Agent Crowley & the Bavarian Stuart Landlords of Victoria
"I am English, and that in a very special sense, as being the prophet and poet appointed by the gods to serve her."
"I feel myself to be an integral element of this England; what I do I do for her sake."
"Working as I do in a world of spiritual causes altogether beyond the comprehension of common people I am liable to be misunderstood."
"I went to America by the Lusitania, on October 24th, 1914, expecting to stay a fortnight and return with the sinews of war"
-Aleister Crowley, 'Confessions'
Secret Agent 666: Aleister Crowley
and British Intelligence in America, 1914-1918
by Richard B. Spence
International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence,
13(3):359-371 Fall 2000
Of all of Aleister Crowley's many books the one which I read first was The Confessions of Aleister Crowley (though I did stop to read the entire Book of the Law as soon as I'd read Crowley's description of his reception of it). I greatly enjoyed Crowley's colorful tales and his often ironic style of writing, but I also saw him as someone generally concerned to portray himself in an especially good light. For instance, when Crowley described his pro-German propaganda activities in the U.S. as a disinformation campaign for British intelligence I was more than a little skeptical; I figured he had probably just backed the wrong horse and was now making his excuses.
When I finally years later read some of his essays for the pro-German journal The Fatherland I completely revised my opinion. It's quite evident to me that Crowley's diatribes are brilliantly crafted to make the Germans seem crass and brutal while all the time praising them to the skies. But apparently it's not evident to everyone (after all, it did fool the editor George Sylvester Viereck, a prominent and persistent supporter of German interests in America for both the Kaiser and the Fuehrer), and the accusation that Crowley was a traitor followed him for the rest of his life, and still does today.
Now there's finally a reputable source to cite to back up what is obvious to anyone familiar with Crowley's writing style, that he was indeed engaging in "covert operations" for British intelligence in the WWI-era United States. Richard B. Spence is a professor of Russian and Eastern European history with an interest in espionage and military affairs, and his careful, well-documented article definitely links Crowley's 1914-1918 interlude in America with an organization then known as MI1c, Section V (or the Secret Intelligence Service), and now known simply as MI6. That Professor Spence had to establish this fact through recently available documents in the archives of the U.S. Army's Military Intelligence Division (MID) rather than from the still-classified documents in British archives says something about the ongoing ingratitude of Crowley's country toward his wartime services.
Crowley's most important connection with British intelligence during these years seems to have been Charles Clive Bayley (from October 1915 British general consul in New York). Previously (1913-15) Bayley was the British consul in Moscow, and Crowley had had extensive conversations with him while visiting with a 1913 production of the Ragged Ragtime Girls (as evidenced by several amusing anecdotes which Crowley recalls in Confessions). All of which raises the strong possibility that Crowley was already working with British intelligence before the Great War. The details of Crowley's involvement with the Secret Intelligence Service at this time makes for lively reading (at least for obsessives like me), but in any event, we can now be sure that Crowley was, as he said all along, a patriotic Briton who risked and lost for his homeland, if not his life, then at least his reputation.
Crowleyography from the essay by Bonnie Jean Garner :
Crowley's original mission in America was assassination. At this time there were several, often competing branches of what may loosely be referred to as "British Intelligence", the most "unofficial" of which was the infant SIS, also known as MI6. It was given jobs which were too hot for Naval or Military intelligence, such as murder in neutral countries. The chief of this branch, Captain Smith-Cumming, was noted for his recruitment of writers and artists, such as W. Somerset Maugham, whose story of a horribly bungled assassination, "The Hairless Mexican", is a fictionalised retelling of an incident which occurred to Gerald Kelly during his service with SIS.
The case of Sir Roger Casement is too complicated to go into in any detail, so I will merely say that at the outset of the war, Casement, an Irish Nationalist who was considered to be very dangerous by the authorities in Whitehall, was at large in America. In New York, he had been befriended by John Quinn and had stayed at Quinn's apartment (where Crowley would eat his Christmas dinner). When more experienced revolutionaries heard about this arrangement, they became concerned, since they knew that Quinn did not share their opinions, and that Casement had a tendency to be talkative.
