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World War II

Spies and Secret Agents

Spies and secret agents played an important role in World War II. Each country had their own spy organizations that tried to get secret information about their enemies such as troop movements, supplies, bunker locations, and new weapons.

Why were spies important?

Information on where the enemy planned to attack or a new weapon they had invented could help determine the outcome of a battle. If a spy could get a hold of this secret information, it could save thousands of lives.

Who would become a spy?

Spies were generally people who already had access to secret documents and information. An enemy agent would approach them and try to get them to betray their country.

Spy gadgets used during World War 2
The baseball, pipe, and brush all have secret compartments.
They would hide things like secret messages or radio components.
Inside the button was a secret compass.
Photo by Ducksters

Why would someone become a spy?

Each spy probably had their own reasons for becoming a spy. Some did it for money. Others did it because they didn't agree with what their country was doing or because they secretly were loyal to another country.

The Double Cross

During World War II, the British developed the Double Cross System. They would find German spies and then turn them into double agents. They were very good at this, turning more than 40 German spies into double agents. They could then use these spies to find out information about the Germans as well as to provide the Germans with false information.

Did they have cool gadgets?

Yes, they did have some cool gadgets that helped them with their jobs. Many of these gadgets were used to hide secret messages including hollowed out corks, fake fence spikes, and plaster logs to hide messages. Some spies had bicycle battery chargers they would use to power their radio sets. Other gadgets included bombs hidden in rats, messages in micro-dots, gun silencers, and shoes that left barefoot-looking footprints.

Were women spies too?

Yes, there were many women spies on both sides of the war. There were several British and French women spies who parachuted into France in order to help prepare the French Resistance for the Allied attack on D-day.

Spy Agencies

Each country had their own spy agencies. Here are some of the major agencies during the war:
Interesting Facts about World War II Spies and Secret Agents Activities

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    After the War

    Battle of Britain
    Battle of the Atlantic
    Pearl Harbor
    Battle of Stalingrad
    D-Day (Invasion of Normandy)
    Battle of the Bulge
    Battle of Berlin
    Battle of Midway
    Battle of Guadalcanal
    Battle of Iwo Jima

    The Holocaust
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    Bataan Death March
    Fireside Chats
    Hiroshima and Nagasaki (Atomic Bomb)
    War Crimes Trials
    Recovery and the Marshall Plan
    Winston Churchill
    Charles de Gaulle
    Franklin D. Roosevelt
    Harry S. Truman
    Dwight D. Eisenhower
    Douglas MacArthur
    George Patton
    Adolf Hitler
    Joseph Stalin
    Benito Mussolini
    Anne Frank
    Eleanor Roosevelt

    The US Home Front
    Women of World War II
    African Americans in WW2
    Spies and Secret Agents
    Aircraft Carriers
    World War II Glossary and Terms

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    History >> World War 2 for Kids

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