Some people believe that I went rouge during World War II and that I started working as a double agent for the Germans. Personally, I feel sorry for all of you who believe that. I could never double cross my country. If I didn’t have to be so secret about myself, maybe I would go to the press to put down those rumors. I had to go into hiding to keep away from people from Soviet who I might have made a little angry. I am Vera Atkins and I don’t want to be hiding anymore.
After Germany surrendered, I went looking for all my missing female agents. The male agents were registered in the army so they couldn’t be killed and had to be kept as war prisoners. The female agents however, weren’t registered anywhere so it was much easier to kill these or make them “disappear”. That we missed 32 female agents after the war made me very upset and I wish I could undo that I sent them out.
When I went looking for them I went from town to town and from concentration camp to concentration camp. It was very hard for me to go there because in the camps they lived in extreme conditions and no one should even live that way. They lived in banks very closely together. There were also lots of bodies which created the worst smell you can even imagine.
When I asked for my people no one knew who they were. They only knew each other as prison mates and numbers so I had to find a list which was even harder. I had to go to the commanding officer’s house, which not exactly was an easy task. Sometimes I had to say that I was German just to find out where the house was. Sometimes I had to find a German suit to get through the remaining guards. Not every town had received the note of capitulation and some didn’t want to believe that the war was over.
When I had tracked down all my agents I went back to England with them, not many of them survived, but I got 12 agents out of the 32 missing. The rest had been killed in concentration camps. After I had returned to Britain with them I went back to my original country, Romania, to visit my family before I went in hiding. Sadly I couldn’t meet my brother since I had managed to get him to America. This was done when the war began because I and my brother are Jews and as you all know, the German troops didn’t like Jews. So I gave my brother some money and a plane ticket to America.
When I was hiding, I was in the Swiss Alps. I bought a house high up and isolated myself. No one knew where I was and the government was looking for me. I didn’t know if they wanted me as a prisoner or to give me a medal. I really didn’t want to find out. On the radio I got all kinds of reception and I listened to radio from all of the fronts. I heard that U.S soldiers and the Soviet army were fighting over Germany. On the Soviet radio I heard that they wanted me dead for not cooperating with the Soviet army. On the British radio I heard that they were “still looking for Vera Atkins”.
After 10 years they had slowly stopped broadcasting that they were looking for me. Now it was all about the war between America and The Soviet Union. I heard about a pact between different countries in the east side of Europe called The Warszawa Pact and an alliance between the western side of Europe plus America which was called NATO. I considered going back to Romania and to my family. I went for an airfield near me and talked to some of the pilots about a trip to Romania, but nobody wanted to fly there because “Romania is a part of The Soviet Union.”.
It seemed that people were afraid of flying into Russian territory. I was stuck in Switzerland and I didn’t want to head for Britain in case I might be wanted. For a few days I was arguing with myself about a trip to Britain. I saw the upsides and down sides. But since SOE had been so secret, they couldn’t arrest me. Actually I was just an ordinary person in the eyes of the average Englishman. So a few days later I went to the airfield. There was one pilot who dared to fly me over to Britain.
We left at 10 o’clock at night to come in the dark so no one knew I was there. We landed at a small airfield outside London where there was no security. After we had landed I grabbed my backpack and went to my old apartment in London. I managed to sneak into town and no one knew I was back. When I entered the apartment it was in the state I had left it. I lied down on the bed and found out that it was much softer than the one I had slept on for years in Switzerland.
After a few days I started going out on the streets and in the city. It was surprisingly how few people who actually knew who I was. I found it very good that I could walk outside and not worry about being arrested or killed. It was never really an option during the war. So now I am just a regular civilian.