MI5, the UK’s domestic secret intelligent service, released files last week showing that in 1937 the British authorities were concerned that Hitler youth in the UK on cycling tours were clandestinely doing reconnaissance work for the FÃƒÂ¼hrer.
Dubbed ‘spyclists’ by the Daily Herald newspaper at the time, the young Germans were, in the words of German Cyclist magazine, entreated to:Ã‚Â “Impress on your memory the roads and paths, villages and towns, outstanding church towers and other landmarks so that you will not forget them. Make a note of the names of places, rivers, seas and mountains. Perhaps you should be able to utilise these sometime for the benefit of the Fatherland Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ Wade through fords so that you will be able to find them in the dark.”
Police officers were asked to monitor the seemingly innocuous cyclists as they made their way across the country on bicycling holidays, stopping at Rotary Clubs, schools, factories and church services.Ã‚Â Their presence in the UK worried the highest echelons of the security services as both countries began to step up and stockpile their arms production.
Innocent holiday-makers or an army of brainwashed saboteurs posing as cycle touring enthusiasts. You decide: full story in the Guardian newpaper, here.