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New York Spies - Simon Koedel.

Brooklyn Eagle


 Article #4: The Koedels Finally Catch Up with Fate By John Jenkisson

 Tight-lipped and button eyes, the tall man with bushy gray hair and tattoos on both arms roamed the waterfront by night. By day he ran a moving picture projector in Manhattan’s Lyric Theater.

            Kicked out of England during the World War, Simon Koedel brought a monumental grudge to New York. But he was quiet and polite to everyone and the only thing that his hours of work appeared irregular.

            Sometimes he loafed around the house all day, reading technical magazines; sometime she took long walks or rode the subways. BY the early part of 1939 he was spending less and less time in the projection booth of the Lyric and more time in subways and one the ferries.

            A naturalized American citizen, he spoke with a slight accent.

 Article #5: Scanned Harbor Traffic.

             In the fall of 1939 he began riding the ferries in earnest. He took six and seven trips a week. On the Staten Island boats he scanned busy harbor traffic through field glasses and sneaked into the cabin to make notes on what he saw.

            Once he struck up a conversation with a ferry bootblack and tried to persuade him to take notes also. The bootblack refused and there was a heated argument.

            Often he rode the Weehawken ferry from 42nd St. and closely watched British freighters lying in the Hudson.

            He slipped into subways and rode to the bustling Bush Terminal in Brooklyn. There he watched the loading of lend-lease shipments and tired to figure out what was in crates lying o the docks by names of the manufacturers stenciled on the outside.

            More and more frequently he began to leave his apartment at 660 Riverside Dr. at dusk, pick up his foster-daughter in her flat at 542 W. 112th St. and take her to the waterfront. Together they haunted bars and restaurants near the piers.

 Article #6: Picked up Sailors.

            Brooklyn-born and adopted by Koedel when she was 3. Marie had grown up to be a pretty, dark-haired girl with a sullen mouth.

            After Koedel had struck up conversations with British, Swedish and Norwegian sailors Marie would join the group, choose her man and finally wander out with him.

            Some nights her father had to work. Then Marie, who gave scalp treatments by day, would haunt the streets and pick up lonely sailors.

            Other nights she spent typing reports for her father. She telephoned government agencies and industrial plants, saying her father was a retired chemist and wanted information on their activities. Once she described him as a Boy Scout Teacher.

            In the meantime Koedel was beginning to get nervous. His trips to Brooklyn, Staten Island and the docks of lower Manhattan became more frequent but he began to think he was being followed. He rode office building elevators, got off with clerks and stenographers, and rode back down again.

 Article #7: Rented Fishing Boat.

            He rented a small fishing boat to avoid being seen on ferries, rowed out into the harbor to get names of ships, cargoes, sailing times and probable destinations.

            He began to read his Bible.

            And now whenever he left for the docks or the harbor he told his friends and a few acquaintances of the Motion Picture Operators Union that he was going fishing.

            But in October, 1939, Marie fell in love with a young man named Walters. Within a few months she told him about the work she and her father were doing. But she refused to marry him, saying her father needed her in his work.

            Agents of the FBI already had a line on the Koedels and they put the pair under constant surveillance. They did not yet have enough information for an arrest.

            Koedel became more furtive than ever. Almost certain he was being trailed, he dodged and twisted, slipped through alleys and tried to lose himself in crowds. But he kept on riding the ferries and continued to meet intermediaries who secretly pain him off in amounts ranging from $100 $300. He got $600 that way during the winter of 1940.

            Then Marie started to crack under the strain. Nervous and jittery, she went to see an Army colonel, formerly a New York attorney and a veteran of the World War and the Mexican Expedition of 1916.

            She told the colonel she wanted him to help get her brother, then serving a sentence in Auburn Penitentiary, out. Then she broke down and wept. She said her father had beaten her for failing to get information on lend-lease shipments and showed the colonel some bruises. The colonel reported to the FBI.

            Koedel was getting the jumps too. In an apparent attempt to prove his patriotism he voted in the national elections of 1940. But he was still scribbling addresses of persons in Turin, Italy, and Amsterdam, Holland, on the backs of matchboxes.

            And early in 1941 eh clipped a section of newsreel from a sequence showing tests of the giant flying boat Mars, Pasted the severed ends of the film together again and took the clipping home.

            But the theater manager noticed the missing piece of film and raised a fuss. Koedel quickly returned the clipped film, saying he found it in the projection booth.

 Article # 8: Writes a Bitter Letter

 

            Two weeks before Pearl Harbor the commander of a Connecticut National Guard division warned in a speech that war was imminent. The shaggy-browed Koedel, although increasingly harassed, found time to write the commander a bitter letter assailing the average American as a double-crosser, a chronic dodger, a hypocrite and crooked at heart.

            Unknown to Koedel, FBI agents had trailed him on visits by foot by subway to the German Consulate. When the attaches he knew were out of the office he always left a white envelope with receptionist.

            When the German consulate was shut down, Koedel’s activities tapered off and he began a period of watchful waiting.

            On June 7, 1943, he was excluded from the Easter Defense Zone on the ground that he had been a German Army officer prior to the war. Thoroughly frightened, Koedel scuttled aboard a train for Harper’s Ferry, W.Va. Leaving his daughter behind in New York.

            By September, 1944 the flied of the RBI were nearing completion. Then three houses painters, redecorating the Lyric Theater, unearthed a wad of correspondence and other material tightly wrapped in a cloth and cleverly hidden I the iron railing of an unused staircase.

 Article # 9: Notes from Nazi Agents.

            In the bundle were typewritten instructions to Koedel from German agents asking for information on the anti-mine devices carried by the Queen Mary, convoy routes and rendezvous pints.

            Handwritten material indicated that partial answers had already been received.

            At 7:50 am on Oct. 23, 1944, the trap snapped shut on Koedel. Three agents of the RBI picked him up without a struggle in a tiny room on the first floor of a private home in Harper’s Ferry. Meekly, he accompanied the agents back to New York.

            And within 35 minutes of her father’s arrest Marie was picked up in her apartment here.

            Both were indicted for conspiracy to violate the peacetime espionage statue.

            Eight days after the trial began on Feb 7 of this year Koedel pleaded guilty. He had heard most of him. But his daughter refused to make a similar plea and was found guilty by a jury Feb 19.

            Ten days later sentence was pronounced. Pale and speechless Marie Koedel received seven and a half years in a federal penitentiary.

            Here father, standing stiffly silent, got 15 years.

            Tomorrow: The doll woman of Madison Ave.

 

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