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Carl Hans Lody

Carl Hans Lody, alias Charles A. Inglis, (January 20, 1877 – November 6, 1914; name sometimes given as Karl Hans Lody) was executed as a German spy by Great Britain at the Tower of London soon after the outbreak of World War I.

Born in Berlin, Lody hailed from a family of soldiers and civil servants. As a child, Lody wished to become a seafarer, so he moved to Hamburg and became a cabin boy. In 1904, he graduated from a maritime academy in Geestemünde, passing the exams to become a captain with flying colors. Becoming seriously ill soon thereafter, he was unable to actually become a captain, so he became a tourist guide for Hapag instead.[1]

After a state of imminent threat of war was declared in Germany on July 31, 1914, Lody volunteered as an Oberleutnant zur See, offering to go to the United Kingdom in order to report on the movements of the British fleet. At first he was turned down. He then got an American passport from the US consulate under the name Charles A. Inglis by claiming he had lost his old one. He was facilitated by the fact that he spoke English perfectly with an American accent, having been married to an American woman and lived in Omaha, Nebraska. This passport permitted Lody to travel all over Europe without any obstructions. This made him of great value to the German military and they accepted him.[1][2][3]

Lody received no more than a very basic preparation. Originally assigned to Southern France, he was then sent to Edinburgh, which was of great importance to the Royal Navy, travelling via the neutral Norway and then Newcastle and arriving on August 25. He stayed at the North British Hotel and took the bus to the Firth of Forth every morning. Just five days into his mission he sent his first report back to Germany, a telegram transmitted via Sweden. It read: "must cancel. Johnson very ill. Lost four days. Shall eav [sic] shortly. Charles", indicating that there were four ships being repaired at the dock and that there were several units about to head out to sea. The German submarine U-21 immediately received orders to attack in this area. The lead ship of the Pathfinder class scout cruisers, HMS Pathfinder, then became the first ship ever sunk by a torpedo fired from a submarine.[1][2]

After this, Lody no longer felt safe staying at this hotel, especially as he had named his address in the telegram. He then claimed to depart to go to Liverpool. In reality he stayed in Edinburgh. He rented a bicycle in order to be able to move around more effectively. However, he started making mistakes: he now wrote his letters in German and stopped encrypting their content. The fact that they were written in German led the authorities to check their content.[1]

On October 20, Lody moved to Killarney, Ireland staying at the Great Southern Hotel. He had since before leaving Britain been shadowed by a member of Sir Basil Thomson's corps of quick-witted young Irish Scotland Yard detectives, Jeremiah Lynch (who would later co-found the original Flying Squad). While Lody was dining at the hotel, several police officers approached him. Although, Lody insisted that he was an American, he was arrested as a suspected German agent. The search of his room turned up more evidence against him: German coins, a notebook with the content of the first telegram, German addresses, drafts of his letters, and a bus ticket from Edinburgh to the Firth of Forth. The next day Lody's coat was found in Edinburgh, containing the name of a tailor's shop in Berlin and Lody's real name.[1]

Lody was then taken to London. He said he had not wanted to become a spy and had sought exemption from service. This claim would later be disproved by German documents. Detained at Wellington Barracks near Buckingham Palace, he was convicted of war treason on November 2 and sentenced to death. Unlike most spies, he received a public trial with his case being reported widely in the press. His refusal to name his superiors and his repeated declarations of patriotism led to his being admired in both Germany and Britain.[1][2][4]

Lody was executed in the miniature rifle range in the Tower of London at dawn on November 6. The execution was carried out by an eight-man firing squad. He was buried within the precincts of the Tower. Lody was the first person since the Jacobite rebel Lord Lovat, who was beheaded there in 1747, to be executed in the Tower of London.[4] He was also the first German spy in World War I to be executed in the United Kingdom.[1]

Excerpts from the last letters Lody wrote were published soon after his death. One was written to a friend of his in Omaha,[3] the other, the last letter he ever wrote, to his sister; it was published in the Frankfurter Zeitung.[5]

Lieut.-Gen. Sir Robert Baden-Powell, later 1st Lord B-P, founder of the Scout Movement, referred to Lody thus:

The plea put forward by the German spy, Lieut. Carl Lody, at his court-martial in London, was that "he would not cringe for mercy. He was not ashamed of anything that [pg 45] he had done; he was in honour bound not to give away the names of those who had employed him on this mission; he was not paid for it, he did it for his country's good, and he knew that he carried his life in his hands in doing so. Many a Briton was probably doing the same for Britain." He was even spoken of in our House of Commons as being "a patriot who had died for his country as much as any soldier who fell in the field." [6]

A German destroyer, the Hans Lody, was named for him.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 (German)Damm, Maike: "Carl Hans Lody: Reiseleiter und Amateurspion. Focus. July 25, 2007. Retrieved April 16, 2008.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Cases from The National Archives - Carl Hans Lody". MI5. Retrieved April 16, 2008.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Served my Country, Karl Lody Wrote". New York Times. November 14, 1914. Retrieved April 16, 2008.
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Spy Executed in Tower of London". New York Times. November 11, 1914. Retrieved April 16, 2008.
  5. Lody Gloried to Die for his Fatherland. New York Times. December 1, 1914. Retrieved April 16, 2008.

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