really a two-part adventure. In the doghouse over the American mission failure, the Countess is dispatched to help Baron von Rautenfels, a man she had never met but heard bad things about, deal with shipping in Scandinavia. That man had a goofy plan to create explosives made to look like routine objects like "pieces of coal or cakes of tobacco" and send them, somehow, to worthy targets. Even as she ponders this matter, she recollects a mission to Egypt to organize resistance to England in that British-controlled region.
Click here to read the story.

10 The Swedish Post Office Assignment The Swedish Post Office Assignment
Written by Unknown
Copyright: 1917

This tells of the conclusion of the Countess's shipping mission. Plenty of trace was going on to and from the Scandinavian nations, some useful to Germany and some needing attention by the U-boats. The Countess von Schaumberg is tasked with helping find a way to get frequent lists of shipping schedules, both those to be ignored and those to be attacked, to waiting U-boats. She figures out a way to implement a clever system of "post offices".
Click here to read the story.

11 The Turkish Propaganda Assignment The Turkish Propaganda Assignment
Written by Unknown
Copyright: 1917

In order to counter the growing anti-German sentiments propagated by the Softa Abd-ul-Rahman Bey, Countess von Schaumberg decides the only way to fight his work is to destroy his reputation. 
Click here to read the story.

12 The Moslem Softa Assignment The Moslem Softa Assignment
Written by Unknown
Copyright: 1917

In order to counter the growing anti-German sentiments propagated by the Softa Abd-ul-Rahman Bey, Countess von Schaumberg decides the only way to fight his work is to destroy his reputation. 
Click here to read the story.

MY COMMENTS

     The first observation I have concerning this series is that whoever the author was, and I do not believe for a moment it was the "real" Countess von Shaumberg, that person was not a German. That opinion is based on the constant patriotic fervor with which the Countess always defends those of her nationality and downplays anyone else. It is so constant  and over the top that is has to be fake. Again - IMHO.
     The second is that it is interesting how the character never divulges anything about her past. There is not a single 'when I was growing up' or 'when I left school' or anything. That is odd for someone recounting a dozen adventures in her life.
     The third is that the stories are not that good but at least they move very quickly and thus do not get bogged down.
     The last comment is that from an historical viewpoint, they are not only interesting, they are informative. That alone makes them worthy of reading, even if point #3 is kept in mind.

GRADE

My Grade: B-

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