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The Detonators is an easy read because Chad Millman is a good story-teller, but the book is full of errors in fact. Here are a few examples.
On page 36 Millman describes the meeting between the German spy Franz von Rintelen and Paul G. L. Hilken. According to Millman, von Rintelen "summoned" Hilken to New York where they met in the Ritz Hotel. But according to a report written by Bureau of Investigation, Special Agent William R. Benham on 13 September 1916, Hilken told him that he was in New York on business and staying in the Astor Hotel when Rintelen contacted him by phone. Rintelen came to the Astor and introduced himself, providing a letter of introduction from Captain W. Bartling of the North German Lloyd Company.
On page 56 he writes that in January 1915 Hilken was ordered to report to Berlin by February 1915. Actually the instructions he received came from Karl Stapelfeld who was a Norddeutsche Lloyd director and the General Director of the Deutsche Ozean Reederei, and his instructions were to go to Bremen where the NDL headquarters were located. When he finished there, Stapelfeld sent Hilken to the Deutschebank in Berlin to obtain credits for the establishment of the Eastern Forwarding Company in Baltimore.
On page 58, Millman has Hilken going to the Reichstag wherein, he writes, were located the parliament, war offices, and the publicity and censorship offices. In fact, only the parliament was housed in the Reichstag. Designed by Paul Wallot and dedicated on 5 December 1894, the Reichstag held both chambers; the Reichstag (lower house) and the Bundesrat (upper house). There wasn't enough office space for the legislators in the building much less several other government agencies. While Hilken is in the Reichstag he is told to go to the other side of the building and visit Section Politic, "aka Section IIIb."
On the same page he puts Captain Rudolf Nadolny in charge of the Section Politic, aka "Section IIIb." Section Politic was a sub-unit of Section IIIb, the latter being the German Army Secret Service (Geheimdienst) and a part of the General Staff. The commander of the Geheimdienst was Col. Walter Nicoli, and Capt. Rudolf Nadolny commanded the sub-unit, Section Politic. Rather than being in the Reichstag, Section IIIb was located at Molka Strasse 8.
On page 68 he describes the submarine Deutschland as being 315 feet long, when her actual length was 213.25 feet.
On page 69 he describes the submarine Deutschland's arrival inside the three-mile limit. According to Millman, the Eastern Forwarding Company's tug, Thomas F. Timmins, was there waiting off shore for the submarine when the submarine surfaced alongside the tug. The fact is that on 8 July 1916, the tug had pulled back into the Chesapeake Bay and anchored to give its crew a rest, and the submarine Deutschland was not submerged at any time while she was inside the the three-mile limit. She was trimmed down with her decks awash as she approached the three-mile limit, but once inside, she came all the way up. She crossed the three-mile limit at 2330 on 8 July and at 0200 on 9 July she was received by the pilot boat Relief. The dialogue exchange between Captain Hinsch and Paul Koeng provided in the book never took place. The exchange between the pilot boat and the submarine was, "What ship are you?" and the reply was, "Deutschland, sixteen days out of Bremerhaven." To which the Virginia pilot, Capt. Fred Cocke, is reported to have said, "I'll be damned. Here she is."
And the bit about Hinsch telling Koenig that there had been a change in destination from Norfolk to Baltimore is baseless. The American Consul in Bremen, William Fee, issued a bill of health and certified invoices on 13 June 1916 with the destination clearly spelled out--Baltimore. Paul Koenig knew exactly where he was going.
Dwight R. Messimer