Untitled Personal Files

Untitled Personal Files

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Arthur Koestler

(KV 2/1273)

Novelist Arthur Koestler (1905-83) was born in Budapest of Jewish parentage and became attracted to the Zionist movement while at university in Vienna. He went to Palestine in 1926 and eventually worked as a journalist, in which role he was sent to cover events in Germany in 1930. He joined the German Communist Party in 1932 (leaving the Party in 1938).

Koestler published an anti-Nazi and anti-Communist weekly journal from Paris, and was captured during the Spanish Civil War while working as a correspondent. His release was brokered by the British Foreign Office, and he returned to France, where he was arrested by the Vichy authorities in 1940. Later the same year, he escaped via Portugal and came to live in England. After a period of internment in Pentonville Prison, he served in the Pioneer Corps (1941-42) and worked for the Ministry of Information and the BBC. Koestler became a British subject in 1945, and 'renounced' his Jewish heritage in 1949-50.

This file concerns the period 1937-51, and is principally concerned with Koestler's detention in and release from Spain and subsequent events. It includes the text of his original interrogation on arrival in the United Kingdom in November 1940 by Security Control officers. His later activities at the time of the British withdrawal from Palestine led to his naturalisation being delayed for six months until the end of the mandate, and consideration being given to prosecuting him under the Palestine Official Secrets Ordinance, and these events are detailed on the file.