A selection of recently released files - October 2010
Records created and inherited by the Foreign Office
Fuhrergebiet and its buildings (Hitler's proposed Nazi HQ and national redoubt)
- Catalogue ref: FO 1020/3471
- Date: 1944-45
This file contains intelligence reports which reveal the full extent of the Allies' belief in a Nazi National Redoubt in the Austrian Alps where 'the elite of Nazi Germany' would make 'a last desperate stand'. The redoubt would be a refuge for 'war criminals', 'Nazi fanatics' and 'those with nothing to lose'. Intelligence reports from the time suggested there would be enough food and munitions stored in underground caves for 60,000 men to hold out for two years and to act as a centre to direct the activities of pro-Nazi elements across Europe.
The file contains the first-hand testimony of Walter Hirsch, a master builder at Hitler's Austrian HQ in OberSalzburg, who believed that Hitler had been shot by a German General in March 1944 and his body stored in a crypt under Hitler's private room. Himmler is described in the file as the 'soul' of the Nazi movement and reports detail his plans to build a post-hostilities 'resistance' using identities stolen from soldiers who died in battle and civilians killed in air raids. The file also contains the testimony of a 19-year-old Austrian deserter who had worked at the Fuhrer's headquarters. He provides a detailed description of Hitler ('pale and covered in loosely, hanging flesh'), his daily routine ('coffee, bread and marmalade' for breakfast), and the personalities that surrounded him (his barber looked like 'a circus clown').
Crimes against Allied personnel
- Catalogue ref: FO 1020/3002
- Date: 1945-48
This file contains reports of crimes against Allied personnel stationed in Austria after the end of the Second World War.
Records of the Special Operations Executive
Eileen Mary NEARNE, aka Alice WOOD, aka Jacqueline DUTERTE - born 15.03.1921
- Catalogue ref: HS 9/1089/2
- Date: 1939-1946
This is the SOE file of recently-deceased former agent Eileen Nearne. It includes photographs and a finishing report analysing her suitability for future missions. It also contains a first-hand account of her service, her arrest by the Gestapo and subsequent escape from a concentration camp, as well as a report from American intelligence after they had interrogated her. The file includes correspondence relating to post-war efforts to help her re-establish herself in the community and to find a job as a beauty therapist.
Records created or inherited by the Home Office, Ministry of Home Security, and related bodies
DOMVILE, Admiral Sir Barry and Lady Alexandrina, founders of The Link
- Catalogue ref: HO 283/31
- Date: 1940-42
A distinguished Royal Navy officer and First World War veteran, Admiral Sir Barry Domvile was one of the most high-profile British Fascists to be arrested and imprisoned during the war. He was closely associated with prominent Nazi leaders in Germany and was a friend of Sir Oswald Mosley. He founded 'The Link' to promote closer relations between Britain and Germany. Both Admiral Sir Barry Domvile and his wife Lady Domvile were arrested and detained during the war under Defence Regulation 18B.
This file includes transcripts of interviews with both Sir Barry and Lady Domvile in which they try to secure their freedom as well as copies of their personal letters. In one, Sir Barry writes: 'The real enemies of the British Empire are the people of this country who have brought this catastrophe upon their ignorant countrymen.' When confronted with this evidence, Sir Barry admits his letters make him appear 'foolish' but denies being part of a Fascist plot to overthrow the government.
WAR: George John Sutton, private secretary to Sir Oswald Mosley: detention under Defence Regulation 18B
- Catalogue ref: HO 45/23668
- Date: 1940-43
George Sutton was private secretary to Sir Oswald Mosley for more than 20 years, beginning in 1920 when Mosley was a Conservative Member of Parliament. Sutton was one of several close associates of Mosley detained in Brixton Prison after the outbreak of war. A fatherof six from North London, Sutton claims to be a 'law-abiding citizen' and loyal to his country 'despite the hysteric, ineptitude, the indiscriminating unintelligence of those who appear to rule it'. This file includes transcripts of interviews with Mr Sutton in which he complains of the 'mental torture' he was subjected to during his 20-month detention and his inability to get a job upon his release.
