Juan Pugol Garcia a double agent enabling D-day

On D-Day, June 6, 1944 – 160,000 Allied troops stormed the coastline of Normandy, France, which began the liberation of Western Europe and brought years of careful and covert planning to an end. Preserving the surprise element was crucial to D-Day’s success, and there is one person whose singular contribution as a double agent played an instrumental role in the victory. His name was Juan Pujol Garcia (codename: GARBO), a Spanish national hailed by MI5 as ‘the greatest double agent of the second world war.’ Juan Pugol Garcia agent


Juan Pugol Garcia agentGarbo invented a fake network of 27 made-up operatives with very imaginative personas from a cave-dwelling waiter from Gibraltar to a retired Welsh sailor cum-Fascist-mercenary an obsessive-compulsive Venezuelan codenamed MOONBEAM that lived in Canada. Germans were so grateful that they’re code name for Garbo’s network ‘Arabel,’ which means ‘answered prayers’ in Latin. Juan Pugol Garcia agent

Around this time, Garcia was working as a manager at a shoddy hotel in Madrid when he decided to pursue work as an Allied spy. Blinded by self-confidence and undeterred by his own tragic record of flops, he approached British intelligence officials at the embassy for an espionage job no less than four times, to which they politely declined, citing his obvious inexperience. However, he remained undaunted by rejection and resolved to become a spy on his own initiative.

He then offered his espionage services to the Germans, knowing that if he could establish trust with the Nazis, he could eventually turn into a double agent for the Allies. This plan worked out better than he could have ever imagined.


To become a spy, Garcia first needed to procure a passport and exit visa, two precious items impossible to come by in the war-torn country. He was nothing, if not resourceful, and Garcia saw his opportunity when the Spanish Duke of Torre walked into the hotel one day lamenting his two aunts, pro-Franco princesses that were unable to find scotch during the war. Knowing he could obtain the liquor in Portugal, Garcia struck a deal with the Duke: a Spanish passport in exchange for six illegal booze bottles. Juan Pugol Garcia agent

With a passport, Garcia arranged to meet with Gustav Leisner, head of the German military intelligence organization known as the Abwehr. Born with the gift of gab, Garcia professed his devout (albeit bogus) love for Hitler’s Third Reich and spun circles around Leisner with his web of lies in which he listed names of non-existent diplomats that he was affiliated with. He was hired on the spot, given a crash course in spying and cryptology, and sent on his way with a bottle of invisible ink, a codebook, and £600 (roughly $40,000 in today’s money) for expenses. Juan Pugol Garcia agent

Juan Pugol Garcia agent
The former spy’s Venezuelan passport


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