Grace Buchanan-Dineen was born May 23, 1909 (one source incorrectly gave her birth as May 19), of socially prominent French-Catholic parents at Toronto, Canada.She was 34 at the time of her second arrest in Detroit on August 25, 1943,on espionage charges.Described in newspaper accounts as a sophisticated, well educated, and a beautiful brunette descendant of French nobility, Buchanan-Dineen was apparently recruited by Sari di Hajek (Hungarian national ) and her husband, Gyula Rozinek, who, according to the The Toronto Star,she "found fascinating" while living in Budapest in 1941.(A 1929 Vassar graduate, Di Hajek evidently gathered information under cover of delivering lectures on Hungarian folklore on the U.S. west coast in 1941.)
Noted as a well-mannered child, the religiously devout Buchanan-Dineen spent her youth in the Rosedale neighborhood in the Crescent Rd.-Roxboro St. area of Toronto, where her parents resided for 12 years following her birth.Her parents traced their lineage to Count de Neen, who was known to have royal blood.(Her ancestors arrived in Canada in 1836 and her grandfather "was one of the four richest men in the Dominion" at one time.)The Buchanan-Dineens separated in a "Catholic divorce," ca. 1923-24 , and Grace went with her father to live near Toulouse in France, where she was educated in convents.Fol-lowing extensive travel in 1929-30 - perhaps a post-Vassar tour --father and daughter moved to Great Britain, where they resided until taking up residence in Budapest in 1938.(The daughter may have returned to Toronto for a brief visitin 1927-28.)Following the death of her father in 1938, Grace Buchanan-Dineen returned to Toronto to settle his estate and then returned to Budapest.When or how she came into contact with Sari de Hajek and Gyula Rozinek is not clear, but according to newspaper accounts, she "consented to their overtures" to work for German Intelligencebecause she believed "National Socialism would be good for France."(The newspaper accounts emphasize German or Nazi Intelligence without specifically mentioning the Abwehr, which suggests that Buchanan-Dineen was employed by the Gestapo.It is also possible that Hungarian Intelligence may have may have been involved in her initial recruitment.)
Grace Buchanan-Dineen was subsequently trained in espionage techniques in Germany and was paid a monthly salary of $500.00.German Intelligence also equipped her with the names and addresses of 200 socially prominent Americans to cultivate as potential sources of information. (The Nazi party's Aislandorganisation may have also contributed to the compilation of this list.) However, neither her method of communication, e.g., secret writing, radio, nor intelligence targets were disclosed in any of the newspaper accounts of her life and arrest.However, references to chemicals in newspaper coverage of Buchanan-Dineen's arrest indicate that the former method was utilized.
Following completion of her training, Buchanan-Dineen infiltrated into the United States via Spain and Portugal. She arrived in the New York via Pan American Clipper October 27, 1941. According to press accounts, she "came to FBI attention" in November 1941 (almost certainly an oblique reference to the British, who were probably aware of her from intercepts of Abwehr signals or communications and/or via Imperial Censorship at Bermuda) as the "mysterious Mrs. Smith" and probably placed under surveillance while residing in New York city.The 34-year old Buchanan-Dineen subsequently moved to Detroit (early 1942), where her heritage, aristocratic bearing, beauty and charm ensured her easy entrée to leading social circles.Like Sari di Hajek, social events afforded Buchanan-Dineen the opportunity to gather information relative to war industries and military production in the Detroit area.Theresa Behrens, Emma ("Momma") Leonhart, whose daughter was "one of Hiter's intimates" and whose home served as a meeting place for the espionage ring, Dr. Fredrich W. Thomas, a German-educated obstetrician who Buchanan-Dineen contacted shortly after her arrival in Detroit, Countess Marianna von Moltke and her husband, Professor Heinrich von Moltke, and Bertrand Stuart Hoffman, who worked for Ford up to August 1942, supported Buchanan-Dineen and provided her with defense-related information.Thomas was evidently a rabid Nazi and Hoffman and Behrens were frequent travellers to Germany before 1939.
Buchanan-Dineen was quietly arrestedby the FBI in March 1942. She agreed to aid the Bureau "when it became apparent to her that she could not carry out the instructions of her Nazi employers." (The implication of this is that she opted to cooperate in order to save herself.)From at least March 1942 until her re-arrest in Detroit in August 1943, Buchanan-Dineen "cooperated fully with the FBI" in what appears to have been a classic counter intelligence - not deception -- operation designed to neutralize a potentially dangerous German intelligence network centered on the Detroit area.During this period, Buchanan-Dineen acted as a controlled or doubled enemy agent and"forward information cleared by Army and Navy Intelligence" relative to Ford production, defense industries in Detroit, including the Willow Run bomber plant, security measures against sabotage, and plans for the movement of aircraft from the U.S. to overseas areas.To put it another way,the FBI used Buchanan-Dineen to transmit misleading information ( dis-information) to German Intelligence which American authorities desired they have, but probabky not for the purpose of opening a deception channel, but rather to thwart and apprehend German espionage agents in a manner clearly reminiscent of the William G. Sebold or TRAMP case of 1941.