WAR: Roger Lester Williams, Harley Street surgeon: detention under Defence Regulation 18B
- Catalogue ref: HO 45/23772
- Date: 1940-41
Dr Williams, a respected Harley Street surgeon, was accused of having a 'strong admiration for the Nazi regime' and was detained under Defence Regulation 18B. The file contains the testimony of several former colleagues. One claims Williams 'rammed Nazi propaganda down our throats at every opportunity'. It is noted that Williams had a 'succession of German and Austrian housekeepers' and letters reveal his relations with at least one of them was 'rather more intimate'. He also wrote to a 'Sister Maria' in Austria expressing pleasure at the Anschluss. A former colleague summarises his suspicions of Williams writing: 'Several incidents regarding Williams have caused me concern - his habit of picking up women in the Café Royal, his frequent long visits to Germany and his decision to have a major operation in Dusseldorf, a thing no English man would dream of doing.'
WAR: Thelma Rathbone: variety artiste and member of British Union; alleged fascist activities in theatrical profession: Restriction Order
- Catalogue ref: HO 45/23790
- Date: 1940-42
Thelma and George Rathbone, the husband and wife team behind a music hall act known as 'Professor Sparks and Thelmina' were accused of being 'strongly anti-British' and making disparaging remarks about the war-effort and the 'sheep-like views of the people'. According to a police report they were 'detested throughout the theatrical profession'. The file also includes a list of allegedly 'pro-Nazi' music hall acts which was forwarded to the Met Police.
Records created and inherited by HM Treasury
Publicity for the Government's pay policy
- Catalogue ref: T 377/432
- Date: 1979 Jan 01 - 1979 Dec 31
This Treasury file deals with discussions among ministers of the incoming government in 1979 on how best to manage public expectations on pay. It contains letters and briefings from Sir Keith Joseph, Nigel Lawson and others. In one document Mr Lawson calls for a 'sustained campaign to educate the public about the economic facts of life'. But there is a warning that people's expectations on pay are affected by 'deeply ingrained social attitudes' and too heavy an assault on these attitudes might engender 'a spirit of resistance'. Special Adviser Peter Cropper says the government is right to emphasise 'the bareness of the cupboard' but must also remember that it was elected to 'cheer people up, and make them laugh'. He lists the objectives of the new government as 'joy, wealth, national power, two acres and a cow, a second car in every garage, interesting jobs, leisure, comfortable trains, channel tunnels, atomic power stations, gleaming new coal mines, everyone a bathroom, patios for all etc.'
Reductions in the size of the civil service
- Catalogue ref: T 364/198
- Date: 1979 Jan 01 - 1979 Dec 31
This Treasury file shows the results of a review carried out in the summer of 1979 to identify potential areas of savings in various government departments. Officials were asked to present a range of options from which ministers could collectively agree a set of reductions in civil service staffing expenditure.
Records of the Cabinet Office
Home Defence - general correspondence
- Catalogue ref: CAB 21/3512
- Date: 1955 Jan-1957 Dec
This file contains a Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) report on the likely form and duration of a future major war and includes the stark assessment that: 'If obliteration of the UK were their aim we believe the Soviets have the capability to do this without detriment to their effort against other targets.' The file also contains details of a nuclear attack training exercise code-named 'Dutch Treat' which took place in September 1957.
Thermo-nuclear weapons: policy and research
- Catalogue ref: CAB 21/4053
- Date: 1945 Sept-1955 Mar
This file contains Cabinet Office memos, letters and briefing papers charting the development of Britain's policy on the use of nuclear weapons. Concerns are expressed about the 'frightening nature and enormous power' of this weapon and the effect it could have on 'an uninformed and ignorant public'. 'The free world must show that it is ready to retaliate immediately against any aggressor who starts global war', reads one memorandum. Another briefing paper uses the 'pat formula' that any attack on Britain would involve '20 bombs on 20 cities causing 20 million deaths', to which an official adds that we should expect 'all of the seriously injured to die'.
Records of the Metropolitan Police Office
Paul RAYMOND, West End club and theatre impresario: victim of attempted blackmail by Eden Colman REID and Douglas Stewart WHITE, who were convicted of demanding £15,000 with menaces from Raymond on or before 2 February 1972.
- Catalogue ref: MEPO 26/339
- Date: 1972 Jan 01 - 1973 Dec 31
This newly-opened file provides details of a case in which two men were convicted of making death threats against well-known Soho publisher and club owner, Paul Raymond, and for demanding a £15,000 contribution to IRA funds. The defendants were acquitted of attempting to blackmail Robert Guccione, owner of the Penthouse Club and magazine.
Police guards for Sir Oswald Mosley and others detained in Holloway Prison under Defence Regulation 18B
- Catalogue ref: MEPO 3/1890
- Date: 1941-1943