German Intelligence Agents and Suspected Agents

German Intelligence Agents and Suspected Agents

(KV 2/1286-1318)

Vivian Stranders

(KV 2/1288-1290)

Vivian Stranders was born in 1881, and served in the First World War as a Captain in the Royal Flying Corps. After the war he served on the Inter-Allied Aeronautical Commission in Germany from 1919-1921, but was hastily dismissed to avoid a scandal involving his private life impacting on the work of the Commission. He spent most of his time on the Continent, returning only occasionally to the UK. Suspicions that he was working for the German intelligence services first emerged in January 1926. The British authorities were preparing to bring charges against him under the Official Secrets Act (and considering a bigamy charge as well) when he was arrested in Paris in December 1926 on a charge of espionage, on which he was convicted.

After two years in prison, Starnders returned to Germany, where he lectured on the unfairness of the Versailles peace treaty. He was expelled by the socialist Prussian government in 1931 for interfering in internal politics (going to live and work in Bavaria), but took up German nationality in 1933. During the Second World War he broadcast anti-British propaganda under the name of MEDIATOR, and played a role as a Sturmbanfuhrer in the SS in organising the Free British Corps (British PoWs used by the Germans to fight the Russians). In post-war interviews, Stranders claimed that his aim was always to improve Anglo-German relations, that his real antipathy had been against France, and that he had not approved of many aspects of Nazi policy. Stranders died in 1959.

KV 2/1288, a reconstituted file covering 1926-1929, contains evidence gathered against Stranders in 1929 for the intended case (including correspondence between Stranders and Charles Moorhead about the programme of chemical weapons research at Porton Down), and a summary of the case. A note in the minutes suggests that the extradition arrangements between the UK and France or Belgium could be 'strained' to allow Stranders' extradition on bigamy charges, and his subsequent trial under the Official Secrets Act.

KV 2/1289, also reconstituted, continues the story from 1929 to1952. It includes: papers detailing MI5's monitoring of Stranders after release from French prison; evidence on his wartime activities gathered from witnesses and from interviews with Stranders; and photographs of Stranders and of his wife, Charlotte.

KV 2/1290 consists entirely of press cuttings relating to the Stranders case from 1926 to1927.