Monday, 5 May 2014
Only the least crazy stuff in The Dazzle has no basis in fact. For instance, in Agent Dmitri by Emil Draitser, which is about a real Russian master spy, the spy goes to Danzig hoping to get hold of a passport from the Greek consul general, who's not a Greek at all. He's called Henry Habert and he's a member of an international gang of drug dealers who have wormed their way into the League of Nations.
Later, our spy needs to set up a business as a cover and picks Amsterdam as a convenient base.
To facilitate opening the new business, Dmitri struck up an acquaintance with an influential banker and businessman, Israel Pollack. He happened to be a patron of an underground bordello operating in the neighbourhood where Dmitri rented a spacious apartment...
GADA's [the business' name] official business was wholesale trade in wool cloth. But in reality the cloth was counterfeit. First, the firm collected high-quality wool clippings not only all over Holland but also in Belgium, England, Denmark, and other Scandinavian countries. Then, the raw materials were shipped to Lodz, where Dawidowicz arranged to mix them with a generous amount of cotton. The end result was 'high-quality' wool cloth. A Beligian artist (perhaps a member of the local Communist party; Dmitri calls him 'Comrade Gan van Looi') employed by one of the major British textile firms provided GADA with the next season's patterns. The counterfeited cloth produced in Lodz resembled the real thing. To make it look thoroughly authentic, the rolls of that cloth were transported to a shop in England where a machine stamped 'Made in England' along its borders. The cloth was then sold for a solid profit in remote areas, such as the African continent and South America.
There was also an Italian code-named ROSSI who sold the same secrets to loads of different governments, preferred to receive a million counterfeit dollars to 200,000 real francs and once almost got caught smuggling lace into the UK when he was supposed to be travelling covertly with Dmitri.
The wife of another agent, a Londoner the agent had ruined, speculated she'd have to go on the game at 52 to make ends meet. And lots more.