Recent Security Service files released at The National Archives
The twelfth release of Security Service records contains 280 files, bringing the total number of its records in the public domain to just over 2,100. Here is a brief overview and description of the most interesting and newsworthy files.
As with previous releases the bulk of records are personal files relating to individuals (KV 2), with a small number of subject files (KV 3), policy files (KV 4), organisation files (KV 5) and list files (KV 6).
The majority of files are from 1939-45 but there are a considerable number from the inter- and post- war periods, dealing with a range of groups and subjects, including: right-wing extremists; German agents; Russian and British Communists, the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) and related groups; Communist intelligence agents; various Jewish groups and organisations; German and IRA activity in Ireland in the Second World War period; and German activities in Persia during the Second World War.
Of the personal files in this release, the most notable include those relating to:
- the Polish double agent CARELESS (KV 2/1438-1445)
- the wartime activities of Hungarian Count László Almásy, the model for the Count in the book and film The English Patient (KV 2/1463, 1467-1468 and KV 3/74)
- the Klatt network, a German intelligence network fed false information on the Eastern front by the Soviets (KV 2/1453, 1465-1466, 1472, 1474, 1495-1499, 1591-1593, 1629-1631 and 1656)
- Horst Kopkow , the Gestapo officer who investigated the failed assassination attempt against Hitler in July 1944
- the Rote Drei Soviet spy network, including the files on the only British member of the spy ring, Alexander Foote (KV 2/1500-1501, 1610-1627, 1647-1649 and KV 6/41-45)
- George McMahon , who attempted to assassinate Edward VIII in 1936 (KV 2/1505-1506)
- Sylvia Pankhurst (KV 2/1570)
- British spies Douglas "Dave" Springhall, (whose in camera trial reports are now released, KV 2/1594-1598) and William Marshall (KV 2/1636-1646)
- atom scientist Rudolf Peierls (KV 2/1658-1663)
- Grand Duke Vladimir Kirillovitch , heir to the Romanov dynasty (KV 2/1667)
The personal files are listed under the following categories:
- Double cross agents (KV 2/1436-1445)
- German intelligence agents and suspected agents (KV 2/1446-1474)
- German intelligence officers (KV 2/1475-1503)
- Japanese intelligence officers (KV 2/1504)
- Right-wing extremists (KV 2/1505-1524)
- Communists and suspected Communists, including Russian and Communist sympathisers (KV 2/1525-1584)
- Soviet intelligence agents and suspected agents (KV 2/1585-1646)
- Soviet intelligence officers (KV 2/1647-1650)
- Soviet and other Communist front organisations (KV 2/1651-1655)
- Security Service investigations (KV 2/1658-1667)
There are also a number of 'untitled' personal files (KV 2/1664-1668), that is files relating to individuals that do not fit squarely into the above categories, plus the file relating to the enquiry into Rudolf Peierls on account of his connection with atom spy Klaus Fuchs (KV 2/1658-1663).
The few subject files (KV 3/69-78) contain papers on German espionage activity in North Africa before and during the Second World War, First World War German espionage activity derived from German intelligence headquarters papers removed from German archives in 1920 by an agent of the British Army of the Rhine, German penetration of SOE (the Special Operations Executive), the Secret Intelligence Service and allied organisations and general German espionage activity against Britain.
This release includes policy files (KV 4/226-240) dealing with a wide range of administrative matters, including wartime activities and control of the IRA, the formation, role and responsibilities of Security Intelligence Middle East (SIME), the drafting of a white paper on the British Union of Fascists with the Home Office, the last two wartime section histories and post-war files on the use of pigeons and counter-measures against the use of pigeons for intelligence purposes.
There are organisation files (KV 5/10-15) relating to several pro-Zionist, one neutral and one anti-Zionist Jewish organisations.
Finally, there are two further list files (KV 6/41-46), relating to Ursula Beurton, who recruited Alexander Foote to the Rote Drei organisation, and to the security of SOE operations in Norway.
Visual material and other artefacts are listed in the appendix. (Please note that this is not comprehensive.)
A few files have been weeded whilst others have been reconstituted from microfilm of the original document, and therefore are in photocopy form. In both cases this is indicated here.
Most personal files include a minute sheet attached to the inside cover, providing a useful index to the file.