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OLGA VON MARX

von_marx_olga_bk_assw
 
Full Name: Olga von Marx
Codename: 123
Nationality: German
Organization: German Intelligence
Occupation Agent

Creator: Henry de Halsalle
Time Span: 1917 - 1918

ABOUT THE SERIES

Olga von Marx is an agent with German Intelligence.

When we first meet this beautiful, young fraulein, she is an unemployed woman in much need of a job and seeing a notice in the local Berlin paper which stated, "A lady private secretary required, Must have thorough knowledge of French and English". Since it was in a German newspaper written in German, it was obviously looking for someone with polylingual abilities, something that von Marx possesses.

She tells us straight off how she was the daughter of a German father and English mother born and raised in Berlin. Her father was killed in a duel when she was 'quite young'. Her mother decided to remain in country so it was that the young girl, when she was 17, looked for a career as an opera singer. Her mother did not feel such work was 'respectable' so young Olga had to look elsewhere to earn a living. She knew she was also good at art and did manage to each a nice initial sum for a sketch but apparently that was not bringing in enough so when she saw that advertisement, she took a chance and her life changed completely.

The man posting the ad identified himself as Herr Muller and after an initial interview passed her up the chain being impressed with her. She was not so impressed with Muller though she did not know at the time that he was in fact Prince Otto Hochberg, "one of the greatest scoundrels in Germany" of whom much bad has been printed and who was, she tells us, "one of the dirtiest workers employed in the Secret Service of Germany".

[One interesting note to make here is that the ersatz Muller addresses her as Olga von Kopf and she makes not effort to correct him and acts as though it was correct. And yet, on the next interview she has, one rung up the chain, she is distinctly called Olga von Marx several times and again she has no reaction. This will not be the only time the names of von Kopf and von Marx will alternate.]

The reader is told at the beginning of the first set of adventures that "Olga von Marx, until recently, was Germany's greatest woman spy" Mr. de Halsalle, whose name has become world-famous for his scathing exposures of the Kaiser's secret Service System, met her during his investigations, and as a result of that meeting, her disclosures are now made public. It was with great difficulty that Olga von Marx escaped from Germany with her manuscript, and even after her safe arrival in America, attempts were made by German agents to get the manuscript suppressed."

de Halsalle mentions that he first met von Marx in October of 1909 and was then promised by a laughing young woman who claimed she was "merely a journalist" that someday she would "write a book about German spying" and would send it to him when finished. The two volumes of adventures are said to be those stories.

One major downside to von Marx is that she is very much anti-Jew. She says so opening in the early parts of her story and expounds on it frequently throughout her narrative. She even takes considerable effort at one point far into her dissertation to list the many faults and failings the Jewish people have. She explains her anti-Semitic attitude with a simple, "in my hatred of the Jew I am German".

Good line:
- Regarding the less than pleasant Herr Muller, "I could see cruelty in his eyes, debauchery in his face, and cunning at the corner of his lips."
- Told by Frau Orloff in the initial meeting, "The work of spying .. is very arduous. It makes the severest call upon the nervous system."
- Frau Orloff's advice while in the employ of the German Secret Service, "You must place your conscience, your ethics, and your heart safely somewhere under lock and key."
- Reasonable advice: "Always treat the spy considerately until he makes an error".
- Regarding the English attitude towards espionage: "She is too superior; she looks upon spying as upon scavenging - a necessary evil, best performed by the riff-raff."

BOOKS

Number of Books:2
First Appearance:1917
Last Appearance:1918

       As mentioned further below, the first set of adventures of Olga von Marx, aka von Kopf, were initially distributed via newspaper articles spread out over a large number of entries. These were then collated into one volume and released as the first book. That volume describes how she got into, and then eventually out of, the business of spying for the Kaiser's Germany.

       In that book she makes mention here and there of adventures and missions she had which she chose not to include in her memoirs.
       The second volume appears to be a series of those adventures she later felt sufficiently interesting to divulge.

1 A Secret Service Woman A Secret Service Woman
Written by Henry de Halsalle
Copyright: 1917

Subtitled Being Confessions, Experiences and Opinions of Olga von Kopf, the Famous International Spy.
Al Hubin in his awesome Crime Fiction IV describes its contents as "seven short stories spread across eleven chapters". I do not have a list of those chapters. My own opinion is that the breakdown would be:
"How I Entered The German Secret Service"
"The Training"
"The First 'Mission'"
"Meeting The Kaiser"
"Diamond Cut Diamond"
"My Mission To Paris"
"My Escape From A French Dockyard"
"At Kronstadt I Meet An Old Friend"
"Dead Men Tell No Tales - In Constantinople"
"The Argus Institute Personnel"
"God Save Ireland"

