The Original 007
There was a man. An agent of powerful governments, with expensive tastes, and always had women pining over him
He was Popov. Dusko Popov.
The Original 007.
Today, we bring to you a story different than most. A story which seems to come out of a James Bond movie.
Maybe, it actually did.
Dusko Popov in his initial years was nothing more than ordinary. A good law student, studying in Belgrade with plans to go to Germany for further studies. His affluent family made sure that he did.
It was Germany that tangentially altered his path. In Germany, his friends put him in touch with Abwehr, the German military intelligence agency. Abwehr was looking for men of foreign origin to spy on British authorities because obviously Germans were more likely to be suspected. Popov accepted this opportunity and moved to England.
As soon as he came to England he went to the MI6 (The British intelligence agency) and told them everything. Surprise, Surprise! The British too hire him as an agent. So now we have Popov, our 007, working as a double agent between Germany and Britain.
During the war, neutral countries like Portugal often became mulling ground for such spies. They ate and drank with each other but constantly had their ears open for whatever information they could secure.
It was in Portugal that Popov’s spymaster lived. His chosen location of residence was a beach resort in Estoril. They often met each other in Casino Estoril, one of the largest Casino’s in Europe and exchanged numbers over roulette tables.
It was in Casino Estoril that James Bond was born.
Popov was a man of extravagance. Fancy tastes, luxurious lifestyles all sponsored collectively by the British and the German governments. And how can we forget the girls! He was a known womanizer and loved to flaunt his riches. These are not things you expect from a spy. But the British believed in him because his upfront honesty about being a German spy had established his character and the Germans believed in him because they had his family hostage in Belgrade.
So one night before his next mission to America, Ian Fleming a British naval intelligence officer happened to be at Casino Estoril and observed this man’s flamboyant ways. How he behaved recklessly, spent lots of money and showed off girls. It is said that this was where James Bond was born.
Dusko Popov, in his book Spy/Counterspy even claims to be the original inspiration for 007! His claims have also been validated by Tiago Stankovic, a historian who wrote a book on Estoril.
Although Dusko maintains that the drinking habits of James Bond were one of Ian’s original additions and he was extremely against alcohol.
So, this was the story of how James Bond was made.
But that’s not it. There’s one last detail that made us feel that this was a story worth telling.
When Dusko Popov reached American soil, it is said that he even had intel on Pearl Harbor. But the then FBI director, Edgar Hoover couldn’t place his trust in a man, who’d exhibit such ostentatious behaviour while his family starved in Belgrade.
So Dusko went about recklessly spending thousands of dollars in casinos while Pearl Harbor went down in history as one of the worst attacks on American soil.
P.S: Many say that his codename Tricycle refers to his involvement with Germany, Britain and USA but Tiago who studied the life of Popov for his book, maintains that this name just refers to his habits in the bedroom!
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