German person in SOE.

Discussion in 'SOE & OSS' started by Antonp, Nov 18, 2012.

  1. Antonp

    Antonp Junior Member

    Having just seen the documentary "Churchills German Army' and the mention of some German and Austrian refugees from Nazi Germany going into, amongst other British miliary divisions, the Commandos, I am interested to try and find out more about a possible relative, Werner Porzig, born 16.6.1919. I leant of him via the UK National Archives which has a SOE record of his service which has been classified as not to be opened until 1.1.2024.

    Understandably this is to protect him as it will not be opened until he and others in the file will be at least 100 years old. Or probably until well after his death. My request under FOI has (understandably) been refused.

    Accepting that I will probably not be around by 2024 I would like to find out something about this man, outside of his SOE activities. Did he come over as a refugee? It is unlikely that he was Jewish so I assume if he was a refugee it was because of political views. I can find no records of this person as a refugee or POW.The very good German Porzig family genealogist can find no trace of a Werner Porzig born in Germany around these dates.

    I have also read that SOE used German POWs as decoys sending them back to Germany on supposed missions with the hope that the returned POW 'operatives' would immediately alert the Gestapo to non-existant threats. (I wonder if this is the reason why these records are embargoed as SOE did not want to embarrass him should he and others find out after the war that he was being just used as a decoy??).

    If anyone could help to shed light on this person, outside of his SOE exploits, which I accept will not be revealed until 2024, I would be very grateful. Not being in the UK I am reliant on internet searches to find out any information. I would mention that there was a Britsh Porzig family living in the UK all through the war years but there was no male Porzig in the UK family.

    Again, thanks in advance for any help and suggestions.
  2. PsyWar.Org

    PsyWar.Org Archive monkey

    Welcome to the forum Antonp. SOE personal files can be opened sooner if the subject of the file requests a copy or if the subject is now deceased and proof of such is provided to the National Archives (e.g. a copy of a death certficate or obituary in a newspaper).

    Not sure what is available in way of researching German citizens, if there is a searchable birth, marriage, death database or something like

    Regarding Germans sent into Germany as SOE agents, my article here about Operation Periwig might be of interest:

  3. Vitesse

    Vitesse Senior Member

    I had a quick look at Ancestry. No Werner Porzig, but a John Porzig - of whom there seems to be no other record - appears on the electoral roll at 9 Holland Park in London in 1950 only. Could be nothing - might be something!
  4. Antonp

    Antonp Junior Member


    Thanks for the welcome.

    Also many thanks for your very interesting article. I think its possible that if Werner was a 'low level' POW he was probably used as a decoy! Unfortunately so far I cannot establish if he was a POW or refugee.

  5. Jedburgh22

    Jedburgh22 Very Senior Member

    There were two main classes of Germans used - those who were deemed politically Anti-nazi were trained as agents by the Country Section - X Section which covered Germany and Austria, the Austrians were ofeten infiltrated via Italy. German POWs were screened and some selected as BONZO Agents who were dropped or crossed the lines wearing German uniform on a variety of tasks. As Lee states if the subject of a P/F can be proved dead a FOI request can be made to have the file opened. Porzig's file will be liable for opening in 2019 under the 100 year rule.

  6. Antonp

    Antonp Junior Member

    Interesting info about a John Porzig. He is definately not a member of the English Porzig family. They had no John males. I thought initally it might have been an American Porzig come over from the USA as a result of the war, assuming its not a continental 'John' name that has been 'anglised'. But if he is on the electoral role then he must be British. Also 9 Holland Park is an expensive address. But again this one has come out of the blue.

    Jedburgh thanks also for your comments. Very much appreciated. Problem with proving a DOD is that the German Porzig family historian cannot find a 'Werner' born in 1919.

    I am still trying to find out via the internet sites if he could be a POW. If he was then he would probably have been a 'BONZO' agent. Great sense of humour naming them that.

  7. Vitesse

    Vitesse Senior Member

    Interesting info about a John Porzig. He is definately not a member of the English Porzig family. They had no John males. I thought initally it might have been an American Porzig come over from the USA as a result of the war, assuming its not a continental 'John' name that has been 'anglised'. But if he is on the electoral role then he must be British. Also 9 Holland Park is an expensive address. But again this one has come out of the blue.

    At the time, 9 Holland Park appears to have been divided in a number of flats and/or bedsits - maybe even a lodging house of some sort. 24 people were on the electoral roll at that address: four apparent family groups can be identified, but there are an additional fifteen surnames!
  8. Antonp

    Antonp Junior Member

    I'm back!
    I have got access to Werner Porzig's file. By the age of 20 he had been to sea, helped with smuggling to the Republicans against Franco's forces. With the fall of the republican he escaped into France. In 1940 joined German navy. His father died in 1934 in concentration camp (Communist?). Werner was obviously of left wing persuasion and was denounced after joining military as a communist. His anti Nazi comments and listening to BBC got him into further trouble. Escaped from jail in 1944 and surrendered to Canadian forces. Accepted by SOE. Had one parachute operation into Germany which was a dismal failure and he was lucky to escape back to the UK. He was to be involved with operation Clixby but this was cancelled due to the end of the war. All this by the age of 26.
    SOE records do not show when he was discharged and where he went.
    I was if there was anywhere discharge records might be found?
    I am based in Western Australia so ideally would have to access this info via the internet or writing to information sources.
    Thank in advance for suggestions.
  9. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron

    Welcome back Antonp.

