Carl von Menen is the protagonist of Out of Mecklenburg: The Unwilling Spy. He is only 28 at the start of the novel, a talented young diplomat who works at the German Foreign Office and keeps his loathing of Hitler well hidden.
So well hidden, in fact, that he is tasked with being von Ribbentrop’s eyes and ears in Argentina: posted to Buenos Aires to learn all he can about the political scene there and the emerging GOU in particular. Von Menen knows he is out of his depth, and his schoolfriend Juan Cortes sums it up nicely:
“As far as the war in Europe is concerned, Argentina might be neutral, but it’s hardly Switzerland. It’s a place where the unsuspecting could easily find themselves in deep trouble.”
To complicate matters further, von Menen is effectively a double agent. He is gathering one level of intelligence for the German Foreign Office, and another for the resistance group known as the Kreisau Circle. As his closest contact in the Circle puts it:
“your posting to Argentina will give you – and us – the opportunity to do some real watching. It suits our purpose. When the time comes – and it will – we’ll need someone in South America, someone we can trust, someone like you.”
There is a huge weight of expectation on von Menen’s shoulders, and he knows it. There is a moment en route to Argentina when he plays with the idea of taking the money and going into hiding. But at the heart of Carl von Menen is the pursuit of truth and justice. No matter the danger, he has to see things through if there’s even the slightest chance of undoing what he sees as the greatest threat to the free world.