What could be one’s most excellent motivator in doing huge acts that could even result in risking his own life than his idealism? That was precisely the case with Juan Pujol García. During World War II, he was a Spanish Civil War veteran who hated with all his guts the idea of totalitarianism. So when Britain went to war with Germany, he decided he would join in the war effort and work as a spy against the Nazis.

Except, there was one problem: He was a total amateur at espionage with no connections or credentials that he could use to persuade the British to allow him to do the job. When he was rejected, there was not much to do but take it to himself and play the role of a spy he wanted to get, with or without the British’s approval. And that’s what he did.

The Spy-Wannabe

Juan was born in Barcelona, Spain, to a strict Roman Catholic mother and a secular father with liberal political views. When his father died a few months after the Second Republic’s establishment in 1931, his family was left with more than enough to provide for themselves. That was until the Spanish Civil War began, and the workers took over his father’s factory.

Not only that, but Pujol was sent to compulsory military service in a cavalry unit, something he knew he was not meant to do. He hated horse-riding and the Republican government for taking his sister’s fiance and later on arresting his sister and mother and charging them with being counter-revolutionaries.

He managed to fake his papers with the help of his girlfriend and then joined the Nationalist side, which equally ill-treated him by sending him to prison for expressing sympathy for the monarchy. These experiences made him loathe both fascism and communism that extended to Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.

Independent Espionage

When the British rejected him, he decided to fly to London and posed as a Spanish official interested in spying on Britain for the Third Reich. There, he had no difficulty contacting Nazi Intelligence, who was hesitant at first but accepted him anyway. After teaching him espionage and secret writing, he began feeding them fabricated information they thought was from London. In reality, these were provided from Lisbon and Madrid. Pujol was essentially working as a double agent for Britain… without Britain’s knowledge.

In Stephan Talty’s book, “Agent Garbo: The Brilliant, Eccentric Secret Agent Who Tricked Hitler and Saved D-Day,” he said:

He was really gathering these sort of factoids from different encyclopedias, and even from advertisements he saw and placards he saw in the street. So he was a complete amateur, but he was able to sort of built up enough of a portfolio to finally approach the British.