Dusko Popov, the anti-Nazi double agent who inspired James Bond

PORTRAIT – To create his hero, Ian Fleming had a role model. A real Serbian spy from MI5. While released in France To die can wait, Daniel Craig’s last appearance in an Aston Martin, a look back at the life of a man who judged the adventures of 007 as an “insult to his intelligence”.

In 1941, the young naval officer Ian Fleming was given the task of supervising a man named Popov, Dusko Popov. The man is a double agent who managed to infiltrate the Abwehr, the intelligence services of the German army led by Admiral Canaris.

At the Casino d’Estoril, Popov the gambler bets $ 38,000 (around 600,000 euros today) on a baccarat shot to destabilize a certain Bloch, a Dutch Jew. This banco is colossal and of course no one follows it. Commander Fleming, who became a novelist ten years later, will never forget this scene and this man capable of all daring.

In his first novel Casino Royale, the polyglot spy Popov will become James Bond and Bloch, the Number. The legend would therefore have been born on August 6, 1941 in this Portugal, a neutral country in a world at war, then the nest of spies of Europe.

Dusko Popov, born in Serbia in 1912 never exhibited the number 007. But he had a nickname, “Tricycle”, a pseudonym with erotic overtones that decorum prevents us from describing here.

This seducer with transparent blue eyes, son of a good family who frequented the court of the King of Yugoslavia, learned all European languages, including French, in the best schools of the old continent from which he was in turn dismissed. In 1940, at the start of the Second World War, he met a certain Johnny Jebsen who entrusted him with a highly perilous mission: to infiltrate the Abwehr, the Wehrmacht spy service on behalf of MI5, the British security service. in the service of his gracious Majesty.

There remains in the archives of this service a rather laudatory description of this intrepid agent ready to destabilize the Nazi barbouzes. “You can’t say that Popov is a workaholic, especially when it comes to routine tasks. He has an undeniable power of concentration, but only when he decides to. He is courageous, discreet, charming. Accustomed to a certain way of life, he spends without counting. He particularly seeks the company of young women, and easily conquers mistresses wherever he is on the globe ”, is it so recorded.

Dusko Popov, the spy who loved himself

Stronger than James Bond, OSS 117, and other Bob Sinclar combined, Popov apparently carries out his task as an undercover agent with a skill that honors him. During the War, Elusive, he was everywhere and nowhere at the same time: he planned the attack on Pearl Harbor, went to Spain to make the Germans believe that a landing would take place in the Balkans and in Sardinia, took part in the ‘Fortitude intoxication operation which will push the German General Staff and Adolf Hitler to think that the great landing of the Allied forces in 1944 would take place in the Pas-de-Calais …

To believe Popov, who will recount all his top-secret missions in his memoirs titled, pretentiously Tricycle, his missions will have been more dangerous and above all more real than the adventures invented by Ian Fleming and repeated in the cinema with the success that we know since Doctor No in 1962.

In 1974, the handsome Serbian swept aside the Bondian phantasmagoria with the back of his hand by stealing a Mafia formula from the Godfather by Francis Ford Coppola: “ It’s an insult to my intelligence. James Bond, in real life, would not have survived forty-eight hours. This character is fanciful, unrealistic.Dusko, in short, the spy who loved himself …

The release of Dying can wait: a relief for Daniel Craig


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