No doubt, they would have been more concerned if they had known that Claude Dansey, an important pre-was British Intelligence Operative in the U.S., had close social ties to Quinn through the Sleepy Hollow Country Club.
In any case, British intelligence received a leak, from somewhere, that Casement was plotting with Franz von Papen, the Imperial German Military attache in the U.S., to raise an "Irish Legion" to fight on the German side in the war.
On October 15, Casement, who had put security into the hands of people who were really good at it, slipped out of America under an assumed name. He was still thought to be somewhere in the Mid-West when he re surfaced in Oslo on October 28, en route to Berlin.
From the Confessions: "I went to America by the Lusitania, on October 24th, 1914, expecting to stay a fortnight and return with the sinews of war. It did not take me forty-eight hours to discover that my egg was addled."
In other words, he had been thinking he had a mission in America. (Two actually. The "sinews of war" seems to have been a reference to another situation. At the outset of the war, Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan, placed a ban on the export of securities to belligerent powers. President Wilson overturned Bryan's decision shortly before Crowley arrived on the Lusitania. Apparently the ship was crowded with gentlemen intending to act as bag men in the event Bryan prevailed.) Crowley was faced with the prospect of returning to England having accomplished nothing, or else staying in America and finding "something to do". He chose to stay, and attempt to infiltrate the Irish Republicans in America. He approached Quinn, who gave him moral, and some financial support. He also pointed Crowley in the direction of J.P. Morgan, who gave him some position in his library, to allow him to continue with this "mission".
This sort of privately financed, amateur espionage is fully in the tradition of British Intelligence, and tended to be frowned on by the professionals in Naval Intelligence. In America, this meant the Naval Attache, Capt. Guy Gaunt. He had the authority to send unsatisfactory agents packing back to England, and exercised it on more than one occasion. As the crisis deepened he was given increased authority, including, no doubt, authorisation to organise "wet work". He would have had little liking for the bohemian dilatente, Crowley. Yet, he seems to have protected Crowley when his activities came into question.at British Cabinet level.
Crowley's infiltration of the Fatherland was a happy accident. Crowley spotted a noted Fenian on a bus, and sat as close as possible, hoping to make an "accidental" contact. He sat in front of the individual, whom he calls O'Brien, and who may well have been Anthony Brogan, an Irish-American employed by the German Secret Service. In order to provoke the belligerent "O'Brian", he pulled out some newspaper clippings from a prominent English paper, and began reading them. The ruse worked, and soon he had "O'Brian" convinced that Crowley was sympathetic to the Cause. Brogan, it should be noted, had owned a revolutionary newspaper in New York, and Crowley was probably hoping to get involved with it. However, Brogan had just disposed of the paper, to Franz von Papen, was was about to follow Casement to Europe. So, rather than give Crowley a job, he gave him a reference.
To The Fatherland.
This English language periodical had been started by George Sylvester Viereck at the outbreak of the war to present the German point of view to Americans. It also acted as a front for other activities. Viereck was also a prominent member of the "Propaganda Cabinet", whose members or associates included Harvard Psychologist Hugo Munsterburg, "satanist" Hanns Heinz Ewers, and other writers and intellectuals in America sympathetic to the German cause. It was secretly financed by the Imperial Government through the offices of the Commercial Attache, Dr. Albert.
On Feb. 25, 1915, a number of arrests were made for passport violations. Among those implicated were the Imperial German Naval Attache, Capt. Boy-Ed, George Sylvester Viereck and Hanns Heinz Ewers, although these are not among those arraigned. It appears that authorities got a tip, perhaps from Captain Gaunt, about the ring. Ewers later, fictionalised account in Vampire, suggests that his (and Viereck's) involvement was deeper than the courts established. It seems possible, at least, that Crowley was responsible for leaking information he had gathered from his contact with Viereck.
On May 7 the Lusitania was sunk by a German u-boat. It became a major cause celebre of the war, and was used by the British to further isolate the Germans. Viereck had been responsible for placing the notorious notice, printed just before the Lusitania's last sailing, warning passengers not to sail on British ships. It made it seem that the ship had been specifically targeted, and Viereck and the Germans great embarrassment. They responded that the ship had been carrying munitions, and claimed that it had.