Theresa Behrens, who had arrived in the United States in 1913 and become a naturalized citizen in 1929, was described as the "heart and soul of espionage in Detroit," played a more important role in the Buchanan-Dineen case than newspaper accounts suggest.She not only made frequent trips to pre-War German, but as a social worker in Depression-era Detroit and the German-Hungarian secretary of the International Center of the YWCA,was in an excellent position to spot potential sources of information for Buchanan-Dineen.That Buchanan-Dineen coached her and Dr. Thomas in "the complexities of espionage" may have been something of a journalistic exaggeration, for Behrens, who furnished her with information concerning the Pullman-Standard Car Manufacturing Company of Chicago, may have become a German agent during one of her trips to Germany and was perhaps acquainted with Sari di Hajek.Thomas, who provided chemicals for invisbile ink, collected information on Westinghouse and Western Electric plants in Ohio as well as urged the sabotaging of the Clark Controller (radar) plant at Cleveland.He was also an associate of Fritz Kuhn, the leader of the German-American Bund and a former Ford worker, which may have been the origin of his involvement in espionage.Hoffman, a merchant seaman from St. Thomas, Ontario, who had worked at Ford beore enlisting in the merchant marine, met Buchanan-Dineen in November 1941 and provided her with information on the Sheepshead Baybase and convoys departing New York.However, the exact nature of the information furnished via these channels is unclear from open sources.
Prior to her second arrest in August 1943, Grace Buchanan-Dineen lived in the River View Apartments near Brodhead Naval Armory at Belle Isle bridge off Jefferson Avenue, Detroit (which I know from having lived in the Detroit).Social events at her home and widely applauded speaking engagements before women's groups -- in which the self-styled "Countess" recounted "the amusing side of wartime life in Europe" - became occasions to gather information from socially prominent Detroiters.Buchanan-Dineen may have met and become engaged to Nelson E. Butler, a wealthy Detroit businessman, during this time. (When and under what circumstances they met is not mentioned in newspaper accounts.In fact, he does not emerge until his death and Buchanan-Dineen's parole in 1947.Nor are his business activities specified.)
(Question:If Buchanan-Dineen cooperated with the FBI, why was she arrested a second time?Did she withhold some vital information?Did she attempt to warn her German controllers that she was working under enemy (American) control?The latter action would certainly have led to the second arrest.)
Newspaper accounts confirm that Grace Buchanan-Dineen admitted to be a German agent.After trial and conviction, Theresa Behrens was sentenced to 20 years, Thomas and Buchanan-Dineen to 16 and 12 years respectively, and the others to lesser terms.In sentencing Behrens, the presiding judge observed that "there is no evidence that information as to our defense plants or troop or ship movements did reach the enemy." Thus, whatever information Buchanan-Dineen received from Thomas, et. al., never reached its intended destination.(The case file probably names the intended recipients in either Portugal or Spain.)The judge also identified Buchanan-Dineen as the "leader of the group."Interestingly, however, the charges against Hoffman were dismissed on the ground that he was not mentally competent to stand trial.
Buchanan-Dineen began serving her sentence at the Federal Reformatory for Women at Anderson (one source refers to Alderston), West Virginia, in March 1944.Her possessions, which are specified in considerable detail in newspaper accounts, e.g., 40 pairs of nylon hose, a mink coat and wrap, and jewelry, were released to her fiance, Butler, who "never wavered in his love for her."Butler demonstrated his faithfulness to Buchanan-Dineen by visiting hertwice a month in prison, writing to her every day, and sending her packages every week.As for Grace Buchanan-Dineen, she was paroled from prison prior to deportation to Canada in February 1948.Unfortunately Nelson Butler died two weeks before (October 27, 1947; buried at Coburg, Ont. ?) the announcement of his fiance's impending release (November 11).The couple, therefore, was never reunited.Buchanan-Dineen's release from prison was delayed by the possibility of her testifying in a new trial of Marinna von Moltke.Thus, she did not arrive in Detroit to reclaim her valuables until March 18, 1948.The date of her deportation to Canada and subsequent life, place(s) of residence, occupation (if any), date of death, are unknown to the author.
Sources:The Toronto Telegram, 8-24-43; TheToronto Star, 8-24-43, 1; 8-25-43, 1; 8-26-43, 3; 4-6-44, 1; 8-25-44, 1; 10-29-45, 2; 11-11-47, 10; 2-19-48, 1; 3-18-48, 1; The New York Times, 8-25-43, 1, 11; 8-26-43, 18; 8-28-43, 24; 9-18-43, 7; 3-26-44, 1; The Detroit Free Press, 8-31-43, 1; 9-1-43, 1; 9-2-43, 4; 9-7-43, 1, 4; 9-10-43, 3; 9-16-43, 3; 9-17-43; Colleen R. Mallett, Assoc. Registrar, Vassar College, to Sexton, 8-17-2000; Ladislas Farago, The Game of the Foxes (N.Y.:McKay, 1971), 322-29, 448-66; William Breuer, Hitler's Undercover War (N.Y.:St. Martin's, 1989), 98-100; David Kahn, Hitler's Spies (N.Y.:Macmillan, 1978), 190-92.
Donal J. Sexton
Above is unedited summary of what I know about Grace Buchanan-Dineen.Would appreciate knowing more about Nelson Butler, especially his business background and how he came into contact with "the countess."Do you know the date of GB-Ds death or what became of her subsequent to her deportation? What is your Email address?Hope the above makes for interesting reading.Sincerely, Don Sexton