MI5 scoured naturist magazine for secret messages

A spy based in Sweden during the Second World War was suspected by MI5 of sending secret messages to his handlers on the pages of The Naturist magazine.

MI5 scoured naturist magazine for secret messages

Hans Larsen, a Norwegian whaler, was recruited by the Germans to spy on Swedish military movements. In January 1945 he was arrested and flown to Britain for questioning.

When apprehended in Sweden, Larsen had in his possession a copy of The Naturist magazine from March 1945. On the front cover was a picture of a young woman in a bathing costume but a content guide promised “nudism, physical health and culture” within.

Under questioning, the 29-year-old Norwegian told his British captors that he had learned from the Germans to pass on messages using secret writing. Larsen explained how he had been taught to write coded messages by melting a pellet of wax onto the end of a toothpick or matchstick, The Telegraph reports.

“Writing could then be done directly on to the paper. The secret message was to be written on one side of the paper only, and perpendicularly to the ‘en clair’ text, which could be written in ink on both sides of the paper,” according to the interrogation report.

Among tasteful pictures of naked women and tips on bust enhancement, MI5 officials looked long and hard for signs of secret communications with Larsen’s Nazi handlers. But none were found.

“It has not been established that he did indeed communicate with the German secret service in secret ink,” the report concluded.

“On the other hand there is in our possession a letter from his wife which suggests that such an attempt may have been made.”