Gambling, espionage and beautiful girls ... He was skilled in every art. His name was Popov.
We are talking about Duško Popov, a Serbian double spy who became famous during World War II. In the history of the world of espionage, Popov is also mentioned as a triple agent.
It is said that Ian Fleming, a British naval intelligence officer, created the historical character of 'James Bond' only after meeting Duško Popov. Some say Popov was aware of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor during World War II. Popov also told then-FBI Director Edgar Hoover about it.
Had Edgar Hoover believed Popov, the American catastrophe at Pearl Harbor could have been averted.
Duško Popov was born in 1912 into a prosperous Serbian family. After studying law at the University of Belgrade, he moved to Germany for further studies. Dejan Tiago Stankovich, the author of the novel Estoril, set against the backdrop of World War II, says that "in Germany, Popov befriended people whose wires were connected to the Abyssinian secret service."
Abihar contacted Popov and offered to spy for Germany in Britain. "Because at that time there were not many foreign spies in Germany and Britain. So, Popov accepted Abihar's offer and went straight to the British foreign intelligence agency, MI6. Popov told MI6 everything.
At the same time, Popov became a double agent working for both Britain and Germany. This is between 1940 and 1944. Popov's code name was "Agent Tricycle" in British intelligence circles.
Eighteen years ago, Britain first released classified documents linked to World War II spies and double agents. The BBC's Claire Hills wrote after looking at the documents: "A very colourful spy working for British interests can only be called by a code name and he is a 'playboy double agent'. He was a man who could handle both wife and girlfriend at the same time.
Popov stayed in a special room at the Savoy Hotel in London. Popov was an expert on how to take care of beautiful young ladies. And that's why he was known as Playboy. However, the world later learned that Popov was also interested in having more than one partner in bed.
Major TA Robertson, an officer with the British Intelligence Service, wrote in an official record about Popov: 'On Christmas 1940, I and Tricycle met at lunch at the Coaglinos restaurant in London. From there we went to play billiards in Berkeley Square at Lands Down Club. Then they returned to the Sevoi Hotel for dinner. I think the tricycle was a lot of fun. He drank a lot of champagne. '
The importance of Popov in Britain's secret machinery can also be gauged from the fact that some called him the country's most important agent. Wireless communications, postcards written with invisible ink, special microcode codes, Popov's quiver had many such arrows.
Popov had convinced his German colleagues that they were giving him important secrets about Britain. The fact is that Popov was providing this information to Germany with the consent of MI6. There was also a chapter in the Agent Tricycle file called 'Top Secret'. The chapter mentions the incident when a German officer gave Popov a list of questions to gather information about British weapons.
The German officer wanted to know from Popov what was being produced in the factories at Weybridge, Wilhampton and Dartford in Britain. What kind of guns and ammunition does the British Army have?
But Popov was a double agent.
Germany wanted to gather all kinds of information from Popov. They were asked how many fighter jets Britain has, how many spot fires and hurricane planes? What is and what is not in the armoured sector of the army. British intelligence officials provided Popov with answers to questions that seemed real but were usually incomplete. Agent Tricycle provided this information to the German authorities.
Duško Popov developed a formula for invisible ink. They mixed it into a glass of wine. Popov's file lists dozens of such things. His postcards in unseen ink, letters from Airmail stamped 'Opened and Examined', letters to girlfriends that were actually sent to His Majesty's service.
He spoke English, Italian and French, as well as the German he needed. In his message, he described the damage caused to German cities by allied bombings. In a similar message, Popov said the German port of Hamburg had been badly damaged by the bombing but was still usable.
About Duško Popov, a British military official wrote: On one occasion in 1941, Popov even said that he was confident of a British victory within two years because both Germany's economy and moral strength had weakened.
One such formal message described Popov as an "intelligent and decent man." The full message was in these words: 'She has personality, she has charm. He lives in any civil society in Europe or America as if it were his home. He's like an international playboy. During peacetime, he spends a month or more a year in Paris. He especially likes the company of beautiful women.
Most interestingly, Agent Tricycle refused to pay the British intelligence service. Popov said he was happy to work for the country for which he had sincere feelings, and that Germany paid him as much as he needed.
If the world hadn't dealt with the Coronavirus crisis then, James Bond's 'No Time to Die' would have been a hit at the box office. "During World War II, Popov and Ian Fleming met at the Casino Estoril hotel one summer night in 1941," says Dejan Stankovich.
Ian Fleming was a British naval intelligence officer at the time and later became known around the world for his role as James Bond. Dejan Tiago Stankovich said: "I think Ian Fleming's idea of James Bond must have come from the same place after that meeting."
After Portugal, Duško Popov's next mission was to the United States. "The day before he left for the United States, Popov was gambling in Estoril," Dejan said. The next day he had to go on a trip so he had a lot of money. This money was given to them by the Germans. They were very careless at the gambling table. He was seen with different girls. His personality did not look like that of a spy. That's when Ian Fleming looked at them. "
Fleming and Popov were in Estoril at the same time. The two have their check-in documents on display at the Palacio Estoril at the hotel. In 1969, parts of the James Bond film "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" were shot at the same hotel. The hotel also has a James Bond suite for guests.
Dejan Tiago Stankovich explained: "We have information that Fleming and Popov lived here regularly. It is possible that Fleming and Popov met at the casino that night. However, Fleming never wrote about meeting Popov. That is why the world does not know his story.
But after Fleming's death, Popov wrote his autobiography, Spy Encounter Spy, in which he claims that Fleming was inspired by James Bond. The James Bond movie 'Casino Royale' is actually 'Casino Story'.
"There are very few spies in history whose personality resembles that of James Bond, but Duško Popov was really like James Bond," said Dejan Tiago Stankovich. Yes, except for the habit of drinking alcohol. Popov claimed that he could not drink like James Bond, but 007's character is undoubtedly addicted to alcohol.
In researching his book, Estoril, Dejan Tiago Stankovich found that Fleming's feelings for his character, James Bond, were largely due to the valuable things he created, the luxurious lifestyle and the hobbies of beautiful women. He may have been influenced by Popov.
Duško Popov's dating record shows that he had relationships with many women. Popov's girlfriends include French actress Simon Simon.
Many also say that Popov got the code name of Agent Tricycle because he was a triple agent and he also worked for the United States.
Dejan Tiago Stankovich tells another story: 'The story I believe is that Popov learned of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. But he was so outspoken that the then director of the FBI, Edgar Hoover, did not believe him. Hoover did not trust them. Popov did not look like someone with such important information.
But why did German intelligence officers trust Popov so much? "When Popov's family was fighting poverty in Belgrade, they were playing with wealth," said Dejan Tiago Stankovich. Thousands upon thousands were lying. Popov's family was held hostage during a Nazi attack in Belgrade. That is why Germany felt that Popov could be trusted. But Popov's double game never stopped. Because Popov's goal was more than anything to get rich.