In the Dutch border town of Venlo, on the afternoon of 9th November 1939, two British and one Dutch intelligence officers were kidnapped by the German Security Service. Captain Payne Best and Major Stevens believed they were meeting with representatives of a group of German Generals willing to oust the Nazis in a coup d'état and negotiate a peace settlement with the Allies. Instead they had been lured into a trap by their German opposite numbers. The meeting was arranged to take place at the Café Backus located between the Dutch and German borders but as the three intelligence officers arrived, they were fired upon and the Dutch officer Lieutenant Dirk Klop fatally wounded. They were then forcibly taken across the border into Germany.
New Foreign Office files on what is known as 'the Venlo Incident' were released to the British National Archives on Thursday, 23 May 2013. One file shows SIS's confusion about what had happened and for how long had they been duped. Below is a summary of events as SIS in London understood the facts to be up to the time they received the final message from the "German Generals" at 6 p.m. on 22 November, 1939. The final message read:
"Corresponding with conceited and foolish people becomes boring in the long run. You will understand our breaking off relations. Best wishes from your good friends the German Opposition."
Signed German Secret Police.