Image Source: Tri Relbachen, one of famous 3 dharma kings of Tibet (Aug 3, 2015) The Off:
About Best Himalayan Adventures. Retrieved online June 1st, 2018 at
Wednesday 5 February, 1941
German Consulate, Shanghai.
Martin Fischer is a family man. A pastor’s son with a Norwegian wife and three children. For thirty years he served as German Consul at Beijing and Mukden. On joining the Nazi Party in ‘37 he’s transferred to Shanghai. Ribbentrop trusts Fischer, but more and more the Wilhelmstrasse Office pushes him to take a hard-line. Fischer is the conduit when the Japanese are asked to restrict immigration; to treat enemy nationals as such; when Nazi reach is to be extended with a local HQ and propaganda bureau. Fischer cannot prevent the influx of party members to consular services. They weaken co-ordination of German political affairs in China. Men like Louis Siefkin, who use diplomatic cover for intelligence gathering.
Siefkin’s Abwehr spy ring brings the embassy a procession of callers. Staff must deal with boat-spotters, librarians, crooks and couriers. There are engineers and announcers for the half dozen radio stations run from the back room. The best, XGRS, supplies China with news-casts, commentaries and sketches in six different languages. XGRS is the pet project of Foreign Minister Ribbentrop, so Fischer tows the line. SS and Abwehr operations are required to be kept apart from the Foreign Office. Conversely, protocol requires consul staff must read all incoming and outgoing messages. Siefkin infuriates them by using his own personal code. When the Abwehr in Berlin ask for more details of Siefkin’s meeting with Chaokung, Fischer makes sure to hunt down the original transcript.
“A mutual friend, Mr. Erben, suggested I meet you,” said Siefkin. “And Flicksteger at XGRS. He said you had ideas of travelling to Tibet, to bring that country under German influence. What qualifications place you as a person fit for that task?”
Fischer remembered the Abbot in the hall that morning: the physical attributes of a vulture inside a death black cloak; a gliding spectre disappearing behind Siefkin’s door.
“For many years,” said Chaokung, “I have been a member of the Grand Council of Lamas who possess special influence in India and Tibet. Captain Siefkin: this is my proposal. Tashilumpo, to the south of Tibet, is the seat of the Panchen Lama. Also an area of anti-British sentiment. It is perfect for transmitting XGRS into India.”
Reading the transcript Fischer didn’t chuckle. On one hand he knew Chaokung was an unreliable charlatan. On the other hand, his pitch hit key aims Siefkin and the Abwehr had long desired.
“I think it would work,” said Chaokung. “I foresee myself going there, accompanied by a General Staff officer, an aviation expert, a wireless operator, a courier and the transmitter. We might go via Kabul, or, I am willing to go and meet them in Berlin.”
Siefkin was a broad-shouldered man with a tanned, stout face. Silently, he considered the Abbot’s idea. A workaholic, Siefkin was permanently frustrated, but this had merit.
“What do you know of India?” he asked.
“A great deal. For example, Sahay the nationalist leader, is in Shanghai this very week. Well, he could be directly influenced! If Germany was to back the movement for independence, why, a great many advisors could be sent to them. They could be directed in military and aviation tactics; trained to use the equipment!!”
“What would you get? What is your interest?” asked Siefkin.
“The adventure of visiting Tibet. An important role in unfolding matters. Revenge on Britain. Apart from travel and living expenses, I have no financial demands.”
A green-eyed coarse-faced thug looked at the date: four months after Siefkin’s report.
Josef Meisinger was a large, bald, perpetually grinning and ugly man. His callousness was cemented when over two years in Poland’s Kampinos Forest he ordered the mass shootings of 1,700 people. From there he went to Tokyo, acting as Gestapo liason for the embassy, and now he was the new military police attaché at Shanghai embassy. Meisinger intended to round up and kill Soviet spies while in the city. He drank hard and talked often. His brutality threw everyone’s nose out of joint. In his first week, he pressed Japanese commanders to exterminate the German and Austrian Jews living in Shanghai. They expressed their disgust to Fischer. Subsequently, Fischer forgot all about Siefkin.
