Spying for the Kaiser

Popular obsession with German espionage in the early 1900s proved to be well-founded, as Nicholas Hiley shows in an examination of the prewar activites of a group of agents controlled by the 'Kaiser's Spymaster'.

On the morning of Wednesday, July 29th 1914, the British Cabinet, under pressure from the First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill, agreed to institute the official 'Precautionary Period' in anticipation of war with Germany. The special 'Precautionary Telegram' was quickly transmitted to all naval squadrons, and after lunch the Prime Minister, Herbert Asquith, crossed Whitehall to meet with the Army Council and dispatch the some warning to all military units. It was now war by timetable, for each subsequent order and procedure could he found somewhere in the numerous sections and tables of the printed War Book. 1914. Thus, by half past three, when the final telegram was sent, troops were already being recalled from leave, harbours were being cleared, soldiers were being posted on bridges and viaducts, and coastal defences were being manned.

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