This film is part of Free

So Clever Are German Spies

A slightly baffling example of cinema playing its part in the anti-German propaganda machine during WWI.

Non-Fiction 1915 1 mins Silent


An extract from a First World War newsreel in which soldiers, probably in France, check the papers of a group of nuns in a horse-drawn cart. Strangely, they don't look under the canvas over the back of the cart, under which several German spies could be hiding. The scene looks as if it was set up for the cameras and, unsurprisingly, the nuns look a little bewildered by the experience.

The title refers to that old propaganda story used by the press in both World Wars: that German soldiers would disguise themselves as nuns. But the footage is a mystery - these are clearly just nuns, and there's nothing to suggest they are under suspicion of being Germans in drag. The assumption is that this was filmed in France during the early stages of the Great War. But was it? We may never know.