2 A Woman Spy A Woman Spy
Written by Henry de Halsalle
Copyright: 1918

Subtitled Being Further Confessions and Experiences of Germany's Principal Secret Service Woman.
The stories, according to Al Hubin's Crime Fiction IV, are:
The Cave of Misery
I Meet Rasputin-The 'Monk'
The Knickerbockered Jew
The Man in the Black Kid Gloves
The “Q.3” Tragedy
To Warsaw, After a Wild Goose
Two Birds with One Stone
Up a Tree-in Serbia


NOVELLAS AND SHORT STORIES

Number of Stories:21
First Appearance:1917
Last Appearance:1917

       Prior to their being collected into a bound volume for sale, the initial tales of Olga von Marx were released in serial form in a very large number of newspapers across the States. Every region of the nation had at least one major publication presenting the tales and they would run a little bit each day for several weeks.

       Several very interesting facts should be mentioned about these renditions.
       The first is that each newspaper's version was likely to differ, sometimes little like an occasional paragraph being missing, or a fair amount such as a whole sequence of events disappearing with no explanation. As a result, I found it necessary to read carefully several versions to get a more complete picture.
       The second is that there seemed no particular rhyme or reason in the breakdown of sections complete with "section titles" similar to chapters but without the logical separation of events one would normally expect. Several papers' version might have the section title while other papers would not.
       The third is that the run of stories in each newspaper was likely unique, i.e., how much of the overall set of stories were actually presented, as were the frequency of their appearance. While most papers carried portions in consecutive daily editions, several would skip a day here or there with little warning and a couple would also run them in the Sunday editions.
       And most fascinating of all is that in virtually every newspaper in which I found Olga von Marx's adventures told, I could see no - repeat, no - distinction for the tales being fictional. Each would likely pop up next to a legitimate news article, either local, national, or international, and there would be no way to discern that the von Marx's "articles" were not as factual as those next to it. This is not a case of one or two papers being like that; they all were.

1 "Introduction"
Written by Henry de Halsalle
Copyright: 1917

An introduction to the first collection of stories and lays out how the presenter, Henri de Halsalle, came to be in possession of the entries.
Click here to read the story.

2 "How I Entered The German Secret Service"
Written by Henry de Halsalle
Copyright: 1917

1st story included in the collection A Secret Service Woman.
Depicts how Olga von Marx, needing employment, reads an advertisement in the paper and answers it. This leads to two job interviews, the first with an unpleasant man calling himself Herr Muller, and the second with a very austere and daunting Frau Orloff.
Click here to read the story.

3 "The Training"
Written by Henry de Halsalle
Copyright: 1917

2nd story included in the collection A Secret Service Woman.
A short segment which describes the extensive amount of reading she was required to do as training (no other instruction was mentioned). This reading consisted of a) maps galore of England, France, Belgium, so on, including Russia, b) detailed information of "uniforms, naval and military" as well as "different types of war vessels", and c) a wide range of books such as "The History of Espionage", "Systems of Espionage, German, Russian, French and English", "Handwriting and How to Imitate It", "The Art of Disguise", and "Biographies of Important Men".
Click here to read the story.

4 "The First 'Mission'"
Written by Henry de Halsalle
Copyright: 1917

3rd story included in the collection A Secret Service Woman.
In her first official assignment, Olga von Marx is to attend a "a secret meeting in a small hall" in Berlin, convened by "some persons styling themselves the 'International Labor Union' but in fact being people "stirring up of unrest and serious disaffection among German workers". von Marx's task is to sketch the likeness of the key "moving spirits".
Click here to read the story.

5 "Meeting The Kaiser"
Written by Henry de Halsalle
Copyright: 1917

4th story included in the collection A Secret Service Woman.
In her previous assignment she had a run-in with an incognito Kaiser and now he wants to meet with her on an official basis.
Click here to read the story.

6 "Diamond Cut Diamond"
Written by Henry de Halsalle
Copyright: 1917

5th story included in the collection A Secret Service Woman.
In an oddly named chapter/story as the title has nothing to do with the contents, Von Marx is ordered to watch for a visiting French officer traveling under a fake passport and somehow search his luggage for secret documents he is certain to have with him.
Click here to read the story.

7 "My Mission To Paris"
Written by Henry de Halsalle
Copyright: 1917

6th story included in the collection A Secret Service Woman.
For her first field assignment outside Germany, Olga von Marx (also called von Kopf) is sent to Paris where she is to find an inventor (likely British but possibly American) who has been designing a new and innovative battleship. She is to get a copy of those specs either through purchase, though he refuses to sell to Germans, or by theft or seduction.
Click here to read the story.

