Venlo IncidentVenlo Incident in 1939 was a Gestapo-engineered capture of two British SIS agents in the early months of World War Two, on November 8, 1939.
British agents had met supposed German officers who were plotting against Hitler in the village of Venlo, Netherlands, 8 km from the border of Germany. A double agent who was a supposed German refugee in Netherlands but actually worked for Gestapo arranged the meeting. Germans were actually agents of Gestapo. One of them, "major Schaemmle", was a Gestapo agent named Walter Schellenberg. Their intent was to gather more information about British intelligence methods and pass false information to them.
SIS had assigned two agents, captain Payne Best and major Richard Stevens to the case. They met three officers, including "Major Schaemmle" in Netherlands. "Schammle" claimed the German high command was concerned about high losses suffered during the campaign in Poland and intended to have Hitler arrested.
Himmler, however, ordered the British spies captured. On the night of November 8-9, 1939 German agents crossed into Netherlands. They were to meet with British agents in a café in Venlo. British had been promised that they were to meet the general who was the leader of plotters and Best and Stevens took with them Dutch intelligence officer Dirk Klop.
When Best and others arrived, Germans stopped their car with machinegun fire, killed Klop and forcible dragged the British and Klop's body over the border to Germany.
Stevens had a list of British agents with him when they were captured. Agents were forced to reveal more under interrogation in Düsseldorf. With this information Gestapo was able to arrest British agents in occupied territories, especially Czechoslovakia. They also got information about SIS organization and collected a list of SIS officers to arrest when Britain would be invaded.
This incident also subsequently made the British very suspicious of any approach from any kind of professed German anti-Hitler resistance. Hitler used it as an excuse to claim that Netherlands was involved with Britain and had violated its own neutrality.
Best and Stevens remained imprisoned until the end of the war.