Book

Gerard Aalders

Leonie

Het leven van Nederlands intrigerendste dubbelspionne

The Netherlands’ most intriguing double agent

In 1925, Leonie Pütz, 24 years old, settled in the Amsterdam of the roaring twenties. Thanks to her acting talents, this stunning beauty from the German city of Aachen quickly managed to work her way to the top of the Dutch theatrical world, where she performed alongside the major celebrities of the times. But no one knew of her background as a spy for Germany, and only a few were aware of the fact that she was also active for the Dutch, British, and French intelligence services.

Leonie Reiman – her pseudonym – had a thorough command of the finesses of espionage, and was able to elicit information that contacts had never planned to reveal. Men in high places, including various Ministers and a Procurator-General, fell for her refined charms and sharp intellect, while others became tangled in her web for the rest of their lives. Just before the outbreak of war, she opened a nightclub exclusively for the rich and powerful. Their conversations were monitored by hidden microphones.

In 1941, when, with British help, Wehrmacht General Eduard Wagner drew up plans to depose Hitler, Leonie was used to liaise between Wagner and London. However, the Sicherheitsdienst got wind of the plan and Leonie was sent to Ravensbrück under sentence of death.

She managed inventively to survive the nightmare and the political power struggle in the women’s concentration camp. After returning to the Netherlands via Sweden, thanks to Count Folke Bernadotte’s efforts, Leonie played a prominent role in the Netherlands’ first post-war intelligence service. By cross-examining and manipulating top Nazis, Leonie heard of the so-called stadhoudersbrief, a letter in which Prince Bernhard in 1941 allegedly offered his services to Hitler as the stadtholder for the Netherlands. The disputed existence of this letter hangs as a sword of Damocles above the Dutch monarchy right down to the present day.

In this amazing biography, Leonie’s role is analysed on the basis of thorough archival research. The book sketches the life of a hyper-intelligent female spy, in which nothing is quite what it seems and in which semblance and reality merge. Why was she accused of war crimes? Which well-known Dutch functionaries could she blackmail and manipulate? When Leonie died in 1978, a down-and-out alcoholic, many former functionaries heaved a sigh of relief.

(On the trilogy Loot, Destitute and Magpies:) With Magpies, Aalders’ trilogy has become a standard work on robbery and redress.

NRC Handelsblad

(On The Art of Cloaking Ownership:) Pathbreaking book

Labour History Review

Translations

Gerard Aalders

Gerard Aalders is Senior Researcher at the Netherlands Institute for War Documentation (NIOD) in Amsterdam. Along with Cees Wiebes, he wrote The Art of Cloaking Ownership (Amsterdam University Press, 1996), a study of the secret collaboration of neutrals with German war industries, which has been…

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Details

Leonie. Het leven van Nederlands intrigerendste dubbelspionne (2003). Non-fiction, 300 pages.

with illustrations, notes and references

Publisher

Boom

Prinsengracht 747
NL - 1017 JX Amsterdam
The Netherlands
Tel: +31 20 520 01 00
Fax: +31 20 625 33 27

E-mail:
n.cornelissen@bua.nl
Website:
http://www.bua.nl

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