On July 3 Crowley, apparently in an attempt to ingratiate himself with the Fenian movement, conducted a publicity stunt at the base of the Statue of Liberty. For a publicity stunt, the timing was bad, as the next day's papers were full of the story of the attempt to assassinate J.P. Morgan by a "German fanatic" named Muenter, who also had set off a dynamite bomb in the Capitol, and was suspected of having placed other bombs. It transpired that Muenter was an associate of Dr. Muensterburg. Muenter died in police custody without naming accomplices, and he was generally considered a lone nut.
Crowley in the Confessions, names Muensterburg as the "Professor Moriarty" of the German conspiracy in America. This does not appear to have been the case, but it is likely that J.P. Morgan, by this point,would be at least open to the possibility.
On July 24, Viereck and the German Commercial Attache, Heinrich Albert, was riding with Viereck on an elevated train in New York. Viereck was being shadowed by two Secret Service agents, as a consequence of his involvement in the Lusitania affair. When Viereck disembarked, Albert continued on, shadowed by one of the agents. He napped and, waking at his stop, got off without his briefcase. The agent saw his chance and pinched the portfolio.
The revelation of the contents proved a major embarrassment to the German cause in America. Documents outlined the structure of the German propaganda machine, its methods and finances. The New York World was leaked the story by the Wilson administration, and they had a field day with it. They demonstrated how the Fatherland and other ostensibly American enterprises were being fully subsidised by the Imperial Government by diverting funds gathered for the German Red Cross in America ostensibly for war relief.
Crowley's trip to the West Coast is of particular interest. He left.New York On Oct..6, with Jane Foster (and, so he says, her husband) on Oct. 6. His first stop was Detroit, where he describes purchasing a quantity of anhalonium lewinii from the Parke Davis pharmaceutical laboratories.
On May 30, a barge carrying high explosives, destined for Russia, exploded in Tacoma Washington, with loss of life. Authorities suspected one Lewis J. Smith of involvement, but were unable to crack the case. By October he had settled with his wife, who is described as a masseuse, in Detroit. During the course of the month the pair unexpectedly arrived at a precinct house in an agitated state, and made a full confession to this and other sabotage activities sponsored by the German consul in San Francisco, Franz Bopp. One account says they were "seeing things". They feared that Smith's partner in crime, one Charles C. Crowley, was present in Detroit, intending to kill them both. Actually he was in San Francisco, with no idea what was happening in Detroit.
Crowley then visited British Columbia. Canada, of course, was a belligerent in the war, and thus a primary target for German saboteurs in the U.S.A., including the Bopp ring in San Francisco. They were especially interested in the East Indian community in B.C., where sympathy for the Indian revolutionary Ghadr party was strong. Just before the outbreak of the war the British agent monitoring the situation was assassinated by a Ghadrite, and the situation was considered volatile by both sides.
The activities of Alvo von Albensleben* [in league with the House of Stuart - see below] should be mentioned here. He was the son of high German nobility, with family ties to the Kaiser himself, who had settled in British Columbia before the First World War, where he had speculated in real estate. He had been in Germany, where he had sold parcels to land to many prominent persons, when the crisis occurred over Sarajevo, and returned to North America at the outset of the war. His properties in B.C. were forfeited to the Canadian government, following the Lusitania incident, and he was interned by U.S. authorities in 1917. Rumours of involvement with the German secret service followed him, but could not be proven. There is a large stone house located outside of *Victoria B.C., in an inaccessible locale, has a local legend. It is said that it was owned by a German prince. And it is said that Aleister Crowley lived there.
Dr. Nandor Fodor writes, "I first began to wonder about the effectiveness of ... death wishes when I met a man who had been tried for high treason in Canada during World War I. I will call him X. He had duped a ring of German secret agents and had got away with a packet of $50,000 - which he had not turned back to the Canadian government. Government agents suspected him, and had they located the money, he would undoubtedly been found guilty of treason. As agents searched him and his personal belongings in a railway compartment, the money lay snugly in another suitcase in the baggage car. It was either his neck or that of his accomplice. So X concentrated on his associate in guilt, mentally willing him to commit suicide.
