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Carl Frederick Muller was the 2nd spy executed in the Tower of London during World War One. This page contains a brief article about Muller.
Carl Frederick Muller
Carl Frederick Muller was born on 21 February 1857, in Libau. He was fluent in Russian, German, Dutch, Flemish and English, all spoken with hardly any accent. His Father was Henry Julius Muller, and both parents also came from the same town. Following the death of his Father, when Muller was 11 years old, and the death of his Mother, Muller went to live with his Uncle, Mr. Schneider, who was also the Mayor of Libau.
When he became 16, Muller went to sea and a year later he entered the employ of the American Shipping Company, where he worked on several English and American ships.
By 1881, Muller married a Norwegian lady and the family eventually moved to Antwerp. In 1899, Muller entered into business with an Englishman called Mr. le Blanc, as a cargo superintendent, mainly dealing with German steamers.
When the First World War broke out on 4 August 1914, Muller's landlord moved away and left the entire house in Muller's hands.
After their bombardment of Antwerp, the Germans entered the the city on 8 October 1914. Muller had German soldiers billeted in his house. Around 26 October 1914, Muller was becoming short of money, so he went to see the German civil governor, about arranging for him to travel to Germany to collect some mechanical engines that were needed in Antwerp. On 28 December 1914, Muller arrived back in Antwerp. It was sometime during this period that he was recruited into the German Secret Service. He was viewed as an ideal recruit, being fluent in several languages, had a good knowledge about shipping and short of cash.
On 9 January 1915, Muller boarded the Whitby Abbey at Rotterdam and sailed for Hull, landing two days later. During this voyage, he told one of the stewards that he was going to stay with some friends in Sunderland. During his time in Sunderland, Muller stayed with various acquaintances he had meet during his pre-war years in Antwerp.
On 13 January 1915, Muller booked into an establishment in London at 38 Guildford Street, off Russell Square. Just after arriving at his new lodgings, Muller sailed for the Continent on the Princess Juliana arriving at Flushing. He remained here, before returning to England on the Orange Nassau.
During February 1915, Muller wrote several letters. These were sent to people who had apparently had nothing to do with Muller or had not even heard of the names used in the letters. These letters were all intercepted. After being examined by the British Intelligence Services, invisible ink had been used to write German sentences between apparently harmless sounding English sentences.
After Muller returned from another trip to the Continent on 13 February 1915, he was visited three days later by Inspector Buckley (CID New Scotland Yard) at his lodgings at 38 Guildford Street. As the Inspector found nothing of note, the matter was dropped. This visit did not deter Muller, as on 20 February 1915, he sent another letter in the same style as before.
While in London, Muller went to an baker's address in Deptford where he met John Hahn. Muller had previously met Hahn in Antwerp during the wedding of his landlord's daughter. Hahn was British-born and a British subject, although his parents were both German. When Hahn was 14, his Father sent him to Germany, where he remained for a number of years, before returning to England. However, with the outbreak of war Hahn had serious financial problems which left him vulnerable to bribery.
On 21 February 1915, Muller called again at Hahn's address. While here, Muller asked Hahn to write a letter, in English, to a contact Muller knew on the Continent who may be able to offer Hahn a position. Hahn wrote the letter, and gave it to Muller who then wrote in invisible ink more messages in German. After sending this letter (which was intercepted), Hahn decided to write another letter to Muller's friend hoping that he could indeed find him a job. This letter was signed by Hahn, with his real name and like the other letters was intercepted. This letter also contained invisibly written information, done by Hahn.
As this letter was intercepted, it was compared to the previous letter and not surprising the writing of Hahn was matched. Later on the 24 February 1915, Inspector George Riley (Special Branch, New Scotland Yard) went to Hahn's residence where he found a pen and a piece of lemon. He also found a piece of paper with Muller's Guildford Street address written on it in invisible ink. Muller was arrested late on the 25 February 1915 by Inspector Edward Parker (Special Branch, New Scotland Yard).
Muller and Hahn were both tried at the Central Criminal Court (Old Bailey) on 2-4 June 1915, before the Lord Chief Justice. Muller pleaded not guilty while Hahn pleaded guilty. The court then heard the case against Muller. Muller was found guilty and sentenced to death by shooting. Hahn was sentenced to 7 years imprisonment.
On 21 June 1915, Muller's appeal was rejected. The following day Muller was taken from Brixton Prison to The Tower of London, using a London Taxi Cab which broke down on the journey. Muller eventually reached the Tower in another Cab.
The Assistant Commissioner of Police at New Scotland Yard, Sir Basil Thomson, later wrote the following account of Muller's execution, which took place at 6am on 23 June 1915:
On Wednesday 23 June at 6am, in the Miniature Rifle Range at the Tower, the prisoner was calm, shook hands with me and thanked me. I led him to the chair which was tied to short stakes driven into the ground, he sat on it quietly and the Sergeant buckled a leather strap round his body and the back of the chair and then blindfolded him with a cloth. The firing party consisted of 8 guardsmen. I watched as closely as possible and went to him immediately after he was shot. I saw no expression of pain. I found no pulse and no sign of life. Death appeared to be instantaneous, and the body retained the same position. The bullets probably in fragments had passed through the thorax and out of the back. Some blood, mixed with what appeared to be bone, had escaped through the clothing a 7 or 8 drops had fallen to the ground. The body was carried on a stretcher into the isolation ward.