How a Corpse Fooled the Nazis
In World War II, a secret department of British ‘corkscrew thinkers’ hatched a plan to use the cadaver of an unclaimed homeless man to turn the tide of the war in the Allies’ favour. It worked.
Ewen Montagu and his team of deceivers achieved in Operation MINCEMEAT what all deceivers endeavour to achieve upon commencing an operation: complete success. By adhering to the six principles of Military Deception (focus, objective, centralized control, security, timeliness, and integration), Montagu duped the Germans into altering their strategic plans; thereby enabling the Allies to achieve theirs.
“You can’t get bodies just for the asking, you know . . . each one has to be accounted for.”
—London coroner Bentley Purchase
Seventy three years ago, the mission of acting Major William Martin of the British Royal Marines was determined to have been a success. The top secret operational documents on the planned Allied invasion of the Balkans and Sardinia Martin had carried with him had been intercepted and transmitted all the way up to the highest levels of the German high command and even to Adolf Hitler himself. This seemingly disastrous outcome was a positive for the Allies because the success of Martin’s mission, Operation: Mincemeat, hinged upon the Germans discovering and believing the documents that he carried with him to be real when in fact they actually composed a part of one of WWII’s most ambitious and elaborate misinformation campaigns. Nothing about the documents was real: not even their carrier.