Cambridgeshire

Nazi spy's unmarked WW2 grave to get headstone

Willem Ter Braak Image copyright National Archives
Image caption Willem Ter Braak took his own life in a Cambridge park in 1941

The unmarked grave of a Nazi spy is to get a headstone, 76 years after he killed himself in a Cambridge park.

Willem Ter Braak - real name Engelbertus Fukken - spent five months in England working for German authorities during World War Two.

National Archives said the Dutchman took his own life in 1941 in an air raid shelter under the city's Christ's Pieces park.

Ter Braak was buried in Great Shelford village cemetery.

A request by Ter Braak's family in the Netherlands for a memorial to mark the grave has now been approved by Great Shelford Parish Council.

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Helen Harwood, who chairs the cemeteries and allotments committee, explained that the authorities at the time made every effort to keep the death and burial low key.

"MI5 had been watching him," she said.

"This was after Dunkirk, at a time when morale was paramount. They couldn't let out that this man had been at large for six months. They had to kill any rumours before they started."

Mrs Harwood said a local undertaker had been charged with finding somewhere to bury him, and Great Shelford was chosen simply because he knew the cemetery.

Image copyright National Archives
Image caption A radio transmitter was found in a suitcase left at Cambridge Station

Ter Braak lies in 'plot 154', under a patch of grass in the middle of the graveyard.

Documents relating to the spy were released by the National Archives for public record in 1999.

They state that when his body was recovered he was carrying a passport, a number of photographs, a registration card, three newspapers and two bus tickets.

According to the National Archives, Ter Braak had also left a suitcase containing a radio transmitter in the left luggage area at Cambridge Station.

"We've known he was there for some time but you have to remember that there are still people here who remember the war," Mrs Harwood added.

She said his family wanted to draw a line under his story without glorifying it.

"He was a Nazi spy after all," she said. "But he paid his price with a shameful death."

The parish council website adds that an inscription for a small plaque on the site has been decided by his relatives, saying simply 'Engelbertus Fukken - 28 VIII 1914 The Hague, 30/31 III 1941 Cambridge'.

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