Ghost from the file

In April 1st, 1898 Luther Blissett was born in the East-Prussian village Suleyken as the eldest son of Reverend Gotthilf Emanuel Blissett, a descendent of the French protestant Jacques Louis de Louisette. Later, Blissett should become a mysterious and multi-faced diplomat.

His story begins in 1930s Rome where German legation secretary Hasso von Etzdorf leaves a top conference because of an urgent call: Mr. Ministry Secretary Blissett wished to consult him. Thirty years later, the newsweekly "Der Spiegel" claimed that this consultation was merely Etzdorf's excuse for leaving the German embassy and having a few pints in a Birreria. Thus Luther Blissett had become a phantom: the made-up apology of a steadily growing number of gentlemen whose thirst pulled them away from the embassy into the taverns.

Indeed, the blue-blooded cabal which used to make up the corps diplomatique in those days seems likely to have practiced such fraternity spirit. But doubts remain anyway. There are, for instance, the files of Blissett's activities and career found in the archive of the ministry of foreign affairs - some of them still bearing the "top secret" stamp. After "Der Spiegel" had declared Blissett a Fata Morgana, some people suspect that the story was actually more complex. What, after all, would be a better legend for a secret agent than being a product of diplomatic gossip, a casino joke?

Who else could have hoisted the West German flag in the Antarctic but this 007? Because of his curriculum vitae, the officials could reject the respective protest notes of, among others, East Germany and Chile, with roaring laughter. Nobody but the notorious fancy Blissett could accomplish such a task.

But not even the press was capable to answer the question whether Blissett really existed or is perhaps still alive. Where information was missing, the journalists embellished their research with some entertaining narratives - to protect the witnesses? Struggling with half-official disinformation, the conservative newspaper "Die Welt" reported that Blissett was seen in the mid-sixties as a itinerant astrologer near New Delhi. More believable seem the news about Blissett's role behind the scenes of the World Peace Conference in 1959 and during John F. Kennedy's visit in Berlin, 1962.

"Blissett lives" was the ironical headline of a "Der Spiegel" feature which, loyal to the state, silenced his secret identity. Other reporters remained more ambivalent. On January 27th, 1979, the former minister of foreign affairs, Hans-Dietrich Genscher, received the carnival "Award Against Dead-Seriousness". Deputizing for his entire ministry, Mr. Genscher was honored for an "unusual example of humor in state administration", namely for the amusing chimera of Luther Blissett. But, clearly visible behind the speaker's platform was the very jester of German foreign politics - Luther Blissett himself.