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  • Writer's pictureZanelle Awinyo

The MI5 Spy That Faked his Death for 36 Years

For almost 4 decades a critical MI5 spy, Juan Pujol Garcia, was thought to be dead.

And that’s not even the most interesting aspect of his life...

Juan Pujol Garcia, more famously known by his codename “Garco”, was a veteran of the Spanish Civil War.

Garcia loathed the totalitarianism nature of Adolf Hitler, that was similar to Francisco Franco, a dictator who ruled Spain for a 36 year period- that later became known as “Francoist Spain.” As a result, he became a spy against Germany in the second world war.

On both sides of the war, he had been viewed as an important individual. The British had awarded him an MBE (the third highest ranking order of the British Empire) whereas the Germans awarded him the Iron Cross for his spying. However, the titles had not come to him without obstacles.

Garcia believed that Western civilization was in danger if Hitler won the war. This made him determined to help the war efforts against Germany, to the extent of devoting his whole life into supporting the allied cause. Long before the Spaniard had arrived in England and officially joined the MI5, he had already developed a network of spies; 'The Garbo Network,' and began the execution of his plans as the most important double agent of all time.

Without any credentials or connections, Garcia formulated a plan to create his resume while aiding the war efforts. He became a rogue double-agent who Britain didn’t even know they had. Acting as a Spanish official who was flying to London, he made contact with Nazi officials in Madrid and told them he was interested in spying on Britain for the Third Reich. Soon after, he began sending the Nazis fabricated information they believed was from London.

Meanwhile Garcia was actually in Lisbon and Madrid, sending the false reports using factual information that could have been found in encyclopedias, advertisements or even placards he saw in the street.

In 1942, he approached British officials once more with his newly formed resume. Garcia must have been surprised that they had known of him, as a spy that was sending information to Germany from Portugal and Spain. That was until he revealed himself and his plan was fully set into motion.

June 6. 1944, Garcia reported to the Nazis, who heard news of a planned invasion of Normandy; that they had received fake information. This, of course, wasn’t true, however; it left the Nazis unprepared and the Allies celebrated the successful D-Day invasion that occurred as a result.

The war ended in 1945 and Garcia continued his work for the MI5. He was later thought to have died of Malaria in Angola in 1948, while in actuality he had moved to Venezuela - and figured it would be safer for him there if everyone thought he was dead.

The news reached Pujol’s first wife and children in Spain a year later after the British ambassador officially told Spain that he had died.

Meanwhile, Garcia had grown a beard and started wearing a distinctive pair of glasses in Venezuela.

It wasn’t until the 1980’s when the British author, Nigel West, began looking into his life and theorised that he hadn’t in fact died.

West then tracked down Garcia, who came out of hiding and returned to Europe, reconnecting with his ex-wife, who’d suspected he was alive- and his heartbroken children, who had not.

Although it’s not known why Garcia decided to stay in Venezuela for as long as he did, it’s speculated that he had gone there to recover from his traumas of the war.

Juan Pujol Garcia, Codename: Garco, was the man that saved D-Day and was assumed dead for 36 years.

And that’s a free fact you now know.


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