Security Service release: German intelligence operations, agents and suspected agents
George Tugendhat (KV 2/2996-2999) 1923-1948
George Tugendhat was the father of former Conservative MP and vice-president of the European Commission, Sir Christopher Tugendhat (later Baron Tugendhat), and the files now released reveal that between the wars, despite his Jewish ancestry, Tugendhat was a suspected German agent. In KV 2/2996 there are details of Tugendhat's early career in the United Kingdom following the First World War. Studying law at the London School of Economics and then working as a journalist, Tugendhat became a suspect because of his frequent correspondence with family and contacts in Austria and his regular meetings with foreigners in London. A minute from 1925 (minute 57) reveals how the Secret Intelligence Service viewed him: Tugendhat 'is not regarded with suspicion...but that his father is suspected by the Austrian Government of being in the pay of the German Commercial espionage and that anything received from Tugendhat junior would be passed to the German Authorities…'. This file and the following two (KV 2/2997-2998) include great detail about the development of Tugendhat's Manchester Oil Refinery business and, through intercepted correspondence and Marconigrams, follow Tugendhat's career from his application for and gaining of British naturalisation in 1934, through to the end of the Second World War. He had by now shaken off the early suspicions that he might be a German agent, and indeed, captured German papers dating from 1942 later showed that the Germans had suspected his companies of espionage in the Allied interest. Tugendhat's immediate post-war career is covered by KV 2/2999.
Wilhelm von Rautter (KV 2/3004-3005) 1919-1945
Von Rautter was a German intelligence agent embedded in the United States well before the start of the Second World War. These files show that he passed his intelligence by secret writing, which was only detected through the efforts of British Imperial Censorship staff in Bermuda. KV 2/3004 includes examples of intercepted secret writing and shows how the discovery of this correspondence led to a lengthy exercise to identify von Rautter as the author. It was estimated that his correspondence must have started in late 1941 (based on the serial numbering of the secret writing - the earliest examples were not intercepted), but it was not until January 1944 that von Rautter was identified and arrested (details on KV 2/3005) after a search of US documentation of foreign entry into the United States to match the handwriting.
German Intelligence Operations in Iceland
Files now released in reconstituted form show the efforts made by German intelligence to establish agents in Iceland, particularly in the months before D-Day, when reliable German intelligence about troop and shipping movements and prevailing weather conditions might have been critical in the success or failure of the invasion.
A key figure in organising intelligence operations in Iceland emerges as Dr Hellmuth Lotz (KV 2/3013, 1944-1945). His role as recruiter and organiser of Icelandic agents from amongst the expatriate community in Denmark and elsewhere in Scandinavia emerges from a large number of reports obtained from interrogations of captured agents.
A key case run by Lotz was that of Ernest Fresenius, Hjalti Bjornsson and Sigurdur Juliusson (KV 2/3009-3010 1944-1956), who were landed by submarine in North-Eastern Iceland near Borgarfjordur in April 1944. Fresenius was a German and leader of the team, who had lived for many years in Iceland before the war, while the others were expatriate Icelanders. Their task was to establish themselves on the Eastern coast and report back daily on meteorological conditions and troop or shipping movements. The trio only lasted 6 days before being captured on the night of 5-6 May, and after initial interrogations it was decided to send them to the United Kingdom for processing at Camp 020. All three admitted their role as German agents, but having had the chance to collaborate on cover stories they attempted to resist interrogation, for instance trying to hide the existence of a second, concealed, wireless set. An account of their capture and their initial interrogation reports is at serial 12a and the extensive interim report from Camp 020 is at serial 58a (both in KV 2/3009). The following file includes further interrogation reports and details of examinations of the equipment they were captured with. There are photographs of all three men in KV 2/3009.