On his arrival in Berlin, Ryan was introduced to SS Colonel Dr. Edmund Veesenmayer. As part of his roving SS and German Foreign Ministry brief, Veesenmayer was intimately involved in the planning of all Abwehr operations in Ireland during 1940 – 1943, particularly those involving Russell and Ryan. The day after arriving, Ryan was asked by Russell to accompany him to Ireland as part of Operation Dove (“Unternehmen Taube” ) Although Ryan had not been involved in the training or preparation for Dove both he and Russell departed aboard U-65 on 8 August 1940. When Russell became ill and died during the journey (of a perforated ulcer), Ryan asked the Captain of U-65, Hans-Jerrit von Stockhausen, to cable Germany and ask for fresh instructions before proceeding. The mission was subsequently aborted and Ryan returned to Germany via Bordeaux. After the failure of Operation Dove, Ryan remained in Berlin.
The Abwehr felt that Ryan might have other uses and that was to persuade Irish Prisoners-of-War to work for the Germans. According to Clissmann: “All Irishmen in prisoner-of-war camps were therefore invited to give their names with a view to going to a special camp which offered better conditions.” There were naturally no illusions on the German side that among the applicants for special treatment would be Irishmen who had only now discovered their Irish national consciousness on the strength of their Irish names. It was also recognised that from among the English prisoners some stool-pigeons would be deputed to apply for the special camp in order to establish what really went on there.
The special camp for the Irish was established close to the village of Altdamm near Friesack in Brandenburg Rhin-Luch. Helmut Clissmann, Dr. Jupp Hoven and Frank Ryan were among those who had to undertake the thankless task of finding useful volunteers in this camp. Their selection was not large: when Dr Hoven made his first visit to the camp in the spring of 1941, he found about eighty Irishmen there. Helmut Clissmann recalls that later on there were collected in Friesack “not more than a hundred men who described themselves as Irishmen”. According to Dr Hoven the number of officers was less than would be counted on the fingers of one hand.
To be continued