diumenge, 17 de gener de 2010

"Garbo, the man who saved the world"

This is the title of a documentary film I saw yesterday. A film that I definetely recommend if it happen to be in cinemas of your area. It tells the story of a double agent spy whose strategy was crucial in the result of World War 2. He, together with the British espionnage system saved the world from fascism. The weapon: deception. He fooled Hitler and the nazi regime. Who was then this man who embarked in such a dangerous mission?

It was him:


He was known as Garbo to the British and Alaric or Arabel to the German. But his real name was Joan Pujol Garcia. Joan was born in Barcelona on February 14th, 1912 within a burgeois, liberal family. His father was apolitical and believed in individual freedom so that is what Joan grew up it. As a young men in his early twenties he was a dandy (I guess he could afford to) and used to walk around Barcelona all the time. The Spanish Civil War was a blow for him. He, as many other, was called to fight on the Republican side (Barcelona was one of the last cities to fall under Franco's troops, so it was Republican most of the war). He actually responded the call but he deserted, with the risk of being shot. He hid during some time, but unable to stay closed in the house any longer, he finally went to war with one objective: passing on to the the fascist side. He did so not because he was a fascist but because he wanted to be left alone and Franco was winning the war by then.

After the war he married and moved to Madrid. There he felt he should help somehow in WW2, he wanted to help in fighting fascism, something which he had not done in the Civil War. But he did not want to get hurt. He went to the British embassy in Madrid asking for a job. He was disregarded. He then moved to Lisbon and there he contacted the German Abwehr and began providing information to them. Germans trusted him and his alledged agents: they did not know this information was false and fake. After some time he went to the British embassy again and this time he was given a chance. So he became a double agent. He was a virtuous actor and, as I said gained full trust from the Führer himself. They trusted him so much that he even was award with the Iron Cross and of course, given funds to continue his spy job. Money which, ultimately, was used by the British MI5 (the British secret service) to spy on the nazis. So Hitler was, in fact, paying to be spied on.

The crucial event was Normandy disembarking on 6 June 1944, the D-Day. Joan, well, Garbo, totally fooled Germans by telling them Normandy was a diversion manoeuvre and that the attack would be somewhere else. And he was believed, and thus, D-Day was a success. This was the definite blow to change the course of the war. When asked for an explanation on why the supposed attack did not take place, he simply said it had been cancelled as Normandy had been a success for them. And they, again believed him and even after nazis lost the war thanked him for his "valuable service".

After D-Day, he lost his power position and he mysteriously disappeared and reported death.Until they found him. He had faked his death and he really moved to Venezuela, where he began a new life. Once knowing he was alive he was awarded, on D-Day 40th anniversary, with an MBE, a British condecoration which grants membership in the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.

Joan Pujol Garcia died in Venezuela on October 10th, 1988. He has been the only man who has been in the two sides of two crucial wars in contemporary Europe. And, without shooting one shot, he was a hero.

The documentary film talks about all his life. I gave you the main lines of his life, but the film tells with detail the whole story. Simply amazing. The film is mostly in English, but also there are some German, Catalan and Spanish, so the best option is subtitling. The following trailer is in English subtitled in Spanish (though in the cinema I saw it subtitled in Catalan...except for the Catalan and Spanish bit of course :P).

video


Note: more info on Garbo found in:
- Wikipedia
-Youtube: simply write "Garbo the spy"
-Film's website (in English and Spanish)

1 comentari:

Isabel ha dit...

I just read about Joan Pujol a few months ago! I think I was searching Wikipedia for some movie Greta Garbo did but I only typed her surname in and then I saw Pujol's name in a list of possible topics.

I'm glad they've made a documentary about him as his achievements are fantastic and yet not many people know about it.

I'm definitely going to try to find that film.