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Summary: The Nazi Conspiracy: The Secret Plot to Kill Roosevelt, Stalin, and Churchill by Brad Meltzer and Josh Mensch

The Nazi Conspiracy (2023) tells the thrilling true story of the first meeting between the leaders of the Allied forces during the height of World War II – and the top-secret Nazi plot that almost changed the course of history. Full of drama, twists, and political intrigue stretching all over the world, it shows how the three leaders – Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Joseph Stalin – defied all odds, and arranged one of the most pivotal events in the entire war.

Introduction: Follow the twists and turns of an assassination plot which almost changed the course of history.

It’s the start of 1943 and the world isn’t in good shape. For over three years Europe has been ravaged by the expanding German Army, led by ruthless dictator Adolf Hitler and the brutal fascism of the Nazi party. Each day sees new atrocities that will take the world decades to fully comprehend.

The war is being fought on three fronts. In the Pacific, the Japanese are struggling against the United States – led by the 32nd president Franklin Delano Roosevelt – for control over the South Pacific region. It’s been over a year since the US was dragged into the war when the Japanese bombed the naval base at Pearl Harbor.

On the Southern Front in the Mediterranean and North Africa region, British, US, and Canadian troops are fighting Italy and other pro-Nazi governments. British prime minister Winston Churchill calls this the “soft underbelly,” and hopes control of Italy can offer a solid entrance into Nazi-occupied Europe.

Finally, on the Eastern Front, the German Army has been conducting a full-scale invasion of the Soviet Union. This has resulted in the most brutal and horrific battles the world has ever seen. The troops of Russian premier Joseph Stalin have suffered staggering losses. He’s desperately waiting for his American and British allies to assist and take away some of the pressure.

It’s in this bleak climate that a plan is formed: a meeting of the “big three” for the first time. If Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin can get together in the same room to discuss a unified plan, they just might be able to turn the war around.

In this summary, you’ll learn about the dramas and tensions that formed between these three leaders as they tried to make the meeting a reality – and the opportunistic top-secret Nazi conspiracy to pull off one of the most audacious assassination attempts in history.

Book Summary: The Nazi Conspiracy - The Secret Plot to Kill Roosevelt, Stalin, and Churchill

Coming Together

“Unconditional surrender.”

These are the words that Roosevelt uses in Morocco at the beginning of 1943, in the press conference for his one-on-one meeting with Churchill. For the rest of the world, this is a shocking announcement – a public pledge that the Nazis won’t have the opportunity to negotiate for peace; that the war will go on to the bitter end.

The British prime minister is also shocked – he didn’t know the president was going to go public with this significant decision. Due to his friendship with Roosevelt and the necessity to present a unified front, he decides in the moment to echo the weighty words. The allied forces will accept nothing less than unconditional surrender.

The Morocco conference is a huge step forward in both strategic planning and public image for the Allies. But Roosevelt feels that the meeting has been a failure. A key element was missing: the third Allied leader, Joseph Stalin.

The Soviet leader desperately wants his US and British allies to launch an attack from the west, through Northern France. This would draw the German Army away from the bloody Eastern Front, potentially giving the Allied forces the chance to close in on Berlin from both sides.

Although Churchill isn’t openly against the idea, he repeatedly postpones or rejects specific plans in favor of focusing on the “soft underbelly” of Italy. Rather than allow Britain to take the greatest risk in a cross-channel attack, he’d rather offer support by weakening and fortifying the southern regions.

This has been frustrating Stalin, whose forces have already been taking by far the greatest number of casualties.

Roosevelt knows that the three leaders have to get together – to appease Stalin, encourage Churchill, and move the war forward. He begins a series of letter exchanges with Stalin in the hope that such a meeting can be arranged.

In the end, it’s a series of military escalations that move things forward. First, a mixture of British and Soviet intelligence reveals and prevents a covert German attack before it happens, and then the British and US troops attack Sicily, eventually leading to the arrest of the Italian fascist leader Benito Mussolini.

In the wake of these victories, Roosevelt takes the opportunity to appease the Soviet leader with flattery and arms shipments. Finally, Stalin agrees that a meeting of the “big three” is well overdue. After another lengthy exchange of letters, he even suggests the location: Tehran, the capital city of Ally-controlled Iran.

