Weird History The Most Mysterious Political Decoy Cases in History  

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List Rules The most compelling & mysterious political decoy cases in history.

A political decoy is a person employed to impersonate a politician, to draw attention away from the real person or to take risks on their behalf. The political decoy is an individual who has been selected because of their strong physical resemblance to the person they are impersonating. This resemblance can be strengthened by plastic surgery. Often, such decoys are trained to speak and behave like their "target".

Some of the stories surrounding the use of doppelgangers for high profile political figures are so fantastical that they seem like they could come out of a comic book. Because some of these figures are known to have used decoys, conspiracy theories continue to swirl around them. While some of these instances rely primarily on anecdotal evidence and the credibility of witnesses, key moments of the historical narrative would be open to huge possibilities if certain voices had the chance to utter the words, "the reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated."

What cases of political decoy use are the most compelling or mysterious?

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Adolf Hitler is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Most Mysterious Political Decoy Cases in History
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Adolf Hitler is known to have employed at least one double and it has been alleged that he employed as many as six. One of these men, Gustav Weler, was later knowingly executed by guards as part of a disinformation strategy and his corpse was found by Allied forces who initially believed it to be Hitler. However, the British surgeon and historical writer W. Hugh Thomas reported in his 1996 book “Doppelgangers” that Gustav Weler was found alive after the war and that Allied troops interviewed Weler following Hitler’s death.

Birthplace: Braunau am Inn, Austria

Nationality: German Reich

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Bernard Montgomery, 1st Viscou... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Most Mysterious Political Decoy Cases in History
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Perhaps the most famous political decoy, soldier M. E. Clifton James successfully impersonated General Bernard Montgomery ("Monty") for intelligence purposes during World War II.[6]

In 1940, James acted in an Army production called When Knights Were Bold and his photograph appeared in an Army newspaper with a remark about how much he resembled General Montgomery.

As a result, he was approached by actor David Niven in May 1944. Niven, then a Colonel in the Army Kinematograph Section, told James he was wanted to impersonate "Monty", as this would allow Montgomery to be somewhere else, thus confusing the Germans.

James had to learn Montgomery's gestures, mannerisms, gait and voice and had to give up smoking.

Because James had lost his right-hand middle finger in the First World War, a realistic replacement was made.

Even his wife had to be deceived and was both kept in the dark and sent back to Leicester. Once he was trained, his trip as "Monty" was to Gibraltar and from there to Algiers. "Monty's" presence succeeded in confusing the Germans in regard to the invasion plans.

James was later the subject of a biopic called I Was Monty's Double starring James himself in (of course) the double role as Monty and himself.

The second (and less famous) "Monty's Double", Keith Deamer Banwell,[7] was serving with the land-based Long Range Desert Group.

Banwell was captured in a raid on Tobruk, but with a friend managed to steal a German vehicle and escape. During a subsequent raid on Crete he was taken prisoner at Heraklion and put under the personal supervision of former world heavyweight boxing champion Max Schmeling, who was serving in the German Army.

Banwell and a few of his comrades managed to slip away from their captors and then acquired an assault landing craft. With the help of some Cretan fishermen they made their getaway, but the craft ran out of fuel and drifted for nine days before reaching the North African coast. The privations of this voyage put Banwell in hospital for 12 weeks.

When he had recovered, someone noticed that he bore a resemblance to General Montgomery. It was decided that he participate in deception ploys, and so Banwell was sent to Cairo to meet Montgomery, given the appropriate clothing, insignia and General's badges and sent on trips around the Middle East to confuse enemy spies.

However, as he was considerably taller than Montgomery, he was told that on no account should he get out of the car. Banwell, finding the assignment boring, sought a return to the infantry.[8][9]

Birthplace: Kennington

Nationality: United Kingdom

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Rudolf Hess is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Most Mysterious Political Decoy Cases in History
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In 1973, British military surgeon Hugh Thomas was called upon to examine Rudolf Hess at Spandau prison, Berlin. Thomas was acquainted with Hess's medical records, which included a set of notes on a major wound Hess sustained during World War One. This was left by a rifle bullet passing through his torso, breaking two ribs, collapsing a lung and producing unavoidable entry and exit wounds on the chest and back.

Thomas did not find any such scarring on the man's body and therefore came to the belief that the man was not Hess, since (in Thomas's words) "The torso cannot lie."

Thomas also records other differences: eye colour, hair texture, bone structure, dentition, and Hess's chin, which (as can be seen from the photographs featured in this entry) appeared to lose its symmetry after his flight to Britain.

In his 1979 book The Murder of Rudolf Hess, Thomas set out a theory in which Hess had originally been impersonated by another German acting under the orders of Goering. This double had then flown to Britain in Hess's place and ended up in prison. Much of Thomas's theory is, by his own admission, tenuous or unclear. However, his original observation about the lack of a scar remains tantalising. Critics of this theory suggest that Thomas simply missed the scar when he examined Hess [9].

In 1997, it was again alleged that Hess had been replaced with a double. This time, the claimants were a military historian and a former British intelligence officer. Their claim, apparently based on contemporary documents, was that Hess had been killed after landing in Britain and 'doubled' by British intelligence. [10]


Birthplace: Alexandria, Egypt

Nationality: Germany

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Saddam Hussein is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Most Mysterious Political Decoy Cases in History
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In 2003, German television network ZDF broadcast claimed that Iraq's former president Saddam Hussein was frequently replaced with doubles for TV appearances. This analysis was based on sophisticated measuring techniques, which detected discrepancies in the position of Hussein's facial features and blemishes from appearance to appearance. It was supported by the opinion of Jerrald Post, the man who created the CIA's Psychological Profile Unit.[22] It was also alleged that Austrian politician Jörg Haider had actually met a double when he thought he was meeting Hussein.[23]

This claim is however disputed. Dr Ala Bashir, Saddam Hussein's former personal physician stated "The stories about Saddam Hussein having body doubles, to foster the impression that the Iraqi dictator was everywhere, are nonsense."[24]

Birthplace: Al-Awja, Iraq

Nationality: Iraq

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