In his new book, historian Bill Yenne explains the assassination plot in which Adolf Hitler planned to kill Franklin Roosevelt, Joseph Stalin and Winston Churchill.
Most people are aware that Nazi leader Hitler was subject to plenty of attempts on his own life, from which he consistently managed to escape. Less well known is the story of how Hitler plotted to kill three Allied leaders in one operation.
Historian describes Hitler’s audacious assassination plan
The Nazi secret service planned to eliminate Roosevelt, Stalin and Churchill at a meeting in Tehran in 1943, and Yenne tells the story in a new book entitled Operation Long Jump: Stalin, Roosevelt, Churchill, and the Greatest Assassination Plot in History.
Yenne reveals that news of the meeting was leaked by a valet at the British embassy in Ankara, Turkey, who handed over correspondence between the Allies. Armed with that information the Germans were able to “plan the precise methods and timing for the assassination conspiracy of the century.”
After German intelligence caught wind of the meeting, they started planning to eliminate the three leaders in one fell swoop. Otto Skorzeny, who had previously rescued Benito Mussolini from prison with a team of paratroopers, was the man in charge of planning the assassination.
Teams of paratroopers were to parachute into Iran and make their way to German safe houses in Tehran. Among the troops would be Soviet defectors in Red Army uniforms who were supposed to infiltrate Soviet security teams before relaying information to German commandos.
Double agents reveal plan to Allied intelligence services
At the same time a Swiss double agent relayed information about a possible attack to Allied intelligence services, using his connections to Nazi intelligence to pass information to the British. The Germans gave Swiss businessman Ernst Merser the task of bringing equipment to Tehran, using his trade connections. However he opened the crates and told his British handlers exactly what weapons would be used in the attack.
In addition a number of the Soviet defectors in the German paratrooper squad were in fact Russian spies. When they realized that they were to be part of an attack on the Allied leaders, the spies relayed the information to their Russian handlers.
Once they landed in Tehran, they then killed the German paratroopers that dropped in with them.
Pivotal moment in World War 2 and world history
As well as telling the story of the failed assassination attempt, the book goes on to imagine what would have happened if Hitler managed to kill the three Allied leaders in 1943. At the time the Allies had just started to get the better of Germany, but the loss of their leaders would have left the U.S., Britain and the Soviet Union in chaos. Neither the Russians nor the British had any mechanism in place for naming a successor.
Yenne says that the deaths of Churchill and Roosevelt may have ended the doctrine that required Germany to surrender unconditionally. He believes that the death of the leaders may have led to a situation in which Germany could negotiate a peace deal that left them with control over large swathes of Europe.
Thankfully the plan was foiled and the tide of war turned against Nazi Germany in the next few years. The plot never gained much attention in Allied circles until years after the war ended, but now Yenne lays out the whole story.
Order your copy of the book here.