British Military & Criminal History:

1900 to 1999.



Home - Spying - First World War - Ludovico Zender


Ludovico Hurwitz-y-Zender was the last person executed at The Tower of London during World War One.

The last person executed at the Tower was Josef Jakobs in August 1941. All the other World War Two spies were hanged at either Wandsworth or Pentonville Prisons, both of which are in London.

Ludovico Hurwitz-y-Zender

Ludovico Hurwitz-y-Zender was born in Lima, Peru, in 1878. His Father as Peruvian, although his Grandparents were Scandinavian who decided to settle in Peru. Zender was well educated and fluent in English and French.

In August 1914, Zender left Peru for Europe, travelling via the USA, claiming that he was intending to trade in paper, handkerchiefs and various food products. He eventually arrived in Glasgow via New York, Bergen, Oslo and Copenhagen.

The British Security Services had intercepted telegrams sent during late May 1915 to address in Oslo, which they knew was acting as a collection point for the German Intelligence Services. All the telegrams were sent by Zender, all were signed in his own name and gave his address as 59 Union Street in Glasgow. However, just before the Police arrived to arrested Zender, he had sailed from Newcastle to Bergen.

As Zender had no reason to believe that he was a wanted man, the Security Services thought that he may return to the UK at some later date. Zender's details were circulated to the various ports. On 2 July 1915, the SS Vega arrived in Newcastle with Zender, and he was immediately arrested and taken under escort to New Scotland Yard. In Zender's possessions were found various hotel bills which suggested that he had arrived in Norway, then travelled via Denmark to Germany, returning to the UK via this same route.

The Germans had provided Zender with a cover letter stating that he was ordering sardines and other tinned fish for shipment back to Peru. The intercepted telegrams talked about shipments of tinned fish, but the problem for Zender was that it was the wrong season for supplying sardines, and experts gave evidence at his courts-martial that such orders could not be genuine. It became clear that Zender's telegrams contained shipping movements from various ports on the Firth of Forth and Clyde, disguised as tinned fish transactions.

Zender's courts-martial was delayed by several months, due to requesting defence evidence from Peru which took an average of 28 days to reach the UK. Also the Peruvian Embassy in London requested to speak with Zender, which was approved.

Ludovico Hurwitz-y-Zender was tried by courts-martial on 20-22 March 1916, at Caxton Hall Westminster. He pleaded not guilty, but he was found guilty and sentenced to death by shooting. Zender's appeal was rejected, as was an appeal from the Peruvian Embassy.

At 7am on 11 April 1916, Ludovico Hurwitz-y-Zender was executed by a firing squad composed of members of the 3rd Battalion Scots Guards.

In 1975, an advert appeared in the magazine Exchange & Mart offering for sale a 0.303 inch brass cartridge case, which the advert stated has been found on the Thames river bank below the Tower of London. The cartridge was engraved "H. Zender, The Tower of London, 22 January 1916". The date engraved is not Zender's correct execution date.

Blog | UK Medals | Remembrance | War Crimes | Spying | Courts Martial | Criminal Cases | Index | Contact