One of the most famous espionage cases during the Second World War is that of an Albanian from Kosovo named Elyeza Bazna, or with his nickname "Cicero”.
Elyeza Bazna was born into an Albanian family in Prishtina (Iliaz Bazda, July 28, 1904) at a time when the Republic of Kosovo was a vilayet within the Ottoman Empire. According to different documents and sources issued by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the "Cicero" case is considered as one of the most famous espionage cases of our era, and in particular, that of the Second World War.
With the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, Germany and Italy invaded the Balkans and occupied nearly all countries in the Peninsula including Albania and Albanian-populated areas in the former Yugoslavia.
However, Turkey was the only country in the Balkans – 3% of the country’s territory is geographically located in the Balkan Peninsula - that did not take part during the Second World War as it decided to remain neutral throughout the course of the war.
In 1939, in the Turkish capital, Ankara, the British government hired Cicero as a personal assistant to the British Ambassador to Turkey, Sir Hughe Montgomery Knatchbull-Hugessen.
However, simultaneously, the British government was not aware of the fact that the Führer of Nazi Germany, Adolf Hitler, had also hired the Albanian spy, Cicero, to offer his espionage services to the Germans.
While in Ankara and serving as a personal assistant to the British Ambassador, Cicero succeeded in obtaining classified and confidential documents from the British Embassy in Turkey which he then secretly handled over to the Germans. As a result of this, Cicero has been paid large sums, mostly in counterfeit British pounds, around 100,000, for his espionage services which was considered a hefty sum at that time.
During the Second World War, the use of counterfeit money was a key tactic in Hitler's efforts to undermine and destabilize the economy of the United Kingdom (UK) in order to create inflation, as argued by the renowned American journalist. John K. Cooley - in his book Currency Wars – whom also refers to the Cicero case in his chapter on the use of counterfeit money.
However, the Germans did not fully trust the reliability of the information Cicero provided them as they feared he was acting as a spy on behalf of the British government.
It turned out, in fact, that Cicero did indeed provide valuable information to the Germans which could have helped Nazi Germany turn the outcome of the Second World War in their favor. According to numerous sources, Cicero did warn Berlin about the Allied landing in Normandy in France (commonly referred to as “Operation Overlord”), a historic battle and a crucial part of determining the outcome of the Second World War. The Germans considered the information provided to them by Cicero to constitute false and misleading information.
This became a costly a costly mistake, since on June 6, 1944, the Allies successfully landed off the coast of Normandy in France and began the liberation of Europe.
The espionage legacy of Elyeza Bazna is still not forgotten and lives on as many movies and books have been written about him. One can refer to the movie Five Fingers, where an actor, playing the role of Cicero, describes his Albanian origin. The book The Cicero Spy Affair: German Access to British Secrets in World War II offers a comprehensive overview and analysis of the life of Cicero and his famous role as a double spy during the Second World War.
When the Second World War came to an end on September 2, 1945, various sources confirm that Cicero continued living in Turkey but that his espionage career had indeed come to an end as he had opted for a more quiet lifestyle.