Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Slovakia were all German allies in the Second World War, unlike the other countries of Europe which had either been forcibly occupied by the Nazis or remained neutral. SOE Missions mounted within their borders were thus doubly hazardous for they were conducted in enemy-populated territory, heavily policed by military forces and gendarmerie. Furthermore all these states had well developed and experienced security services, usually supplemented by Gestapo and Abwehr units. A further complication to the activities of SOE in these countries was that they had all been effectively conceded by Western Allies to Russia; not surprisingly therefore, operations in the Soviet ‘sphere of influence’ were to prove diabolically difficult.
This is a story about the courage of individuals in the face of overwhelming odds. Hunger, ill-health, exhaustion, cold and treachery all combined to make life for those members of SOE who parachuted into these Fascist outposts of Fortress Europe as insufferable as it was dangerous. For weeks on end, the SOE missions moved continually at night, chased by enemy troops, betrayed by local villagers, awaiting air drops that never came and listening out for orders that were rarely specific. Thus the picture that emerges of SOE activities in these countries is one of heroic proportions, with courage, dedication and daring displayed by every mission.
Although nearly all SOE personnel were either killed or captured, the impact of their clandestine operations served as a persistent irritant, continuously undermining Germany’s strategic and political assumptions about the loyalty of her allies.
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