The Nazi Spy Network in Iran

Two years previously, when the Germans unexpectedly invaded the Soviet Union in 1941, the Russians wasted no time in securing neighboring countries. One country was particularly important to get on their side: Iran. It had a pro-German government and also had a railway line that would be the best way for the US and Britain to get supplies to the Soviets.

When Russia promptly marched its troops into Tehran and installed a sympathetic government, Franz Mayr – a Nazi spy – and his partner Roman Gamotha suddenly found themselves surrounded by enemies, with no instructions, and no way to communicate with Germany.

Gamotha managed to flee to neighboring Turkey, but Mayr stayed.

He spent most of 1942 in disguise, moving between safe houses, and cultivating an underground pro-Nazi resistance, all while trying to get secret messages to the outside. Finally, Mayr heard a surprising radio broadcast – surprising because it contained a series of repeated words and phrases which meant that Germany had heard his message: a request for money and wireless transmitters and a map he provided of safe drop zones around Tehran.

It seems Berlin was relieved to hear about the existence of its old spy in Iran. Walter Schellenberg – head of the Nazi’s foreign intelligence service and protege of the infamous Reinhard Heydrich who’d been assassinated in Prague – proceeded to put together a special team of six men and parachuted them into a safe location near Tehran.

But the team – led by seasoned Nazi veteran Karl Karel Korel – landed too far south. To save the mission, Karel proceeded to cross miles of desert by himself and used his wits and contacts to find Mayr. With contact made, Karel crossed the desert again with camels and trucks to retrieve the rest of his team and its valuable equipment.

The underground pro-Nazi network that Mayr had almost single-handedly built in Iran finally had the supplies it needed and was connected to the leaders in Berlin.

By the middle of 1943, Iran had become a lot more dangerous for the Allies – and soon it would become the center of the geopolitical landscape.

Operation Norma

It’s unclear how or when exactly the Nazis found out about the planned meeting of the “big three.” They’d completely missed the Morocco conference with Roosevelt and Churchill. When they intercepted information that the meeting would be in Casablanca, they erroneously translated it as two words in Spanish: casa – white, and blanca – house. They assumed the meeting would be at the White House in Washington.

Needless to say, the Germans were determined not to make the same mistake twice.

One thing is certain: shortly after the Allied leaders started talking about Tehran, a top-secret Nazi mission began preparation under the name Operation Norma. The mission had two key features. First, the mission was run by Roman Gamotha, Franz Mayr’s former partner who’d fled Iran when the Soviets took over.

Second, the tactical training was to be overseen by a man called Otto Skorzeny, also known at the time as “the most dangerous man in Europe.” Otto had recently earned Hitler’s immense respect by crash-landing a squad of manned gliders into an otherwise inaccessible mountain prison to rescue Benito Mussolini from enemy hands.

Any mission with the name Otto Skorzeny on it was of the highest importance.

But as the Tehran meeting approached, Mayr’s Nazi spy network ran into a few problems. Karl Karel – the paratrooper who’d made the first outside contact with Mayr – developed typhoid and died. Unable to discreetly dispose of the body, the unfortunate Nazi team had to resort to hacksaws and rucksacks.

Shortly after that, most of the other members of the network were tracked down by Soviet intelligence in Tehran. Mayr was arrested and interrogated. To most, it appeared that the Nazi plot had been foiled.

Not quite. When Roosevelt arrived in Tehran, ready to finally meet with Churchill and Stalin, he was informed that there were still six Nazi spies somewhere in the city. Six Nazi spies with radio transmitters who were about to call in the most dangerous man in Europe.

A Rough Start for the Conference

The presidential motorcade snakes its way through the streets of Tehran on its way to one of the most important meetings since the war began. In the center, in a long dark sedan, sits Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Or, at least, someone who looks like him.

In fact, the real Roosevelt is hunched down in the back of another, less conspicuous sedan, taking a completely different route to the conference through the back streets of the city. At the last minute, Roosevelt’s head of security decided to take no risks and send a decoy president with the main entourage.