"On the following day, X was arrested on a charge of murder. The psychic experiment had worked too well. The victim had walked into the house of my traitor acquaintance, took a revolver from his desk, and shot himself, making X a prime suspect in the death. ... The jury was unable t reach a unanimous verdict of guilty, and he was freed."
"'But if there is such a thing as psychic murder," X told me in a burst of candor, "I was certainly guilty of it.'"*
I believe this to be a somewhat garbled account of Crowley's visit to British Columbia. It seems unlikely, for one thing, that Crowley was in British Columbia long enough to have actually gone through a murder trial. It seems more likely that Crowley was forced to reveal his connections with the British Secret Service, who would not be pleased with his attempt to hide the $50,000. I suspect that it was American authorities who ultimately saved Crowley from facing charges of some sort, as he had proven useful to them in the Lewis Smith case, (and also the passport frauds) and were still trying to complete the case against his confederates.
Crowley is known to have visited Victoria sometime during this period. He mentions, in the Confessions, his encounter with Betty Dartnell (Betty Bickers, wife of Equinox contributor Sheridon Bickers) in the city.
Crowley was in San Francisco by Nov. 5, where he stayed at the Palace Hotel, one of the favourite locales for the Bopp ring. I have trouble finding dates for Crowley following this, until Feb. 25, when he is back in New York. In the meanwhile, C.C. Crowley was arrested in San Francisco Nov. 26, leading to indictments against Bopp and others on Feb.8.
On April 10, Karl von Kleist made a full disclosure to New York police about the existence of a German bomb making ring. He later told another German agent, in federal custody, that he had been the victim of some strange drug which had been slipped into his food.
Following this I mainly have conjectures. Crowley may have befriended Ananda Coomaraswami to monitor East Indian conspiracies, with which Coomaraswami was suspected of being involved. His visit to Washington in May could have had something to do with the presence of the German anthrax (yes anthrax) lab in Silver Spring, but I admit that it is unlikely. New Orleans, as a major seaport, would be of interest to the Germans, especially as the U.S. slid towards war, and Mexico became a refuge for agents. After America entered the war on April 6 it is notable that the Fatherland was allowed to keep publishing, merely having to change to a less provocative title and editorial content. It is also notable that, at no time, was Crowley threatened with deportation.
*Fodor, Dr. Nandor, The Haunted Mind, Signet Books ed., 1968, pp. 86-87.
"...When asked, R.C.M.P. downplay the possibilty of any connection to the boy's disappearance and the fact that he vanished on Palm Sunday, seven days before Easter, and seven streets away from Easter street, in the city known to be the satanic cult capital of the world, second only to Geneve Switzerland*.
R.C.M.P. also publicly refuse to address the possibilty that Michael Dunahee's disappearance has any relationship to the true life book "Michelle Remembers" authored by Dr. Joseph Pazdor, a Victoria psychologist. Dr. Pazdor has said that he believes there is indeed a connection, and that he himself is working on that theory as possible subject matter for a future book.
This is followed by a statement dated 77-9-28 by Remi De Roo, Bishop of the Diocese of Victoria:
"The Church is well aware of the existence of mysterious and evil forces in the world. Each person who has had an experience of evil imagines Satan in a slightly different way, but nobody knows precisely what this force of evil looks like.
"I do not question that for Michelle this experience was real. In time we will know how much of it can be validated. It will require prolonged and careful study. In such mysterious matters, hasty conclusions could prove unwise.
"It may well be that for people today, to hear this message coming from a five-year-old child is of particular importance."
" A male child of perfect innocence and high intelligence is the most satisfactory and suitable victim."
-Aleister Crowley, "Magick in Theory and Practice" http://www.sacred-texts.com/oto/aba/chap12.htm
Of von Alvensleben:
This genealogical data is sourced "The Royal House of Stuart
as stated at the bottom of the link - http://worldroots.com/brigitte/royal/crommelin/werneralvenslebendesc1889.htm
Alvo von Alvensleben: one of the most flamboyant promoters and speculators in BC before the First World War, he was born in Westphalia in 1877, a "second son" who was said to be a count, arrived in Vancouver almost penniless in 1904 but had soon wheeled and dealed his way to success. He is said to have channelled millions of dollars of German investment into British Columbia in the first decade of the 20th century. His involvements included the Stewart area, as described above; the Dominion Trust building at Hastings and Cambie in downtown Vancouver; the Vancouver Docks proposal of 1909; Pacific Coast Fisheries, which erected a $300,000 cold storage, ice and reduction plant in 1909 at Pacofi Bay off the western end of Talunkwan Island in the Queen Charlotte Islands [Dalzell, Queen Charlotte Islands vol. 2, Harbour 1973, p. 235]; and, Wigwam Inn on Indian Arm [see Luxton, Building the West, pp. 354-5; the building, by archite ct Sholto Smith, was completed in 1910 for von Alvensleben and fellow developer Benjamin Dickens, and was seized by the Custodian of Enemy Property in 1914.]
