D-Day classic: The most amazing lie in history

The Allies’ top-secret weapon.

Only one man in history was both awarded the Iron Cross for his service to Nazi Germany AND also made a member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire by King George VI. That man was Juan Pujol Garcia, a draft-dodging chicken farmer and failed businessman from Barcelona who decided during World War II to become a double agent in order to help the Allies defeat Hitler. Here is his amazing story, as recounted by Lucas Reilly in Mental Floss:

In the weeks leading up to D-day, Allied commanders had their best game faces on. “This operation is not being planned with any alternatives,” barked General Dwight D. Eisenhower. “This operation is planned as a victory, and that’s the way it’s going to be!” Indeed, more than 6,000 ships were ready to cruise across the English Channel to plant the first wave of two million troops on the white beaches of Normandy. Nearly 20,000 vehicles would crawl ashore as 13,000 planes dropped thousands of tons of explosives and thousands of paratroopers.

The sheer size of the invasion—it would be the largest in history—was staggering. But so were the stakes. With the first day’s casualty rate expected to reach 90 percent and the outcome of World War II hanging in the balance, the truth was that Eisenhower was riddled with doubt. He’d transformed into an anxious chimney, puffing four packs of cigarettes a day. Other Allied leaders felt equally unsure. “I see the tides running red with their blood,” Winston Churchill lamented. General George S. Patton privately complained of feeling “awfully restless.” Chief of the Imperial General Staff Alan Brooke was more blunt: “It won’t work,” he said. The day before the invasion, Eisenhower quietly penciled a note accepting blame in case he had to order retreat. When he watched the last of the 101st Airborne Division take off, the steely general started to cry.

They were worried for good reason. With so many troops and so much artillery swelling in England, it was impossible to keep the attack a secret. Hitler knew it was coming, and he’d been preparing a defense for months. Only one detail eluded him, and he was confident in a Nazi victory if he could figure it out—he needed to know where, exactly, the attack would happen. To make D-day a success, the Allies needed to keep him in the dark: They’d have to trick the Germans into thinking the real invasion was just a bluff, while making it seem like a major attack was imminent elsewhere. The task seemed impossible, but luckily, the British had a secret weapon: a short, young balding Spaniard. He was the king of con men, an amateur spy gone pro, the world’s sneakiest liar. He was also, of all things, a chicken farmer.

[story continues here]

17 Responses to D-Day classic: The most amazing lie in history

  1. […] via D-Day classic: The most amazing lie in history — bluebird of bitterness […]

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Really fascinating but I can’t access the rest of the story!! 😦 😦 😦


  3. I love this story!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Fantastic story and so timely on this day of celebration and sadness

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Tricia says:

    I remember reading about this guy, truly amazing!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. egorr says:

    History is replete with these kinds of stories. No man single-handedly stopped the Germans, but some, such as Garcia, made a tremendous impact. The invention of RADAR, the inventor of the Landing Craft, the Norden bombsight – so many sung and unsung (and, sometimes, known only to God) heroes. The sixteen, seventeen, eighteen-year-olds that manned the boats. The bomber crews that held their flight paths through deadly flak. The sailors that manned the ships sailing through deadly U-boat wolfpacks. Soldiers, sailors, airmen, inventors, politicians, the everyday women(!) who worked wholeheartedly in the war effort, building the necessary equipment while the men fought and died. Heroes all.

    The Greatest Generation, indeed! Brings tears to my eyes, and a deep appreciation for those who loved Country more than Self. They are almost gone, now, let us never forget their sacrifices. To do so would lose faith with them indeed.


    Liked by 4 people

  7. julesmomcat says:

    Amazing – the true history we never learned in school.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yep. The history textbooks inflicted upon me when I was a child appeared to have been written by sadists whose mission in life was to render history as dull, dry, and tedious as possible. I didn’t find out that history was interesting until I was an adult.


  8. Thank you for sharing this. Fascinating!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. jenny_o says:

    What a truly amazing story – the right person, in the right place(s), at the right time(s). One has to wonder what would have happened otherwise.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Funny thing about reposting a story: the three “related” stories are all the same (this) one. (As always, blame the programmers – for not anticipating that.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, that’s one of the things I wish WP would fix. Individual bloggers have no control over what appears in the “related” section, and anytime you post a rerun, that’s what shows up in the “related” section. Sigh.

      Liked by 1 person

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