German Spy William Stieber

About the German spy William Stieber, his history and biography in the wars of Germany.

William Stieber. German. Worked for: Germany, conquest of Austria, 1866, and Franco-Prussian War, 1870.

Prince Otto von Bismarck referred to Stieber as "my king of sleuthhounds." In 1866, spy master Stieber, posing as a salesman for religious statuettes and "dirty" pictures, entered Austria and secured such an abundance of military information that Prussia was able to conquer Austria in 45 days. In 1868 Stieber went to France for 18 months, in which time he carefully studied new French military equipment, particularly their rifles and machine guns. After Napoleon III suffered a crushing defeat in the Franco-Prussian War, Stieber boasted that he had had 40,000 spies in France (10,000 is probably the more accurate estimate). In Berlin, Stieber operated a "Green House," where "people of consequence" indulged in limitless vice and perversion. The private files from the Green House were used to blackmail patrons into divulging top-secret information. In 1892, Stieber died from complications arising from arthritis. Although his service to Germany was highly acclaimed--he was called the founder of the German espionage system--his funeral provoked few tears. It is said that many attended only "to reassure themselves that the autocratic old sleuthhound was really dead."

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