The US has no formal embassy in Tehran, so the president has been forced to stay in a small diplomatic office on the other side of the city from the British and Russian embassies where the other Allies have been staying. As a result, the president would be a sitting duck while traveling from his accommodation to the meeting.

Fortunately, all three leaders make it to the meeting safe and sound. But that doesn’t prevent it from getting off to a bad start. Churchill has a cold and isn’t in a good mood. As the three get into the main topic of the meeting – the cross-channel attack through northern France – Churchill feels increasingly ignored.

Things reach a head during a discussion about what the Allies should do with postwar Germany. When Stalin – employing a very Russian sense of humor – suggests executing hundreds of German generals, it’s too much for Churchill’s British sensibilities. He storms out in a rage, having to have the joke explained to him by Roosevelt.

Frustrated and no closer to the unity they so desperately need, the three retire to their rooms. Roosevelt has wisely moved his lodgings to the Russian embassy to avoid any further unnecessary risks.

But as he recaps the main points of the conference with his trusted advisers, he doesn’t realize that things aren’t as private as they seem.

Tiny microphones have been hidden around the room – in the walls, in the carpet, in the furniture. Someone else is listening to every word he says.

Saved by Soviet Spies

While the conference has been underway, the Soviet intelligence agency has tracked down the six remaining Nazi spies. They were holed up in a nearby safe house, using a radio to send messages to Berlin, coordinating the real commandos who were to come, led by Otto “the most dangerous man in Europe” Skorzeny.

But the Soviets have been holding back. Instead of immediately taking down the radio operators, they’ve been considering letting the mission proceed to a point where they can capture or kill Skorzeny. Such a prize is more than tempting for the young Soviet spies.

But, with the “big three” already in the city, they decide the risk is too great. Within the first two days of the conference, Soviet agents burst into the safe house and arrest the Nazi agents. Strategically, they give one of the operators a chance to broadcast a message that their mission has been compromised, in the hope that the would-be-assassins don’t end up anywhere near the city.

So as the Allied leaders enter the final day of the conference still believing they have targets on their backs, in reality the assassination plot has already been successfully thwarted.

This final day, November 30, 1943, also happens to be Churchill’s 69th birthday. Maybe for this reason, or maybe because of Roosevelt’s continued efforts at diplomacy and encouragement, the British prime minister is in a better mood. That morning, under the bright Iranian sun, Churchill gives his full support to the cross-channel attack that Stalin and Roosevelt have been pushing for.

Over the following few days, newspapers around the world are filled with pictures of the three Allied leaders, together for the first time. The road ahead is long and bloody, but decisions have been made, and a unified front has been formed which will ultimately spell the end for Hitler and Nazi Germany.


The rest – as they say – is history. As a direct consequence of that meeting, on June 6, 1944, Allied forces led a five-point full-scale assault on the beaches of Normandy. The biggest combined-arms operation in the history of warfare. It involved over 5,300 ships, 1,500 tanks, 12,000 aircraft, and 150,000 soldiers. Despite thousands of casualties, the Allies established footholds along the beaches and advanced from there.

Meanwhile, in the East, the Soviet army began its push into Germany. The Nazi Army was divided and, despite long and bloody battles ahead, the end was in sight. Hitler, driven to his underground bunker in Berlin, eventually realized that there was no way out, and shot himself in the head with a pistol.

As for the “big three,” they met one last time on February 4, 1945 to discuss the future of postwar Europe. The war had taken its toll on all of them, Roosevelt, especially, had grown tired and ill. A few months after that final meeting, on April 12, he fell unconscious while sitting for a portrait, and never woke up.

Sadly, Roosevelt didn’t live to see the end of the war – an end he did so much to set in motion.


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Alex Lim is a certified book reviewer and editor with over 10 years of experience in the publishing industry. He has reviewed hundreds of books for reputable magazines and websites, such as The New York Times, The Guardian, and Goodreads. Alex has a master’s degree in comparative literature from Harvard University and a PhD in literary criticism from Oxford University. He is also the author of several acclaimed books on literary theory and analysis, such as The Art of Reading and How to Write a Book Review. Alex lives in London, England with his wife and two children. You can contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Website | Twitter | Facebook

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