This edited article about espionage originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 716 published on 4 October 1975.
The very first country in the world to use spies immediately created a new job in the ranks of its enemy. That job was the one of spy-catcher. For as soon as you have espionage, you must have counter-espionage – and some of the best spy stories involve counter-espionage men to just as exciting a degree as they involve espionage men.
During the Second World War, the greatest of all the counter-espionage men was Lieutenant Colonel Oreste Pinto, a Dutchman.
As a spy-catcher, Pinto has probably never been equalled. He mastered every trick in the game; he could speak 13 languages fluently, and he was a brilliant interrogator, actor and psychologist. One remarkable story from his exploits with Allied Counter-Intelligence demonstrates the relentless way in which he worked and was successful.
One day in 1944, during the Allied invasion of Belgium, a suspect was brought into Pinto’s office. The man, Emile Boulanger, described himself as a Belgian farmer, and he looked the part. He was big and weather-beaten, and his hands were rough with toil and grained with earth. He knew all the answers to the most searching questions about farming and replied to them in a rough Belgian country accent which was difficult to imitate.
To the statement that he was suspected of being a German spy, Boulanger merely shrugged. He didn’t even speak German, he said.
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