Henry J. Boam's British Columbia (Gresham Press, London, 1912, pp. 207-8) recorded that Alvo von Alvensleben Ltd. "mainly operate[s] in 40-acre farms on Vancouver Island, situated not more than 10-15 miles from the railway. . . ." A biographical sketch in British Columbia magazine (vol. 7, pp. 1303-1312), May, 1914, talks of his proposal to put the "idle lands" to work as profitable grazing lands. Henceforth, it being wartime, von Alvensleben's motives were seen in a different light. In an undated and anonymous newspaper article [Matthews clippings, CVA, M 214] entitled "Last of Alvensleben Party Now Being Interned," the writer claims: "It is further stated that Alvensleben used money put up by members of the court circle to buy immense tracts of coal lands in the Ground Hog district [east of Stewart] and in his promotion here of an outpost of the Kaiser's empire he had also taken options on great areas of lands upon which he planned to place German settlers."
He spent the first years of the First World War in the USA, then was interned, and upon his release resumed his activities on both sides of the border, eventually becoming an American citizen in 1939. He died in Seattle in 1963. His only known descendant, a daughter named Margaret, married a man named Denis Murphy in Vancouver on December 6, 1935--does anyone know what happened to this family????
[Photograph and biography in Vancouver The Way It Was, pp. 50-1]
Alvo's American mining interests at http://issaquahhistory.org/gilmanvillage/minesuptshouse.htm
Advertisement from Man to Man magazine, December 1910 (Special Collections, VPL)
Giles MacDonogh says in his "The Last Kaiser: the life of Wilhelm II" (page 432):
"In September 1922 William met George Sylvester
Viereck for the first time. He was the grandson of the
German actress Edwina Viereck who had given birth to
George's father Louis amid a blaze of speculation. It
was believed that a Hohenzollern had been the father,
very probably William I [Wilhelm II's grandfather].
George himself was educated in Germany until he was
thirteen, then went to the United States where he was
to become about the most vociferous German apologist
during the First World War."
Harry Benjamin (1885-1986), renowned American endocrinologist and sexologist who coined the term transsexualism to differentiate people who think they were born into the wrong sex from homosexuals and transvestites. His magnum opus, The Transsexual Phenomenon, is not only considered the landmark work on transsexualism, but Benjamin's distinction between transsexual and transvestite still stands today. Also a geriatrics specialist, he advocated controversial injections of estrogen and testosterone to retard the aging process.
Typed Letter Signed New York, 30 April 1931 to George Sylvester Viereck, American journalist, poet, and Nazi sympathizer. Praising Viereck's My Flesh and Blood, he writes:
"The combination of your unusual gifts as poet and writer, with your knowledge of biology, endocrinology and psychoanalysis makes your book for me . . . undoubtedly the most fascinating autobiography that was ever written. For the educated layman your book is almost a textbook of sexology . . . For the sexologist, too, your analyses are tremendously thought-stimulating, even where he may disagree with you in certain of your conclusions. Your book will surely arouse many varied emotions . . . the principal emotion . . . is envy - envy over the richness of your own emotional life. Your self-analysis shows a combination of the localized, concentrated time-limited ecstasies of masculine sexuality with the more expanded and generalized sexuality of the female. You are one of those rare, fortunate individuals, who make themselves the master of their sexuality instead of its slave . . . it is 'der weltweise Poet' that speaks from [the book's] pages . . . I hope and wish that many will hear." http://www.visink.com/detail.asp?Cat_ID=162&Prod_ID=78
Sign-up for Ads Free at Mail.com