8 "My Escape From A French Dockyard"
Written by Henry de Halsalle
Copyright: 1917

7th story included in the collection A Secret Service Woman.
Olga von Marx is sent orders to leave Paris and head to a French coastal town (she purposefully hides the name). There she is to proceed to a particular dockyard, find a way in, and from "some elevated position look around and 'make notes'." It would turn out to be a lot more complicated than the instructions made it sound.
Click here to read the story.

9 "At Kronstadt I Meet An Old Friend"
Written by Henry de Halsalle
Copyright: 1917

8th story included in the collection A Secret Service Woman.
Back in Germany, Olga von Marx says she undertakes a good number of missions she choses not to reveal. This next one that she does relate is to head to the island city of Kronstadt where the fortress there is preventing German naval vessels from attacking St. Petersburg to the east. She is to learn as much as she can about the fortifications. It is felt she would be more likely to success because the Russians believe "the defenses of Kronstadt cannot be ascertained by a woman".
Click here to read the story.

10 "Dead Men Tell No Tales - In Constantinople"
Written by Henry de Halsalle
Copyright: 1917

9th story included in the collection A Secret Service Woman.
Though Turkey would eventually enter the Great War allied with Germany, the fears that Russian and French provocateurs were busy at that country's capital to turn it against the Kaiser's side will get Olga von Marx to be sent there to try and spy on the spies and learn what troubles they might be brewing.
Click here to read the story.

11 "The Argus Institute Personnel"
Written by Henry de Halsalle
Copyright: 1917

10th story included in the collection A Secret Service Woman.
This story relates the trouble that a good spy encounters when having been in the business too long; the practice of spying becomes ingrained so that the operative invariably begins to spy on his/her own government and soon learns too much to be allowed to live. That is something that Olga von Marx starts to experience but not as much as a colleague.
Click here to read the story.

12 "God Save Ireland"
Written by Henry de Halsalle
Copyright: 1917

11th story included in the collection A Secret Service Woman.
This short story recounts the things that Olga von Marx learned when her supervisor, Frau Orloff, became ill for a time and von Marx was ordered to sit in her chair monitoring agents around Europe. She talks especially of a small team moving around Scotland and then Ireland learning about the true feelings of those people towards probable war with Germany.
Click here to read the story.

13 "Epilogue"
Written by Henry de Halsalle
Copyright: 1917

Brings to an end her recount of her activities as a German spy and lays out in strong language her current hatred for the German people and her warnings to the people of England about its intents.
Click here to read the story.

14 The Cave of Misery The Cave of Misery
Written by Henry de Halsalle
Copyright: 1918

1st story included in the collection A Woman Spy.
[plot unknown]

15 I Meet Rasputin-The 'Monk' I Meet Rasputin-The 'Monk'
Written by Henry de Halsalle
Copyright: 1918

2nd story included in the collection A Woman Spy.
[plot unknown]

16 The Knickerbockered Jew The Knickerbockered Jew
Written by Henry de Halsalle
Copyright: 1918

3rd story included in the collection A Woman Spy.
[plot unknown]

17 The Man in the Black Kid Gloves The Man in the Black Kid Gloves
Written by Henry de Halsalle
Copyright: 1918

4th story included in the collection A Woman Spy.
[plot unknown]

18 The “Q.3” Tragedy The “Q.3” Tragedy
Written by Henry de Halsalle
Copyright: 1918

5th story included in the collection A Woman Spy.
[plot unknown]

19 To Warsaw, After a Wild Goose To Warsaw, After a Wild Goose
Written by Henry de Halsalle
Copyright: 1918

6th story included in the collection A Woman Spy.
[plot unknown]

20 Two Birds with One Stone Two Birds with One Stone
Written by Henry de Halsalle
Copyright: 1918

7th story included in the collection A Woman Spy.
[plot unknown]

21 Up a Tree-in Serbia Up a Tree-in Serbia
Written by Henry de Halsalle
Copyright: 1918

8th story included in the collection A Woman Spy.
[plot unknown]

MY COMMENTS

I want to stress that I feel this series is very, very important to spy fiction historians and should be read as part of any curriculum in that field.

I also want to stress that Olga von Kopf or von Marx or whatever she calls herself is not a good person and I would have hated spending any time with her, despite her apparent good looks and young lost girl pathos.

She is first and foremost a bigot and being read over one hundred years later, she sounds so petty on one hand and hateful on another.

However, historically she is such a terrific study piece.

The way that the first set of adventures, which would go on to become the contents of the first volume of her activities, were printed in many newspapers across the country, in a way to make them seem to be legitimate news stories, is stunning. Talk about Fake News!

GRADE

My Grade: B

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