Guy Liddell diaries

26 October 2012

Files from the Security Service (MI5) released to The National Archives today include the personal post-war diaries of Guy Liddell, then Deputy Director General of MI5.

Liddell's diaries cover the period 1945 to 1953 and provide a fascinating new insight into the early Cold War era. Daily entries record Liddell's impressions of key moments including the discovery in 1949 that the Soviet Union had tested its first atomic bomb, the uncovering of the spy Klaus Fuchs and the defection of Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean.

During the Second World War, Liddell had been head of counter-espionage, and his wartime diaries were released to The National Archives in 2002 (KV 4/185-196).

This 29th release of Security Service records contains 77 files and brings the total number of Security Service records in the KV series at The National Archives to 5,003.

Liddell's diaries are available to view online and will be free to download for one month. Professor Christopher Andrew, author of The Defence of the Realm: The Authorized History of MI5, has recorded a podcast about the new files.

Highlights

Other highlights from this release, available to view at Kew, include:

  • A ten-volume file on one of Britain's leading Communist journalists, Sam Lesser, which covers his career from his time as a volunteer with the International Brigades during the Spanish Civil War to becoming the Daily Worker's foreign correspondent and foreign editor at the height of the Cold War in the early 1960s (KV 2/3741-KV 2/3750)
  • Austro-German Prince Hubertus Lowenstein came to Britain after Hitler took power in Germany. An active, if eccentric, anti-Nazi he was anxious to build a Germany free from National Socialism and his personal ambition was said to be no less than the German throne (KV 2/3716)
  • Catholic priest Henry Borynski served in a largely Polish parish in Bradford in the early 1950s before his sudden and unexplained disappearance in 1953. There was initial speculation that he had been 'kidnapped by Red Agents and taken behind the Iron Curtain' but the case remains unsolved (KV 2/3722-KV 2/3724)

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