He dare not challenge Meisinger. The Butcher of Warsaw instilled fear in whomever was around, though Chaokung seemed to be an exception. They met during Meisinger’s second week, arranged again by Siefkin’s man Hermann Erben. Erben had been monitoring the port and interviewing sailors, and assured them he had known the Abbot some time.
“Thank you for agreeing to see me, Colonel. I wondered about the lack of response after my previous visits,” said the monk.
Meisinger said, “Simple protocol. Or just protocol run by simpletons.” He cast a glance over at Fischer. “Consul Fischer asked to sit in and observe this meeting. I consented to this request.”
“Of course. I am glad to have you here, Consul Fischer.”
Meisinger said, “I have read the file on the ‘Radio Tibet’ proposal. Tell me what you told Siefkin.”
Chaokung rattled off the XGRS proposal as Fischer sat quietly. He did not speak at all in the meeting; did not like working closely with Meisinger. Only the chirpy sound of the Abbot’s voice kept him from being sick; kept him from passing out, for while they talked Fischer’s skin was clammy and eyes watering. Initially he wasn’t aware he was zoning out. Then he jolted out sharply from the black of sleep.
“Fischer! Maybe you need to lie down! Show some discipline,” Meisinger said.
He apologised, and Meisinger told Chaokung to continue. Chaokung said he would recommend Fischer a qualified teacher in meditation, and Meisinger laughed.
“I understand that spiritualism plays a large part in German life,” continued Chaokung. “That Police Chief Himmler sees the SS as a modern day version of the Teutonic Knights. The SS lightning bolt symbol is derived from runes, the sun, and victory.”
“It is in honour to our ancestors, and the purity of our race,” said Meisinger.
“Yes, Colonel. These ideas are old, and mystical. Knowledge rooted in the occult, understood by a privileged few.”
Fischer’s ears perked up. Chaokung seemed to be directing Meisinger along an unusual road.
“The solstices, winter and summer, for example. The practices around these events form the rough drafts of the new German baptismal and funeral rites. Deputy Hess is a champion of astrology, seers, mediums and the like. I am told the Fuhrer believes in these ancient powers: do you, Colonel?”
“If these primal sources wish to decontaminate the earth of Jews, cripples, homosexualists, then yes. Cut the weakness off at its head!”
“I am glad your mind is open to this, sir, and here is why. I have been employed by the sages of Tibet to bring a message. The sages commune with a spirit world government. They cannot be seen by the untrained human eye. I was told to tell you that the time is ripe for Germany to make peace.”
There was not a shred of suspicion on Meisinger’s brutal face. The Abbot, Fischer noticed, was also completely convinced of himself.
“I have been authorised by my Tibetan Masters to take the necessary steps. To that end, I wish to travel to Berlin as soon as possible for a meeting with the Fuhrer.”
“What evidence can you offer? If your claims are correct, how can you persuade Hitler to see you?” asked Meisinger.
There was a certainty the Abbot conjured with his hands, his voice; as if some ethereal force was sparking to life in the room. He gestured to their seating arrangement.
“We would sit, like you and I do now. Just the two of us: there are some things that need to be secret; I would reveal to him these divine ways. Hidden knowledge and ritual for recognising these immortal energies.”
He looked deep into Meisinger’s soul, as if Fischer was not in the room, and then gestured to the back wall. “Then… when our world and the spirit worlds align, they will show themselves!”
He swept his arm inward. “Three of the Wise Men of Tibet will appear through the wall. To the Fuhrer they will repeat the message I have conveyed. They will give to him many other essential revelations. This will be the best proof to provide Hitler. Proof of the supernatural power at the disposal of the Supreme Initiates!”
That evening, Rudolf Hess climbed up to his Messerschmitt bomber and took a final look back across Augsburg-Haunnstetten airfield. Back to his Bavarian home where he’d laid his provisions in the case on his bed: maps, goggles, a torch, dextrose tablets and two vials of sacred liquid from the Panchen Lama. One last look before he climbed inside the cockpit and turned the key in the ignition.
The Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop was the Nazi leader all other Nazi leaders hated. He fought with Heydrich and Himmler particularly, over matters of foreign intelligence and police attachés.. He’d acquired his position through marrying money, pushing people around and always saying what Hitler wanted to hear. His pale eyes were the bottom of a toadstool forehead, the top a slithering silver hairpiece. At his office in Berlin’s Wilhelmstrasse, he paid particular attention to Cable 117: Meisinger’s endorsement of Chaokung as a particularly authoritative Tibetan voice. So important, wrote Meisinger, that Berlin ought to personally invite him there to launch his plan. Fixed to the bottom of the message was Cable 118, marked ‘secret – for the Foreign Office only’. Therein Consul Fischer laid bare the truth of Trebitsch Lincoln: a political adventurer whose Tibetan qualifications were a sham. He wished only to be politically important and even had approached Roosevelt. The ice in Ribbentrop’s eyes melted into red. His forehead wrinkled into jaws with the indignity. He called in Luther, his hatchet man and aide, to compose a reply to Fischer. He would inform Meisinger a precondition of his work at the embassy was to deal only with police work. He was not entitled to report on or deal in Foreign Office matters. When Luther had transcribed the note, Meisinger said he had another job for him.
It was two days later at Police HQ, where Reichsfuhrer-SS Heinrich Himmler was struggling. On top of his usual workload he was compiling data for ‘Aktion Hess’, the planned arrest of hundreds of astrologers, faith healers and occultists. Many of Himmler’s own friends would be on the list. He and Hess had recommended them to Hitler already.
Himmler gave the dossier a rest and dealt with the newly arrived telegram from the Foreign Office. Ribbentrop had forwarded a copy of Meisinger’s Cable 117. As he read it a drop of sweat trickled down Himmler’s chin and pounced on the page. The evidence of Meisinger’s indiscretion was akin to a mob warning: another of Ribbentrop’s power plays happening. There was a knock at the door. Himmler jumped but it was Heydrich, his trusted Chief of Security. Yet Heydrich was pale. He had a letter, sent a letter by Luther. Himmler took it from him and read it over. Luther was also loyal to Himmler, so he hoped for the best, expected the blow to be cushioned. It was not.
By explicit instruction of the Foreign Minister, Heydrich had been advised Lincoln was by birth a Hungarian Jew with insignificant credentials. Meisinger was to be firmly instructed by his his superiors in the Reich criminal Police not to step beyond the boundaries of his job. The Foreign Office outlined that the same applied to the rest of the Abwehr and SS. Politically, Heydrich and Himmler had just both been given a serious bollocking.
A few mornings later, Consul Fischer entered the embassy to the sound of Meisinger swearing. His journey to his office took him closer to the source: The Butcher shoving Louis Siefkin against the wall, twice: arschloch! Flick dich! Bloder dummer Fickkopf! Meisinger smacked Siefkin about the head with a sheet of paper and Fischer whistled as he passed.
By the end of the day, Meisinger’s response to Ribbentrop went through the prescribed service channel, namely Fischer’s office. The language was all defensive: he had only met with ‘T’ in relation to a complaint; the declarations were made on T’s own initiative; he told ‘T’ he had no authority but would relay the proposal to Berlin. Fischer remembered Meisinger grabbing Siefkin’s head in his hand, and decided he would guard his own flank. He wrote another classified shadow telegram for Ribbentrop under Meisinger’s. It coolly stating he’d not interviewed ‘T’ himself. However, Fischer was aware the Hungarian had been invited to the embassy in February by members of the Abwehr.
Outside he could hear Meisinger screaming at Siefkin again. This was over the afternoon’s mail from Heydrich to Meisinger, which Fischer also had the pleasure of seeing. Police Chief Heydrich threatened disciplinary action: surely Meisinger realised the man was a Jew! As Siefkin’s head banged off the wall, Fischer used the noise as cover for a good laugh.
A little over a year later, the Trebitsch incident cost both Louis Siefkin and Hermann Erben their jobs. Japanese command refused to build Meisinger’s concentration camp. Instead, he continued to ferret out Soviet spies in Shanghai, and spoke of the job to his drinking buddy Richard Sorge, a Soviet spy.
Drawn from over two hundred sources, including Bernard Wasserstein’s Secret Lives of Trebitsch Lincoln. Brought to you by patreon.com/andyluke where you can read the full commentaries.