    I see that his name appears in a Google search:
    Alas the source jumps around the actual pg. itself. SEe: THE MOST SECRET LIST OF SOE AGENTS: P and his name is clearer here: PH-PY: LISTA SECRETA DE LOS AGENTES DEL SPECIAL OPERATIONS EXECUTIVE, SOE

    Perhaps, with a possibly Communist father and his time under Nazi rule he walked east into the Soviet Zone, later to become the GDR / East Germany?
  10. Antonp

    Antonp Junior Member

    Thanks for your suggestion. I had not thought that he might head for a communist country.
    Hamburg, where his mother originally lived during the war before she was evacuated, remained in the allied zone. I would have thought he might go there to try and find her. His birthplace Meerane on the Saxony/Thuringia border was included in the lands ceded to the Russians in return for a slice of Berlin. This area was the 'homeland' of the Porzig families. It does seem likely he could have gone to Hamburg to try and trace his mother or go to Meerane to rejoin family there. I assume the plus for him, as you say, would be it would now be under communist control.
    Alternately I was wondering if the British military would not use him in Germany for translation and other investigation work?
    I was hoping that there would have been records of date of discharge or where the person was sent once his assignment with the SOE was complete. I assume he was given a set of civy clothes and some money before he was sent on his way, or alternately placed on transport returning to Germany, which would be recorded?
  11. PsyWar.Org

    PsyWar.Org Archive monkey

    Anton, does the SOE file mention any aliases/other identity he was using?
    There is not a naturalisation certificate for him so unlikely he received British nationality after the war.

    Most likely he returned to Germany under a different name, if indeed Porzig was his real name in the first place. Does his background story check out, e.g. name and address of parents, etc.?

  12. Antonp

    Antonp Junior Member

    Interesting thought.
    There is no alias reported in the records. Obviously SOE could not check POW's background story in war time. But he seems to have been accepted into SOE very shortly after surrender.
    The typed reports are headed 12 Bonzo.17. (Is 17 Werner's number in the group).
    The report shows he surrendered in Boulogne on 18.9.44. then PTC 10.10.44, then NT 14.10.44 and this first report is dated 10.11.44.
    On the second page of the report is headed Sgt Hartog S.T.S 3. but I assumed this was a clerical error or the name of the person typing the report

    In a report on 7.1.45 there is a comment .'.....put off by not getting off on CLINT'.

    30 April 45 report states ' returned to this school after operations'.
    There are 2 areas to question. One is his father's death in 1934 in one of Hitler's first concentration camps near Berlin. The German gov dept handling the historical camp records advised me that no Porzig entered the camp nor died there but underlined that their records were incomplete.
    Second, the Porzig family historian who did an immense amount of work tracking the family and its branches from the present day back into the 1400s, looked for but found no Werner Porzig corresponding to that date of birth.
    Meerane, where Werner said he went to school is certainly within the broader area within which family members have and still do live and there are Werner Porzigs still living there (obviously not the one I am trying to find), so Werner seems to be a family first name.
    It appears his one and only operation was a parachute jump into Germany but the 3 men landed in the middle of it seems a 'home guard' operation. One was captured but the other 2 escaped and found their way to Switzerland. I do not know the name of this operation.
    The thought that he used a different name certainly opens a Pandora's box and interesting that some one with your experience would think this could be the case. Back to square one for me?
  13. ltdan

    ltdan Nietenzähler

    No documents concerning the father
    No trace in genealogical research
    No trace of him after the war

    Was the genealogist able to find out anything about the father? Because if not, that limits the possibilities quite a bit.
    What comes to my mind:

    Possibility 1 - the man's real name was Werner Porzig, but he has nothing to do with your family.
    Possibility 2 - the man made up an apparently reliable alias (and disappeared from the scene with his real name after the war).

    If I understand correctly, all the personal details come from British authorities who interrogated him. Are there any other personal details apart from his name, date of birth and place of capture?
    Because as things stand at the moment, an enquiry at the BA/WASt* seems to me to be the best way to find out something useful about this man - but for that you need much more key data.

    * Bundesarchiv Internet - Personal Documents of Military Provenance until 1945

  14. PsyWar.Org

    PsyWar.Org Archive monkey

    Another thought, have you tried to access his German military record? Not sure what the access restrictions are on them but know some are available.

    Also I suggest seeing the SOE file on operation CLINT, reference HS 6/667. That was his Bonzo mission.

    Sjt A Hartog was an SOE field security officer I believe. He would be the author of that evaluation report in Porzig's file.

    Many of the Bonzos were also employed by SOE in Germany after May 1945 for various tasks.

  15. Antonp

    Antonp Junior Member

    You are correct all info is from British sources and we have nothing about parents, except father born Saxony and mother Hamburg but this also from Werner P, no BMD dates.
    Lee, Thanks will do.
    Thanks again for your suggestions and comments.
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2021

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